Don’t even think about operating heavy machinery while listening to this mix

by Dave Maier

Another not-necessarily-the-best-of-the-year mix, but there do seem to be a number of 2019 releases. Warning: this one’s pretty drony, so don’t be driving or anything. Sequencers next time, I promise! (A few anyway.)

0:00 Anne Chris Bakker – Norge Svømmer (Reminiscences [Dronarivm])

4:50 FRAME – Earth (The Journey [Glacial Movements])

12:30 Strom Noir – There will never be another you (va/Illuminations II [Dronarivm])

17:30 Kinephilia – Nothing really

21:20 tsone – a good cleansing always sets one’s mind to rights (pagan oceans I [Home Normal])

26:00 Joseph Branciforte & Theo Bleckmann – 5.5.9 (LP1 [greyfade])

34:20 Le Berger – 0003 [No thanks to you]      ( Sounds of the Sleepless Sam v.1)

40:40 Silent Vigils – Mossigwell (Fieldem [Home Normal])

51:00 Forrest Fang – The Other Earth (Ancient Machines [Projekt])

1:00:30 end

Further info about this mix’s music in a sec. First, a program note. There’s something a bit screwy about one of the tracks here. I should know, because I made it myself. It’s kind of a thought experiment (so you probably won’t be able to hear what I mean, and it shouldn’t interfere with your enjoyment), and I originally intended to finish this post with a discussion of the issues I think it raises. It got a bit out of hand though, so I think we’ll postpone that part until next time. (They’re really great issues though, so that’ll be a lot of fun.)

Now back to the show.

Direct link:

Anne Chris Bakker – Norge Svømmer

The Russian ambient label Dronarivm provides two of our tracks this time. The first is this fine piece from the first full length solo release by Netherlander Anne Chris Bakker, who tells us [with some typos corrected] that:

Reminiscences existed with no detailed plan. It is more the result of spontaneous playing and recording over a period of 5 months using guitar, pedals and and a violin bow.

During playing lots of images came up in mind, quite similar to the half sleep state of mind where images and situations flow and bind in an unstructured way. While playing and listening to the material it opened up a map of lost memories. 

This is how I recollect.

FRAME – Earth

FRAME is Eugenio Vatta and Andrea Benedetti, who began the project “with the idea to re-create the atmosphere of a movie theater in a musical show … FRAME creates something between cinema and a concert; a sort of live soundtrack: humanity and technology in communication.” Vatta seems to be the music half, suggesting (although it does not say this) that Benedetti supplies the visuals. The Journey, they tell us, is “composed of ten soundscapes that focus on silence … silence in glacial environments and in space are very similar, both in a figurative sense and in terms of perception.” Indeed this track does get a bit quiet, so make sure you have your headphones on! The reference to “glacial environments” may indicate that they are explaining why a space journey (the other tracks are planet names as well) should appear on this label, whose other releases, as the name suggests, tend to be more explicitly frigid (Below Zero, Descending Into Crevasse, Snowbound, etc.) Maybe we’ll come back to this label in, say, August.

Strom Noir – There will never be another you

In 2018 Dronarivm released this massive 30-track exclusive anthology to support a charity called 4 Paws for Ability, which “enriches the lives of children with disabilities by training and placing quality, task-trained service dogs.” From the many fine tracks available here I selected this one by Slovakian Emil Mat’ko, who records as Strom Noir and has quite a few releases himself. At his own Bandcamp page you may purchase several of them at once for a low low price, should you feel so inclined.

Kinephilia – Nothing really

As you may remember from previous mixes, Kinephilia is the name I have chosen for my own humble efforts. As its title is intended to suggest, I regard this particular effort, if that’s even what you want to call it, as especially humble. As noted above, I will explain my concerns in a subsequent post. Just to be clear: I do like the track, or I wouldn’t have included it in the mix.

tsone – a good cleansing always sets one’s mind to rights

tsone is Tony Obr, and while pagan oceans is not strictly a collaboration, it seems that Ian Hawgood (Mr. Home Normal himself) had quite a bit to do as well with the album’s sound: 

We went about working on the masters using an old Studer A80, and finally doing all three album mixes [pagan oceans I, II, and III were apparently all done at once – DM] on reels directly before transferring back across for this release. The process of getting such wonderfully textured analog-ambient-noise just right for such a project took an age to say the least, and also required getting new reels sent to Japan periodically which was quite a task at the time.

The result was, as you can hear here, well worth the effort.

Joseph Branciforte & Theo Bleckmann – 5.5.9

From greyfade’s Bandcamp page:

The debut recording from Grammy-nominated vocalist Theo Bleckmann (ECM) and electronic musician & producer Joseph Branciforte. Vocal loops of hushed beauty framed by artificially-synthesized tones, deep subharmonic oscillations, and gently layered sheets of noise, with a shared musical language drawing upon ambient, choral, microsound, and free improvisation. … Without a note of music prepared or a word of discussion, the two arrived at Branciforte’s Brooklyn studio, armed with an array of looping devices, guitar pedals, found objects, and sound-making machines. … [The result is] an expanded vision of ambient music that embraces narrative and arc as much as landscape and line.

Le Berger – 0003 [No thanks to you]

Le Berger’s Bandcamp page does not reveal his name (although from the below it seems that it may be Berg), but it does give his location as Montreal, so that’s something. (The banner landscape looks rather more like the moon than Montreal though.) If you like this track be sure to click over, as a mere $16.66 will net you his entire 20-release oeuvre, which is what, about 83 cents per, so that’s pretty good. About this particular release he tells us:

This is a collection of soundscapes, more or less. It came about as a friend was visiting me and asking what I was working on. Conversation goes something like: 

Friend – Hey hey good lookin’, what you got cookin’? (not in so many words) 

Berg – Not much really, just some sounds I dabble with at night but no material to speak of. 

Friend – Lemme hear ’em! 

Berg – Ok. 

Friend – Woah, you should let people hear those maaaaaan. 

Berg – Ok. 

Good job, Berg’s friend!

Silent Vigils – Mossigwell

Our second Home Normal release features Belgian Stijn Hüwels and Londoner James Murray, both of whom have multiple releases on their own. Fieldem, they tell us, is “a dialogue motivated by mutual respect and revolving around our shared love of the minimal, the graceful and the understated.” Its four pieces “have become our personal dedications to the quiet strength of blended culture, free thinking and open borders.” Mossigwell, like the other places referenced here, is “neither here nor there; half in the world, half in the mind” — so this will probably be the only way you can visit it.

Forrest Fang – The Other Earth

This is the longtime Bay Area ambient composer’s 18th release, inspired in particular by his 80s-era fascination with minimalist classical composers like Philip Glass and Terry Riley, although as he notes, the sound of the record is more of a “hybrid ambient style” than a direct homage:

When asked, Fang purposely leaves the “ancient machines” referenced in the title open to the listener’s interpretation. However, he may well be referring to the internal “machines” of all sentient and nonsentient life on this planet that evolve and mutate as part of the symphony of change. 

Or not. We report, you decide.