Sound Impression: The Searchers / Voyevoda – Kyle Bobby Dunn & Wayne Robert Thomas [Whited Sepulchre]

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From the heartland of America comes a fascinating split release by Kyle Bobby Dunn and Wayne Robert Thomas that will engage your mind as much as it will your ears. Each artist contributes a single long-form track to be released together in a limited vinyl edition by Ohio-based Whited Sepulchre based in Cincinnati, Ohio. By now the savvy reader might be bemoaning my ignorance saying to themselves Dunn is Canadian. True enough, but he his explores a distinctly American theme on his composition which both complements and segues the wistful ruminations offered by his Indianapolis-based collaborator.

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Sound Impression: Sacred Groves by Rime Trails [Shimmering Moods]

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Some artists prefer to work under a cloak of anonymity and let their music forge its own identity, and so it is with Rime Trails, an ambient music project based in Denmark. Over the past few years that identity has emerged as one associated with contemplative soundscapes rich in textural elements and reflective of natural surroundings. Given the Scandinavian setting, it is not surprising to find an abundance of wintry themes, but the latest offering is music for another season. Sacred Groves is “music for springtime in eight parts” that was recorded between April and September of 2016.

Crafted from various unnamed instruments and synthesizers, each track is a verdant reverie and an evocation of mystery and contemplation in equal measure. The mood is cloistered and meditative while the sounds wind their way through wooded paths wrapped in tendrils and bathed in shifting light.  When the din and clamor of the world becomes too much, you might find this is just the sanctuary you crave. 

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PREMIERE: The Maps They Held by Gray Acres

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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.

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Travelogue 2018.01.15: Field Notes

This edition of Field Notes surveys eight outstanding drone, & electroacoustic ambient releases from late 2017 and early 2018 representing hours of immersive listening. Featuring Tapes and Topographies, Olli Aarni, Magdalene Flowers, Erik Levander, A Lily, the volume settings folder, and Bradley Sean Alexander, along with an expansive 30-track charity compilation from the Dronarivm label.

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2017 Year In Review: The art of the EP

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 are some from 2017 that you might not want to miss. 

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2017 In Review: Journeys in Ambient, Drone, and Electroacoustic

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.

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2017 In Review: A Sense of Place and Time

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… 

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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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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

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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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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