claire rousay’s 2021 album a softer focus was one I regularly returned to throughout the year, usually first thing in the morning when it’s gentle melodies and evocative field recordings would make me feel infinitely better about whatever mundane task I was faced with. On same she’s teamed up with more eaze for something altogether more jarring, but no less brilliant, with the fizzing intensity of its opening few bars quickly fading to reveal a PC Music-esque core of saturated vocals and naive, plunky melodies. Part hyper-pop excess and part ambient understatement, it’s a combination that probably shouldn’t work, but absolutely does.
A theme of: Very Chilled Music Indeed seems to be emerging on the blog this week, which perhaps reflects my mindset of trying to wind down to such an extend that by Christmas I may need assistance simply getting out a chair. And it doesn’t come much more relaxed that this gorgeously atmospheric slice of ambient from Belfast-based composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Neil Foster. Created using analog arpeggiators, live vocals, delayed, layered pianos and his own field recordings, it is, in a word, lush.
Ilian Tape really are in a league of their own. Regardless of which particular branch of electronic music they’re currently championing – usually several simultaneously – it’s pretty much guaranteed to be brilliant, and Jake Muir’s new album Mana is no exception. Tonic – the lead track – is ambient techno at its finest, beatless save a subterranean kick that echoes, ominously, in the background, grounding what is otherwise a freewheeling soundscape of restlessly twitching synths and shimmering celestial pads.
EDIT: Jake just pointed out to me that the entire album is actually composed of samples, without a synth in sight. Shows how attuned my ear is to electronic music after nearly four decades obsessive listening.
After an exhaustive (10 minute) search online there’s nothing I can tell you about Damiana I’m afraid, other than their latest release Vines was released on a clear vinyl limited to 100 copies which has now sold out. Too late suckers! This came out back in May but – 100 clear vinyl fanatics aside – seems to have flown largely under the radar, which is a shame as it’s really beautiful. Think Enya minus the hooks, with a little shake of Engima(!), combined with a dollop of mid 90s ambient trance – Chicane, or someone similar. Sounds fucking hideous right!? Well it’s not, I promise.
There’s something overwhelmingly tangible about the trickling synth lines that dominate Suzanne Ciani’s new single, as if you could reach into your speakers and feel them drop, delicately and unpredictably upon your outstretched fingers. This, along with another, equally brilliant track from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, are the lead singles from a forthcoming 30-track ambient compilation that’s been pulled together by Coldcut and features contributions from Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sigur Rós, Skee Mask, Helena Hauff and loads more which on paper at least, looks like it’s going to be rather magnificent. You can check out the full tracklist at the Bandcamp link, below, and bask in the glory of Morning Spring while you do.
I honestly struggle to write about drone tracks in any meaningful way other than variations of “this is overwhelmingly beautiful/dark/powerful”, and the same goes for this brilliant 8 minute piece from Swedish composer LEHNBERG, so just listen to it and let it completely take you away from whatever mundane task you’re likely caught up in.
Traumprinz is back, with a new alias, and another epic 3 hour drop of music. lost in dreams is the latest collection from the anonymous producer and follows last year’s double DJ Metatron / The Phantasy release, which, even though there were unquestionably some gems in there, I didn’t rate quite as highly as most of their previous work. lost is dreams is an absolute masterpiece though, reminiscent of his dj healer set from a few years back. It is truly remarkable that someone this talented has completely removed their ‘self’ from their art, and delivers such an insane amount of incredible music without ever feeling the need to revel in the glory that would inevitably come from unmasking themselves. Long may it continue.
I remember a time when the mere mention of PC Music could illicit conflicting moans – of either rapturous pleasure or abject despair – from people I had previously thought were fairly aligned on what they considered Good Music. What feels like decades later but what in reality is probably only a few years, a quite brilliant album from caro♡ (the lead singer of Planet 1999 which was PC Music’s first full band signee), has flown relatively under the radar, which is a shame as it’s a really joyful thing, with enough glossy cartoonish bounce to satisfy the PC purists, and enough genuinely thoughtful and subtle moments to stop anyone getting too angry about it. drop in the ocean is definitely one of the calmer moments, evoking Selected Ambient Works Volume II-era Aphex, albeit backed up with some dappled, shoegazey beats.
Poulson Sq. are Anthony Fiumara and Mathijs Leeuwis – a duo formed as a mutual love of ambient music; specifically creating rich sonic tapestries packed full of the kind of repeating patterns often found in nature. Their latest single is Kosmic Headroom which was created from a combination of pedal steel guitar, Buchla Music Easel, tapedecks, analog effects and field recordings, the resulting track being effortlessly beautiful, with subtle manipulations and variations echoing the fractal shifting of a twilight landscape.
The title track from French producer Franck Zaragoza aka Ocoeur’s forthcoming album, Connections is warm, compelling and packs a real emotional wallop: a gorgeous slice of ambient IDM with shifting, skeletal beats and encompassing pads that slowly give way to a softly triumphant piano line. Ocoeur is a completely new artist to me, but I’ll be diving headlong into the LP when it drops tomorrow.