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Topics - Ben Fleury-Steiner

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Everything and Nothing / Passing friends
« on: December 31, 2009, 09:56:59 AM »
Its been awhile since I've posted here.  Being a relatively new dad has kept me insanely busy and not able to check out my favorite forum in many, many months. 

I feel a special bond here as two people I got to know well (Rigel Orionis I even collaborated with) are no longer with us.

I'm just know listening to IXOHOXI and remembering through sound and spirit the wonderful artist, Dan Russo...And am amazed at the depth of Jim Brenholts's compositions as he evolved into his musical persona, Rigel Orionis - Night Heat is a pretty special piece of work to say the least...There's a deep emptiness with both their untimely deaths...

The passing of another year brings their memories especially alive for me...I feel lucky to have met them first here on the Hypnos forum--a place where kindred spirits share their love for a kind of listening that few understand nor genuinely appreciate...And for that I'm deeply grateful...


Purchase and sound samples here:

The latest installment in our live, improvisational series is a work of three flowing drones by Seconds in
Formaldehyde. A decadent work of aural escapism recorded live at last year's Auerworld Festival 28 July 2007. This release is limited to 100 hand numbered copies and presented in chipboard boxes with genuine letter pressed text and images by Matt Borghi of The Hand Work Press.


At the beginning of 2007, it seemed the last thing the world needed was yet another guitar drone project. Now the year is nearing its end, we're happy Martin Fuhs of Seconds in Formaldehyde didn't care about that estimation. Admittedly, his first full-length releases on Umbra Records and Gears of Sand still owed a lot to his musical hero Aidan Baker: Minimal and looped melodic lines were slowly woven into dense aural carpets, which gradually started pulsating in a polyrhythmic and multiharmonic shimmer. But then came "Suddenly Silence burst my Ear", his third album, which proved to be a first breakthrough: Energetic and raw, yet detailed and refined, it took his music to a next level and offered fans of the genre a true alternative. As it turns out, Fuhs is a man who loves many different styles of music and is gradually integrating his plentiful influences into a personal handwriting. More and more, his artistic background is becoming clearer, as the compositions are turning more complex, harmonically confusing and creative in terms of sound. The pinacle of this development is "Construct", a one-track release on his newly founded Waterscape label, which suddenly offers comparisons to the earliest days of cosmic electronic music, and fuses the abstractions of the clicks n cuts scene with full, atmospheric textures. As 2008 draws nearer, we can't wait for the latest developments from the field of guitar drones.
Hi! How are you? Where are you?

I'm doing fine, thanks for asking. Currently I'm sitting behind my laptop in a small town near erfurt.

What’s on your schedule right now?

Quiet a lot to be honest. I have finished the first release for my new label waterscape records. Its by myself and its titled “construct”. Then i have to finish the second release on waterscape which is going to be by paul bradley. I'm doing this all by myself, so it means that its a whole lot of work, including artwork.Then i recorded new material for a few releases later this year or next year. One Release will be on Small Doses in America and its titled “Injection”. Its a 3”cd-r with quite a bit heavier stuff. There is also going to be a 3”cd-r on Phage Tapes in America. And I'm also planning a few more live gigs. One will be in ilmenau as a part of a big live jam session with other local artists from the electronica scene in November.

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist? Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?

I would lie if i wouldn't mention the name aidan baker. He has a huge influence to my music to be honest. But I'm also influenced by artist's like bohren & der club of gore or tim hecker, even if you wouldn't compare my music to theirs. And I'm a big fan of fear falls burning and oren ambarchi. I don't see myself as a part of a tradition since I'm pretty young and most of these guys have been writing their music for years. But i also don't think that I'm part of a movement, because a movement in my opinion is something that will come to an end. And i see myself doing this music even in 10 years or so. (Hopefully)

What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?

I think we should look at two different scenes. The kind of “pop” scene and the “experimental” scene. As long as i can enjoy listening to releases from the experimental scene i will stay happy. I think a tim hecker ringtone on jamba would cause some sort of a crisis but as long as this doesn’t happen, everything should be fine.

What does the term "new“ mean to you in connection with music?

Showing new aspects of music. New ways of making sounds.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?

You need to have a sound to make a composition. So that's the relationship.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?

I don't separate them. Most of my music is created out of a improvisation. But I'm also composing music. I think you can't separate them, because they just fit together.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?

I think a good performance depends on the quality of the music played. The quality of the composition should fit but also the quality of the sound. Video screens would be interesting for me, but in an other way i think they would distract from the music. When I'm performing live, i have a starting point. So all my music is based on that point. The rest is totally improvised and i think that keeps it exciting.

A lot of people feel that some of the radical experiments of modern compositions can no longer be qualified as “music”. Would you draw a border - and if so, where?

I wouldn't draw a border. Its all about the person who is listening to this music. If the person doesn't like the music then that's her musical taste.

Are “serious” and “popular” really two different types of music or just empty words without a meaning?

I would tend to say that they are just 2 words without meaning. Just like the question you ask above, it's all about the person who is listening to this music. Person A could say that it is serious music while person B thinks that it's just popular music. Everything is a matter of musical taste.

Do you feel an artist has a certain duty towards anyone but himself? Or to put it differently: Should art have a political/social or any other aspect apart from a personal sensation?

I don't think that art should have a political or social meaning. But everyone should make up their minds about that themselves.

True or false: People need to be educated about music, before they can really appreciate it.

Yes and no. I don't need to know much of musical history or theory to listen to music. But sometimes a certain education could show you new aspects about the music that you are listening to.

Imagine a situation in which there’d be no such thing as copyright and everybody were free to use musical material as a basis for their own compositions – would that be an improvement to the current situation?

No improvement. There are to many lazy people who would just copy a few things and tell you that they did everything by themselves.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?

Artist list: Aidan Baker (a Solo Set as well as a Set as Nadja), Tim Hecker, Fennesz, Fear Falls Burning, Oren Ambarchi, Isis and Bohren & der Club of Gore. Bohren & der Club of Gore as the closing act. They would play the complete “Sunset Mission” since it's my all time favourite Album. Perhaps a few Projections and that's all. For most of the people it would be a pretty boring festival, but i would love it.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?

I do dream of a magnum opus, but i think I'm far away from that.

-Tobias Fischer, Tokafi

....there are 5 copies left and you can get one for the dirt cheap $5 here:

The unique talents of the constantly evolving Bible and Henry are on full display with Vryashn. For one, the well honed laptopist duo turn here to piano and recordings of found objects as their main mediums. While the warmth, spacious piano movements of ambient pioneers Harld Budd and Brian Eno is often drawn upon for inspiration by other artists, few are able to use the instrument in ways heard on Vryashn. Rather than sparse notes played between silences, Bible and Henry use the piano as a launching pad into a sprawling world of minimal piano motifs that build tension and release given a depth through subtle laptop treatments. Vryashn is arguably a definitive statement of Bible and Henry's talents as composers on the cutting edge of an overflowing and arguably oversampled electronic scene. Beyond synthetic 'soundscapes' or 'interesting textures' Vryashn coalesces into an extraordinarily epic journey. Unfolding over two movements clocking in at just over 50 minutes, the work's addictive minimalist motifs pull the listener in only to be washed over--often unexpectedly--by subtle sonorities of breathy fibrillations, pulsing machinery, and radiant drones that intrigue but never serve to take Vryashn off its massive, radiant course. In a word, breathtaking.

To purchase and hear sound samples from VRYASHN go here:

Now available All of the True Things I'm About to Tell You Are Lies by True Colour of Blood

Sound Samples and Purchase:

One of the seminal figures in modern guitar drone music returns with this colossal masterpiece..Read the interview with the man himself (Eric Kesener aka TRUE COLOUR OF BLOOD) here:

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Live Stars of the Lid
« on: June 12, 2008, 06:23:36 AM »
Anyone else catch them live on this tour?  I saw them in Philly at the Gatherings and have to say a huge disappointment...The string section was so loud you could barely hear Adam and Brian...The whole thing for me was like second rate chamber music, major bummer, as SOTL is one of my all time faves...

The brilliant New Zealand sound sculptor Abby Helasdottir (aka Gydja) has crafted a complex lifeworld on Machina Mundi. As Abby describes "the original idea was based around Newton's clockwork universe." The listening experience brings to mind vast images of an entire floating planet-- translucent like a post-industrial snowglobe--revealing intricate machines, plant life, and weather systems moving apart, together, in a strange otherworldly ballet.

Purchase and Sound Samples Click Link Below

About the Artist:

Abby Helasdottir has been creating music since 1995 under the name Gydja (an Old Norse word for priestess). Initially, the aim of the project was to create music that could be used for magickal and shamanic purposes. Some of the earliest ideas involved using field recordings, and basing whole pieces on these sounds in a largely unprocessed way. This is still a concern of Gydja, but with more emphasis now being placed on abstracting these sounds so that, whilst they retain a sense of their original source, they become something else entirely. The current style of Gydja differs from the initial intentions of the project, with music of both a mundane and magickal nature being created. And whilst the music is usually linear and could be defined as a soundscape, it is also not necessarily always dark ambient in style, embracing electro-acoustic and experimental techniques. Works designed specifically for magickal use sit alongside explorations of sound for sound's sake; and in a third tier, some exploration of sound contain magickal themes, even if there is no practical magickal application intended.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / The New True Colour of Blood....
« on: April 25, 2008, 12:47:35 PM »
...Is an amazing guitar drone record that will be coming out on Gears of Sand very soon.... 8)

First, a little bit about the series:

Our intention with this series is to capture atmospheric works in as pure to a live improvisation as possible.  Given the fleeting beauty that is often lost in the studio, we wanted to find artists who somehow were able to preserve an improvisatory gem they managed to capture on record.

These releases are strictly limited to 100 copies and done up in some spectacular packaging by Matt Borghi of Slobor Media and the Hand Work Press.  Each release is housed in a beautiful japanese style chipboard arigato packs and cloth disc sleeves w/ genuine letter pressed images and text and full color, glossy insert.

Our first release by Aidan Baker sold out very quickly (not particularly surprising given Aidan's growing popularity).

Our second Suchness release is a special re-issue from a group that Hypnos forumites will be less familiar with Northern Valentine.  Recorded primarily in an abandoned sanitarium this collection of melodic ambient fragments is special in its weaving of so many subgenres: Description is somewhat futile. Husband and wife team Amy and Bob Brown make it clear: They are serious listeners of many atmospheric musics. Years of dedicated listening, constant touring, and fearless experimentation has made for a truly unique sonic diary of ghosts; a spiritual paeon of many emotions to the dwellers of the lost sanitarium.  The drones bring to mind many ambient artists the melodics point more towards Windy and Carl and some of the earlier shoegazey works that appeared on Kranky and 4AD

Purchase and Sound Samples

Another long delayed Suchness release by Seconds in Formaldehyde will be issued in early May and possibly by the end of this month.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / The Necks
« on: March 05, 2008, 03:14:19 PM »
A recent post made me want to create a separate thread on these geniuses...

Any fans of The Necks here?

Man, I love how effortlessly they combine minimalist jazz with deep atmospherics--the recent stuff like Chemist brings in some wonderful electronics along w/ the tighter than tight piano-drums-bass...totally hypnotic and addictive stuff...

I would say any fan of minimalist ambient music intrigued by jazz should definitely swallow up (pun intended) as many discs by The Necks as possible  ;)


We are extremely proud to release this brand new work by one of our favorite groups out there, Rumforskning.  Danny and Mads create the kind of 'sounds of impermanence' that strike to the core of the GoS aesthetic: minimal, haunting, but always evolving, however subtly.

Regarding this work, we asked Rumsforskning to provide us insight into the inspiration behind Himmelhvælv:

R: "When we look at the night sky we get a sense of space as a very dark and empty place. However space is much more than what we can make sense of. Dark matter/energy are just words used to hint at a description of what is ultimately unperceivable to us. Himmelhvælv draws a line between the shortcomings of both scientific description and religious myth, and portrays space as an abstract place ruled by unfamiliar shapes."

GoS: "How would you summarize Rumforskning's sonic approach on this work?"

R: "Despite Denmark being a fairly small place, we are located in separate cities when we make the music. One of us usually starts out with a very minimal sketch and we let it exchange back and forth between us with more layers getting added at each place until a sort of critical mass is reached, and we begin to think of it as a finished track. We always strive to keep the layers within a rather narrow aesthetics, which allows us to claim the music portrays some kind of astronomical event. It's the final interpretability of the music as a metaphor for outer space that makes all the difference to us when we judge the quality of a work in progress."

Purchase and Sound Samples Click the Link Below:

Other Ambient (and related) Music / NEW :: Ben Fleury-Steiner 3" on Taâlem
« on: February 09, 2008, 02:45:46 AM »
He Dreams in Rivers recently released on this nice French label run by Jean-Marc Boucher-Ancelle....

My new project - we're a quintet - 3 guitar players, bass, piano/violin - new live sounds among other here:

please listen and comments always appreciated  ;D

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / How do you record?
« on: December 23, 2007, 11:46:11 AM »
I know this was a topic in the previous board, but I really would benefit from some advice.  I'd like to purchase a cost-effective, portable set up for my PC.  I've recently switched to Ableton Live and really like it, so I'm talking interfaces.  If I recall APK mentioned a very affordable "small tower" of sorts with lots of connectors for mics and the like - that one that caught my interest especially...thanks again!

Other Ambient (and related) Music / GOS 33: RHIZOME BY YUI ONODERA
« on: December 20, 2007, 07:58:47 AM »
Yui Onodera has long been a central figure in the budding Japanese
enviro-ambient scene, as his works on his own Critical Path label
attest.  In the last several months, however, Yui's work has begun to
draw international acclaim with consistently sublime releases on
Germany's Drone Records, Seattle's and/OAR, Frances's Taalem, and the
Belgian Mystery Sea imprint.

Rhizome is an intricate atmospheric work of piano, guitar, field
recordings and computer processing.

A rhizome is a horizontal stem of a plant--the epicenter for roots
and stems.  Thus the title for Onodera's work could not be more
fitting.  Composed in 7 parts, the listener is drawn into its subtle
yet sprawling sonic tendrils.

Setting the listener's mind in moton, we are filled with visuals of
glowing, wind swept streets, shimmering sunlight giving way to
blue-black night, twinkling stars, and a wide-open dawn of lush
flourescent gardens.

Sound samples and ordering info available here:

Also available on iTunes among other quality digital download sites.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Compass by Con_Sense
« on: December 09, 2007, 07:08:07 AM »

This is our latest offering on the Gears of Sand label.  It has such an incredibly inviting sound.  Like Monoloake and it's addictive beats with the production values of the best, most spacious, well composed ambient records.  Don't miss it!

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