Elsewhereness revisited #7 stuff made of dreams which are

Elsewhereness revisited is an occasional feature documenting the drift at the margins: ambient gasbagging, tube-d, cloud-ed, and camp-ed up, complete with companion mix, Elsewhereness revisited #7


 

Ambient/folk-gaze maven, Benoît Pioulard, has Lignin Poise, on Beacon Sound. Forget his pop/folk-y fluff, this is the stuff made of dreams which are!—another of those hazy slow falls inwards with airy guitar and a grainy patina of tape saturation of bucolic hallucinatory affordance. Recorded autumn-winter, it was ‘thematically meant to trace a path through decay, death, and regeneration over the course of the tracks.’ Encircled by deciduous trees, his gaffe presented these patterns daily: ‘Lignin forms the support systems of vascular plants, so the title is intended to convey the posture and temporariness of life in full bloom.’ Mr. Meluch’s master plan has RAI at blackknollstudio mastering—masterful as ever. Like magpies, when you see one, look round for its mate—sure enough, there’s slow spark, soft spoke on Dauw, and, lookee here, a cosy-up with Japanese ambienteer, Ex Confusion, “I Owe the Earth A Body,” for which we owe a debt to soundcloud.


 

Instrumental Transcommunications (2017) and Go Straight To The Light Of All That You Love (2016) in his wake, Tape Loop Orchestra is back with a box of Solar Light Emissions; nigh on 4 hrs, incl. 3 new vinyl albums, In Our Light, Solar Lunar and Illuminating Emissions, plus complete reworks of The Invisibles and Solar Lunar Light on CD. Andrew Hargreaves‘ post-classical/drone works ‘steer clear of heavy-handed emotional signposts and instead evolve through gradual barely perceptible changes that slowly pull you into the ether…’ (boom kant), maneuvring the celestial hum—“Illuminating”’s hushed strings through “Emissions”‘ layered vaportrails to “And The Light Is Ours”’ soft grandiloquence. “The Invisibles” (revisited) quests into string exhale and choral ebb-flow in ever greater remotion—orchestral swell fit to test your elasticity over 40-mins of heart-string wring. Auscultatorily, think SotL, GAS, Basinski, and classical string works dubbed onto cheap cassette.


 

The various colors of Leaaves‘ ‘disintegration fruitloops’ exhibit an ear for texture and melody noted first on ER #2. France’s Hylé Tapes has ambient-sound collage boy Nate Wagner’s First Sickness, the beauteous “Bury me at sea” featuring on mixtapers/podcasters, Spool’s Out Radio #108: My Schizoid Postbox. Elsewhere, joining forces for a split with Opaline (Hunter P. Thompson)—another ‘dungeon synth’ mood peddler hawking a single longform piece cycling through endless arpeggiated polyrhythmic permutations, he artfully orchestrates a serotonin / dopamine 1-2 punch with airy pads and queasy melody with maximal emotion and minimal fluff. ‘Perfect for summer sun or autumn rain […] Wagner’s zones effortlessly communicate both and neither’ on Variety Show for NY’s Oxtail. November brings Temporal Drone, none a patch, though, on last year’s Be Mindful, most comely of all—surely deserving of re-issue.


 

Approaching a fifth decade of endeavor prolific as ever, Steve Roach brings a brace from his Timeroom and Projekt. In an era where constant over-stimulation challenges and attenuates attention, Long Thoughts‘ 73-minute sanctuary provides for soul-renewing immersion in the deeper end of the self-reflection pool,’ which in infinite loop mode ‘creates a sense of constant, sustained nourishment to realign, reset, and soften the edges of modern life’s quantized thought process.’ Its sonic DNA is adumbrated by a larger body of long-form pieces from Roach’s vast catalog, the 6 hrs of Immersion being being just one. A rich harmonic tapestry of chord interweaves and original sound design, moving beyond a more static form of drone, Nostalgia for the Future in-/ex-hales with an organic electronicity that’s sui generis, yet strangely familiar. ‘For gazing into the summer night sky, endless loop mode, as a sleep environment, or for “holding of the space” as a kind of aural incense burning gently through the day and night.’ From silence, structures.


 

Welcome reanimation for cult Nottingham post-4th-world neo-ethno ambient collective, O Yuki Conjugate, thanks to Auf Abwegen/bc via which comes TROPIC, ‘a collection of misplaced, forgotten and unreleased tracks recorded in London 1994-95. Processing and post-rationalisation by Andrew Hulme and Roger Horberry, London 2015-16.’ Celebrating their 35th annuality this year, OYC were renowned for their ‘dirty ambient’ sound, though on their best known (and best) album, Equator, the dirt is effaced by the peculiar sheen of near-cult hyper-timbral ambienteer Paul Schütze‘s production; seek out “Departure” before your coil is shuffled off, meanwhile content yourself with “The Fate of Less Valuable Animals” and “Darkness Was Here Yesterday” from the same period.


 

‘The sounds are hypnotic and contain architecturally sculpted drones which build in intensity from the ground up, decorated ornately with choirs and magically soft, gauzy textures,’ says Norman of Spells (Lost Tribe Sound) by kj, who is possessed of ‘an instinctive musicality and sophisticated sense of restraint to create pieces that can drift by so unobtrusively yet still leave stubborn earworms in their wake […] with finely etched labyrinths of sonic detail to get lost in’ (Exclaim!). The title is apt, each track seeming to cast a spell on the environment, each its own ‘sphere: the title track replete with heavily dubbed loops, others with mysterious floating voices, or vaguely neo-classical arrangements. ‘You’re not lost. There’s just nowhere to go.’


 

London-based experimentalist Moon Zero returns with ‘a product of fevered displacement that nonetheless achieves a temple-like sense of calm, proportion and permanence’ for Denovali. After s/t debut, while off on tour he lost his studio and flat and relationship, and moved back in with his folks in the Midlands—all of which food for thought (esp. the Midlands) fed into and out of the tortuous contours of Relationships Between Inner & Outer Space. Emitting clouds of doleful, sometimes caustic, drone mass from a sprawl of tape loops, effects and dilapidated gear, MZ sounds the depths from different hemispheres, instruments and machines sent arcing over vast soundfields, viz. “Keflavik” and “Sunk Cost”—all celestial churn wrought from mono-brow synths, detuned insts, tape loops and field finds, split into sweeping gesture, shifting mood color sequences, ending in ascent with shoe-y gauze and pulse. Unthreaded melody (unmellowed threnody?) irrupts into “Erwood Araf,” repeats and slowly eats itself while sounds around subside. Then, halfway there the prayer once lived on cedes to minor swelling hoving into ear-view and low-end pressure drops. Spooked and bomb’d.


 

Bibio brings Phantom Brickworks to bear wistful reflections in an elegant ambient meditation on the intangible aura or spirit people imbue places with, and vice-versa. Beats eschewed to follow instinct, it seems to summon a spirit from within the interstices of his previous work; from its etiolated and alluvial timbres spills a semiosis of nostalgia and memory stimulus, evoking a peculiar sense that eludes a would-be finger on it. A psycho-geographic theme of how ‘places can be haunted by meaning… a place can be charged with atmosphere because of what it has been through,’ imbues it, some signalled by track names, two of which chapels: “Capel Celyn,” after the Welsh village flooded to make way for a reservoir—a mournful tribute to an erased community; its opposite, “Capel Bethania,” a church, ringing home the album with an arpeggiated loop like the sound of its bells.


 

Somewhere between Basinski’s tape decay, The Caretaker’s deleted scenes/forgotten dreams, and SotL’s tired sound-sprawl lies Bird Traps: ‘slow shimmering soundscapes,’ ‘unfurling melancholic melodies,’ ‘sun dappled and soft focus,’ ‘circular minimalism,’ ‘eyelid collapse minimalis,’ so self-describes Marcus Skinner. All of these are in evidence on The Rainbow Body, plaintive melodies drawn in long slow bow arcs over Skinner’s stringed things, swelling and relenting in an ethereal inbetween of ambient-cinematic. Each piece is meditative in nature, haunted by a doleful tenor that seems to seek resolution, and while the title track and the near 20-min “Colour Peace” are the most extended, it’s the gorgeous closure of “Ribbon Cane” and “Heavy Paddock” to which you’ll likely subside.


 

Another Marcus, this one a Fischer, follows up his acclaimed Monocoastal (12k, 2010) with Loss. An emotional work exploring the meaning of loss and how to cope, the outcome is decidedly somber, trailed as ‘perhaps one of the darkest, most emotional albums in the 12k catalog.’ The concept of loss is mediated via use of eponymous effacement from reel-to-reel tape, re-recording sounds through various speakers in physical spaces, layering, and deploying sounds physically displaced from source. We’re told ‘he listened inside the degradation of sound, pulling out chance moments of beauty and hope amid the rubble.’ Despite its bleak lonely tenor, its fragile disintegrative loops and distant haunting melodies are possessed of a materiality grounded in the human spirit. 12k, natch.


 

Alex Bober’s Magdalene Flowers‘ muse comes via ‘nostalgia, childhood memories, escapism and power of imagination,’ his music ‘a way of expressing indescribable feelings and emotions half-subconscious and almost vivid in their intimacy.’ Crushing Sincerity for Russia’s Fern Leaf ‘tells a story of self-hatred, slowly and pleasurably destroying an individual from the inside, childhood memories projected on everyday existence and drowning sorrow in contemplation of the simple and beautiful.’ Like the above, a bit cloying in continuous mode, as is a shedload of Early Works compiled for nyp, but Humbleness I‘s small dose haze is just right for daze or doze.


 

Evergreen Avenue returns to ACR with an suite of epic drone/tone-poems, Eternal Blue having trailed the model, Sky Sailing coming as a stronger sequel of pacific meditations. Alec Critten’s approach enables development from sonic minutiae into steepling miniatures—from gentle synthetic tones to full-blown bliss’n’swell orchestrality. ACR also has a split featuring V I C I M (Swede Linus Schrab of Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet) and prolific US ambient-droner, Forest Management (previously on Lillerne, Constellation Tatsu, Hylé Tapes, et al.), who’ve jointly wrought a truly horizontal experience from the vertical color of sound in arid / Fragments, reflecting in its depths ‘solitary train-rides in rural Sweden, and the greyer, more urban existence in rainy Chicago.’ While we’re on about FM, he’s also put out Blank Reference, the last in his digital string loop series, whose first two we put you on to in ER #6.


 

An artist that’s been experimentally ambient by appointment to… since year dot is Dallas-based Todd Gautreau, whose discog goes back to the late 1990s and projects like Tear Ceremony, Sonogram, and Crushed Stars. Tapes and Topographies, a more recent project, sees release of Signal to Noise, a third full length on Simulacra, following Soft Decibels and s/t. Awash in gauzy layers of melancholic drone and wistful melody, fine airs and delicate fields, it’s a chronostatic immersion in sound evoking tender nostalgia and deep reflection.


 

Emily Berregaard‘s debut, Hallowed, for Portland, ME-based Enmossed, with its immersion in slow drone washes, feels like some form of elegant ceremonial. The Detroit-based artist creates expansive soundscapes using only voice and saxophone, moulding and shifting them into pieces that cause time to sync with psyche, and maybe cupid, conjuring weightless emotive drifts across “Yucca” and “Viola Soroia,” with Lack and LXV offering contending reconstructions—the former’s “Solis Lae” a juxtapo-mo slow tempo contrastive rhythm and ethereal loop-drone dissolution, the latter’s a divine assemblage of entrancing tone and celestial comms coaxed from “Dreamless Sleep.”


 

The power of music over memory, transporting us back in time to place is shifted on its axis by Alessandro Cortini on AVANTI (The Point of Departure Recording Co.), retro-scoring scenes from his life on the screen; a found archive of his late grandfather’s home videos, among which several Super 8 films of family get-togethers and hours of dinner-time talk on tape—a perfect childhood artefact unearthed. The films were missing sound, so he decided to provide musical accompaniment; turned out he had a few blanks to fill, the films exposing inconsistencies in his memories, moments romanticised or misremembered; the recordings, almost as fallible as his recall, show signs of degradation, anomalies and irregularities—much like our memories—creeping in via live takes on a single EMS Synthi AKS sans overdubs: ‘like the films, there are errors and mistakes in the music, some of which became the theme and some which are peculiar things that happen once or twice,’ says ’sandro.


 

Tim Diagram‘s at it again – not that he hasn’t always been, or at least it feels like it, though it’s actually only a decade and a half since first encounter with Maps & Diagrams via a Pause_2 comp; since then he’s been all over—Static Caravan, Cactus Island, Nomadic Kids Republic, Time Released Sound, Fluid Audio, Chemical Tapes, Beko DSL, Smallfish, Toytronic, Expanding—Symbolic Interaction and Moamoo too, to name but few (stock take here a while back). What’s new? Inspired by ‘a sound of archival nature and modular-themes,’ Differential Equationscreates a sound for space, for short-lived journeys and small commutes into the unknown’ for Greece’s Numb Capsule, tracks ‘made specifically for cassette and explores alternate dimension and momentum, where time can for once be ignored, leaving the listener to focus on each piece as a separate voyage.’


 

‘The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides,’ Verne mused, and How To Cure Our Soul musick; reflections, digital and analog, ‘personal mediated outcomes of reality’s reinterpretation.’ Mare, the duo’s fourth, finds Marco Marzuoli and Alessandro Sergente, with Rossano Polidoro (TriacTu M’), adrift in minimalist isolationist immersion for John Daniel-curated Sequel; sound and vision recorded on the Adriatic Sea (Silvi Marina, Abruzzo) affords a constant aquatic swirl; a long drawn out drone flows through, looping, oscillating gently, more insistent as more melodic material comes late to the drone party with a glassine look. What’s that you say, Jules? ‘The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence. It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the Living Infinite.’ (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1870). Bien sur.


 

Spazio Disponibile hosts newbie, Grand River, for its 11th release, Crescente, one marking something of a new turn with ambient cosying up to more ’floor-y fare; an new orientation hinted at by Marco Shuttle on Systhema is now realised by Aimee Portioli, multi-instrumentalist soundtrack composer known (it says here) for ‘her deep and atmospheric sound,’ debuting with some spacious, techno-fringed ambience with pristine production in line with  Dozzy and Neel‘s in-house style. Fizzing, grainy ambiance makes way for shadow play, with synths brighter later in the day. Elsewhere, undulating rhythms with muted keys and a remote ripple of strings traverse a cavernous world with intimations of rainbow way up high.


 

Shimmering Moods has two new entries in its occasional series of diverse esoteric artists purveying a range of styles from ‘electro acoustic ambient’ to ‘soft electronic slow techno.’ With the accompanying byline ‘”瞑想” (meisou), To think deeply….”熟考” (jyukkou), or “熟慮” (jyukuryo)’ Meditations 4 features Faunethic, MATJAMI & VictorYibril, Macheteoxidado, Sage Taylor, Toothlessbobby, Elsa Hasselgärde, The Laborer, Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet, Sačquiel Måtaton, Gipsi, Laura Beatriz Rosenkranz, Maiya Hershey, Olan Mill, while Bålsam, Invented State of Mind (ISM), Be, Murkok, Metta, Snufmumriko, Mandla Jamela, Ando Laj, Holy Family, and Rhucle, are among the contributors to Meditations 5. Shimmering Mood-Meister, Early Reflections, masters. A while back SM also gave us DR‘s Hovering, whose 18-minute opening drone is a particularly satisfying slow flow of moving microvariativity. Deep and clear sustain, smudged tones inside surface-skimming harmonies occluding eponymous moods, like a trumpet’s mute, cloaking spectral trails of harmony that periodically peek through. Dominic Razlaff—for DR is he—like some benign hypnotist, marshals movements of “Hidden Notes,” twin tracks whose undulations segue sweetly betwixt and above, over and between.


 

On Two Shadows Collide (Ba Da Bing Records) Secret Pyramid articulates the ‘full drama and scope of the existential ache through [his] music’ (Stationary Travels). With inspiration from his vast Pacific Northwest base, he builds plaintive minor key melody into steepling sound structures that somehow retain an emotional intimacy along with its compelling paradoxes—‘crepuscular and illuminated; tentative and transcendent; lush and barren, majestic and devastating’ (ST again)—conflicts at the heart of its themes. Each piece is inspired by the eponymous intersection and attraction of forces and worlds, the clash of sounds, and the dualities within our lives (it says here). Amir Abbey integrates the Ondes Martenot, adding unique timbres, while staying true to the spirit of Movements of Night (2013) and Silent March (2011) on Students of Decay.


 

Copenhagen-based Canadian producer and altered-state axe-man, Mikael Tobias, features in ABSENTIA (there’s more here) on local label Unit Shifter with an immersive (natch!) album that ‘weaves layers of effected lap steel guitar, swells of filtered noise and acoustic and electronic percussion into a sonic tapestry of undulating texture and rhythm.’ Talking guitars (er, not actually them talking), another Great AxescapeistChris Weeks, ushers in The Grey Ghost Of Morning, ‘a body of ghostly soundscapes and melancholy mind-states’ haunted by loss and removal, insomnia and the crepuscular haze of morning light and languid mist rolling in via Archives; and chief Archiv-ist, Warmth, compiles several spirit kin for Soundscapes Vol. 2, incl. Steve Pacheco, Tone Color, Hotel Neon, Shuta Yasukochi, Hilyard, SineRider, Slow Clinic, Gallery Six, Hakobune and SVLBRD.


 

Last lap: Olli Aarni, signature sound (opaquely) clear and (remotely) present on Nielu [Finnish=’vortex,’ ‘throat,’ ‘swallowing’] via NY’s Florabelle, forges grainy texture maps, ghostly loop figures, and enveloping fields in side-long pieces offering wide-sky sound washes, prompted perhaps by the caustic climes of Fennoscandia. Bristol is the base from which busy boutique shabby chic arty-facturer, Dan Crossley, brings Gradation Movements, the best Fluid Audio in a bit from Hotel Neon‘s Steven Kemner. Some kind of wayward ambient-collage savant is Stew Bird, again evidenced by L’eoscombu Couti‘s ‘Sleeping’ Remix of Beta Tyrant‘s “mana.als” from strangely compelling vaporwave-ambient crossover, Waterproof Knight (Bio Future Laboratory). TT029: Endurance / Make Flames, a split within which the tones of Japan-based Canadian Joshua Stefane aka Endurance (‘warm vibrant […] minimal flutings and flutterings, subtle melodics and field recordings blended into rich particulate textures layered into shimmering colorfields,’ as we noted of Molecular Shrine in ER #6) incorporates strands from electro-acoustic to drone to post-classical, imbued with affect. Havenaire‘s Rabot, inspired by old photos from geographer, Fredrik Enquist, is the latest from Glacial Movements, following Scanner’s The Great Crater (igloo-‘view). One-time Date Palm and Krank-ster Gregg Kowalsky‘s L’Orange L’Orange is rich synth-y drone-bient finding the missing link ‘twixt Kosmische melody and Pop Ambient via a host of haze-y phase-Tanz-y (?) (!) shivered timbres. Out of Irpinia, IT, comes Vincenzo Nava aka dramavinilecapo of lo-fi/electro-acoustic/field recording/abstract ambient label, manyfeetunder/concrete, with 7, thanks to Mark Kuykendall‘s Unknown Tone; said MK dons his New Honey Shade for locust grove, poignant sketchbook of visual tone poems preceding last known Unknown, The Rest Is Silence, according to Tehran’s Arash Akbari

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