Ambient Album Recommendations

Sunday, 16 October 2016

This blog post is a response to Pitchfork’s recent article presenting a list of ranked “Best Ambient Albums of All Time”. Upon its publication, a few people in my social circle were complaining about the canonization of certain albums as the top of the crop, the absence of other albums, and how that, in a sense, the numbered ranking implicitly (though probably not intentionally) delegitimizes individual variances of taste – (on the other hand, the numerous response articles published afterward are a strong indicator otherwise.) There’s also the thought that when a small set of works is enshrined into the canon of necessary works by acclimation, it calcifies the style. Perhaps no one needs look further into the genre, the fifty best gives you all you need.

At the same time some people were tangentially discussing how musical publications such as Pitchfork give no time to netlabels doing current work in the ambient genre (or in any field of musical exploration.) While there are exceptions, I think this perception is mostly correct. It seems that the non-objecthood inherent in netlabel and free-download self-releases prevent them from being seriously considered by institutionally object-oriented publications like Pitchfork. The result is that artists who are not well known, but who release their musical work physically and/or with payment required are placed on a higher tier than those who share non-object musical releases.

As for me, I have a great admiration for artists who have decided to release their work to provide for the greatest accessibility (despite your ability to pay, you may own the work,) and the least materialistic approach (one less object to hold, and later discard.) It feels to me like an important symbolic rejection of the dominant business-oriented nature of the music world, a notable anti-capitalist gesture.

Fourteen people (including myself) have decided to take a proactive approach to the problems outlined above. Each has recommended a few albums within the broad spectrum of what is called “ambient music.” They’ve provided a sentence or so of descriptive text, nothing too fancy, just enough to get a sense of the music and the reason the author enjoys the music. These aren’t presented as the “best” that the world of free music has to offer in the genre of ambient music. They are simply some albums the authors really enjoy and wanted other people to get a chance to hear. There is no album ranking to be found here.

Each of the releases described below are free, or pay-what-you-want to download. You are welcome to respond in the comments section with further recommendations, or with reactions to any of the albums listed here! Huge thanks to the participants who spent the time to recommend music. I hope these recommendations find a receptive audience. The authors of these recommendations are themselves engaged in some interesting projects, including making music and writing about music. Please take the time to follow links to find out about their work as well!

Here goes:







    The following recommendations by Marc Weidenbaum – website: disquiet.com




Stephen Vitiello revisited his Molly Berg collaborations. The original featured Berg on clarinet and vocalizations — that is, on vocal sounds, rather than lyrics — with Vitiello on guitar and an array of electronic processing. Here the source audio is whittled to a short five minutes of percussive, jittery vowels, bouncing like balls in a pixelated pachinko machine. At times it’s hard to tell where her sounds end and the featured bell-like tones begin.



The syrupy, slurpy, melty place that Danny Clay and Greg Gorlen map in intimate, elegiac detail on “marigolds i” makes for an enticing sonic cul-de-sac, a turnaround in which to get pleasingly disoriented, happily stuck. Time, genre, and technology loop back on themselves and on each other.



The dense, fluid, constantly shifting tone of the Bell Mechanical’s “Dystorphia” is sort of a drone primer. It has the expected white noise frission of something that is defined as a drone, yet were you to drop the (proverbial) needle at any random points the wide variety of sounds comprising the track would become immediately evident. It feels singular, but on repeat listens reveals multiple layers of activity: clouds and pulses and momentary signals. And it presents itself as static, and yet it has, in fact, an internal combustion that is quite active, even rapid. The track highlights numerous ways in which seeming stasis is anything but still.








    The following recommendations by Emmanuel – website: eeem.net



Deep​/​Float by Saåad


Although there are several ways to create music, I have a lot of respect for Saåad’s approach and methods used to craft the Deep/Float album.
I enjoy listening to this album with open headphones when it is windy and dawn, standing and staring at the sea. The drones blend with surrounding sounds, and this never gets old.


PROMINENCES by Tekla Mrozowicka | Marcin Cichy


I like what happens with duos and contrasts. Often, it is not entirely unexpected, and it is not the result of an overachievement; a natural alchemy just develops. PROMINENCES is a beautiful example of that phenomenon.








    The following recommendations by Gregg Skloff – website: GreggSkloff.com




As stipulated, I offer here no hierarchy of rank or “greatness” either relative or absolute. It’s simply a few freely available albums, all tagged serviceably as “ambient,” all of which I’ve gladly listened to – and/or furnished my surroundings with – dozens of times. (Full disclosure: yes, they’re all by friends of mine. I have a collaborative album with Alchymie to be issued later this year. The Alchymie album listed here, however, dates from before we met & does not involve me at all.)
Gregg Skloff
Astoria, Oregon
September 2016


Alchymie – To Begin

Minimal abstractions & improvisations alternate with subtle beats & breezy electric piano vamps. The tour of this spacecraft takes us through the control room, the observation deck, and the lounge.


The OO-Ray – Empty Orchestra

Towering landmarks of myriad form as seen through an avowedly shoegaze-inspired electric haze. “A work of stunning, heartrending beauty,” to quote myself.


Shane, Apparently – From Sleeplessness

Slow-moving banks of fog cover the midnight landscape, gradually trailing into darkness or dissipating into early morning light.











Kakurenbo – Matsuyoi No Tsuki

original: https://kakurenbo.bandcamp.com/album/matsuyoi-no-tsuki

Can’t remember how I came across this artist, but I instantly loved the beautiful melodies and soft glitchy textures. Not recommended for those who don’t like pretty music. Relaxing, without being cloying or sappy. Childlike, not childish.


You’re Terribly Late – Anywhere But Here

original: https://theghostof313.bandcamp.com/album/anywhere-but-here [no longer free]

This is a little darker than I usually like my ambient, but I enjoy the mood and attention to detail. Very visual music. “Make me A Paper Plane Again” is a track I go back to over and over.


Crisopa – Medicamentosa

original: http://www.addsensor.com/addsensor_html.htm

Some elements of electronica here, but I would mostly put it in the ambient category. Love everything about this, in particular “Algo Cián”, one of my favourite netlabel discoveries of the last few years.








    The following recommendations by Zachary Lauterbach – Twitter: @zclauterbach




Tiny Territories by SEALADDER


Power Moves Label (now known as Power Moves Library) out of Canada releases experimental music on cassette in micro editions. This particular release is much more “ambient” than their releases usually tend to be. That said, it is still of the same quality and uniqueness I have come to expect from Power Moves. This entire album is made using keyboards only. Some tracks are a little noisier. Some are more drone. Overall, I feel like this album captures a sound that, in my mind, seems ambient.


Light in the Valley by Andrew Weathers


Andrew Weathers is a prolific musician based out of Oakland, CA and is quite a mastering whiz too from what I hear. If you asked him what kind of music he makes he would probably describe it as “Real Life Rock & Roll.” This particular release, however, is more sparse and stripped down than most of his other albums. Although there might not be anything groundbreaking about this album, it’s calm and mellow beauty get to the heart of what I think about when I think of the qualities of ambient music.


Good Sun Setting by Dias Queue


Davis Salsbury makes music under two different monikers, Grand Banks (typically a duo with Tyler Magill) and Dais Queue. As Dais Queue, Salsbury explores more ambient drone territory. This particular release is among the most ambient of them. It starts off as mostly straight guitar, but as it builds its ambient qualities become more apparent.

My name is Zach Lauterbach. I don’t do anything related to music for a paycheck. It is merely a passion/hobby of mine to listen and play music. My twitter handle is @zclauterbach and there I mostly post about music and talk to others about music. I found out about this submission through Gregg Skloff’s twitter feed.







    The following recommendations by Joseph Vajda – Twitter: @vajdaij



Benge – Minimalist Work (Sustained Tone Branch)


Benge produces really pure synthesized sounds, and it’s very relaxing to listen to. His ’20 Systems’ was a top choice a few years ago, but his back catalogue is worth exploration.


Off Land – Commute


Off Land is an artist in the Boston area, working with field recordings and drones. There’s a lot of good stuff, but I liked the concept of this piece, having done a similar Boston commute before.


Various Artists – Wandering Compilation


Silent Season comes from a dub techno perspective, but they’ve also released stuff by Michael Mantra, for example. This release is a good intro to their sound.








Lucette Bourdin – Golden Sun (Earth Mantra netlabel), 2009

http://relaxedmachinery.com/earthmantra/release-detail.php?id=83

Lucette Bourdin was a French painter and ambient musician and a favourite of mine. I was blindsided in 2011 by coming across the announcement that she had passed on in February of that year. It turns out, unbeknownst to me and no doubt many others who enjoyed her music, that she took up the making of ambient music as a result of her diagnosis with breast cancer. As her site (still up) says: “Her music was especially the product of her transformation through cancer. When diagnosed she said of her desire to create music, ‘if not now, when?’.” Essentially, then, the making of this incredible music was therapy for her, but also, I speculate, born of her desire to bring as much beauty into the world as she could before the end, should that end come. All of her releases are great, but Golden Sun to me is Bourdin’s masterwork, a two-CD set (if you burned ’em) of pieces of shimmering beauty redolent of the happiest sunny day that you can remember in your life, those golden-hued memories of an idealized youth. It’s one of the best ambient music recordings ever made, from start to finish.


VACVVM – Peaceful Atom (Test Tube netlabel), 2011
http://testtube.monocromatica.com/releases/tube228.htm

Peaceful Atom is an astonishing work by an Italian musician and laptop composer named Guglielmo Cherchi, but there’s nothing Italian-sounding or feeling about this recording. As the label page says, “Peaceful Atom was intended to be a concept work about the Chernobyl disaster, and as a result of this some tracks are ideally connected to that topic.” The music on Peaceful Atom is a juxtaposition of an ever-present underlying series of clicks, pops and scraping sounds, which could easily (and was probably intended to) represent the background radiation of a poisoned landscape, with really eerie, spectral, keyboard- and guitar-generated soundscapes. What sets this album apart is its sense of purpose and its unity. This is an entire listening experience that takes you into another world, part beautiful Caucasus landscape/Soviet future dreamworld and part netherworld of sickness and radiation. The effect is quite stunning.


ALTUS – The Sidereal Cycle (“self-released” [first released on the defunct Free Floating netlabel], 2012-13)
http://altusmusic.ca/

Canadian Altus (Mike Carss) is a free-music Creative Commons hero who releases every year at least one great ambient album in various styles. What a generous guy! The Sidereal Cycle is a collection of long-form pieces based on “the temporal cycle that it takes an object to make a full orbit, relative to the stars.” With this kind of spacy topic, you can expect that the music would be drifty and floaty, and Altus doesn’t disappoint. In fact, he shows a facility for that style that he hadn’t quite demonstrated yet in his stellar career. Little-known fact, but these hour-long pieces that don’t seem to do much take a lot more doing than you might think, and not many have really mastered the art. Altus now has. Each of the four long-form pieces has a mood its own, from mournful to majestic. This massive work is definitely classic “space music” and will fit in nicely with your Steve Roach, Jonn Serrie, Micheal Stearns, Thom Brennan, etc., collection.









36 – Shadow Play (2013)


The classic 36 album would be Lithea, but I honestly enjoy listening to Shadow Play the most from their catalog. It’s bleak and ominous in the right ways and would be the ambient anthem of music for me. Also changed my perceptions of ambient as something more monstrous and menacing, ’cause the production is incredibly heavy for a 36 album.


Lost Trail & Cistern – Ten Years of Lost Memory (2013)


I like when ambient, drone, and acoustic folk, so listening to Lost Trail & Cistern brought those worlds together into this very uplifting release with some unforgettable moments tucked between its bed sheets. Definitely a must listen.


Oscob/Digital Sex – OVERGROWTH (2015)


Possibly the best ambient release of 2015 and of our current generation for me, less so for the controversy and personalities behind it (albeit could be seen as the bigger interest of this release), but I think perfects the meaning of a concept album most ambient releases wished they could boast about.









[camn001] Dr (Synchronisation-Mit-Einem-Stuck-Zitrone)




[thump313] Thuuooom (Kaiut)


Review (for two):

I like ambient music that has “different layers” of listening. These two releases are a good example of this.
You can work while listening, using it as background music.
But at the same time, you can sit on a sofa with headphones, and enjoy a rich sound. It’s a game between apparent simplicity and real complexity.








The following recommendations by Graeme Gill – website: Pilot Eleven Netlabel


Mathieu Lamontagne & Emmanuel Toledo – Belle Chemise (self-released)


Beautiful collaboration between Mathieu Lamontagne (aka Arbee based in
Canada) and Emmanuel Toledo (aka Eeem based in Finland). The project
arrived after exchanges of ideas first between Canada and Finland, then Canada and China where Emmanuel moved for a year, and finally Canada and Finland again. Each repeated listen reveals new sounds and melodies – a rich and immersive experience.


Bing Satellites – Rain (BFW Recordings)

(front cover –
http://www.bfwrecordings.com/releases/BingSatellites/Rain/front.jpg )

Manchester UK is Bing Satellites home town and I’ve heard that a lot of people outside the city think it rains there a lot. He says of this
release “it’s not a chillout album, it’s an album of urban noise, slowly churning and changing. An attempt to share the experience of living near the centre of a busy city.”


DR – Umbrella (self-released)


I love the absolute stillness of Dominic Razlaff’s work. I could have
picked almost any of his releases (free or NYP anyway) but this is his
most recent.









Dave Seidel & Alan Morse Davies – Porch, Rain, Thunder


i’m not even 100% what this is. is it just a field recording? the cover shows a circle of fifths so i presume there is something added to this field recording. either way i find new sounds and textures in it every time i listen. incredibly engaging.


Dave Seidel – Prism, Mirror, Lens


leaning more toward the drone side of ambient these 2 tracks are rich and comforting.


le berger and the ooray (as Le B’OO-Ray) – V


getting 2 birds with one stone. both le berger and the ooray make wonderful on their own and here they combine their powers for something truly spectacular. ghosts and decay and hope.









Norah Lorway – Drone Bølge (Xylem Records)


The short info says that Norah Lorway worked with field recordings from several coastal cities as source material for this and I do have a soft spot for music that is about the sea. Eventually she put together some very cinematic, poetic pieces of sound. Most Ambient drone releases tend to be pretty long but this one is different. It only lasts for about 15 minutes and I like that, always makes me want to relisten once it is over.


Cinchel – Alone in a Room Full of People (self-released)


I love live records from the Ambient/noise field and this is one I found particularly pleasant. It’s sort of loud but calm and there’s always lots of subtle stuff happening somewhere in the background. This is a beautiful album – no big concept as far as I can tell, just dense layers of sound.


Daniel Feuerriegel – The Sea was Screaming (Field Noise Records)


According to the artist himself, Daniel Feuerriegel’s music here is all about creating unusual modes of perception and personally I think it is very successful at that. This record was initially released by the Field Noise imprint from Japan, which I think is sadly not active anymore by this point – it was certainly one of my favorite netlabels, distributing free high-quality Ambient music that was both soothing and truly experimental.







    The following recommendations by Isaac Halvorson – website: hisaac.net




I realize I’m a day late for this, and understand that it may not be used because of that. I just figured I’d try to get this submission in if I could, because the artist I’ve chosen deserves much more recognition than he’s got.

My submission is “winter” by Morgan Greenwood, from Calgary, Canada. Here are some links:



I don’t know much about Morgan. A friend of mine stumbled across the album years ago, and struck up a brief conversation with him. Apparently the entire album was created using Propellerhead’s Reason, and the vocal samples in it are of a conversation Morgan had with his step-mother.

Morgan was a law student at the time this was released, and wanted to make more music, but needed to focus on his studies. We never heard from him after that brief email conversation, but he’s been posting stuff to his SoundCloud again recently, so he must be making music again.

This album is called “winter”, something Morgan being from Canada is no doubt familiar with. I grew up in rural North Dakota so am also familiar, I think it captures that winter feeling very well. It’s dark, bleak, clean, and mysterious, yet the textures and melodies are beautiful because of it. The vocal samples here at some mystery and depth. A really brilliant and beautiful piece of music that I wish more people knew about. Perhaps if he got some more recognition, he would start making music again. One can only hope.









I love giving recommendations, and I love this music, so I’m (unfairly) going to use my privilege as author of this blog post to recommend more than just two or three releases. Complaints may be filed in the comment section below.


Cinchel – Circle


I might’ve picked any number of his releases, I really am very fond of this guy’s music. This one is one of the lengthiest releases in his catalogue. It was intended to be a sound installation involving multiple tracks playing at once along with audience participation. It also works as a lovely collection of drones.


August Stars – Decline of the Industrial North


I frequently wonder why Sebastien’s music is not more well known, his work is consistently beautiful. Again, the choice of this album over others in his catalogue was arbitrary, I love a lot of his work equally. If I remember right, this was the first album I heard from August Stars. I was enamored of his previous project Still Crescent, and had to do some google searching before I found out that the same composer was responsible for this project. Very ethereal, looping drones.


Percival Pembroke – A Course in the Theory of Drones


I only discovered this album this year, thanks to a recommendation from my internet comrade, Max. This is a collection of distressed lo-fi sound loops that I can’t tell if they’re manipulated samples, or if the artist performed the sounds… and it really doesn’t matter, does it?


Hannah M.G. Shapero (Altocumulus) – My Name Is Marietta Cashman


From the dearly departed experimental music netlabel Just Not Normal this release, credited variously as by Hannah M.G. Shapero or Altocumulus is a collection of recordings from 1967 to 1970 on the Buchla 100 Modular system at Brandeis University by a teenaged girl who later grew up and continued to make ambient music. The back story & cover art to this are priceless, and the music is pretty ace. Noodly, to be sure, but there’s nothing at all wrong with that.


David Nemeth – Home Drones


As ambient music was originally conceived as “ignorable” music, this release is perhaps the most apt entry for me. It consists of site recordings of environmental sounds collected in the artist’s home, sounds which are normally ignored. When attention to the sounds is paid, the music is revealed. That turns the concept on its head a bit, rather than music to be ignored, it’s normally ignored sounds given attention and respected as musical.


New tapes!

Sunday, 7 August 2016

I’ve just released two DIY cassettes. They’re both limited editions too, small run, so get yours!

Sophist I
http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-i-2

LIMITED TO 20



Sophist II
http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-ii

LIMITED TO 22



From the description:

This is a series of very rough tracks, mostly improvised, experimenting with the integration of drum machines into my noise setup. These tracks are not very composed & polished.

Digital version will not be released until a later date. Buyers of the cassette do get a pile of download codes to giveaway if they want to.



http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-i-2
http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-i-2
http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-i-2
http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-i-2
http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-i-2


http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-ii
http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-ii
http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-ii
http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-ii
http://c-reider.bandcamp.com/album/sophist-ii





Azure Bell, Midnight Well

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Thirteen years after our previous collaborative effort, I’m happy to announce the release of “Azure Bell, Midnight Well” by C. Reider and Tarkatak. The new release expands on the industrial ambient of the first album “The Druser Pricid“, with a more atmospheric, place-evoking release of edgy ambient music.

Frans de Waard said of our original collab: “Both guys really know how to create a psychedelic atmosphere in sound, with dark soundscapes and hallucinating loops, analogue synths and processed guitar sounds. Like said, the music here is very much related to Troum, but has a particulary strong voice of its own.”

I hope you will take the time to download & listen to this new work.

Link to Azure Bell, Midnight Well





Interview on Process

Monday, 1 February 2016

In this interview just published by Perfect Sound Forever, Daniel Barbiero and I converse about the “Tape Loops” and “Not Subliminal” releases and some of the process and other attendant issues that come with a contemplative sound practice.

A Conversation about Process, Being with Sound, and the Pleasure of Surprise


http://www.furious.com/perfect/creider.html
http://www.furious.com/perfect/creider.html
http://www.furious.com/perfect/creider.html
http://www.furious.com/perfect/creider.html
http://www.furious.com/perfect/creider.html
http://www.furious.com/perfect/creider.html


Tape Loops Review

Monday, 1 February 2016

We Need No Swords published a review of Tape Loops, which can be read here:
https://weneednoswords.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/c-reider-tape-loops/


69 Notable Netlabel releases of 2015

Monday, 14 December 2015

As has become an annual tradition, here is a big list of notable netlabel releases from the past year. Sixty-nine different releases listed this time!
I should clarify that by saying these are netlabel releases, I don’t necessarily mean they were released on proper netlabels, many of these albums were self released. To me, netlabeling is a community activity, involving releasing music online for free (or pay what you want)…
preferably (though not necessarily) with a CC license…
and EVEN MORE preferably (though not necessarily) with a CC license that allows for remixability and sampling. So I use the word “netlabel” even though the word is admittedly problematic. You could just see this as links to a bunch of free music if you wanted to keep things simple.

As usual, my recommendations are NOT ranked. This list is alphabetized by album name. Ranking music is for chumps. This is just a bunch of stuff I heard and liked that came out in 2015 that I thought you might like too. So download some of it and listen!

Previous year’s lists:
2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

Before we get into the recommendations, I’m going to make a quick mention of my own 2015 releases, I hope you will check them out if you haven’t yet:



C. Reider – Not Subliminal
DOWNLOAD HERE

This came out in the very last days of 2014, so I’m counting it as a 2015 release, and who are you to try and stop me? This is a collection of tape experimentations, very noisy and gritty.



C. Reider – Certainty Reducing Signals
DOWNLOAD HERE

This is mostly a collection of remixes for friends and contributions to the Disquiet Junto, but I thought it cohered really well as an album of my abstract composition work.



C. Reider – Tape Loops
DOWNLOAD HERE

A collage of my experiments with tape loops, with a lengthy .pdf file describing some of my methods.






I didn’t feel like making a new mix of these 2015 releases. Earlier this year, to celebrate Netlabel Day, I made 2 mixes that include many of the releases I list here. Give these a listen. while perusing this list, if you want.

Netlabel Mix, 50 from 2015 (part 1) by C. Reider on Mixcloud

Netlabel Mix, 50 from 2015 (part 2) by C. Reider on Mixcloud






FINALLY…
Now we can move on to:

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69 Notable Netlabel releases of 2015





smellycaт – 2015
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Tiny, unassuming sound vignettes that I guess I should label vaporwave, according to the tags.





Gregg Skloff – 3087
(self released, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Juice Machine – 3×1=3
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Perennial, reliable electronic noise from this husband and wife duo. There’s a lot of personality that comes through in this music, I think.





Martin Rach – 4 BACH/2 MF
(self released, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





August Stars – A Grey and Troubled Sea
(self released, CC NC Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

I’ve been a huge fan of Sebastien’s music for quite a lot of years, even back when they were recording as Still Crescent. August Stars is a highly underrated ambient project, that much is certain.





Cinchel – Alone In A Room Full of People
(self released, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

One should note the sheer number of Cinchel releases that are on this list, and think, wow, this guy must put out a lot of good stuff… ’cause then you’d be both observant and correct. I’m happy he had a good year and put out a lot of his patented Cinchel-tronic, blissful guitar-drone this year, hope he keeps on in years to come.





Phirnis / Katarrhaktes – Apnoea
(Fwonk*, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Rosalind Hall / Ada Rave – a trail, a texture
(Pan y Rosas Discos, CC BY NC ND No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





METEK and Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt – The Beauty of Blasphemy
(suRRism-Phonoethics, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Jimmy Kipple Sound – BRINDLE SUNBURST BUFF
(self released, CC BY Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Miquel Parera – by Zero
(Modisti, CC BY SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

I’ve been a big fan of Miquel Parera’s pulsing / grating electronic textures for years, this is a particularly good and varied album.





Rick Reid – Calculated Risk
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

A Colorado musician I met at the last Denver Noise Fest. This guy makes some cool sounds using theremins, bowed saws and some of those instruments that use light detection. Lots of glissandi, as you might imagine.





Cinchel – Childhood (part 1)
(self released, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Paco Rossique – Collages and Dispersions
(Linear Obsessional, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Prepared piano, synth & field recordings. Sort of a suspended, haunted feel to it.





Gurdonark – Constellation Blackbird
(We Are All Ghosts, CC BY SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

A new album from my friend Gurdonark (a.k.a. Robert Nunnally) is always cause for celebration. His simple melodies and well chosen synth sounds sound very relaxing and alluring to these ears.





Christian Doil – Das Sommergewitter
(Buddhist on Fire, CC BY NC ND No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Arbee – désencombrement
(Bleepsequence, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Naoyuki Sasanami – Disquiet 2014
(self released, CC BY SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

I think I may have listened to this release more often than any of the others on this list. Naoyuki contributes to the Disquiet Junto very frequently (if not for every single week’s project.) I find his contributions always inventive and pleasant.





Lyn Goeringer – dolly (for m.a.)
(Pan y Rosas, license not listed No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Some very nice modular synth drones with frequency beating, and an incredibly lovely piece using street lights as the sound source.





Erich Schall – Dubcutan
(Basic Sounds, CC BY ND No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

You will see a lot of Basic Sounds releases on this list (notice the heart-shaped cover art.) They consistently have put out some incredibly well done dub / minimal techno & drone releases in their time, and I’m very sad to see them close up shop as they did just this month. Even though they use non-derivative licenses, I can still give them the nod as my fave netlabel of the year.





Cloud City Cars – Electronic Musical Instrument
(Lifelike Family, various licenses allowing derivs Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

An album of improvs with Casio keyboards. I can’t recommend this more, it’s really lovely.





The OO-Ray – Empty Orchestra
( Lifelike Family, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Aspect. – examples.
(Basic Sounds, CC BY ND No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Duelling Ants – Fauna
(Mars Melons, no license listed No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

This is sorta collage music that’s not afraid to be both weird and musical and pretty all at the same time.





2047 – For I am Infinity!
(Velvet Bazaar, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Two longform ambient pieces out of which emerge laid back beats. Sort of an updated FSOL sound to it, maybe.





Liquid Sphere – Hammer of Wisdom
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

I feel like this really slipped under the radar of the experimental music netlabel community. Some really dense, thoughtful, noisy constructions here. I might label this quietnoise, as nothing here is outright harsh noise, just engaging abstract sound work.





Splicey and Tracky – Horses, Horses … Horses!
( HAZE, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Skittering and simultaneously loping, riffing and simultaneously free-jazzing group work featuring the brilliant Jess Lemont. This coheres really well, and is very groovy, even when they’re at their most free-improv-y.





CMD – Ice Daggers
(Basic Sounds, CC BY ND No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Chefkirk and Carl Kruger – Interference Studies 2
(Poverty Electronics, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Boocanan – IRON LUNG
( Pizzabox Society, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

I feel like pointing out that “this is vaporwave” doesn’t really illuminate what it sounds like at all, it just identifies them as part of the vaporwave community. There are some chill as fuck beats here and lots of melancholy soundscapes. It’s a very laid back scene in Boocanan-land, I’d venture to say. I just wish the album title didn’t get that horrible Big Pig song from the 80s stuck in my head every time.





Marlo Eggplant – Jutted
( Hairdryer Excommunication, CC BY Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Marlo is a hero, the foremost proponent of women in the noise scene, through her Ladyz in Noiz compilations and events, and just general all-around boosting. I’ve had the privilege to have met her & listened to her perform a few times, and she’s always stood out as someone doing her own thing and doing it like no one else can. I love how many different kinds of music she can get out of her autoharp “Harpy”, a contact mic, a looper and a metal cup.





Emmanuel Toledo & Lauri Hallikainen – Leaves Stories (Ice)
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Emmanuel Toledo & Lauri Hallikainen – Leaves Stories (Usnea)
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

These two albums I have on the list by Emmanuel Toledo and Lauri Hallikainen are part of a trilogy of which the first part came out in 2014. I’ve recommended these albums to a few of my staunch ambient fan friends and they’ve kinda flipped out about how good they were, and yes, they are quite good.





Caroline Park – Less Than Human
( Pan y Rosas, no license listed No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Dalot – Levelling
(Pan y Rosas, CC BY NC ND No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

An engaging drone record, apparently made from playing around with a new instrument, getting to know it (the text doesn’t mention what the instrument is, but it’s some kind of synth.) There are many layers of burbling and pulsing and whooping synth tones to liven up the drone party, plenty to keep the ears busy





Andrew Weathers – Light in the Valley
(self released, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





smellycaт – light shines inside yr room, nowhere else
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





August Stars – Luminescence
(self released, CC BY NC Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Iwa – L’wha
( Basic Sounds, CC BY ND No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





MEGACHURCH – MEGACHURCH
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Christian vaporwave, I mean come on!





The Implicit Order – Mountain Music
(self released, CC BY SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Radere – My Darling / My Divine
( Subterranean Tide, CC BY NC ND No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Cinchel – Not knowing what to say but saying something anyway (existing in a perpetual state of inadequateness)
(self released, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Darksleep – Obviate
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Very dark, energetic and dense vaporwave constructions. Some bits make me think that’s what it’d sound like if Skinny Puppy did VW





Eucci – Oceanfront
(self released, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Bright, lumpy, disorienting beat-music. Everything circles around itself.





GALAXIANオーブ – Our Apartment
(Nemui Bunny, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Christian Williams – Providence
(self released, CC BY Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Thoughtfully amateurish (or maybe non-professional) improvised piano explorations that ignore convention, giving preference to music as it happens. Sorta like if you set a young kid in front of a piano and then you end up quite liking how they play.





Stephen Emmerson – Radio/Tape
(Control Valve, no license listed No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE (no direct link)





Zrzrf – RAINBOW|SIMULANT
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

A piercingly bright bit of repetitive minimalist music using a 2-note synth phrase and slowly dialing in variations until the original is bitcrushed scatternoise.





S Hamann – sequence
(self released, CC BY NC Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





S Hamann – signal
(self released, CC BY NC Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Phirnis / Katarrhaktes – Sleepers
(Fwonk*, CC BY NC SA)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





2047 – S n o w
(No Problema Tapes, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Cinchel / Dustperiod – Sometimes I hear Voices / Trying to Make Impermanent Things Permanent
(self released, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Cinchel teams up with Dustperiod to make noisy drone, much noisier than Cinchel normally does. This is definitely my fave release by Cinchel this year, don’t miss it!





Dave Dorgan – Such is Our Condition
( Subterranean Tide, CC BY NC ND No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Gregg Skloff – Tape Constructions 2005
(self released, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





offthesky + Radere – Temporaryspace
(Basic Sounds, CC BY NC ND No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Cinchel – the timing was right for a walk in the woods
(self released, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Jess Lemont – The Tiny Album
(self released, CC BY NC Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Not so tiny, the frantic clumps of free-weird on this album are actually pretty large. I love peering into the musical brain of this musician, I never know quite what to expect.





Vasectomy Party – The Truth is Illusive
(Control Valve, no license listed No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE (no direct link)

Brilliantly searing harsh noise. There are many beautiful layers to listen intently to, while letting the worries of the day fall away.





Kecap Tuyul – Tunnel Songs
(Eg0cide, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





David Vélez – Unaware
( Linear Obsessional, CC BY NC SA Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Very minimal dronework





Contrails in the Blue Summer Sky – Unknown Source of Pain
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Melancholy plunderphonia





Cinchel – Witnessing
(Pan y Rosas, no license listed No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

A particularly experimental piece from Cinchel here, done for an installation. He recorded people who were at the installation and looped the sounds they made to project back into the gallery space. This album is a reconstruction using the sound sources he recorded that night.





The Soft Pink Truth – Why Pay More?
(self released, CC BY NC Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

Half of Matmos plunders YouTube for sound samples, produces a banger of groovy weird-tronica.





Graham Dunning – Wound
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Stereo Voices – イルカ
(self released, CC BY NC Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE





Bonus Fruit – 銀河TOMAHAWK
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE

This is a really heavy album of vaporwave creep-beats, with all the weird-sauce splattered all over it.





Tech Noir – 精神
(self released, copyright No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
LISTEN / DOWNLOAD HERE


Tape Loops mentioned in Disquiet

Friday, 27 November 2015

Marc Weidenbaum wrote an article published in Disquiet, titled “Strain and Grain” which describes my new release Tape Loops.

Check it out:

http://disquiet.com/2015/11/20/strain-and-grain/


Tape Loops

Friday, 27 November 2015

I have a brand new album of experimental tape loops which is titled, simply enough:
Tape Loops.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, and I think you might dig it, so please check it out.

Be sure to read the .pdf file, which contains a detailed methodology.


Get it here:
https://linearobsessional.bandcamp.com/album/tape-loops




On artistic supercession

Thursday, 30 July 2015

On Tuesday, July 28, I gave a lecture on Aesthetics and Cultural Bias to a Cultural Anthropology class being taught by a friend of mine at the local community college. I decided against publishing the full lecture, as it is kind of an amateurish work on the whole. To give a synopsis: it calls out cultural pre-conceptions about art as having a white male bias, discusses aesthetics from a perspective hostile to dualism (Kant / Hegel), criticizes Capitalism as a dominant force in culture, discusses objecthood and fuzziness in terms of framing & the White Cube, discusses aesthetic arrest & the illusion of separation… all in the course of an hour. Yeesh. TOO MANIC. You shouldn’t wonder why I don’t want to share it.

At any rate, I finished the talk with a discussion of the Restoration of Ecce Homo by Cecilia Gimenez. In case you don’t recall, it looks a little something like this:



The talk pointed out the ethnocentrism inherent in the wide, public response to the work, seen in news reports and funny internet memes. One of the questions in the discussion led to some further thoughts, which I do think might be worth consideration (maybe because this is less scatterbrained than the whole lecture??)

This was sent as an email to the professors in charge of this class on the evening of July 30.

I’ve had some further thoughts on the discussion in class that followed my lecture on aesthetics and cultural bias. I was impressed that the discussion brought out a good deal of the complexity of the issues surrounding the restoration of Ecce Homo by Cecilia Gimenez. My prepared remarks covered primarily the implications of the judgments of whether the piece was “good” (a moral judgment) or not from a standpoint of whether or not it met cultural ideals of beauty, and also the fascinating phenomenon of the public shaming of Gimenez for not meeting those ideals (ideals which, I pointed out, are arbitrary and are used by the elite to exert influence over culture.)

The discussion, however, raised another very important aspect, and that is the act of superceding the previously existing artwork, and how one is to view that act from an ethical or even moral stance. Supercession, in art, results in a complete or near complete erasing of the previously existing work, as opposed to an appropriation wherein a previously existing work is incorporated into a new one and, in the process, given a new context, (an artistic tactic that is made easier and therefore more common in the recent age of mechanical reproduction.)

Supercession is another form of transformation in art, albeit a very severe one. Art has a long history of this, taking many guises. These supercessions can be interpreted as benevolent such as the friendly erasing of a De Kooning drawing by Robert Rauschenberg,
or malevolent, as in the case of the Taliban or Isis destroying historically significant artworks and monuments,
or ambiguous as in the non-consensual (usually due to the original artist’s death) erasing of previously existing frescos and murals (a practice which is most certainly not isolated to the case of Ms. Gimenez’ restoration – in fact much has been learned, both artistically and anthropologically, by X-Ray analyses of previously existing frescos that changed radically in form over the centuries, like peeling back layers of previously laid wallpaper in an old house.) I might even describe street art / graffiti as a kind of supercession: a safely ambiguous space, free of meaning, is superceded by filling the space with imagery that often aggressively demands a response. These street murals are quickly superceded again and again by new works. This is certainly rebellious, and a “loss of control” as I pointed out in my lecture, but is it “bad”?


How one may interpret artistic supercession as “good” or “bad” on a moral or ethical scale depends a great deal on one’s views about ownership (to possess an object) and legacy (the perceived ability to have one’s memory endure in perpetuity, to gain “eternal life”). As a budding Marxist who has been enculturated into and currently operates in this hyper-Capitalist society, I can say my opinion is, at best, mixed. Intellectually, I understand that one can never truly own something, and that every remark and action is ultimately forgotten, and every object returns to dust… but emotionally I do still feel a stir at imagining my own work destroyed by someone.

On the other hand, (intellectually again) I think that the pursuit of legacy is ultimately ego driven, and may even be an expression of territorialism. In my view, any moral or ethical consideration must heavily weigh the context. The context in Gimenez’ case is complex and muddled by the fact that much of what we know about the case comes from reactions after the fact of public shaming, when one can assume that people’s attitudes have been reformed in the flames of ridicule. I would certainly like to know what the church community thought about the work before the internet-empowered public found out about it, that seems to be one key missing piece of information in making any kind of moral or ethical determination. At this time all we really know about it is that her intentions were not malicious, they were in keeping with the values of that community. Given that and the history of remaking religious artworks to update them when old symbology no longer is appropriate, I would be inclined to issue a judgment of “good”, while still acknowledging that I am not really a member of that community and so it is not for me to make that judgment.


Conversation about 4’33”

Saturday, 25 July 2015

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