bvdub - Yours are Stories of Sadness

 

What hasn't already been said about bvdub and is left to say?

He's a man of many words and expression, often through his relentless music output. Some, have wished for more departures from his sound over the years - a signature sound at that. In Yours are Stories of Sadness, Brock gives a glimpse of change, just enough for him to prove he is never done evolving and in fact, reflecting is just as powerful. 

Brock's releases often vary in intensity and emotion. From the harshness of static, to the rollercoaster of varying song structures, and the pull of the soaring melodies; there's perhaps one thing that Brock hasn't played with before to keep us guessing, and that's track length.

Not to make this entirely about how long a track is, but not only have I wondered what Brock would construct in such strict circumstances, but he's notorious for the progression in his ambient music - so much so they should start naming an approach to ambient music after him...

With each track on this release 1/4 of the normal bvdub length of around 12+ minutes, and each depicting a time in which he remembered a moment from 4-years ago, this is the purest distillation of Brock we've seen to date. 

Each track starts as if it was embarking on a typical bvdub journey, but quickly forms its shape and purpose - be it a unique sample in track 3, Pop Ambient sounding synthesizers in track 5, Helios style organic warmth in track 9, more familiar heart-wrenching chords in track 14 or soaring static and synthesizers in closer, track 19.

bvdub notoriously isn't the easiest introduction into his own music (let me explain that a little). His tracks are often intense and emotional, yet placed for positions of quiet and personal listening. Finding the right moment to listen to bvdub is one of the reasons I don't listen to his albums more - they become destined for very special occasions, intense emotional places, and I think that's why he manages to connect with so many people on a much deeper level than most. You don't listen to one track of his, you listen to an entire album, and you're his companion in time of need, stress, celebration or reflection. Be it a close death, a friendship, or in this instance, fragmented memories, Brock is brilliant at painting these vivid emotions. 

With Yours are Stories of Sadness, Brock not only made his music more accessible, but he's managed to distill the many parts that make up his sound over the years into tiny fragments. You can hear everything in here, with nods to the past and a glimpse into the potential future. He's not one to show off, but if you needed a resume from Brock, this is it - perfectly executed and a summation of his many unique styles. If this is the sound of bvdub recalling memories from the past 4 years, this is also the distilled sound of bvdub from the past 4 years, but with one clear difference.

Unlike his previous works, where the painting was finished, these memories are purposefully grainy and incomplete. Like a 12-minute bvdub track, the remaining 8 minutes or so, are left for you to wonder.  And what better music to wonder with. 

"Unlike all my other works which are meant to be in the foreground, these are meant to stay in the shadows... to be the quiet and subconscious soundtrack... each not a story, but just a moment... that moment you realize. Unlike the norm, when I elucidate every second to near unbearable levels ;), this time how that moment materializes or continues is up to you..." 

Available on Bandcamp. 

 

Joachim Spieth - Evaporate

 

Joachim Spieth graced us with an isolatedmix last year, diving into ambient and deep techno - a form that many of us have known him by since the very early Kompakt Pop Ambient releases.

Since then, Joachim has invested time in his own label, Affin Records, slowly curating a solid line-up of techno artists, including some of Markus Guentner's earliest releases, as well as becoming an outlet for his techno-oriented releases. It's of no surprise then, to see a Joachim release on Affin, but this one's a little special.

A new two track EP, Evaporate covers the split sides of Joachim we love the most. Immersive, organic textures, with one side peppered in driving, ear-rattling deep techno, a-la Donato Dozzy, Luigi Tozzi etc and the other finding itself lost amongst the complex birdsong of a mysterious, dense forest; the kind you'll find ASC orchestrating, or even Dozzy's deeper project, Voices From The Lake.  

Joachim's roots in ambient music are clearly evident throughout and it's his respect for these deep textures that creates this solid slice of hypnotic techno music, and a must own 12".

Available on Bandcamp.

 

isolatedmix 64 - Eluvium

 

Every now and then an album comes along that helps you witness the never-ending journey and evolution of music. Limitless, creative and inspiring, Matthew Cooper, aka Eluvium has consistently pushed the boundaries of his sound since his debut back in 2003, and his latest album, False Readings On, is perhaps his finest jump into the unexpected deep waters of ambient music.

It's an album that draws on contradictions, stark contrasts and a range of ingenious sound approaches, varying from experimental drones, to poised, angelic vocals. It's a subtle jolt in every direction; just when you thought you had him down; Matthew comes surging over the top with a dense smack in the face, full of deep textures and spine-tingling operatic highs.

With such an avid following after years of solid work, both as himself, and as part of Inventions (alongside Mark T Smith of Explosions In The Sky) it has been a dream of mine to see an Eluvium isolatedmix. Just like each of his albums, I would be wondering on his particular angle, inspirations and approach to any extended journey he might dive into. Without him saying so, Matthew's isolatedmix draws a strong comparison to False Readings On; juxtaposing, surprising and uninhabited, full of moments of beauty and of course, new and unique edits on old styles.

I also got the chance to ask Matthew a few questions, so press play on the mix and jump below to find out what Pixar, Portland and the Opera are doing within the world of Eluvium.

False Readings On is now available on Temporary Residence.

"So, I guess I was interested in building a sort of haunting but comforting place.  I wanted to feel like, as a listener, I was being pulled from dream to dream, or scene to scene, almost like the Kurosawa film “Dreams” . A mixture of melodies and feelings from the past all floating by. I also really enjoy the juxtaposition of old vocal stuff and more drone-noise stuff. I think they go well together, and I was really in the mood for some drone noise sounds from a few of my old favorites. I did some mild “toying” with some of the tracks, pretty subtle… but I wanted to carry it that much more into a strange and obfuscated realm, and it helped blend a few things together too.  Quite a few of the pieces are considerably shortened in order to help with the flurry of various images and feelings blending together. 

Thanks for listening and caring. It was enjoyable to put together. I like making things like this.” - Matthew Cooper/Eluvium.

Download.

Tracklist:

1. Rain & Static
2. Valley Of The Giants - Whaling Tale (Momentary Excerpt) [s/t]
3. Scott Tuma - Untitled 4 [The River 1,2,3,4]
4. Moondog - Cuplet [s/t]
5. Eluvium - False Readings On [False Readings On]
6. Chris Smith - Replacement (Excerpt) [Map Ends 1995-2001]
7. Billie Holiday - Please Tell Me Now (Softly Confuzzled Mix) [Collection]
8. James Ferraro - Memory Theater (Excerpt) [Marble Surf] + Chant De Meule / Milling Song  - Unknown Vocalists [Music Of The Ouldeme] 
9. The Ink Spots - To Each His Own [Greatest Hits] Csengeri - Thunderstorm Field Recordings,  John Cage / Stephen Drury - Dream (Excerpt) [In A Landscape]
10. Dinah Shore - When I Grow To Old To Dream (Gently Warbled Mix) [In Person With Dinah Shore]
11. Eluvium - Regenerative Being [False Readings On]
12. The Ronettes - Be My Baby (Slightly Melting Mix) [Best Of The Ronettes]
13. Thomas Newman - OJ Savice [In The Bedroom OST] + Croatian Folk Song +
Eluvium - Drowning Tone [False Readings On]
14. Gavin Bryars - The Sinking Of The Titanic [Obscure Records Edition]

~ Interview ~

Hi Matthew. Many thanks for taking the time to speak alongside your stunning isolatedmix. Your new album is probably my favorite release of yours so far and it sounds like it is for many other people. How are you feeling about it all so far? Happy with the response? Was it easy to get this one finished out of the studio?

Thank you for saying that, and YES. It really seems like people are responding quite strongly to the album. I’m never sure what to expect but I’m genuinely surprised by the positive thoughts people are sending my way. It makes me happy to know that so many people can connect with it. 

As far as getting it out and finished etc… it was a pretty difficult ride for me. I went through some bits of anxiety and distress during the process of making this one. Things are getting better now though and it feels good.

I remember reading that you holed yourself up to create an Inventions album. Where was this one conceived? How long did it take? 

Yes, for the Inventions records (so far at least) we have always gone to a house on the Oregon coast and created and recorded and mixed while looking out at the ocean.

This album was made in my home studio in its entirety. I believe the process from start to finish was probably close to a year or year and a half. I do take breaks to sleep and eat and walk the dogs though. Honestly it would be nowhere near that long that if I was actually always working in the studio. Lots of time is spent waiting too. I’ve never been the type of person that can just go into a studio over a few days and complete a record that I would be happy with… or maybe I could, but I doubt it. I really like to take a long amount of time to focus and finesse things and write pieces as they come and let the songs grow and have it all take place in the studio. So doing so in my own place makes the most sense.

I see the album as a very unique sound when it comes to the majority of ambient/experimental music out there right now. Was there an overarching idea behind the album and its approach? Did you set out to make something very different?

I did set out to make something different. I feel like it is a little more aggressive than anything I’ve done in the past. It also has darker themes throughout, which is new to me as I’ve usually tried to stay in the positive spectrum with my music.  The overarching ideas are themes of perspective, perception, belief, misinformation, cognitive dissonance, and confirmation bias within our individual selfs and as a society. And what these things do to the nature of the human being.

I can sense the stark contrasts, from washes of heavy drones, to piano and atmospheric orchestral elements. Can you tell us a little bit about the thinking behind this approach?

I generally don’t think to much about these things on an album basis. As the album just naturally creates itself for me. I do think along these lines on a song by song basis, though.  I tend to try to have an understanding of what I’m trying to convey once I have some bare bones laid down, and choose instrumentation based off of what I feel would best communicate that feeling. Sometimes it is also just throwing a ton of things into a mix and finding out what works and what doesn’t. If I have a melody line in mind, I sometimes know exactly what I want it to be played on. But sometimes I just have to play it on lots and lots of instruments and figure out which one actually feels best and most natural.. or most confusing, if that is the feeling I want to convey.

You’re obviously a talented multi-instrumentalist; what types of instruments, software and hardware were used in the making of the album? Do you have a favorite?

I was using a great many keyboards both modern synthesizers and broken old Casio's and Yamaha's. It also involved modular synthesis, quite a few VST synthesizers, some blank tapes and statics and wow and flutter from them, field recordings, samples, and some Youtube.  The modular synth is my current favorite. I’ve been enjoying using it for many different purposes for the past year or so. Beyond its application to any recordings, I just find it very peaceful to sit with and develop sounds on, and then just sit and listen for a while, and maybe make small changes, and then destroy it. It is like burning a painting after completion, or like a Tibetan Sand Mandala. 

Do you ever have a dream that upon waking stays with you all day and makes you feel a little off about things?
— Eluvium

There are lots of voices and operatic vocals featured in the album and they add a beautiful, unexpected element to the recording. What was the thinking behind these inclusions? Are you a fan of Opera?

I had two purposes for the lyrics. One was to ensure that there was a purity and richness that could reach out above the chaos and noise, but I also had specific words and sentences that I wanted to include throughout the album. They were created by taking samples of very very old recordings. I had some words that I translated into Latin and Italian, and then took the samples apart note by note and put them together to phonetically sound out the “libretto” of the album. I wasn’t always able to perfectly hit it, without sacrificing some musicality, so I’d let the music lead me. But i didn’t want the sounds to be meaningless. I knew no one would ever understand them, but it was important that they carried weight.  I do like opera. I’m not a huge fan or anything. I like the Arias. Doesn’t everyone like the Arias?

You mention dreams in your mix inspiration, was this also the case for the album? 

Dreams were not the direct inspiration, as I mentioned before about the concepts for the album. But I do think that they very much play a role in creating confusion within us and how we think we might feel about things. Do you ever have a dream that upon waking stays with you all day and makes you feel a little off about things?

Your music has recently been described as pop ambient, maximalism and ultimately, experimental. How do you continue to push the boundaries with your sound and approach? Do you set-out to make a distinct sound or is it purely experimental in approach?

I’m not sure. I guess it is very much experimental in my approach, and my consideration of what themes I will be looking at. But I think there is also an inherent “me” that will always show up and that is the connecting fabric of everything I do.  Also - quite simply, I get bored easily with whatever it is I’ve just done and simply want to try something different that I haven’t done before. Sometimes these changes are subtle and sometimes they are more dramatic. It isn’t quite so “planned” as some people/reviewers tend to think. I just go with the flow. Resistance is futile. I’d just consider myself lucky enough that people still care and enjoy what I do.  I know I haven’t made it an easy ride to follow, but it isn’t purposeful, it is just wanderlust, I think.  People try to draw a deeper picture than necessary when it comes to the route taken.

So, Portland. I lived there for 3 years up until a year ago (I'm gutted I didn’t bump into you or see you at a show!) The ambient scene was great though, with some really amazing people making it happen. Do you enjoy what’s going on there? Is it somewhere you’ll call home for a while? 

Haha. You should’ve just gone to the book store. I was probably in the fiction section.
As far as enjoying what is going on here. Absolutely, there is always very interesting music coming out of this area and the community is really great and for the most part supportive. But things change and the city gets bigger and loses some of those things along the way. It is the nature of life.  Honestly, I don’t even get out very much here. I’ve never truly felt like a part of the music scene at all, but that has less to do with the scene and more to do with my social anxieties.  Nonetheless, yes, with all the changes occurring and rapidly destroying the old town I loved so dearly, it is still home to me, and it will probably still be home to me once the cool points fade away too. — I’d like to travel and take in some other cities more though. Live in Europe for a while, etc… but the Pacific Northwest will probably always be home, in one way or another.

Is that the sound from the film 'Contact' at the end of 'Fugue State’?!

It is the sound of the transmission they receive which include the plans to build the wormhole machine. 

Lastly, based on your track title ‘Movie Night Revisited’, what’s playing at your house when we all come over for a film night? 

hmmm….so many to choose from… I’d probably start with something from Pixar. Then move into the dark comedy “The ‘Burbs” starring the more early physical comedy of Tom Hanks, and finish off with “My Dinner With Andre”. Those are probably my 3 favorites ( with the Pixar one changing title from time to time). But I’m also really into anything late 1940s or late 30s - so maybe “You Can’t Take It With You”, or “The Thin Man” series, or “Larceny Inc.” We’d be up all night. Why not Kurosawa’s “Dreams” while we’re at it.

 

Announcing: 36 / The Infinity Room (ASIPV006)

 

Hypersona, Lithea, Sine Dust, Hollow, Shadow Play, Pulse Dive, Seconds & Forever, the list of great 36 releases goes on...

After collecting and admiring his music since 2009, we're excited to announce that Dennis Huddleston, aka 36 will be releasing his next album here on ASIP - a new concept album titled The Infinity Room.

The album will be available October 24th on double transparent red vinyl 🔴. Pictures, previews and a pre-order to be announced very soon.

Until then, enjoy some of 36's contributions to ASIP so far.

36 / London

Most recently, 36 contributed this beautiful piano track to our second vinyl compilation, Europe. The vinyl has long since sold out, but digital is still available on Bandcamp.

36 / Heather Spa

36's contribution to the early days of The Places Series (our first digital-only release series) was this 4-track EP. Heart-wrenching strings, dedicated to a moorland area on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Available as a free download on Bandcamp.

36 / isolatedmix 12

All the way from 2010, comes this mix from 36 detailing some of his many inspirations - the perfect place to start to understand the wide spectrum of ambient sound emitted from 36 over the following years. More info and download.

 

Jóhann Jóhannsson - Orphée

 

His name has been floating around in recent months, after it was announced Jóhann Jóhannsson would take up role scoring the highly pressured Blade Runner sequel.  If this news introduced you to the Icelandic composer, then welcome to a shining example of this mans capabilities in Orphée. If you're already aware of Jóhann's work, then join me in welcoming another masterpiece, and his first solo album since 2009.

Inspired by the story of Orpheus from Greek Mythology,  the poet became a metaphor for the album and the process of change. It's taken Jóhann over six years to complete this album, without the pressure to finish, and the ideals of "mutability, transition and our relationship with the dead", played a big part in this magnificent score. 

Some of the music on the album has been around for quite some time (take this 2012 performance on KCRW of Flight From The City - one of the best pieces on the album shown updated below) and as described in the video above, the album could've continued to evolve if Jóhann hadn't decided to let go - it seems unfinished - just like most artists would lead you to believe, who continually strive to perfect their work. But upon first listen, this is a defining, completed piece, with some of the most emotional compositions you're likely to come across. 

As you can imagine from an album drawn out over a long period of time, with no existing boundaries; the pieces each stand on their own, albeit with a slightly dark and ominous tone throughout. Incorporating a range of approaches, from solo cello, organ, string quartet, string orchestra to "the mesmeric sounds of shortwave radio numbers stations”Orphée, holds true to its ever-changing, evolving inspiration; tracing a path from darkness into light akin to the Greek poet.

The emotion and atmospherics are unparalleled, and without reading too much into the album upon listening, and with Jóhann's background scoring the likes of The Theory Of Everything, I initially believed this was another score for a major motion picture - think James Newton Howard, Mark Isham or Michael Nyman on deck, given the drama and intelligence at work. But, no. This is simply an album of extreme beauty built for its own intent and purposes, reflecting on some very personal stories close to the artist and its development over the years.

I don't normally write about soundtracks on here as they are normally intrinsically tied to a film and best expressed that way. Orphée purposefully stands tall on its own, and it's becoming increasingly clear that Jóhann Jóhannsson is no ordinary composer, exemplified within the range of compositions and emotion at play here.

Listen to the album in full over on NPR.

Pre-order.