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“I could hear everything, together with the hum of my hotel neon…” Jack Kerouac

One of the privileges of being on this journey of musical discovery over the past five years or so has been to witness first hand the trajectory of emerging artists from their tentative beginnings to their creative peak, and one of the most satisfying among these has been Hotel Neon. What began in 2013 with brothers Michael & Andrew Tasselmyer, some inexpensive equipment, and a little inspiration from Jack Kerouac has blossomed into a vital trio (multi-instrumentalist Steven Kemner joined in 2015) that is doing some real heavy lifting in the field of ambient & electroacoustic music.

From the perspective of the outside observer at least, some of the keys to Hotel Neon’s success would seem to be an extraordinarily clear vision of their sound from the very outset, a commitment to avoid repeating themselves, an intense work ethic, and persistent efforts to cultivate a sense of camaraderie with fellow artists as well as their audience. All of this has translated into a series of albums each of which becomes essential listening as soon as it released. This travelogue features the last two most recent full-length records, the brand new Vanishing Forms and last year’s Means of Knowing, both available on Agustín Mena’s outstanding Archives imprint.  Continue reading “Travelogue: The Beautiful Hum of Hotel Neon”

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Mnemosyne’ is the debut album from Mexico City based multi-instrumentalist, film composer and sound preservationist Carlos Morales, who creates under the name The Phonometrician. His music incorporates classical and American primitive guitar with elements of ambient, drone, and post-rock as well as field recordings, synths, and tape. It is a very special brand of music that finds an ideal home on the Lost Tribe Sound label which includes on its roster such illustrative & kindred artists as Western Skies Motel, From the Mouth of the Sun, Seabuckthorn, and William Ryan Fritch – a potent apposition of rustic authenticity and acoustic alchemy with opaque abstractions. The title of the album refers to the Greek goddess of memory and remembrance, a fitting symbol of its overarching theme.

“‘Mnemosyne’ is an album that asks what memories would sound like if they were captured through sound…Morales deploys a very specific palette of instrumentation to realize his musical vision, it’s as if a classical guitar is slowly being worn away and devoured by an onslaught of looping, ever-shifting analog sound creatures, scattering for cover when the light hits them too directly and continuously eat away at the strings. Much like rifling through the pages of an aged and tattered diary, warm shuffles of vinyl and airy waves tape saturation emerge only to retreat once more into the darker recesses, leaving the pysche grasping wildly to recall the meaning of their existence.” – Ryan Keane (Lost Tribe Sound) 

Continue reading “Video Premiere: “Chloe” by The Phonometrican”

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Since starting out mostly as a home for Canadian duo North Atlantic Drift and the side projects of members Brad Deschamps and Mike Abercrombie, Polar Seas Recordings has expanded its reach in recent years and boasts a surge of excellent new releases for 2018 by artists such as Celer and Hakobune. The most recent of these is an outstanding new charity compilation called A Light, A Glimmer which will support of Wishing Well Sanctuary, a farmed animal sanctuary in Ontario that provides both for animals in need and education for children and adults with the goal of promoting compassion for other species.

Continue reading “Sound Impression: A Light, A Glimmer by Various Artists [Polar Seas Recordings]”

One of the most unexpected and pleasant surprises of the year so far is a stunning new collaboration between a pair of sound artists from separate continents – Dalot (Maria Papadomanolaki), originally from Greece and currently based in London, and Sound Awakener (Nhung Nguyen) from Hanoi, Vietnam.  Imaginatively conceived and elegantly packaged, Little Things presents a pastiche of sonic artifacts and divergent personal narratives transfigured into wondrous inner landscapes that become wholly immersive for the listener.

It starts from ground-level interactions, field recordings of soundwalks in parks, on the streets, hydrophones in rivers and contact microphones on bridges and delicately moves to the ethereal…The album creates a journey for the listener; a journey of changes between the two artists’ lives; the changes in seasons, life-events, ordinary moments and creative processes that affected the perspectives and emotional states within which this album was produced. In ‘Little Things’ the two artists offer an adventurous exploration of internal landscapes through sound and memory, the light and shadow encountered within. – Fluid Audio

Continue reading “Dalot and Sound Awakener – Little Things [Fluid Audio]”

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Gray Acres is a new project from brothers Andrew & Michael Tasselmyer set to launch next month with the release of their self-titled debut album on Athens-based boutique label Sound in Silence.  The sound fits neatly and distinctly somewhere in between Andrew’s solitary field recording work and the more opaque and densely layered drones they create with guitarist Steven Kemner as Hotel Neon.  The watchword here is ‘stillness’ as the duo weave a diaphanous fabric of drones that undulate and swirl in translucent currents. There is a muted self-awareness in these pieces which is amplified by the clear presence of textural elements such as piano, guitar, or flowing water. Inexorably, one is drawn deeper and deeper into peaceful introspection.

Continue reading “PREMIERE: The Maps They Held by Gray Acres”

This list can never be big enough to include all the beautiful work done in these genres over the course of a year, but here are 25 albums that left a lasting impression. Here you’ll find rich atmospheres, deep emotional undercurrents, and organic, warm, and tactile soundscapes. Among these albums we find as much decomposition as composition, an embrace of stillness and naturally occurring beauty.

Continue reading “2017 In Review: Journeys in Ambient, Drone, and Electroacoustic”

Each of these albums is conceptually, thematically or musically connected to a particular place or time – personal narratives, journeys remembered, or depictions of landscape real or imagined. Each one takes the listener on a journey and immerses them in a unique place or moment in time. One might say they represent the very essence of stationary traveling, which makes them quite to special to this listener in particular… 

Continue reading “2017 In Review: A Sense of Place and Time”

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.

Continue reading “Sound Impression: cascade symmetry by r beny”

How does one capture the essence of a landscape so as to describe it to another who has never been there? The vast majority of us would rely on words and pictures, but how many of us would think of trying to do this strictly with sound?  Not music, mind you, but sound. That is the unique perspective & artistry of the field recordist and there are few out there as inquisitive, resourceful, and discerning as Kate CarrShe has steadily built a creative practice around exploring both human and natural geographies.using field recording, experimental composition and sonic mapping. Recently during a residency at Joya: AiR in Velez Blanco in southern Spain, she decided to undertake a sonic transect of the mountain facing the villa where she was staying.

Over the next two weeks I lugged my equipment up and down the mountain, pausing every 100 metres to sample or attempt to ‘play’ a very precise and small location. In this way this release attempts to stitch together a mountain pass in sound, a succession of played and recorded sonic niches from the radio in the villa on the valley floor, to the vibrating low-growing woody shrubs braving the rocky peak…It is a quiet and strange document I think, which I hope conveys something about remoteness, and a sense of a physical journey through a very specific landscape via sound.” 

Continue reading “A Sense of Place: From a Wind Turbine to Vultures (and Back) by Kate Carr [Flaming Pines]”