Review: On previous albums, Francis Harris has tackled some weighty subjects, including memory, loss and grief, intertwining these artistic inspirations with a woozy, organic and multi-layered deep house framework. "Trivial Occupations", his third full-length excursion, is not only less conceptual in tone, but also marks a conscious attempt to move away from the constraints of the dancefloor. Of course, there are still hypnotic, ultra-deep house beats scattered around the album, it's just that they largely operate at a more leisurely pace and usually come smothered in crackling field recordings, ambient chord sequences and slowly shifting melodies designed to worm their way into your consciousness. Combine these cuts with some superb, beat-free ambient explorations, and you have a hugely atmospheric and entertaining set.
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: We were a little surprised when Lovefingers announced that German techno veteran Roman Flugel would be releasing an album on ESP Institute, but in hindsight we shouldn't have been. Flugel has always been more than a mere producer of forthright dancefloor fare, with a deep discography that includes experimental works and a keen interest in ambient soundscapes. It's the latter strand that he mostly explores on "Themes", a 13-track cut whose fluid, bubbly and ear-catching cuts variously doff a cap towards Japanese new-age business ("Theme II"), Broadcast style IDM ("Theme III"), Kraftwerk style modular electro-pop (the exotic "Theme IV"), chiming bliss ("Theme VI"), deep space creepiness ("Theme X"), Jonny Nash-esque sunset vibes ("Theme XII") and hushed, mid-tempo horror-techno ("Theme VII").
Review: Experienced experimentalists William Basinski and Lawrence English have long been friends, growing closer over the last half-decade thanks to a string of chance encounters in cities around the globe. Finally, they've joined forces on their first collaborative set, an album that was reputedly "simultaneously recorded in Brisbane and Los Angeles". It's a thing of beauty, with both of the long, poignant and slowly shifting ambient cuts being tinged by melancholy brought on by the loss of their mutual friend, experimental filmmaker Paul Clipson. Like "Selva Obscura", Clipson's work celebrated the act of getting lost in experiences that lie beyond everyday understanding.
Review: American composer Mary Jane Leach is a composer/performer who works with the physicality of sound, its acoustic properties and how they interact with space. She has played an instrumental role in NYC's pioneering Downtown avant-garde community since the 70s, working alongside peers including Arthur Russell, Ellen Fullman, Peter Zummo, Philip Corner and Arnold Dreyblatt. The four recordings featured here on her fourth album entitled (f)lute songs feature Italian flautist Manuel Zurria, and spans a period of over 30 years inspired by her fascination with sound and performance.
Nouvelle Mode Des Modalites - For Well-Tuned Fender & Sine Wave Drone (17:46)
Nouvelle Mode Des Modalites II - For Well-Tuned Fender & Sine Wave Drone (24:35)
The Well-Tuned Marimba - For Yamaha Synthesizer Sine Wave Drone Live Electroniplangarcs (feat Hans Isgren On Amplified Sheng) (18:22)
Equal Temperament Fender Mix (12:45)
Review: This is the first in a series of planned archival records of the unheard music of Swedish composer and visual artist Catherine Christer Hennix, co-released by Blank Forms Editions and Empty Editions - a Berlin-based publishing platform initiated by Empty Gallery, Hong Kong. Hailed as an obscure masterpiece of the days of the early American minimalism, It follows up Hennix's first solo museum exhibition in over 40 years at Amsterdam's Stedelijk, and coincides with a retrospective archival show of her visual work at The Empty Gallery in Hong Kong. The record also marks the first time Hennix's own music has been given a full-length vinyl issue. Hennix has collaborated with the likes of Arthur Russell, Marc Johnson, Henry Flynt and Arthur Rhames over the years, and also served as a professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at SUNY.
Red Ants Genesis (feat Gavsborg & Time Cow - Equiknoxx remix) (4:24)
Review: Revered noise merchant Dominick Fernow returns under the Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement moniker, following up last year's Ambient Black Magic release - which featured Silent Servant and a dub techno remix by Substance aka DJ Pete. On Red Ants Genesis, Fernow is said to have utilised high volume microphone recordings of synthetic field ecologies, with further sound on sound processing applied by Philippe Hallais aka Low Jack - creating this series of meditative and trance inducing soundscapes. The remix on this release comes from Equiknoxx Music: the Jamaican music collective of Gavsborg and Time Cow, who hand in an introverted and very personal dub of the title track.
Review: Second time around for Carbon Based Lifeforms' sixth studio set, "Twentythree", which first surfaced on Ultimate Records back in 2011. It remains one of the Swedish ambient duo's most potent and poignant works, delivering dollops of weightless electronics and intergalactic soundscapes that slowly twist, turn, ebb and flow. The pair's subtle use of field recordings and sound effects adds extra layers of atmosphere and intrigue (see the feverish, drifting-down-the-Amazon vibes of "Inertia" and the chiming, summer-in-the-city hum of "Kensington Gardens"), while their ability to conjure vivid audio imagery from little more than elongated chords and sweeps is arguably unparalleled. "Twentythree", then, remains a triumph, albeit a self-consciously quiet one.
Review: Back in 1998, three Swedish friends recorded a fine ambient album as Notch and self-released in on CD-R. Two of these, Johannes Hedberg and Daniel Segerstad, would go on to win acclaim as long-serving ambient outfit Carbon Based Lifeforms. To celebrate the album's 20th anniversary, the duo has decided to reissue "Path". It's stood up remarkably well, with many of the tracks containing a smidgeon more psychedelic influence (think bubbling acid lines, in particular) and rhythmic shuffle than their latest, almost entirely beat-less work. If you've not heard it - and, let's face it, remarkably few have given its quality - we'd suggest checking out the clips ASAP. You won't be disappointed.
Review: The next outing on Huerco S' experimental imprint West Mineral is by Chicago's Exael with 'Collex', a deep, impressionistic album of ambient soundscaping recorded between Chicago and Berlin. Featuring over half a dozen ambient and IDM experiments that explore textures and dimensions within modern synthesis techniques and to quite stunning effect, Exael mines a finer and more elusive variant of ambient music, connecting dots between classic vapor-trail dub and hyper-modern inversions. Tip!