Time for this year’s second Winter Transmission. Four albums to keep you warm and cozy yet soul-stirred and mind-stimulated during the cold gray days.
Smith & Mudd :: Gorthleck (Claremont 56)
This is what dreams are made of. Nine deep ambient folktronica tracks with 70s space music flavors, ethereal post-rock glow and a gentle Floyd-ish aura. For the recording of their third album, Benjamin Smith and Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy headed up to the Scottish Highlands. The stunning scenery had a major impact on the duo, and Gorthleck certainly reflects it. Organic and synthetic are merged immaculately—a result of studio wizardry—yet a sense of a live performance and a charm of improvisation sparkle throughout. Smith & Mudd have managed to produce a spellbinding album which launches the listener into the boundless depths of the imagination. A pastoral yet powerful and dynamic sonic potion.
Experiments in Silence :: Encrypted Transmissions (Self-Released)
Neil Butler is mainly known for his work as Spatialize, his psychedelic downtempo electronica project. The talented producer has been exploring those colorful sonic districts for quite a while now, and recently decided to experiment with the darker and more minimalist side of electronic music under a new alias, Experiments in Silence. I haven’t had the chance to check out the first result (Hidden Harmonic, 2014) yet, but the second one has found its way into my playlist and it is absolutely brilliant, like the dub techno-infused ambient downtempo love child of Porcupine Tree, Ozric Tentacles/Nodens Ictus and Ishq. It seems that years of experience and experimenting have culminated with what feels like Butler’s deepest, sharpest and most mature work to date. Encrypted Transmissions is a vibrant, cohesive, dynamic and highly atmospheric journey full of nuance and panorama. Butler’s second attempt under a different skin shows his versatile skills and proves it’s still possible to create something special, soulful and refreshing within sonic districts flooded with recycling.
Drape :: Let There Water Air (Infraction)
Infraction and Drape are certainly not strangers in these pages. The boutique imprint’s releases have been covered here passionately. The Drape boys’ previous album on Infraction, An Idea and Its Map, was even included in our Best of 2012 list. Spencer Williams and Ryan Gracey are skilled texture makers exploring the spaces between ambient, post-rock and modern classical. With Let There Water Air the duo takes its sound and style to higher plane. The textures are richer and more dynamic and the combination of the guitar with the cello and piano feels natural and fluid. The overall feel is of a more personal album, the duo still maintains that sort of granular roughness, but the compositions feel more refined and emotionally exposed as they ebb and flow gracefully with a cinematic, penetrating glow. A beautiful album full of color and atmosphere.
Fatih Tuter :: Opfermut (Unknown Tribe)
Spacious ambient electronica movements soaked in a seductive dub techno haze. Although The Sight Below, Marconi Union and even Carbon Based Lifeforms might come to mind while diving in the pulsating depths of Opfermut, Fatih Tuter does not sound like any of them. Each of the six compositions on Opfermut has a unique personality. The atmosphere, textures and emotion pour out of the speakers effortlessly, transferring the listener into an electric, spacey, organic and fluid world of sound full of nocturnal luminosity and embracing resonance. Hypnotic, mysterious, addictive. Tuter is a new creative voice on the rise and hopefully we’ll hear more from him soon. With Opfermut he delivers a truly individual sounding piece of music that should be a part of every curious collection of ambient electronica. Out on his own Unknown Tribe imprint.
Feature image by Erik Osvald (a.k.a. Keosz)