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Topics - jkn

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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:

+ ĺpne 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, Varčse 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:

I posted this on the rM community - reposting here.  Comment there or here - fine with me!  (I have already responded to a question over there so you might want to pop over there for a sec...)

I thought I'd relaunch my 'kinetoscope' series of blogs and post one now and then.   This blog is primarily about music, either current, future, or past experiences.

Interesting times with music and the internet lately. Of course, everyone had noticed this... but the barrier to release is pretty much zero now. You don't have to go through 'gatekeeper' labels to get your music out there. Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Youtube, Vimeo, CD Baby, Tunecore, Netlabels, and all provide many easy outlets, either free, freemium, or cost based models.

The bar is so many rungs lower, we really couldn't have a limbo party.

I think this is great. Technology and people have provided the ideas to new distribution models. Listeners have shifted in droves to listening on ipods and now the shift to the cloud is in massive swing.

The only downside, and it's a small downside compared to the ability for anyone with the drive to go do it to make it happen... is there is no longer a clear path to getting heard by a lot of people.  There are so many paths up the mountain, and so many people making that climb - that it's easy to get lost in the avalanche of artists and releases every day.

I think that's where labels come in to play now... a label can be the tastemaker, gate keeper, curator, whatever word you want to use.  You pretty much know that a release on my label, Relaxed Machinery, is going to be ambient in one of ambient's many forms.  You know Lotuspike, Hypnos, DataObscura, AD21, Groove, Timeroom, Feedback Loop, Earth Mantra, etc. etc. etc...   they've created identies.  By working with certain artist, having a vision...

Podcasts and reviewers and bloggers can all serve that same purpose... being curator, tastemaker, gate keeper... if you find someone's who's opinions you trust - they can be go to sources for who next to listen to.  It's interesting how wonderful this world of music truly is now.

Before the internet... I was lucky to find 2 or 3 people locally who knew half the artists I love.  Now you're all at my fingertips here on Relaxed Machinery Community - or the Hypnos Forum - or whereever...

Where are we heading... we have to be heading to better file quality. FLAC solves this - but it's not available on ipods which are the single largest portable player - and FLAC through the cloud I doubt is ready for primetime.  I love to buy FLAC's because now I have a source file as good as CD - literally bit by bit as good as CD - and I can convert it to my ipod for easy listening at work - but hear the full audio spectrum at home in my studio.

Ok that's enough musing for today.

I look forward to your comments and questions - and thank you for indulging me!

John K-N
owner / artist
Relaxed Machinery - organic .: ambient
image:  I took at Springdale Cemetery, Peoria, IL, USA - full image:

Marketplace / vinyl 12" singles - tossing this out there...
« on: February 17, 2012, 06:58:55 AM »
Honestly - don't know that I really *want* to sell these - just pondering it. 

Essentially - I have almost every 12" single from several bands from the 80's - many limited editions, and some 7".   I'd have to check to make sure they are 100% complete - but let's say ... MOSTLY complete.

The Smiths - I'm fairly sure all of them, bought off of an avid collector and high school friend of mine - he treated his vinyl like they were treasures.
Erasure - bought from same guy

I also have just about every Depeche Mode, but I bought those and won't sell them.   As well as a lot of Cabaret Voltaire, Japan, Sylvian, and Blancmange.

I've always kept my vinyl stored properly and kept in plastic sleeve covers - most are very good or better condition.   I was a person that was ultra careful to all my vinyl.

Except when I loaned a Cocteau Twins album to a friend and he left it on his car dashboard... my fault for loaning i out... sheesh.

Again - not sure I can really part with them - just sort of opening up the conversation a bit.

Wow - so many wonderful things happening on the Relaxed Machinery label right now!

Today we celebrate our newest release - Peter James - Memento - an album that will appeal to everyone that loves minimal ambient and field recordings.  To me it almost has a meditative quality to it.  It's excellent!

Tonight Tange (our good friend, Gordie!) will host 4 solid hours of music from Relaxed Machinery albums.  Want to see what's being played?   Joel Sutton - our new webmaster/guru/genius/awesome guy - has put together a wonderful page for you... just go to - and click the link!

Speaking of the website - check out the new and improved look of !  Joel has sunk a ton of time into it, Steve Brand has been working on the new look and feel, and I've done my bits and pieces in there as well.  Truly a team effort.

Thank you!

Independent Music Reviews / The Circular Ruins - We Leave Everything Behind
« on: November 01, 2011, 06:08:22 AM »
np:  The Circular Ruins - We Leave Everything Behind

I've known APK / The Circular Ruins (also Lammergeyer and Nunc Stans) since the old days - which means I've known him just over a decade now.  He's an excellent musician, and an excellent label owner.  This album is one of the best I've heard from him.  A beautiful blend of all the various directions he's gone over the years with his music.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / iPad Animoog 99 cents intro / $30 regular
« on: October 17, 2011, 07:09:27 AM »
Just in case you haven't seen this already - the new Moog Animoog iPad app is 99 cents introductory - regular price is planned to be $30.   Worth looking into.   The app was released today.

I joined a new startup called "" - which was launched by former Ning CEO Gina Bianchini. It's all about "experiences" - like seeing the major sites in a city, or creating something.  I thought I'd play with it a bit and created this based on my earlier "running a label 101" posts.

Link is below - sign up is free to do an experience... they are in limited beta right now.


Arrested Development movie (and now a tv season leading up to it...) is on "again".   I liked this "grain of salt" take on the news from NPR:

I would love to see this happen - and I hope it does.   I had no idea Michael Cera was a holdout earlier until reading this...   Anyway - grain of salt because this has been going to happen literally since the last episode.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Loscil - coast/ range/ arc
« on: September 29, 2011, 06:08:38 AM »

[note - I have no attachment to Glacial Movements or Scott Morgan]

Now playing:   Loscil - coast/ range/ arc

I dearly love this album.  It's paced beautifully, taking it's time.  It's released on the Glacial Movements label and the music fits the label name perfectly.  Well crafted ambient, electronic, drone, slow melodies, gentle, beautiful, well placed harmonies and counter melodies.   Extremely well done.
Here's what Glacial Movements has to say about it:
Loscil is a recording project of the Canadian composer Scott Morgan. His career in the ambient music genre began in 1999 with the debut self-produced work A New Demonstration of Thermodynamic Tendencies which drew the attention of American label Kranky. Working primarily with Kranky and Ghostly International, loscil has released some wonderful works which led him to be defined by worldwide media as one of the most authoritative composers of electronic music of our times. One of loscil’s main features is to write environmental weavings which revolve around a well-defined subject. For example, the subject of thermodynamic principles with Triple Point or the subaquatic work Submers, where every composition takes its name from that of a historic submarine. 

This aspect of the Canadian artist perfectly merges with the Glacial Movements theme and philosophy; that of glacial and isolationist ambient music.

In fact, coast/range/arc is centered around the coastal mountains of the Pacific Northwest, studded with glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons and epic views. The majestic ranges form a striking mountain landscape. These tracks explore the timelessness of mountainous elevations; oxygen deprived and surrounded by boundless skies. Mountains are hardly static - in fact they are dynamic on a time scale beyond the human experience.  They grow, buckle, twist, erupt and erode at an epic pace. The Coast Range Arc is filled with such mountains and valleys, their dynamics nearly imperceptible. They evoke awe and a connection to an imperceptible past. They are constantly changing, yet represent such a seemingly stoic fixture in our relatively short lives.


1 black tusk (10:02)
2 fromme (07:33)
3 stave peak (06:38)
4 névé (08:05)
5 brohm ridge (11:24)
6 goat mountain (10:31)

All music composed and produced by Scott Morgan (SOCAN), 2010-2011


Cover Photo: Bjarne Riesto
Art Direction/Photo Manipulation/Layout: Keep Adding

A Glacial Movements Records release, April 2011. All rights reserved

Computers, Internet and Technology / Facebook - pondering the unthinkable
« on: September 29, 2011, 05:39:54 AM »
I told my wife this morning I was thinking of deleting my facebook account. 

Of course - I know facebook will never delete my information - but at least I won't be adding to it.

It's hard to detach from facebook though - since my family is on there.   And let's face it - it's one of the only ways I ever find out what my nieces and nephews are up to and the occasional tidbit from my more far flung family. 

Not a god of course, but perhaps a hemi-demi-semi-god?   

Ok - I know you're going, but wait!  what's a hemi-demi-semi-god?   

Well let's review our music theory...  in the chart below you can see that a hemi-demi-semi-quaver is a 64th note.   So... that would make Brian Eno 64th of a god.    I think that's fairly fair to say, don't you? 

NOTE:  click image for full size!

Jokes, Nonsense and Amusing Links / Ambient Music is Not Dead
« on: September 27, 2011, 06:50:28 AM »
Found this on flickr and got a kick out of it...

Ambient Music is Not Dead by Ronchhon, on Flickr


by Caitlin Hardee - Sept 8, 2011

In Whitman’s vibrant liberal arts setting, it’s common to find students who are equally devoted to creative pursuits and the great outdoors. This August, The Pioneer spoke with a musician who embodies this philosophy—Dean de Benedictis, son of 10-time Emmy Award nominee Dick DeBenedictis. Dean de Benedictis is known for pioneering a form of a cappella ambient music that he refers to as Acambient. He is head of the electronic music label Fateless Records. His latest project—to record his music on the summits of the Cascades.

“I got into the outdoors a long time ago, but I only got into actual climbing because of this project,” said de Benedictis. “It’s been two years so far, and it looks like it’s going to go on a third. The Cascades are a serious force to be reckoned with.”

De Benedictis clarified the source of his inspiration for such an undertaking.

“Actually, it started with a movie I saw, about this guy who, when the World Trade Center was built, he walked it on a tightrope. Man On Wire. It was inspired by that. I felt kind of reduced by that movie, like no artistic accomplishment I make will ever have some kind of tactile proof of being . . . death-defined? That guy actually took his artistic accomplishment to an extreme physical level. He did something that no one would ever dream of doing, or have the bravery to do. I thought to myself, if I could take this laptop to the top of a volcano, that has a panoramic view, it would be the ultimate atmosphere to be inspired by.”

De Benedictis elaborated on his recording method.

“For this particular project, I’m trying to utilize only my voice. It’s a series of looping techniques in the software. It’s almost a cross between choral music and space music. Many layers, many registers.”

Seeking an art defined by death has not been without frightening moments. De Benedictis related his most harrowing experience, on the slopes of Mount Adams.

“I try to climb solo anywhere where it’s safe enough. Adams I’ve done by myself, against the advice of many. My only threat, I feel, on Adams, is getting lost, which I’ve done already once, and almost lost my life doing it. I shouted for help, and those people who helped me said, ‘You shouldn’t be on here by yourself.’  That was the scariest moment.”

Asked if he was carrying a GPS device or cell phone, de Benedictis smiled ruefully. “No, I get pretty cocky about my ability to find my way back, and I pay for it often. I did have a compass, but I didn’t get my bearings, so it would have been useless. I went down the wrong slope and ended up on a completely different face of the mountain. I had to find my way back to the base of the mountain, and by then it was nighttime, so I started shouting for help. I’ve gotten lost, but not quite that badly, where I was fearing for my life on a mountainside.”

When his musical quest is completed, de Benedictis plans to release his material in a variety of formats.

“It’s gonna be a film. I’m going to start a film company for it, and thus a website for that film company, which will have all of the shorts that I’ve made so far. I’ll probably have the bigger films available for purchase online. The music will all be available, both through my website, and some of it through iTunes and CD Baby.”

Everything and Nothing / Happy Birthday - Bill Binkelman!
« on: August 18, 2011, 06:57:19 AM »
I just posted this over on rM - thought I'd share the love for Mr. Bill here as well!

I just posted a fairly lengthly summary post of activity in the rM community. New albums from Numina, Aarria, The Oxford Ambient Collective, Leonardo Rosado, and Peter James.

A lot of members posted tracks.

Several reviews... Jeff Pearce, Transcend With Time, and one of my new album, Temporal Arc.

Worth a quick skim!

Thank you to the many people who post here and on rM - I really appreciate it.

The front page celebrates the milestone:

and I posted a "thank you":

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