ASIP - The Last Frequencies (mix for Headphone Commute)

 
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One last time, tuned to nothingness,
A swan song for the remnants. 
Empty buildings, rain and the dark abyss,
Lit by neon rain and the artificial descendants. 
 


Our good friend Headphone Commute has just published a new mix of mine, titled The Last Frequencies. It's a pretty obvious concept once you listen, but sometimes these things come to me at the end rather than the beginning. I started this mix after the terrible news of Jóhann Jóhannsson's death and was left wondering what the score for Blade Runner would've or could've been at the time. Perhaps, this thought process subliminally inspired me to create something of my own. Only on hindsight did I realize.  

It took a few months to compile and I went through five different versions before finally settling here. Given how much time I spent on it, I thought I'd try to do it even more justice by adding some comments on the featured tracks below. As always, I see mixes as an amazing point of discovery here on ASIP, so want to do everything to support the artists featured within. 

Make sure you check out the rest of Headphone Commute's guest mixes - the last one by 36, for example, and a recent epic journey by Roel Funcken - just two that shouldn't be missed. 

And thanks to HC for hosting me on his great platform for music discovery - our partner in the ever-expanding conquest to highlight the best ambient music out in the world. 

Read more on Headphone Commute.  

Listen on Soundcloud

Direct download

Tracklist + track notes:

01. Computer Afterlife - (Various samples) [Self released]

This album is the perfect entry point to Vaporwave (shudder?). If you haven't already been digging around the recent phenomenon that's rife on Bandcamp. 'Infinity Frequencies' is like a compilation of retro advertisements and elevator music, all put through the Vaporwave machine. On its own, the album is an interesting listen as opposed to a relaxed experience, but I chose to edit several of the tracks and combine with TV static to give the effect of someone/something searching through frequencies. It also inspired the name of the mix, as the journey goes on to dictate the dystopian world before the last frequency is heard. Available on Bandcamp.

02. Rashida Prime - {modular frame} [Cyber Dream Records]

Continuing the Vaporwave-wave, there's a side to this style that I really love, and Rashida Prime is a good example. To many, this is just heavily textured and processed drone music. But in a similar vein to the likes of Rafael Anton Irisarri, Rashida manages to score a beautiful melody amongst all the noise and static. I also added a little monologue from Blade Runner here to set the scene. Rashida Prime's album, Damaged Interface, is also available on Bludhoney - perhaps one of the most influential Vaporwave labels out there should you want to dig deep. Available on Bandcamp

03. Innerst Inne - Solen Träffar Topparna Först (Further Records)

Innerst Inne are Andreas Tilliander and Johan T Karlsson and this, I believe, is their first outing together - on Further Records, no less. Hailing from Scandinavia, with the album made in Sweden, it'd be silly to think inspiration hasn't been drawn from the cold depths, or the ever-growing techno scene that seems to influence everything that comes out of this part of the world right now. This album contains it all though - murky, deep ambience alongside some beautiful analog synthesizer moments, rooted in archaic dissonance. Fans of Alessandro Cortini, Isorinne, Rashad Becker, rejoice. Available on Bandcamp

04. Merrin Karras - 47 Drawn [Unreleased]

Some exciting music in the near future from Merrin Karras. For now... 

05. Steve Moore - Aphellion [Spectrum Spools]

I think I've included a Steve Moore track in nearly every mix I've put together in the past few years. He's a master of manipulation and does an amazing job at portraying new, futuristic places. This album, Pangaea Ultima does just that, and depicts a vision of a new world "away from the standards of time that we have insisted upon giving it". Available on Bandcamp. 

06. 輕描淡寫 - 我昨晚梦见你了 [Bludhoney Records]

Back into Vaporwave again, but I bet you didn't know it... This is where the genre crosses over with many other ambient styles, with the introduction of a piano blurring the lines. Still, the ominous sound of dystopian rain-soaked city streets is still present. Available on Bandcamp. 

07. Swoop & Cross - St. No [Time Released Sound]

A beautifully packaged vinyl by the aesthetic-forward label Time Released Sound, Swoop & Cross create a delicate and unmissable album in every way. I enjoyed the harmonious shift from the previous melody into the similar piano melody here - like the rainy, neon-lit streets emerging out of the dark into the daylight. Available on Bandcamp.  

08. Aleksi Perälä - UK74R1406060 [DUB]

Aleksi's music is often electro/techno-forward and normally wouldn't fit into this set (unless I took a turn into much heavier stuff), but this track features a stripped-back underlying analog tone that shifted the mood of the mix from a quaint piano melody into something a little more ominous. Aleksi's Colundi Sequence albums are pioneering in their approach, and you'll no-doubt find something mesmerizing amongst the many editions out there right now - even if you can't decipher the track names. He's a modern-day Aphex Twin in many ways. Available on Bandcamp

09. Isorinne - Whereabouts Unknown [Field Records]

This track features a bunch of abstract sounds and samples at the beginning, which is a little out out of the ordinary for the normally icy-smooth ambient stylings of Isorinne. The album this track is lifted off is from 2016, so if you've enjoyed Isorinne's recent brilliance on Northern Electronics, take a dig back into his earlier works for a little variety. Whereabouts Unknown gave the impression of something changing - a bustle and commotion - that led into the warmer tones of RAI.  Available on Bandcamp.

10. Rafael Anton Irisarri - Two and a Half Minutes (Geographic North)

Rafael continues to surpass expectations with his very purposeful "active-listening" ambient aesthetic. This is just one of many great tracks that have recently seen the light through two tape releases - one on Geographic North titled Midnight Colors and another, Sirimiri on Umor Rex. I felt bad keeping the inclusion of this track pretty short, but in a similar belief to RAI himself; less is more. Hope he agrees here! Available on Bandcamp.

11. 36 - Further Room 4 [A Strangely Isolated Place] + Alva Noto - Xerrox Monophaser 2 [Raster Noton]

For those that purchased 36's album, Infinity Room, you likely received a hidden surprise (that many still to this day might not know about). A full EP titled Further Rooms, accessed via a password-protected page hidden in the vinyl etching. Many say it's as good as the main album, evident here with Further Room 4. Again, not one to purposefully blemish an already good track, I originally had Alva Noto's infamous Xerrox Monophaser 2 at a very low level in the background to add some additional depth to the mix, but brought it up a little more as it seemed to fit well with the overall lost-in-space vibe Dennis' track was painting. Further Rooms still lies hidden for those that want to hunt it down... but Alva Noto's classic album is available in all good stores / Alva Noto website

12. Markus Guentner - New World Order  [A Strangely Isolated Place] + Global Communication - 0.54

For those that are taking the time to read this, then let this be your official notice - our next release on ASIP will see the return of Markus Guentner. More on that to come, but to continue this idea of lost and dying frequencies in the mix, Global Communication's now infamous intermission from their legendary ambient album 76.14, came to mind, and fitted perfectly with Markus's track. Like floating out into the dark void... 

13. The National Pool - Brick Cloud-Area 2 [Infraction]

I've already gushed about this album on ASIP, so head on over here to read more. Available on Bandcamp

14. Christoph De Babalon - Brilliance [DHR]

Hype hype hype. This album did receive. And it's a hard listen overall, but this Gas-esque track is one of the better from the album that will strike a chord with us ambient fans. The rest of the album however, is mainly very hard techno-edged-drum'n bass. You have been warned (or encouraged). Good luck hunting it down again, after a recent repress. 

15. Biosphere - Hyperborea [Biophon Records]

No-one depicts being lost in space, as sounds from far off worlds echo in the distance, better than Biosphere. All mixes should consider a 'classic' moment within the track list, and this one does the job for me. At this point in the mix, I had pictured a person floating through the void with his/her communication struggling to grasp the last few sounds from the world they just departed. Or is it the world they're floating towards? Available on Bandcamp

16. The Black Dog - Part One [Self released]

Dig anywhere amongst The Black Dog's extensive catalog and you'll find some beauty hidden amongst the darkest depths of techno. This self-released EP was the last time they got to work with good friend, Shawn Bloodworth - a fittingly beautiful tribute. Available on Bandcamp. 

17. Dino Sabatini - And It All Ends Here (feat. Antonello Salis) [Outis Music] 

I initially had the mix ending up in waves of static - a more literal homage to the title and concept of the mix. But this track by Dino Sabatini paid homage to a dystopian future in a different way - like an 80's film closing credits. Slightly Vangelis in style. An apt title too, from a stunning album. Available on Bandcamp.

Check back here soon for links to download the mix. 

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Artwork edited by me; Ryan Griffin, featuring photography by Karen Sayser, Keith Camilleri & Sandeep Swarnkar. 

 

 

Earth House Hold / Never Forget Us - now available

 
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Whilst his ambient output is the holy grail of music here on ASIP, Brock's Earth House Hold project has a special place in my heart. We're both big fans of early house music, and this album is a meeting in the middle of those worlds. The very best atmosphere and emotion from ambient music, meets the unique elements and passionate drive of deep house music. View full release details

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A noticeably deeper and more evocative evolution from the first Earth House Hold release, Brock has built an album focused on progression, starting with deep, slow-churning ambient cuts, gradually introducing House elements as the album evolves. Using only instruments and sounds from the early House-era, as is the ethos of Earth House Hold, Brock builds an effortlessly sequenced collage of deep, mystifying, and emotional pieces, combining his signature ghostly vocals with rumbling off-kilter bass-lines and slowly rising atmospheres. 

As with many of Brock’s productions, ’Never Forget Us’ is an ode to some of the many memories and experiences that helped influence the producer he is today. From his trademark ambient epics, to his unique brand of ambient house, each reflecting his history, forever lingering in his years DJ-ing ambient chill rooms and deep house basement affairs beginning nearly thirty years ago . With the return of Earth House Hold, the story is told not only through the reflective nature of the music, or the collage of original pin-hole photographs taken by his good friend Mamii, but the mutual appreciation for a sound from years gone-by, brought to life again, yet living its own life, in a way only someone like Brock could. 

‘Never Forget Us’ is available in both transparent-blue (300 copies) and black (200 copies) X2LP vinyl editions, housed in a gatefold sleeve, including digital download card. 

Links to listen and buy

 

 

Winterlight - The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days

 
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One of music's greatest powers comes in its ability to trigger memories. And as ASIP turns ten this year (ten-years since the very first blog post went up in 2008), it's harmonious that one of the first artists we featured way-back, releases a long awaited follow-up.

Listening to Winterlight's new album, I've got a giddy feeling of exploring not only Tim Ingham's music at the time, but the other music that made me tick around that time, too. It's  funny to think that only a very small percentage of you reading this now, remember hearing or reading about Winterlight all those years back. But for me, memories come flooding back.

Tim's sound as Winterlight remains a glistening, softly-told journey, portrayed and influenced by many years listening to post-rock and shoegaze music. Not much has changed in the seven years Tim has been away and his last album Hope Dies Last, apart from the inclusion of his daughter on bass, but this is a style of music that rarely comes about. By the sounds of things, it's been a tough journey for them both to see this one through, so for that, and for sticking to the sound many of us loved, I'm grateful to see another album come to fruition. 

As a comparison (which is arguably necessary if you're muttering shoegaze or post-rock influences), we often we see this kind of shoegaze/post-rock inspired ambient music descending into the more grandiose, orchestral side of things. With Hammock, for example, melding modern-classical elements, bigger drums, or soaring guitar leads on the more soundtracked moments. Tim keeps it simple and uplifting, with gentle ambient pads and  melodies built for stargazing. Drums are minimal and the bass a crucial accent, and structural focus is kept on the guitars. Progression comes in layers, instead of numerous additional instruments, slowly building palettes of sound around the lead chords.

Only then, three-quarters of the way through, do you realize Tim's music influences - as you look back to where the track started, he's turned a simple melody and subtle ambient sounds, into a full-blown wave of colorful shoegaze. 

Available on colored vinyl & digital at n5MD

Listen to Winterlight's isolatedmix, featuring Helios, port-royal, Slowdive Robin Guthrie and Crisopa. 

 

isolatedmix 77 - Aukai: A Winter Of Listening

 
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I first happened across Aukai (Markus Sieber), when learning of Abul Mogard remixing his track, 'Snow' early last year. A seemingly delicate and beautiful original is turned into a haunting, synth-laden affair by Abul, was it not for a quick check of the original, I may have missed out on the greatness of Markus' work. 

A comparison that doesn't do his work justice, but one that hit me immediately upon listening to his ST album, were the similarities between Aukai and some of James Newton Howard's work, specifically 'The Village'. Delicate guitars lining the simple and minimal compositions, evoking moments of beauty, mystery and fear. One of my favorite quotes that go on to describe Markus' work though, comes from John Dilberto from Echoes:

"Think Gustavo Santaolalla cavorting in a landscape of Ludovico Einaudi while sitting on the Champs-Élysées with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra...In its matrix of mood and emotion, intelligence and sensuousness, Aukai could not be more perfectly pitched." 

Markus has recently returned with perhaps, his best work yet; a new album titled 'Branches of Sun'. Hosting a multitude of instruments and collaborators as 'The Aukai Ensemble', the album once again leads with Markus' secret weapon, the Ronroco (Charango) alongside subtle electronics, violins, the glockenspiel and cello (with Nils Frahm collaborator Anne Müller playing the part). The result is a soundtrack set for breezy fields, dusty plains and adventure beyond the snow-capped mountains. Each turn brings a new level of depth, featuring melodies fit for a theater and vivid compositions that will undoubtedly resonate with any listener looking for an escape into a new kind of wilderness.

For his isolatedmix, Markus has brought the same respect for beautiful instrumentation and a similar ability to capture the imagination we've seen across his modest discography. Featuring true masters of their craft, Markus blends the likes of Nils Frahm, Otto A Totland, Ben Lukas Boysen and even Harold Budd into one beautiful enchanting journey. 

"In anticipation of my latest release, ‘Branches Of Sun’ I much enjoyed putting together this mix for A Strangely Isolated Place. This last winter I had a good chance to listen to a bit more music again, as with the two previous winters I was busy with writing and recording my own music. In these moments I can’t listen to anything at all - I am already so full with melody and sound after sitting in the studio for a whole day. 

I picked mostly quieter ambient pieces here, that share a fine sense for an emotive minimalism and a space of reflection and contemplation.  These are all musical gems either from good friends I had the pleasure to work with like Martyn Heyne, Anne Müller, Alex Nickmann, Abul Mogard, Ben Lukas Boysen, Will Ryan Fritch or pieces that had crossed my path in one way or another leaving their traces within me, may it be for the composition, the sonic texture, sound of a particular instrument, or the way they were recorded. Wishing you all a good listening journey with this mix" - Markus Sieber (Aukai)

Download. 

00:00 Nils Petter Molvaer - Sober | Thirsty Ear Records 
03:20 Aukai - Snow (Abul Mogard Rework) | Self Release/Aukai Music 
07:04 Martyn Heyne - Afar | K7! 
10:34 Nils Frahm, Anne Müller - On Our Roof | Erased Tapes
15:35 Hecq (Ben Lukas Boysen) - Nescient | Hymen Records  
17:52 Dmitry Evgrafov - Wandering | 130701  
21:02 Snow Palms - Circling | Village Green 
24:47 Walter Fähndrich - Viola II | ECM
30:04 Sven Helbig - Meernacht | Neue Meister  
35:09 Harold Budd - Wanderer | All Saints Records 
39:14 Mogwai - Dust Bowl | Lakeshore Records 
41:53 Penguin Cafe - Half Certainty | Erased Tapes  
44:17 Aukai - Colorado | Self Release/Aukai Music
47:40 William Ryan Fritch - By the Letter | Lost Tribe Sound
48:34 Michael Price - Budapest | Erased Tapes 
52:18 Gustavo Santaolalla - Requiem | Sony Masterworks
54:08 Otto A Totland - The Lost | Sonic Pieces
57:20 Balmorhea - Dream of Thaw | Western Vinyl
1:02:09 William Ryan Fritch - Glass Slowly Shifts | Lost Tribe Sound
1:03:17 Anne Müller - Silbersee | Nonostar Records 
1:05:38 Alex Nickmann - Day Dreaming | Self Released 

Aukai Bandcamp | Twitter | Soundcloud

 

Earth House Hold / Never Forget Us - Preorder

 
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For those that know me and the origins of ASIP, I’ve been a massive fan of Brock’s for years now. Just being able to get him to make a mix for the blog was one of my biggest achievements! We bonded over some pink beer (don’t ask) in Seattle when he performed for Substrata festival a few years ago, and continued to discuss all things music over email as time went on.

We’re both DJs at heart, and it was fascinating to hear Brock’s many stories—him throwing raves in fields and DJ’ing in basements at a time when the classic ‘house’ sound was still relatively new to the west coast of America. With our mutual passion for that sound, and talk of a release one day coming to fruition, Brock surprised me by asking if I’d like an Earth House Hold album for ASIP. At first, I was a little taken back, as I had never imagined Brock releasing a record under this alias on ASIP. But it was a no brainer for me personally; his first album as EEH is one of my all-time favorites, a truly underrated gem that any house head would love.

Brock started to send me some of the first tracks on the album, and it was startling to hear the progression he had in mind as one track followed the next. The album starts slow and druggy—not quite ambient music, but the same kind of feeling, and more and more instruments and elements become apparent as the album progresses. It’s one of those full listening session albums that you look back on and ask yourself where the hell you were for the last hour…. Brock has that ability to take you places.

Never Forget Us will be available on April 9th, in both transparent-blue (300 copies) and black (200 copies) X2LP vinyl editions, housed in a gatefold sleeve, including digital download card.

More information and links to buy

Buy on Bandcamp (Black and Blue editions)
Sign up to be notified of release on Juno (UK/EU shipping - Black and Blue editions)

Note, more copies of both the Black and the Blue will be available at stores on release day, April 9th. 

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