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Messages - chris23

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Really nice work!

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: December 20, 2012, 12:23:21 PM »
Meg Bowles - A Quiet Light
Wide open spaces. Drifting. Love it.

Hypnos News and Announcements / Re: 2012 feedback? 2013 suggestions?
« on: December 19, 2012, 06:57:00 AM »
I agree with folks who have noted that the physical CD releases are a nice feature of Hypnos. Moreover, Hypnos has a great aesthetic identity.

My only constructive suggestion is that there may be some value in releasing digital downloads in addition to physical CDs. There are some Hypnos releases that I would have gladly paid $7 for as a download, but couldn't bring myself to pay $13 + S/H because I wasn't awestruck by the sound clips. (I don't have a lot of money available for music, so I try to resist the temptation to pick something up just to have it.) Occasionally I'll see a Hypnos release on iTunes, but I assume those albums are being released via the artist and not via Hypnos per se.

I think the secret sounds releases would be a particularly good testing ground for digital releases. A "pay what you want" model could produce unexpected interest that would feedback on itself to generate attention, new listeners, etc.

I realize you're jesting with the "Hypnos got Talent" idea, but, if you wanted to spice things up, something like that could be fun. Hypnos has a reputation for releasing excellent compilations. It might be fun to have a competition of sorts where artists submit tracks, those are rated by interested forum listeners, and then a "best of" compilation is released at the end of the year. (Perhaps digitally, to keep the costs down.)

Another off-the-wall idea (not really a suggestion--just a brainstorm): I know you're a writer and an active reader, Mike. It might be interesting to release a few stories along with a soundtrack designed or selected for the story. This isn't a novel idea; I recall Current 93 doing this for a Ligotti story about a decade ago. But I don't know if that idea has been fully exploited.

Downloaded this last night. It will take a bit of time to digest it all, but there are some really nice tracks in this mix--and a remarkable collection of artists.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« on: December 10, 2012, 09:22:14 PM »
Just read The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver. This is an excellent book on forecasting by the guy behind the fivethirtyeight blog at the NYT. He draws on examples from weather, election, earthquake, and financial forecasting to discuss some of the conceptual and computational challenges involved in predicting and modeling events in a complex world. Great read.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: December 08, 2012, 03:07:31 PM »
David Sylvian - Approaching Silence and Plight & Premonition (w/ Holger Czukay)

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: November 30, 2012, 08:12:21 AM »
Parks - Hidden (Infraction)
Just discovered this late 2009 release. I absolutely love it. The artist does a great job at creating dramatic music without manipulating the tempo to achieve the effect. My wife complains that I've been listening to it non-stop for almost two weeks.

More discussion at:

Independent Music Reviews / Re: Wind and Wire is back
« on: November 11, 2012, 08:35:53 PM »
yay  :)

Recently finished Broken Sword on the iPad. Lots of fun, if you're a fan of adventure games.

This is a remake of an old PC title. It is a great mystery, with solid voice acting, good character development, and challenging puzzles that are well integrated into the story.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: November 03, 2012, 06:58:39 AM »
It has been fun exploring some of the labels that have been discussed here over the past week!

Some things on rotation this week:

Brambles - Charcoal (Serein)
Got turned on to this via an interview at Headphone Commute. Melancholic, cinematic music in the Broderick, Teague, et al. tradition. Mostly piano and strings. Highly recommended.

Andy Stott - Passed me by
I read Dave Michuda's comments on the latest release and it prompted me to return to this. Highly processed and treated electronic music, full of distorted samples that take me back 30 years. This particular album just seems to get everything right.

Steve Roach - Arc of Passion
This release didn't really resonate with me when it first came out, but I find myself going to it again and again in recent weeks. Not sure why. Nice set of atmo-pulse tracks framed between some majestic and spacious bookends.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Cover art and creative packaging
« on: October 27, 2012, 07:57:08 AM »
I apologize if this topic has been covered before.

I had a humbling experience last night. Over the last year or two I've invested an increasing about of money in digital downloads as opposed to CDs. My rationale was straight forward: It is typically cheaper to buy digital releases than physical ones. Moreover, there is something appealing about instantly being able to hear what you've purchased.

Last night my 7-year old daughter was perusing my CD collection and she was utterly absorbed in studying both the cover art and some of the creative ways in which artists assemble their products. We spent an hour together simply looking at the CDs, discussing the art, and what some of the common themes and points of divergence were among them. Like her cursed father, she has a bit of a collector spirit in her. I suspect this might be a turning point in her life that leads her to think about music in different ways--more than just sound that comes out of the speakers, but as pieces of history, artifacts, points of intersection between subcultures, and art. I hope she'll become a music collector too. ;-)

She was fascinated by some of the creative ways in which independent artists/labels assemble their products. She was intrigued by Steve Roach's Early Man--the edition that has what became ultimately became "Disc 1" was bound between two sheets of slate. And, although I've always found the size/dimensions of Faria Records releases (e.g., one manifestation of Oophoi's Dreams, some Aglaia) to be awkward, she loved them and enjoyed pulling out the cards and studying them. She was a bit puzzled over the use of seeds and leaves in some of the CD trays by Alio Die and Oophoi, but she seemed to warm to the idea quickly.

Anyhow, I think I'm back to focusing on physical products. Tomorrow she and I are pulling the vinyl out of storage. ;-)

Mike Griffin: If you're reading this, you should know that she was particularly fascinated by the Hypnos collection. She liked the way all the releases adhered to a common aesthetic theme. (She even liked the font change that took place, I don't know, maybe around 2001?) Her favorite Hypnos cover art is James Johnson's Entering Twilight. But she might be biased towards that piece because she has been listening to that album on repeat as bedtime music for years. I also told her Daddy designed the art on two of Numina's Hypnos CDs and I think I scored some Cool Daddy Points with her.
For anyone interested in a potentially fun discussion:

1. With respect to cover art: What three CDs are among your favorites?

2. What three CDs strike you as having some of the more unusual and/or creative formatting?

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: October 21, 2012, 09:47:53 AM »
Dustin O'Halloran - Lumiere
Beautiful piano and orchestral work. One half of A Winged Victory for the Sullen.

Hammock - Departure Songs
Contemporary shoegazing. Mostly instrumental, but features several tracks with subdued vocals.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: September 23, 2012, 08:37:10 PM »
Loscil - Sketches from New Brighton
I'm enjoying this one a lot.

Austin Wintroy - Journey OST
Brilliant soundtrack for a brilliant game (PS3). Mostly cello, harp, and serpent, with an occasional gamelan orchestra.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: September 16, 2012, 07:55:10 AM »
I haven't seen any new Pearce releases for a while. Does anyone know why his output is on pause?

Starting last year, he released a series of twelve singles every month (constituting an album worth of music).

Thanks for the head's up. This slipped past me!

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: September 15, 2012, 11:24:33 AM »
Andrew Thomas - Between Buildings And Trees
I've been enjoying this Kompact release a lot. Ambient sample collages, much in the spirit of Marsen Jules.

Jeff Pearce - Daylight Slowly, To the Shores of Heaven, The Light Beyond, Bleed
Was in a Pearce mood this week. I haven't seen any new Pearce releases for a while. Does anyone know why his output is on pause?


High Highs - High Highs
Melodic, catchy dream pop.

Some 80's and early 90's stuff that comes to mind:

Slowdive - Erik's Song - from Just for a Day
Heavenly Bodies - Cavatina - from Celestial
Clan of Xymox - Theme I - from Medusa

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: September 02, 2012, 07:23:21 AM »
I've been rotating through a lot of Matt Hillier releases this week, I think in part due to seeing some discussion of Orchid and Skyspaces in various places on forum. I realize that is would be inappropriate to state that Ishq doesn't get enough credit; Orchid, for example, is a top pick among many in the ambient crowd. But it is easy to overlook Hillier's genius. He's a mastermind when it comes to blending the mechanical and the natural. His alien soundscapes often sound surprisingly organic, for example, and his natural, pastoral pieces perfectly blend with his electronic improvisations. I always hear something new when I return to his albums; they're a reliable and rewarding source of aural exploration.

My Hillier collection is incomplete, but here is what is in my rotation: Orchid (Ishq), Skyspaces (Ishq), Under a Hexagon Sky (Ishvara), Magick Square of the Sun (Ishvara), Emerald (Elve), and Infinite Garden (Elve). Among these releases, Infinite Garden is my favorite.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« on: August 28, 2012, 04:45:09 PM »
For plenty of unlistenable "uber cool," check out 12k label.  They've released some good stuff, of course, but most of it to me seems more concerned with how it was recorded ("field recordings by a crackling fire with my synth hooked up to a generator so I could be inspired by my natural surroundings!" etc.) rather than how it sounds.

This comment made me laugh and, unfortunately, spit coffee over my keyboard.

I like about half of what comes out of the 12k label, which is a decent hitrate imo. I think Taylor Deupree is an extraordinarily creative person. And I think one of the consequences is that is that a lot of what he selects, produces, and facilitates are misses. But I'll happily trade some misses for a few hits. Some of my favorites off the label include Deupree's own Northern, Shuttle 358's Chessa, the first two Pjusk releases, Fourcolor's Air Curtains, and Bretschneider & Steinbruchel's Status.

Chris, you have the This Mortal Coil remastered reissues including Dust and Guitars?  If not, recommend these highly!

I don't have the remastered set. Thanks for the recommendation!

College years: 90-94

1. Ride
2. Current 93
3. This Mortal Coil

It is kind of hard to pin point specific bands, but there were certain genres and groups of artists that were influential for various reasons. Ride represents for me the appeal of the shoegazing era, and is one of several bands I adored (including Lush, Slowdive, MBV, and others).

Current 93 is representative of some of the industrial/experimental stuff I liked (e.g., Nurse with Wound, Psychic TV, Hafler Trio, Organum) that eventually got me into ambient music. I eventually discovered--after listening to a lot of tiring artists banging on pipes and cans and looping those sounds over and over--that what I really liked was drone-based compositions that had ethereal rather than noisy qualities. It was a small, but significant step, to discover Eno, Fripp, Roach, and others after college and to make the bridge to what is more commonly discussed on these forums.

This Mortal Coil in some ways represents everything I loved about 4AD in the 80's and early 90's.

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