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Messages - Ben Fleury-Steiner

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speechless...Only moths ago Gordon and I were talking about the new Con_Sense disc...The guy was a PASSIONATE listener of ambient music..And as his posts always revealed, he was constantly trying to promote artists' music...He will truly be missed....[[[no emoticon is sufficient]]]

Mike & Lena--

I can't tell you how thrilled we were when Abby agreed to release Machina Mundi on Gears of Sand Recordings.

Her music is truly breathtaking and I agree Umbilicus Maris absolutely blew me away when I first heard
it--Daniel (Mystery Sea head honcho) and I trade often--and this one is easily in my Top 5 in the night ocean drones series....

I look forward to hearing her work on the forthcoming Hypnos comp!


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)

that's very cool, scott...And I'm glad you enjoy the music as it's a bit more rock than a lot of ambient folks seem to dig...Amy teaches full time, so doing the all night road trips is a lot tougher for her...

Everything and Nothing / Re: Ambient Guitar
« on: April 17, 2008, 09:48:14 AM »
my last record as a means through which I can speak was done almost entirely w/ electirc guitar and is 180 degrees from my previous polished synth effort drifts....

Lately, I've also been getting into some seriously strange preparations for electric guitar using metal objects magnetized to the pickups - all done in real time w/ my furman pedal board filled with hardware stomp boxes a plenty...

I already have a site under my name on myspace, so I posted these works on a separate page - I plan to release the first work : : : ampere : : : under the pseudonym soeng soon...

love to get reactions from pete, sundummy, jeff, martin and the other guitar adventurists out there--what can I say I'm drawn to Keith Rowe and other less traditioinal ambient experimental players--soeng is the outlet for the the total annihilation of the instrument into a textural surface system:

read the 'about' section for specs on the preparations and check out the slide show to the left for pictures of all the weridness!

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 / Re: Steve Roach discussion
« on: March 27, 2008, 07:29:53 AM »
took a dose of structures from silence before bed last night - only positive SR vibes coming from chilly Wilmington, DE  ;)

many thanks for this thoughtful review !

Hey Tony--Unfortunately, w/ cdbaby that's the best I can do for samples...But I would be very surprised if you were disappointed w/ Himmelhvælv  ;)  best, ben

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:

This is a fantastic disc!!  just snagged it...I love Evan's reference to The Necks--one of my favorite acts--Bartsch's sound is like a more austere version of The Necks with clear traces of the signature ECM sound...

Everything and Nothing / Re: Favorite toys from when we were kids
« on: February 22, 2008, 10:23:23 AM »

thanks, martin.  cheers, ben

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....

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Compass by Con_Sense
« on: February 02, 2008, 06:59:02 AM »
This is a nice one penned by our man Darren B coming out this month in his new column in the terrific print magazine Signal to Noise

Published in:
Circuit Breakers electronica column

Delaware-based Gears of Sand label has in a scant few years raised the bar for CDR wanna-be’s, thanks to gorgeously rendered artwork (jeweled art within a jewel box) and the taste of owner Ben Fleury-Steiner, a musician in his own right whose keen ear sports radar sharper than NORAD’s. The two latest GoS releases burn the candle from different ends, but each unveils the kind of elaborate, sumptuously-minted sound design that demands you break open your well-worn wallet yet again. On Compass, Con_Sense part the overwrought red seas of laptop nonsense in the yielding of sonic schemes aburst with good sense. Scattering moonshot contrails over grey fields that drone on into the night, the mysterious duo possess a rhythmic tenacity that makes for heady spiralling down their interspatial sinks. Case in point is the lengthy “Sirius”: astronauts in awe viewing swiftly blossoming nebulae, synths a rush of blurred images surging in heavenly resins, until fluorescent beats eclipse the night sky, bidding travellers’ return. Con_Sense inaugurate a new breed of cosmic courier, dreaming in tangerine yet funkily-flavored—pretty great. Back on earth, newcomer Yui Onodera clearly owes some tuition to the Noble school, and, like other artists on that engaging Japanese label (plus its spiritual aesthetes residing at 12k, Plop, Apestaartje, Headz), works a filigree of means into tightly-wound ornaments of sound. Rhizome examines the residual eddies orbiting about noises glimpsed at nearly subatomic levels, where the crunch of neutrons becomes palpable, where congregations of masticating insects assume intensities of biblical proportions. Recalling Michael Prime’s fascinating anthropomorphic capturings of plant tissue, Rhizome’s effects (constructed out of hand-picked field recordings, electronic drizzlings, ultra-processed guitar, and piano will o’ the wisp) echo across vast microbial regions to reveal the teeming events unfolding deep within. Hugely engrossing, as it should be. DARREN BERGSTEIN


Despite the fact ambient music partly disappeared in Europe and that CD selling are collapsing (in Europe too... I dont know for USA),
I recently created a label called Snowblood, devoted to ambient music.
We release CD with nice design and packaging (no jewel case).

I just released my debut CD. The project is Irezumi, a new artist based in Europa.

Here is our website :
You can get info, my email contact or you can order from there.

I am also searching for distributors in USA. If some nice people here can help me it would be great!

Thanks a lot.

hi hana--

very nice sound...yes, the whole corporate music industry is plunging here as well..but who actually cares?  we small label operators (mine is: are here to keep the tradition of this beautiful music alive...indie ambient/experimental atmospheric music labels will never make a lot of money...the goal I think is to not go too far into debt, try to break even, and invest any profits into steadily improving the quality of yr releases...

It's a labor of love, right?

best wishes with snowblood and great to have you here on the forum--I think you will enjoy it here as there are many, many passionate people who have made tremendous sacrifices to keep this wonderful artform thriving ! 


p.s. as for possible U.S. distros:

Aquarius Records

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Infraction, Some Great Music
« on: January 31, 2008, 02:22:09 PM »
I'd say Databloem, Native State, Blue Oasis, Hypnos , Infraction, 20 Hertz are the top minimal ambient labels in terms of sound quality, artwork--that is to say, the whole package...Tony, Mike G, Evan B, and Jason et al really inspire us smaller CD-R labels to keep striving for excellence...Gears of Sand has ebbed and flowed in terms of our ability to do the kind of quality product we aim for...It's taken 4+ years for us to find our stride and now we're ready to go to the next step w/ our live series (just posted about this in mike's 'small labels' thread)...I'm a sucker for a great package and aim to sell more discs so that we can keep improving our product and be more and more selective about the kinds of releases we do...I also do a lot of my own music that I don't release free so as to raise funds to put back into the label... It's the "business" of keeping this beautiful artform alive and well...profit?!?!?!  yeah, right...

Everything and Nothing / Re: What should a small record label do?
« on: January 31, 2008, 02:09:36 PM »
I've nothing against netlabels--love many of them--but everything against pirating. 

I think most of our goals is to make enough to do more releases, break even, and maybe up the quality of future releases etc...

For those of us who love the special packaging/material item, my label, gears of sand, for example, just spent a bit more for our new live series--all of these releases will be packaged in chipboard boxes with genuine letter press printing (#1 should be available in the hypnos store soon)--so my feeling is that this kind of blatant pirating is devastating to small labels, especially those that aspire to keep improving in terms of product quality and constancy of releases...

For labels like Hypnos, Native Sound, or Infraction that regularly spend $1,000+ on a single release, I think the effects of pirated downloads is only negative...In this context, I don't buy the "added exposure" argument at all...The fact is this: many who would buy a disc but listen to a lot of music will opt for the pirated download simply out of expediency...And that can't be good for small labels...

But screw it all, we soldier on releasing these sounds for the love of the artform...

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