Elsewhereness Revisited is a new feature documenting the drift at the margins: ambientological meanderings, random bc-combing, cloud-watching, tube-findings, and a companion mix. Vol. #1: Ramblings of a AMB-man.
First, Own Records, once a haunt for lovers of SotL, Basinski, Celer, et al., which after something of a snooze wakes with er… wake from hitherto unknown, kj. NY-based musician/film-maker, KJ Rothweiler shows a certain sound savvy on his first ambient foray; a refined set taking in haunting drone swathes, synth swells, granular meditations, shimmering moods and cinematic interludes. Aligned with the hypnagogic theme, each inhabits an interstitial not-quite dreamstate as ‘ambient textures trace evanescent dawn light against the soft contours of sleep. Melodies shimmer into view and dissolve. […] flashes of feeling within subdued landscapes, sparkling in the quiet depth. Glimpses of romance and loss hover just out of reach. […] people and places that live on the outskirts of memory,’ Taylor (Deupree)-made for wistful ambience-chasers. (Talk of Own, SotL-fanciers, etc., reminds of Willamette‘s Always in Postscript (2012!) and Diminished Composition, put on your radar, like, last century (01/17/2016, actually).
Benoît Pioulard‘s bc tagline nicely has him dealing in ‘Plectrums & pictures & co. since 1984.’ Thomas Meluch—for BP is he—has been doing great things lately with voice, guitar and field recordings captured live-to-tape, the last a blissfully bleached-out EP, Thine (but just as good (tip! ‘cloud booty) are the lush saturations, “Madrigal” and AFX cover, “Stone in Focus”); previously an exclusive US-Canadian Tour EP, mastered by mate, Rafael Anton Irisarri @ blackknollstudio.com, with art by mate, Sean Curtis Patrick, whose music producer self, Assembler Responder (igloo-‘view) has some intriguing stuff (some name your price) via his bc, like Kepler Loops and Modular Anti–Objects ib73-a83. Febrile lo-fi assemblages and designer detritus.
With Philippe Petit’s turntablist micro-orchestral drone work, You only live ice, ‘a moody, detailed and wide-ranging work, in which atmosphere and dramaturgy lead the ear into a suspended world, like being entrapped within an Arctic ice shelf… ‘ (igloo-‘view) still warm, Glacial Movements has wasted no time in putting out Aria Rostami and Daniel Blomquist‘s Wandering Eye, some recorded inside a planetarium dome, some performed live in Blomquist’s basement, some compiled via file exchange shuttle. Titles, “Dome A,” “Dome B,” “Ridge A,” “Dome C,” “Dome F,” are taken from an astrophysics paper (“Where is the best site on Earth?” (Saunders et al., 2009)) highlighting the best vantage points for space observation from the Antarctic Plateau—with images of the heavens sharper and clearer here than any other site on earth, a gateway to observe other worlds, and Earth’s driest, calmest, and, naturally, coldest, place. Ice ice, baby.
White paddy mountain, Chihei Hatakeyama‘s hangout, harbors not one but TWO Japanese Dronemeisters, Our Man not only hooking up with Corey Fuller for Euphotic but also hosting homie Hakobune for some Apsidal Motion. Chihei wraps Corey’s organ (!) in soft guitar drones for a relaxing rug-ride (Euphotic: ‘the uppermost layer of a body of water that receives sufficient light for photosynthesis and the growth of green plants.’ = cool semiosis from the Mountain man!). Hakobune gets down with his Apsidal Motion, ‘inspired from such beauty of a starlit sky of Nigata (country side of Japan).’ Little happens, compellingly, as one great axescape nebulously sequences you ‘into some sort of long dreamtime.’ wpm’s bc also offers sleepland‘s for Silentseeing—not new (for new, there’s a freebie split, trifid), but new to me, stand-out “b.o.n.c.” had to be in the mix (ambient mash-up with “Degree of Partial Melting II”). Kengo Yonemura’s ‘10 drone songs made up electric guitar. minimalistic electric guitar drone sounds have the subtle shifts in harmonic and overtone structures as well as phase shifts. and this guitar drone layers generate many resonance in harmonic and overtone,’ inspired by sound of insects, the sound of falling rain, the bustle of big cities, noise in construction work. Nuff said?
Generative composition. Yeah, baby! Well perhaps not, but Marsen Jules has a new take on it. So, you thought it was all about removal of the author from the compositional process, right? Well, MJ tweaks it with Shadows in Time. While the static version (CD) of this ‘artful ode to the uniqueness of the here and now’ is uniform, there are 300+ unique variations recorded separately to USB-flash drives. Blimey! And, for the extreme collector, there’s also a ltd. ed. of 10 transparent vinyl 12″s, each a different 12-min version. Your point, Mr Jules? ‘As unique every single moment might be, in the end it’s only a shadow in time. But to experience this uniqueness over and over again, is entirely up to the one who is experiencing it. What, on the surface, conveys the impression of steady repetitions, in detail turns out to be a constant variation of continuous uniqueness.’ All very conceptual, but what comes out the other end happens to be beguiling: a glistening bitter-sweet tone-tract, gently (r)evolving, time-dissolving. Synaesthesia to please ya.
James Clements, aka ASC, via sometime nom de disque, Mindspan, offers a previously unavailable studio album, The Tertiary System, made in 2012, forgotten about, and found while digging through studio archives; ripe for plucking by ambient spacers and dub-tech-knowers via a bc page dedicated to self-release stuff not tied to his Auxiliary. For those wanting what is tied to Auxiliary, shadowy collective, Central Industrial (suspiciously ASC-sounding in parts!), brings Flaring Blue In A Timeless Space, chock full of sonic Neuromancy: brooding cybernaut episodes steeped in ’80s/’90s sci-fi atmo, meshing gloomy pads, hypertimbral electronics, plasmic bass, and spectral clanks. Cyber-tastic!
Vincenzo Nava curates manyfeetunder/concrete and manyfeetunder/homemadelabel out of Campania, Italy, his mission to ‘match and combine lo-fi/electroacoustic/field recordings/melodramatic abstract ambient.’ From the sound of La Deuda [Eterna], his latest as dramavinile, it seems he’s found the missing link between Durutti Column and Labradford. Nicely sulky.
Next, an intriguing conceit from Celer keeper, Will Long: ‘In 1984, my great uncle drowned in the sea off the coast of Hammamet, Tunisia. He was 80 years old. He arrived in Tunis from his home in New York City, staying one night in the Hotel Amilcar, from where he sent a blank postcard back to his family home in Mississippi. The next day he traveled to Hammamet, where he rented a hotel room, bought swimming trunks, and by the afternoon had drowned in the ocean.’ Two days and one night deploys a similar template to Sky Limits—immersive stream of consciousness interleaving topographically-inclined field recording-based vignettes with mellifluous micro-orchestral billows. ‘In 2015, I retraced his steps from Tunis to Hammamet. Set part in fiction and part in reality, Two Days and One Night is both a document of my own experience and a re-imagining of what my great uncle might have heard and experienced 31 years before.’ “Spindles and fires” took our fancy.
Tape hiss makes us happy, and so it should you, especially with the likes of Oakland’s self-styled ‘adventurous with spiritual artistic sensibilities’ cassette specialist, Constellation Tatsu. The Winter Batch gave us Chihei Hatakeyama’s You’re Still In It and Havenaire’s Tremolo, but just-in Spring batch is largely unknowns—Yorishiro’s I, H Takahashi’s Body Trip, Dang Olsen Dream Tape’s Zonk, though there’s a stand-out in cryptic Quebecois, L’eoscombu Couti. Stewart Bird—for Couti is he—is no total unheard-of, though, with previous in lac des psaumes et la moissonneuse-batteuse and Loss Leader. His Five Cambridge Utilities is ‘a fabulous set of heavy-lid hypnagogue ambient drone drift’ (says who?) that in a worthier world would make Bird The Word.
While in Oakland, stop off at Inner Islands, and indulge in softest’s Six Wishes—music by Braden J. McKenna, art, field recordings, and mastering by Sean Conrad, akin to ‘gentle rain on a dark green landscape. A warmth to gather yourself around.’
Quickies in the mix: Thomas Bednarcycz returns as New Rome with a familiar, yet refreshed, glacial warmth out of Nowhere (Room40). No less than Steve Roach shares a long-form freebie, proving bc is This Place To Be. Syracuse-based Nested should be heard if only for “What a beautiful world this will be,” the stand-out from a name your price bc self-release, Nested 3. Berlin’s Total Black invites Manni Dee to renounce technoid bombast for Nuances, his sombre Art & The Ego appealing to post-classical dark-ambient fanciers. On Denmark’s Phinery find the fine Ad Interim from Nils Quak, and sample the beauteous billows of “We Will Never Fade Away.” Still warm: Tobias Hellkvist’s Vesterhavet, Kane Ikin‘s Modern Pressure, and Beautumn’s Bordeaux (‘loo-views here, here, and here), and a stay-fresh find from last year, Damon Eliza Palermo’s Clouds of David on Vancouver’s 1080p (esp. “Yogi AM”). Finally, Arc Lab brings his Anthem to Hidden Shoal, putting some of the ‘I’ back in IDM.
Ending with Assembler Responder, looking back to setting out, this has been Elsewhereness revisited…