Tuesday, June 23, 2009

MDAC007 - Monthly Discerning Audio Chart, June 2009

The more observant visitors to this site will have noticed, that I failed to produce a Monthly Discerning Audio Chart for last month. This is of course absolutely awful and will likely contribute heavily to the further detriment of the global financial crisis. So, for that I sincerely apologise. However, like any true politician, I shall attempt to cover it up with a sentence of absolute rubbish that will make it seem like a positive thing.
This month, due to the lack of a chart for May, we have amalgamated the last two months particularly well-received audio into one list of ten. So the list still will still be ten-strong, meaning I will have to drop some excellent music that didn't quite make the list...This list really will be a chart of top quality discerning sounds. So if you are to heed the recommendations of any Audio Gourmet list , this should be the one. (That is assuming that I don't start to 'forget' to compile these on a regular basis...)

Enough babble and cover-up stories - here is ten albums/e.ps or tracks that I have particularly enjoyed over the last two months:

EXUVIAE - "Intrinsic Luminance"
We'll kick off with an excellent full Ambient album by the multi-directional Exuviae, recently released on Dark Winter's light-ambient spin of label, Endless Ascent. The sheer level of detail woven into this album is simply mesmerising. It is essentially Ambient music of classic drift format, the type you're supposed to just disappear off to a world of thought...that kind of music is typically of a stripped and minimal nature. This is something different - it is so very well produced and so very detailed. The track 'Lost in the details' completely sums up this album - it is incredibly detailed and intricate, yet still allows the listener to just soak into it and basque in its drifting beauty. I've fallen asleep to this album almost every night over the last two months....you can too, by downloading it from:
If you are intrigued by Exuviae's music, you can delve further on their website:

SYLVIE WALDER & ENTIA NON - "Bewilderment"
I've been raving about the sound design talent of James McDougall (Entia Non) since I discovered his work at the beginning of this year. I've downloaded all of his backcatalog spanning labels from SEM/IOD to Test Tube. James is a truly talented producer channeling a multitude of sounds and tones into a melting pot of drifting ambient sound. He has teamed up here with Sylvier Walder to create a sheer masterpiece. This four-tracker on Resting Bell will have you drifting off to another world in no time at all. It is so very detailed without becoming obvious and it will have you hanging on for those sprinklings of piano notes and instrument takes. My personal favourite has to be 'Le Petite Lac'; beautiful! I'm sure you will agree...download the full album for free here:

HENRIK SCHWARZ/AME/DIXON - "The Grandfather Paradox" (Mix CD)
Picked up this CD last month having been intrigued by the liner notes and the tracklist. It incorporates the genre-defying approach to DJing and music loving that I hold so dearly myself. As a mix CD, it doesn't stay to just one genre and the latest releases in it. It carries an underlying theme, spans several genres and the sound library has been truly opened up to more than just the 'Just In' section. I think as a DJ, you are in grave danger of playing just the latest releases for mere promotion purposes. You're not doing anything different to anyone else and you are ignoring an entire history of music. So for many reasons, this looked to be an excellent idea as a mix CD. Upon listening...it doesn't disappoint. All sorts of different sounds, textures and rhythms in this one - nothing over the top. Just a celebration of 50 years of good minimlaist music...
My pick of the bunch is the soulful 'Feedback' by Green Pickles.

JOHN MARTYN - 'Smiling Stranger'
One of the big joys of being a connosieur of music is having such an abundant collection, that you manage to forget and then 'rediscover' some fantastic records. I used to listen to this wonderful John Martyn track on repeat a couple of years back and I'd completely forgot I'd ever had it! Early leftfield music from 1977, drawing elements from several genres - rock, funk, folk, orchestral, jazz...this is a truly superb, if short piece of music that comes with my strongest recommendation.

This has been a big big record for me over the last couple of months. I was going to buy it on 12" when it first came out, but just couldn't muster the funds at the time. So I am a bit late on parade with this one. But I eventually bought at the beginning of May as the sun started to shine and things began to warm up here in the UK. This is going to be the summer record that will forever remind me of 2009. Deep House, Jazz or Soul? Which genre sits best? Does it really matter...? This record is truly excellent. I love the way the moody jazzy opening gives way to a dubby Deep House rhythm and those excellent vocals by Joseph Malik.

I've been downloading music by Philip Wilkerson and Tange ever since I first got into Ambient music. Together as a unit, the pair truly complement one another. I feel this is their best effort yet from what I've heard. Released on Earth Mantra records, there are four desolate mid-length Ambient tracks that are perfect for relaxing, thinking or sleeping. The drones aren't linear - they are detailed arrangements and compositions that are mastered perfectly, shimmering gently into one another. What really adds to any Ambient music releases, is a beautiful instrument accent to just sit on those flowing drones. Here, the lap steel guitar is played blissfully to accompany a wash of gentle Ambience. This is an absolutely top quality Ambient release and comes highly recommended. Free, as well...

KAI ALCE - "Ooohhh!" (Dubbyman Remix)
I've been a huge Deep House head for more than I can remember and it's a genre that needs to be done just right for it to have its desired effect. This E.P is good, but sounds a little flat in places...On remix duty for the track 'Ooohhh!' is Dubbyman, and this is a fine example of how to just make everything sound full; he brings the track to life! This is well worth the purchase! I've got quite a bit of his stuff and nothing fails to impress. I've a sneaky suspiscion that he makes use of an old Chez Damier sample for the remix...could be wrong.

CONJOINT - "A Few Empty Chairs"
Just bought a few tracks from this excellent album and it sounds absolutely magnificent. Jazz is something that is of fascination to lots of sound artists and many people interpret their own versions of 'new' jazz with use of electronica. Conjoint fuse tastefully crafted electronic sounds with smooth, languid guitar licks and subtle vibraphone tones and it makes for a very enjoyable listening indeed...

DUCCU - "Midnight Run"
I've been sifting through some Deep House numbers and music to walk and smile to as summer sets in. This one has that chilled out summer House vibe to it, through and through. Deep keys, short vocal sample, jazzy keys and a deep gritty bassline. Not much is known about Duccu, but this track was released for a compilation on Swedish label Dealers Of Nordic Music back in 2006. 79p in iTunes, you just can't go wrong for the summer if you like your Deep House.

LOCO DICE - "The Lab"
As most House heads will know, NRK have just released a Circo Loco mix CD that has been causing quite a stir. Loco Dice has compiled CDs that you can buy it either as a mix CD or as an unmixed compilation. There's a lot of good music in this compilation and like many, I've been listening to my copy ever since it came out. But for those that aren't familiar with this, it is well worth your money if you're into House music or have been a fan of the ever renowned Loco Dice. He seems to be really exploding on the scene with growing intensity, without compromising his choice of records or production.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

AGCD 035 - Audio Gourmet - "Forgotten Fragments of Sound"

This collection of drones, field recordings and other experimental sounds is a collection of works that had either been forgotten about or just didn't quite fit in with the album project I'd been working on at the time of creation.

This collection is for those who enjoyed darker Audio Gourmet material from when we first started, to those who like weird, dusty Ambient elements and those who are keen on experimental soundscapes, field recordings and electronically treated instrument takes.
Perhaps you want to listen to what could have been part of an interesting album concept? Perhaps you are intrigued at listening out for unfinished sections of abandoned projects? Perhaps you are wondering what you can add or change about the pieces?

Perhaps you'd like to use them somehow for your own productions as an artist? They are yours, for free - to do with them as you wish.

THE LINK: (FREE Download)


001 'Stomata'
"When I first got into Ambient in a big way, I became very much awe inspired by nature. I would spend hours just walking around the countryside, listening to my growing collection of Ambient drones on the iPod. It inspired me to record an album themed and based around trees. I still like this idea, but unfortunately it was never thoroughly carried through in the end. So to open an album full of odds and ends, here is a piece I created using a harmonica, a tape recording dictaphone and a cheap mic. Back in the early days...."

002 'Drone 008 as EFB'
"Living in the same house as my brother Stuart, I can often hear the quiet distant drone of him playing his several guitars. I started to grow increasingly interested in trying to capture the essence of what I could hear through the wall in my room and how I could utilise Stuart's guitar in my Ambient production work. I recorded several compositions of his and began to experiment. For those that enjoyed the debut album from the two of us as 'Spheruleus', it is clear to see how for this project, I became less interested in diluting his guitar compositions to quiet, hazy soundscapes; Spheruleus shifted the focus to make the focal point the actual instrument itself.
So this is an old example of how I would approach making dusty Ambient drones from one of his compositions."

003 'Continue' (Instrumental)
"This short piece is the instrumental version to the first track in which I began experimenting with the human voice. I've not included the vocal version...since I am not entirely happy with it! Rest assured, I am not eliminating the prospect of using my vocal chords as a means of experimenatl sound design and audio art....
So, in this short track, I used another snippet of Stuart's guitar composition and draped it over a dusty bed of field recordings and hissy drones from my old tape/dictaphone recorder."

004 'Tearoom Ambience'
"Earlier this year I was lucky enough to meet a particularly special female person, whom I have taken to very much and wish to remain firmly acquainted with for as long as physically possible. A short while into our wonderful relationship, it was uncovered that both of us appreciated the finer things in life, and had developed an insatiable desire to consume copious amounts of tea.
So we paid a visit to England's marvellous capital city to a tea room of which I shall not specify, and drank what is probably the best blend of tea you could possibly imagine. Not only this, we were delighted to have been treated with an exquisite grand piano performance to further enhance what was a truly wonderful afternoon.
Never being one to miss an opportunity to capture 'that sound', I seized the moment with my digital recorder to hand. This recording preserves that afternoon so well, it almost feels as if I'm there, each time I listen to it."

005 'Desiduous'
"With a similar direction to the first track 'Stomata', Desiduous was constructed using treated harmonica as a drone instrument as part of my would-be tree album. The light recordings were taken of gentle taps upon the wooden part of a ukulele, to add subtle punctuation to this short soundscape."

006 'Debris'
"You may or may not know, that in February I had a sleep album out on www.phantomchanne.co.uk under my guise 'Eyes Flutter Beneath'. There are five reduced volume drones designed to create sleepy, dream-inducing brainwaves for the listener.
"This track, 'Debris' is the track that never made it. It was actually the first track I'd made for the album and serves as the main inspiration for it. So for what reason was it not to be included in the release? Looking back...I have no idea!! It fits the mood perfectly and I actually regret not fitting it in on the release. I guess, being the first track, it was the one I'd heard a little too often and grew impatient with.
Much of the accents, recordings and hum are taken from my work place, on what was a very wet and rainy day."

007 'Return To Reality'
"Subconscious Substance rounded off my debut year as an Ambient producer and in my opinion, is my best contribution in that glorious year for Audio Gourmet. This track here just couldn't quite fit in anywhere as I struggled to make it work. Looking back, however, I realise just how subtly complex this Ambient drone is...and how with just a little work, it could have made the final tracklisting and stood out on that album."

008 'Apocalypse #4'
009 'Apocalypse #3'
010 'Apocalypse #1'
"For some time at the beginning of 2009 I started working on ideas for a Dark Ambient side project themed around the apocalypse. Yet, with 'Inside The Dream Laboratory' and 'The Disguised Familiar' released early that year, there just wasn't the time to finish this project. So I have decided to include these last three pieces for you to wonder what could have been and revel in the darker, dingey side of the Ambient world..."

cover image taken by B.Day in a recent trip we made to the Bakewell area, in the Peak District