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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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Various Various

Evidence of Intense Beauty

Evidence of Intense Beauty

EVIDENCE OF INTENSE BEAUTY

The Audiobulb label succesfully proves the existense of intense beauty with the release of this compilation of ‘pioneers in the field of ambient microsound and modern classical’, each selecting a track that ‘represents their conceptual sense of beauty’.
Among the list of contributors are Clem Leek, Wil Bolton, Sawako, Taylor Deupree, Autistici, Richard Chartier, Ian Hawgood, Marcus Fischer, Monty Adkins, Antonymes, Listening Mirror (to name only a few) .

Paul Dresher once said that human attention and counsciousness works by “holding onto a certain amount of familiarity, and then introducing a certain amount of newness. “‘ When the familiarity and the newness are balanced, the experience may be one of intense beauty.”

“Beauty” is different for everyone of course, it’s in the eye of the beholder. But this music is specifically targeted at an audience that “actively engage with music and who want to be taken on a journey”.
“Each track takes the ingredients of minimalism coupled with a strong sense of tonality to produce a slowly evolving narrative.”
And for that audience, this equals beauty indeed.

With a clear conceptual vision like this, the  17 tracks (98 minutes) are not only ‘evidence of intense beauty’, but also proof of the label’s consistent quality.

Also on Spotify


 Tranquility 6   Tranquility 7

FROM HERE TO TRANQUILITY – VOLUME 6 (THE RENAISSANCE) * VOLUME 7 (THE RENAISSANCE CONTINUES)

If you were into ‘ambient’ music in the 90’s, you’ll probably know the Silent (Records) label. If you discovered the genre later, you SHOULD know about the label, because it was hugely influential and set many standards in experimental electronics. Its founder and curator, Kim Casconeleft the label in 1996 to work as a sound designer for Thomas Dolby’s Headspace organisation. Without him, the label slowly disappeared until it finally shut down in 1998.

Early 2016, rumours emerged that a ‘renaissance’ was to be expected. One important part of this resurrection is the dedicated Silent Channel webstream on the famous Soma FM internet radio station, playing selections from the Silent catalog.
Another is the release of these two compilations: part 6 and 7 of the From Here To Tranquility series. Part 6 (16 tracks, 104 minutes) is available in a 2-CD version or digital download, while Part 7 is a download-only release because with its 24 tracks running 165 minutes it’s simply too massive for a physical edition.
Both editions are divided in a Light Disc and a Dark Disc, which is some indication about what atmospheres to expect.

“We shade our ambient in sound colors light and dark. Signals in and out of the calm and stillness of what is left unsaid. Treasured roadmaps. Coded experiments. We retouch the mindset of the past and turn to the future.”

The ‘renaissance’ collection simply picks up where the label left, with a lot of references to the original 90’s experimental ambient style while at the same time looking forward into new directions.
Although it is divided in two editions, it feels to me as one huge collection that immediately places the Silent label back in the forefront of experimental ambient music.
Welcome back, Kim!


Also on Spotify


Also on Spotify


Where Words Fail Music Speaks

WHERE WORDS FAIL, MUSIC SPEAKS

A sad cause triggered fund-raising charity release: it is intended to help cover the cost of treatment of Ania Mehring, who was diagnosed with Sarcoma Synoviale, an exceptionally malignant tumor.
Ania is the wife of Maciej Mehring, founder of the Zoharum label – a label regularly featured on Ambientblog. Santa Sangre Magazine curated this massive 7 1/2 hour compilation (digital download-only obviously), for which many friends and related artists provided a previously unreleased track.

There are many obscure performers (at least for me) on the list, but many well-known artists too: Robert Rich, Biosphere, Troum, S.E.T.I., Machinefabriek, Phurpa, Cindytalk, Alio Die, Mathias Grassow, Dirk Serries and Celer – the latter closing the album with a beautiful warm and comforting 59 minute track called The Rest Remembered.

The majority of the 62 tracks are (experimental) ambient and drone tracks. Understandably, this is not a happy-go-lucky playlist: most of the music is dark and ominous, with a range from quiet calm to deafening noise. There’s a section of industrial and ‘neofolk’ tracks too. This set may seem a bit of an odd detour from the ambient selections – but they are clustered together (track 17 – 32) so they can easily be isolated to a full album – a collection within the collection.

Even if you probably won’t like all of it, there’s enough material to select a few hours of fascinating music for everyone (well, almost everyone). That’s a good enough reason to pay EUR 9.99 for this set. An even better reason is knowing that you support a good cause buying this album: help Ania get her necessary treatment and help her get better!

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DreamScenes 2016-08

DreamScenes Logo

The August edition of DreamScenes feels like a full night’s sleep cycle compressed to one hour: starting off with the lively gamelan-bells of 36, sinking into half-sleep fantasies, losing touch with reality with Ian William Craig (no, that is nót dust on the record player’s needle), and sinking into deep sleep before slowly coming up (or down?) again…

Tracklist:

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More Various

Abscence

Abscence

ABSCENCE
Abscence offers a unique chance to explore the electronic/experimental scene from Iran.
Usually, a statement like that triggers a search for a political context, or for elements from the cultural heritage. Something that doesn’t happen when the artists come from the western world (like the Discovery compilation, below).

When writing about art from the middle east, western media often  ‘places artists exclusively within the political context presented by the mainstream media, and only shows you the day-to-day politics of governments in the region. This biased approach means artists’ works are only interpreted in relation to a reduced conception of the political context. By seeing things this way you only have a handful of artists addressing certain issues with enough exaggeration to be newsworthy.
It would be terrifyingly ignorant to think that day-to-day politics in Iran has no impact on artists, but on the other hand it is too simplistic to see the wide range of artistic practices of Iranians though this narrow context.” 

This compilations, curated by Arash Akbari, presents Iranian artists that, as Siavash Amini states in his introduction, ‘are the voices who choose to be absent from the news and the musical mainstream in order to express the complex range of emotions and ideas which make up our lives.’
This music, so far removed from what is called ‘mainstream’ represents ‘an endless world of exploration and experimentation, a life of vast possibilities and new forms of cultural and political resistance’. This way, it’s hardly very different from experimental music all over the world: which goes to show that music knows no borders .


Discovery 1

DISCOVERY 1
Soft Recordings presents a 40-track (3 hours and 50 minutes!) compilation album that is free to download.
A really huge set, with some familiar names and a lot of new artists to discover.

“Discovery series aims to promote new artists and sounds in the experimental music community; including ambient, drone, electronic, noise and modern classical genres.”

This means there’s a lot of variation in the tracks so you probably have to compile your own subset with the tracks you like. But even then, chances are you still have a tracklist as long as 2 CD’s!


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Various Artists – Marilli Remixed

Marilli Remixed

I still clearly remember hearing an unknown artist performing on a sunday afternoon radio program in 1984 (‘Spleen, VPRO). I learned that Michel Banabila had self-released his debut album called Marilli  – which I immediately bought from the only record shop in Amsterdam that stocked it.
That was the beginning of a long and adventurous fan-relationship: I have been following Banabila’s music for over 30 years now!

The music he currently creates is very different from what he created back then: Banabila considers his debut as a ‘quite simplistic and somewhat hilarious recording […] Quite embarrassing, really […] The overall effect is extremely naive, the sounds were nice and organic, but my “composing” process was not’.

Marilli 
While this may be true from the viewpoint of the artist that has grown and looks back on his early work, the original album still has the same feeling for me… it presented new sounds, a new freedom, a new ‘world fusion’ music (remember: this was relatively short after the release of Eno/Byrne‘s ‘My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts’).
(Marilli also marked the start of a new collective called Chi  which did some remarkable multimedia ‘fourth world ambient’ performances.)

“You can’t change the past”, Banabila concludes and he decided that there will be no re-release of the original Marilli. 

But things took a different turn when 2015 saw renewed interest in the debut album.
Former Chi-members Hanyo van Oosterom and Koos Derwort made a remix of the first album track and that became was the launch of a new project named Marilli Remixed: 23 remixes of the original analog recording by artists from all over the world (including Michel Banabila himself).

‘I asked them (the remixers) to skip the voices in their remixes, and to only use sounds from the record itself. (They) Came up with these really amazing works to transform the album into a more minimalist 2015 version.
It has become a remarkable collection, especially for those that still can remember the original album, of course.
But that’s not necessary – those that dón’t know the original will find pleasure in the 2015 remixes too.
No matter Banabila himself may think of his original work, it clearly was worth remixing: the respect for the original material is felt in all details.

Marill Remixed is available as a FREE (Name Your Price) download!

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Michael Fahres; Miguel Isaza; Naviar Series 006; Circuit Integré Vol. 1

Circuit Integre 1

Tibataje

MICHAEL FAHRES – TIBATAJE
Michael Fahres is a German-born composer now living in Holland, but also often residing on El Hierothe smallest of the Canary Islands.
Among all that the island has to offer there are some fascinating acoustic phenomena, such as the breathing rock tube formations which Fahres previously explored with Jon Hassell and Mark Atkins on his 2006 album The Tubes.
On Tibataje, Fahres explores the natural echo of the Risco de Tabataje, a mountain massif about 1000 meters high and eight kilometers long.
In fact, the natural echo box resonance of the mountain wall is the main instrument here. It is invoked by (three) drummers playing rhythmic variations based on a religious celebration, the Bajada de la Virgen de los Reyes. These  rhythms are considered sacred and protected which is why they are slightly altered for this recording.
“The Tibataje resonates, answers and sings its own song”.

The result is an unprecedented view on environmental recording – and about the opposite of the usual calm natural environment due to the frantic drumming. And Fahres does not simply leave it at that: he further eliminates the borders between what is ‘natural’ and what is ‘artificial’ by adding extra post-production effects and treatments, such as the sound of a clock or a music box, which sometimes feel strangely out of place amidst the large echoes of the mountain wall.


Temoiternidad

MIGUEL ISAZA – TEMPITERNIDAD
The philosopher Raimon Panikkar described the concept of Tempiternidad, ‘in which temporality and eternity are one, reflecting a notion of time but also a state of being, a path of plenitude towards the present moment in which everyday things and environments manifest eternity.”

Colombian sound artist Miguel Isaza has masterfully succeeded in transferring this philosophical concept into the soundscapes for this album – created using a laptop, field recordings (from the mountain area of Antioquia, Colombia), found objects and a few instruments (such as flute and harmonica).
The drones make you lose all sense of time, thus representing eternity, while there’s also a lot of temporal fragments calling for your attention.

“(Isaza’s…) compositional work calls for a silent activity, an attentive listening that is present in the intuitive exploration of the sonic phenomenon, exposing its subtle and textural qualities, especially those present in the perception of time scales, thus generating sonic collages between micro and macco realms which result in a reflection towards morphology, space and emptiness.”

Music cán be capable to illustrate what temporal eternity is: the proof is on this album!



Miguel Isaza – Presencia
 


Naviar Series 006

VARIOUS ARTISTS – NAVIAR SERIES 006
Naviar Records is a community facilitating artists who create music inspired by literature. There are two Tumblr projects: Naviar Haiku (‘about expanding the meaning of a poem beyond its words’) and Naviar Soundbook (‘about condensing a short story into a unique music composition’).
The results of this community are (partly) collected on their Bandcamp page, all available as a Name Your Price download.

Series 6 is a good example of the fruitful results of such a creative community: there’s not a single artist name that I recognise, but the 23 track collection offers a lot of impressive tracks, all of them taken from earlier Haiku projects by the way. The download also includes the photographic theme cards that inspired the included pieces.

Some of these tracks are also part of Disquiet Junto project #0145 (“There’s a Lifetime In” – Make a short piece of music inspired by a provided verse.)
For those that don’t know yet: Disquiet Junto is another collaboration project where artists can contribute music following a new assignment every week. The result is a wealth of (Soundcloud) tracks almost too immense to explore.

“Artists who are part of a community generally make stronger works”, Naviar Records 
boldly claims.
Based on this collection I think they might be right indeed.


Circuit Integre 1

VARIOUS ARTISTS – CIRCUIT INTEGRÉ VOL. 1
The first of a new series on the Zoharum label, that will present ‘young projects working in the field of broadly-defined electronic music’. Each edition, three different projects will present their work. On Volume 1  we find Dat Rayon, NLZD.pl (with aliases FOQL and RNA2and Gaap Kvlt.
On this volume the acts all come from the Polish experimental underground scene. Apart from Dat Rayon (their 2014 release Motor City was recommended before) the acts are unfamiliar to me. They share their love for electronic abstract experimentalism but are at the same time very different in sound.

Dat Rayon‘s music ‘penetrates the periphery of the post-club electronica mixing ambient, dub and minimal techno’. Gaap Kvlt is more drone-based ambient ‘with hints of orientalism’, while FOQL / RNA2 ‘cannot be pigeonholed – their fully analogue music drawing from elements of electro, techno, drone and ambient.”
Powerful examples of the ferte Polish experimental underground culture!

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