Hammock – Columbus (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) / Mysterium

Few artists in the world of instrumental music have a compass as locked on to true north as Hammock. For years, this Nashville-based project of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson has  served up a rich sonic feast spanning the genres of ambient, post-rock, and modern classical while resonating with heartfelt, and often heart-wrenching, emotion. Perhaps what they are capable of was summed up best and most succinctly in a comment to one of their recent videos where the listener said “Hammock has this way of telling you, ‘Everything will be okay.’, in the most beautiful way possible”. And in 2017 we have a double helping of new work from the band, an original motion picture soundtrack and a full-length studio album.

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Sound Impression: cascade symmetry by r beny

Following last year’s impressive full blossom of the evening, California-based r beny returns with another beautifully crafted opus fashioned from modular and hardware synthesizers entitled cascade symmetry.  The album, which was recorded in San Jose but features additional field recordings captured in South Korea is a work the artist refers to as  the “culmination of an intense and transformative year-long period” and “an ode to new beginnings and the disintegration of the past”. While that may be true creatively speaking, the listener will experience this album as a soothing immersion in a world of sumptuous textures; a warm and inviting quiescence of time as lush, shrouded, and remotely melancholic as Austin Cairn’s imagery of the Oregon coast on the cover suggests.

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Martyn Heyne – Electric Intervals [7K!]


Don’t be fooled by Martyn Heyne’s youthful appearance. The Hamburg-born composer & producer brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his debut full-length album. He took up piano and guitar at an early age teaching himself the instruments in non-traditional ways before going on to be classically trained at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. In addition to being a live performer with the acclaimed indie band Efterklang and opening shows for Nils Frahm and A Winged Victory for the Sullen as a solo artist, Heyne has worked with a diverse group of high-profile artists in his Lichte studio in Berlin including Peter Broderick , alt-J, and The National (for a nice sampling of these check out his ‘Monday is Ok’ mix here). He brings all of this compositional and recording experience as well as his fondness for the electric guitar to the table for the recently released Electric Intervals, an album which he approached with a very specific philosophy.

“The number of parameters that determine a recording appears to be infinite. The mood, instrument, tuning, settings, microphones, room, placement, temperature, time of day, etc. all contribute to sound. The magic, once captured, is impossible to recreate. This might seem a hindrance, but it’s really the whole point of recording for me and also the reason why I never use samples or virtual instruments…the better the instrument sounds, the more you want to convey that quality.’’ – Martyn Heyne

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PREMIERE: “Dusk Line Hills” by Elskavon

Dusk Line Hills Green JPGMinnesota based composer Chris Bartels is a man of many musical faces. Under the umbrella of his hybrid record label and production house Anthem Falls Music, he tends a variety of projects under different monikers along with work under his own name for film, TV, & advertising. The one that should be most familiar to fans of ambient music with a cinematic bent is Elskavon, which saw its debut in 2012 with the excellent Movements In Season followed by Release in 2013 and Reveal in 2014. Three years later, it is great to see Chris reactivating the project with previews of a fourth LP due in January. Each song on the new record is inspired by a particular memorable moment or era in his life and he has furnished us a prime example in “Dusk Line Hills” which I am pleased to premiere today. The backdrop for this track is an unforgettable moment that occurred in the Black Hills where Bartels was vacationing with his wife, one-year old son, and in-laws just as they were discussing how much they would like to get a glimpse of the elk that roam the area.

Literally as we take a right on the road to exit the route, there’s an elk, and then we see another one. We slow down and pull over to watch. It was getting close to dark. All of a sudden we hear some cries and look up the hill. There’s about somewhere between 60 to 80 elk. They started calling at or to each other, and then running up and down the hill for a minute – maybe there were two herds, I’m not sure. I just remember that moment so clearly – I remember all of us in the car just sort of gasping and then falling silent for a bit, watching, listening, taking it all in. Then in no time, they were gone. Disappeared over the dusk line hills”

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PREMIERE: “Junges Liebespaar” by Unsichtbar [ACR]

Unsichtbar is a new project from Lima (Peru) shrouded in a mystery by design. The word, meaning ‘invisible’ in German, is an apt choice for the anonymous alter ego chosen by the artist for an intuitive creative process unencumbered by preconceptions or set guidelines and deliberately unmoored from a conscious sense of self.

If I give too many details, I go back to myself, and that’s something I am trying to avoid. Here, I experiment with completely different and new sounds with the only intention of experimenting. No hidden messages, no complicated concepts, nothing at all. Just textures and sensations. That’s what ‘Erlebnis’, my debut album, is about. A creative process that, if transposed into life, could be seen as youth and the experiences we go through while growing up and discovering ourselves. – Unsichtbar

The debut album Erlebnis (‘experience’) offers 8 mostly unstructured sonic experiments that skew heavily toward the crepuscular and opaque. Dense, even ominous at times, there is an emotional undercurrent throughout which occasionally breaks through in fragments of melody and tender moments of heightened perception. These characteristics are abundantly evident in “Junges Liebespaar” which you can listen to here in an exclusive premiere.  Continue reading

PREMIERE: “Treatise” from Swann & Odette by Aris Kindt [Kingdoms]

Taking their name from the alias of the figure at the center of Rembrandt’s masterpiece “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” who was central to the theme of their debut album (‘Floods’, 2015), Aris Kindt is a collaborative project from Gabe Hedrick and Francis Harris. The duo once again choose an artistic reference as a conceptual touchstone for their second album entitled Swann and Odette, a pair of protagonists from Marcel Proust’s sprawling seven-volume novel In Search of Lost Time.  The album is a heady offering from a sonic perspective as well as a thematic one:

“Picking up where their first record (2015’s Floods) leaves off, ‘Swann and Odette’ is an evolutionary leap forward for the duo. The sonic palette is deeper, the grooves more sparse and the melodies are given more room to seep deep within a mix so expansive it feels almost tactile…a seamless interplay of synths and instrumentation cast loose from their origins and awash in oceanic delay.”

You can sample the ornate, cerebral soundscapes Hedrick and Harris are able to conjure from their extensive gear in this exclusive premiere of “Treatise”, a mesmerizing track that juxtaposes hazy swirls of guitar and malleable sonic forms with a steadily metronomic, pulsing groove.


If this all sounds rather modern for an album steeped in references to a turn-of-the-century novel, the point is not so much to soundtrack Proust’s story itself, but to explore concepts it suggests about the relationship of music to experience and memory or perhaps just the act of reading it in a current setting, both of which are suggested in John Stroud’s liner note essay (“Future Ghosts: Aris Kindt’s Soundtrack for a Radical Materialist Ontology”) which offers an assessment of the record as a kind of “post-structuralist pop”:

It is a science fiction record that launches our consciousness out into a speculative emotional landscape of decisively Proustian flavor while using techno’s taxonomic/serial bed of reference as an invitation to transmogrify that future into the pulsations of the actual body. As for Proust’s novel, it feels as much like a paperback thrown in a backpack more than any sort of foundation, something to read along the way while you’re waiting for your train (an image of which Proust would absolutely approve) while Swann and Odette plays over the radio in an altogether saner world. – John Stroud 

Swann and Odette inaugurates Kingdoms, a new label being launched by Harris which he describes as “a new platform for adventurous music ranging from new voices in club-inflected jazz, contemporary composition, ambient, and electronic music to reissues of little-known obscurities from across the musical spectrum”. Editions of the album will be available from October 20 on digital and an attractive limited edition colored vinyl LP.

Links:  Bandcamp (DL/LP) | Kingdoms

Sound Impression: Two Shadows Collide by Secret Pyramid [Ba Da Bing Records]

There are few artists who are able to convey the full drama and scope of the existential ache through their music as Amir Abbey aka Secret Pyramid. Drawing inspiration from the vast Pacific Northwest where he is based, he builds plaintive minor key melodies into monumental edifices of sound that somehow never lose their intimacy or emotional compass and he as the height of his powers on his latest album entitled Two Shadows Collide. This music is full of compelling paradoxes. It is crepuscular and illuminated; tentative and transcendent; lush and barren, majestic and devastating. But it is these very conflicts that are at the heart of the album’s themes.

Carefully built and fluidly performed, the record expands Abbey’s relationship with modern composition and abstract songcraft. Each song’s main inspiration comes from the notion behind the album title, the intersection and attraction of forces and worlds, clashing of sounds, and the dualities within our lives. That such a meditative release is built upon conflict is ironic, but therein lies the perfect way to listen. – Ba Da Bing Records

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PREMIERE: 11545kHz from Grachiel by Purna [AM 800]

Founded by members of two projects known for soaring instrumental rock, namely No Grave Like The Sea and Katmai, Purna is a newly formed experimental/ambient trio that explores much more nebulous territory where stillness, restraint, and nuance hold sway.  Their debut effort entitled Grachiel is on the cusp of its release via AM 800, a recently established DIY label that is also home to bands previously featured here such as North End and Signal Hill. To give a taste of the lush, moody soundscapes on display on this record, you can have an exclusive first listen here to the track ‘11545kHz’
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PREMIERE: “nothing else” from the babyteeth OST by breaking

After releasing a number of EPs and singles under his own name, Brooklyn-based composer and filmmaker Austin Johnson will be making his official debut under his new alias breaking with the October 20 release of the soundtrack to his short film babyteeth on Seattle’s Hush Hush Records. The unobtrusive textures and moody atmospherics of his minimalist soundscapes well serve the film’s intimate indie feel and its understated treatment of tension & conflict in the context of everyday life.

“The main idea behind both the film and the soundtrack was to convey anxiety and angst through the lens of tranquility. It’s easy to get lost in anxiety, so in “babyteeth” I depict a boy’s rough journey to tranquility in an environment where that seems impossible.” – Austin Johnson (aka breaking)

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Travelogue 2017.09.17: A Summer of Eilean

It has been a little while – too long in fact – since we have visited the shores of the Eilean, an imaginary territory the map of which is now dotted & colored by 60 albums covering a broad and eclectic spectrum of ambient, electroacoustic, and modern classical music. The label saw five outstanding releases over the summer months by Bill Seaman, Toàn, Josco & Spheruleus, Francesco Giannico & Giulio Aldinucci, and Monty Adkins and has begun the transition to autumn with an exceptional debut record by Cicely Irvine. Here is a brief synopsis of each along with selected tracks for the reader to explore as well as links to the artists whose work is featured on the covers where available. (Note: most of these limited editions sold out soon after their release, but some may be available in small quantities; check the linked Bandcamp pages for details).

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Sound Impression: This Body Is Not Me by Slow Heart Music [Whitelabrecs]

The first thing that strikes you on This Body Is Not Me by Slow Heart Music (aka Ben Rath) are the mellifluous tones that resonate with a sun-soaked, pastoral warmth from the wooden body of an impeccably tuned guitar. The tunes are brand new yet instantly take on the aura of the timeless and familiar. This subtle sorcery becomes even more impressive when you learn that Rath improvised these pieces, many in a single take, using a second-hand instrument picked up on the cheap.

“Slow Heart Music was conceived as a way to create music in a more spontaneous and live way, with minimal electronic interference and using a basic, lo-fi set-up. The tracks on ‘This Body Is Not Me’ were recorded on a small classical guitar Ben purchased for £5 from a bring-and-buy sale in the basement of a cafe. Ben would improvise on this guitar in a relatively free and unstructured way until a theme or melody organically developed. He’d then press record on a digital audio recorder and create a spontaneous composition out of that theme.” – Whitelabrecs

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From the Mouth of the Sun – Hymn Binding [Lost Tribe Sound]

Hymn Binding marks the third full-length album by From the Mouth of the Sun, a collaboration formed in 2011 by Aaron Martin and Dag Rosenqvist. It also marks a new zenith in the potency of their alchemic fusion of acoustic sound sources (cello, piano, acoustic guitars, lap steel, banjo, ukulele, singing bowls, and pump organ) into creations of otherworldly beauty and stirring emotion. Organic by its very nature, it is a process which Rosenqvist explains requires the musician to be willing to embrace forces over which they do not have complete control:

“There’s something very beautiful and rewarding to working with acoustic sound sources. Because when you record them, you never know what you’re going get, and you can never repeat it exactly the same way. The wood in the instrument changes from air pressure and with different temperatures. You change your sitting position from one take to another and all of a sudden it sounds slightly different. You move the microphone or you move something in the room and it sounds slightly different. Acoustic sound sources allow for chaos to be a part of the creative process, allowing for something you can never fully control.” – Dag Rosenqvist

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