OK, well, it’s December 2013, but I already have a post titled Part I, so I better do Part II! This is a roundup of lovely submissions of note that I have received during the last few months. As I mentioned on my spanking new submissions page, I’m getting a lot now. So celebrate these favoured few who I consider worthy of praise. Praise them!
Western Skies Motel – Reflections
This is an all-too-short three-track EP from the Audio Gourmet netlabel of quite lovely pieces for acoustic guitar and ambient synth/sound art. The guitar is gently fingerpicked and very, very well recorded, with that intimacy that is often missing from acoustic guitar production. You feel you’re right there in the room. There’s also some subtle percussion/beats. This is some really nice stuff — it’s almost like this chap’s a hip modern version of Anthony Phillips or something. I’d like to hear more from this artist for sure.
Subsonic Winter – The New Creed
The New Creed is a moody IDM-ish collection of melodic pieces that will appeal to those who like acts like Solar Fields, Manual, etc., with their combination of complex electronic beats and sky-high synth melodies and sequenced passages. There are also some nice chimy guitar parts and leads. This is one of those pleasant albums to throw on in the morning to get yerself going. At least, I did. Not for those obsessed with dark ambient, though. But if you like classy beats and uplifting moods, try this out.
Build Buildings – I Sat on the Roof
This is a very interesting EP that mixes together sound art with glitchiness and other kinds of repetitive sampling to create short collage pieces that manage to be melodic and pleasant without getting even remotely annoying. This is something of a feat, because that kind of music can indeed be trying. Some groovy, stuttery beats (almost breakbeats) accompany a few of the pieces as well. People who like glitch ambient will certainly enjoy it, but if you like artists like Sawako and Lawrence English, there is plenty for you here as well. A very polished and attractive recording available at name-your-price.
Hibernal – The Machine
Now for something completely different! This is a modern prog rock record (I will NOT say neo-prog! Oops, I just did). It combines music with narration and an actual cast of voice actors, which of course fits with prog rock tradition, last used very effectively by Rain on his fine Cerulean Blue album from a few years back. The concept is: “A man climbs the corporate ladder inside a powerful company, but finds that with each promotion he must sacrifice a part of himself.” The music is modern prog with chiming guitars, tasty leads, and fuzzy but heavy bass sure to satisfy Chris Squire fans. I’d have to spend more time with the story to really absorb this, but the writing is obviously very intelligent and there is little doubt that Marillion/IQ/Porcupine Tree/Rush freaks will be interested in this ambitious combination of prog, post-rock and drama. Ambitious, but I like ambitious.
Decoy View – Summer’s Night
This is a new project, with this album released in August 2013. Basically, I have a limitless appetite for ambient music, so I’m always game. This is soft, subtle, symphonic ambient based on swelling synths, the kind we all like, right? There’s some super-subtle percussive beats as well, but buried at the subliminal level. As I always say, this kind of music sounds simple but is not easy to make, and it’s not easy to develop your own style. This does have some personality, as it crosses over into IDM territory and does feature a very interesting use of beats, which you’ll either like or not. But space music fans should definitely give this a try. A good debut indeed.
Hanetration – Timelapse
Another hard thing to do right is electroacoustic experimental stuff featuring field recordings, because a certain saminess has crept into that genre (scratchy sounds, field recordings, etc. etc.). So it’s nice to hear something really offbeat, and Timelapse is just that. It starts with a thumpy beat, industrial noises and the sound of a warped violin (for some reason I picture the Roma kid in Herzog’s Nosferatu!) Now this is interesting! “Opal” combines a beat that sounds like wooden blocks with more altered strings — like a drunken Baroque troubadour! “Sleep” is a hypnotic cacophony of sounds reminiscent of early tape collage music. This is very stimulating experimental music.
Råd Kjetil Senza Testa – Of the Augmented Living Dead
This release on the Zeon Light label is some classic freaky long-form stuff, for you drone enthusiasts. And I am such an enthusiast, so let me assure you that the first of two tracks is some sweet, sweet drone, with a nice solid base underneath but lots of shimmering, shiny sounds swimming around on top. And there’s some really fine vintage-sounding synths and synth pads as well. The second track has a subtle bass pulse and some spacy, windy synths. Later on a sequenced part worthy of the mighty Klaus Schulze (0r his latter-day equivalent, Craig Padilla) starts up. I think I shall pair this with some Astrowind and a nice Chianti. If you like drones and longer pieces, delay no longer and listen to this!
Asteroid Anxiety – Sedna 1
What roundup would be complete without some dark space ambient from those cold interplanetary reaches? And this is a very good example of such, containing spacious bass drones mixed with subtle touches of slightly distorted sound, if shrieky metallic sounds can be considered subtle. If the artist wanted us to feel like we were on a spaceship that just crashed into Sedna, he’s done a good job! This is a great update to the murky space music tradition started by Tangerine Dream on Zeit, so if you like that, take a trip to the dark side of the solar system with this recording! Definitely one of the finer dark space ambient albums I’ve been sent.