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NOTE:  I posted these over at and thought they'd be of interest here...  the "SOURCE" link give you pictures and audio and such - so click there...

A Quietus Interview - SOURCE:
In Pole Position: Jon Hassell Interviewed
Daniel Patrick Quinn , September 17th, 2014 09:30

Daniel Patrick Quinn interviews Jon Hassell about his long overdue book The North And South Of You and recent reissues of his music

"The basic metaphor is that of the north and south of a person as a projection of the north and south of the globe. A mind formatted by language and located in the head compared with the area of wildness and sensuality below the waist where dance and music and procreation reigns. Mirrored in a global north of "developed" countries that control the world by superior technology. A global south where there's a "technology" of the samba. Which one would you rather have more of when life ends?"

This is Jon Hassell on the thinking behind his long-awaited book The North And South Of You, the writing of which is still in progress. It has been on the annual list of 'must buy' books written on the front page of my diary for countless years now and if it takes him another decade to complete then even then it will have been worth the wait.

For those who don't know, Jon Hassell is a 77-year-old visionary trumpet player and composer whose intoxicating output since the 1970s could initially be described as organic, wordly, futuristic and overwhelmingly sensual. Even before you hear the music, you get the idea from many of his album covers: alluring, often semi-abstract landscapes that you want to leap into. Select one of his albums at random and you will hear what appear to be recordings from an idealized version of Earth, in which beings similar to humans wear ornate grass skirts, sit pleasantly resting at the base of trees gazing off to the distant forest-clad hills.

This fantasy land is full of philosophers, insect noises, and avant-garde conga pageants framed by lush rice terraces. It's a environment in which the intellectual and the sensual have fused, in which cutting edge technology and primal urges have come together in balance. This place must be located somewhere on the equatorial beltline – the point at which Hassell's 'north' and 'south' meet. It is, perhaps, a highly optimistic painting or dream of what the Earth could be like, a century or two from now.

To trace the beginnings of Hassell's unique worldview one need look no further than the first album recording that he appeared on, the original 1968 version of Terry Riley's minimalist masterpiece In C. Not far off half a century later, here are Hassell's recollections:

"I can't separate the session itself from the 2-3 months of getting to know Terry, playing an all-night concert at the University of New York at Buffalo student center, dragging some Moog equipment up from the studio to play (I think) the first synth bass line. He was a big influence to me (and everyone). After studying in Cologne with Stockhausen he was a breath of american fresh air, describing the European music as 'neurotic'. That clicked with me as an audaciously insightful and accurate description. Referring to above: very 'north' and behind the wave of american minimalism with its re-discovery of trance, raga, psychoactive drugs."

Whilst thousands of hitherto 'unlikely' musical hybridizations are commonplace now in the age of being able to research and download sounds from anywhere and anywhen, equal temperament tuning still very much dominates popular culture in the West. Hassell's early projects with Terry Riley and La Monte Young were both doors to vast realms of alternative tuning systems that one could argue remain relatively neglected by the majority of modern composers.

"Of course my playing with La Monte Young in New York was a real baptism in the harmonic series. The oscillator was tuned to 60 cycles (USA standard, he tuned to 50 in Europe!) in order to avoid any unwanted frequencies. There was also a hashish milk shake in the picture and in these performances there was a crystalline world of overtones (the voices and instruments attempting an ultimate tune-up of natural harmonics) that I had never experienced. I later (1969) did a piece - Solid State - that was a growth out of that experience with a stack of eight perfect (2:3) fifths creating a dense harmonic block which was time-sculpted with voltage-controlled filters. Maybe to be released on Warp. Flash forward to recent times. Not into purity, I often tune harmonizer pitches in natural intervals but on keyboard for example you get a hybrid. And - look at hip-hop with all those samples tuned weirdly to get rhythm synch. That's opened ears to a plethora of exotic tunings."

An expanded version of Hassell's 1990 album City: Works Of Fiction has recently been released on Warp as an expanded edition with two bonus discs. I got to know this new release whilst re-reading JG Ballard's The Drowned World and found it the perfect musical companion to the vivid imagery in the text. The lands that Hassell and Ballard detail are both from an imagined future however many weeks, months or years around the corner. On Hassell's collaborative album with Farafina (1988's Flash Of The Spirit) is a piece entitled 'Tales of the Near Future', an obvious nod to Ballard's 'Myths Of The Near Future'.

The original album is, for me, the least interesting because it is atypical of Hassell. City sounds resolutely urban (hence the title!) and over-reliant on then-contemporary technology that paradoxically allows the material – particularly the percussion - to sound a little dated. The sonic atmospheres here are also often too specific, the places they evoke too limited. When one hears the sound of a drum machine there's less room for the imagination of the listener to set to work constructing elaborate imagery. That's just my opinion – others are bound to disagree and preferCity to the wide open, mysterious, beautifully vague landscapes suggested by the majority of his work.

What for this reviewer are far more enjoyable are the many gems on the two bonus discs. The second disc is entitled /Living City and is a live set from New York in 1989, live-mixed by Brian Eno. The finale is 'Nightsky', 18 minutes of shimmering drones and tropical insect accompaniment. Things reach such an ecstatic climax that you could imagine the performers levitating metres above the stage. Like much of Hassell's work, it's music for a magic carpet ride.

"I carefully edited the three nights of performances in NYC into one show so it's a sort of idealized concert but still live. I'm irritated by reviewers who think that Brian had anything to do with all the natural sounds except for a cross-fade from the Rainforest environment in the beginning. These sounds were part of my sonic palette in those days."

Psychogeography is the title of the third disc, and it's a collection of remixes of Hassell's work plus unreleased recordings that simply didn't find their way onto an official release at the time. The remixes certainly demonstrate how Hassell's ideas have been hugely influential on DJs and experimental composers of all genres. However, they sit uneasily next to Hassell's own pieces which, on Psychogeography, are frequently dazzling.

'Favela' is atypical Hassell in that it is funk-blues-rock, but what an album could be made of this unusual coupling of empty American South bar-room groove with Hassell's otherworldly snakecharmer melodies superimposed on this backdrop. It's as if Hassell's regular group of collaborators caught the wrong bus and he simply enlisted the help of a few heavy drinking guitar-wielding audience members for an improvised jam session instead. Other, more familiar sonic territories are explored on pieces such as 'Aerial' as synths bubble and drone whilst Hassell's treated trumpet swoops and soars across the canvas, sculpting curves over the evening sky.

Hassell's work spans six decades. I wondered what his secret to longevity was, not just as a musician with a career but as a creative person in general. He replied in reference to The North And South Of You, that book I and many other fans are patiently waiting for. There's a line from the book that asks you to ask yourself:

"What is it that I really like? Following that is a long process of self-excavation from being buried by what you've been told you should like."

City Works Of Fiction is out now. Listen to Acting The Rubber Pig Redux by Daniel Patrick Quinn here

Ambient fans will know Kenny Wheeler from his ECM releases and 4 albums with David Sylvian:


Jazz trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler, who lived in UK since 1952, has died

Kenny Wheeler
Kenny Wheeler Photo: Rex Features
Martin Chilton
By Martin Chilton, Culture Editor online
10:27AM BST 19 Sep 2014

Kenny Wheeler, the distinguised Canadian-born trumpeter, has died at the age of 84.
Wheeler is considered one of the modern greats of British jazz and he had a dedicated following.
Wheeler's ECM albums of the Seventies – recorded with Norma Winstone and John Taylor – remain a touchstone of quiet and unflamboyant ensemble playing. Wheeler, also a flugelhorn player, was a fine composer, as he showed in works such as Jigsaw, with its clever harmonic patterns.
He was born on January 14 1930 in Toronto but had been based in the UK since 1952. His father was a semi-professional trombonist, who encouraged his son to learn the cornet. He studied briefly at music college before leaving for Britain to avoid being drafted for the Korean War. Once here, he worked with West Indian Carl Barriteau, with saxophonist Tommy Whittle and eventually, from 1959, with John Dankworth. He was active in many British jazz bands of the Sixties, including with groups led by Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott.
For many jazz fans, though, Wheeler's artistic highpoint came in the Nineties, with excellent albums including Music for Large and Small Ensemble and Kayak. In 1997 he won critical acclaim for Angel Song, a quartet album featuring Bill Frisell, Dave Holland and Lee Konitz.
Wheeler was a thoughtful man, saying once: "I’ve always liked losers, and I think a lot of very talented jazz musicians have a streak of it, that thing of being an artist with dreams, but not really knowing how to make your way in life, like Charlie Parker or Chet Baker."

In recent years, he became the founding patron of the Junior Jazz programme at the Royal Academy of Music and was the subject of a year-long exhibition by the Academy Museum. He celebrated his 80th birthday with a concert in 2010. Wheeler died on September 18 2014 after a short period of frail health at a nursing home in London.

Everything and Nothing / Robots and Donuts - the art of Eric Joyner
« on: September 19, 2014, 06:11:04 AM »
Many people know I have this crazy thing for robots - especially the iconic older tin toy robot "look".  While I don't own any classic tin toys... (and probably won't as they're crazy expensive even for many of the reproductions...) - I love the artwork and images of them.   Hey, I said I was crazy. 

So... I'd like to point out the wonderful artwork of Eric Joyner.  Who combines classic tin toy robots and ...  donuts.  And has been for quite some time now.  These are gorgeous paintings (not digital... actual paint here folks... :) 

Below are just a few of my favorites... there are so many more in his galleries.  Know of other "robot" artists?  (paint, pencil, or digital!) - let me know!

Reposting from my label site:

We are very proud to present Steve Brand’s newest release, The Space Between.  Even better?  Rusty at SomaFM is going to premiere the entire album at 8pm Eastern on Drone Zone!   – AND – We’ll all be in chat for a listening party!  Join us, won’t you?!?!



Times throughout the world:

Oct 3:
2:00 pm – Honolulu
5:00 pm – San Francisco
8:00 pm – New York
9:00 pm – Rio de Janeiro

Oct 4:
1:00 am – London
2:00 am – Berlin
3:00 am – Helsinki
4:00 am – Moscow
5:30 am – Mumbai
8:00 am – Perth
9:00 am – Tokyo
10:00 am – Melbourne
Noon – Auckland

S1gns of L1fe just posted this over on rM:

I know there are Robert Davies fans over here... enjoy!

Forum Member Projects News and Promotion / Your music?
« on: August 05, 2014, 07:37:49 AM »
I just found myself looking at some threads from artists here and wondering where there music is.  No links in signature or on their profile. Crossing_the_treshhold is the person I was wanting to click 'play' on.  Some amazing gear flowing into that studio - and I want to hear what's coming out. 

So - where is your music - "your music" in the global everyone here sense?  List it below - and hey - add a link on your profile, too!   



Anguaji - Trigger, Happy { the demos }

Read the info about the fact this is a demo.  First track is very "beaty" - the rest chill out quite a bit.  I'm loving this - 4th listen.

Pinklogik - Syn-Metry

Here's what I tweeted after my first listen this morning:  "Water color smeared textural ambient - different from her usual beaty awesomeness."

Lykanthea x Savage Sister - Sundrowned

My first listen tweet:  "ethereal floating ambient vocal lilting clouds"

Also check out Lykanthea's first track off her debut:  Aphonia. 


SomaFM + Relaxed Machinery + DataObscura Present
a night of ambient album premieres Friday July 18th on SomaFM Drone Zone.

Join our event:



Chris Russell - Illuminoid - new on Relaxed Machinery
Robert Scott Davies - What The Moon Reveals - new on DataObscura

Everything and Nothing / Pete / Igneous Flame photography
« on: July 09, 2014, 06:37:33 AM »
Hey - I don't often cross post over here - but I know a lot of Igneous Flame fans around...  head over to today - and click "THE DARKROOM" image at top... that will open a gallery of a ton of photos Pete has posted for us over at rM.

I think you'll enjoy them - you don't have to be a member to see them.


Forum Member Projects News and Promotion / Relaxed Machinery News
« on: January 13, 2014, 09:10:26 AM »
I'm working on our 2nd compilation to be released this month.  It's called "reBOOT" and celebrates our 4th year as a label.  Artists include:

* Broken Harbour
* Zero Ohms
* Ran Kirlian
* Loren Nerell
* Steve Brand
* Frore
* Chris Russell
* me... John Koch-Northrup
* arbee (Mathieu Lamontagne)
* Specta Ciera (Devin Underwood)
* Robert Scott Thompson
* Chronotope Project
* Ishq - in collab with Steve Brand
* Roy Mattson - in collab with Steve Brand
* eyes cast down - in collab with Chris Russell
* apne sinn

More details as they get ironed out. 

A great year coming for us...   we have lined up Loren Nerell and Andrew Lahiff for solo releases.  Several other artists in the works!  Thanks for all of your support over the years!


Other Ambient (and related) Music / 1st Annual Relaxed Machinery Awards
« on: November 26, 2013, 09:11:57 AM »
Hello, Hypnos!  I know I know I know - I've been absent a while.  I will make every effort to stop back in and post a bit more.  The community over at Relaxed Machinery has decided to do an awards thing - celebrating music, photography, poetry, podcasts, reviewers, etc...  YOU are welcome to participate whether a member at rM or not - I'd love to see us get a wide range of people from all over the ambient landscape and not just rM.  I will be highlighting that I asked for input from Hypnos, Ambient Online, Electro-Music and other communities to try and get as wide of participation as possible.   

What I posted at rM is below.  Thank you very much!


The awards are now open for nominations through the end of this year.  You can nominate as many artists, albums, photos, poems, etc... as you want... but please only nominate the same artist for the same thing once.

This is fully inclusive to everyone in the world. If you love an artist who doesn't post here - nominate them! If you have a favorite photographer who doesn't post here - nominate them!  Maybe, just maybe, we'll encourage some new people to join in our wonderful creative community!  And, of course, if your favorites are "pro" or "amateur", "commercial" or "creative commons" or "free" - it doesn't matter. 

What matters is who YOU think deserves to win.

The form is here:

You do not have to fill in every field.   And once you "submit" the form at the bottom - there's a link to start it over again to nominate another person, album, etc...

Once the nominations are closed - I'll compile a short list from each category and everyone will vote in January for the winners!

The January voting will also include some open ended questions for you to share what moved you in 2013... whether an artist or an event or whatever.


Earth Mantra will start releasing again in 2013!
Darrell Burgan founded Earth Mantra and has created an amazing label with nearly 200 releases over the years. He's reached a point where wants to step back from the label and instead of letting it go silent... he's allowing us to continue on. Geoff Small (aka εpne sinn) will be running the label with the help of Steve Brand and me - and I'm sure a little help from Joel (Crystal Dreams) who helps us now with the Relaxed Machinery website.  The same team behind Relaxed Machinery is now running Earth Mantra.

We do not plan to change Earth Mantra. 

It's an awesome netlabel releasing Creative Commons music and we fully support that.  Darrell leaves some very large shoes to follow - and we hope to honor his legacy with future releases on Earth Mantra.
This excites me so much - and it ties in with our community 3rd anniversary... as Darrell was the first person to decide this community was the right fit to be the official community for StillStream (which he owned at the time) and his Earth Mantra label.

John, Geoff, and Steve.


We've come to a mutual decision to stop doing cdr's through Hypnos.  Not because there's anything bad here - no bad blood...  it's just time to free up the wonderful people at Hypnos to do other stuff.    Relaxed Machinery cdr's are sold in onesy - twosy amounts which means Mike and Lena can't make them to stock and just pull them when you order... they have to actually make each cdr release as it's sold! 

This has been a fantastic relationship since January 2010!  I am personally very grateful to Mike and Lena - they have been the absolute best to work with.

I will miss this. 

In the future...  some Relaxed Machinery releases will be CDR (some are pondering CD) - and some will be download only.   It is truly up to the artist on how far they want to go with their release.    (In fact - I plan a download only release followed by a CDR release - so I'll be mixing it up myself personally...)  Remember that Relaxed Machinery is both a label and an artist collective... we "self release... together" - so the artist pays for their release costs, and gets 100% of their sales.

Until the end of October you can still purchase the Relaxed Machinery catalog at Hypnos on CDR.   I doubt many of the older titles will see CDR release - so if you've been on the fence about purchasing them...  NOW IS THE TIME.

Thank you again to Mike and Lena...  I've been on the forum with Mike literally since he created it over a decade ago...  I worked with him during my AtmoWorks days - and now through Relaxed Machinery.   Lena is a treasure.   Thank you so much both of you!

John Koch-Northrup
owner / artist
Relaxed Machinery - organic .: ambient :. techno


Please read the announcement here with the list of albums and formatting...

Or here's the handy dandy text version!

I'm very proud to announce that Tange will be featuring our most recent four Relaxed Machinery albums.  These nights on StillStream are always a blast - we get a lot of people in the StillStream chat room and have a good time talking about the music playing and ambient music in general.   You'll be hearing these albums played through in their entirety!
Please join us!

----> Shane Morris / Disturbed Earth – Suburban Catacombs
----> Steve Brand – Catalyst
----> Chris Russell - Bloom
----> Peter James – Landfall

original post at

all kinetoscope five blog posts:

kinetoscope five :: 015 :: four brilliant piano ambient collaborations

I love piano, I love ambient, I love drones, I love... well so much music it's silly.  But piano is my first love. I've been playing since I was 5. It's a part of me both physically when I play - it's like an extension of my body, and for lack of a better word... "spiritually". Piano is in my soul.

Here are four piano ambient albums - all collaborations that I've played a ton of times each... that all move me in different ways.  They share a few similarities... they all make use of sparse melodic piano lines - leaving plenty of space for the piano to linger.  Plenty of space for the background and the music surrounding and interacting with the piano to come forth. There's breath here, there's life.

James Johnson & Robert Scott Thompson - Forgotten Places

This is elegant ambient defined. Beautiful piano, beautiful backgrounds, beautiful spaces between the notes, a completely enjoyable, dare I say... beautiful experience. I've listened to this album many times since I got this, sheesh, a decade ago? Beautiful. I know I said "beautiful" too many times... I'm a musician, not a reviewer!

Bruno Sanfilippo & Matthias Grassow - CROMO piano and drones

Here again - the space is the key... Bruno's piano is never overbearing... plenty of room for everything to breathe. He takes his time. Matthias' drones are exquisite creating the perfect backdrop for the piano.

Harold Budd & Brian Eno - The Pearl

No piano / ambient album list would be complete with this piece of utter perfection.  Classic, amazing. It deserves to be on all those "best of" lists I see it on.  I love it. I love Plateaux of Mirror as well.

Adam Williams & Leonardo Rosado - Take This Longing

Adam playing piano here - and once again - fulfilling my desire for piano melody with plenty of space, patience, purposefulness.  On the other hand, Leonardo Rosado doesn't simply drift along in the background here, his processing and glitchery fades in and out and the two musicians intertwine and have a musical conversation.
image:  Heidi took this shot of me playing piano -

additional comment:  I'm listening to Max Richter's - The Blue Notebooks - and the piano in that is just jaw dropping amazing. It's not purely a piano album (although there is lots of piano) - but wow - if you've not heard this you are missing out.

Everything and Nothing / kinetoscope five blog... first 10 entries
« on: July 09, 2012, 05:50:57 AM »
I'm having a lot of fun writing these blogs and the topics vary quite a bit.  Here's a link to all 10 and the titles:

kinetoscope five :: 010 :: brief thoughts on brilliant albums - two
kinetoscope five :: 009 :: a moment transfixed
kinetoscope five :: 008 :: blank canvas
kinetoscope five :: 007 :: raising the water level
kinetoscope five :: 006 :: new relaxed machinery artists
kinetoscope five :: 005 :: brief thoughts on brilliant albums - one
kinetoscope five :: 004 :: mac or pc + recording audio
kinetoscope five :: 003 :: what is success?
kinetoscope five :: 002 :: there is no one way, it's your path
kinetoscope five :: 001 :: musings on music today

Independent Music Reviews / brief thoughts on brilliant albums - two
« on: July 09, 2012, 05:18:51 AM »
Original post on rM.ning with album covers:

Here are another five albums I find intriguing, exceptional, favorites, or I find just so interesting I want to share some thoughts on them. 

Radian - Juxtaposition

This is not an ambient album. Although I think it has tendencies towards ambient and maybe idm. It's three guys based out of Vienna - a live drummer (always better than the dead ones...) - a live bass player (verdict is out on whether dead or live is better... hahahahahha - sorry... I'm a bass player.) and a synth / computer guy.  They focus on sparse songs - and a lot of controlled feedback.  The feedback is a musical tool. This isn't knock you against the wall torture your ears feedback, this is controlled musical perfection feedback. With live drums and live bass... and hints of processing and synth. I bought this on a whim at a used cd store. The kind of store that likes to write a little note on each cd and explaing who the band is and 'buy if you like band a or b' type of store. You know - those stores that barely exist anymore...  I loved it.  I still do years later. Label: Thrill Jockey

Orbital - In Sides

In Sides is still my favorite from them although I like a ton of their other albums. The album is worth the price of admission for The Box alone. (and if anyone has the Box E.P. - send me a note - I've never been able find it after passing it up in the mid-90's in Chicago... I'm an idiot.)   This album marks kind of a turning point in their career for me - or at least in my listening to it.. where before this album - there's almost nothing bad - and the sounds are big and well produced. After this album the sounds start to get too "digital" for me. I don't know - it's like the oomph got yanked from their songs. There were fewer and fewer amazing albums and just a handful of spectacular tracks per album - as opposed to entire albums I'd love to listen to cover to cover. I think In Sides was on FFRR - but I'm going on distant memory on that and don't feel like googling it.  This is not a hard album to find anyway... ;-)  p.s.  No - this isn't ambient. Electronic, lots of beats.

Brian Eno - On Land

I didn't come around to Brian Eno until long, long after my entry into loving ambient music (I actually got into ambient via background soundtrack music and David Sylvian - but didn't know it was called "ambient" until the 90's.)  So in the 2000's I bought a bunch of Eno's music... and On Land is pretty much the pinnacle for me as an entire album of just Eno.  (Other tracks move me tremendously - An Ending, Ascent - one of the tracks on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts - the entire The Pearl album with Budd.)  I backed my way into Eno - I listened and loved his followers before I got into the man himself.  On Land though - that is one spectacular highly recommended album.

Basic Channel

Early to mid-90's a series of 12" singles were released under the label name Basic Channel. I didn't discover them until I'd already discovered Chain Reaction label releases - my entry point was Monolake - Hongkong - still among my favorite albums...  but it wasn't long before I started tracking down anything from these labels and artists. At first I could only get the BC-CD - and dream about plunking down the money to buy reissues of the vinyl from Hard Wax in Berlin... but then they finally released them in file form - and I bought them all in one go.  They are brilliant if you love minimal techno dub. Some day - I will spring for the vinyl.

David Bowie - Low

Bowie did a trio of albums with Brian Eno producing - and those three albums are all exceptional (Station to Station and Heroes are the other two).  Low has two sides to it - literally and musically - the first side is pop songs, quirky, different, great pop songs. Side two is more of a long form journey - almost "ambient".  The reissue of Low in the early 90's included a song, "All Saints" which sounded like Nine Inch Nails would 15+ years later... brilliant track - throbbing electronic nearly "industrial".   Bowie was a genius at getting the right musicians together and creating a vision and then shedding that totally and changing gears.

Thanks again for reading!


This is another post from my ongoing series...  I thought this concept 'fits' here just as much as it does over at the Relaxed Machinery community.  Note - a better formatted version of this is here:

We have a very strong core principle at the Relaxed Machinery label ("rM") - that every mention of one of our artists or albums raises the water for all of us.  All of our boats float a little higher - are more noticeable.  That's pretty much the whole concept of rM... "we self release... together".  If we self released by ourselves... there are no other boats around us (well, maybe a couple) - but joining together as a label. Now there's a better chance that we all get more exposure. Each airplay, each review, each podcast, each status message saying someone is "now playing" one of our albums... that's a win for everyone on the label.

Of course, that means that we have to have many great artists and many great albums - or people lose trust in us.  We try hard to win your trust and to keep it.

So, I was just thinking how that whole idea actually applies to this whole community (which I tend to abbreviate as "rM.ning" to keep the label and the community straight). We as a community post our new releases, our new tracks, blogs about what we're working on, or thoughts on playing live, or questions about gear or philosophy. The more people posting, the more interesting and interactive the site is... the more readers start stopping by (whether they join or not)- and the more exposure everyone gets.

We're raising the water level for the entire rM.ning community. The more interesting this place is - the more likely new listeners, readers, photo lovers, etc... are going to come around and keep coming back. All of our boats rise in visibility.

I figure most people join here are:

a) creative in one or many fields
b) deeply loves the music, photography, poetry, or art posted here
c) has something they want people to see, download, or buy
d) enjoys talking with people with similar likes
e) all of the above

Post a blog! Whether it's super short, or super long... or in many parts... post.  No one's judging you on your english or grammar... it's your ideas that matter.


image:  lily pads and koi in my ex-neighbors pond -

Independent Music Reviews / brief thoughts on brilliant albums - one
« on: July 02, 2012, 05:15:18 AM »
Original post with better formatting:

There are albums I find just utterly and completely brilliant. Here's five.

Saul Stokes - Zo Pilots

Why do I keep coming back to this album? It moves me in a way I find hard to describe. It's long, long been a favorite of mine. This is back when Saul was essentially recording his music live with his massive home made modular equipment - no multi-tracking. There's a liveness to this... it's so "organic"... it lives and breathes and moves. His special controller that looks a bit like a flute plays a prominent role on this album - and I think that is something special about it too.  Outfolding is nearly as good to me... it's almost like part 2 of Zo Pilots.  Saul is still brilliant, but, of course, he's changed and evolved and the sound is different. I can easily recommend any of his albums, but this one has stuck with me for some reason - maybe because it's the first one I heard of his. Released on Hypnos

Vidna Obmana (Dirk Serries) - Surreal Sanctuary

The first half of Surreal Sanctuary is jaw dropping, emotionally charged, moving music. In fact - I'm not the only one that thinks this... Lamentation was used in a broadcast commemerating 9/11 on Belgian radio. I forget the whole story - but if I had to pick a track that feels like loss and fit such a horrible event with such touching music... that track would be it.  I've listened to those first 4 or 5 tracks so many times.  Now, I love the 2nd half of the album - but for sheer utter and complete perfection... that first half.  Wow.   Also released on Hypnos.

Max Corbacho - Ars Lucis

Ars Lucis is one of those albums that I listen to all the way through and just hit repeat and listen again.  I hear so much depth and heartfelt writing in these. Max is frankly, someone who should be getting more attention than he currently does. Breathstream is another album that is similar to Ars Lucis and if you're planning to get one, just get both... :-)   Released on ad21music.

Ishq - Orchid

I could point to any of Ishq's albums - or Elve which is another artist name used by Matt Hillier and his wife. Orchid is the first one I heard and the one that pulled me in and never let me go. Whether it's gentle flowing beats and ambient soundscapes... or if the beats are stripped away.  Ishq is perfection.  Most of the albums are released on Matt's own Virtual World label - Orchid was released on Interchill.

H.U.V.A. Network - Ephemeris

Humorously I wanted to start out with "I could point to any of Ultimae's albums" and then realized it's exactly what I wrote for Ishq... However, it's true!  Ultimae is the ultimate in ambient trance soundscape with flowing beats label. I seem to be listening to H.U.V.A. Network - Ephemeris the most.  But I play Carbon Based Lifeforms, and Aes Dana, and Solar Fields so often... wow.  Wonderful, wonderful label! 

I purposely did not mention any albums released on my label, Relaxed Machinery.  Trust me, I listen to those a ton!


Original post (with much better formatting!) at:

I'm really excited to mention a few new artists planning releases on Relaxed Machinery. Some you may know, some you may not.  I'm betting you know all of these guys, though.  :-)

+ Broken Harbour (Blake Gibson)
+ James Johnson
+ Andrew Lahiff
+ Robert Scott Thompson

When you add these four to our currently releasing roster of:

+ εpne sinn (Geoff Small)
+ Steve Brand
+ Peter James
+ Chris Russell
+ Zero Ohms (Richard Roberts)
+ and me!

...and the wonderful artists who've released in the past (and may yet again in the future) - WOW!  How lucky am I to work with these people?  Seriously, we've had top notch talent on Relaxed Machinery so far and so much great music in various stages for future release.

+ Broken Harbour (Blake Gibson)

John Shanahan wrote about Blake in 2011:  "Mix an unnatural obsession with 2001: A Space Odyssey and a need to communicate without resorting to words and you find yourself in the aural spaces created by Broken Harbour. Canadian musician Blake Gibson takes his sounds from sources as diverse as worn-out cassette tapes, scratchy CDs, vast synthesizer constructs and mellotrons, then filters them through influences ranging from Debussy and Holst to vidnaObmana and Stars of the Lid. The outcome is a new sound unfettered by convention or expectation, interested only in the purity of expression. "It's not really a choice or a decision to create," Gibson says. "The music has to come through. You just have to be listening."
Here's a review of "Gramaphone Transmissions" by Richard Gurtler:

+ James Johnson

Click on the "audio" link on his site and right-click to save the mp3's of each album listed to your hard drive.  It's very much worth your time!  While you're there, click "visual" for his amazing photography.  James is an old friend of mine. I'm proud to be able to say this.

James plans for Relaxed Machinery to be his new 'home' for releasing his albums.

James is also the driving force behind Circling Crane, which I am very happy to say I am a part of.  Here's our "about":
About Circling Crane

Circling Crane specializes in world class, vividly composed, sonic environments, background ambience & thematics. Our royalty free, extended length materials, feature high definition field recordings, electro-acoustic soundscapes, found sound collage & analog modular processing. From contact mics, boundary arrays & hydrophones, to vintage sampler processing, boutique pre-amps & analog tape, no recording process is considered taboo. Circling Crane provides highly original eclectic products for film, video, gaming, post production & sound design.

And James' credits are extensive:


Sonic Foundry • Madison Media Software • Sony Creative Software • NPR • The CW Network • Fox Searchlight Pictures • Nike • Chanel • Australian Broadcasting Corporation • Sample Magic • Sounds to Sample • Pigorsh Media Design Inc. • ESPN Network • NBC Network • American Public Media • Lions Gate Entertainment • • AAS – Applied Acoustics Systems • Chiller TV

+ Andrew Lahiff

Another artists I am so thrilled to be working with! Andrew has some of the best ambient albums out there... in fact - you can download four of them free from his website and hear for yourself!  Andrew is prolific, and never wavers on creativity, attention to detail, depth, and extremely high quality releases.

+ Robert Scott Thompson

I sound like a broken record...  another artist I am so *thrilled* to be working with!

Here's a bit of his bio from

The term musical alchemist best describes modern music composer Robert Scott Thompson. Combining his mastery of the electroacoustic, contemporary instrumental, and avant-garde genres into a swirling cohesive whole, he is an important pioneer on music's new frontier. Hailed as one of the most important composers working in electroacoustic, acousmatic and classical ambient music today, he has produced and published seminal work since 1976.
Influences as diverse as Chopin and Satie, Stockhausen, Varθse and Cage, and Bowie and Eno can be heard in Robert's music. Robert's first love is the electronic music synthesizer, but he is also an expressive vocalist, instrumentalist, video artist, computer musician, sound designer and film composer.
Thompson is a composer of both instrumental and electroacoustic music and is currently Professor of Music Composition at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He earned the B.Mus. degree from the University of Oregon and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). His primary teachers include Bernard Rands, Roger Reynolds, Joji Yuasa, and F. Richard Moore.
Ok - I'll quit gushing... but really, can you blame me???!!!
image:  taken by me on the Murray-Baker Bridge in Peoria, IL:

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