Created solely with a guitar and a bunch of layered effects, Forget is a powerful and poignant track from St. Louis artist Greg Dallas, recalling the hazy, drifting ambience of artists like William Basinski. It’s really beautiful, and I wish it was three times as long so I didn’t have to keep hitting replay.
I only really started paying proper attention to ambient a few years ago, and increasingly I feel like I’ve missed out and will never properly catch up, especially when there seems to be a near constant stream of incredible new stuff being released. Case in point: PCM’s Macro, the lead single from their forthcoming album. It’s absolutely incredible: a masterclass in restraint, raw emotion and surging power stretched out over 9 epic minutes.
Lisa & Kroffe released their first album Gärdet Session back in 2013, and have been keeping themselves busy under various different names and projects in the electronica, techno and kraut genres since then. Efterdyningar is taken from their new LP Roslagens Famn which came out last month, which is really brilliant instrumental music in the borderland between folk, psychedelic, ambient and styles of electronic music I can’t even identify. Efterdyningar itself is a super-chilled moment halfway through that delves into a lot of my favourite themes: nostalgia, sadness, melancholy; you know, the good stuff.
Named after San Fransisco’s Sutro Tower, Christina Chatfield’s new album Sutro shares more than just a name with that iconic structure. Skeletal in form, both suggests the celestial: towering presences that have a far weightier impact than you’d expect from their sparse construction. Distinct from her usual dancefloor-focussed aesthetic, Chatfield lets the tracks drift, almost aimlessly: amorphous forms that at times are little more than fragments of vocals and gently pulsing pads. If you have an hour to spare, this is a wonderful album to lose yourself in. If you don’t, you should probably reconsider your priorities.
Ymir is an experimental multimedia artist from North Dakota who specialises in short-form ambient music and 3D glitch art. Latest single The Crystal Expanse is inspired by a particular scene from Miyazaki’s 1984 Japanese anime film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in which the protagonists wake up underneath the canopy of a toxic jungle: an enormous, oppressive space punctuated by occasion shafts of light. I’ve not seen the film, but Ymir absolutely manages to conjure an impressive sense of both scale and wonder with this short but extremely intense slice of ambient.
Writing about this kind of floating, glassy ambient, I sometimes feel like words aren’t really doing it justice, which is, admittedly, a bit of an issue if you’ve chosen to run a blog where your own grasp of language is at least reasonably important. even – the latest from Japanese artist Akiyoshi Yasuda – is the latest to stump me. Is it ‘gorgeous’? Yes. Is it ‘evocative’? Also yes. Does it ‘feel as insignificant as curling wisps of distant clouds, but also have the ability to make your head spin with the force of its own delicate beauty’? Sure does.
Imagining Machines is a twenty-minute digital-only work in three parts by Australian sound designer Daniel McCagh which, if you’re a fan of William Basinski, is probably going to be right up your street. Focussing on the slow decay and disintegration of its main, constantly shifting pads while a whirling bank of machines limber up in the background, I guess all the individuals elements are fairly morose and disquieting. Except when you put them all together, it’s beautiful. And not just, “oh, that’s pretty” beautiful, but a kind of aching, longing appreciation of something that you can’t quite comprehend existing.
Sometimes all your want to do is sit back in a comfy chair and be made to feel increasingly anxious for 12 or so minutes. And while, sure, you could just drink several strong coffees and watch the news, there are better ways of achieving this sometimes weirdly pleasurable state of disquiet, so here come Grøte – a drone collective based in Croatia – with Prognosis 1 – which slowly overwhelms you to the point that all you can think about is the vastness of everything and the futility of your own existence in comparison. But, you know, in quite an enjoyable way.
Finnish artist Lasse Tapio Junnila released his debut album Childhood Amnesia last week, and Recall comes from that collection. The album tenderly and poignantly explores memory and nostalgia: specifically those half-forgotten early experiences of childhood that can lie dormant for years before coming back in a rush, triggering strong – if not entirely fully understood – emotions. Recall is gleaming, surging ambient electronica, and is just lovely.
Patricia Taxxon released two entire albums this weekend, but I watched four entire games of rugby and cooked a roast, so, you know, who’s to really say what’s of more benefit to the world? This is my pick from the first of those albums, Crocus, which in some ways throws back to her 2019 masterpiece Beauty, minus the samples and frenetic drums: a gorgeous, synthy instrumental that once agains manages to remind me of Lemmings.