Magic is the new single from producer, singer and songwriter Kat Kitka, an utterly engrossing, haunting beautiful piece of music that pretty much completely defies description (but here goes). Folk, spoken word, ambient and ethereal pop are are dissected and reassembled alongside hugely evocative field recordings, resulting in a five minute track unlike anything else I’ve heard this year. The Kate Bush vibes are strong with this, which isn’t something I say lightly. Highly recommended.
A longtime member of alt-rock band Nine Inch Nails, as a solo artist Alessandro Cortini has released something like a dozen or so albums over the last decade; electronic-based experiments in ambient, noise and occasionally straying into something that vaguely resembles techno. His latest LP SCURO CHIARO landed last week, and even though CHIAROSCURO came out as a single a few months back, I missed it at the time and it’s such a clear standout that I couldn’t not feature it. Building slowly from a base of celestial bleeps and hums to a gloriously intense finale, it’s the perfect embodiment of electronic music at its most cinematic.
Loscil has been making consistently brilliant, deeply atmospheric electronic music for two decades now, and over the course of 15 or so albums has established himself as a producer with a clear and precise vision. Lumina is taken from his latest album, Clara, which came out last week, and is a perfect example of his patient, haunting approach to production, with reassuringly warm, sweeping pads accompanied by a winding, bubbling synth line that both soothes and invigorates.
Eager Atom is the latest musical project from Dutch producer and composer Gydo Keijzer, and Ambient I is taken from his new album Extrastatecraft. It’s a powerfully cinematic slice of ambient that could just as easily soundtrack the most unsettlingly poignant moments of a lo-fi Adam Curtis’s documentary as it could the final, cathartic , “tears in the rain” scene of a multi-million dollar sci-fi epic. Both of which are compliments, just in case I lost you at “ambient”.
Kenyan artist KMRU follows up the two fantastic albums he released last year with another cut from the same exquisite cloth. Logue came out last week and is another gorgeous, delicate electronic album that explores ambient experimentalism, almost approaching beatless techno with some of its tracks. 11 is meditatively percussive, with spine-tingling synths and rich warm pads creating an intensely cosmic – but also firmly grounded – atmosphere, like a caveman staring longingly at the stars in search of the divine.
It’s fairly outrageous that despite stealing the name for this blog from one of his songs, I’ve barely acknowledged than Sufjan has put out four (four!) albums in the last month or so. Arguably it’s one album, split into four parts, but still. My various excuses: I’ve been busy! There’s been a lot of good music to cover! Pubs have been open! Etc. Anyway, this is me officially saying: these albums exist and are all out now and are definitely worth your time. Also, they’re all on YouTube in their entirety.
Like many of Sufjan’s albums, they’re self-indulgent and meandering. Also like every single one of his albums, there are moments of such sublime, heart-rending beauty that you can’t imagine listening to anyone else ever again. Revelation V is one of those moments, but there are many, many more.
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.