Carefully Constructed Soundscapes with Carson Teal - Liquid Honey

In most cases the objective of ambient music is ultimately to construct an atmosphere, and it’s impressive just how quickly Carson Teal is able to achieve this with Liquid Honey, a track which extends a little past the two minute mark.

The Toronto based artist continues to play with the low, measured, dubstep style which underlays his previous work, but this element of the sound takes more of a backseat than in past tracks; instead it supports the cinematic beat collapses that thread throughout Liquid Honey and provide a sense of pace and purpose.

Overlaid onto these heavier sounds, the influence of Carson’s experimental field recording roots can be heard. The track name put me in mind of something smooth and sweet, but immediately things went in another direction as I was met by an insect-like buzz which I could believe was sampled from a mosquito. High pitched but delicate whirs and clicks pervade the song, echoing notes which make full use of surround sound and successfully establish the soundscape before the latter half of the track as the ambient crescendos roll in.

Carson Teal gives us a dreamlike track that immediately draws us in, delivers an environment, and quietly fades out. Certainly, I’ve heard songs five times the length that don’t match the level of immersion achieved by Liquid Honey. Grab the whole EP here.

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Alaskan Tapes breaks hearts in 'The Times Are Tired'

Brady Kendall  known also as Alaskan Tapes is a Canadian producer and composer based out of Toronto. Diving into his discography you are quickly submerged in a smorgasbord of soundscapes, plucked guitar and a host of lavish, atmospheric strings and synths that make up the body of his work; exploring the realms of ambient, drone and fragile electronica. Brady’s work can be heard on a variety of short films, and while Kendall has created some conventional songs, he seems mostly interested in the abstract; drawing you gently into the most intimate of spaces. 

‘The Times Are Tired’ is no exception. The unmistakable sound of a sliding steel string of an electric guitar opens the track giving you a brief impression that we are about to settle into some raw vocal/guitar rendition. Instead delicate elements soften the steel strumming and elevating strings join to harmonize what I can only describe as a moment in music that embodies heat-break and loss. This is Alaskan Tapes at his best. While, if I am completely honest, I really wanted more from this piece. For me it ends too soon, it feels like I was introduced to the most beautiful of moments only to have it taken away. Whatever Brady’s intention, we are treated to something special if only for a fleeting moment.

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Drifting Resonant moments in Non-Functional Harmony's ---a---

Non- Functional Harmony is a British-born producer based in Berlin who since 2017 has been steadily releasing ambient, techno/house inspired music. While there is little online that reveals a profile of his identity and back-ground there is enough to establish that N.F.H is a diverse and highly skilled producer with an impressive range in skills that see spectrum leaping genres come together under his brand of electronica. Jumping from synth pop, to house to ambient, to drone and the avant grade N.F.H. leaves a deep emotive imprint in all he touches. 

—-A—- is a collection of field recordings, distorted vocals and lush harrowing synths that creates a clutter-free collage of sonic stills that feels like the breath of space. It feels as if you are orbiting in the inner working of some kind of underlying sub-conscience. Snapshots that focus on a multitude of different moments that drift in and out. N.F.H. creates a lucid landscape that has the power to be very emotionally resonant, the reason being that no matter what genre or track you are listening to from N.F.H. you are fully immersed, fully engaged, feeling every note because N.F.H. is; it’s transparent and transcendent. 

While N.F.H. does have more than one ambient/drone release under his belt I would urge you to check out his Spotify or Soundcloud page to discover how broad and fully realized N.F.H. range is. While doing my research some tracks stood out to me and I think they are worth your attention, ‘The Fire’ and ’18 Frames’ in particular but be sure to check out more for what I am sure will be some new firm favourites waiting for you.

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Sound Collage Memorials with Nami Sato

Nami Sato grew up in Sendai – a small town on the coast side of Japan. In 2011, The Great East Japan Earthquake, a Tsunami washed out many towns. Her hometown, Arahama, was one of them. Despite losing family members to the tragedy and having her hometown swept off the map, Nami has come to a point of acceptance rather than despair. Throughout the healing process, her music has been a great source of reflection and inspiration.

’Our Map Here’ is a release composed primarily from field recordings from the surrounding towns affected by the tsunami. The five songs on the EP were originally written for a memorial installation, which was built next to a subway station nearest to the town she grew up. Nami says the idea "was to create a map of memories around the coastline of Sendai City”.

Each title of the songs are the names of the areas where field recordings were carried out. Nami visited those five areas a few times with her microphone: "Instead of directly interviewing the locals, I focused on capturing the sound of local festivals of affected areas and disaster relief events. I created collages of sound by extracting and using the most personally memorable part of the recording.”

Despite the melancholic nature of the EP there are moments of optimism and rebirth within the layers of sound. Sato skillfully wraps the recordings in light blankets of melody and mood which results in a hopeful yet nostalgic message to the world.

Stream it on Spotify

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From absurd to ambient Olof Cornéer travels to the other side of himself in 'The Last Days of New Glasir'.

Olof Cornéer is one half of the electronic duo Dada Life who primarily produce big room EDM/Electro House. Dada Life is a reference to the absurdist movement of the early 1900’s in Switzerland which makes a lot of sense when you sit down and strap in for any of their outlandish music videos and bombastic beats. Priding themselves on being uncompromising in their approach to derisory sensibilities, Dada life were consistent on delivering music that pushed the boundaries of the of the silly and well, absurd within EDM and Electro House.  

After taking some time out in 2014 to address some serious health issues Olaf started a new solo project in Night Gestalt which carries a narrative based around space exploration in reaction to the desolation of our planet. The concept albums are to be made in three parts, each telling their own story as part of a larger theme. 

‘The Last Days of New Glasir’ is the title track from the second album which was released on the 10th of May and I think it’s fair to say that Night Gestalt is as far removed from the productions of Dada Life as is the fictional ONE spacecraft Olaf imagined is from earth. 

The track with it’s free floating synth notation/melodies and vocals feels like that image we have seen a thousand times of a stunning isolated iceberg floating away into arresting oblivion surrounded by nothing except its own tragic fate. There are uplifting moments among some truly spectacular melancholy.

Catch more from Night Gestalt here:

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Trentemøller aims for something different with 'Sleeper'

At this point in his career, what hasn’t Trentemøller accomplished? Throughout his ouvre, the Copenhagen-based musician has never failed to evolve his sound with each release, while at the same time maintaining the musical sensibilities that has made his sound his very own. That balance of exploring new forms and staying true to himself has only grown his fanbase over the years, as evidenced by a completely sold-out world tour in support of his last album. Today, we get a taste of his first original music since 2017 with the single, ‘Sleeper.’

As you may have guessed from the lush-yet-bleak video above, Sleeper lives far from the banner of ‘indie-electronic’ that has acted as a catch-all for Trentemøller’s various sounds thus far. While he has always had a preternatural knack for arranging compositions that build to satisfying crescendos, Sleeper also progresses in a decidedly orchestral manner. In fact, we don’t even hear a percussive element until halfway into the track, and even then, it is only minimally audible. But Trentemøller hallmarks are yet ever-present, from his signature detuned synths to his lush, harmonic atmospheres. All of these elements coalesce into a beautiful, if subtle, reflection that feels at once melancholic and nostalgic. In other words, it fits its title perfectly.

You can stream Sleeper over on Spotify, or download a copy for yourself on Trentemøller’s Bandcamp.

— review by autonomy

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Christopher Willits crafts music for experiences with 'Coast'

Fixture of the SF ambient/experimental scene and Ghostly International mainstay Christopher Willits is back with a forthcoming album titled ‘Sunset,’ an apt name for an album that he has given very specific instructions for listening: "Begin the music 15 minutes before the sun sets." The album releases on the 14th June 2019, but Ghostly has given us a peek inside by releasing a track from the album, ‘Coast.’

Willits’ music has always had a visual aspect to it, but only in the last few years has that become more explicit, such as with his 2014 album ‘Opening’, released explicitly as a visual album. And now, almost as a modal extension, Willits moves from the visual realm to the experiential. The album tracks with the setting sun, moving from warm to cool, and offering a sort of closure to the day. The track ‘Coast’, the 2nd on the album, indeed starts warm and lush, rolling and evolving with layers upon layers of washed out guitar, and ends with just the hint of airy rhythm that surely signals the encroaching darkness to come. We’ve got a few sunsets to go before June 14, but you would do yourself well to accompany those after with this album.

Stream ‘Coast’ above, and head over to the Ghostly International website to pre-order the full album.

— review by autonomy

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Atelier Pink Noise finds solace in quietude with 'Meditation of silence'

Continuing in the rich tradition of Japanese ambient, environmental, and new age music, Atelier Pink Noise releases a brand new full-length, 58-minute long album titled ‘Draw a Sleeps.’ Today, we get to listen to a selection from the album, a track titled ‘Meditation of silence.’ For the uninitiated, pink noise is a mathematical noise function that is perceived very similarly to soundscapes found in nature, such as waterfalls.

Atelier Pink Noise, however, instead of using pink noise in his compositions, goes straight to the source and samples the world around him. The sounds of forests, water, small animals, and more reverberate through his compositions, processed and warped to evoke new aural worlds, excitingly fresh yet still intimately familiar. APN blends these sources beautifully with rich, uplifting synth chords that are nominally abstract, but still manages to provoke a narrative within the mind, if one focuses clearly enough. Indeed, I would invite you to experience this track, as well as the rest of the album, in a peaceful and intimate setting, with the lights low and your eyes closed. Perhaps you’ll even see the natural sources from which these sounds originated from.

Stream ‘Meditation of silence’ above, and listen to the entire album over on Spotify.

— review by autonomy

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Ambient maestro Loscil recasts Souns' raw energy into a truly beautiful form

Building on the success of his 2017 album, ‘Aquamarine’, fixture of the Vancouver scene Michael Red, under his ambient alias Souns, prepares a remix EP featuring hand-picked artists to re-work his track ‘Sun Inside The Sun’. Close followers of ADSR may remember Michael Red from his performance at an ADSR show in Vancouver a couple years back, but since then his ambient project Souns has really taken off. The original ‘Sun Inside The Sun’ is a beautifully chaotic track, with pulses echoing about, capturing the energy and entropic dynamics of a hidden world.

Today, we get a peek at the remix from another Vancouverite, and prolific ambient artist in his own right, Loscil. Loscil takes the original’s syncopated form and morphs it into a rhythmic force. If Souns’ original track were stone blocks, rough, weathered, jagged and beautiful in its own right, Loscil’s remix would be a cathedral, with calculated flying buttresses and meticulously carved pillars. It’s a gorgeous rework, with each element fully coordinated with the whole, slowly building to a harmonious crescendo.

Stream the Loscil remix above, and if you like it, hop over to the Souns Bandcamp to pre-order. The EP is set for release on 31 May 2019 on Subtempo.

— review by Autonomy

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Modulations from the future with Romania's 'Electrons in Slow Motion'

Electrons in Slow Motion (EISM) is a cross-genre electronic project developed by Bucharest-born artist/producer Marius Copel. Combining analog synths with sparse soundscapes, Copel weaves immersive audio environments rich in dissonant drones, field recordings, and far-off arpeggiations. One part sci-fi dream world and one part distant dystopian universe, EISM dabs from his monochrome palette to create a sound that is uniquely his own.

His recently released debut album ‘Ecstatic Technologies’ boils down these central themes and concepts into a cohesive 8 track journey into the abyss. The album opens with ‘Breaking Eleusis’ which Marius describes as a “virtual pilgrimage to an ancient site”. Electronic chatter contrasts with reverb-soaked keys to slowly draw the listener into this mysterious and enigmatic world. The journey continues through a number of environments ranging from the subdued sounds of ‘Nyonoksa’ to the more tumultuous, beat-driven ‘Satomi’.

I would even go so far as to call the release a kind of ‘concept album’ as the tracks flow so well together and feature a steady narrative throughout. Marius describes the tracks as some sort of “sonic vehicle” or “machine” each with a unique initiation stage, environment and context. Regardless of the descriptor, ‘Ecstatic Technologies’ by Electrons in Slow Motion shows us that perhaps the future is closer than we think.

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