One of the greatest sources for inspiration among ambient composers is space. The vast, ever-expanding nature of our Universe is a brilliant jumping-off point for countless pieces that explore our own “galaxy” of imagination.
This is evident in Robert Scott Thompson’s record Pale Blue Dot. With each track evoking space travel in name (like “Perigee,” “Apogee,” and the more obvious “Slow Rotation of Stars”) and sound, it is only natural to imagine oneself in orbit while listening.
The music is haunting, beautiful, and meticulously put together in such a way that you feel a complex set of emotions continuously. Some ambient music is meant to lull you into a trance, but Pale Blue Dot is constantly changing the tonal script, never allowing you to put the music into the background.
As a trained music academic and celebrated modern composer of the experimental; this record only further adds to Robert Scott Thompson’s innovative reputation. The self-described “musical alchemist” does not disappoint.
Pale Blue Dot can be found at https://robert-scott-thompson.bandcamp.com/album/pale-blue-dot
The greatest gift that starting this blog/webzine has given me is the vast number of new artists I get to hear. I consider myself lucky whenever a new album comes in my business email, but when a compilation of numerous artists pops up it is even better.
In this case I refer to Oneiric Escapism Vol. 3 by the UK project A Lonely Ghost Burning. On this compilation you are introduced to “atmospheric, vocally-inclined, electronic and experimental music” from all over the world. Such countries include Canada, Guatemala, Iceland, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA.
Every track, twelve in total, is a brilliant introduction to countless musicians that are on the cutting edge of innovation in their genre. The way the songs can haunt you with their beauty is something to behold. I truly believe in this project and highly recommend Oneiric Escapism Vol. 3 for a new listening experience.
Oneiric Escapism Vol. 3 can be found at https://alonelyghostburning.bandcamp.com/album/oneiric-escapism-vol-3
The best kind of music these days is music that defies convention. It’s music that is bold, fresh, and ultimately brave. This bravery can be displayed in numerous forms, but first and foremost the sound must be the focus. In my mind, the bravest music is that which is unable to be boxed into a single genre.
This music is exactly what I find when I listen to An Eclipse of Images. A cooperative project between Italian percussionist Massimo Discepoli and American experimental double-bassist/composer Daniel Barbiero, the record seeks to present musical “ hybrids meticulously built up of acoustic and electronic elements both composed and improvised.”
It does just that. The brilliant interaction between the double-bass, percussion, and electronic synth sounds create an experience that constantly leaves you in different musical worlds. You hear jazz, avant-garde classical, ambient and so much more within this record that each listen brings a new perspective.
It is a truly wondrous thing.
An Eclipse of Images can be found at http://www.acustronica.com/an-eclipse-of-images.html
Ambition is sometimes what drives composers insane. Sometimes we get such grandiose ideas that, when we put it together, it turns out to be too great to materialize. Other times, however, these “big” ideas become a large, continuous conceptual work of art. It is the latter that Sunrise Square falls into.
01-09 are, as indicated, nine separate collections of songs (in various numeric groupings) that form one ultimate compilation. It is an extremely vast work but absolutely worth going through as a music reviewer. Sunrise Square’s music is described by the Connecticut-based composer as:
“‘impressionist dance music’ influenced by Wolfgang Voigt, Detroit techno and Hiroki
Azuma’s interpretation of ‘otaku culture’.”
What occurs, to my own ears, is a mixture of ambient, house, and other electronic styles that manages to give off a calm, dance-able musical experience. You can either engage or tune out, and the music accepts either direction.
The three years that Sunrise Square took to make this music was time well spent. I think that there is something for every electronic music fan in this compilation.
Sunrise Square 01-09 can be found at:
When an artist has a clear vision for their work, it is imperative that they follow through with it. aoi, a composer/musician/producer from Montreal, is an example of this actually happening. With his debut EP, entitled 1(EP), aoi (real name Keven Brien) has established that he wants the listener to experience:
“A voyage through lands where the organic and synthetic evolved in symbiosis, when the past and future coexist simultaneously.”
I can testify after listening to this record that this symbiosis occurs beautifully, as numerous genres and eras coalesce to form the final product. You hear echoes of Brian Eno, Pat Metheny, Jan Hammer, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Allan Holdsworth in this record.
1(EP) is ambient, driven, and emotionally complex. Above all else it is experimental in a way that comes across as genuine, rather than pretentious (a problem that sometimes plagues the genre). Don’t let the “experimental” label scare you away if that isn’t your thing, as I truly believe there is enough for the mainstream listener here as well.
In accomplishing his vision for 1(EP), aoi has made an ambitious and beautiful debut record. It is truly something I recommend you give a try.
1(EP) by aoi can be found at https://ao-i.bandcamp.com/
As electronic composers, it is often necessary that we look back on the pioneers that made our genre possible. Without a doubt many members of the minimalist movement such as Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and others are precursors to the electronic sounds we hear today. Their experimentation made it possible for artists to bend the boundaries of acceptability in favor of artistry.
One such composer is La Monte Young, a father of minimalism who ambient legend Brian Eno once called “the daddy of us all.” Young’s works in the minimalist and avant-garde spheres of musical expression are vast, but Composition 1960 is a series of works that stand out. The most well-known ‘composition’ in the series is #7. #7, much like a lot of avant-garde music of its day gives open interpretation to the artist much like a jazz composition. In #7 the only restriction is that just two notes, B3 and F#4, be played within the piece.
This leads into our review, as the group Future Children has released their interpretation of this important piece. Future Children consist of Kevin Coral and CC Sheehan and seek to play #7 with their interpretation of “vintage analog and digital synths all recorded and mixed live to analog tape, in the spirit of early electronic musics.”
It absolutely works. The album showcases all of the old techniques that made early electronic musicians like Jarre and others so influential. Future Children breathes new life as well into Composition 1960 #7, as they have their own artistic voice within the well-traveled musical landscape of minimalism. The synths (Analog Roland, Arp and Moog, as well as digital EMU Emax sampler and Yamaha DX-7) are gorgeous and I have no doubt La Monte Young would be proud of his work being played in this manner.
The album Future Children Interpret: Composition 1960 #7 for Synthesizer, Sampler & Tape is being released on a limited basis for Cassette Store Day (which is today, October 8th 2016) and I highly recommend you give it a try.
Areas where you can find the cassettes are at http://cassettestoreday.us/
Future Children can be found at http://www.simulacrarecords.com/future-children/
I really love music that is bold, different, and ultimately driven to stand out amongst the static. When an album called People Are Alike All Over popped up in my email from Dominic Francisco (stage name Space Monkey Death Sequence), I knew I had to give it a try. The reason?
It was influenced by the Twilight Zone, and it was touted as an experimental record.
The Twilight Zone is without a doubt one of my all-time favorite television shows, and for an album to integrate it into music intelligently is very attractive for me. People Are Alike All Over uses samples from the show, but as only one component to incredibly diverse sound collages. From the ambient, to IDM, to trip-hop and beyond, this record never lets you stay in one place for too long. The amount of effort put into People Are Alike All Over is truly something to behold.
Dominic Francisco talks about his record as a manifestation of his 12 year old self watching the “People Are Alike All Over” episode of the Twilight Zone. As he says “a short, sinister journey to Mars played odyssey in my adolescent mind. As corny as it sounds, I really felt like I was in The Twilight Zone… I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it: tell the story of “People Are Alike All Over”, but through the lens of my first my twelve-year-old self. I wanted to capture the feeling of that summer night with this album, and I believe I have succeeded in doing that.”
You did Dominic, you absolutely did. And even more than that, as we get to go into an alternate reality through this Space Monkey Death Sequence record. It really is something special. Maybe I’m biased as a lover of electronic music, experimental music, and the Twilight Zone… but I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way.
Take the journey and support the music at http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Space_Monkey_Death_Sequence/People_Are_Alike_All_Over