Video: “Universalis” by Hammock

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On their first full-length studio album since the deeply elegiac ‘Mysterium’ a little over a year ago, the Nashville-based duo of Marc Byrd & Andrew Thompson known as Hammock find themselves following a “vertical, upward movement back toward the light”. This progression from the low places of grief toward beckoning illumination is subtly depicted on the cover of Universalis and the hopeful, healing tone of the music echoes that trajectory while hearkening back to some of the most beloved recordings in the band’s canon as well as some of their early influences. For example, one can hear the sweeping atmospheric balladry of ‘Raising Your Voice to Stop an Echo’ and the glacial stillness of ‘Maybe They Will Sing for Us Tomorrow’ alongside the orchestral neoclassical grandeur of their more recent works.

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Through a musical lens: Metropolitan by Madeleine Cocolas [bigo & twigetti]

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Madeleine Cocolas is no stranger to incorporating music with other art forms. She has composed numerous works music for film, dance, and art exhibitions from painting to textiles. It should be no surprise, then, the fondness she developed for The Metropolitan Museum of Art after recently relocating to New York and on her newest album she finds a unique way to express her love for both the city and the museum while creating a highly engaging intersection between modern art, generative music, and compositional forms.  The approach is best described by Cocolas herself:

“When I moved to New York City, I knew I wanted to write an album somehow connected to the city, but I wasn’t sure how to anchor it. It was probably on my third or fourth trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art that I realized how much I loved The Met, and how much it meant to me to be there. I chose nine artworks…that really resonated with me, used custom software programmed by Gregory Long specifically for this project to analyze an image of each artwork to create sounds, and then incorporated those sounds into my compositions.  Each track on the album represents an individual artwork, so the album is like a collection of individual works.” – Madeleine Cocolas

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In Memoriam: losing today [Dronarivm]

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When I started Stationary Travels a little over five years ago, it was a very tentative effort; part experiment, part learning experience, and part homage to a new way of looking at and listening to music in the age of streaming and social media. I hoped to share music with a few like-minded friends and maybe make a few new connections. What I wasn’t at all prepared for, and what has made it so much more rewarding than I originally hoped, is how accessible, supportive, and kind-hearted the ambient music community turned out to be. Because this type of music is often deeply rooted in human and natural connections, it makes sense that the artists who create it would be a thoughtful and caring lot, but well beyond that, it is a community of artists who exceptionally approachable and appreciative. Just about everyone connected with the music at any level is valued and treated as a peer from listeners & fans to writers & graphic artists. I get happy reminders of this almost every day, but this post acknowledges a sad one. It is the recent loss of Brian Young, a strong supporter of both live & recorded ambient music and an exceptional photographer whose artwork under the moniker of losing today was widely admired and appeared on numerous album covers on several of the genre’s top labels.

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Sound Impression: Dett by Kevin Verwijmeren

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Abstraction and introspection both feature heavily in the music of Kevin Verwijmeren. When he began making music in 2013, the Dutch producer, who grew up in a remote area of the southern Netherlands close by the sea, drew inspiration from long travels on public transport as well as theoretical perspectives acquired as a physics student. In the two years since his last album (Those Glorious Heights, 2016), he has immersed himself in intensive sound study and recording and now presents his third full-length studio album Dett.

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Sound Impression: Insomnia Drones by Tapes and Topographies [Simulacra Records]

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After putting out two superb albums already this year in Fathoms and Opiates, Texas-based musician Todd Gautreau has pleasantly surprised with yet a third Tapes and Topographies release right on the cusp of the fall equinox. As its title suggests, Insomnia Drones is a suitably soporific offering that lulls the listener into a welcome state of melancholic languor and deep rumination.

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Sound Impression: Version & Delineation by Caught in the Wake Forever & glacis [Crow Versus Crow]

CvsC_VD_coverThe arrival of the Fall equinox in Britain today seems the perfect time to cast a light on a lovely EP just released by Crow Versus Crow, an interdisciplinary project based in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire which also includes a radio show, podcast, and visual design work. Version & Delineation is a collection of improvisational vignettes jointly created by Euan Millar-McMeeken, aka glacis, and Fraser McGowan better known as Caught in the Wake Forever

“These six short works hinge upon glacis’ raw piano improvisations, recorded, without prior planning or subsequent revision, straight to IPhone Voice Memo software…Using the Make Noise System Cartesian & Akai S20 Sampler to incorporate culled and processed snapshots of domestic minutiae, Caught In The Wake Forever’s intricate abstract compositions mirror the fragility and transient ephemerality of glacis’ piano pieces.” – Crow Versus Crow

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Sound Impression: ex by kj [Dronarivm]

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In a few short years, New York based musician, producer, and filmmaker KJ Rothweiler has solidly established himself among the serious purveyors of compostional ambient music with a string of captivating albums including the brand new ex now out on Dronarivm and mastered by none other than Rafael Anton Irisarri at his Black Knoll Studio.

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PREMIERE: Inward (excerpt) by Hotel Neon

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Since arriving on the scene roughly five years ago with their self-titled debut, Hotel Neon has established itself as a highly productive outfit when it comes to creating atmospheric soundscapes of extraordinary depth. They recently released their fourth full-length studio album entitled Means of Knowing (2018, Archives), arguably their most impressive and accomplished effort to date, while managing to stay quite active with individual solo projects, collaborations, and remixes (so much so that some of us who know the members of the band have kidded only in half-jest that they must have equally talented doppelgangers secretly helping them out).

Far from being studio hermits, Hotel Neon frequently performs live and tours extensively, engaging audiences with their immersive resonances enhanced with projected film and images. This fall they will be heading west for a special string of shows along with Benoît Pioulard (based in Seattle, WA) and Marcus Fischer (based in Portland, OR) and they will be bringing yet more new music with them, a long-form cassette release called Inward. While the tapes will initially only be available at the concert venues, it will eventually see release on Bandcamp and you can sample a gorgeous 9+ minute excerpt of it right here in an exclusive premiere.  Continue reading

James Murray | Falling Backwards [Home Normal]

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Those who have followed the minimal electronic and electroacoustic music of James Murray have learned there is always a method behind the London-based composer’s work. Offering much more than simple atmospheric soundscapes, there is almost always some important conceptual arc or contextual backdrop to lend deeper meaning and, hence, deeper connection for the listener. This has never been more true than on his latest opus just out on Home Normal entitled Falling Backwards. The album is a poignant exploration of a peculiar coping mechanism Murray developed in his youth.

“When I was a child I would fall backwards, literally. If I felt life unfair or hadn’t control of my world, instead of losing my temper I’d go still, silent, bolt upright, close my eyes and just let go. At home, in public, wherever, it didn’t matter. Always backwards, vertical then inevitably, violently, not. After a few of these episodes the people in my life learnt to see the signs and usually someone would be there to catch me in time…Recent scans investigating tinnitus discovered an infarct in the back of my brain. The cognitive effects of this damage are unclear, best guess as to cause is historic trauma. I’d all but forgotten those self-destructive childhood descents, but this surprise transported me back at once to those earliest, strongest feelings, to the bitter intensity of that which first mattered most. The long free fall through darkness, the outright surrender of the will, and the delicious anticipation of impact. It’s strange isn’t it, the things we do to cope.”James Murray

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Dauw + Eilean | Dialog Tapes II

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Among the musical highlights of 2015 was a collaborative project between two distinctive ’boutique’ labels – Dauw, curated by Pieter Dudal with a specialization in handmade cassette releases, and Eilean Records curated by Mathias van Eecloo, a limited edition CD imprint based on a concept of mapping out an imagined place. Located in Belgium and France respectively, they are European neighbors as well as kindred spirits. The joint project called Dialog Tapes comprised two albums released in parallel wherein every track was a collaboration between a different pairing of artists selected from each label (read more about the first volume here).  It turned out to be nothing less than treasure trove for listeners who appreciate electroacoustic ambient music steeped in eclecticism, minimalism, and filigree while at the same time blending diverse artistic styles in new & creative ways.

Needless to say, it was very gratifying news indeed to see a second iteration of the project on offer this year. Once again, the quality of the music across the two volumes is exquisite and the thoughtful pairings yield utterly captivating results full of subtle sonic surprises in their many permutations and juxtapositions. 

“In its essence, Dialog Tapes is an ambitious attempt to connect a musical field through its own creative forces. It’s about connectivity and making new unexpected musical ties between individual actors…Four years later, both labels now express a distinctive sound and found their place within the field of minimal ambient and electro-acoustic music. Hence, Dudal and Eecloo found that the time was ripe to initiate the follow-up of the first Dialog Tapes output. After a long process of carefully selecting the artists and curating the collaborations, a wonderful group of musicians started to explore musical overlap, looked for new approaches to make music and ultimately went in a dialog with another artist. ”  – Dauw/Eilean 

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Travelogue 2018.09.07: A late summer long-form journey

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This audio journey features a globe-spanning quartet of immersive long-form single releases by Saariselka (Chuck Johnson & Marielle Jakobsons), Hakobune, Arash Akbari, and Dave Watkins.

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North Atlantic Drift | Departures, Vol 2 [Sound in Silence]

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In the early stages of my discovering new realms of instrumental music (circa 2012), one of the first albums that really caught and held my attention was Canvas (Polar Seas Recordings) by North Atlantic Drift. I was mesmerized and haunted by the vast melancholic landscapes and the melding of statuesque post rock melodic structures with glacial ambient texturesFollowin in fairly quick succession with Monuments (Sound in Silence) and Resolven (Polar Seas Recordings), the project entered a relatively quiet period as members Mike Abercrombie (aka Transits of Mercury) and Brad Deschamps (aka Anthéne) worked on their respective solo endeavors and growing their Polar Seas Recordings label.

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