Sunday, August 29, 2010

Podcast : Low Light Mixes – The Landscape Listens

Today we're presenting to you one of our favorite ambient journeys from Low Light Mixes. Although this mix was made in the dead of winter, we still feel that its calm nature can soothe away your daily worries, stress and aches. It definitely hits the spot on this side of the mixing board. Here's Dave Michuda talking about the inspiration behind the mix: It's the dead of winter, just trying to outlast the snow & cold, trying to make it to spring break. The music in this mix has a sort of lonely winter feel to it. The tracks are not too dark or depressing, they just seem to conger up images of vast, snowy landscapes. We hope you enjoy this entry, and I'm sure Dave will be back with more!

See full track listing, plus stream or download the mix on Headphone Commute

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Melorman - Out In A Field (Symbolic Interaction)

Before I dive into this melodic and emotional IDM album, I want to talk about the label. Symbolic Interaction is an independent label run by Kentaro Togawa out of his hometown, outside of Tokyo, Japan. Togawa started the label in 2007, and in the last three years released about twenty five albums (Out In A Field is cataloged at SIC024). I first came across the label upon hearing Rudi Arapahoe - Echoes From One To Another (2008). The following release was by my all time favorite glitch masters, Funckarma - Psar Dymog (2008), and then Ard Bit's - Spanon (2009) shook me a bit off balance. So, it's no wonder that I'm keeping my tabs on Symbolic Interaction. Now on to Melorman. Antonis Haniotakis is an Athens (Greece) based electronic music producer with smooth undertones and clicky downtempo beats, who previously released digital EPs on netlabels, such as Summer Rain Recordings, IVDT, and Archaic Horizon. Thus, Out In A Field is Haniotakis' first physical release. His sound is a combination of silky synth lines, hazy soundscapes, and relaxed intelligent percussion. His music is reminiscent of laid back sounds of Boards of Canada, Tycho and Arovane. Hmmm. That should get you excited. Words like 'atmospheric', 'melancholic' and 'cinematic' are begging to find their way into this review, but the music of Out In A Field speaks louder than my words. Personally, I miss music like this. Emotional electronica can not exist without the music that evokes emotion. And on Out In A Field, Haniotakis does just that. Painting a relaxing atmosphere of summer car rides, hammock swings, and morning walks, perhaps somewhere out in a field, with a touch of vocal contributions from Helen Day, Melorman evokes those melodramatic melodies that mellow all the melancholy thoughts away. If you like this sort of sound, be sure to pick up a three-track free digital EP, Expressing Thougths, out on Archaic Horizon. And don't forget to check out Symbolic Interaction's latest release from Melodium, titled Palimpse.

See also Two and a Half Questions with Melorman | |

Two and a Half Questions with Melorman

You're based in Greece, and Symbolic Interaction is in Japan. How did you end up getting signed on the label?
With internet of course. Internet helped me a lot in my music. I made my first step in releasing music through various netlabels. There I met Headphone Science (Dustin Graig) with whom we collaborated in two projects. Dustin later on released an album on Symbolic Interaction. Through this way I was introduced to Kentaro Togawa who runs Symbolic Interaction. At that time I decided it was about time to make a physical release and Symbolic Interaction really fits with what I do. We discussed about a potential release with Kentaro and finally it came up some months later.

What is the theme behind this album? Is there a main protagonist?
To make this album beside some new tracks, I collected tracks and ideas from the past and I re-processed them without having in mind a theme or a project or a protagonist. But when I was processing the old ideas I found many forgotten memories in these tunes. So the theme its basically my childhood and how I was looking at things then. Sometimes is just a feeling of happiness or sadness.

[ - s n i p - ]

Read the entire interview on Headphone Commute

See also Headphone Commute review of Out In A Field

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Black Dog – Music for Real Airports (Soma)

Paying homage to Brian Eno's ambient masterpiece, Music for Airports (Polydor, 1978), which Eno created for the whole purpose of being played in actual airports, to convey calmness and reassurance to the passengers about to set off on an airborne journey, The Black Dog set out to create their own version, designed for real airports. But, unlike Eno's version, this album is "not a utilitarian accompaniment to airports, in the sense of reinforcing the false utopia and fake idealism of air travel". The album is a pristine selection of beautiful tracks, with an overlay of field recordings collected through the three years of the group's tour travels. And instead of conceptual and abstract, The Black Dog delivers a cinematic and very personal album, that will captivate you in any surrounding. To further elaborate on the contrast between the two works, here's a Brian Eno quote from a TV interview: "One day I was sitting in this beautiful airport, Cologne airport. It was a Sunday morning and the sun was streaming in. It was the most beautiful piece of architecture... And the most idiotically stupid pop music playing... You put all this attention into the architecture and the ambience in every respect except the music. What is the music? It's what some person's brought in that morning and stuck in a cassette player... So I started constructing in my mind what would be the right music for the airport." In general terms, Eno's view was that the music should communicate a feeling rather than a narrative, and that it should be soothing. It should help people feel comfortable and resign themselves to the inconvenience and ultimately disconcerting nature of air travel. The Black Dog take a different approach. Based on over 200 hours of field recordings at airports, Music for Real Airports is not a record "to be used by airport authorities to lull their customers." Rather, it embraces the underlying fear and anxiety and revels in it. "Wait Behind This Line", for example, is a gloomy death march, a bottomless pit of despair and hopelessness. In other places, the album swings the other way and captures the excitement and sense of adventure that airports can also evoke. On the whole, it's an engaging album. I'll save my breath in covering the history of the group. I trust you can point your clickers to their Wikipedia entry for all the details. But in case you didn't know, the group was originally founded by Ken Downie, Ed Handley and Andy Turner, and were one of the founding figures of IDM as a genre. Handley and Turner set off to create and focus on Plaid back in 1995, while Downie was joined by Martin and Richard Dust to continue the legacy, that, in my opinion, is only blossoming... If you missed the group's earlier releases, pick up Radio Scarecrow (Soma, 2008) and Further Vexations (Soma, 2009). In contrast to Music for Real Airports the above mentioned are more beat oriented albums, falling into the techno genre, as defined by The Black Dog's original style. Be sure to also check out the mixes that The Black Dog regularly make available on their website. The latest - Drifting Ambient Mix May 2010 - is a doozie. Recommended if you loved the ambiance of Lusine ICL's Language Barrier (Hymen, 2007), Arovane's Lilies (City Centre Offices, 2004), and Autechre's Amber (Warp, 1994). As I'm writing this review, I'm on my fifth listen of the album, becoming more and more convinced that it will go down in history as one of my absolute favorites.

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Review prepared by Tigon and HC | |

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Architect - Consume Adapt Create (Hymen)

While other Architect albums have been somewhat minimalist affairs, Consume Adapt Create is crammed full of sounds... individual and myriad in number, placement and aesthetic. You might have wondered what happens when Daniel Myer is placed in a creative vacuum and allowed free reign to run as far as his imagination will take him. This is the concrete evidence of where it goes. 'The Shadow of Eve' is the only hint I am going to give for this record. It's breakneck pace should confound and contuse any PA it is played through. Myer weaves in melodic lines throughout it, a hi-hat roll here... a syncopated break sped up to maniacal pace there. Power restored indeed. The connection to previous work could best be ascribed to his track 'Sir Alfred'. Suspense drum 'n' bass is alive and well. There's been a remix contest for this tune initiated by the band, it's no accident this track was the one chosen. You have not heard him push it this far before. One gets a healthy inoculation of atmosphere on this record, sure, there are alien peel offs into sci-fi land but more often than not it's the overall composition which unleashes this tone. Consume Adapt Create is all about this somewhat elusive aural currency. Van Delta's album 'Studio Reality' is the only thing which comes remotely close to the end result of this and even it didn't contain as many changes in tempo or emotion. Myer somehow manages to squeeze a lot of feeling out of his machines, a feat few others have pulled off convincingly. It is as though a part of him has been subsumed and re-patterned in an electronic exorcism of sorts; it's a lot to ask of the listener, I know, but the pay off is that by the time you do finish listening... the world is pleasantly askew. He's spent his time very wisely creating some masterful electronic scenes if this is the right word; each song is a soundtrack to places we have never been and worlds we never suspected existed. Christmas may have come late but at least it showed. If you were to take Galactic Supermarket and heap on the maturity accumulated in the last twelve years by this musician you'd have a small measure of the majestic heights Myer has encapsulated here. Unlike that record, though, there's a lot more flesh on the bones. He knows his sound design almost too well. All the time spent in the trenches of Haujobb's love/hate existence with it's fanbase was not undertaken lightly, neither was this record.

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Review prepared by Peter Marks, exclusively for Headphone Commute.

See also Two and a Half Questions with Architect | |

Two and a Half Questions with Architect

Five albums into the Architect project, what has changed since its original inception well over a decade ago?
Actually not a lot. I am older, which is the obvious:) But its still me creating the Music. Trying to push my musical Direction with no Limits.

Consume Adapt Create is a record which functions on many levels. What were the concepts you were going for this time, and did they evolve consciously on your behalf?
I just tried to get rid of all my Ideas. I buy a lot of Music, I am really an addict and most of Music I am buying inspires me, challenges me. So I tried to create something, that I can listen to myself. That I might can spin on my DJ Gigs. I tried to push myself to create something new for myself.

The field of "idm/electronica" has become quite bloated in the last five years. How much would you say your production and design elements contribute to your success? What makes you stand out among the many as the Architect?
Hmmm, I am not quite sure, if I stand out at all. Of course, I think I am special, ahaha. But for real. With Architect there are no limits. On Consume Adapt Create you hear a lot of different styles and influences. But the thing is, you cant really tell, oh, this is dubstep, this is drum&bass. There is always another layer to it, I think.

[ - s n i p - ]

Read the entire interview on Headphone Commute

See also review of Consume Adapt Create

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sound Bytes : Audiobulb Special

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon. It's that hour when the weekend is almost over, but the work week has not yet begun. How do I stretch the remaining hours in peace and tranquility, cherishing the hours that are left for me to enjoy? Sheffield (UK) based Audiobulb Records, run and operated by David Newman, aka Autistici, comes to the rescue. Since the early part of the last decade, Audiobulb has been releasing experimental, electro-acoustic, and emotional electronic music among the spectrum of minimal, glitch, and micro-tonal frequencies, allowing your brain to relax and be active at once. "Audiobulb has always been about the spirit of exploration. The aim is to stay with the moment and exploit the possibilities of sound." I hope you enjoy this installment of Sound Bytes, peeling away at the latest layers of Audiobulb.

Autistici Reworked : Resonating Wires
First up is a remix album from David Newman himself, comprised of reworks and interpretations by an incredible roster of artists. The contributors include Simon Scott, Sawako, Jimmy Behan, ISAN, Ian Hawgood & Danny Norbury and Richard Chartier, among the many in this 10-track release. This is a glitchy, hissy, lo-fi collection of tracks, drenched in field recordings and electro-acoustic noise. All accomplices on this recording remix Newman's single track: Resonating Wire, from Autistici's 2009 album, Complex Tone Test (KESH) [see our selection in Headphone Commute's Best of 2009 : Music For Bending Light And Stopping Time]. At the center of the album is an 11+minute concoction, ripped and torn by Francisco López, with deep rumbling drones, background synth swirls, and a rhythmic noise checkpoint. Ian Hawgood & Danny Norburry's piece incorporates soaring strings, double bass plucks, and a confetti of crackles and jitters. And then Richard Chartier rolls up his sleeves. A skillfully executed descent into a place where sound becomes air and noise becomes wind. Resonating Wires is an excellent compilation of minimal, experimental and electro-acoustic soundscapes that stands high on the shoulders of contemporary reductionist giants.

Milinal - Honey Meredian
St. Petersburg (Russia) based Valentin Yakovlev creates warm emotional electronica with triggered glitches and tweaked out bleeps. And emotional electronica can not exist without emotion. With this in mind, this 23-year old Russian sailor, releasing his debut full length under the moniker Milinal, enters the scene, drenching your neurons in thick cerebral cocktail as prescribed by the IDM doctor. Haunting vocals ping-pong around the stereo field, beneath the deconstructed guitars and soft synth pads. Micro programmed percussion pushes the rhythm forward, while plucked guitar strings and processed sounds swirl around in a smoky whirlwind. Fans of that Telefon Tel Aviv sound, looking for another treat in this post-glitch-everything world, will be especially delighted. Other quoted influences for this record include Tim Hecker and Radiohead. Be sure to also check out Yakovlev's first 6-track EP, Folgefonna released by Siberian Electronica netlabel in 2009. This album deserves much more attention, and it should be surely considered for everyone's Best of 2010 lists!

Autistici - Detached Metal Voice - Early Works (Vol I)
Early Works, as the title suggests, is a collection of previously unreleased compositions recorded by David Newman within the last decade. This is a rasterized array of sounds, bleeps, clicks, and field recordings, ala musique concrète digitalis. The first volume, subtitled Detached Metal Voice, is a selection of early works "exploring the anxiety of disconnected elements striving to find connection in a world of digital communication." These are experimental pieces with many exploratory techniques and tools, like sinewave oscillators, home-made tone generators, and works with ASY, a synthesizer based on vocal tract models developed at Bell Laboratories in the 60s. Be sure to check out Whispering Mongo Man, featuring an audio interview with John Lennon, composed entirely out of edited-out speech, leaving behind the space occupied by his breath. "The tracks encourage the listener to consider the complex question of how meaning, relationships and connections are constructed, communicated and perceived."

Autistici - Slow Temperature - Early Works (Vol II)
The second volume, subtitled Slow Temperature, contains more archival material from David Newman, featuring "abstract ambience, a focus on microsounds and digital sculpting of audio from everyday objects." In this selection, Autistici explores silence, space and sound, reflecting on individual parts of his own life. The composition is heavy with elements requiring your full listening attention, further decomposition, and reflective analysis, worthy of sound installation in a museum, or an exclusive performance at this sound technician's audio lab. The last piece, Workshop for Ambitious Dreamers, is a study into the "manipulation of sinewaves, oscillators and analogue electro-harp plucks exploring themes of subjectivity and freedom in thought and speech." Truly remarkable, thought-provoking, and deep. You'll need a few hours to absorb... Be sure to also pick up Autistici's lauded Volume Objects, released on 12k back in 2008.

:papercutz - Do Outro Lado Do Espelho (Lylac Ambient Reworks)
Last year we reviewed Bruno Miguel's debut as :papercutz - Lylac (Apegenine, 2008). Miguel followed up the album with Ultravioleta Rmx's on the same label. Two years later, Lylac still resonates... Do Outro Lado Do Espelho (translated as "from the other side of the looking glass") is a compilation of reworks from yet another amazing selection of artists. After releasing Lylac, Miguel was inspired to allow other artists to extract the foundation beneath the songs and erect upon it a structure of their own interpretations. This is an ambitious project with contributions from Helios, Emanuele Errante, Simon Scott, Taylor Deupree, Rameses III, Autistici, Christopher Bissonnette and Jasper TX. Whew! Are you impressed? Here are twelve amazing tracks by masters of ambient and modern classical composition! The Helios remix alone is worth your attention [watch the music video below]. Taylor Deupree incorporates the vocals into a delicious composition of guitar chords and harmonic song progression [didn't expect that from him], while Jasper TX scratches on the surface of peripheral hearing with his slow paced filtered piano chords and swelling cinematic atmospheres.

Ambient Software Module
As if releasing beautiful music is not enough, Audiobulb has recently ventured into software, with a standalone Max/MSP Application. Feel like generating some ambient textures? Then Ambient is your tool! Developed by Christopher Hipgrave (yes, the same Hipgrave with releases on Home Normal and Low Point), with graphic interface designed by Mike Podolak, the module can process any file with multiple effects, that will twist your samples into beautiful soundscapes. Unleash your imagination! What's next? iPad?

Be sure to read this entry directly on Headphone Commute for audio track samples.