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).
It is time for the slow fade of summer. The northern hemisphere starts to tilt away from the burning sun and the slanted light begins to take on a golden tint in the afternoons. The comforting crisp austerity of autumn awaits, but it is still warm, hazy, and verdant and a fine time to sink into languid, introspective sounds of the kind of delicate construction that can be found on the six albums featured here – a trio from the Whitelabrecs label by Ludmila, Steve Pacheco, and Floor Overhead along with EPs by M. Grig and Josh Mason, and a forthcoming October release by Ghost and Tape on Home Normal.
Ambient music, when masterfully constructed and emotionally invested, has the power to cross inner oceans, map out the topographies of the soul, and expose the deep strata of memory. This introspective listening journey consists of a quartet of releases that do just that. Featuring the intricately woven and emotive soundscapes of Tapes and Topographies (Todd Gautreau), Bird Traps (Marcus Skinner), Wil Bolton, and James Murray.
Since its founding in 2009, Home Normal has consistently been one of the shining lights on the landscape of experimental ambient & electronic music. Conscientiously curated and uncompromisingly supportive of its artists, it is more than a label; it is a hub for a community of artists and mindful listeners who appreciate thoughtfully crafted, emotionally honest music.
“Based in Japan, the label was run as a way to connect to a sense of what ‘home’ and ‘normal’ could mean to someone who was in what was essentially an alien environment to them. The focus of the label was to release the ambient and electronic works of friends within the live scene we were part of in Tokyo and the surrounding areas, but soon expanded to include the work of many artists worldwide…We see the label as a family of friends who work together to create unique works that have a hold and impact on whoever can take their time to absorb our music and aesthetic”
Featured here are recent & upcoming releases by Ian Hawgood + Wil Bolton, Giulio Fagiolini, and Jason Van Wyk,
Piano & Coffee is an organization with an admirable goal – helping artists develop their creative projects through artistic collaboration. When you visit their site you are greeted by elegant minimalism and a number of nice features including interview, reviews, album premieres, and even specially created videos. The three featured here make ideal companions to a quiet Sunday morning and a freshly brewed cup.
Shimmering Moods is a label based in Amsterdam that has already had a fruitful 2017 with a number of excellent limited edition CD releases and quite an international roster of artists. Featured here are recent works by Andrew Tasselmyer (USA), Snufmumriko (Sweden) , Rime Trails (Denmark), and Gallery Six (Japan). Also highly recommended are two albums featured on our 2016 year-in-review – Radio Sea’ by Adzuki and ‘Mothers Garden’ by Å Asher-Yates, a brand new reissue of ‘Naar Vi Vaagner’ by øjeRum, and a pair of works by Dimitar Dodovski, ‘Derive’ (2016) and ‘In Every Direction’ (2015). All releases can be found here on their Bandcamp site.
The past six months has seen a small flurry of solo piano recordings from Akira Kosemura , a Tokyo-based recording artist and composer & sound producer for film, stage, and television. This travelogue features a quartet of releases, two from Kosemura’s own Schole Inc. label along a with a pair that find a fitting home on the prolific 1631 Recordings, each with its own unique character & charm.
In the space of ten months, Dennis Huddleston has released three albums from his experimental ambient project 36 (pronounced three-six). Far from making music to simply zone or chill out to, Huddleston often weaves rich thematic and imaginative material into his sonic tapestries for an especially emotive and cerebral listening experience. Considered together, this trio of albums cover a vast perspective spanning past, present, and future.
Various artist compilations can be treasure troves of discovery whether it be previously unheard material from a favorite artist or a finding a completely new voice. Often both types of discovery happen on the same album. These twelve offerings comprised some of the most memorable moments of the year in this category spanning works by over 200 artists that you can find nowhere else.
The EP is often overlooked when it comes year-end retrospectives, but this format can provide us with some very special musical moments and here is a selection of the most memorable of such I enjoyed in 2016 presented in alphabetical order. It simply would not have been the same year in music without each of these outstanding recordings (for me at least). Continue reading
This year saw the return of some a number of beloved and well-known bands from quiet periods ranging from several years to as long as a decade along with bright splashes from some new & dynamic voices. This is a particularly vibrant and diverse selection where genres never define of confine, but only serves as reference points for those of us with inadequate words to describe the music.
This list is short, but particularly sweet. A dozen memorable albums released this year of particularly delicate construction and pastoral feel featuring acoustic guitar, primitive, and experimental folk music.