October - one of my favourite times of the year, when the leaves are turning and it is beginning to turn nice and cold...I have had a mammoth month of listening to new and interesting music. I've enough new material to fill countless of these charts! I'm going to have to condense it somehow down to the usual ten...
RICHARD SKELTON - "Marking Time"
It has been a good while since I ordered any vinyl and in 'Marking Time', I've bought myself an absolute gem. This record is going to be a piece of vinyl I will never grow tired of for as long as I shall live. Skelton is an absolute master at recording multi-layered modern classical music. He runs his own label Sustain-Release and is responsible for putting out his wonderful work, packaged in stunningly beautiful artwork, created by his late wife. His music is haunting and often laced with melancholy. It gives you a sense of being transported back in time. I find his music, his approach and his ideas unbelievably inspiring. I'm working on a little something myself and although it sounds nothing like what Skelton writes, I would cite his work as the main influence on my new venture. This man is a genius!
This is a limited edition record though - you'll be hard pressed to find it anywhere! I've just taken a quick look at Juno and Boomkat, and it's sold out there unfortunately. It does come with my strongest recommendation this - if there is any chance that you're able to get a copy then do so!
A BROKEN CONSORT - "Box Of Birch"
Richard Skelton again...he produces under so many monikers and here as 'A Broken Consort' he's carved another masterpiece. Four pieces of powerfully haunting, melancholy music. It can be downloaded from Boomkat in either mp3 or FLAC at the following link:
SLOW - "Dual Box"
Resting Bell have recently released this new album by Russian composer Sergey Suokas and I have thoroughly enjoyed soaking into its many depths this month.
I have Slow's previous release 'Room Phive', also on Resting Bell but this record really does push the boundaries further. It's different to 'Room Phive' in the way that it is deeper, more loose and less electronically sequenced. It is much closer to being Ambient music than just electronica. Which to me, is what separates the truly talented artists in this field. My favourite track is 'Miracle' which features a bitter-sweet drone with delicate and playful instrument takes draped on top. This is such a beautiful album - I'm bowled over by it. I shall be keeping a very watchful ear on Suokas from now on...
Download your copy for free here:
MORGAN JENKS - "Sound To Activate Space"
Not everything I've been listening to is brand new - I don't always get time to give old albums that second or third listen and can occasionally forget about some records. I am guilty of doing so with these two longformers by Morgan Jenks, released on Test Tube back in 2008. Not an awful lot is known about Jenks - obviously you have a good look round for newer material when you discover an old album in your record collection you'd forgotten about! But I can't seem to find anything else by him. So, I am left to bask in these two stunning soundscapes he's crafted. The first 'Gemini' is full of shimmering tone that will leave you feeling still, calm and refreshed. The second 'An Anthem For The Bats And Their Prey' is different in the way that the tone seems to be derived from acoustic instrument composition and the field recordings tell the story given away in the track title. It's an excellent album on the whole. One of the best I've heard in fact!
Download for free here:
VARIOUS ARTISTS "The Hundredth Mantra"
Any netlabel that reaches its centenary of releases is to be commended, and this month it was Earth Mantra that was celebrating its 100th release. Many will of course be aware of the prolific Earth Mantra netlabel, but for those who aren't then this 4cd compilation will serve as the best introduction as you could possibly get!
Near enough every artist that has ever released on the netlabel has managed to get together a piece of ambient music to go on this excellent compilation.
The beauty of Earth Mantra is that it doesn't just release one or two styles of Ambient, it is passionate about everything from Electro-acoustic works to space music. So, this compilation is a huge cross section of all the different styles the label covers and represents all of the talented artists that have featured on it.
Of course, being a previous contributor to the label myself, I put a short track together for the compilation and it is entitled 'Five Dozen Centuries'. It's not necessarily a piece that sums up my production style, but when I wrote it I was inspired by the work of Tim Hecker. One of my favourite Hecker tracks 'October' features a melody that almost endlessly repeats. Buzzing away underneath it, there are feint harmonies and accents. And this is the approach for 'Five Dozen Centuries'...
Please download and enjoy this mammoth release:
dreamSTATE - "A Decade Dreaming'"
A real treat for us here - Ping Things have released this album of selected works by legendary Ambient outfit dreamSTATE to celebrate ten years of live performances.
The album features work with several collaborators and is a pleasure to listen to.
Download your copy for free:
Martin Dot - "For You"
I've recently been scouring back catalogs of all kinds of Ambient netlabels and burning CDs of those big releases I missed. This album, by Rain netlabel boss Martin Dot is an absolute joy to listen to. It has been downloaded over 10,000 times and is obviously a hit with those who have been listening to it ever since it came out - it is well commented on too! Somehow though, I missed it and have only just grabbed my copy this month. Dot's usual output is largely deep electronic drone based ambient. With 'For You' he demonstrates his ability to play the piano with such finesse. It's a beautiful album to stick on in the background - it feels cold, it feels warm - it's full of gently unfurling tone.
If you missed this one too, download it here:
ANDREY KIRITCHENKO - "Misterrious"
I've downloaded a fair bit of Kiritchenko's old netlabel output and I've always been impressed with his experimental projects. This month, I stumbled accross his work on Spekk and I am very impressed indeed...'Misterrious' is not to be filed under ambient music nor jazz, but it somehow sits between the two. The approach was of both music styles in equal parts and it is an extraordinary listen. It has all the credentials of Ambient music with its field recordings and tone. It has the credentials of jazz, with its instrumentation and composition. Somehow though, it is neither. Once you rid yourself of concern for classifying its genre, you can begin to thoroughly enjoy this delightful record. This really is a superb album.
RUDI ARAPAHOE - "Echoes From One To Another"
This record is simply sublime. I've had it for ages and I just never tire of hearing its playful, sometimes melancholy charm. It's absolutely full of different sounds, instrument takes and vocal musings and the overall feel for me is of medieval nature. It's a quirky album and one you will enjoy. You have to get to know it - lending it a few listens. My favourite track is Conversation Piece...
RYONKT - "All The Things Which I See"
I'm a big fan of Japanese sound artist Ryonkt. I've recently been listening to this release of his, on the Lunar Flower netlabel. I've heard that Lunar Flower are to stop operating as an active netlabel for various reasons - but at least we will be able to download the backcatalog. If you are unfamiliar with Lunar Flower, be sure to download yourself a copy of this album. It is so unbelievably gentle - it makes you feel completely still and at rest. It is indeed subtle, as the notes inform - but in all its subtletly is a wealth of shimmering detail. Download it here: