Here’s yet another month’s worth of submissions or things I was hipped to (and actually managed to find the time to listen to…). Got an interesting variety of stuff here, from singer-songwriter to IDM. Each selected by yours truly as good enough to waste a few minutes of your life checking out and deciding if you like. Would I lie to you? I most certainly would effing not.
Orbit Over Luna – Hiroshima/Miyajima
I was sold on this from track one and my ardour did not dissipate, it only grew. This is the kind of electronic/pop/ambient fusion music that just makes you feel really…good. The brainchild of Shannon Penner, Orbit Over Luna fits nicely into the chamber-pop-ambient genre that Helios has made so popular. Penner’s music sounds a bit more organic than Helios, but many of the same elements are there, particularly the delicate, repetitive guitar parts and the loping pace. The recording is meant to conjure up Japanese imagery, which it does in places, but more importantly, there’s a beautiful sense of peace pervading the recording. I am very impressed with Penner’s efforts and will be checking out more of his music. My favourite track is “Hiroshima: City of Peace”, which features some great “infinite guitar”. Lovely.
Mark Ward – Exposed to Infinity
Ward is a British ambient musician who has produced a very nice EP-length collection that covers a range of styles throughout its four tracks. “The Whole Rainy Stony Earth” is dark, melancholy ambient featuring some ominous-sounding field recordings. Very impressive. “From Sea to Sierra” is sweeping and dramatic classic-style ambient in the vein of Steve Roach and his ilk. Again, a very polished track. “The Voices” has an almost Berlin School throb going on underneath it. And “Forty Hertz Rumble” is just that, mainly a pulsating drone that could be the very definition of dark ambient. Ward shows great instincts in every style he’s covered here, which bodes well for future releases.
Dor – Housekeeping
Housekeeping is a very pleasant album of inventive “IDM” (god, I hate that term, but I don’t know what else to call it) or “downtempo” from a drum and bass-playing duo. Pretty happening stuff for you fans of Isan, Susumu Yokota, Solar Fields, well, you get the point. The kind of post-ambient electronica that moves your head as well as your feet. Well, I only dance at weddings to horrible top-40 music, but if I were to be a cool, hip dancer, I would certainly choose some of these block-rockin’ beats. Highlights are the noirish vibes of “Nobody Walks” and the insistent beats and post-rock guitar of “lightslightslights”. As a bonus, the album ends with a pure ambient piece. “Alone, I Find You There”. Definitely one of the finer “downtempo” releases I’ve heard in a while, understated but ambitious.
Host – Implant
From the cover and the name of the act and the name of the album, you can tell this is dark ambient! Now, you might think it’s easy to make a bunch of scary sounds and call it whatever you want, but no, a discerning listener can tell the difference between good dark ambient and bad. And this is good. In fact, it rides the line between moody dark ambient and the raunchy noise music of the Throbbing Gristle/Nurse With Wound variety and the post-techno skronk of Pan Sonic at their noisiest. With track 2, “Choose Thee an Island!”, it’s plain that Host wishes to scare the bejeezus out of us. It succeeds admirably. The tension doesn’t let up and in fact becomes excruciating by track 4. While this doomy stuff may not be my usual cup of tea, I must admit that I am very impressed with the intensity of this recording.
Ali Murray – Muffled Prayer
Ali Murray is a young Scottish singer-songwriter living on the Isle of Lewis, one of the Hebridean Islands. Funny thing is, despite that being a pretty out of the way place, I did spend a week there once. It’s rocky, moory, windswept (and I’m talking windy), and therefore perfect for conjuring up that distinctly Celtic melancholy that manages to be gloriously sad without a hint of fromage. Murray makes this kind of music. This nice little EP of slightly Gothic folksongs is sparsely furnished with fingerpicked acoustics, delicate keyboards and Murray’s unadorned voice. Track 3, “Muffled Prayer”, is the money, kind of ambient folk with some pretty synth pads and a dramatic folk-inspired melody. This is music with heart and class, and I think we can expect some very good things from Murray in the future.