Travelogue 2014: Top Ten Eclectic

I think of this group of albums as a beautiful Venn diagram from the perspective of music covered on Stationary Travels. Familiar elements of ambient, electronic, modern classical, and post rock appear, but so do many others in a prominent way – pop, shoegaze, folk, jazz, and trad. But these are only reference points, not boundaries. Just enjoy the diversity, vibrancy, and song craft in this very appealing set of albums released this year.

Click on the cover art to discover/order any album and scroll down to listen to a sample from each.


Nothing Is Real
The Flashbulb
Alphabasic

Awake
Tycho
Ghostly International

Yearling
Orcas
Morr Music

There Is No Perfect Place
Memory Drawings
Hibernate Recordings

Toute la nuit dans les veines
Belle Arché Lou
Humanist Records

Vloed
Yadayn
Independent

This Is For Our Sins
Lowercase Noises
Independent

Hugar
Hugar
Independent

v2.0
GoGo Penguin
Gondwana

In the Wake of Neil Gunn
Mike Vass
Unroofed Records

Selected Tracks

‘I Can Feel It Humming’ by The Flashbulb

‘Dye’ by Tycho

‘Infinite Stillness’ by Orcas

‘Golden Afternoon’ by Memory Drawings

‘Le vent succède à l’adieu’ by Belle Arché Lou

‘The Night Is Long That Never Finds the Day’ by Yadayn

‘A Chance Grain of Rye’ by Lowercase Noises

‘Úti’ by Hugar

‘Hopopono’ by GoGo Penguin

‘Heave and Roll’ by Mike Vass

Travelogue 2014: A dozen noteworthy EPs

While the focus of year end retrospectives is typically slanted toward full length albums, there have been some wonderful noteworthy EPs released this year that are not to be missed. Here are a dozen to consider.

Click on the cover art to discover/order any album and scroll down to listen to a sample from each.

Ambient/Downtempo

This group features Jon Hopkins “decelerated, dreamlike re-imaginings” of tracks from his acclaimed “Immunity” album ;lush and mellifluous ambient electronica from Northcape; the gently cinematic contemplations of Steve Gibbs, and an abstract re-imagining of a mythic story by reel-to-reel wizard Tomonari Nozaki. 


Aslep Versions
Jon Hopkins
Domino Recording

Glasshouse
Northcape
Sun Sea Sky

Adrift
Steve Gibbs
Independent

The Fall of Icarus
Tomonari Nozaki
Taalem

‘Form by Firelight (with Raphaelle Standell)’ by Jon Hopkins

‘Glasshouse’ by Northcape

‘Adrift’ by Steve Gibbs

‘Falling Into the Sky’ by Tomonari Nozaki

Modern Classical

This group features an exquisite 2 track excursion from Deaf Center; mesmerizing collaborations between composer Lucy Claire, vocalist Alev Lenz and ambient artist Bruised Skies; a sublime duet between cellist Peter Gregson and pianist/composer Michael Price, and a plaintive journey through the Italian country side with Halo


Recount
Deaf Center
Sonic Pieces

Collaborations No.1
Lucy Claire
This Is It Forever

Berlin 1-3
Peter Gregson & Michael Price
Taalem

Song of the Highest Tower
Halo
A Strangely Isolated Place

‘Follow Still’ by Deaf Center
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‘Somnus ft. Bruised Skies’ by Lucy Claire

‘Berlin 1’ by Peter Gregson and Michael Price

‘The Inner Realm’ by Halo

Post Rock/Instrumental

This group features glacial soundscapes created by elegant electronic & post rock artists North Atlantic Drift and ambient metal guitar duo Northumbria; a bright and  melodic set from Swedish band Seas of Years; a playful, yet deceptively complex collection of tunes from Hairpin Turns, and a lively, groove-laden take on post rock by Canadian trio You Are An Explorer. 


Split
North Atlantic Drift/Northumbria
Polar Seas Recordings

Drifting Ever Shifting
Seas of Years
Independent

Here Come the Tephra Jets
Hairpin Turns
Independent

S/T
You Are An Explorer
Independent

‘Ursa Major’ by North Atlantic Drift

‘Ledge’ by Seas of Years

‘Tephra Jets’ by Hairpin Turns

‘My Name is Drftwood’ by You Are an Explorer

Travelogue 2014: Top Ten Post Rock

Melodic post rock paints on a huge canvas with a diverse palette ranging from tonal colors and minimalist arrangements to exuberant crescendos and from lyrical romanticism to just plain frenetic energy. Whatever part of the spectrum they cover, each of these ten albums released in 2014 will fill your ears and head with great sounds. Turn the volume up to 11 and enjoy the dopamine flood.

Click on the cover art to discover/order any album and scroll down to listen to a sample from each.


Young and Courageous
Tides of Man
Independent

Sines
Jakob
The Mylene Sheath

Put the Beast Out of Mind
Glories
Independent

Eschaton
Waking Aida
Robot Needs Home

The Madrean
Whale Fall
Independent

BLAUWGEEL
All Shall Be Well
Independent

Saudade
I/O
Independent

You Are Surrounded
Sora Shima
Independent

SUNLESS
To Destroy a City
n5MD

Forms
The Sound of Rescue
Independent

Selected Tracks

‘Eyes Like Strange Sins’ by Tides of Man

‘Emergent’ by Jakob

‘Just Be Remembered’ by Glories

‘This Isn’t Even My Final Form’ by Waking Aida

‘The Dawn Thief’ by Whale Fall

‘Some Speak of the Future, Others of the Past’ by All Shall Be Well

‘Warship’ by I/O

‘Acidhouse’ by Sora Shima

‘Escape/Return’ by To Destroy a City

‘x’ by The Sound of Rescue

Travelogue 2014: Top Ten Modern Classical

Nostalgia and modernity meet in this category as each artist performs their musical alchemy with a menagerie of bowed & strung instruments, piano, or voice combined with only the most discreet use of electronics and percussion. Expressive minimalism, elegant compositions, and sublime beauty abound in these ten outstanding albums released in 2014.


Aaron Martin
Comet’s Coma [Eilean Rec.]

‘Lost to Light’ by Aaron Martin


Poppy Ackroyd
Feathers [Denovali]

‘Salt’ by Poppy Ackroyd


Keaton Henson
Romantic Works [Eilean Rec.]

‘Field’ by Keaton Henson (feat. Ren Ford)


Otto A Totland 
Romantic Works [Eilean Rec.]

‘Seveen’ by Otto A Totland


A Winged Victory for the Sullen
Atomos [Erased Tapes]

‘Atomos VI’ by A Winged Victory for the Sullen


Hildur Guðnadóttir
Saman [Touch.]

‘Baer’ by Hildur Guðnadóttir


Islands of Light
Ruebke [Home Normal]

‘Joses’ by Islands of Light


Christina Vantzou
No.2 [Kranky]

‘Going Backwards to Recover That Which Was Left Behind’ by Christina Vantzou


Bruno Sanfilippo
ClarOscuro [Ad21]

‘Movement of the Grass’ by Bruno Sanfilippo


Tess Said So
I Did That Tomorrow [Preserved Sound]

‘Intervention’ by Tess Said So

Travelogue 2014: Top Ten Ambient (Downtempo / Electronica)

Whether expansive and hypnotic, deep and liquid, or pulsing and glitchy, these beautiful albums released in 2014 are all about tone and atmosphere. Dub and ambient aesthetics meld together with a plethora of other tones, styles, and motifs that captivate the ears, engage the mind, fuel the imagination, and soothe the soul.

Click on the cover art to discover/order any album and scroll down to listen to a sample from each.


A Parallel Life
Ocoeur
n5MD

Kiasmos
Kiasmos
Erased Tapes

Sea Island
Loscil
Kranky

Intensive Collectivity Known As City
Idlefon
Tympanik Audio

1979
Deru
Friends of Friends

Dream Tempest
36
3six Recordings

Opening
Christopher Willits
Ghostly

Behind Clouds
Purl
Dewtone Recordings

Block Boundaries
Ryan Teague
Village Green

Tintinnabuli Mathematica – Vol. I
Guy Birkin
Runningonair Music

Selected Tracks

‘North by Ocoeur

‘Bent’ by Kiasmos

‘Sturgeon Bank’ by Loscil

‘Ikigami’ by Idlefon

‘Let the Silence Float’ by Deru

‘Always’ by 36

‘Wide’ by Christopher Willits

‘Is’ by Purl

‘Last Known Position’ by Ryan Teague

‘Tintinnabuli Mathematica 9f3’ by Guy Birkin

Travelogue 2014: Top Ten Ambient (Electroacoustic / Minimal)

Whereas as the power of ambient drones lies in the seamless binding of layers of sound together to create a mood and engage emotions directly, electroacoustic music weaves its magic by focusing on textural and environment details with a minimalist aesthetic. Acoustic instruments, human & environmental noises, and other auditory ephemera mix with synthesized sounds to create to create a sense of place, summon memories, tell a story, or simply evoke tranquility. They can even be complete ecosystems of sound where the artist is not unlike a macro photographer capturing otherworldly beauty from ordinary things. Here are ten such albums released in 2014 that I enjoyed.


Illuha
Akari [12k]

‘Structures Based On The Plasticity Of Sphere Surface Tension’ by Illuha


Wil Bolton
Bokeh [Home Normal]

‘Bokeh’ by Wil Bolton


Twincities
Variations for the Celesta [Eilean Rec.]

‘A Ships Bell (Sings)’ by twincities


Leigh Toro
L’Esprit De L’Escalier [Eilean Rec.]

‘Pavilions’ by Leigh Toro


Francesco Giannico
Metrophony [Time Released Sound]

Metrophony (excerpt) by Francesco Giannico


Porya Hatami
The Garden [Dronarivm]

‘Ladybug’ by Porya Hatami


M. Sage
A Singular Continent [Patient Sounds]

‘Three Bashful Stallions’ by M. Sage


Harnes Kretzer 
Petrichor [Fluttery Records]

‘Petrichor’ by Harnes Kretzer


Taylor Deupree 
Lost and Compiled [12k]

‘July 032013’ by Taylor Deupree


Richard Ginns 
Fall, Rise [Twice Removed]

‘(Fall)’ by Richard Ginns

2014: Top Ten Ambient (Drone / Soundscape)

This year I’ve divided the ambient categories into drone/soundscape, electroacoustic, and electronica. For me, the best drone/soundscape focuses on mood and reverie.  Elements, layers, and motifs blend into a whole that transcends the sum of the respective parts, a rich tapestry of sound that envelopes and transports the listener. These ten albums are some of the most outstanding examples released this year.


Siavash Amini 
What Wind Whispered to the Trees [Futuresequence]

Featured track: ‘Dark Oak Woods’


Faures
Continental Drift [Home Normal]

Featured track: ‘Isostatic Uplift’


Noveller & thisquietarmy
Reveries [Shelter Press]

Featured track: ‘Reverie 1’


Porya Hatami
Arrivals and Departures [Time Released Sound]

Featured track: ‘Landing’


Arash Akbari
Cracked Echoes [Soft Recordings]

Featured track: ‘Until Time Sits by Your Side’


Sublamp
Lianas [Eilean Rec.]

Featured track: ‘Our Bodies Draped in Moss and Cloud’


Kevin Verwijmeren
It’s the Colour of a Cloud Covered Sky [Soft Corridor]

Featured track: ‘Southward Plains’


Celer
Sky Limits [Two Acorns]

Featured track: ‘Tangent Lines’


Mathieu Lamontagne
Recidives [Twice Removed]

Featured track: ‘Est’


Tegh
Night Scenes [Inner Ocean]

Featured track: ‘Down’