Travelogue 2017.07.06: Wandering the Archives

Archives is a label based in Valencia, Spain run by DJ, producer, & musician Agustín Mena (aka Warmth, SVLBRD). You won’t find a lot of words written by the label about itself. Its impressum can be found in the music which focuses uncompromisingly on pure ambient, downtempo & dub techno aesthetics with a preference for soothing, warm tones and meditative atmospheres. Presented here are six recent releases by an international roster of artists including Logic Moon (Germany), Robert Farrugia (Malta), Yoyu (Canada), Purl (Sweden), Shuta Yasukochi (Japan), and Halftribe (UK). Also highly recommended are their Ambient and Soundscapes compilation series and Warmth’s own ‘Essay’ which was one of the best reviewed ambient albums of 2016. 

Logic Moon – Oblivion

Born and raised in the deep woods near Mainz, Germany, Tobias Lorsbach is a producer, sound-designer, composer, re-mixer, DJ and mastering-engineer involved in a number of projects and genres. Having contributed to several compilations and one collaborative album on Archives under the alias of Logic Moon he offers his first full-length solo album on the label in the form of Oblivion, a deep and expansive collection of cerebral ambient explorations ornately detailed with an expressive variety of textures and field recordings. Personal highlights here include the moody atmospherics of “Bergen”, the blue meditations of “Buried in Time”, and the otherworldly “Another Earth”.

Robert Farrugia – Slow Morning

The Southern European island of Malta may be known for being one of the smallest countries in the world, but fans of ambient music may know it better as the home of Robert Farrugia. Drawing inspiration from canonical influences such as  Hammock, Sigur Rós, Stars of the Lid and Brian Eno, the soundscapes he created for Slow Morning are especially introspective, incorporating piano and subtle use of beats to flesh out a personal narrative of self-reflection. Particularly lovely are the shimmering title track and the lush drone layers of “Sycamore” along with the melancholic closing pieces “Reminiscent” and “Fragments”.

Yoyu – Ordinary Moon

Yoyu is the musical alias of Canadian electronic music composer/producer Ali Khan and Ordinary Moon is an exceptionally lush collection of songs inspired by and featuring field recordings from the forests of the Manitoba Province. Enhanced by the movement of rushing breezes, swaying leaves, and flowing currents which help create the woodland atmosphere that frames the album, there is a nocturnal moodiness and feeling of remoteness in these pieces that invites the suspension of time and deep reflection. Tracks that left an especially deep impression include “Sunrise Over Eleanor Lake” and the eleven-plus minute centerpiece “I See You, You See Me”.

Purl – Emptiness Is Form

Purl is one of several aliases for Swedish musician Ludvig Cimbrelius and perhaps one of his best known. Emptiness is Form is a follow-up to his 2016 release on the label entitled Form Is Emptiness and, as one might infer from the rearranging of the title, it includes alternate versions of material selected from its predecessor. Purl reworks some of his own original material here and augments with remixes by Logic Moon, Powlos, Moshimoss, Darren McClure, and SVLBRD. The album is something of a microcosm of the label itself, well-balanced while offering some of the most extensive forays into both dub techno and experimental abstractions you will find in its catalog.

Shuta Yasukochi – Short Stories

Of all the albums in this group, Short Stories by Japanese musician Shuta Yasukochi is the one I imagine most often returning over and over for the sublime peace and solace it offers. Awash in soothing waves of soft-hued, aerated drones, the album has a consistently serene and pastoral feel and an acute stillness about it that suspends time with oneiric effect. There is a subtle emotional undercurrent here as well, with hints of uneasiness evident in such pieces as “Resist” and “Anxiety”, but it flows submerged well below still surface waters and is offset by the bucolic mood of pieces like “Into the Forest” and “Izukohe” and the redemptive beauty of “Farewell”.

Halftribe – Daydreams in Low Fidelity

Daydreams in Low Fidelity is the second album on Archives by Halftribe, (aka electronic music producer & DJ Ryan Bissett) the first being Luxia released last June. Eleven tracks deep, the new record is exceptionally lush & verdant as it freely moves around among ambient, downtempo, and techno styles like a Venn diagram in motion. Bisett’s attention to textural detail really stands out as he seamlessly blends smooth & granular elements into a colorful milieu of tones with vocal layers used in surprising ways, especially on tracks like the sumptuous opener “Rioja”, the penultimate “Cubes Danced And Turned” and the mesmerizing  “Aponoa” which closes the album.