“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 2019.04.21: The Beautiful Hum of Hotel Neon”


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 “PREMIERE: Inward (excerpt) by Hotel Neon”

Whoever said “don’t sweat the small stuff” surely was not talking about ambient music. When it comes to this genre, nuances can make all the difference between a bland listening experience and a compelling one. For an outstanding example of the latter, consider Context, the forthcoming third album by Hotel Neon, the Philadelphia-based trio of Michael Tasselmyer, Andrew Tasselmyer & Steven Kemner. Speaking of his own ambient music, Brian Eno once suggested that it should “accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular”, a characteristic very much on display here. It was the band’s choice on this record not to thrust any particular narrative on the listener but rather, as the album title suggests, to provide a context to which they could connect to their own.  Spend an hour or so with these warm, heavily textured crepuscular drones and you are likely to agree it is mission accomplished.

“Context is arguably the only thing that gives a song its meaning in the mind of a listener. The direct message of a track title has disappeared. Vague symbols have usurped them, unable as they are to contain any kind of subliminal message. As a result of this, the listener has been given a lot more freedom to interpret the music as they see fit – they put the ambient washes of sound into a context of their own making. ” – Fluid Audio

Continue reading “Hotel Neon – Context [Fluid Audio]”

neon_remnants_coverThe Ring Road is route 1 through a wonderland, an 828 mile long circuit around the country of Iceland. It is also the setting and inspiration for a new album called Remnants by the ambient drone trio Hotel Neon, quite a contrast from the origins of their eponymous debut which was conceived and recorded in the confines of a Delaware apartment. The implication of this is that the perspective has changed from an inward focus to an outward one, but that would only partially be true.  The presence of vast, glacial landscapes is certainly suggested in the four pieces that make up the album, but these patient, fluidic drones are more reflective of the inner state that the journey evoked.

“Whilst Hotel Neon’s debut album was born of chaos and strife, ‘Remnants’ is a tribute to sentiment – a nostalgic reflection on memories, inspired by a road trip to Iceland in 2015…Their circumnavigation of the Ring Road is filled with longing for bygone memories, field recordings and layers of texture from a wide variety of sources.” – Fluid Audio

Continue reading “Hotel Neon – Remnants [Fluid Audio]”

 Hotel Neon

In the summer of 2013, brothers Andrew and Michael Tasselmyer released their first album under the name Hotel Neon.  While it embraced the same thoughtful, unobtrusive minimalism of some of their earlier work as The Sound of Rescue, especially Furniture Music, it had a distinctive enough focus to warrant being inaugurated as a new project.  And, with the release of the expansively dynamic Forms by the band as well as the recent addition of 4th member, it seems perhaps that the Tasselmyers now have two well defined canvases on which to continue rendering their creations going forward – one steeped in immersive drones and another near the summit of elegant, melodic post rock.

Early 2015 marks the reissue of the self-titled Hotel Neon debut on the Home Normal label, remastered by none other than Ian Hawgood himself.  He explains what drew him to the album as well and how he both preserved the intent of the original recording, which was created simply with a 2-track USB recording device and inexpensive equipment, while drawing out some of its hidden treasures.

“Much like the music, Michael and Andrew are wonderfully understated when noting the album came about through simple means: a usb recording device, cheap guitars, effects processors, and a computer. Yet the result is really quite something, as a good few people have now started to notice…When we heard it, apart from enjoying it solidly for a good few days, we decided to play around with twin  decks to focus on the beautiful lows that were hidden within. Through tape saturation the lows became beautifully transparent giving us a deeper focus to the work, and hopefully an album that contains with it that stirring element of something glorious yet hidden within the recesses of the mind’s eye”. 

The difference remains subtle in ‘A Lament’, the achingly melancholic opener, but becomes increasingly apparent as the album becomes more sonically subaqueous, particularly the grainy textures and mechanized rhythms of ‘Dust and Drag, the subterranean pulses of ‘The Eye’s Mind’, and the distant thundercloud rumblings that permeate ‘Lowly’.  The effect is not unlike the way the right matte and frame can flush out the deeper hues and enhance the composition of a painting.

The mantra of the project is “Restraint over haste, Perception over presumption, Awareness over intent”, a perspective that is born out in the music and maintained consistently throughout the record.  If you have not heard Hotel Neon and appreciate well crafted ambient drones, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  If you are familiar with the original recording, you owe it to yourself to hear this lovingly remastered version. Either way, it’s a very rewarding and immersive listening experience.

The Home Normal edition of the album can be obtained in digital format or in a CD edition using locally cultivated and harvested washi paper stock including unique vintage slide and photograph (limited to 500 copies).

More informationhttp://homenormal.com/066-hotel-neon-hotel-neon


Album sampler: