Review: Ever wonder where Music From Memory founders Abel Nagengast, Jamie Tiller & Tako Reyenga got the name of their label from? The answer is obscure New York musician Vito Ricci, whose diverse and quite stunning discography of private press releases is compiled on this wonderful retrospective I Was Crossing A Bridge. Active during the '80s musical heyday of New York, Ricci description as "one of the unsung heroes of New York's downtown music scene" is fully qualified on this 18 track double LP release, which contains such a dizzying array of musical styles it's tempting to call him a musical genius. The three strong suite of "Inferno" tracks in particular could easily be mistaken for the work of Container, and that Ricci was capable of that as well as some tongue in cheek coke boogie like "I'm At That Party Right Now" means Music From Memory should be applauded once more.
Review: Producing and playing under Chymera for more than 15 years, Brendan Gregoriy's distinctive take on house and techno has seen him play at iconic venues like Panorama Bar, Womb, Output, and Rex Club, and release music on respected labels including Ovum, NRK, Delsin and Cocoon. 2016 sees Brendan take on a new alias, Merrin Karras. Inspired by the sounds of artists like Klaus Schulze, Biosphere and Abul Mogard, and finding renewed focus in creating without external pressures or deadlines, Gregoriy's ambient experimentation emerged, fully-formed, as Merrin Karras. His debut album under this moniker, Apex, was written and recorded in two Berlin winters, it's a record driven by a widescreen contrast between celestial beauty and engulfing black hole intent. Flawlessly produced, Vangelis panorama and vintage sci-fi exist in a space where drums and rhythmic elements have been willfully stripped out - and where the synths can truly breathe.
Review: Prins Thomas doesn't do things by halves. Having recently released another triple-disc mix album - the rather fine Paradise Ghoulash - he's decided to make his latest album a quadruple-vinyl set. Intriguingly, it also sees him set aside "all conventional drums and drum machines" in order to create a series of epic, evocative, slowly evolving ambient pieces. These were seemingly equally as inspired by classic ambient house - think the Orb/Robert Fripp collaboration FFWD, early System 7, and so on - as IDM tracks of the 1990s. Whatever the exact inspiration, each of the 9 tracks is utterly beguiling, and hugely suited to horizontal home listening.
Review: Originally released in 1994, Biosphere's second album Patashnik, as we would later find out, was only the beginning. Geir Jenssen's Biosphere project has since become a name that rolls off the tongue alongside Brian Eno when talk of ambient comes to the table, and the use of vocals in tracks like "Phantasm" and "Startoucher" are as memory jogging as Marshall Jefferson's "Mushrooms". The music here provides a snapshot of Biosphere's sound before he committed a decade's worth of albums to UK label Touch. For a '90s take on things, you could day "SETI Project" has aged better than "Mestigoth", while the nebulous to deep classical tones and bluey-hues of productions like "Decryption", "Patashnik" and "Mir" remain timeless.
A Collection Of Ceramic Vases (Yves Saint Laurent Buried In The Garden Of His Marrakesh Home) (3:22)
Review: Described as a "pact between Sweden's Northern Electronics and Denmark's Posh Isolation," and formed of Varg and Loke Rahbek (one half of Damien Dubrovnik) Frederikke Hoffmeier (aka Puce Mary), Erik Enocksson and Vit Fana's Ossian Ohlsson, Body Sculptures are the closest we have to a modern day noise supergroup. Body Sculptures first formed on record last year on Posh Isolation with a 7" and cassette but now return with a more comprehensive offering in the shape of a debut LP entitled A Body Turns To Eden for the same label. Posh Isolation are one of our favourite labels right now and this nine track LP is a powerful statement, fizzing with ambient energy and willing the ears to listen over and over to uncover all that sonic detail.
Review: Amongst ambient aficionados, obscure 1980s outfit The Chi Factory - a collaboration between Jacobus Derwort and Hanyo van Oosterom - has a cult following. While the duo went their separate ways in 1987, Derwort continued to work on tracks, which fused field recordings taken in far-flung locations around the world, with indigenous instrumentation and his innate ability to craft mood-altering soundscapes. The Bamboo Recordings offers the first chance to savour those previously unheard mid-to-late-80s tracks; while they've been remixed for release, they remain as trippy, inspired and intoxicating as you'd expect. Akin to a humid saunter through thick Mangrove swamps, the album feels like a long lost, tropical partner to The KLF's Chill Out.
Review: Los Angeleno in Amsterdam Diego Herrera aka Suzanne Kraft returns to Jonny Nash's (Gaussian Curve) brilliant Melody As Truth for a second full length entitled, "What You Get For Being Young". Recorded in his new hometown over the course of May 2016, he LP provides some wonderful ambient soundscapes; said to be composed using mainly digital synthesis and creating a musical world to truly lose yourself in. As the label out it best themselves, the album "offers a full immersion into Kraft's ever-evolving world."
Review: Norwegian producer Biosphere has released countless albums since his 1994 debut Microgravity on Origo Sound. The artist has been an important part of Jon Wozencroft's legendary Touch imprint, and that places him in a position of respect within the ambient landscape. He's up on Smalltown Supersound with a new album this time, and we're wondering how it took so long for him to reach this feat seeing as the label is native to his home country. But that's neither here nor there and, in reality, what's really here is a stunning collection of soundscapes that span a duration of seventeen tracks. You should think of this more as one piece of sound, a journey with a beginning, middle, and end. While it could work perfectly as a soundtrack piece, these sublime flurries of sound have been crafted to perfection and with the upmost attention; Biosphere's vision is concrete, full of movement and direction. What an album. Ambient pick of the week from us.
Review: Manuel Gottsching's legendary solo material from the mid '70s onwards is finally being reissued the way it deserves; full picture-sleeves unlike those tacky bootlegs that have been knocking about over the years. Thanks to Germany's MG Art we can now appreciate this wondrous music in all its glory and, we have to say, that 2016 feels just right for this music to be resurfaced once again. This is the Ash Ra Tempel producer's first solo LP from 1975, and we can clearly hear the krautrock influence deep in the tracks. However, much like his later material, there's an element of the desolate and purely electronic, a medium with which hie experienced and flourished. The masterful "Echo Waves" opens with a fluttering landscape that could make for the ultimate opener to just bout any DJ set, and "Quasarsphere" comes through next with its gentle waves of ambient delight. All incredibly forward-thinking, of course. "Pluralis" edges closer to what we'd term 'balearic' these days, but without all the gimmicky elements and, instead, full of psychedelic wonder and zeitgeist. This is so hotly recommended...
Review: Blackest Ever Black come up trumps once more with this delicious reissue of Caroline K's Now Wait For Last Year. For the uninitiated, Caroline K Walters' contributions to the minimal synth canon date back to the late '70s, forming the cult act Nocturnal Emissions with Nigel Ayers and founding Sterile Records. Along with the bounty of Nocturnal Emissions material this label issued, Sterile also dabbled in the dark arts of Lustmord, a noted influence on Kiran Sande's BEB no less! Now Wait For Last Year was originally released in 1985 and ranks as her only solo album - Walters would later pass away from leukaemia. Taking its title from a Phillip K Dick novel about time-travel enabling hallucinogenics, this reissue from BEB has been a long time coming and will positively delight anyone with an interest in the fringe electronics of the early '80s. The 21 minute A-side track, "The Happening World," sets the tone delving deep into foggy, spectral ambience with the four subsequent tracks retaining a similarly immersive mood.
Review: Gigi Masin's second coming after the wondrous Music From Memory retrospective back in 2014 has been one of contemporary music's most heart-warming stories, with the ever-smiling Venetian embracing new musical endeavours and friends. Alongside the Gaussian Curve album recorded with 'Young' Marco Sterk and Jonny Nash, Masin brought a degree of considered pedigree to the Lifted project on PAN. Outside of all this however, Masin has cultivated a strong musical bond with compatriots and Hell Yeah founders Tempelhof, with this album Tsuki arriving two years on from the trio's first LP-length sojourn together. Some nine tracks long, Tsuki will entrance Masin fans as the three musicians lead you on a gentle, warm and enveloping saunter through kosmische, new age and sounds reminiscent of the Japanese minimalist electronics pioneers.
Review: Joey Anderson, Madteo, Nuel, Innerspace Halflife and Even Tuell; all names to have graced Latency. The Mura Oka project from Latency co-founder Sidney Gerard and Louis Vial (Ezzaid) stood tall alongside those names, so do you expect any less from Australian producer Kane Ikin? No! Having just graced Type - John Twells & Stefan Lewandowski taste-making label - Ikin is a producer making music worth talking about, let's just call in undefinable. This Basalt Crush EP sways between the forlorn ambient and tribal haunt of Blackest Ever Black ("Echoic" and "Autophasic") to the scatter beats of Samurai Horo character Ena ("Grid"). With some heavy, slowed down and instrumental post-punk on "Gestalt" and to the luminous glow of "Street Flare", this record is another pearl from Latency.
Review: Gothenburg's Alex Backman prefers to go by his birth year, 1991, and his output has been an important part of Opal Tapes' development over the last four years. The young producer prefers to deal in albums rather than singles, and his Skogen, Flickan Och Flaskan LP from 2012 is still very much one of our favourite from the OT camp. This new mini LP, No More Dreams, is a similar affair; taking the listener from the sparse yet mechanical sequence of Part 1, though to more desolate terrains as the album develops further, and ending up in a startling, hollow stratosphere of lonesome drones that give the term 'ambient' a new, more kinetic meaning. If you're looking for some drone with meaning, message and movement, then 1991 is the man for you.
Review: Jonny Nash's Melody Is Truth label has barely put a foot wrong to date, with the ambient imprint serving up a steady stream of atmospheric, sun-kissed treats. The label's latest missive marks its' first foray into the 7" market, and contains a track apiece from Nash and similarly minded artist Suzanne Kraft. While the latter's woozy, melancholic and gently whistling "Roberto & Giovanni" sounds like a brilliant cross between Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street" and the producer's own take on ambient, it's Nash's A-side, "Cristina & Carolina", that really impresses. Full of his trademark, lilting mid-western guitar lines, echoing audio textures and shuffling, bossa-influenced beats, it's nothing less than audible sunshine.
Review: A-Ton is a new label from Berlin heavyweights Ostgut Ton, designed to focus on "ambient, archive and alternative music". They've pulled off something of a coup for this debut release, persuading British techno legend Luke Slater to open up the archives of his '90s intelligent techno project, The 7th Plain. Chronicles I boasts a mixture of previously released and unheard material, which moves from glistening, outer-space ambience (the near perfect "Boundaries", "Grace"), to fizzing Motor City techno ("T-Funk Statues"), via intergalactic intelligent techno, dusty downtempo grooves (the jazzy hip-hop rhythms and ambient electronics of "Slip 7 Sideways"), and melodious IDM.
Review: After 18 months of soft releases and sunset-optimised live shows across Europe, Danish dreamer Emil Breum comes correct with the aptly titled Moments. Each instant as cosy, poignant and emotionally rich as the last, Breum's ambience and cool sense of contemporary classical is showcased at its finest. The whole trip is a whirlwind of star-gazing soul but surefire standouts have to be the nylon string plucking Balearic bliss-out "Dive", the oceanic synth washes and delicate folds of "Bright Lights" and the striking keystroke confidence of "Blueberries". Delicious.
Review: Loke Rahbek returns with his fifth album under the Croatian Amor alias with Love Means Taking Action, recently premiered at the 2016 edition of Berlin Atonal where it was considered by many as one of the festival highlights. Although not as harsh and abrasive as previous albums, such as Genitalia Garden or last years The Wild Palms, Rahbeck still manages to execute a polarising opus, comprised of short ambient journeys which incorporate various sonic influences and clever use of sampling outside of his usual employment of textural noise treatments. Field recordings, immaculate synthesis and emotional vocal snippets are interspersed throughout this exploration of love and human connection. The title track, in particular, could well be one of our favourite songs this year. Quite simply: Breathtaking.
Review: Bristol's Subtext is now home to a stunning mixture of artists from all over the electronic sphere, and aside from being one of Roly Porter's birthing grounds, the label has released plenty of choice output from both Emptyset and Paul Jebanasam, among others. The latter is back this week three untitled snippets of sounds under the Continuuum heading, the first of which is a noisy chance of industrial feedback-funk, and the second a fluttering wave of lonesome sonics, and lo-fi glitches. Lastly, the B-side hurls in a load of pseudo beats, all rolling and disjointed, to go alongside the steely pile of noise drones that engulf your ears with fury.
Review: Originally Recorded live at Music Laboratories, New York, September 29, 1982 and eventually released 27 years later, William Basinski's 92982 receives a vinyl re-issue courtesy of the Temporary Residence label. Spread across two slabs of vinyl, the four separate parts to 92902 see Basinski teasing out ethereal, mesmerising loops from a reel to reel in all their decayed and degraded glory. It's all drenched in delay and reverb that works in the same tradition of his seminal LP, The Disintegration Loops . The truly haunting dark ambience of "92982.2" in particular is essential listening and a moment you won't forget, complete with eerie field recordings of NYC.
Review: Long players from L'estasi Dell'oro, D.A.R.F.D.H.S and Kartei signalled a move into artist albums from Dutch label Field that felt wholly right, and they've scored a real treat again in securing this Cold Radiance LP from Japanese artist IORI. Known for a potent brand of deep techno that has seen releases on Semantica, Prologue and DJ Nobu's Bitta label, Iori Asano is offered the chance to explore something different on this, his second album. Encourage to dabble in more explicitly ambient and experimental composition, Asano positively revels in this creative freedom for an eight-track album he himself likens to an "aerial sci-fi movie soundtrack." The gravelly sonic tones of opener "Transmission" sets the scene for what turns out to be one of the most enjoyable ambient techno albums of 2016 so far.
Review: Alex Ander and Marc Dall, the two dudes behind the Dalhous project, have pretty much restricted their output to the mighty Blackest Ever Black label, but who could blame them? The label has been one of the most consistent and diverse stables for dark and industrial dance and non-dance music over the last five years, a true pinnacle of the 2010's. This latest work, entitled The Composite Moods Collection Vol 1 / House Number 44 is a beast of an album, nineteen piece of sparse and desolate electronic music that has much more in common with a soundtrack than an ambient album. In fact, the chilling backdrops of drones and electro-acoustic wails that flutter over this work are truly a piece of moody melodica, a times loosely infused with melted beats and a ritualistic form of percussion. It's classic BEB material, and if you're into travelling to sinister, cavernous places, this will surely do the trick.
Review: Wania come through with the oddness once again! It's not clear who is behind ASIS, though there are breadcrumbs of info out there that suggests the involvement of main players in Acido, Sex Tags and SUED. It certainly wouldn't surprise us if the name was a cloak for any number of Sex Tags associates to jam in the studio and lay down this 14 minute exercise in abstract sonics!! As with some of the recent Wania releases, "Asis Part 3" is cerebral stuff and we highly recommend it for the weekends you want to kick back and trip out in the company of some strange music. The more adventurous DJs out there might even find some room in the earliest moments of a club night to deploy "Asis Part 3" and lay down a marker for how deep you want to take it!
Review: German glitch/electronica legend Jan Jelinek (Farben/Gramm) collaborates once again with Japanese vibraphonist Masayoshi Fujita. Schaum (German for froth, foam) is the duo's second album, following up 2010's Bird, Lake, Objects LP. Fujita prepared his instrument with various percussion elements as well as metal objects and toys, while Jan Jelinek layered loops made using small-scale electronic devices. Our personal highlights on this album were hearing the lush hypnotism of "Helio" where Fujita's tonal subtlety merged with Jelinek's trance inducing loops. The brooding ambient epic "Botuto" and the dynamic closing track "Parades" which will wash over then submerge you deeply over its amazing 10 minute duration.
Review: Just the fact that the Shahr Farag imprint is from Iran is enough to grab our attention. This is both because it feels like a novelty to the scene, but also because that vast majority of arts that come out of the country are always so interesting. This time, label owners Lenta and Ahu are joined by Romanian minimal expert Vlad Caia, who serves an excellent, Eastern-minded quasi-dance rhythm in "Declination", and a purely abstract barrack of drones and low frequencies on "Neptune". Lenta himself drops a fuzzy wash of sounds and disparate beats through "Your Existence", while Ahu's "Blind By The Sun" has something in common with dub-techno, except that here the sounds that flutter up and down are grainy and imperceptible...and wholly wonderful. Tip!
Review: Few people seem to do calm as well as Jonny Nash right now; see the excellent Gaussian Curve album he was involved with alongside Gigi Masin and Young Marco Sterk and Nash's own Melody As Truth label for all the evidence required. After the massive pressing delays encountered for his debut MAT release Phantom Actors, it is very nice to see Nash swiftly return with a second offering on the label. At eight tracks deep, it would be tempting to describe Exit Strategies as a fully fledged album though Nash does not present it that way. Instead Exit Strategies is presented as a display of his talent for wringing the utmost musical emotion out of lovingly layered guitar textures which it achieves with real aplomb. Sink in.