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Topics - drone on

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41
My first introduction to Blake Gibson's music was his 2011 masterwork "Gramophone Transmissions," one of the most unique space ambient albums I've experienced in my almost quarter century of exploring electronic music, which consisted exclusively of processed samples and loops, forming a fascinating collage-like tapestry of layered ghostly harmonics, drones, old vinyl, mellotron, choral and piano soundscapes.  The follow-up to "Gramophone Transmissions", released in 2012 on Relaxed Machinery (a limited number of CDR's in nice digipak were printed; it is also available digitally), takes a much more minimal and "classically" electronic road than its predecessor, seemingly derived from a couple choice synthesizers without much in the way of reverb and echo, giving the soundscapes a monochromatic timbre.  This isn't a negative in my book; in fact, the synth sounds are quite impressive in that the sounds from these minimal sources don't smack of factory presets at all, but a decidedly meticulously hand-carved approach.  Considering Gibson's interest in science fiction and space travel, it's no surprise this album celebrates the physics of the great black void once again, specifically the concept of superluminal (faster than light) communication, or even travel.  The awe and wonder of vast astronomical distances is captured in tracks like the excellent opener "Superluminal," a quiet droner which approximates an interstellar spacecraft hurtling silently at breakneck speeds through the darkness.  Things start to get spooky by the second piece, "The Geometry of Shadows."  There are probably some strange physics going on way out there, which this piece describes with cosmic whooshes, bass-heavy pulses, and mysterious crackling sounds.  "Between the Darkness and the Light" begins ominously with unsettling sonorities, but morphs beautifully into an almost ecstatic meditation of soothing light flowing infinitely.  "Luminosity" follows with a mesmerizing drone that Mathias Grassow would kill for (!) and builds in quiet intensity with layers of high-pitched harmonics before returning to the original gorgeous drone and fading out.  Closing track "Ansible" (defined as "a fictitious machine capable of superluminal communication, typically found in science fiction literature") continues in the style of "Luminosity."  I think this piece was the only weak spot here:  doubling the length of "Luminosity" and extending the fadeout drone would have made a more effective closer.

I have to admit I found "The Geometry of Shadows" difficult to get into at first.  It is in many ways vastly different than "Gramophone Transmissions," and its minimal nature demands nothing short of the listener's full and undivided attention (and headphones are an absolute must here).  It's a work that, like much of the best electronic music, or even films, reveals more and more with repeated exposure.  Fans of abstract deep space masters like Tau Ceti, Oophoi, and Seren Ffordd will find much to savor here.  Well done Blake!!

42
I just saw the film "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" on DVD, it starred Emma Watson from the "Harry Potter" films.  It was critically well received and was supposed to be a very realistic portrait of high school.  In some ways it was but in too many ways it was "Hollywooded" like so many other feature films. 

Anyways, as a major COCTEAU TWINS fan, I was delighted to hear Watson's character mention the Cocteau Twins song "Pearly Dewdrops' Drops" and the song was played at the end of the film.  Nice! THE SMITHS song "Asleep" from "Louder than Bombs" was also mentioned and played a few times. 

Too bad the film wasn't near as great as the movie. 

43
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Eighteen bucks for a download?
« on: February 12, 2013, 04:12:40 PM »
An artist in the "rock" category I greatly admire has a Bandcamp store now and is charging USD $18.00 for a single-album download.  If you want to order a CD it is $20 plus $10 shipping to the US.  $30 for one CD is quite steep, IMO. 

Some fans are grumbling over this, not just me. 

Even though as just a listener it's not up to me to decide how much an artwork is "worth," considering the wide range of available downloads averaging at the $10 price, do you think $18 is a bit excessive?  At this point I don't really want to pay that much for a "file" and also don't want to pay $30 for one CD.  BTW, the newest release (in fact the last few) are only available on the artist's Bandcamp site, not iTunes or other platforms. 

Any thoughts?   

44
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Dead Can Dance tour second leg
« on: February 11, 2013, 11:34:15 AM »
DCD are coming back to San Francisco in April, playing at Davies Symphony Hall (!)  Wow, ummm, that's pretty fancy dancy.  Of course I'd love to go but I've a feeling these tix will be steep, and I don't really want to sit up in a balcony.  I saw Brendan Perry solo a couple years ago in a small club in San Francisco and he did lots of DCD songs and that to me was about as good as you could get, so I think I'm good on the live DCD front for awhile. 

45
Everything and Nothing / CD's and Paper Sleeves Do NOT Mix
« on: February 07, 2013, 11:21:40 AM »
I recently bought the Fleetwood Mac "Rumours" 3-disc set.  This had the same goofy packaging I've seen on other big name bands/record companies reissues, by groups such as U2, Led Zeppelin, etc., wherein the CD's slide in and out of very thin cardboard/paper holders from the top of the packaging.  The problem is the CD's get scratched by the paper packaging; and even if you remove the disc(s) carefully, often they are already badly scratched when removing them from the packaging for the first time, from when they were assembled at the factory.  I looked at all three Rumours discs under the light yesterday and they looked like they had been put under someone's shoe and scraped along the floor, and they're only about 2 days old!   

Can't these record companies design better packaging to protect the discs?  I like fancy packaging as much as the next guy, but to me the discs are the most important thing and should be secured properly to avoid damage. 

I've noticed this is a problem more in the pop music world rather than the ambient world.  Some ambient labels, like Darla, have been issuing CD's in the thin cardboard sleeve packaging, but if you remove them carefully enough you can avoid scratches.  Often what I'll do though is just put them in my own "safe sheets" so they don't slide around and get scratched. 

46
Other Ambient (and related) Music / My Bloody Valentine new CD 2013
« on: February 04, 2013, 11:26:24 AM »
"MBV" it's out digitally now and later this month on LP/CD.  Only heard parts of it once, sounds like they haven't really skipped a beat in the 20-plus years since "Loveless" came out. 

I would like to see this band live again; the last 10 minutes of their show when I saw them in the 90's sounded like you were in an airplane hangar with no earmuffs.   ;D

47
Other Ambient (and related) Music / New Amir Baghiri album on Databloem
« on: February 02, 2013, 05:22:16 PM »
It's called "Serenity".  Samples are up, sounds good.

48
Everything and Nothing / I Hate My Job
« on: January 30, 2013, 02:08:40 PM »
I hate my job.  8 hrs. every weekday having to share a small space with mostly people I don't like.  Can you please make me feel better by giving me examples of how much you hate your job, too?  PS: I don't want to hear "get another job," only whiners are complainers on this thread LOL  ;D

49
Stephen Parsick returned in 2011 after his debut as the lone musician of the ['ramp] project in 2009, with the "Debris" album.  "Debris" showed his prowess in combining classic analog sequencer music with more experimental, even industrial timbres, making for a fascinating, if coldly clinical at times, recording.  The follow-up, "Steel and Steam," released in July 2011, again on his own Doombient label, was the first in a "trilogy" of sorts where the music took on a decidedly more cosmic tone, full of thick, warm analog instrumentation, sometimes delicate sometimes bombastic sequencing, and ghostly drones, while still maintaining shades of the experimental and industrial.  "Steel and Steam" contains the heaviest sequencing of the trilogy.  Leadoff track "Zeppelin" (sorry, no Jimmy Page here, haha) catapults the listener into analog heaven with throbbing, battle-cry sequencers while majestic lead lines and angelic choirs give the whole thing an ethereal air.  What a track!  And believe me, it gets even better.  The hypnotically aggressive two-part "Node" is an in-your-face menacing sequencer suite that sounds like a pissed off locomotive going right for your jugular.  "Solenoid," a definite favorite for me, layers some exquisitely gentle melodic Vangelis-like flourishes over echoing rhythmics, followed by "[led]", using more excellent sequencing and haunting lead lines like a lost track to the "Blade Runner" film.  Phenomenal.  For the album's second half, Stephen is joined by one of the true giants of EM, Mark Shreeve from Redshift.  Their first piece together "Puppets" is a heady brew of ominous, eerie atmospherics for its first 10 minutes, like an unseen monster rising out of the depths, then morphs into a slow-burning sequencer meditation.  The title track, in four parts, finds Stephen and Mark jamming in very Redshift fashion, with moods ranging from lonely piano notes, to heavenly choirs, spacy effects, to very loud distorted sequencer lines.  Just a phenomenal album from start to finish!

"Return," also released in 2011, is divided into two parts.  Part One, "Astral Disaster," effectively imparts a feeling of dread and impending doom (helped by titles like "122112" and "Unholy Messiahs").  Whatever is coming, it sounds like something you DON'T want to mess with.  This feeling is achieved with haunted spectral choirs, brooding drones, eerie effects, and sometimes subtle, sometimes pounding funereal bass drum soundscapes.  By the fourth track, "Infernal Machines," the sequencers are in full swing, and for some reason I'm reminded of the remake of "War of the Worlds," with the alien machines roaming the Earth and killing everything in their path.  Talk about doombient!!!  I joke here, but seriously, this is some of the darkest music you will ever hear (if you dare).  "A New Dawn" and "122212" offer some repose from the storm with dark strings and mellotrons, although they aren't exactly sweetness and light, reminding you you just got your ass kicked.  The second half, "Return," replaces the feeling of dread with awe and mystery--there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel.  The soundscapes here are more cosmic and ethereal, not claustrophobic as on the first half.  On "Beacon," for example, a spiralling solo floats above infinitely sustained chords to beautiful effect.  "Radiocarbon Part Two" brings back the bombastic sequencing, but this time imparting a sense of strength rather than destruction.  The album closes with "Lighthouse," a sublimely melancholic space hymn, one of my favorite styles in all of EM, a style which previously has been perfected by Redshift most notably, and Stephen really nails it here.  Overall, "Return" plays like a concept album, going from dread to hope in a series of vignettes.  I don't know if this is what Stephen intended, but whatever the case, this is a real magnum opus of dramatic EM. 

This "trilogy" concludes with the jaw-dropping, pure cosmic live album "Astral Disaster," recorded July 2012 at Bochum Planetarium, and broken into two sets.  First set "Flatten Them!" is like the best Redshift album you've never heard.  And I mean this as the highest compliment!  This YOUNG man (only 40 years old) has really achieved a level of greatness other masters of the genre (Roach, Shreeve, Boddy) have who are well into their 50's.  Just listen to "Halo Inductor" and try not to weep at the pure electronic perfection on offer here.  This is how it is DONE.  This is timeless, moving music that seems to have been captured rather than merely composed.  When Archie Patterson writes in the liner notes, "You will hear the sound of tomorrow, today," I believe him.  Set two, "Doomsday is Family Time" (ha! my favorite title of 2012, and possibly, ever), channels the spirits of Edgar Froese, Peter Baumann, and Chris Franke circa 1974 on "The Nameless is the Origin" and "Oscillator Planet" with their dark-cloud-like abstract soundscapes.  The title track "Astral Disaster" then arrives dramatically with bludgeoning slabs of bass heavy sequencers.  The album winds down with "Jericho," sequencers still firing like cannons, but here comes (again) an absolutely gorgeous hommage to another master, Vangelis, with a delicately haunting piano motif being layered in, which ultimately takes over and fades out into the ether. 

On a final note, I should point out the classy way these albums were released and made available.  Each one is a limited edition of 300 pressed CD's, with high quality booklets/artwork, each hand-numbered and signed by Stephen Parsick.  My copies included personal notes along with the signature; nice!  The albums are not available as downloads, and have been available direct from Stephen primarily (stephen@parsick.com is the email address).  They are still available! (though "Steel and Steam" may be very nearly gone at this point).  The prices are extremely reasonable, at just under $20 which includes worldwide shipping.  As a fan and collector, these were three of the most satisfying purchases I have made.  And I cannot recommend all three of these discs highly enough!!

50
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Terje Rypdal Odyssey box set on ECM
« on: January 19, 2013, 10:40:09 AM »
Reviews seem very mixed on Amazon of the original Odyssey album.  After the Rain is my fave of his.  Is music on this box similar in style? 

51
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Mark Dwane
« on: January 16, 2013, 11:29:18 AM »
I noticed on Backroads' (known now as Lloyd Barde Productions) Best of 2012 list an album by Mark Dwane called "Archive 2."  I really like Dwane 90's music like "Angels, Aliens and Archetypes" so I went to his website to check this release out. 

Mark Dwane sells his CDR releases (including Archive 2) for $25.  I was also surprised to find this album is "limited to 1,000 hand-numbered signed copies."  I'm not so sure he will sell even 100 at that price, let alone 1,000.  His 1997 limited edition CD album "The Nephilim" is STILL available--15 years later, and I think it was limited to 1,000.

Never heard of CDR's limited to 1,000.  Why even bother with the "limited" tag at all when it would probably take 20 years to sell these, and probably won't get even close to selling out? 

I'm not totally opposed to spending $25 on an artist's work.  If you bought a painting or other art object it would cost much more.  But in this economy and focus on downloads, I can't see this practice being too successful for releasing music.   8)     

52
Everything and Nothing / "Make Offer" option for sellers on Discogs
« on: January 15, 2013, 04:32:42 PM »
If you use Discogs, you know that sellers set a price for their item and in addition can also take offers from prospective buyers.  The buyer, instead of paying the set price, can make an offer.  The seller can either accept, decline, or do nothing and the offer expires after 4 days (I think it's 4 days). 

The last two times I made offers (which both were only like $3 less than the set price), I never heard anything from the seller at all and it just expired. 

My question is: if you are that cheap you won't basically just pay the shipping for the buyer and sell the item, why bother "accepting offers" on it in the first place?? 

I swear, some of the sellers on Discogs play some dumb games, including setting unrealistically high prices nobody will ever pay.  If I really want to sell something, I would never inflate the price to an unreachable level. 

Any opinions?  :)

53
Everything and Nothing / Dear Ann Landers...
« on: January 09, 2013, 02:08:18 PM »
Hi, I have a situation I was hoping to get some opinions on, without having to write to a newspaper column (haha).  Here is my situation:

I have a female cousin who I barely knew growing up (they live far away) and would only see every four or five years.  I had never had any problems or "incidents" with this cousin.  15 years ago, when my grandmother died, we both attended the funeral.  She was very unfriendly and downright rude during the funeral trip and I couldn't figure out what her problem was.  I had no contact with her after that.  Ten years later, when my father died, we (my mother and I) never received any condolence card, email, or phone call from her.  Her mother (my aunt) was with us, however, as was another male cousin.  This was very hurtful to me, not necessarily just to me, but I was upset that not even my mother heard anything.  After that it was clear she was not a true "family member."  Several years later, my aunt sent me a wedding invitation for this cousin, and I declined, and explained my reasons to my aunt.  I made it clear I was not happy with the cousin's behavior in the past. 

This year, I requested my aunt discontinue mailing me X-mas presents.  Instead, I requested she make a donation to charity in my name.  She did this; however, the organization she chose was run and co-founded by this cousin!  A couple weeks after X-mas I received a form letter, hand-signed by the cousin and hand-addressed to me, thanking me for the donation in my name.  There was no personal note or acknowledgement of my existence as her cousin. 

I was not happy my aunt chose this organization knowing my feelings about her daughter, and wasn't happy getting the "form letter" on top of that. 

Am I making too big a deal about this or do I have a right to be upset/offended?       

54
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Taylor Deupree "Faint" Box Set
« on: January 07, 2013, 01:47:45 PM »
Anyone have this? Is it worth the extra $16 for the extra CD included in this and art prints, compared to the regular single disc version?  Thanks in advance for any comments.  :)

55
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Mark McGuire leaves Emeralds
« on: January 04, 2013, 04:40:44 PM »
Just read about this, announced I think yesterday:

Founding member Mark McGuire (guitarist) of Emeralds has left the band.  Damn!!

The other two, John Elliott and Steve Hauschildt, will continue on. 

There will be a US tour this year.  Looking forward to this, although still saddened by this news.  He was such an integral member with his wonderful guitarscapes and emotive playing.  I wonder if they will have a replacement guitarist.

56
Everything and Nothing / Who has to work on Christmas eve?
« on: December 24, 2012, 01:41:13 PM »
I do.  It sucks.  At least it's halfway over.  ;)

57
I use a portable CD player at work and at home in bed.  It's an Insignia, which is the Best Buy brand. 

This player will play all my home-burned/blank CDR's without labels.  It will NOT play any sticky-label type CDR's, or most commercially manufactured CDR's with the "silk screen/solid enamel" type label surface, which is really surprising.  Almost all CDR's made by Kunaki will not play on it. 

This morning I tried playing the new AWM disc (which has the silk screen/solid enamel type surface) and it wouldn't play, but it WOULD play my Thom Brennan "Mountains" CDR, which seems to have the exact same type of surface.

By the way, all these CDR's play perfectly on my Sony 5-disc changer for my home system, and in my car's CD player. 

Any idea what could cause these not to play on the portable?  I'm probably going to get another portable, but I am curious nonetheless.     

58
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Brian Eno "Lux"
« on: December 04, 2012, 12:38:10 AM »
Any first impressions?  I keep reading "return to form" in reviews.  This would be nice if true.

59
Everything and Nothing / Fun with foreign orders on Discogs
« on: November 27, 2012, 04:30:35 PM »
I've had a Discogs account for maybe 5 years now, sold quite a few cd's there.  Sometimes I sell stuff way below the inflated prices of others because I ACTUALLY want to get money for it, instead of just putting it up as a museum piece and dangling an astronomical sum that nobody would ever pay, or showing off that I have something 500 users want.  I did this recently for a 3-CD box that retails for $40 new. Ltd. to 500 copies.  Like new. $17.50 I think is pretty damn good price.   

To my dismay, a buyer from Russia with ZERO feedback and their name and address all written in RUSSIAN characters decided to buy it.  When I wrote to them explaining I do not read Russian and that I need this information in English, they wrote back something which was barely any better than the Russian characters ("sity Leningrad, house 485"), which I really don't feel comfortable sending anything to.  I sent them an invoice with their total, including shipping charges.  They write back saying something like : "I pay for 1 vinyl, 2 CD? or? 2 vinyl one CD?? pls check."  WTF???  I do not even sell vinyl.  It's on my clearly stated shipping information.  After a couple days of this time wasting/stalling, they finally write back: "Only way to pay for the account is bank transfer."  My seller information clearly stated PAYPAL only accepted and nothing about any bank transfers. 

I have experienced similar situations over the years.  Is this a form of spam, where this person picks a random item on Discogs or eBay and then just tries to annoy the shit out of the seller, with no intention of buying??  Are they trying to hack into my computer or steal my identity?  Any ideas?

Over the last two days, I've had two others like this.  One guy on eBay kept asking questions but never bought anything (and everything about the item was perfect and to their benefit).  Another on Discogs asked "does this CD have any scratches" when I listed the item as NEAR MINT, which is defined on Discogs clearly as "like new."  They also asked "how much to ship to the UK?" when it is clearly in my payment and shipping information, spelled out to the letter.  Then they write back about they're "waiting for some funds from their grandmother to clear the bank" (ok the grandmother part I made up).  You know they're gonna flake out after wasting all my precious time. 

According to Discogs reply to my inquiry, users can register with foreign characters like Russian.  Does this make any sense?  Isn't English the universal language?  I have shipped lots of stuff to Japan and those orders weren't in Kanji.  How does Discogs expect sellers to conduct business if they cannot read the orders???!  ::)   

60
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Sending Orbs label return
« on: November 20, 2012, 04:27:57 PM »
Sending Orbs label is back after 2 year "hiatus" (I thought the label had officially folded).  There is a new CD coming out, a collab. between Kettel and Secede.  (Thanks to the Darla website, where I learned some things today...)

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