Friday, March 26, 2010

Hibernate Recordings presents an evening of dimly lit soundscapes and shimmering melodies...

Wednesday May 19th 2010 @ Hole In t’ Wall, Hangingroyd lane, Hebden Bridge

8.00pm, free entry.

Simon Scott []
Simon is the former Slowdive drummer who puts out international experimental music with integrity on his label KESH Recordings. Through Simon’s dimly-lit soundscapes, we encounter shimmering melodies that gather and disperse through apocalyptic rhythms, surrounded by layers of harmony that hover over found-sounds. Simon has also collaborated under the moniker Seavault (Morr Music) with A.Ryan from Isan, and also goes under the name Televise.

Machinefabriek []
Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuyderveldt from Rotterdam, Holland) is amongst the finest experimental/electronic artists of recent years – his ultra-prolific back catalogue showcases his ability to perfect classical ambience, organic drone soundscapes, electronic minimalism and cathartic noise, and he has been hailed as one of the most interesting new experimental musicians by the Wire magazine.

Clem Leek []
Clem Leek is a musician & composer from the South East. He has just completed his MA in Music Composition an is now releasing his first E.P, ‘Through the Annular’ on Schedios Records. Clem draws his influence from a number of sources, from the minimalist composers Steve Reich & Philip Glass and also such musicians as Keith Kennif, Max Richter, Matt Hales and many more, creating a beautiful mix of piano melodies and subtle instrumentation, all set to the crackle of a 78" record.

Relmic Statute []
Relmic Statute is Leeds-based artist David Horner, who assembles lulling, grainy soundscapes based on the splicing of field recordings collected from cassettes and old 1/4-inch tape.

Spheruleus []
Interluding the performances of the artists listed above, Harry Towell (Spheruleus) will be playing some of his favourite ambient/drone/electro-acoustic records from over the years.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

AGCD039 - Harry Towell "A Familiar Pattern" (Spring Drone mix)

The familiar pattern of changing seasons brings us spring - leaves are slowly returning to the trees and new life is upon us. The weather ranges from warm and sunny intervals to outbursts of rain.
Plenty of inspiration for basing an ambient mix around spring - and so here is heady collection of the sleepiest drones you're likely to hear, to serve as the soundtrack to your spring.

This mix opens with a short and musical piece by Tape and Bill Wells, before heading off down a drone based representation of spring. At times, it is bright and cheerful and at other times, it is cloudy and overcast.
The above photograph was taken by myself in Lincolnshire, UK on a pleasant spring afternoon.

001 TAPE AND BILL WELLS - "Fugue 4"
002 TAYLOR DEUPREE - "Weather"
003 LEXITHIMIE - "Discolor"
004 JACOB NEWMAN - Strings and Keys"
005 SPHERULEUS - "Untitled"
006 SHAULA - "Sea Of Trees"
007 KYLE BOBBY DUNN - "Mobiles (There Is No End)
008 Tu'M - "Monochromes 2"
009 MORGAN JENKS - "Gemini (It's You)"
010 NEST - "Amroth"
011 TOMASZ BEDNARCZYK - "Shimokita"
012 ANDREW THOMAS - "1000 Pinholes In A Black Paper Sky"
013a CHIHEI HATAKEYAMA - "Jade Green River"
013b JASPER LEYLAND - "It Swept"
014 COUNTERSPARK - "5.28"
015 YUI ONODERA - "Synergetics #2"

Throughout this mix, you will be able to hear various field recordings. Some were recorded myself, others were actually part of the recordings used and others were created by the following artists:


Let me know what you thought of this mix, and whether you were able to stay awake whilst listening...

MDAC016 - Monthly Discerning Audio Chart, March 2010

'Review' time again! That monthly blog post where I pretend to be a music journalist. There's been plenty out since the start of 2010 - March is no exception. Not all of this month's material is new however - I've been prompted to revisit memory lane a few times this month and I've also been scouring back-catalogs too, for those gems I may have missed.

JASPER TX "A Voice From Dead Radio" (Remixes)
First up and straight to the top of this month's list is Dag Rosenqvist's new release on Under The Spire. It is a collection of old works remixed by what can only be described as a selection of the biggest names in the scene. Added to this, Dag is of course a big name himself and here, this marvellous 2 x CD release has come out on one of the best labels around at the minute. Under The Spire has decided that for this one, they'd drop their usual Arigato package in favour of this fully printed CD with stunning artwork from Oscar Jacobsson. They really have gone all out with this album and most importantly, the music itself certainly hasn't been compromised. This entire package as a whole is a truly amazing piece of work. You might now struggle to get hold of it, since it's more or less sold out already...
For me personally, the highlights of this tremendous release are the remixes by Pillowdiver, Simon Scott and Steinbruchel. Seaworthy and Zelienople have turned in superb reinterpretations too, as the two longer tracks on this remix CD.
Potentially a candidate for album of the year...

ITHACA TRIO - "Tesla Versus The Night"
As many are becoming increasingly aware, Under The Spire are a label releasing consistently top-notch material as each month passes. This label is really starting to turn heads throughout the scene and upon a purchase of any release, it is easy to see why. This release by the Leeds based collective is no exception - it stands proudly in the label's catalog and is every bit the shining example of the sort of fine music we have come to expect from Under The Spire.
Opening with 'Dragon Sleeps Well', we are treated to a laidback and gentle arrangement of carefully treated electro-acoustic manipulation that is a perfect example of just how talented the Ithaca Trio are. There are many passionate ambient music enthusiasts that have never heard of them - which is difficult to grasp, as upon first listen this sounds as good as the work you'd associate with established scene heavy-weights and seasoned veterans of the genre.
Unfortunately, it looks like Under The Spire have more or less sold out of this one - but I strongly recommend keeping an eye on the Ithaca Trio. If Tesla Versus The Night's anything to go by, they have a bright future ahead of them...

NICOLA RATTI - "From The Desert Came Saltwater"
This is by no means a new piece of work, but often I find myself scouring label back-catalogs and artist's previous works to see whether I'd missed something special.
Missing this 2008 masterpiece until now is not something that I'm proud of - especially since Ratti's 'Esope' released the same year by Zymogen has been such a firm favourite for me, even to this day.
So, this aside, I now have the album and can confidently recommend this as another Nicola Ratti masterpiece and as a prominent feature in my record collection.
This record is just full of detail - it is almost song-like in tone and structure at times, although before this becomes too familiar it treads forward to take on yet another twist in a different direction. There are field recordings littered carefully underneath a bed of electro-acoustic manipulation and composition and before long you'll hear for yourself that Ratti is a genius sound-designer - carefully manipulating a host of sounds into a gentle and relaxing listening environment. I'm not sure whether he has anything new in the pipeline - but for now, if you're not already familiar with his work, then this one is not to be missed.

This short, sweet record sees the collaboration of two extremely talented sets of musicians. Swedish post-rock band Tape join forces with folk musician Bill Wells to blend a selection of relaxed acoustic/electro-acoustic compositions.
The four-track release features guitar, an organ, other instruments and some gentle appliance of electronic effects. It is difficult to tell by listening who plays what - but I think this is irrelevant. I am a fan of Tape as a band - but at times their output can be a little saccharine in places for my taste.
Here, with Bill Wells, they allow their work to adopt a more low-slung and melancholy approach - which suits me fine! All four pieces are absolutely beautiful, none more than 'Fugue 4', which serves as a crescendo piece to close this short album. I have been bowled over by this superb release and I dare say you will be too...A must, is this.

It is dificult to write anything about Rutger Zuyderveld without instinctively using the term prolific or anything vaguely synonymous with the word. I, like many interested in the experimental electronic music scene am indeed familiar with most of his consistently interesting work.
The reason I have this month chosen to highlight this older release of his is that he is performing in May at the Hole In The Wall pub in Hebden Bridge and I myself shall be in attendence. So as that exciting prospect draws nearer as each day passes, I have spent much of the month checking back over some of his releases. This little masterpiece stood out more than most - I like the way it is such a short album yet full of tiny detail. It says so much in such a short space of time, without ever feeling hurried. I like how I am able to spend a 15 minute break at work, listen to the album in full and feel completely refreshed as a result.

ELAN MEHLER QUARTET - "Scheme For Thought"
In recent weeks, my side-project search for late-night ambient jazz has been leaking into my review sections with the recent addition of Bohren & Der Club Of Gore et al to my record collection.
So, here with 'Scheme For Thought', I can present the perfect example of the sort of sounds I am collating as I near a collection large enough for me to construct a mix. This album represents exactly the style of jazz I am particularly fond of. As a record, it is certainly not new to me. I first heard it played a few years back on a Gilles Peterson radio show and I have been thoroughly enjoying it ever since.
It is a few years old and many will already know of this delightfully relaxing jazz record. My recent inspiration to craft an hour-long jazz mix ha urged me to dig this classic out again. And a real classic indeed it is...

ASHER - "Landscape Studies"
Another album I'd missed somehow - despite the fact that I am familiar with the artist. This album of mid-length minimal drone soundscapes is one of the sleepiest, most restful albums I've heard - and that's saying something! The drones are gentle, lightly atmospheric, feature gentle hiss and subtle unobtrusive field recordings. It reminds me in some ways of the sort of minimal ambient drones you'd expect to hear from recent Ryonkt output, such as his 'Window To The Room' release on Under The Spire. I strongly recommend picking up a copy of this album - especially if you're in need of a good rest! The real beauty with 'Landscape Studies' is that it is very difficult to concentrate fully on it and you're likely to fall asleep before hearing the album consciously in full. So it will take a lot of listens to really get to know the album fully. Which, given its simplicity and minimal approach is a really special thing.

FENTON - "Pup"
Under the pseudonym 'Fenton', Shuttle 358 wrote the album 'Pup' some time back with a view to focus on sound design centred around guitar. I was still thrashing out techno back in the days that this was released, so I missed it. No harm in checking back down the back-catalogs to see what I'd been missing out on...I think the main reason I've not given this album a good listen before now is because of the less than evocative track titles. The album is called 'Pup', there are tracks entitled 'Bunny' to name but two examples. But what's in a name?
'Pup' is actually an album full of exactly the kind of lazy ambient sounds I'm constantly searching for. And it has been there all along, throughout my search for fine ambient music. So I have made a resolution to try and judge less by its proverbial cover...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spheruleus - "Frozen Quarters" Available now!!!

Hi all,

Just thought I'd send out a message to inform that the new Spheruleus album 'Frozen Quarters' is available now from Under The Spire Records.

The album consists of 14 short tracks of electro-acoustic music spanning various moods and tones. It features field recordings of everyday sounds, instrument compositions from various sources and moody treated ambient drones.
It can be purchased as a pre-order from Under The Spire now fom the following link:

Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the years, to Chris at Under The Spire for releasing this, Eric for the stunning artwork and to Ian Hawgood who's done an excellent job mastering these works.

001 Vignette
002 Moss
003 Green
004 Solution
005 Mist
006 Appliance
007 Orchid
008 Crescent
009 Hanging
010 Autumn
011 Glass
012 Gossamer
013 Frozen
014 Colophon

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

MDAC015 - Monthly Audio Chart, February 2010

Onto the second month of the year and yet more irresistable music has been resonating my eardrums. I've been particularly poor this month - perhaps as a direct result of purchasing 'too much' music at the beginning of it. If there is such a thing...
Onto the reviews then - I've unearthed some big albums throughout February. Albums I am likely to enjoy for as long as I shall live...

NEST - Retold
First up, an album that's likely at the top of many people's 'February list'. Throughout the net, much has been fondly written about this album, which sees Deaf Centre's Erik Skodvin team up with Huw Roberts, the Serein label owner. The album concept was born out of an eponymously titled netlabel E.P by the duo which has likely been one of the best netlabel releases to date. Nest have reconvened to craft 'the rest of the album' some years later, and what a treat we are in for too. Anyone who isn't familiar with Nest at all will be delighted, as it will be a real treat getting acquainted with the entire project as a new album. I like many however, have been lovingly soaking into the original tracks for a couple of years now, particularly Trans Siberian and Charlotte. So with the addition of the new and equally excellent material, the album feels refreshing and complete and well worth every fraction of a penny.
This one is not to be missed...

A bit of a side project of mine is slowly building a collection of jazz influenced ambient music and general lazy, late-night jazz. Here, I have discovered Bohren & Der Club Of Gore, a collective that more or less sum up the direction this side project is heading.
I have read that they have a bit of a following, and I am not suprised. The quality of this music is chillingly beautiful and my one regret is that I haven't discovered them earlier!
Jazz can at times be complexly percussive. Not a bad thing at all! But I love how this album features simple crashes of percussion, drawn out notes, fender rhodes chords and occasional trumpet moments.
Some pieces are long and drawn out, some are short and sweet. The whole album is full of mysterious, moody atmosphere. This is their first release for five years now and it really is a must purchase...

LEXITHIMIE - Leontopodium
I haven't downloaded an awful lot of netlabel music of late for some reason. I'm really not sure why this is - perhaps the release schedules are slowing for certain labels? Perhaps some labels are going into new directions which are not to my taste? Perhaps I haven't the time to keep as close a check on them as I used to? I'm not sure. There are still a few labels where I can almost guarantee quality material from top artists and Resting Bell is a good example of this.
Onto the artist, French sound designer Alexis Bechu records and releases as Lexithimie. Here, to support his recent physical release on Hibernate Recs, he has given us an immersive two tracker to soak into for free. I was hooked on this project as soon as I had heard just a few seconds of that first drone in 'Discolor'. It is so warm, mysterious and relaxing. I've played this piece of the two in particular an awful lot this month.
I shall be keeping a close eye on Lexithimie releases throughout the future if this is anything to go by...

Ah, more Jazz!? Yes. This album leans more heavily towards the Jazz genre than Ambient...owed to the fact that it is actually straight Jazz. I like to have a healthy selection of jazz in my music collection and this is just the sort I like. Beautiful piano chords, intricate percussion, double bass, a smooth saxohone performance and the occasional moment of harp. The inclusion of the harp is an interesting addition and it adds diversity to the jazz sound to be heard by this group of musicians.
This album is divided into two styles: straight up, get up and go jazz and slow, gentle pieces. The two gentle pieces 'Together' and 'I've Been Here Before' are truly immersive listening experiences of which I am guaranteed to thoroughly enjoy every time. The closing piece 'Me And You' is also a favourite.
Stand by for my jazz mix...I will be sure to include some Matthew Halsall. In the meantime, be sure to get yourself acquainted with this excellent group of musicians.

HAUSCHKA - "Substantial"
Piano based Modern Classical music is readily available at the minute and although much of it is superb, it takes something really special to memorably push the boundaries without getting it horribly wrong.
I had come accross Hauschka when taking a look at the recent remix CD release of Dakota Suite's 'The Night Just Keeps Coming In' and if I am honest, it was a name I was unfamiliar with. What have I been missing? I immediately downloaded 'Substantial' and I have to say, this is one of the best albums I have ever heard. The title 'Substantial' is absolutely perfect for it. It is not just an album of piano tone littered with half-heartedly recorded field recordings. It is a full and warm musical album with a substantial narrative.
It never sounds too familiar no matter how many times you listen. The tracks always sound refreshing and little details reveal themselves to you but not enough so that you anticipate them.
This album comes with my highest recommendation.

A BROKEN CONSORT - "Crow Autumn"
As any regular reader of this blog will know, I am a big fan of Richard Skelton's works under any of his guises. Here, we are treated to another outing under his A Broken Consort pseudonym. I am led to believe that this album was originally a long piece but has since been spliced into seven sections to really bring out Skelton's carefully woven instrument drones. The album does of course flow as one if you wish to play it like that. But the fact that it can be split into seven sections without sounding samey throughout is a testament to the sheer level of depth and variation Richard Skelton has put into this album.
I have been listening to Skelton's last A Broken Consort album 'Box of Birch' regularly ever since I purchased it and I dare say there will be a long pause as I sit trying to decide between which of the two albums I should listen to as I prepare for a stroll into town...

DANNY PAUL GRODY - "Fountains"
I'm increasingly getting into Folk, Americana and guitar based electro-acoustic music. I had never heard of Danny Paul Grody until his release on Root Strata this month and despite this, I could now happily cite him as one of my favourite musicians. As you will hear upon listening to this album, he is not just a guitarist - he is a soundscaper too. But what is interesting is that he doesn't allow his ability to process and accentuate his guitar recordings to consume his ability to expertly play the guitar. His highly musical recorded guitar performances are so beautiful, it is difficult to accurately explain. They are so warm and bright - all along there are the vaguest nuances of sound-design that occasionally creep through without ever stealing the limelight of his guitar work.

This one's a couple of years old and Takeshi Nishimoto is an artist that is new to me. I'm not sure how on earth I stumbled accross this, but it's certainly ticking all the boxes. The album features pure guitar and it is performed beautifully by this talented Japanese musician. The album actually reminds me a lot of an album by compatriot Yuichiro Fujimoto in the way that it feels very personal. Listening to this album, it feels almost as if you're actually in the same room as the artist. Not only this, there is the gentlest of hiss picked up through the recording process that gives you a sense of being somewhere else - perhaps in the same room as Nishimoto and his guitar. This is hard to describe into words, but you'll know when you hear it. I think the hiss is more apparent, because it hasn't been drenched with additional field recordings and drones. It is just the hiss, Nishimoto and the guitar - the music has been stripped right down.

DAKOTA SUITE - "The End Of Trying"
With a recent remix CD perfectly worthy of a place in my reviews section, I decided to delve back to the original album instead. This was released almost exactly a year before and had slipped the radar as far as I was concerned. So I thought I'd best get that album first and give it some listening time before getting the remix release. The track titles and music substance are often mournful and depressing - for this is perhaps a soundtrack to whatever sorrows the artist was feeling, and it can be the soundtrack to your sorrows too. In fact, it may induce a sorrowful state, so be careful! It is a very emotional album and can be at time difficult to listen to in certain states. Nevertheless, this all aside, it is a stunningly beautiful album performed magnificently...a must for any music collection.