Tag Archive: ambient


We Breathe Together

rpo_300Red Planet Orchestra recently released their third album, We Breathe Together. The album marks a distinct evolution in their sound. Aurora Symphony, their debut release was a stunning piece of ethereal ambient and their second album also turned a few heads.

However, We Breathe Together shows that Red Planet Orchestra are striving to produce even more awesome sounds for your listening pleasure.

Red Planet Orchestra are Vince Rees  and Pete Smith. They combine elements of sublime orchestral themes in ambient music and produce astounding work.

We Breathe Together takes this even further. There are many types of ambient styles, but it is not often that artists are able to produce a sound that oozes emotion. Aurora Symphony had it, but their latest work is a positive tour-de-force of emotional ambient music.

The album starts with No Return To The Edge. From the outset it has a strong symphonic feel which has a very serious intent. The delivery is bright and cheerful but intelligently counterbalanced with a mature feeling of subtle melancholy. It’s almost as though you are experiencing the emotions of someone who has attained a worthy goal and is celebrating that, but who also is thinking of some of the trials that occurred along the way. In short, it is no effort to feel as though you are reflecting on the highs and lows of a journey.

This is quite a rare feat.

The rest of the album conveys the same maturity – sometimes dark, always emotional and always grabbing your attention and making you listen. If you enjoy orchestral ambient music, and also have an appreciation for the emotional side of ambient then I cannot recommend this enough. It is excellent.

You can listen to the entire album and purchase it via Bandcamp and there is a video containing an excerpt from the first track available on YouTube.

Have a listen!

pete-rpo_200 Vince rpo_201

Advertisements

Dirty Knobs : Ghost Geometry

I really enjoy ambient music, especially long-form drone, but what really makes me take notice is when that music is atmospheric/cinematic. This has it in spades. If you were watching someone conduct this it would be a very dramatic performance, not through the vigour of the conductor, but through the atmosphere that is generated.

Ghost Geometry by Dirty Knobs comprises 4 hours of atmospheric drone. The album is rich and vibrant : imagine walking into a cathedral on another plane of existence while the musicians are checking out the acoustics. Imagine long, sustained notes building up, layered on top of each other, flowing across the floor, slowly lapping up against the walls and flowing back straight at you. Imagine this blocking out everything, deadening all other sounds until you can hear nothing but Ghost Geometry. If you could see sound this would be like watching a viscous liquid slowly filling a space as the sound increased and changed.

As with most long form drone, changes are subtle and slow to occur. I think one of the reasons I enjoy listening to this so much is because Ghost Geometry is a single long form piece of music that has been ‘divided’ into 7 chapters. Listening to it without reference, one is unable to tell where the majority of the tracks begin and end because the change between them is subtle and unhurried. Nevertheless, each track has its own unique quality.

I know I use this expression a lot, but this is ‘journey music’. It fills the imagination – not with specific imagery but with a sense of place, a sense of environment. As you listen to it you gradually become aware that although the start of the album is filled with rich, deep resonating sounds, the mood gradually lightens as the album progresses. Near the end of the piece you experience ethereal spaces filled with liquid light that contrast with the darker, almost orchestral heavy areas near the start where behemoths lurk and prowl.

Overall, layers of sound gradually build up, raising the intensity of the album. The music takes on an inexorable quality. Parts of it seem to rush at you, building up the pressure, then receding, then rushing at you again, tides of sound enveloping you, picking you up and depositing you on strange shores.

So, who is Dirty Knobs? This is the music of Zac Bentz, an accomplished musician and a man of many talents. Zac was kind enough to answer a few questions about Ghost Geometry. Ghost Geometry follows on Field Recordings From The Edge Of Hell, an 8hr epic that uses the same method of transforming electronic sounds, stretching them to produce long form drone. I used the term orchestral above because when I listen to this, it certainly has that feeling, and I thought perhaps an organ had been used after the ‘stretching’ transformation. I asked Zac if this was the case and he said the sound you hear is entirely the result of the stretching effect.

I think that’s largely a result of the process. I use many different layers of sound throughout each song, then work on stretching them out to see what happens to them. Certain qualities of sound work better than others, so it’s a bit of trial and error to get something that sounds right (for lack of a better word). The feeling that it often sounds like an organ might come from those long, sustained notes and the sort of slow modulation that occurs. But in fact the original sounds are totally electronic and rather unlike organs.”

I think that’s amazing. So, is this process an easy thing to accomplish? Apparently not. From previous interviews it is obvious that there is quite a bit of trial and error involved at the start of the creation of the album, and that the process gradually becomes honed, producing this excellently atmospheric work.

When I litened to Ghost Geometry, I had not heard Field Recordings From The Edge Of Hell. I had to get it, and after listening to it, it is quite apparent that although both albums are similar, they are in fact also quite unique. The biggest difference is that FRFTEOH contains separate, distinguishable tracks. Also, and this was quite interesting, Zac said that the naming of the tracks on Ghost Geometry was designed to be deliberately vague – meaning that the names are sufficiently surreal that the listener can create their own world and populate it as they wish. This is the main difference between the two albums. When you listen to FRFTEOH, it is easy to see why the tracks are named as they are. The Locust Eaters contains a continual metallic rushing as of millions of tiny wings, The Minotaur’s Breath contains exhalations that are strange enough that it is easy to imagine a minotaur at rest. When you listen to Ghost Geometry, the imagination is not constrained by recognisable labels, but can roam free, counjuring anything it fancies to fit the music – the track names help promote this freedom of the imagination. Zac said:

After Field Recordings from the Edge of Hell, I wanted to simplify things a bit, make something that was more like one whole piece rather than separate scenes. I also wanted it to be a bit more vague and imposing, so the song titles are rather arbitrary, though I did put some thought into them. To me, these songs evoke images of huge shapes rolling through an ethereal space, so the idea that they were some sort of otherworldly architecture evolved from that. It’s more like feeling the geometry rather than seeing it, if that makes any sense…

From the release page:

Ghost Geometry is four unbroken hours of sub-harmonic oppression and walls of melodic haze. Using techniques both new and old, Ghost Geometry is a cloud of expansive architecture exploding into our physical world.

If you really wanted to go for it, listen to FRFTEOH followed by Ghost Geometry – 12hrs of amazing music – they fit together rather well.

Field Recordings From The Edge Of Hell

 Zac Bentz

Honourable Mention 2

Listen to some of these – ambient, minimal techno, dub-techno, dark ambient, downtempo, drone… Some very good albums here. If I had the time I’d write a lot more. Ctrl+click on the image to open the download/purchase page in a new tab.

Tillman Slayer – Chiquandella Street – Orignal experimental ambient music.

 

 

 

 

Giriu Dvasios – Visa – Very deep Dub-Techno

 

 

 

 

Dan Miñoza – Winter Kept Us Warm – Dark industrial ambient longform. Technological dounds…

 

 

 

 

The Circular Ruins – Invisible Cities – Clean clear shimmering ambient

 

 

 

 

Point – Deepending – Quality groovy techno

 

 

 

 

Smooth Genestar – Rem Phase – Warm comfortable downtempo sounds.

 

 

 

 

Sandwell District – Feed Forward – Excellent smooth techno rhythms. These tunes are mature and well rounded.

 

 

 

 

SlowNoise – The Cold Ground – Superb heady dub-techno that’s heavy on the dub. Spacious!

 

 

 

Giriu Dvasios – Ziema – Dub Techno with deep bass textures. Subliminal!

 

 

 

 

Reptilian Fur – Compilation album featuring many types of ambient to suit all moods.

 

 

 

 

Kirill Platonkin – Pines At Sunset – quality dense drone ambient from Russia!

 

 

 

 

Wings Of An Angel – In My Darkest Dreams – Massive ambient/dark ambient album. Some very long form tracks totalling 4hrs!

 

 

 

 

Aythar’s Soundcloud profile – Lots of great electronic mesmerising ambience. Very good sounds! Check out Aythar and Aythar3 too.

 

 

 

 

Red Fog – Anthracite Winter Over The Lidocaine River – From Paralucid – another great ambient drone album with a sprinkling of dark ambient too…

 

 

 

 

i AM esper – Floating Black – More guitar work from New Brunswick soon to be released on Vomit Bucket Productions and Depressive Illusions Records

 

 

 

 

The Beyond are presently Rob Warner and Uwe D’Rose. Rob Warner started The Beyond in 1986 when the band originally comprised Rob Warner, Matt Russel and Nick Ralph. They released Episcense in 1987, and tracks from this still appear on YouTube. According to their Bio (see below), several CD’s were released and then the band stopped making music. A couple of years ago The Beyond was reinvigorated through the collaborative work between Rob Warner and Uwe D’rose when they released a new album called Exploring Imagined Spaces.

According to Rob Warner ‘every track includes a base frequency that effects the listener in a different way’. More on this later. It’s all about soothing, pleasant atmospheres. If you want to relax, listen to Exploring Imagined Spaces.

The album begins with 528hz Ascension. The gentle sound of waves sussurating from the speakers introduce this track. A synth voice gently flows over them while a light melody supports the ensemble. About half-way through a short classic ‘Berlin Style’ synth melody makes a brief appeareance, picking up the pace slightly before fading. Bright and airy. Following on from this is Memories Like Dust which begins with a melancholy piano. Light melodies gently wash across the background resulting in a sad, quite evocative tune that epitomises the ephemeral nature of memories and how flimsy they become over time.

The third track, Under Ancient Skies comprises a wonderful bit of guitar work that evokes a mystical Eastern paradise. Uwe D’Rose’s guitar work dominates this track with long drawn out echoing melodies with an unmistakable Eastern flavour. A male voice from long ago softly chants phrases from some forgotten language. The Alchemist, which follows on from this is great. Music like drops of ambient fall around you, bouncing around and gently settling . The essence of this track is ‘relax’. It truly flows with such a relaxing style that you’ll want to close your eyes and smile. It enourages laziness 🙂 Just lay back and put your feet up.

The Innerworlds is a beautiful uplifting ambient track that echoes with a bright scattering of minimal guitar, sparkling and lazy. The Big Freeze is a reserved piece of music – slow and contemplative, hinting at sadness while Flo, the final track, darts brightly here and there to a light tempo with not a care in the world.

Overall this is a true synthesis of keyboards and guitar. They work so well together that the whole is a masterpiece of sound. An amazing ambient album that uses Solfeggio frequencies as indicated by the title of the opening track.  These tones were supposedly used centuries ago in Gregorian and Sanskrit chants (though there is no concrete evidence for this – if anyone does have any references let me know and I’ll add them), and were believed to impart spiritual blessings during religious ceremonies. One thing is for certain, the overall effect is one of peace and relaxation. Get it. This album is guaranteed to work magic.

Buy the album from the dedicated online shop and you get an extra 25 minutes of music comprising The Innerworlds, The Big Freeze and Flo.

The Beyond are the other side of Harkonnen. You can read a short bio of The Beyond here where you will find further information and photos.

Harkonnen : Harkonnen

Harkonnen’s eponymous album is a gem. There are two versions available. The version for sale on the Harkonnen website includes nearly an hour of bonus material taken from a rare live performance. Buy it anywhere else and you’ll just get the studio tracks.

Harkonnen are Rob Warner and Uwe D’rose. Rob plays synths and Uwe plays guitars. These two guys have produced an amazing album where all the music flows around a common theme. When asked, Uwe says that both he and Rob were in one mind as to what the finished product would sound like. It shows. This is a well performed, well laid out album. Rob Warner was responsible for the technical and production duties and has done an excellent job. Uwe describes Harkonnen as the ‘other side’ of Beyond.

Harkonnen opens with a scorching track called Rise Of The Machines that employs some amazing gutar work. The riffs used here are deep and menacing, the sort of sound you would associate with the implacable will of a mechanised construct. Awesome. Age Of The Machines is similar – powerful music with gritty lead guitar, but which is a celebration of all things industrial and robotic.

Ghosts In The Bitstream uses a soft lead to evoke a sense of loss – lead guitar creating a melancholic drone. The sound, though, is still within the Harkonnen recipe. (R)age Of The Machines starts gently then drops you back into a harsh industrial environment with plenty of twisted lead and awesome riffs.

All Human Is Error makes an unequivocal statement. Humans? Who needs them!

The Last Robot and The Final Sunset have a certain melancholy. The drones in The Final Sunset evoke a beautiful image of the sun setting, but you know that it will never be appreciated by the mechanised society over which it sets.

The Machines (Live) is a showcase of what lead guitar can sound like when done well. The lead overlays a rich synthesised background and the two harmonise very well. When you listen to the live tracks on the extended version of the album (remember – only available from the Harkonnen website), you may not realise that what you are hearing is the work of Rob Warner on his own. He plays everything. There are three live tracks, two longform at about 20mins (The Man In The High Castle Pts 1 and 2), separated by a shorter track named The Machines which is rich with plenty of guitar work. The Man In The High Castle Pt 2 begins with robotic murmurings and quickly becomes quite dark, lending it a tense atmosphere. This is maintained when a rythmic pulse gently creeps up on you, and the voices occassionally become louder and more ominous. The track is a showcase for deep minimal mechanical noises put together to create a powerful dark industrial soundscape. Man In The High Castle (Part 2) live is original dark ambient synth style. This is a classy piece of music and ends the album beautifully.

Rob and Uwe have worked together on various projects for 35 years and it shows in this album. The elements harmonise very well, the live performance is excellent, and the album has a common theme throughout. When you hear any particular track from the album you can most definitely recognise it as being ‘Harkonnen’. It varies from full-on melodic lead, awesome synths and gentle drone. There are classic elements of electronica here too, particularly in All Human Is Error, where the voice reading the charge appears to emanate from some kind of Orwellian mechanoid. The album is inexorable. The tracks march on, effortlessly overcoming all obstacles. Production is excellent, especially on the live tracks – everything is clear and stands out.

I’ve played this album many times and it really appeals to me. If you enjoy classic lead guitar, great riffs, marvellous and original synth sounds, and if you prefer your albums to play around a common theme, then this is definitely for you. I can’t recommend this enough!

Rob Warner is presently working on three other projects: The Beyond (With Uwe), BROADKAST (an industrial dance project) and the record label/sample library Ambient Source. He is also part of an as yet unnamed elctro-acoustic ethnic folk project. Uwe D’rose is the guitarist in Landmarq who have just released a double CD and will be playing various UK dates this year.

Last February Waiting World Records released Like Hemlock by Dan Miñoza  & M. Peck.

Just over one hour of music begins with Bloodwood, a silken track with organic sounds accompanying synths and a base drone that carries it along. The track hints at innocence, before descending into a dark landscape before it finishes. The dark ending of Bloodwood prepares the listener for the tense start of Kapala – something ominous this way definitely comes. As Kapala progresses, industrial sounds are introduced, hinting at some mechanical process.

The amazing dark ambient sounds that comprise Atlantia are deep and bassy. Rising and falling, the track pulses with a palpable atmosphere that places you in some scary environment. The track develops very slowly, with just the occassional sound of something being moved about, scraped along the wall or being torn. A great track that is tense and forbidding.

The slow extended distortion that introduces Mara rapidly develops into an intriguing piece of music that is the essence of strange. This is as close to ‘noise’ as the album gets, and the stereo panning with delay effects on this makes it a must for the headphones. The track is in no way unstructured, and it will certainly transport you to a strange place.

Redjinnerate has a great atmosphere that incorporates both light ambience and darker layers. It is difficult to pull off tracks that merge light and dark aspects but this one definitely succeeds. Dejinnerate, on the other hand is a wonderful piece of light airy ambience. It shimmers with an Eastern flavour and uses light synth sounds to create a bright atmosphere that is uplifting and relaxing.

The title track is excellent. Organic sounds overlay a strange landscape. Underlying drones provide an edgy backdrop to a track that becomes cinematic. Sometimes syncopated, the music here is rich and varied and finishes on a very smooth ambient note.

Like Hemlock succeeds in presenting mixture of ambient compositions ranging from tense, dark and sometimes industrial imaginings through to bright light pieces. A varied piece of work which maintains a very high quality throughout. The tracks evolve slowly, their minimalist style contributing to a professional piece of work. You won’t go far wrong by purchasing this.

Listen to more of Dan Miñoza’s work and collaborations here. You can hear more of Michael Peck’s sounds here

Official Press Release:

The debut album from Dan Miñoza and M. Peck is a masterwork of isolated kinetics, turgid textures and vast dynamics drawing the listener in with stark minimalism and dark ambient atmospheres coupled with sparse sound design.  

These collected works were inspired by the novelist Charles Bukowski and photographer Sally Mann, from whom both Miñoza and Peck draw much influence. The album was recorded from August 2011 through December 2011, then later mixed and mastered by Peck at Audio Propulsion Labs in January of 2012. The result is an intimate voyage into the abyss with two of today’s most diverse independent ambient musicians.

Magnetic Wind : Astral Vortices

A great piece of electronic elegance. Fans of ethereal drift and electronica will want to add this little gem to their collection.

Astral Vortices begins with Infinity which evokes a sense of travelling, of discovery. The track begins with some quality electronic ambience. After a few minutes the beat kicks in and the track acquires a sense of joy and is quite uplifting. Following this is Contact, which contains regular hisses/static, just like those you associate with the manoeuvring jets on spacecraft seen in sci-fi films or what you’d expect to hear when turning the dial on a radio, searching for signals. These overlay some lightly upbeat synth sounds that gently carry the tune, and slowly become quite ethereal towards the end of the track.

Journey starts on the shore where waves rhythmically wash over shingle and bird calls can be heard. Slightly inquisitive, certainly exploratory, the track represents, according to Magnetic Wind, the journey of “an individual starting on earth, getting lost in the earthen ocean and being transported out and beyond the horizon to a greater sea of atmosphere in the universe”. Epic. And it works 🙂

The slow downtempo beat of Gravity gently picks you up and prepares you for waves of slow luxuriant sound that make for a particularly serious track. Bliss takes the listener back to the shore and the dazzle of sunlight through sprays of water. Light and gentle. Smiles and Sunshine 🙂

Satellite brings to mind the icy coldness of space. This gave me a real sense of travelling and seeing, more than the others, and remains upbeat. Two more tracks maintain the same pleasant atmosphere, Sonic Lullaby and The World Below. Both help finish the album on a gentle tide of ethereal sounds.

The album is quite obviously centered around travelling, and Magnetic Wind takes us on a journey through the universe. She says that at the time she wrote this she’d wanted to do a ‘space drift’ album that was “drift, ethereal and free floating through space”, designed to take you into the ether, beyond the physical state and which would allow the listener to “explore space”. Each track is designed to describe a singular Astral Vortice, or “universal journey”, which is what the whole album is about.

What I really like about Astral Vortices is the genuine ethereal nature of the sound. This is brilliant electronic ambience. Sometimes, electronic ambience can sound really cheesey, but Astral Vortices rises up above the rest. It captures the attention and tweaks the imagination in a positive way. If you like classic electronic and enjoy ethereal sounds, you’ll feel positvely relaxed and re-charged after listening to this. Magnetic Wind has a philosophy based on finding beauty in the inner self and discovering beauty in others, and her music illustrates this wonderfully.

Released during 2010, Astral Vortices is available from Endless Ascent. To listen to other music by Magnetic Wind, check out her Bandcamp page and to keep up with the here and now that is Magnetic Wind, read all about her on Facebook (see below).

From Magnetic Wind’s About Me on Facebook: Official Page for Magnetic Wind (Ottawa/Choctaw) -one woman electroaccoustic, ambient, new age project in the U.S. Magnetic Wind, acting as a conduit for the sacred, creates soulfully, spiritually uplifting, music and video with the power of the universe to revel in beauty inside you.

Big thanks go to Magnetic Wind for providing some background information on the album

[Edit April 2012]

Magnetic Wind is now Mesawzee. Use this >link< instead to disocover more about her work via Facebook. And, you can follow her work as Mesawzee on Bandcamp, too

The Magnetic Wind website

The Mesawzee website

 

Metlay! : Eocene

Dreamy, laid back blissful sounds. Eocene, released on the excellent Earth Mantra netlabel in 2009 is an album comprising a single longform track by Metlay! that is a lesson in patience and relaxation. It is a masterpiece of sonic maturity. It is something to find solace in during life’s hectic moments or if you think you’re losing control.

Mike Metlay wrote this during what he describes as a rare period of genuine peace. When you listen to Eocene, this is certainly what comes across. What is amazing, though, is that if you read Mike’s ‘about me’ (click the ‘about mike’ link on http://www.mindspiral.com/), you realise that solo projects like this are a bit of a rarity, as he considers himself at his best when working with other muscicians, not on his own, and generally finds solo work not as much fun.

What really makes the album stand out for me, though, is the way the music wraps itself around you. As the album plays out, it does everything for you – the music lifts you up and carries you along, supporting you throughout.

A remarkable thing about this is that the music never becomes dull. It changes as it progresses: subtle resonances appear that change the timbre of the sound, adding extra depth and warmth to the composition. It has a sublime beauty.

Pump this out through a juicy system at a reasonably loud volume and you will be enfolded in a series of ‘reassuring’ tones. You will find yourself focused on the music. It’s like being wrapped in cotton wool. It is very cosy, warming and soothing. As it moves along at its slow, measured pace the listener is placed into suspension, gently carried along while the sounds drift around you, phasing in and out, massaging the mind and encouraging a relaxed state of consciousness.

By the time this album finishes you’ll be in a state of (horizontal) bliss. You won’t want the music to end. It is excellent. There are many albums of a similar style, notably those by Stars Of The Lid, and while SotL are great, Eocene takes the concept way beyond what they have done. This ambience really gets inside you. It is a very positive album.

Mon0 : Colliding Textures

Mon0 aka Andre Zufall is a German artist from Solingen. He started his musical career as a DJ in the second half of the ’80’s and creates ambient and dub-techno music.

This album, called Colliding Textures (what a great name!), and released by Test Tube begins with some incredibly well done industrial drone sounds. Cathedral Of The Lost evolves slowly, introducing a sense of urgency, then of expectancy, or perhaps it is conveying a sense of discovery. Listening to this is great – I got the distinct feeling that the track was trying to convey searching for something and not being able to find it. It is also, in my mind, one of those pieces of music that manages to be light and dark at the same time. Brilliant!

Next, consider a parched, empty landscape. Imagine a slow, difficult journey through this place where you have no choice but to move on, your feet creating a sonorous painful cadence, driving you inexorably to some distant, unseen location. Hints of something pass you by, rising and falling, out of sight and out of reach… This is Marching Into Desperation. Quite evocative.

The third track, Distant Reality, introduces some rushing atmospherics, moaning horribly. Deep bass regularly punctuates the track, keeping time with some obscure rhythm. Frail tortured sounds wash in and out like a tide, exposing a voice then smothering it again.

One other track, Orbit is also worthy of praise, but I’ll leave you to decide how best to interpret what you hear 🙂 I enjoyed it very much.

This is an incredibly rich album. Here are 60mins of dark ambient impressions that stand out – atmospheric sounds designed to stimulate the senses. This goes well beyond the ears 🙂 I’ll definitely be listening to more of Mon0’s work. Check out his Soundcloud page, too 🙂

Colliding Textures: Cathedral Of The Lost [13.36], Marching Into Desperation [12.32], Distant Reality [14.24], Orbit [19.12]

Kundar : The Ghosts Still Haunt Me

Kundar is a project by the same person responsible for The No-Tone Project and Descent Into The Void. The track ‘The Ghosts Still Haunt Me’, available via Soundcloud is a wonderfully immersive piece of ambient music with blunt dark edges. By that I do not mean that it is raw or without finesse, but that the music has a palpable, almost physical effect. It is heavy and you get the feeling that it is trying to push against you, to smother you.

This is one of those pieces of music that can be described as a ‘soundscape’. As such, it is best enjoyed through headphones and should be played Loud. As the track plays out, you can almost feel those vibes buffeting you, as if you were stood in a windy place. The dense bass rumble hovering in the background suggests that something huge is there, keeping its distance, but supporting everything you hear. As the track nears completion, you can hear the sounds of something trying to speak, to escape. It is a great effect and the track is highly recommended. The latest news is that we can look forward to more music from this project. That will be a treat!