Spacemusic old and new, plus bonus krautrock

by Dave Maier

It's that time again, cosmonauts! Time, that is, for more mixes of ambient & electronic music from hither and yon, spatiotemporally speaking. (Here's the first installment if you missed it.) [Update: link added for second mix]

Neu-brain-59 First up, here's a Krautrock mix I posted a while back. I don't have a whole lot of comments on this one – everybody knows about Krautrock, right? If not there are a couple of good documentaries floating around (try YouTube). Warning about those though: some of these guys look alarmingly old. Edgar Froese in particular looks and sounds like, well, the senior citizen he actually is by now. This mix is a bit (but only a bit) more rocky than spacy, as I left out the major space bands (Ashra, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze) for another mix – which turned out to be too long for Mixcloud (oh well, we'll get to those guys some other time). I'm not actually a big fan of Kraftwerk's big hit “Autobahn,” which goes on *way* too long, but I put it on because someone had requested it. It's at the end though, and the rest of it is fab, so check it out!

Michael Rother – KM 1/KM 2 Katzenmusik

Neu! – E-Musik Neu! '75

Günter Schickert – Wanderer Überfällig

Can – Future Days Future Days

Roedelius – Veilchenwurzeln Wenn Der Südwind Weht

Popol Vuh – Zwiesprache der Rohrflöte Nosferatu

Kraftwerk – Autobahn Autobahn

Next up is some recent material from mostly new discoveries. I tell you again, this is a time of great abundance! I don't have a whole lot of information about these guys, but if you need more, you know what to do.

Irezumi – Untitled 1 Endurance

Vikki Jackman – Wrapped in Whitenesses Of Beauty Reminiscing

Jasper TX – This Barren Land Singing Stones

Jacaszek – VIII Pentral

Dronaement – Ea Pulse Yr

Bruno Sanfilippo – Alchemical Powers Subliminal Pulse

Cria Cuervos – leitfossilien leitfossilien

David Jackman – Sol Mara Sol Mara

Ian Hawgood – Piece for Shruti Box Live Performances: Japan 2009

Irezumi Irezumi is Japanese for “tattoo,” but this release by French youngster Manuel Mesdag is inspired by the famous story of Shackleton's doomed ship and its frozen surroundings. Sounds a lot like Norway's Geir Jenssen (a.k.a. Biosphere), but that's okay with me.

Faraway Press is a British label which features mostly music by Andrew Chalk, with handmade packaging and delicate spacy music. Vikki Jackman plays on one of these, but also has a release of her own, of which we hear a lovely little snippet.

Jasper TX is Swedish guitarist Dag Rosenqvist, whose moniker refers to the horrific murder of James Byrd, Jr. in 1998, the story of which was made into a TV movie in 2003. So it's not surprising that Dag's music is a bit on the dark side.

Jacaszek is a Polish musician. Pentral is his latest. More information here. In Polish.

Dronaement is German experimental musician Marcus Obst. According to his website, “Even the darkness is aware of sun’s light, moon’s reflection and the preparing of tea around five o’clock. Equivalent to Dronæment’s recent work is a deep orange.”

Pulse Bruno Sanfilippo has been around longer than I thought, which explains the maturity of his recent disc Subliminal Pulse. Apparently Bruno's music “obsesses itself with a search through different things – the amazing, the magical and the deep. In dreams, there’s no imagined thing that’s too absurd, too strange. Bruno Sanfilippo's music comes from that inexhaustible and shameless source.” “Shameless” wasn't the first word that came to mind here, but okay.

Cria Cuervos is surely named after the famous Spanish film, but besides that I don't know much about this guy (Eugenio Maggi). Check out the releasing label's site here, where Eugenio describes the disc thusly: “Your voice humming in my blood, as cells collapse and your bodies disintegrate – a shell museum, sea fossils on the mountain's back, dried starfishes on the sidewalk. Taking shelter there from the sweetish stench of hospital rot, our late night reunion, your lulling me to sleep.”

David Jackman is, I believe, no relation to Vikki (above), and is also known as Organum. This release is somewhat atypical, which is unfortunate, as it is all kinds of spacy. Four ten-minute tracks with the same title.

Ian Hawgood is the main force behind Home Normal, one of the prime ambient labels operating today, and has a bunch of releases on this and other labels. Here is a live performance I found online, a gloriously drony affair, to take us out.

Okay, one more. This time we don our protective gear and head into the time machine for another look at the distant past.

Franco Falsini – Cold Nose Pt. 1 Cold Nose/Naso Freddo

Ariel Kalma – Musique Pour le Rêve et l'Amour “

Marc Barreca – The Sleeper Wakes “

Michel Moulinie – Le Philtre D'Echordus Chrysalide

Ruth Anderson – I Come Out of Your Sleep

Henri Roger – Images “

Dorothy Carter – Tree of Life Waillie Waillie

Ruth Anderson – I Come Out of Your Sleep (soundbite)

Laurie Spiegel – The Expanding Universe “

Cold_nose_naso_freddoFranco Falsini is/was the force behind Italian electronic/progrock band Sensations Fix, who put out a number of fine discs in the 70s. Here he goes solo, a soundtrack for the film Cold Nose/Naso Freddo (which it seems is news to imdb, as the only hit for a search goes here, which is not at all what we are talking about). Okay, further research (thank you o internet) has revealed that the film, a documentary about cocaine (“cold nose,” get it?), was never completed. Anyway, while the disc as a whole doesn't really support its length, there are some great bits, including the nice spacy guitar on display here.

The only Ariel Kalma release I was aware of for a long time was Osmose, a 1978 double LP with field recordings from the rainforest by Richard Tinti (reissued on CD in 2006!). But it turns out (thank you again o internet) that he has several other discs from that same period, featuring his wonderful flowing organ/synth and echoey flute and/or sax. Music for Dream and Love has two sides, each with the same title (one in French and one in English). He's still around – check out his website, where these fine discs can be purchased. Here's what he says there about this release: “During the late 1970s in Paris, […] Ariel Kalma combined his Oriental tuning and his interest in high frequencies as brain cleanser, to create his version of space music – the kind you can take off with. In his room under the roof in his Paris' apartment, Ariel had a music set-up playing for days and nights while he carefully tuned his voice with sound layers, echoes, drum machines… he would often enter a meditative state. Music for Dream and Love was recorded in 1979, on two occasions when Ariel remembered to press Record before embarking on his musical meditation.” Let this be a lesson to you: always roll tape!

Marc Barreca didn't release a whole lot of music, and the way that most people would have heard of him is through his single release on the Palace of Lights label (home of the more well-known K. Leimer). This is a dreamy little snippet from a 1986 cassette.

Michel-Mouline_Chrysalide Michel Moulinié is another of those seriously obscure 70s-era French space guitarists who put out one classic disc and then dropped out of sight. Or my sight, anyway, as he seems to have a Myspace page here (I think that's him; page in French …). If that is him, I have been pronouncing his name wrong for 30 years, as the cover of Chrysalide, pictured here, has no accent aigu on that last e. Sorry Michel!

Among the pioneers of electronic music in this country are a number of talented women who deserve better recognition. Ruth Anderson is one such. According to her Wikipedia page, her sound poem I Come Out of Your Sleep was “constructed from speech sounds in Louise Bogan's poem 'Little Lobelia.' According to the composer 'a very soft dynamic level is an integral component of this piece. It is important to listen to it in the way it was composed, near the threshold of hearing.'” I hate to admit this – though maybe the composer would approve, I don't know – but in mixes I tend to use this a lot as a sound bite. (For a good part of its length it is in one channel only, which I find distracting.)

Images Here we go again; Henri Roger is another legendary French space dude with one long-lost LP. Unfortunately Tapioca Records wasn't known for their quality pressings, and we hear a bit of crackle here. But authentic analog crackle! None of that digital stuff. I find this track, of which we hear maybe half, to be very spacy indeed when heard at about 4 AM. However, I remember once when I played it someone called up and intoned “Creativity has form; this has no form.” [click]. Ooookay. But it does have a form – it's clearly a rondo, as you can tell even from the part we hear here. So there, anonymous commenter!

Now here's another rarity. Dorothy Carter is mainly an old-timey hammered dulcimer player, and her records tend to sound much as that description implies. However, this one track suggests that mystical experience is not unknown even to such not-particularly-hippie-friendly places as backwoods Appalachia (one apt online description calls it “wood-smoked Terry Riley”). This track is massively overmodulated, so apparently everyone was blissing out rather than watching the levels; but luckily analog tape has a lot of headroom.

Laurie+Spiegel+L Laurie Spiegel is another one of those pioneering American female electronic composers I mentioned earlier, as well as an innovative programmer. This is a good deal of the title track of her early LP The Expanding Universe, which was created on computer in 1974-6 (!) at Bell Labs, where I believe she worked with Max Mathews. Here's her website, where she directs us for access to her recordings to the Electronic Music Foundation, a worthy organization in its own right. This looks like a good one (50% off at the moment!).

Well, that's all for this time. Next time back to boring old philosophy no doubt. Happy listening!