Cool summer ambience (or winter, for those down under)

by Dave Maier

Perhaps imprudently, your humble blogger continues to toil in the philosophy mines for blogging material, even in this stressful time. And there will be such postage eventually, of that you can be sure! However, prudence enough remains to prevent him from posting half-baked nonsense; so in the interim, let us return once again to the podcast, and enjoy some fine music while we wait.

Thanks to everyone who rose to the occasion and contributed to Jon Hassell’s gofundme appeal, as promoted here in my last two posts (here and here; the mixes are here and here). If you haven’t contributed yet, now’s your chance!

As the notes below indicate, this mix as well includes an appeal, of a different sort. If you have been following the developing situation in Belarus and would like to help, TXT Recordings is offering a name-your-price option to pick up a release by Belarus artist Alexander Ananyev, the proceeds to be donated to Support for Belarus. (Also, the record is pretty good, and naturally we’ll be hearing a track from it here.)

Widget and link below. Enjoy!

Sunhiilow – Sequoia Rise / Whispers of a Dream Wind

No, that’s not a typo; Sunhiilow is Valerie Magisson, a Finn, which language has a “ii” sound, as in “kiitos” (= thank you). Of course that doesn’t mean that “sunhiilow” is an actual Finnish word; in fact it looks like the English word “sunhillow” Finnicized (it seems unlikely that an actual Finnish word would end in “-ow”). No doubt someone knows for sure, but I think it’s more fun not knowing. In any case this cassette is a lovely collection of simple pieces made in 2019 with a Moog Mother-32. Pick up all of her releases at once for a mere pittance!

offthesky & the circular ruins – Through Solid Shadows / we all fall down

As his bandcamp page notes, “offthesky is experimental sound artist michael jason corder from denver colorado,” although I believe he normally just goes by Jason. I recently snagged his entire bandcamp oeuvre at a whopping discount, but now I have dozens of his records to comb through for podcast material, so I figured I better get started with one here. This particular release – one of many promising collaborations among my haul – features Anthony Paul Kerby, curator and principal artist (under many names) of the DataObscura label, and is described at the latter site thus:

Everything you would expect from these two contemporary talents. Complex atmospheres, strangely rhythmic, hauntingly melodic … a rare treat.

Sleepy Town Manufacture – Aways / Ambient Forms [TXT]

I recently got this message from TXT Recordings:

Residing in Belarus, one of our favourite TXT artists, “Sleepy Town Manufacture” AKA Alexander Ananyev and ourselves want to draw your attention to the horrific situation developing there.

What started as a series of peaceful protests against the recent election result has ended up with many people, including young women, being detained, interrogated, beaten and tortured in government-run detention centres.

As with many situations like this that happen with disturbing frequency around the globe, we are often powerless to help directly and all we can do is help support those that can.

From today, we have made the “Sleepy Town Manufacture” album, ‘Ambient Forms” as a Name-Your-Price digital download and will be donating all profits to the “Support For Belarus” fund –

We cannot thank you enough for your support in this cause and would please ask you to share this where you can.

In any case the record is very nice and worth picking up. Our track here is typically spacy.

Tsone – In Isolation / Nagual 5 [va/TXT Recordings]

Also from TXT is this track from one of my new favorite ambient & electronic artists (we heard a track from his magnum opus on Home Normal, pagan oceans I-III, a few sets back, and believe me we’ll be hearing more of that later on, because it’s the best thing I’ve heard in years).

At the link to this anthology we hear only that

With 15 artists contributing almost 6hrs of music, the set takes you deep into immersive ambient dreamscapes and on cosmic electronic voyages of discovery.

but from another [another fantastic record, btw]

we learn that

Tsone is Phoenix, Arizona based electronic musician Tony Obr, who has released material on labels such as Home Normal, txt Recordings, Dark Era Tapes and Myrdal Soundlab since the project began around 10 years ago. Tony comes from a background of playing woodwind in school bands and Jazz ensembles and although this experience is far removed from his work in electronic music today, he likes to think that it has carried some influence into his current work. After high school he studied visual art but before long, he had a desire to work with sound again and began experimenting with electronic music. 

Tony will usually start a new track through what he calls ‘mad fits of inspiration’ where he’ll frequently get a flash of an idea, working as fast as possible to realise it. The ideas are typically in the form of experimentation and whilst some eventually fall flat, others will begin to take shape and eventually become a song. The speed in which Tony works is largely down to his experience: not only does he teach electronic music, but he regularly performs live, with artists such as Andrew Weathers, Jeph Jerman and Erik Schoster (hecanjog). 

Elin Piel – Mjölk / Omsorg [Mystery Circles]

This name is new to me, and indeed it looks like Omsorg is Ms. Piel’s first full-length release. Not surprisingly given the title of this track, her page confirms that she is a

Synthesizer enthusiast based in Gothenburg [Sweden].

and tells us as well that

All tracks [were] recorded live on modular synth between the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2019.

The striking graphic at the top of this post is the cover to this tape, and was created by Negar Nikpay.

Thomas Köner & Jana Winderen – Cloître [Touch]

If you listened to my International Women’s Day set, you heard Jana Winderen’s captivating phonography all by itself, but here she collaborates with noted “dark ambient” artist Thomas Köner, whose appropriately titled early release Permafrost is a fixture on my “best all-time ambient” list. It’s a live recording, suggesting that the muffled voices we hear occasionally are crowd sounds, and I’m not convinced that the collaboration entirely works (it’s a bit too clear, I think, who’s doing what), but that must have been some show – and the lengthy excerpt we hear here is perfectly fine. Winderen’s page tells us that

Jana Winderen researches the hidden depths with the latest technology; her work reveals the complexity and strangeness of the unseen world beneath. The audio topography of the oceans and the depth of ice crevasses are brought to the surface.

More info from Touch’s page:

Recorded live from the cloisters [= “Cloître(s)”] at Evreux Cathedral, Normandy, France by Franck Dubois, 14th June 2014, as part of L’Ateliers. With thanks to Denis Boyer.

released June 16, 2017 

Remastered by Thomas Köner 

Photography by Jon Wozencroft

Sonmi 451 – Omicron Ceti / Star Atlas

At a link for a different Sonmi 451 record than the one we hear here, we learn that

Sonmi451 is Bernard Zwijzen, creating his own blend of atmospheric ambient music from the city of Hasselt Belgium. His music is perhaps best described as a hybrid between subtle, shimmering electronica and delicate soundscapes. Every Sonmi451 track is a sort of mini-universe where field-recordings and lovingly crafted samples are combined with carefully chosen atmospheric ambiences. Sonmi451 likes to explore the inner aspects of sound and stillness, the cracks and loopholes that exist between sounds. 

About this record, Bernard says:

Since there seems to be a steady demand from various people to be able to download the old Sonmi451-releases from the Time Released Sound and U-Cover labels, I’ve decided to put them all online again as a download at a very reasonable price. Second in the series is Star Atlas, released in 2011. 

These softy crystalline and glittering pieces of pure and gently cerebral electronica reflect perfectly the individual stars that they are named after, and like the night sky, flicker and fade with an ever shifting aura of calming beauty. The perfect soundtrack to an evening out under the night sky!

Check the latter link for a great deal on Bernard’s complete discography.

Scott Campbell – Alone in a Field at Dusk / Stillness [Seil]

I’ll let Scott take this one.

Stillness is about leaving the stress of the day for the calm of night, finding peace in darkness and using sound as an antidote for anxiety. 
Synthesizers, tape loops, field recordings and Harmony H165 guitar by Scott Campbell. 
Recorded and mixed 2018/2019 in New Orleans, LA. 
Polaroid SX-70 photo by Scott Campbell.


Direct link:

That’s all for this time. See you next month, maybe with philosophy, finally … ?