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Pjusk * Nadia Struiwigh * Sonae

Sonae - ISWB

Sakne Verda

PJUSK – SAKNE VERDA  Also on Spotify

I don’t know which language this is, Norvegian I suppose since Pjusk (Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik and Rune Sagevik) are from Norway, but according to the liner notes Sakne Verda translates as ‘to miss the world – taking a short nap’. So this short three-track mini album by may be a reminder that Pjusk are still alive and not to be forgotten (their latest full album was released in 2014).
Translating it with Google Translate tells us it can also mean “Missing Values”… and when translated from the Latvian  language it means something like ‘Roots Up’.
So make of it whatever you want – maybe it’s best to not to try to translate it at all.

The tracks are three different Pjusk collaborations: Attende with Tortusa, Kviskra (meaning ‘Whispered’?) with Anne Garner (vocals) and Porya Hatami, and Bontelabo with Yui Onodera.
The result is a stunning mix of what we might call ‘pop ambient’ – crossing the borders of ambient experimental music and more radio-friendly sounds. Ánd taking the best out of both worlds.

As a result, this simply leaves us longing for more. Let’s hope this is a short preview of what’s to come soon.


Whrru

NADIA STRUIWIGH – WHRRU

I would never have guessed it myself, but WHRRU stands for Where Are You. Neither would I have guessed that Nadia Struiwigh is from Rotterdam, Holland. But she is.
Presenting herself as a’creative creator’, she is an editor/reviewer at Interface (Dutch magazine for musicians and producers), web/graphic designer, social media expert, composer and DJ.

Her second full album (follow up of 2017’s Lenticular) is released by Denovali, and will probably help gain the recognition she deserves to get. The album is impressive enough in itself, but watching her perform on the recent Rewire festival confirmed that she is an artist that will get herself known soon.

Her music is not easy to pinpoint… Denovali states she is ‘sitting somewhere between Biosphere and Boards of Canada’, but that seems to ignore her powerful techno background (especially when performing live). The ‘post-IDM’ reference to Warp (“electronic listening music for quiet nights and club drowsy dawns”) feels more to the point.
But why the references? Struiwigh definitely defines her own style. It’s ambient, and yet it isn’t. It’s techno, and yet it isn’t. It’s experimental electronics, and yet it isn’t.
In fact, it’s easier to write about what genre this is nót, than describe what it is. And that is always a good sign: a sign of a creative artist entering new territories!



NADIA STRUIWIGH – 4OTHU2


Sonae - ISWB

SONAE – I STARTED WEARING BLACK  Also on Spotify

Is it a just coincidence, or is a new wave of female composers/musicians/DJ’s currently re-defining electronic music? Artists like Nadia Struiwigh (mentioned above), Dasha Rush (mentioned earlier), and many others seem to unite in a musical feminist community, dedicated to prove the fact that “electronic music is not a boys club”.
“We Are Here”,
the title of the closing on Sonae‘s new album (released on Gudrun Gut’s Monika Enterprise), leaves no room for doubt about that. Better get used to it.

I Started Wearing Black” is a strong personal statement (“… resulting from an individual situation (lovesickness), I started to wear black(gaining weight and feeling ugly).”) as wel as a political one (“It was finished long before the black dresses were worn at the Golden Globes as a sign of protest against sexual violence.”).
Mixing ‘nerdy’ electronic music with personal emotions and politics: please welcome the new wave of electronic feminism!

Sonae‘s music on this album can be quite ‘black’ at times: “Sonae is not a kind of neo-romantic veiling with a tendency for escapist nebula.”
But, like in real life, “between the wrong things there are happy moments.”

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Elektro Guzzi – Parade

Elektro Guzzi

You probably know there’s a category here called ‘other music‘ which is used for music that is not ‘strictly ambient’ but somehow fits into the scope of this blog. But still I sometimes feel the need to recommend an album that is way outside the ‘ambientblog scope’, and so doesn’t really belong here. But on the other hand … why not step out of the ambient box every once in a while?   

Elektro Guzzi

ELEKTRO GUZZI – PARADE

It’s easy to hear why Elektro Guzzi ‘doesn’t belong here’: this is energetic club music with a thriving beat. Drums, bass and electric guitar basically, pumping irresistible rhythms. Especially in the opening and closing track Element (Bone Version) and Schmone – with the somewhat more ‘jazzy’ tracks Speck and Parade in between.
No way I would call this music  ‘ambient music’.

But if you listen closely, there ís a link: in the Basic-Channel-dub style mixing of Speck , the warm vibes, and especially in the additional use of the trombone section featuring Martin Ptak, Daniel Riegler and Hilary Jeffery.
(You may remember Hilary Jeffery for his tromboscillator experiments and his work for the Kilimanjaro DarkJazz Ensemble (among many other projects he was involved in).

“With implementing trombones as extra oscillators, dissociating them from their conventional use, the trombones become part of the human-machine-universe and are used as an additional soud source in order to modulate and explore its variety live on the stage.”

 

Elektro Guzzi  is an Austrian guitar-bass-drum trio performing ‘techno’ music in a live setting, without using any prerecorded material, loops or computer: basically with only drums, bass and electric guitar. For this release, they enhanced their sound with the addition of (three!) trombones – an instrument which basically cannot be faithfully reproduced electronically.
I’d really love to see them perform live!

Parade is a 4-track EP with work that was commissioned for the Artacts Festival for Jazz and Improvised Music.
The 32 minute mini-album leaves you wanting more. No doubt there wíll be more – and there’s always the back catalogue to check out.
But for now, this one goes on repeat!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY! 

Also on Spotify


ELEKTRO GUZZI – SPECK

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Cio D’Or – All In All

Cio D'Or Press Pic

Cio D'Or

Hot on the heels of the surprising Sleepstep album by Dasha Rush comes All In All – a new release by Cio D’Or (who’s track Distanz also saw a beautiful remix on the recent Sonae album).
Sleepstep and All In All are a perfect match, exploring the same musical areas of experimental yet atmospheric techno, pushing the boundaries of (dub-) techno into new and adventurous territories.

Like Dasha Rush,  Cio D’Or (Cio Dorbandt, from Cologne, Germany) has a history firmly rooted in the (German) Techno scene. She has been DJ-ing, producing and mixing since 2001. She was included in Resident Advisor’s  Top 100 DJ’s list in 2011.

All in All is a remarkable release for its open, dub-oriented sound. There are still a lot of Techno ingredients here – such as the pulsating, extremely dry beat – but the album is not primarily aimed to the dancefloor.
“Cio D’Or’s cinematic compilation explores another side of techno, a niche home to Cio where each intricate sound takes a risk for the sake of progression.”

All In All contains twelve tracks divided in three differen sets: After and Before, Floor X and Yocta to Yotta (literally meaning ‘from the largest unit to the smalles unit’).
Each set has its own characteristic features: After and Before is full of suspenseful string arrangements and beatless and relatively ‘silent’ parts, Floor X is “taking a journey through bleep and acid minimalism”, and finally Yocta to Yotta has a different sound because it includes eastern string instrument sounds.

The release schedule for this title is a bit complex (*): the  CD version (release date May 18) contains all three chapters; the vinyl version is divided in an LP (released April 13 (*)) and an additional  EP containing Yocta to Yotta (released May 18). As if that is not enough, there will also be a remix CD released later, ánd a special edition CD released comprised solely of the ambient sounds that were recorded while making this album. (Goes without saying that I’m very interested in that one!)

More than ever before, it seems female artists are rightfully claiming their own space in experimental electronics – a field hitherto mostly dominated by men. At last, it seemed to be: there were always exceptions, of course … The Feminatronic platform, dedicated to “highlighting and promoting the musical creativity of female electronic artists”,
contains a nice overview in their Artist section.
But few are as inescapable and compelling as these particular two releases by Dasha Rush and Cio D’Or.
Just don’t expect anything sounding like Grouper here!

Note:
At the time of writing the release date for the vinyl version has been delayed. Keep an eye on the Semantica website for more information 



CIO D’OR – YOCTA

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Dat Rayon – Motor City

DatRayon

From Gdansk, Poland comes Dat Rayon.
I have no idea who is (or are) behind that alias, but that only adds to the mystery of this album.

Motor City is Dat Rayon‘s second full album, the follow up of the self-released Station Wagondebut from 2012. This time it’s released by Zoharum, with a beautiful 6-panel sleeved physical edition too (limited to 300 and quickly selling out, by the way).

Though Motor City has a lot of ambience, this is not ambient music. Minimalist Dub Techno would be a far better description.

Motor City is a direct reference to Detroit – the birthplace city of the automobile industry that went bankrupt in 2013 after a steady decline and decay.

Though the music is more abstract and much darker, thematically (and somehow stylistically too) has references to the sound of Kraftwerk.
It seems detached from all human emotions, as if the music could was created by the robot from the front cover image.
Crystal clear, imaginative, electronic details and slow compelling rhythms are layered in spacious reverb – reflecting “echoes of deserted factories that were once full of life”.


DAT RAYON – MOTOR CITY PT 2

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Good Weather for an Airstrike, Offthesky + Man Watching the Sky, Eugene Carchesio, Max Wuerden

Ambientblog

In the Shortlist sections, I will mention some of the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for. Still, I think they deserve your attention: use the links to find more info and hear previews.

Lights

Good Weather for an Airstrike – Lights
“Good Weather For An Airstrike (the name comes from a Sigur Rós piece) is an ambient/post-rock project by Tom Honey from Winchester, Hampshire UK. The idea of the project was to create a collection of relaxing sounds which would help Tom alleviate the issues caused by suffering from tinnitus, which causes a ringing sensation in the ear and can often result in difficulty sleeping. Combining processed guitars, dreamy strings, piano, synths, drums, lulling drones and subtle field recordings, Lights is full of wonderful soundscapes that mix ambient, electronic, post-rock and neo-classical sounds perfectly.”

Afar, Farewell

Offthesky & Man Watching the Stars – Afar, Farewell
Experimental violinist Brendan Paxton joins Jason ‘Offthesky’ Corder on these “five gorgeous tracks of slowly evolving melody on a soft bed of processed guitar, molten strings and Offthesky’s deep and quirky signatures”.

Circle Music

Eugene Carchesio – Circle Music
“The name Eugene Carchesio may not be an instantly familiar one – but for some two and a half decades, Carchesio has been a permanent fixture on the Australian music scene.
Circle Music is the first in a series of archival releases from Eugene’s huge electronic music catalog. A pulsing spiral of compositions, Circle Music taps the shoulder of minimal techno before scooting past into less familiar sonic territories. It’s a playful, bouncing collision of electronics, pulse and repetition”.

Orlost

Max Wuerden – Or Lost
The Farfield label returns from hibernation exactly 10 years after Wuerden’s “Ortlos” album. The title is not just an anagram: together, the track titles spell out “Finding the Perfect Moment is it a Dream Fulfilled or Lost”.
“Wuerden works with many diverse samples – from atmospheric field recordings to unusual instruments (like a parasol stand) – to create moody, vast soundscapes and complex rhythms alike. He used a contact microphone to discover the world of sounds hidden in an old hard drive and reinterpret the well-known clang of a porcelain bowl. The result is darkly mysterious in one moment, only to become powerfully intensive the very next”.

Lok

Max Wuerden – Book Sounds 1: Lok & 2: Transfer
While checking out the Or Lost release, I stumbled upon two other fascinating releases by Max Wuerden, called Books Sounds. Both are a single soundscape, about one hour long, created for playing while reading a book.
Book Sounds 1: Lok” was specifically created for the novel Die Lokomotieve byThorsten Nesch (but it is claimed to also work with other dark tales).
The second Book Sound, calledTransfer“, was not written with a specific title in mind.“It works with horror, mystery, fantasy and other dark tales.”
In my experience, these deep and adventurous soundscapes work very well – even without any book.
Both titles are offered for an extremely low price (1€ minimum each).

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Michel Banabila – The Latest Research…

Ambientblog


Research - Cover

For those familiar with the work of Michel Banabila  (and if not: you may check this mix presenting a broad range of his work), his new album The Latest Research from the Department of Electrical Engineeringmay come as a noisy surprise.

Created entirely from electrical sound sources that are fiercely mixed and meant to play LOUD, this has nothing much to do with his gentle ‘world-ambient’ output. In his catalogue it is loosely connected to the two “Spherics” released, that also contained strictly electronic music. But it’s different in sound and in using thumping industrial beats.

Some of the basic tracks of “The Latest Research…” originated from preparations for the music for “Zout“, a choreography by Conny Janssen Danst featuring music by Michel Banabila and dutch guitarist Anne Soldaat. 
But from there, the music found it’s own way into this release, presenting Banabila’s ‘New Energy Forms’  in eight tracks totalling 40 minutes. Most of the tracks span about 3-4 minutes, with the exception of “More Signals from KrakRot” (10:37, with additional electronics by Zenial), and the closing track “New Energy Forms” (6:42)

The album kicks in with a loud and noisy intro (of ‘Voltage Voltage’), and keeps up the atmosphere for a few tracks, until suddenly “A Cold Wind over Europe” introduces a strange ‘jazzy’ arrangement (making it sound like a demented Weather Report cover).
In the end the energetic atmosphere finally comes to rest in the two closing pieces (“Monochrome Pictures” and “New Energy Forms”).

The music is created mainly from electrical sources, but the approach is not as clinical as, let’s say, Raster Noton artists such as Alva Noto (and other) or Ryoiji Ikeda. The music is mechanic, loud, intrusive, but also a has a distinct human factor to it. It is clearly Banabila doing the engineering here, obviously enjoying his new ‘mad scientist’ incarnation. 

Michel Banabila daringly cuts loose from all expectations based on his earlier work and clearly finds new inspiration in this new direction…now let’s hope that his fans are brave enough to follow him there.


Michel Banabila – Machinery Aesthetics

The Latest Research…” on Audiotong, or iTunes

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