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Messages - chris23

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Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Digipack vs Jewel Cases
« on: August 15, 2013, 03:04:07 PM »
I used to favor jewel cases, but have gradually come to appreciate digipaks more. A nice digipak--with a matte finish--can really bring out the artwork in a way that a jewel case cannot. One of my favorites is the Mystic Chords and Sacred Spaces collection. Something about the 2xCD sized digipaks rocks my world.

There is a lot of variation in digipaks, however. I'm not a huge fan of the sun-worn, recycled cardboard look that has characterized some of the 12K releases of late. I also don't like the envelope-styled packaging, such as those that Kranky uses and some of the Projekt releases.

Hypnos News and Announcements / Re: Next stage in our summer sale.
« on: August 13, 2013, 05:31:37 PM »
I think you want my wife to kill me...

For those who were there: Did he fly in and out for his presentation? Or did he get to spend some time with the artists who were present? Maybe he's now the newest Robert Rich fan in London???

That's great!

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: August 09, 2013, 03:24:41 PM »
Nautic Depths - Elsewhere I
Lovely ambient done work by Tomas Weiss. Beautiful artwork to boot. 

Samples here:

At the risk of poking the hornet's nest here:

The term "ambient" is often used to reference music that is rooted in disparate traditions, using diverse kinds of instrumentation and techniques, and based on a non-uniform set of principles.

I think it would be impossible for someone like Prendergast to be familiar enough with all the niches to be able to speak with authority on all of them. He definitely seems to know his music history--and I learned a lot from listening to the video of his presentation. But I can hardly fault him for failing to cover every nook and cranny.

Nonetheless, I think Loren's question was a good one. I do consider it an omission that Prendergast didn't tip his hat to some of the ambient legends who were in his presence. Perhaps he's more familiar with this end of the genre now. My guess is that the ambient musicians that we often celebrate on the Hypnos forums (e.g., A Produce, Oophoi, Robert Rich) have a greater following in North America than they do in England. I could be wrong about that, however. Regardless, it seems quite reasonable to me that someone like Prendergast would be more familiar with and focused upon, say, club/DJ-driven ambient music rather than, for example, the desert-inspired soundscapes of Steve Roach.

I'm a bit reluctant to chime in because I know I have a tendency to conflate "what I've listened to recently and enjoyed" with "best of the year."

One of the "older" 2013 releases that I'm still listening to regularly and enjoying immensely is Martin Fuhs' Grauton. It definitely stands out as a unique album, at least against the background of some of the other ambient I've been enjoying. Samples:

I'm also still regularly playing Resonant Drifts's Full Circle. I think that came out in the tail weeks of 2012, but didn't arrive in my mailbox until early 2013. Samples:

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: August 06, 2013, 05:53:41 PM »
ASC - Time Heals All (Silent Season, 2CD)
I have to agree with drone on that this is an awesome release; I have no doubt that this will be one of my favorites of 2013. Each track appears to be organized around a brief sample that is looped repeatedly, with various other sounds (some based on samples, field recordings, and others synthesized) that are heavily processed and layered on top. The result is something that feels organic and ethereal at the same time.

It reminds me a bit, both in its structure and its effect, of some of Marsen Jules' early work, in particular, Yara and (kind of) Lazy Sunday Funerals. Most of the things I've heard by ASC and his various monikers are more beat driven, so this is a pleasant surprise. Samples here:

You suffer from moon dust allergies, no?

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: August 02, 2013, 02:51:59 PM »
I'm eagerly (desperately) awaiting the new ASC release; I managed to get an order in after the additional 50 copies were announced.

Being on a budget, I've recently been exploring some inexpensive/free digital releases. A lot of stuff out there is kind of meh, but here are a couple of things that have stood out and will likely appeal to other forum members who are not morally and aesthetically opposed to non-physical releases.  ;)

Arpa - Llaves
An ambient release from Miguel Isaza. This is rich with Colombian field recordings and soft drone work, mostly synths and occasional wind instruments. I think this will appeal to folks who like the organic side of Robert Rich and ISHQ.
Download free here:
Stream or order physical disc here:

Docetism - Askesis
A lot of dub ambient/techno tends to blur together for me; it is often difficult to pick out one artist's track from another. Docetism, while recording in this tradition, has a unique sound. I don't know how to explain it in words (maybe something on the boarder between dub and the more atmospheric stuff by Gas), but I strongly recommend it.
Stream/Download here:

Pleq / Hakobune - Sleepless
A relatively short track (about 20 minutes). Very subdued and drifting drone works. Despite the title, it is excellent sleepy time music.
Stream/Download here:

Forum Member Projects News and Promotion / Re: Forrest Fang news
« on: July 30, 2013, 03:12:53 PM »
Sam has added a nice promotion:  the first 100 copies of Wolf sold through Projekt will include a free copy of my 2011 "Unbound" release under the Sans Serif name.

I love a good deal! Order placed.  I'm a big fan of Gongland and Phantoms, but I haven't heard any of your other material--including the OOPs that Project is releasing. I'm looking forward to these!

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: NY The New Audio Geeks
« on: July 29, 2013, 01:48:24 PM »
I'm not sure if I envy those of you who have the ears to appreciate the distinctions in quality or whether I think you're cursed.  ;)

I enjoyed it. I'm not a musician, so I don't have any technical advice.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Remastering
« on: July 28, 2013, 04:43:35 PM »
Great explanations, Julio and Forrest. I appreciate it.

Returning to drone on's comment: I almost bought a remastered version of the original Stone Roses release on iTunes (my 7-year-old daughter is totally into it right now), but it didn't sound any better than my original vinyl copy. In fact, it almost sounded as if it were playing through a tin can.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Bandcamp
« on: July 28, 2013, 01:11:49 PM »
I don't think Altus or anyone else is suggesting that artists do not have the right to release their works in any way they see fit.

The point is that are real costs that result from limiting people's access to your work via limited editions or by choosing to not make your work available digitally via legal channels.

One such cost is that the fans who want to support the work are denied the opportunity to do so. In another thread in this forum, Mike Griffin mentioned that there were a number of artists and labels who have wondered why they should continue to do what they are doing given some of the low returns on their efforts. And my sense was that everyone here appreciated the fact that one benefit of buying music--beyond the obvious--is that doing so creates a sense of community. Buying music not only enables me to enjoy music that I like, but it helps me feel that I'm supporting an artistic community. It is a niche community, for sure, but an important one in my view.

When fans are denied the opportunity to support the artists they appreciate, it undermines that sense of community.

To be clear, it is not the artist's responsibility to regulate my feelings, cater to my listening needs, or expend energy ensuring that they release their work in the exact format I desire. But if artists deliberately choose to limit the number of people who can support their work, they should be aware that such choices have the potential to alienate and limit their fan base.  If the fan base is expendable or irrelevant for the solipsistic artist, then no big deal. But I'm not aware of anyone in this community who laments the fact that they have too many listeners.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Remastering
« on: July 28, 2013, 10:49:22 AM »
So, if a bass track is already mixed too low, there isn't much that can be done about it in the mastering?

Nice review.

Headphone Commute has a thoughtful interview with Alessandro Tedeschi that fans might enjoy reading.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Remastering
« on: July 28, 2013, 08:07:22 AM »
What is mastering? Is that different than mixing the raw tracks?

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Bandcamp
« on: July 27, 2013, 09:47:58 AM »
I'd love to see Silent Season's numbers. They seem to vary things quite a bit. Some of their releases are available as digital downloads on Bandcamp; some are not. The recent ASC release, although it could be purchased on Bandcamp, didn't even make full audio tracks available via the "download tracks with purchase" feature--another funky form of experimentation.

I wonder what Silent Season's income is on the CD + digital versus the CD only releases.

The "buy now or lose your chance" strategy seems risky to me. It is certainly a way to move product quickly. But it can also be aggravating for fans. I had to get Segue's Pacifica on vinyl, for example, because there was no way to buy a digital copy (and I'm not a torrent type of guy) and the CD sold out quickly. Annoying. (No offense to vinyl fans.)

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Bandcamp
« on: July 27, 2013, 07:30:00 AM »
But I have mixed feelings about that from the standpoint of someone who still releases on CD, as it can cannibalize your physical CD sales.

I wonder about that too. It seems as if there are a number of possible outcomes and the way things add up probably depend a lot on how you conceptualize the plasticity of the audience.

For example, if you conceptualize the audience as fixed (e.g., 300 people bought the last CD-only release), then releasing the next album on digital + CD means that some fraction of those 300 buyers will opt for the digital version instead of the physical version. That will hurt CD sales for sure. That may turn out to be a loss for the label depending on the various costs of product, distribution, etc.

But it also could be the case that, as a result of a digital release, the audience itself grows. There may be, for example, people who were unwilling to pay > $13 for a physical copy who would gladly pay $5 for a digital copy. It could also be the case that there is a certain percentage of fans and collectors who strongly prefer physical copies regardless, thereby making it possible to sell a fixed number of CDs regardless of the available formats. If the total number of fans increases with a move to digital distribution, it is quite possible to sell the same (or more) physical CDs while growing your fan base. That's a win-win for everyone.

Anyhow, one of my concerns is that we can discuss these issues from the comfort of our armchairs and never really appreciate how things breakdown. Bandcamp, fortunately, makes it possible to experiment with various options, get some real numbers, and make decisions in a way that can best support a label and artist. I was impressed when Saul Stokes popped up a few months ago and noted that his "pay what you want" system had netted him more for his bottom line in a few days than his cumulative sales of physical CDs had over years.


I realize that it is difficult to write about these things without coming across as a pusher. To be clear: I'm not pushing for anything. I'm simply a fan who loves Bandcamp. I'd hate to see some of my favorite artists and labels shy away from it (potentially to at their own loss) when it is so easy to test the waters by adding a handful of releases to the site and seeing how it all plays out. If I recall correctly, Mike wrote in the past that the artists retain the rights to the digital distribution of their music on Hypnos. So Hypnos might not be in a good position to do such tests, except with some of Griffin's own releases.

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