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

 

isolatedmix 76 - Dalot: Un-time

 
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Maria Papadomanolaki has been a part of the ASIP library for a few years now.  One of the first artists that caught my ear on the n5MD label, I remember seeing Maria perform many-years ago in London alongside Winterlight and port-royal. Dalot's shoegaze-inspired ambient drones kicked off a brilliant night of relatively unheard artists from the n5MD roster that left me chasing down many back-catalogs as a newbie to n5MD.

After providing a remix on Uncharted Places, Maria was a part of our second vinyl compilation, Europe, finding harmony as she looked back at her home of Kalathas beach in Greece, and setting a warm and gracious tone as the opening track. Her music is often varied as far as ambient goes, from delicate micro-textures, to guitar-laden soundscapes, or as heard on her most recent outing for n5MD in Mutogibito; a moment of rebirth and celebration embracing her post-rock-side, whilst also toying with the more organic elements of experimental electronica.

Just as you think you've got her down, Maria goes and partners with Vietnam's, Sound Awakener, on a new project called 'Little Things', further venturing into microscopic details and varied textures; something the two of them have clearly enjoyed partnering on. Guitars, analog synthesizers and of course a multitude of field recordings create a truly rich and varied palette of ambient and experimental recordings on this release for Fluid Audio. It's music that's evidently filled with heart, obsessed over, and then completed with the tiniest of finishes in mind - a sentiment echoed in Fluid Audio's beautiful packaging for the release.

When I asked for a Dalot isolatedmix, I didn't know which way Maria would take it, but the end result works in harmony with how I began to describe her work alongside Sound Awakener in Little Things

Titled 'Un-time', it's a mix of music that bleeds emotion, texture and escapism - all similar traits found in her latest production. A connoisseur of instrumental and organic based ambient music, Maria includes masters of the practice such as Marsen Jules, Taylor Deupree and Harold Budd, to create a blanket of warmth, as microscopic sounds of an abstract nature surround you. 

In Maria's own words, “Un-time offers an open space, a space for undoing and reflection and un-timing, of stepping out of time and the awareness of its passage;  like a mayfly or a dewdrop with shades, and light and colours of many shapes and makings, mostly untimed.”

Little Things is available now.

Download.

Tracklist:

01. Eliane Radigue – L’ile Re-sonante (un-time edit)
02. Philip Jeck -  The All of Water
03. Marsen Jules – Beatyfear VIII
04. Josh Mason – Infinite Crown of Shells
05. Taylor Deupree – Shoals
06. Christina Kubisch  - Night Shift
07. Dalot & Sound Awakener – Sailing
08. Sawako – Wind Shower Particle
09. Deaf Center – Fiction Dawn
10. Harold Budd – Children on the Hill

Artwork/image credit:: sonalidalal

Dalot on Bandcamp | Webn5MD

 

isolatedmix 75 - Hypnus Records

 
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There’s always something stirring in the depths of the techno realm, but the majority of it on my radar lately seems to be heralding from the lovely country of Sweden. 

Hypnus Records label owner Michel is not sure why there’s been an amazing output of deep techno coming from his country in the past few years, notably through labels like Northern Electronics (home to Varg, Isorinne, Acronym et al), and his very own Hypnus Records, but for us listeners, this deeply hypnotic sound is converging the best emotional elements of ambient music, with the trusty techno rub.  When asked if there was something in the water, Michel described Sweden as more of a distraction than an inspiration;

"The realm of Hypnus lies more in the imagination. Sweden, and society in general, feels more distracting than inspiring”.

Michel is perhaps unknowingly describing the very root of the techno movement - an inspiration to release and break free from society, happening here once again, but this time in his home country of Sweden.

If pushed, he would probably describe his label’s sound as “curious and immersive electronic music” after once trying to label it as "psychedelic deep techno”, but only to realize this genre in itself was already established, and his output was different. Either way, to him “it’s highly psychedelic as it is synthetically cinematic”. To the casual listener, it’s techno. But to me and many others, it represents the perfect blend of atmospheric ambient music and heads-down-4-am-stompers.

Much of Hypnus’ output retains the basic elements of techno we’re used to; repetition, synthesizers and a sense of progressive euphoria, albeit with a mysterious, bubbly and intriguing feel that’s more akin to the atmosphere found in dub-techno. The label was founded as a result of Michel wanting to release music by some producers he enjoyed on Soundcloud: "I had just recently lost my job which left me with some extra cash that I decided to spend on curating the first Hypnus record”. That record, was released in 2014 - not so long ago, given the extensive output and impact of the label so far, which as now gone on to introduce the world to the sounds of Luigi Tozzi, Feral, BLNDR, Primal Code, Michel’s own techno alias, Ntogn and many, many more.

Michel's self-discovered techno community has gone on to become a close-knit bunch of friends that share the roster, retaining a distinct aesthetic and a consistent output. 

"I met Luigi and Tom (BLNDR) through Soundcloud many years ago while Alessandro (Feral) and Jakob (Skymn) came into the label through common friends. Over time we’ve all grown closer as we’ve had chances to meet all over the world and this is really a great reward for me. It is a special feeling listening to the music of a friend, hearing the whistles and gales of their mind”.

The likes of Luigi Tozzi’s techno is comparable to the euphoria of mastermind Donato Dozzy and the associated Italian techno-mafia that have long held the crown for this style of music. BLNDR, who recently contributed to Silent Season’s tenth anniversary release, represents an even deeper and more hubby sound; whilst Feral features more tribal tendencies. Skymn, lives up to the more ambient/psychedelic sound you might draw comparisons with the likes of Future Sound Of London, for example. And if that wasn’t enough to stretch your techno spectrum, Michel is also running two sub-labels: Kabalion (a slightly more intense, techno output) and Tome, home to Michel’s personal project as Ntogn.

Michel's isolatedmix takes us on a journey through the various elements of Hypnus, opening with ambient and quickly moving into the distinct sound we’ve come to love from the label. Describing his thought process behind the mix, Michel notes: “spontaneously I felt that I wanted to make an intro of the first four tracks, although initially I had my mind set on a different order. Eventually they fit better this way and after that I just followed the mood and was happy to include some unreleased material”.

It’s a mix from a music-loving DJ-at-heart, as much as it is a collection of label-head tracks, with blended transitions, changes of pace and a growing progressive atmosphere throughout thats synonymous with the labels output. “One of my favorites is maybe at 30-34 mins where a couple of Alessandro’s and Primal Code’s unreleased tracks flow into each other. Both when the shakes come at 30:06 and the drop at 33:41 are sweet spots for my little DJ-heart”. 

Be sure to check out Hypnus’ full catalog on Bandcamp, as well as their very own Memoir Podcast, featuring guest mixes from fellow artists and friends alike.

Download.

Tracklist:

01. Feral - Heruka 4
02. Luigi Tozzi - Yavin 4 (Ambient Mix)
03. Luigi Tozzi - Epipelagic
04. Skymn - City Lights
05. Primal Code*
06. Primal Code - Jikan
07. Primal Code - Junkan (Luigi Tozzi's Interpretation)
08. Primal Code - Junkan
09. Feral - Krishna
10. Luigi Tozzi - Flusso Perpetuo
11. Primal Code*
12. Luigi Tozzi - Binary Sunset
13. Skymn - Okuyi (Korridor's Interpretation)
14. Luigi Tozzi - Yavin 4
15. Primal Code*
16. Feral*
17. Primal Code*
18. Luigi Tozzi - Subterrel
19. Luigi Tozzi - Jedha
20. Feral - Heruka 3
21. Skymn - Biker Scene
22. Luigi Tozzi - Chemosynthesis (Claudio PRC Remix)
23. Luigi Tozzi - Quetzalli
24. Luigi Tozzi - Mesopelagic Zone

* Forthcoming release.

Hypnus web | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook

 

isolatedmix 74 - Secret Pyramid

 
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When I stumbled across Amir Abbey's work as Secret Pyramid, I was immediately struck by the pure emotive power of his productions, alongside his ability to portray vivid, dense and often dark atmospheres. A well-walked path for many ambient producers, but Secret Pyramid manages to break free of any traditional dark-drones, with more intense sounds, progressive synthesizers and analog elements that complete a vibrant organic feel.

In a similar vein to the brooding drones of the likes of Rafael Anton Irisarri and Abul MogardAmir often combines these analog textures with slow-climbing synthesizers that evolve into walls-of-sound and emotional hooks we're often used to coming from the likes of 36. One of my favorites being  the siren call of 'IV' from Distant Works II - an album that also ended strongly with 'VII' - a more ghostly and mysterious pattern set against the static hiss of a failed radio signal, a desolate end to a superb collection of music. 

Secret Pyramid just released his latest album on Ba Da Bing! titled Two Shadows Collide, which, "deepens Abbey's relationship with modern composition and abstract songcraft". An album that's proving to be one of my favorites from the year so far; Amir dances with slowly intensifying movements and textures in ways that leave your eyes wide open, and your heart yearning for more.

His influences may sound familiar, but we had no way of knowing unless he got behind the controls of an isolatedmix, to present us with the many intricate styles that go into the work and mind of Secret Pyramid.  

"This mix consists of a range material that influenced my recent LP, newer sounds that I've been listening to lately, and also some all-time favorites. The mix came together pretty naturally, and I'm happy with how it works as a reflection of the variety of styles and moods that continuously inspire me. I took inspiration from some modern classic composers like Scelsi, Ligeti, and Penderecki while making "Two Shadows Collide", as I find their use of space and dissonance, coupled with the sheer intensity to be very engaging. Badalamenti has always been a huge source of inspiration, and this piece from the recent Twin Peaks reboot is sublime. The Abul Mogard and High Plains pieces are recent works that I’ve been enjoying, and the mix ends with a lovely piece of cosmic minimalism from the great Laurie Spiegel." - Secret Pyramid /AA

Download.

Tracklist:

01. Vikki Jackman, Andrew Chalk & Jean-Nöel Rebilly – Mist
02. Giacinto Scelsi – String Quartet No. 3 Avec Une Grande Tendresse, dolcissimo
03. Abul Mogard – Bound Universe
04. Angelo Badalamenti – The Fireman
05. Broadcast & The Focus Group – A Quiet Moment
06. Alireza Mashayekhi – Chahargah No.2 Op.140
07. High Plains – Black Shimmer
08. Bohren & der Club of Gore – Constant Fear
09. György Ligeti – String Quartet No.2 Sostenuto, molto calmo
10. Slowdive – Cello
11. Krzysztof Penderecki – Polymorphia
12. Laurie Spiegel – East River Dawn

Secret Pyramid | Bandcamp | Web | Soundcloud | Facebook

 

isolatedmix 73 - Astral Industries

 
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Since 2014, UK-based label, Astral Industries have been responsible for some of the most enlightening and entertaining releases of recent years. Their output has helped otherwise forgotten or out of print music see the light of day, provided new takes on previous classics, whilst also pushing forward new music by some of the most well-respected artists within the ambient genre. 

Debuting with a release by dub-techno legend DeepChord in 2014, Astral Industries went on to release Wolfgang Voigt's live project, Rückverzauberung Live In London in 2015.  In 2016 they followed with a 1985 recording from disbanded dutch collective Chi - a timeless and undoubtedly classic record, whilst in the same year pitching Wolfgang and Deepchord together for the very first time, with reinterpretations of Peter Michael Hamel's classic, Colors of Time. By then, and combined with the continually brilliant artwork of Theo Ellsworth, we knew that Astral Industries was a label with staying-power, and a growing catalog of releases worth collecting - be it just for the framed artwork, or moreover, the complete music package. 

In 2017, we've seen an LP by Heavenly Music Corporation, aka Kim Cascone (likely encouraged by the recent re-release of his own label Silent Records), a third LP by The Chi Factory, and then just last month a beautiful album by Waveform Transmission (Rod Modell of DeepChord and Chris Troy), with a sublime follow-up album, a massive 20 years after their first. 

The man behind the Astral Industries machine, Ario is a proven expert at plucking obscure gems from the past, or ensuring that good music gets the platform and artistic presentation it deserves. In just a few years, Ario has curated a highly respected and anticipated label roster that demands attention, and has yet to disappoint. The music is always gentle, deep and often extremely vivid, be it deeply hypnotic ambient, or gentle murmurs of dub-techno. 

With curatorial talents like this, we're overjoyed to host an exclusive 2hr+ mix of Ario digging into his record collection, and interlocking a few select exclusive Astral Industries bits in-between. It's one hell-of-a hypnotic journey and just like the Astral Industries releases, deserved of your full undivided, escapist attention.

Download. 

No track list on this one, due to the many unreleased pieces included in the mix. 
Artwork image by label artist Theo Ellsworth

Astral Industries Web | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | RA