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Topics - drone on

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Just got an email about a new Ishq release.  Considering I just spent $20 on a new Ishq disc which came out last week (on his own label, Virtual), in addition to a boatload of other music, my wallet hasn't had time to recover.  This release is called "Lyght" and is a 100-copies CDR, which does not get released until 12-21-2012. 

I have two issues with this one: why only 100? you know it's gonna sell out in about 3 days...

Plus, why would I pay for something nearly 2 MONTHS in advance??

Verdict: I HATE 'em (limited edition pre-orders)

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Kompakt label: Recommendations?
« on: November 07, 2012, 01:57:05 PM »
I have arrived "late" to the Kompakt Germany label (and related labels) party.  I only have a few of them right now:

Loops of Your Heart-And Never Ending Nights (excellent!)
Pop Ambient 2012

What are the essentials I should seek out (preferably still available on CD)?  Thanks for any info.!!

Everything and Nothing / Kunaki quality problems
« on: November 06, 2012, 12:54:53 AM »
My experience with cdrs from Kunaki has not been good.  First one I bought couple years ago had clicks pops throughout.  I recently bought 3 items (different label), none of them will play in my portable player.  Goddammit I am done with this company!

Raveonettes: duo from Denmark who produce gorgeous ambient rock, sounding at turns like Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, MBV, with lots of 60's rock influences, but still having their own unique sound.   They just played in SF and I wish I'd known about these guys.  Their new album "Observator" is excellent.

First Aid Kit: 2 sisters from Sweden, ages 19 and 21, who make folky Americana/country/rock.  Their latest album, "The Lion's Roar" is a little masterpiece of strong songwriting, singing (these girls can SING! Check out their harmonizing!!), and pure emotion.  If you like Emmylou Harris you will like this group (and they are big fans of her). 

Any fans or either/both??

Excuse my whining, but I've noticed recently a trend towards really crappy packaging of CD shipments, both foreign and domestic.  First off, let me say, Hypnos does shipping right!  I always get my CD's covered in protective bubble wrap and packaged carefully.  I really appreciate this as a buyer. 

Recently I received a digipak cd from overseas where the artist/label had just thrown the digipak in a very thin "jiffy" mailer.  The inner tray was cracked in three places and the cover had numerous deep dings and dents.  Would it have been too much trouble to use a piece of cardboard in the package to prevent this??

Just the other day I ordered 3 discs with jewel cases.  I paid $8.00 for Priority Mail (which is high to begin with, but the cd's were cheap so it didn't bother me as much).  I got 'em quick, alright, but the shipper crammed the three cd's in a bubble mailer (the packaging was too small), with no padding or protection.  All the jewel cases were badly cracked.

To make matters worse, when I've emailed some sellers and politely pointed this out, and suggested some alternative shipping practices, they didn't bother to respond. 

This pisses me off!!  Anybody else??  8)

Everything and Nothing / Happy Satanic Pagan Blood Ritual aka Halloween
« on: October 31, 2012, 10:07:56 AM »
I'm going to "be" myself this year.  8)

"Sublunar" is some very listenable experimental electronic sound art from the hit-and-miss 12k label, and luckily this disc is definitively a hit.  Kane Ikin is one half of the Australian duo Solo Andata, who have a full-length on 12k, and have also appeared on various artist 12k releases in the last few years.  Solo Andata utilize mostly acoustic sources, employing extensive processing.  On "Sublunar," composed of 16 relatively brief tracks, Ikin continues this working process but heads into more overtly electronic territory.  Often it's difficult to ascertain what the sources are, adding to the mysterious nature of this frequently haunting music.  He also adds really interesting IDM-like drum beats to some pieces, often with a futuristic jazzy feel.  The result is very close to what label mates Pjusk achieved on their two outstanding 12 releases, which is a kind of fourth-world organic drone IDM, chock full of inventive atmospheric processing.  "Sublunar" is an apt title for this release as many tracks are named after moons of the solar system (Europa, Rhea, Titan, Oberon, Hyperion) and paint vivid images of alien worlds unfathomable distances away.  You could call it "minimalist space music." 

"Sublunar" is a most impressive album that avoids the experimental noodling vibe of many of its counterparts on 12k and other similar sound art labels.  A fascinating listen, and most recommended. 

U.S. label Malignant has released another stunning ambient album, the most notable since False Mirror's epic "Derelict World" from a couple years back.  Sphare Sechs is a German duo consisting of Martin Sturtzer, better known as Phelios (with a previous release on Malignant), and Christian Stritzel.  Recorded live during a "sleep concert" at the Phobos Festival in Germany in September 2011 (how I'd love to go to one of these!), "Tiefschlaf" joins the ranks among the finest deep space ambient ("spacebient"?) this reviewer has had the pleasure of experiencing since past milestones like Namlook/Inoue's "Shades of Orion 2" (1995), Roach's "Magnificent Void" (1996), and Oophoi/Tau Ceti's "Celestial Geometries" (2000).  This is no cold dark ambient affair with rumbling and clanking metal, but instead a serene, expansive, fully immersive set of warm, highly atmospheric drift that takes you on a cosmic journey for 55 minutes.  Really one long track broken into six sections, the album manages to set itself high above the usual trappings of space music with very high quality synth sounds that are original and gently visceral, demanding your attention every second of this sublime journey.  As with "Derelict World," I think those wary of the dark ambient genre will be more than pleasantly surprised by the depth and meditational quality of this recording.  The album is released in a 6-panel digisleeve with some really gorgeous cover art, fitting the music perfectly, and limited to just 500 copies.  I try to avoid using ejaculatory adjectives like "amazing" in my reviews, but this disc is deserving of such praise.  I would say if you buy only two discs in the deep space ambient/spacebient subgenre this year, you can't go wrong with Phobos' recent "Live on Earth" and this one.  I cannot recommend "Tiefschlaf" highly enough.  Great work Martin and Christian!!!

Released this year on promising Swedish label Gterma, "Lament" is a follow-up of sorts (recorded 2010) to the 2007 Ramp CD album "Ceasing to Exist," where these two veteran electronic composers from Germany joined forces to create voluminous clouds of quite dark guitar and drone textures, far away from Stephen Parsick's previous Ramp efforts which focused on heavy Berlin School sequencing.  Instrumentation here is Markus on strings and loop devices, and Stephen on oscillators and loop devices.  Opening track "Weightless Particles" reaches stratospheric, heavenly heights with a floating soundscape and infinitely sustained guitar notes that bring to mind the great Michael Brook.  Nice!  "Hoarfrost" employs some Robert Fripp-like spookiness atop murky grey drones, similar in feel to Fripp/Eno's "Equatorial Stars" release.  This track didn't really work for me, unfortunately.  Title piece "Lament" fuses some excellent guitar textures from Markus with a gurgling electronic pulse.  Next up is the mammoth 24-minute "And All Which is Not," a deep dive into the abyss, rife with swirling electronics and really creepy guitar explorations.  Oppressive and definitely not for the faint of heart, this one would be good for a horror film, but too scary for home listening!  The brief "Lurk" continues in this vein, this time adding some heavily echoed Robert Rich-style metallic percussion sounds.  "Below Ice" had me so scared I had to turn on the lights and grab my teddy bear!  This one sounds like the tripods emerging from the ground in "War of the Worlds."  Final piece "Reign of Dust" is by far the best thing on "Lament," featuring the stratospheric vibe of the album opener and gorgeous hymn-like Frippian guitars.  A truly superb track that I wish had been longer.  All in all, this is a very experimental album that I think is too heavy on the dark ambient side, although fans of Robert Fripp's more atonal and challenging soundscapes might be right at home with the bulk of this material. 

Other Ambient (and related) Music / New Killing Joke
« on: October 26, 2012, 10:25:01 AM »
New album "MMXII" (2012), just got it yesterday.  New KJ albums are always a major event for me.  After first listen have to say I was really disappointed.  But I am listening at work repeatedly and I can see it growing on me.  It is more prog sounding than their last few, w/more keyboards and programming.  Many of the songs on first listen sound like Jaz just wants to prove he can still yell like a motherfckr, or the band wants to prove they can make a shitload of noise for old buggers.  Looks like he certainly did his homework on the conspiracy theories revolving around 2012.  Check out these song titles: Pole Shift, FEMA Camp, Rapture, Corporate Elect, Glitch (which is about a sun even knocking out all the electronics on Earth)...I have to say I like it, being a conspiracy theory nut myself.  They even give you Internet links for various topics on the lyrics booklet.  It sounds like they purposely went for a big apocalyptic sound here.  They succeeded in a way, but I think the production hinders reaching that goal in a pure way. 

The production (again on first listen) is horrid.  Somebody pro-tooled Geordie right to the bottom of the mix.  Somebody also pro-tooled drummer Big Paul Ferguson (one of the hardest hitting, thunderous drummers in rock) to make his kit sound wimpy and muffled.  It kind of has the effect of wrapping a 250 pound wrestler in cellophane and the result of him trying to punch his way out of it.  It sounds like they pro-tooled each individual instrument and it just sounds so NOT natural.  Have you heard "Duende: The Spanish Sessions"? Now THAT'S how to record KJ.  Just put them in a room, plug in and record.  Much more effective.  Bottom line: this album is so over-produced it makes Justin Bieber sound analog. 

The single, "In Cythera," I liked immediately.  Melodic, quite powerful song.  There are a few songs where the band rips off its own riffs from earlier material.  Have to give it some more listens to identify those songs, but yeah, it's funny how they sued Nirvana over "Come as You Are/Eighties" but they ripped themselves off here.  Maybe they should sue themselves.  Ha!

I know there are some Joke fans here so let's hear your thoughts!!!...

Everything and Nothing / Circumventing Discogs
« on: October 24, 2012, 07:25:01 PM »
I've noticed a trend recently where Discogs sellers are advertising their items on the site but completing transactions off site to avoid seller fees.  Seems like a big risk to take (getting kicked off the site) just to save a few bucks.  Plus the lost revenue will probably result in bigger fees later for those following the rules.  Any opinions?

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Any Hakobune enthusiasts?
« on: October 17, 2012, 12:51:53 AM »
I only have two discs by this Japan droner, Adrift and Away from the Lunar Waters.  What is his best stuff?  Looking to expand my collection...

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Mystery School on Weird Amplexus
« on: October 16, 2012, 05:39:12 PM »
Does anyone have the two Mystery School releases on Weird Amplexus?  I can't find any reviews or clips.  They came out 2004.  Any description/comparisons would be greatly appreciated.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Oophoi 2012 remasters Databloem
« on: October 07, 2012, 03:21:58 PM »
I'm confused by the "remaster" tag on the new Practising Nature Oophoi CDR reissues.  Some of them I thought had already been remastered.  For example, "Mare Vaporum"--I have the CD edition called "Meditation" (on label Applaus) in which tapes were remastered by Karel Kourek around 2003-2004 (who remastered the other "Mare" discs which came out on CD on Nextera), but I notice there is a "2010 remaster" CDR of Mare Vaporum.  In 2006, Umbra reissued "Celestial Geometries" as a remaster of the original album plus included an extra disc of unreleased pieces.  Now there's a 2012 edition (two separate CDR's) of this set.  Are they really remastered again, or is this just simply a reissue of the 2006 edition??? 

Can anyone comment on if it is worth replacing my Umbra discs.  Is the sound quality significantly better?


Everything and Nothing / Director Tony Scott Suicide
« on: October 07, 2012, 12:39:06 AM »
Ridleys bro jumped off a bridge in August.  Bizarre story.  Anyone been following this?

I just received this Erik Wollo 3-disc reissue (Traces, Images of Light, Solstice) and while the music is great, I really think this set was WAY overpriced (by at least $10) at $40.00, for what you're getting: three cardboard wallet sleeves, no booklets.  I knew this would be something I'd regret not buying, yet around $30 would have been much more reasonable.   8) 

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Vidna Obmana Still Fragments question
« on: October 04, 2012, 03:05:17 PM »
Does anyone know if the live in Hamburg material on "Still Fragments" was also on the Hypnos 2-disc "Soundtrack for the Aquarium"?  I think I had Still Fragments at one time back around '94 but don't remember it.  There are a couple copies up for sale on e(vil)Bay.   8)

"Gramophone Transmissions" is Canadian electronic musician Blake Gibson's second album, which was self-released in 2011.  Pity that, because I would have loved to put this fascinating gem on my "Best of 2012" list.

The presentation/packaging on this release is quite stunning, with artwork and layout by Michal Karcz (who has done work recently for Steve Roach).  I was also intrigued by the thanks given to "Kubrick, Debussy, Bass Communion, VidnaObmana" for inspiration, which made me salivate to the sonic treasures I might find within.  I was not disappointed, and the influence of these artists of the surreal becomes readily apparent.   

This album was produced with source material exclusively from processed samples/loops derived from classical vinyl records and choral, mellotron and piano recordings.  This is not a new concept-- like minded artists like Janek Shaefer and Steven Wilson have forayed into this territory before (see Bass Communion's "Ghosts on Magnetic Tape").  But Gibson does it with panache and subtle intensity, where things never sound stiff, cold, or too experimental.  There is a sonic warmth to the proceedings.   

I would categorize this release as space music, as it presents almost an alternative soundtrack to Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey;" there are plenty of mental images derived from these soundscapes of Dave Bowman floating in the blackness, psychedelically-colored planetary landscapes, and the like.  But I also noticed and appreciated that the album would work equally well as the soundtrack to an American southwest desert, a la Roach. 

Opener "Drift" is a light and airy piece with piano and classical strings, albeit with a droning quality, and is quite hopeful sounding.  By the visceral "Dark Clouds Approaching from the West" and mammoth "Maelstrom (The Descent)", in contrast, the album moves into gleefully eerie and surreal spaces.  I've seen this album tagged with the "dark ambient" banner in some other reviews and, to be honest, even at it's most chilling and darkest, I don't think this is an entirely accurate or fair label to put on this music.  Album closer "Unforeseen Consequences" reminds me of the Steve Roach classic "Artifacts" and is a beautiful drifting piece and perfect way to end this excellent album. 

So, one of the best albums of 2011 (that I didn't hear until 2012)! 

P.S. headphones listening HIGHLY recommended to bring out the subtle nuances of this work.   

I bought a used cd (silver, pressed, etc) and while attempting to remove some fingerprints on the label side with a sponge and water, the outer layer started peeling/sloughing off.  This cd was made in the in the late 80s in the UK.  After peeling in spots there's a different shade of silver below.  Will this disc be unplayable at some point?  I've read that label side damage can affect the laser reading the data.  The disc plays with no errors so far.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Albums that should be reissued
« on: September 02, 2012, 11:27:07 PM »
What are your most wanted reissues (that never came out on cd or sold out so quickly you missed it)?


Abecedarians--80s band from l.a. area who did gloomy ambient rock, on the famous Factory label.  Caroline put out a comp cd in late 80s that goes for outrageous prices.  A double or even multiple disc set would be a dream come true.

Red Temple Spirits--another overlooked band, similar to above.

Shriekback--Jam Science.  Never released on cd.  A crime.

Swans--the early to mid 90s stuff on Young God. 

Yagya--Rhythm of Snow.  I'm still pissed this cd is unavailable, dammit!

Tangerine Dream--Legend soundtrack.

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