Friday, November 27, 2009

MDAC012 - Monthly Discerning Audio Chart, November 2009

At last, I have sat down and sorted out my iPod so that any new releases and purchases can be listened to on the move! It has of course meant the deletion of everything that was already on my iPod...but the bulk of my music collection has been saved on an external hard-drive or I own a CD copy of it. This does however mean that I am to spend all my spare time sat feeding CDs into my laptop and waiting for iTunes to import it.
Still, I've plenty of new listening experiences for my iPod this month and thus I have 10 of my favourite listed below:
PILLOWDIVER - "Sleeping Pills"
Firstly, a mention and couple of paragraphs must be written about this stunning album by German guitarist Pillowdiver. As always, this list of music never tends to sway a bias as to which was my favourite album of the month but I think I can make an exception here with 'Sleeping Pills' since I have stumbled across an album that I am certain to enjoy for the rest of my time on this earth. Somehow, I missed it back in May when it was first released - for whatever that reason was, I regret not buying it sooner. I've seen the beautiful cover artwork dotted across pages ever since its release but failed to take the plunge and download.
Still, I have it now and have been thoroughly enjoying this work of art all month.
It is an album that chiefly features the languid guitar compositions of Rene Margaff, sat on a bed of droning feedback, noise, hiss and field recordings. My favourite piece has to be the first track 'Twenty -Nine'...
IAN HAWGOOD - "Before I Let The Sunshine Rot"
Ian Hawgood is a prolific artist both in the netlabel community and otherwise, who is responsible for the running of label Home Normal. 'Before I Let The Sunshine Rot' is an album that for Ian preserves many a memory from his travels across Seoul, Lecce, Paris and Pennsylvania. The melody is a delicate mixture of drone tracks, brief interludes and guitar songs. The sounds and noises that sit gently beneath are a collection of recordings I assume to have been made in his travel destinations - telling a story of many a moment throughout his excursions.
The title sums it up 'Before I Let The Sunshine Rot' - I can imagine this refers to releasing the album to preserve his experiences before his memory of them begins to fade.
for us, this is a thoughtful album with a strong concept and story to think of as we sink into this beautiful music.
Download here, for free:
TOMASZ BEDNARCZYK "Let's Make Better Mistakes Tomorrow"
Tomasz Bednarczyk is a young Polish sound designer and here with 'Let's Make Better Mistakes Tomorrow' we have a collection of ten delightful drones, deep and rich in form. The drones themselves are usually linear and change form only subtly; the detailed, gentle changes and nuances require great attention and focus. That said, it is all too easy to drift away and overlook these tiny details without thinking. The drones aren't huge pieces - instead they generally quite short, allowing you a brief pause of contemplation or time to spend a moment drifting off somewhere else. When track six 'The Sketch' arrives, we are given a moment away from the general feel of the album, as a delicately deconstructed piano arrangement covered in a dusty hiss stimulates our eardrums. Then, as gently as the overall feel of the album we are tuned back to droneland to see the remaining minutes out in typically delicate fashion. This is a fantastic album and I shall be keeping a close watch on Tomasz' future output.
DANNY NORBURY "Light In August"
British cellist Danny Norbury has previously worked on projects with Library Tapes, The Boats, Nancy Elizabeth and now he turns his talent to the Lacies Records label to release his own solo album 'Light In August'. This album is a cinematic arrangement of sorrowful cello melodies accompanied by light piano keys and although at times it feels melancholly and mournful, the real emphasis is on beauty. This is purely organic music in a modern classical sense but nevertheless, it is relaxing and Ambient in its gentle nature.
Another big release for 12k - a highly renowned label putting out all kinds of artistic electronic music. Here, we have '1897' by Australian
The album is a magnificent mixture of field recordings, musique concrete dark ambience, drenched with reverb and of course, most importantly a superbly assembled array of guitar melody. Reverb is the key ingredient to this superb album. Not the kind of reverb added as an additional studio treatment process but reverb cast live, inside a disused ammunition bunker in Newington, Australia.
It's this approach that really has me interested in Seaworthy. It really adds something to the album in an organic sense that is a really tangible listening experience.
This is an excellent album of drone, guitar, natural recordings and natural reverb. It is NOT to be missed.

THE LOWLIGHT MIXES - "Beyond This Window"

It is between two Ambient mix blogsites that I am to attribute my intense obsession with this mellow, relaxing and lazy style of music. One is The Hydrogen cafe and the other is Lowlight Mixes. Both provide long form mixes of sublime and gentle ambient music that got me hooked on this whole idea of Ambient music and made me want to find out more and eventually come to start writing my own material and exploring my own ideas. Mixes are a different experience to albums, E.Ps and tracks in the way they collaborate many different artists work together as a collage for the ears. The true talent of course lies within the individual artists' works, but the ability to assemble a mix of these works in a tasteful and ordered manner is an artform within itself. Here, Dave from Lowlight Mixes assembles his latest offering, including electro-acoustic pieces, drones dark and light, delicate piano pieces and underscoring field recordings. He's put together several classic mixes over the months and years but I think I shall be giving this a regular listen on long walks or periods of rest when I have time to soak into this wonderfully programmed listening experience. Download for free:

HERZOG - "First Summer And The Running Dream"

As Resting Bell slows down its release policy, we have time to soak into an album of artsy electro-acoustics and sound design by Bill Bawden who has also released as Herzog on quality netlabels 12rec and Serein. Like quite a lot of Resting Bell's releases this is a short album, lasting just half an hour. Short albums are not a bad thing of course! Ambient music is designed for times of rest and introspective contemplation and often in this culture of chaos and business time for a full hour-long listen is restricted. So, 'First Summer And The Running Dream' features five tracks of varying lengths containing an array of melodic tones that are littered with gentle, dusty, glitchy noise. The word glitch often puts me off music when used to describe it, as it conjurs up thoughts of losing an eardrum thanks to a harsh noisy din rammed down my ear canal. Fortunately, when I have used the term glitch here, I can witness that this album's 'glitch' credentials are of gentle, much more ambient nature. Little crackles, reduced hiss and noise all add texture to these mellow soundscapes. The wonderfully titled closing track 'Lately I've Been Dreaming Of Drinking Sound From A Fountain' rounds off this half-an-hour perfectly.

Download for free:

JASPER LEYLAND - "Sediments"

A shimmeringly beautiful release from back in 2008 here by Jasper Leyland is available for free download on the mOAR netlabel. Jasper Leyland is a North Yorkshire based sound designer who's real name is Jonathan Brewster and here with Sediments he concocts the perfect balance of mellow drones derived from acoustic instruments, field recordings and gentle instrumentation. This whole 6 track album is a window of mature sound design. Perfect balance is indeed the term for this project. There are occasional passages of near-silence, which as many know when done right, really add something to the overall pace of an album. The music slowly unfurls and reveals itself in new areas throughout this wonderful mellow set of tracks. Time stands still when listening to this album...Download for free:


Here we have a recent release by two highly talented artists. The mighty modern classical artist Peter Broderick meets prolific sound artist from the Netherlands Machinefabriek. The two masterfully craft this album of treated instrument passages and electronic sound manipulation into a collection of largely experimental abstract tracks. The two may seem an unlikely pairing but they have worked together before and here in 'Blank Grey Canvas Sky' it is evident that there is much respect for both artists different approach to recording ambient music. A fine balance has to be struck for two opposing artists to record a project together as one and you will hear, this ethos has been abided by for the recording of this album.

SEREIN "RE-INTRODUCTION" (Compiled and mixed by Huw Roberts)

This hour long mix by Serein label owner Huw Roberts forecasts a selection of forthcoming label releases set for 2010 and is blended with some familiar tracks from Serein's netlabel days. Most notably, there is a track 'Wheatstone' from the highly anticipated Nest album 'Retold', which is to be released on January the 31st 2010. The turn of a new year is always an exciting prospect for music enthusiasts, since a lot of artists and labels prefer to hold out for the end of a year and release their new material as the new year is upon us. And as you can see from the tracklisting, we're in for some treats from this label which has always been superb. I thoroughly enjoyed much if not all of the netlabel output in the past and I am certain to add myself to the customer list as the year turns and get myself a copy of Nest's 'Retold'. Expect a review too... In terms of this mix, it's been well assembled by Robert's - the tracks are placed perfectly and it's a very compelling, delicate listen. I had this on a few times in the evening, slumped back on the sofa with a cup of coffee. It's going to be a great 2010...

Download the mix for free:

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