Review: Having established a reputation on the electronic underground via a series of quietly impressive, low-key releases, Jacob Long brings his Earthen Sea project to Kranky for the first time. An Act of Love is his sixth solo full-length, and sees him exploring both his usual blend of slowly shifting ambience and atmospheric drone movements, and more rhythmic, techno and house influenced workouts. Naturally, even his more forthright, beat-driven moments are still blessed with picturesque chords and drifting melody lines, giving An Act of Love a dreamy, softly spoken feel throughout. There's much beauty to be found throughout, even if Long's becalmed productions don't strive too hard for attention.
Review: Ruins is the 10th LP from Portland artist Grouper, an incredible set that's found it's home on the inimitable and always on- point Kranky label...and yes, it's another fine outing from the voco-noise head. Tracks like "Clearing", however, show another side to Grouper's usual rough edge. There's an element of smoothness to those sombre keys and far-out vocals. It's basically an ambient album with an extra layer of soul in its core - check "Made Of Air" for a seriously trippy set of soundscapes.
Review: Steve Hauschildt is no newcomer to the blossoming ambient scene, having released his first album almost a decade ago. In that time, he's earned a reputation for crafting genuinely poignant electronic music that neatly sidesteps ambient's various stylistic cliches. There's plenty to get excited about on this latest full-length - his fourth for venerable Chicago institution Kranky - starting with the sun-bright, Tangerine Dream style synthesizer arpeggios of the brilliant "Same River Twice". Elsewhere, he gets stunningly melancholic on the drifting beauty of "A False Seeming", doffs a cap to Global Communication and Steve Hillage on the glistening positivity of "Ketracel", and gives Pete Namlook a run for his money on the spacey wonder of "Strands".
Review: "Anoyo", Tim Hecker's latest must-check album, was apparently designed as a companion piece to its predecessor, 2018's "Konoyo". Like that album, it was inspired by his desire to fuse his brand of experimental electronica and wayward ambient music with the sounds of "gagaku" - a form of Japanese classical music famed for being played at the Far East nation's Imperial Court. In practice, that means recordings of traditional Japanese instruments and drums chopped, sliced, looped, mangled and reversed, fused with Hecker's own spacey ambient electronics and hazy electronic textures. It's a unique recipe, but one that results in a string of sublime, otherworldly compositions that just get better with each successive listen.
Review: Sound designer turned ambient explorer Scott Morgan is one of Kranky's longest-serving artists. He first appeared on the American label under his now familiar Loscil alias way back in 2001. Monument Builders is his eleventh solo full-length, and sees him effortlessly flitting between icy, slow-burning ambience, analogue soundtrack salvos (see the John Carpenter-ish "Red Tide", a bubbly blast of Cold War paranoia), cinematic tension-builders ("Straw Dogs"), throbbing, post-drone soundscapes ("Anthropocene"), and bittersweet mood pieces (the melancholic brilliance of "Weeds"). As you'd perhaps expect from a man whose day job involves scoring computer games, the album is hugely atmospheric and immersive.