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Various Various

Homework Year 1

A selection from the many label compilations that were recently released – looking ahead at 2017, looking back at 2016, or maybe even looking back at the last 15 years:

anticipation of an uncertain future

ANTICIPATION OF AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

The near future of 2017 may be unpredictable on a worldwide political scale, but fortunately this 40 minute (9 track) compilation of recent and upcoming Preserved Sound releases is reassuring: there will always be great music to take a break from everyday absurdity!

Artists include Visionary Hours, Aaron Martin, Richard Youngs, Max Ananyev, Endless Melancholy, Poppy Nogood, Adrian Lane, Ales Tsurko and CovarinoIncorvaia.
A wide range of instrumental genres show all kinds of beauty this label has to offer. There’s influences from ambient, folk, improv,  jazz, post-rock, neo-classical and experimental electronics (the Ales Tsurko track [Grusha] uses regular expressions to generate music from random Wikipedia articles!)

Generously offered as a Name Your Price download.


Illuminations

ILLUMINATIONS

I am not sure if all tracks from this massive Dronarivm compilation are previously unreleased, but the subtitle “The New Year 2017 Free Compilation” suggests so.
But even if they were previously released, only the most dedicated label addict would recognise all of the 28 tracks on this two-and-a-half hour compilation.
The collection is presented without any notes but a quote from Arthur Rimbaud’s ‘Illuminations VI‘:
“… The colours proper to life deepen, dance and detach themselves around this Vision in the making…. .

Currently, Dronarivm is one of the experimental ambient genre’s most important labels, and the line-up of this collection shows why: Olan Mill, Giulio Aldinucci, Autistici, Spheruleus, The Green Kingdom, Offthesky, Aaron Martin, Dag Rosenqvist, Elegi, Legiac, Maps and Diagrams, Strom Noir, Wil Bolton, Enrico Coniglio, Christopher Bissonnette, Porzellan and Bartosz Dziadosz  – and that is only about two-third of the contributors!

Generously offered as a Name Your Price download.


Home To Wander

HOME TO WANDER

Home Normal looks back to 2016 with this 11-track (58 minute) overview featuring tracks they ‘were lucky enough to release in 2016’.
It’s a kaleidoscopic overview of the versatility of this quality label that cannot be pinned down to one style but always guarantees a journey into adventurous new paths.

Artists include David Cordero, Altars Altars, Giulio Aldinucci, M. Ostermeier, Ian Hawgood, Stefano Guzetti Ensemble, Isan, Asuna, Stijn Hüwels/Dudal and A New Line Related.

Generously offered as a Name Your Price download.


Homework Year 1

HOMEWORK, YEAR 1

In an ascending order of track count and playing time, this compilation comes last.
52 tracks that fill up seven (7!) hours and 40 minutes! And, apart from that, áll of the tracks are new and previously unreleased.

The concept of this overview is a bit different: is doesn’t look back to 2016 only, or looks ahead at 2017, but it celebrates the 15 years of existence of the Taâlem label. And they do so in a special way: asking every artist that ever had a release on Taâlem to contribute an unreleased track that was recorded or finalised in 2016 – so it’s all brand new music, not a retrospective!
The list of contributing artists is not complete: some of the artists could not be retraced, others have stopped making music, etc. But the result is imposing enough as it is!

Due to the label’s nature, the music is more abstract and experimental than usual, presenting a lot of sound experiments, field recordings, musiqe concrête and industrial soundscapes – so it’s also the most ‘hardcore experimental’ compilation in this short list. But the tracks are thoughtfully arranged: playing the collection feels like complete overview of all corners of experimental electronics and ambient music.

I cannot mention all of the 52 contributing artists here, so I’ll randomly pick a few familiar names: Aidan Baker, Mathieu Ruhlmann, Emerge, Yui Onodera, Tobias Hellkvist, Encomiast, Simon Whetham, Fabio Orsi, Strom Noir, Pleq/Lauki, Philippe Lamy, Enrico Coniglio, Yannick Franck and Jeff Stonehouse.

And the best news, once again: generously offered as a Name Your Price download.

 

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Michel Banabila * Cerfilic * Taâlem

Taalem vijftien

Earth Visitor

MICHEL BANABILA – EARTH VISITOR

June was a very rainy month, which was why Michel Banabila spent a lot of time watching NASA videos about the Juno mission. Or, maybe I’d better rephrase that: after watching the NASA videos he spent a lot of time creating this album which was inspired by the Juno mission.
In retrospect, we can be happy this was no ordinary sunny month, because inspired him to create this great album!

Starting out with a piano theme that demonstrates why his music works very well in theatre and documentary soundtrack settings, the tracks focus on outer space – becoming more abstract while never losing their melodic, human, touch.
Alien electronic soundscapes, sometimes ‘earthened’ with violin samples (performed by Salar Asid), piano, cat meows, and many distorted voice fragments (the kind that unmistakably identifies Banabila‘s work).

With titles like What Creature Is That and We Are The Aliens, this album’s viewpoint is nót only that of earth’s astronaut, but also  of the imaginary  Jupiter inhabitant watching the earth invaders approach.


After working ceaselessly and tirelessly for more than thirty years, recent re-issues of his early work finally gained the international acclaim it deserves (the Bureau B compilation Early Works / Things Popping Up from the Past and Astral Industries reissue of Chi Original Recordings).
But it’s important not to get stuck in the past: Banabila is alive and kicking and still creating an impressive stream of new music!
With his recent albums, Michel Banabila has explored many – often experimental –  territories. Earth Visitor demonstrates he’s also still a master of cinematic ambient!

Note: the download also contains two bonus tracks: Prayer and Space Expo Trailer 2016.


Also on Spotify


Cerfilic

CERFILIC – LA BRÂME DU CERF AU CRÉPUSCULE

The Call Of The Stag At Twilight, as the title translates, is a solo project by Jamie McCarthy, aka Cerfilic. McCarthy is a former member of the Gavin Bryars Ensemble and from the Canadian band The Hidden Cameras.
Cerfilic
 presents ‘ambient sounds with the slow and sudden changes of weather systems and cloud formations’.
La Brâme opens with a slow string piece, The Last Thirteen. Strings are the main instruments on this collection (with the occasional exception such as The Internationale Music Box), but they can sometimes gradually dissolve  into the background soundscapes which can get quite abstract as the album progresses.

 

With its long (shortest is 6’45”, longest is 25’31”), unhurried and ethereal tracks the music reminds me of the work of The Stars Of The Lid (later A Winged Victory For The Sullen).
Which is one simple and effective argument to recommend you to check out this album!


Taalem vijftien

VARIOUS ARTISTS – VIJFTIEN ANNÉES – A TAÂLEM SAMPLER

The Taâlem label’s aim is simple: “exploring the different sides of ambient music”. Their statement continues: “as we’re tired of all these ultra-limited & ultra-expensive releases, taâlem discs are unlimited editions and are sold for a cheap price. As long as demand exists, every release is available.”
The label celebrates its 15th year of existence, and it does so with this massive overview of past releases that is free to download.

Vijftien Années
(Fifteen Years,
in an unusual combination of Dutch and French) contains no less that 109 tracks selected from all physical releases – its playtime is more than 11.5 hours!
The collection is almost impossible to digest in one go – not only because of its length but also because of the contents – but when listened in parts it’s an inspiring treasure of experimental, often industrial, ambient soundscapes.
There are quite some familiar names in the collection (Daniel Menche, Aidan Baker, Jeff Stonehouse, Dronaement, Netherworld, Yui Onodera, Chihei Hatakeyama, Celer, Simon Whetham, Nobuto Suda, Strom Noir, Pleq, Yann Novak), but of course a lot of relatively unknown artists, too.
So it’s a great way to explore the label’s output and discover new sounds.

All of the tracks are edited down to about six minutes each (the originals can be much longer). As this is a ‘gift’ sampler and not a ‘real’ release, the tracks have not been re-mastered so there can be some differences in volume.
(Tip for those that download the MP3 version: MP3Gain is a helpful tool to level the overall output volume in a non-destructive way)


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Oe + Coniglio; Yannick Franck; Tone Color

Innerfrost

Taalem is a Paris-based label – “exploring the different sides of ambient music through 3” CD-R’s and FLAC downloads – with a somewhat different release policy:
“As we’re tired of all these ultra-limited & ultra-expensive releases, taâlem discs are unlimited editions. As long as the demand exists, every release is available.” Some fine examples from their recent releases:


Inner Frost

∅E + ENRICO CONIGLIO – INNER FROST
21 Minutes (2 Tracks) of Glacial ambient created by ∅e (Fabio Perletta: guitar, loops) and Enrico Coniglio (guitar, field recordings, sampler).
The (december 2013) release was especially postponed because the music perfectly fits the winter season. The opening sounds of a harsh winter storm might give you some extra chills.
But in summer, this wide musical landscape full of fascinating details may help you cool down when desired!



The Utmost Night

YANNICK FRANCK – THE UTMOST NIGHT
Out of the cold, into the dark of night with Yannick Franck from Belgium. A single 24 minute industrial drone, merging electronics, drums, analog synths and vocals (?) with ambience recordings of naturally reverberated locations from Ghent’s industrial harbour. Slowly evolving yet inevitable increasing in tension, the quiet start builds to a inescapable wall of noise.



Tone Color

TONE COLOR – TODAY WILL DIE TOMORROW
Compare this set of CD-R’s and you’ll understand what Taalem means by ‘different sides of ambient music’.
Compared to the two releases mentioned before, Tone Color (Andy Lomas, from Manchester UK) presents a much warmer and less desolate sound. The six tracks on “Today Will Die Tomorrow” are created using guitar, field recordings and synth sounds, processed through max/msp to create a lovely comfortable atmosphere.

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