lunes, 29 de junio de 2009

Jóhann Jóhannsson - And In The Endless Pause There Came The Sound Of Bees

Genre: Neo Classical, Ambient
Mute Song

Music from the film Varmints by Marc Craste, produced by Studio AKA, based on the book by Marc Craste and Helen Ward. Music written, arranged and produced by Jóhann Jóhannsson.

William Fowler Collins - Perdition Hill Radio

Link Removed By Request
Album on stream from Type, here
Genre: Drone, Dark Ambient
Label: Type Records

From the desolate hills of Albuquerque, New Mexico comes self-styled black ambient overlord William Fowler Collins. Brought up in New England and educated in San Francisco, the constant traveling has given his music a rare patience and focus and a distinct connection with the sprawling American landscape. Like Earth’s seminal ‘Hex’ before it, ‘Perdition Hill Radio’, his second full-length, invokes the ghosts of a lost America and drags the rotting carcass of country music through a swamp of noise and drone.

With a love of both experimental ambient music and ear-splitting black metal, Collins has arrived upon a grim hybrid of both. Black ambient might be the best description as this is neither one nor the other, inhabiting a lonely space in-between. The chugging, blown out treble and isolated darkness of Xasthur is all present and correct, but there are also echoes of William Basinski and Deaf Center hidden amongst the clouds of radio static. These rare cracks of beauty are what make ‘Perdition Hill Radio’ such an arresting listening experience, and what sets it apart from so much that has come before.

There is a shadowy link between the compositions of William Fowler Collins and fellow Type artists Svarte Greiner and Xela; all three share a similar fascination with the darker side of the ambient spectrum. Collins however manages to re-frame this darkness to suit the sun-baked mountain tops of New Mexico, and it’s all the bleaker for it. As crows circle an anonymous skeleton and brightly coloured lizards retreat into their dark corners, there could be no better soundtrack than this. Dark, doomy and with no escape from the pounding sun up above – ‘Perdition Hill Radio’ is a truly cinematic record.

viernes, 26 de junio de 2009

Rain-Cloud - Kerala

Genre: Ambient, Electronic
Label: Under The Spire Recordings

My Space

Rain-Cloud is a collaboration between Alec Cheer (recently to be found recording on London's Drifting Falling imprint) and Dom Dixon of Talkingmakesnosense. Their respective guitar-based sounds are delicious anyway, but together they've produced a subtly powerful beast that uses dense swathes of sound to concoct a beautiful, yet intense journey. It's distinctly melodic and the picked, gently played moments really are lush, but the duo are at their best when the bigger, slightly more distorted guitar textures work their way into the mix. The band traffics in a tranquil electro-acoustic style where lulling environmental soundscapes are faintly discoloured by mechanical rhythms, shudders, static, and the. Acoustic and, to a lesser degree, electric guitars occupy the front-line with droning streams of electronic noise softly resounding in the distance. The group name is well-chosen as it connects Rain-cloud to the natural landscape but, more importantly, its music does too. The duo's peaceful material evocatively conjures images of vast countryside panoramas and early-morning, seaside tranquility.

miércoles, 24 de junio de 2009

Concern - Truth & Distance Ep

Genre: Drone, Ambient
Digitalis Industries

My Space

Another heart-stopping debut brought to you by the increasingly inspired Digitalis imprint, Concern is the recording project of Gordon Ashworth who in a previous incarnation (as Oscillating Innards) delivered an altogether more brutal take on experimental music before planting his feet firmly in the world of shimmering, layered drones. The first thing to hit you about this amazing album is the custom-designed silkscreened gatefold sleeve it comes in, one of those packages that has you flipping it inside out in wonder, a fitting precursor to the music itself which is just nothing short of immense. Despite the heavily processed sound of this material, the three long tracks here (clocking in at a total of 30 minutes) were constructed almost entirely out of acoustic instrumentation, with the opening piece gradually building from a frayed field recording into a colossal hum of dense, layered drone that just seems to expand and develop without any perceptible change. It's inspiring, deceptively visceral stuff. Next up - 'Young Birth' begins along a similar trajectory but soon curls up into into an incubated assembly of disentangled instruments, before the epic closing "Heartsink" proceeds to completely obliterate the vast majority of what passes for contemporary Drone with a colossal shimmer that sounds like Tim Hecker reconfiguring classic Raga structures into something almost unspeakably beautiful.

High Wolf - Animal Totem Cs

Not the original cover

Genre: Drone, Electronic, Atmospheric
Label: Not Not Fun

For some reason unexpected pleasures are superior to the expected variety, at least 9 times outta 10. And so it was when we happened upon the dizzy/fizzy music of French loop enthusiast High Wolf for the first time, regarding whom we had zero preconceived notions. Cheers to open minds/ears then, cause the High Wolf audio worldview is weird and wobbly and one that should appeal to all lovers of tripped out, swelter-zone equatorial electronics. Animal Totem is High Wolf’s debut release, and it piles wavy, tranced keyboard melodies one on top of the other into a pulsing ritual heap of colored smoke. Elsewhere he slips in sunset fuzz-guitar lines and temple meditation tones and even dangles down some flanger-flecked synthetic percussion like a bunch of mellow yellow bananas. Take a look up/down/all-around. Overall it’s a rich, ripe rumble in the escapist-psych jungle. Future trips are booked on Long Beach drone/craft emporium Stunned Records, keep an eye open.

martes, 23 de junio de 2009

Drafted By Minotaurs - Aversion Therapy LP

Genre: Ambient, Post Rock, Experimental

My Space

Regular readers of these pages will be fully aware that the Infraction label has a special place in our hearts. Over the past few years their release schedule has never let us down in terms of consistent high quality "ambient" music. I use the genre tag loosely as the label is so much more than simply an "ambient" label. If you want to escape from the world for an hour or so and go to a better place then dim the lights, pull out pretty much any CD they've put out and you're in the zone... Celer, Beautumn, Milieu, Aidan Baker, Colin Potter, Andrew Liles, Kiln, Northern, Zammuto, Adam Pacione as well as lost classics from the likes of Tetsu Inoue and Parks... The list goes on and now includes Drafted By Minotaurs who's 'Aversion Therapy' album is the labels first ever foray into the magical world of vinyl. There really has been zero compromise as far as the quality of the physical thing is concerned: Heavy duty gatefold sleeve in quality plastic wallet with obi strip and then a fine plastic inner sleeve for maximum protection of the ultra weapons grade heavy vinyl. So clearly a special release and my expectations of the music are high... So what about the audio that lurks within those exceptionally well cut/ pressed grooves... I put the needle to the record and the journey commences. 'Blueprints For Sunbuilding' begins with delicate, gentle twinkles with what sounds like distant pianos and heart-wrenchingly gorgeous strings that give off pure emotion, like everything that's beautiful about life compressed into vibrations. The track has a loose structure but the feeling of warmth just builds throughout with an edge that's almost harrowing. I'm reminded of Max Richter in terms of its emotional impact. Close your eyes and the cycle of life, with all its highs and lows is all in there. A very moving and touching tune if you allow yourself to be absorbed. The brief yet complete 'Sault Locks' builds on the preceding instrumentation giving off a vibe that is almost tropical yet hints at a darker space in time. This vibe is then realized in the third and final cut on the A-side 'Skin The Night and Fog'. The scenario of being lost in a rainforest on a distant island is evoked with the sun setting, as glimpses of its departure beam through the vegetation. An image which is loosley depicted on the sleeve photography yet becomes even more vivid as the track progresses. The feeling of being lost and alone, yet somehow not alone but surrounded by nature. Again this is a very emotional piece of music but rather than sounding more like modern classical stuff as the previous two tracks, it is more traditionally "ambient" sounding with the deeply soothing synths and ever evolving drones. The B-side of the record is dominated by a single piece entitled "Sunday's Morning Ghost". I'm not entirely sure which player is responsible for each part here, but accompanying Ryan Wilson are Ian Fulcher, Colette Alexander, Carol Grey and Susie Pilzinski. This seemingly has them all working in total harmony. Often musicians in rock music are referred to as being "tight" but that term can also be applied here as they seem to know and respect each others parts and this helps to build music that is both sublime and vivid. Much in the same way as Stars Of The Lid. There's space for each sound to make it's statement yet they melt together seamlessly.... After you've made your way through the forest, the tones begin to take on a sense of hope and the promise of sunlight until you find your way home. A very sophisticated work which is a powerful and deeply haunting record.

viernes, 19 de junio de 2009

Nils Frahm - Wintermusik

Genre: Ambient, Piano, Neo Classical
Label: Sonicpieces

Wintermusik might have languished in obscurity as well, if not for Monique at Sonic Pieces, who happened upon the disk, fell in love with it and signed the artist for this limited release of 333. The handmade book binding is stark gray, but elegant, and suits the project well; Wintermusik was initially recorded as a Christmas present for family and friends. This puts the disk in the company of Sufjan Stevens' Songs for Christmas, recorded as a series of personal gifts over the years and finally packaged a few years later as a boxed set for fans. There’s certainly a light-hearted, holiday feeling to the music, especially when the bells join the proceedings; one thinks of happy carolers, wandering from house to starlit house as flurries dust their woolen caps. But this is not to say that one should avoid the disk simply because Christmas is half a year away; nor should one feel that the sounds herein represent any specific religion or creed. This is simply a disk of engaging, well-played music, suffused with a positive vibe.

Unlike the songs on the upcoming The Bells (which began as Tonaglia: Piano Improvisations), the three pieces on Wintermusik are fully-fledged compositions, a combination of – you guessed it – piano, celeste and reed organ. The opening track, “Ambre,” is the shortest, a single-length introduction to the album, sedate and unadorned. At 17:25, “Tristana” is a much more complex entity, featuring all three instruments. On this piece, Frahm wanders from his default timbre of airy and bright. When the darker tones (perhaps foot pedals) enter, they occupy the same space that a bass guitar would inhabit in a post-rock setting. The piece may unfold at an unhurried pace, but is constantly mutating and always has a sense of destination. Certain themes end up repeating, or returning in a slightly altered fashion. There’s an enormously-subtle buildup to the conclusion, but it’s there – an example that bombast-oriented groups might wisely imitate. Finally, “Nue” closes the half-hour album (strangely, around the same length as Broderick’s Music for Falling from Trees). This piece is busier and sprightlier: upbeat, hopeful, and more overtly melodic than the preceding tracks. There’s even a chorus of sorts, one that might make for a suitable Charlie Brown theme; and the final two minutes possess a muted, yet climactic tone.

Buen fin de semana a tod@s.

Nils Frahm - The Bells

Genre: Ambient, Neo Classical, Piano
Label: Kning Disk

My Space

"I first met Nils after playing a concert in Berlin in early September, 2008. We had exchanged a few emails prior, in which we had agreed to swap some records in the mail. He came up to me after the show with a beaten brown package, which he had tried to post to me two times, but both times it was returned to him because I was out on tour when the postman tried to deliver it. At any rate, that night he handed me the package containing his first lp Streichelfisch and four cd-r’s of unreleased material. Later when I was getting in bed at the hotel, I pulled out my discman and popped in a disc of his that was labeled »Tonalagia: Piano Improvisations«. I laid back and pressed play, thinking I would fall asleep to the sound of some nice piano music. But the sound I heard was more than just nice. It was absolutely breathtaking, and it kept me awake staring at the ceiling until the cd was finished. Then I pressed play again. I had to hear it again. I think I managed to drift off at some point in the middle of the second listen, but I remember thinking to myself as I lay there stunned, that I could spend ten years trying to write an amazing piece of piano music, and still it would never be half as good as these improvisations! The next day I wrote to Nils and told him that very thought, and proposed the idea of him contributing to the solo piano series on Kning Disk. A couple months later, in mid November, I flew to Berlin to meet up with Nils and to witness the recordings of what was to become The Bells. We rented a beautiful old church in the heart of Berlin for two nights, with a wonderful old grand piano and the most amazing natural reverb I’ve ever heard. We set up (actually Nils did most of the work while I ran around the church trying out the huge pipe organ and harpsichord) two microphones on the piano, and three more out in the room to capture the sound of the church. And then Nils just played. I laid down on a pew in the middle of the big room and listened to his playing in the same position I had heard it for the first time, on my back, staring at the ceiling. Occasionally I arose and asked Nils to amuse my ears by making him improvise with different rules I spouted out off the top of my head, such as »Make a song using only the notes c, e, and g« (this one will be available as a bonus download track), or »Make a song that you could imagine me rapping over the top of« (track no. b3). At one point I was even inside the piano, laying on the strings, asking him to make a song called »Peter is dead in the piano«. Those two amazing nights in the church left us with five and a half hours of recorded material, and together Nils and I have compiled what we think are the best pieces into this 40 minute collection. The role I played in putting this album together was a very small one, and yet somehow I feel more proud of this music than anything I have ever created on my own. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have."
Peter Broderick

miércoles, 17 de junio de 2009

Golden Death Muisc - Ephemera Blues

Genre: Psychedelic Folk, Folk gaze
Label: Helmet Room Recordings

My Space

Golden Death Music is the project of Michael Ramey, who is responsible for this album in its entirety. There is actually a lot of variation in the songwriting considering that they were written and performed by only one person. Most of the songs are composed on different guitars and supplemented by washes of electronics, hand drums, and sweeping backing vocals, among other elements. There's definitely a hazy touch of Floyd on Ramey's weary voice, but it is not a distraction. A little echo and reverb go a long way.

The order of the songs reflects this theme of recurring patterns, beginning with "Endless Dream" and "Waking Nightmare," only to end with "The Unmaking" and "Into the Ocean." Each song in between is another step along the path from self-awareness to disintegration. There undoubtedly is a melancholic air pervading many of the tracks, but it is a tired sadness rather than a desperate one. Not even the sun brings hope on "Morning Sun, Mourning Song." Likewise, little comfort comes from relationships with other people, as on "Together," when Ramey sings, "Together/We can finally be apart." The title track is surprisingly uplifting all things considered, as Ramey realizes the closeness of death and thus life's fragility and power. "In Silence" reaches for inner peace, while "True Beauty Is Emptiness" hints at a Buddhist acceptance of the cycle of life. On the surface, these may sound like weighty issues, but the music is never tedious, and the lyrics are personal rather than proscriptive. That Ramey makes such a compelling and eloquent recording out of these topics is an ambitious accomplishment.

I'm also impressed that Ramey recorded the whole thing on inexpensive equipment using only a couple of basic microphones, because his songs have more depth and creative arrangement than do a lot of bigger productions. Special attention to the panning and balances throughout elevates this album to a whole different level. It is one of the most inventive and refreshing things I have heard in quite some time.

lunes, 15 de junio de 2009

Bardo Pond - Gazing At Shilla LP

Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Drone, Noise
Label: Important

My Space

Limited edition pressing of 1000 copies on vinyl heavy enough to hold some of Bardo Pond's headiest jams. This is the first of four vinyl only Bardo related releases coming out simultaneously on Important Records. Gazing at Shilla is Bardo Pond's first release on Important. The two pieces, both very different in sound and feel, have sat patiently in the Bardo archive waiting for the most opportune moment for release. Eight-Thousanders and Kali are both entirely improvised pieces with no overdubs. Slide blissfully into a smokey heaven and then forget your mind in a lower world of strange tones on side A. If you're still able to flip the record when the needle hits the runoff groove you'll find yourself exposed to the Goddess Kali's naked blackness.

miércoles, 10 de junio de 2009

Headdress - Lunes

Genre: Psychedelic folk, Drone, Experimental
No Quarter Records

My Space

Lunes is the second album by the Texas psychedelic duo Headdress. Written in the desert but recorded during an endless New York City winter, the album is a dark meditation on Americana. Guitarist Caleb Coy and organist Ethan Cook sculpt a cold, expansive sound made ripe for these turbulent times. It’s the blues shaped by the avant-compositions of La Monte Young and Dylan Carlson. It's drone rooted deep in the American tradition. It seems that the shamanic desert wanderers known as Headdress have left the barren wastelands and entered the streets of the city. With this transition the band have dropped a bit of their Brightblack Morning lightness and delved into darker areas of blues drone. The high plains still hang over the sound of Lunes but it's a strangely urban high plain; full of street lit canyons and brick dusted caverns. They've begun to cut ground through Wooden Shjips and Blues Control territory but swapping one's heaviness for the others tempos. All the while the dank threat of drone hangs over the amplifier rubble they've begun kicking through, creeping in like an omen on the wind. A vast step up from their last album that'll see light via No Quarter, this one's begging to shake your turntable. This is going to scare you so if you are alone, turn on the lights. Headdress are on one expansive trip through the history of sound. It’s no wonder they spent the last year travelling through the American West in search of inspiration. They found it. Headdress is the closest you can get to Cosmic Americana without getting burnt. These two native Texans make scary murder ballads while driving through deserts in slow motion. ‘Moon of Shedding Ponies’ evokes eerie Ry Cooder landscapes; ‘Blanket of Golden Fields’ is Jason Spacemen surveying a broken Americana. Make no mistake, Headress is eerie stuff.

martes, 9 de junio de 2009

Kreng - L'Autopsie Phénoménale De Dieu

Genre: Dark Ambient, Cinematic, Neo Classical, Experimental
Label: Miasmah

My space

Kreng is Belgian Pepijn Caudron, who provides the strings and battery of found sounds, supplemented on this release by a pianist (Satie-esque flickers and prepared sounds) and percussionist (ominously ticking rhythms, hellish kettle drum), ghostly voices and weeping women (this was never going to be an easy listen, was it?). He works closely with the theatre company Abbatoir Ferme which explains the dark and twisted theatricality on show here. At times this sounds like Ennio Morricone or Bernard Herrmann scoring a horror movie directed by David Lynch; on other occasions it heads even further out into the avant-classical territory of a Ligeti or Grisey. Three pieces are knitted together into the brooding “Suite Voor Scenes Met Mist”, a nightmarish, brass-bottomed, clanking crackle which slowly dissolves to leave solo violin. Mixed in with the album’s black rumble are disturbing vocal samples: a man accuses a woman of being the devil (to be fair to him, she probably was), a blues singer wails “oh lord!”, and that woman weeps…it all adds up to something that will leave hideous, slow-healing scars in your mind.

It's very hard to think of any singular points of reference, but there are elements here that remind us of György Ligeti, Cliff Martinez, Moondog, Arvo Pärt, Arthur Lipsett, Deathprod, Bernard Herrmann and Dictaphone - while really sounding very little like any of them. "L'Autopsie Phénoménale De Dieu" is an incredible, utterly mesmerising collection of pieces that we have little doubt will entice, seduce and terrify you in equal measure and, needless to say, comes to you with our highest possible recommendation.

It´s a vinyl rip, so is not broken into tracks. Sorry

lunes, 8 de junio de 2009

Gregg Kowalsky - Tape Chants

Ambient, Drone, Experimental


My Space

This is the third and definitive recorded version of Gregg Kowalsky’s Tape Chants series. I say "definitive" because it leaves behind the piece’s site-specific orientation – the spectacle of Kowalsky moving around the space he’s performing in, ‘live-mixing’ the pre-recorded instrumental passages by changing the placement of six to 10 cassette recorders – and brings the listeners way inside the rich depths of criss-crossing, reverberating analog tones. The previous two recorded versions (Tape Chants a Million and Tape Chants Arroyo), besides being frustratingly unavailable, seemed more attempts at capturing the live experience of the piece. Ironically, Tape Chants is not a live recording, but it does a better job than those two at highlighting what it is Kowalsky has hit on with this piece – namely, how to use space and subtle, organic distortion to simultaneously alter and reveal not only his source material, but the listener’s relationship to it.
Splicing the DNA of Alvin Lucier’s "I Am Sitting in a Room" with Andrew Chalk and Christoph Heeman, he taps the former’s conceptual ingeniousness and the latter’s ability to build subtle gradations of tone into slow-burn, melancholy narratives. Another (unavoidable) reference point for Tape Chants (and most other modern tape-based ) is William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops, a chanced-upon experiment in long-form tape loops the defining statement of decay as elegy. But Kowalsky’s chants are more meditative than elegiac, more active than atmospheric and don’t have any air of scientific inquiry about them. The shifts from humid droning oscillator waves and thick bands of analog synth to measured bass drum pulse in "I-IV" are audible and engaging; the way he weaves them all together at the end is profound. And while the gauzy, blurring effect of the tape medium is present throughout, it’s there to underscore and bold the textures of his varied sound sources, not rub them out. So the piano, motors, pouring water, gong and more that he uses are very identifiable, often almost tactile, Kowalsky being smart enough to make both the medium and the content his message. There’s a lesson in Kowalsky’s method that composers, no matter their chosen idiom, should take to heart: simple means, ably executed, lead to sublime results.

viernes, 5 de junio de 2009

Dolphins Into The Future - ...On Sea-Faring Isolation

Genre: Experimental, Psychedelic, Drone
Label: Not Not Fun

A casual interweb cruiser could be forgiven for confusing Dolphins Into The Future the “band” (aka the one-man tape-loop blue-age ambient project executed by Belgian Cetacean Nation ambassador Lieven Martens) with Dolphins Into The Future the book (written by dimensional traveler Joan Ocean concerning her 20-year-long real life spirit quest to commune with a school of 200 wild Hawaiian Spinner dolphins). And, to be fair, they’re a LOT alike. Both deal heavily in trippy, drifting logics, vibrational holograms, and an overdose of psychedelic pastel artwork. But Ms. Ocean’s books are out of print so instead we have ...On Sea-Faring Isolation, Mr. Dolphin Martens’ vinyl debut under the DITF banner, after a 2-year string of increasingly blissed tapes and CDRs. Composed of three interwoven pieces per side, Isolation is one of those baffling magic eye LPs that seems to dissolve yr memory of it during the very act of listening. Turquoise webs of billowing synth smoke curl and dissipate into grey horizons of open sea field recordings. The wooden mast of a ship creaks quietly while astral bells toll away in morning fog. You are alone. This record could make a sailor homesick, and Joan Ocean weep. Beautifully composed and sequenced, with just the right amount of wobbly porpoise sonar prisms bubbling up from the deep, this LP exceeded all our expectations (and they were high). A fantastic voyage into the pan-dolphinic dawn. Black vinyl LPs in matte jackets with aquatic-loner artwork by Martens himself, plus a photocopied album review/interpretation by DJ Bongo Man.

jueves, 4 de junio de 2009

Chihei Hatakeyama - August 5" Cdr

Genre: Ambient
Label: Under The Spire

Edition of 200 copies in hand stamped, numbered & embossed Arigato Pak sleeves. Contains insert printed on matt photographic paper.

martes, 2 de junio de 2009

Silvester Anfang - II

Genre: Drone, Psychedelic
Label: Aurora Borealis

Belgian princes of darkness Silvester Anfang have undergone some serious changes since their last full-length, embracing new members (from bands like Kiss The Anus Of A Black Cat, Ignatz and Burial Hex) and a new sound. They've even rebranded themselves as a sequel to their former selves - Silvester Anfang II, more preoccupied with classic psych rock than ever before, balancing deep drone and Germanic motorik principles with ceremonial, robe-adorned freak folk wig-outs. With tracks like 'Na Regen Komt Sondvlred', 'The Devil Always Shits In The Same Graves Pt1' and the electrified Eastern tones of 'Ossesaaddans' the group seem to have grown into a far more substantial presence, weaving a multilayered sound that manages to succeed during quieter campfire moments (such as the haunting '60s-style oddity 'Boom Van De Eerste Menstruatie') as well as on louder interjections like 'Burkelbos', which is like a krautrock-tinted take on the Acid Mothers template, full of freeform electronic thrash and groove-heavy jamming.

James Stephen Finn - The Antique Metronome

Genre: Ambient, Experimental
Cotton Goods


Another bijou bundle of utter loveliness from Cotton Goods, once again packaged up in modified old and discarded library books and guaranteed to sell out in a heartbeat. The music of James Stephen Finn seems to have been tailor-made to fit the label aesthetic; all frayed samples, static, found sounds and looped instruments that seem almost out of sorts, never quite joining up where they should in that beautifully ramshackle way this label carries itself. From dusty old Piano fragments reminiscent of Denzel & Huhn's much overlooked debut EP 'Filet', to delicate micro-samples, bells and tones delivered with an almost childlike demeanour - it's a gorgeous debut that will sadly only ever be discovered by the very few of you lucky enough to snap one up.