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
“A path of verbed-out jazz, metallic ambience and grinding electro-acoustics.”
These are the descriptors given to those approaching Mondo Flockhard’s second, self-titled, record. Without a doubt words can only do so much justice to music, and in many ways these aforementioned descriptors give just half the picture.
This project by Melbourne-based drummer Maria Moles is an exercise in atmospheric experimentation and complex rhythms. Without a doubt the record is an exercise for the listener, but if the listener fully engages they will be rewarded.
Go in with an open mind, I promise you’ll be delighted.
Mondo Flockhard can be found at https://tonelist.bandcamp.com/album/mondo-flockard
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/
When you compose electronic music, bravery is a key component to standing out. You have to be willing to take risks that some may consider too experimental or “far-out.” If done right, you will be duly rewarded with a finished product that communicates your artistic vision.
Ven by Dan Tapper in many ways does just this. The album is, according to the artist, “the result of combining my interest and recording collection of sound from space, alongside speculative and imagined compositions – breaking it into little pieces and smashing it together through my improvisations.”
The music in Ven challenges your perception of music. It constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat and never allows you to push the sounds to the back of your mind. Often times there is no central melody, but rather an amalgamation of sonic experiments that take you into an entirely different dimension.
Ven is a record for those tired of formulaic music, who wish for a massive challenge in what they experience while listening to songs. These are sound collages, not for the faint of heart, but absolutely worth every second if you stick with it.
Just as John Cage and others attempted to shift the public’s understanding of music, Dan Tapper is following Cage’s lead and pushing sound forward through “unheard worlds of the Very Low Frequency (VLF) natural radio band.”
Give Ven a chance. You won’t regret it.
Get your copy at https://elmrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ven-ep
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
Aaron Holm is a Seattle-based composer and producer interested in finding the most from the simple. As I listened through his record this is the description that most starkly presented itself. Throughout the looping beats, the various ambient effects that wash over you, and repeating melodic phrases, you realize how committed Aaron is to the ambient ethos.
The ambient composer, and I should know, is about constructing various worlds of sound from the most simple, yet transformative, materials. As The Boy plays, this concept is shown ever so perfectly. You are drawn in to this soundscape and allowed to dream. You are allowed to free your mind and totally immerse yourself in the music.
As Holm’s PR team stated, “Deeply influenced by electronic and ambient pioneers like Jon Hopkins, Roger & Brian Eno and Boards of Canada, his blissed-out compositions make use of abstract field recordings, as well as low, shimmering electronic tones.” Reich and Eno especially stand out to me here, as their approaches to music are followed in so many ways in The Boy.
Aaron is not afraid, much like Reich, to explore complex topics. The track Catch a Falling Star explores “the story of the father’s love for his child and his heartbreak on hearing of the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown. On the morning of the shooting, Holm’s daughter’s first grade teacher sent out a recording of the children singing ‘Catch A Falling Star. The recording is heard at the track start. Aaron says – ‘As I heard the news of the school shooting, first graders were the victims, I pulled to the side of the road and cried. The voices in this track soothe broken hearts and the loss of innocence and brings the boy full circle from childhood to fatherhood.'”
If you are a lover of ambient music, you really should consider adding The Boy to your collection.
The Boy can be found at: