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Messages - chris23

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Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: May 03, 2014, 08:26:28 AM »
Honeysuckle is one of a handful I never picked up. I'll have to give it a try sometime.

I've been enjoying this week some digital downloads from the recent Projekt sale:

Steve Roach - Live Transmission and Future Flows

Independent Music Reviews / Re: My review of "Centurion" CD by Aglaia
« on: April 29, 2014, 03:25:08 PM »
I love this release.

Very nice and thoughtful review, Richard.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 29, 2014, 03:14:47 PM »
I was saddened to learn yesterday that the SEM label has closed its doors. The label is continuing to sell some old physical stock on their bandcamp site, however. Moreover, the label owners (Alexandre Navarro and Letna/Sasa Vojvodic) have made their digital releases available for free. If you didn't get a chance to check some of those out in the past, this is a good time to do so. I've posted links to two of my favorites from the label owners below. I've spent the day at work revisiting these. 

Letna - Adria

Redfish - Redfish

Sem released some really neat stuff, including some work by offthesky. the Green Kingdom, and Segue's most recent album. The website hints at some kind of rebirth in the future. Fingers crossed.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 27, 2014, 10:23:00 AM »
Working in the garden with Current 93's Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre.


Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 26, 2014, 08:27:38 AM »
Orla Wren - Soil Steps
Soil Steps is a sonic journey constructed from sounds Tui (Orla Wren) recorded during his travels through the Iberian wilderness and its border villages. Although most of the sounds are natural (e.g., brooks, insects, birdsong) or incidental (e.g., a car passing by, people talking on the street), they are mixed in with some of Tui's atomistic, micro-sound experimentation, which gives the piece a surreal quality--as if it is part natural history and part fiction. Listening to this in a single sitting is an incredible experience because the album truly transports you to another place.

This is easily a contender for one of my favorite releases of the year. It might not appeal to everyone here because it is on the far extreme acoustic/field end of the ambient/drone continuum; the electronics and synthesis are not the focus. But, if you have any interest in this kind of experimental work, Chris Watson's recordings, or organic dronescapes, this is worth a careful listen. 

Buy/Listen: or

This peacock makes a vocal appearance around 22 mins in to the album. Tui was kind enough to send me a disambiguating photo after I inquired about what my daughter had described as "the sounds of a loud and strange cat."

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 23, 2014, 05:48:15 PM »
Loren Nerell - Slow Dream
Picked up the digital download during Projekt's weekend sale. I should have grabbed this album in 2012. Deep subterranean drones and textures. Absolutely mesmerizing.


I love these two new CDs. They are the sonic equivalents of chocolate cupcakes. Yum.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« on: April 21, 2014, 06:53:57 PM »
Re-read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. That took forever. But worth it. I love that book, despite not resonating with her philosophy fully.

Ransom Riggs - Hollow City
A follow up to Miss Perregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which I liked a lot. Hollow City wasn't that great. Not much of a story and all the character development points and quirks got spent in the first novel.

Gabrielle Zevin - The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
This was excellent. A.J. Fikry owns a bookstore on Alice Island--a small island resort that essentially thrives on summer visitors. Three important things happen early in the novel: A.J. is awfully rude to a book representative, his ultra-rare copy fo E.A. Poe's first book is stolen, and a woman abandons her baby in his book store with a note that says that she wants the girl to grow up among books and people who love books. The way in which the implications of these three events are woven together is excellent. Plus, each chapter opens with A.J.'s brief review of of classic and popular books, which start in a normal fashion, but, as the novel progresses, become notes to his daughter. Super cool story.

Just picked up Sand. Looking forward to starting it.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 21, 2014, 04:17:13 PM »
Twincities - Variations for Celesta
This is the first release for the new Eilean Records label (, run by Monolyth & Cobalt. Grainy dronescapes based largely on processed celesta, with occasional appearances of guitar and a basement furnace. Pretty neat stuff and likely to be appealing if you like the acoustic/experimental side of ambient.

Buy/Listen: (The second track is especially good.)

Also recently playing 36's Lithea. I really, really love that CD.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Projekt sale
« on: April 18, 2014, 04:56:32 PM »
Projekt is having a 50% sale this weekend on their Bandcamp site. The discount code and further information is available here:

Hypnos News and Announcements / Re: 2014 Hypnos release schedule?
« on: April 17, 2014, 06:08:18 PM »
Seriously. I can't stop starting at it. Very cool.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 16, 2014, 05:40:36 PM »
I gave Butterfly a listen. What a great album! Thanks for the heads up, Dave and drone on!

Purl - Behind Clouds
New release from Dewtone. This is omg excellent ambient dub. My favorite release yet by Purl. The spacey, electronic soundscapes are perfect, rich, and wisp-like. The beats, while largely being subtle, are quirky (in a nice way) and draw upon a variety of sound sources, making them feel both familiar and alien. I really wish there was a CD for this one; digital only at Bandcamp.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / ASC's Studio
« on: April 13, 2014, 09:10:33 AM »
I'm not a musician, but I know that those of you who are enjoy swapping gear and studio pics.  ;)

Here are some pics of ASC's setup.

ASC has done a lot of dnb and techno work, but has also recently begun to venture more explicitly into ambient territory in his releases on Silent Season. His double CD last year, Time Heals All, was my favorite ambient release of the year. He has a new one coming out sometime in the next few months.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 13, 2014, 08:07:19 AM »
Segue - The Here and Now
Ambient dub with nice tempo shifts and some really catchy melodies from the Sem label. A nice follow up to last year's Pacifica on Silent Season.


Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 08, 2014, 03:46:53 PM »
That cracked me up.  :)

David Newlyn - Disintegrating Suburban Dream
New release from Hibernate. Urban field recordings (a recent theme in many of the electro-acoustic ambient releases form the UK, it seems) and minimal piano, with subtle strings and electronics on occasion. My wife liked this, which is either great news or cause for alarm.


Someone turned me on to Monument Valley yesterday. It was a blast. It is an iOS iPhone/iPad kind of game; I don't think it is meant for a desktop, but I could be wrong.

The graphics are beautiful and there is a quasi-ambient soundtrack that accompanies the 10 levels.

It is a puzzle game in which you have to navigate your character from one end of the "maze" to the other. What makes it unique, however, is that it embodies Escher-like principles in which two paths might be broken from one angle, but, if you rotate the display, you might be able to find an angle that enables those paths to connect. Many of the puzzles require thinking in 4 dimensions, which is a fun exercise.

Anyhow, if you're in the US and you're looking for something interesting to do during commercials of the NCAA tournament, this is your answer. ;-)

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 06, 2014, 06:59:37 AM »
Thanks for the head's up on Sea Change, Joe. That absolutely belongs in my Wish List--along with Anthony's new one. (I just wish the Wish List wasn't growing so fast!)

Recently playing:
Ashlar - St. James' Gardens
A neat collaboration between Wil Bolton and Phil Edwards. It is mostly guitar and various electronics being looped and processed over urban field recordings. It seems kind of meh on a first pass, but it quickly grew on me. It is easy to get lost in these soundscapes; supreme mind-wandering music.


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: What is Youtube to you?
« on: April 04, 2014, 09:58:51 AM »
No, Forrest, we're definitely talking past one another. This is why: "What I saw was an attempt on your part to impute hypocrisy or disingenuous motivations to artists and labels with a legitimate complaint..."

I don't view financial concerns as "disingenuous motivations" and I don't consider it "hypocrisy" for a label to be concerned with the bottom line. A label that isn't concerned with its bottom line is going to have an awfully difficult time surviving in a rapidly changing marketplace.

It might be the case that you in particular are not concerned with the financial implications of piracy. As you implied, stealing--regardless of the financial implications of what was stolen--is stealing nonetheless. And I can certainly appreciate why this issue on its own would be of concern to artists and lawyers, not to mention artistic lawyers.

But I find it hard to accept your assumption that most record labels' interest in piracy has nothing to do with a concern for how piracy affects sales. I've heard several people involved in the industry explicitly state that they believe that piracy hurts sales. I don't think it is presumptuous of me to make the inferences I'm making on the basis of such claims. And, to be clear, I don't think there is anything disingenuous about a business being concerned with factors that might undermine their bottom line.


The reason I am pushing the economic side of this so strongly is that I have a genuine interest in supporting the labels and musicians that I admire and respect. And when I hear people involved with the labels I love say things like "We don't know if we can sustain this enterprise because of piracy" it worries me and leads me to two questions:

(a) What would it take to make the enterprise more sustainable?
(b) Is piracy really the reason why sales are down?

This latter question matters for people like me who want to see our genre not only survive, but grow. If our focus on piracy leads us to fail to consider other possible (and potentially more potent) explanations for decreases in sales, then our preoccupation with the issue might be leading us down the wrong path.

What factors, other than piracy, may help explain why sales are suffering? I'm no industry analyst, but I would venture that some of the following factors matter:

1. When people can stream music for free over Spotify and Pandora, they don't need to buy music in order to hear the music they wish to hear. This legal alternative could potentially be responsible for a large part of diminishing sales.

2. As a few people noted earlier in the thread (e.g., Castleview), the entertainment landscape has changed considerably over the past decade. Do I want to spend money on a CD? Or would I rather (a) play an MMO or Skyrim, (b) chat with friends on Facebook, (c) argue with internet trolls on Twitter, (d) read a book on my Kindle, (e) watch a movie on Netflix that I can get instantly without having to drive to the video store? These (legal) alternatives to buying music could explain diminishing sales of music.

3. Because of the Internet, the pool of music that is available to fans has grown exponentially. When I'm trying to decide how to spend my $25 this week, I'm not just choosing between Steve Roach and Robert Rich. There are 100s of artists I'd like to support and 100s of CDs I'd like to buy. Because there is more music available to consumers these days, a typical artist is likely to experience a decrease in sales regardless of the effects of piracy.

An important point here is that, independent of piracy, there are at least three good explanations for why labels might have seen a decrease in sales over the past 15 years. A label is free to invest money in issuing take downs, suing customers, and lobbying politicians for new laws. But doing so may not be in the label's best interests economically, especially when those efforts come at the expense of thinking more broadly and creatively about other factors that drive sales and the way the world is continuing to change.

Regarding point (a): What would it take to make the enterprise more sustainable?

I don't know. As Julio noted, something needs to change. I've called attention to some things that I know influence my own buying habits (e.g., being able to preview an album first, lower prices on digital releases, making the physical product special), but those strategies might not work for all consumers.

I also suspect that we need to rethink *who* the consumers are in this genre. I assume the potential market for ambient music isn't college students who like to attend dance parties. It is probably composed of people who are collectors, audiophiles, and musicians themselves. So, finding ways to get more money from Spotify, for example, might not be the right kind of strategy for increasing the financial viability of ambient labels. But exploring other options, such as bundling digital downloads (available on purchase, as with BC) with purchases of the physical product, might be one solution that both embraces new technology while appealing to the collector mentality. I also think one solution is to focus on high-quality releases. Just because you can release something doesn't mean you should. Also, simply acknowledging that there are communities out there and embracing them can help a lot. I know people here have expressed their disdain for self-promotion. I can relate to that. But simply "knowing" who someone is--even via online platforms--makes them more human. And, at least for me, that makes me want to buy their work.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: What is Youtube to you?
« on: April 03, 2014, 09:50:55 PM »
Forrest, I worry that we're speaking past one another. I don't disagree with your ethical or your legal points. Someone who uploads copyrighted content to the internet without permission, even if he or she does it with the best of intentions, is violating both implicit rules and explicit laws.

In short, I'm not attempting to justify the ethical foundations of the listener who uploads content to YouTube. We both agree that this is inappropriate.

The only point where I think we truly disagree is whether we believe the ethical issues are confounded with the economic ones. I think that the reason most artists/labels care about these matters is because they are concerned with the sustainability of their business. And, in my mind, that is a legitimate thing to worry about. And, to the extent to which it matters, it is appropriate to treat the problem as an economic one that has ethical relevance rather than an ethical one that is economics-free.

Anyhow, I'm okay with agreeing to disagree on that point. I think it is fun and interesting to hear other people's perspectives regardless; I've come away from this with some new things to consider.

Speaking of which, some of Castleview's points made me wonder what your (Forrest's and other's) thoughts are on the sales of used CDs.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: What is Youtube to you?
« on: April 03, 2014, 07:08:55 PM »
if you stole something from my car, but I didn't see what you took and the car still runs fine, was there no theft?

There was a theft. But maybe I stole a bomb of which you were not aware and saved your life.  ;)

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