Portals: The Newer Age

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You thought you knew New Age until you knew a Newer Age.

It’s evidently hard to qualify New Age Music. A search online brings up some recent journalism obsessing over its hip resurgence but it’s rare to find anything other than some top records and rough history. As with all Portal’s features, I try to find a slightly new angle.

Depending on whether you’re speaking to someone who likes New Age or not, will normally get you very different answers on what it is. Ambient musicians normally hate to be coined as New Age (just ask Eno or Budd), Record shops will often categorize New Age alongside ambient (some may have their own ’Shadowfax'-heavy section) and at the very least you’ll find them all in the bargain bins (other than Portland stores it seems - a revered genre going by my last visit).

I sold and stocked ASIP catalog in a shop once (not to be named) on the basis the guy who owned it thought they were all New Age. He even went on to tell prospective customers it was New Age. I couldn’t really argue with him to say why it was or was not, or that it was ambient, or similar, because in his head it all lived under the same umbrella.

Fact Mag captured this conundrum earlier this year;-

"New age music remains misunderstood because new age isn’t a style or a sound but a sensibility; an exceptionally soupy, psychedelic one, at that. Contemporary listeners tend to conflate new age with ambient but their overlap is inconsistent: though much new age music exudes ambient qualities, the reverse is less often the case. In fact, over the years many prominent artists of the movement have rejected association with new age and its trappings, as it’s widely considered to be the domain of quacks and charlatans.” - Britt Brown / Fact Mag.

What I ended up within this Portals feature, is an interpretation of New Age as told through some recent releases, which might not be placed in the New Age bucket when on their own, alongside more immediate/classic-sounding New Age elements.

I am not a big New Age fan if I reflect on records previously identified under the genre, but I asked myself what would happen if I took the stereotypical elements of this style (hopeful, optimistic, uplifting music, religious connotations, enlightenment, spoken word, early synthesizers, the sound of the sea, forest etc etc) and applied it to music I listen to often today?

I gave myself the challenge and followed the flow of the mix not knowing where it would end up. As a genre, New Age seems loose and subjective, but as a theme that traces back to the origins of the name, I think the mix holds-up through the many styles and characteristics that are included across the ~90 mins. Perhaps proving (to me and my own silly challenge at least) that New Age isn’t always a style or genre that can be described or pinned down to a type of music, but more a feeling that’s still evident in music today.

"The phrase itself, of course, is old, invoked over centuries by various mystics and spiritual leaders to refer to an impending, ill-defined future era of enlightenment as a means of instilling hope in their congregation” - Britt Brown / Fact Mag.

Who am I to tell the owner of the record shop that ASIP releases aren’t New Age if he sees hope and new worlds in them…?! I’ll settle for that.

With this approach of not confining New Age to specific tracks, I’m holding off on the track list for now, until some time has passed for you to dive in and take it as a whole. I’ll add the full track list here soon.

Until then, see you in the next life.

 
 

Download MP3

Tracklist:

  1. Nozomu Matsumoto - Climatotherapy (The Death of Rave)

  2. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - I Am A Thought (Western Vinyl)

  3. Khotin - Dwellberry (Ghostly International)

  4. Imaginary Softwoods - Albion (Field Records)

  5. Akis - New Age Uprising (Part I) (Into The Light)

  6. Martin Glass - Floating To Work (Kit Records)

  7. Ex-Terrestrial - Dreams of Jupiter (1080p)

  8. Graintable - Amarps (Ransom Note)

  9. Varg - Archive 1 “Spit Sugar Free Red Bull Into My Mouth” (Posh Isolation)

  10. Suzanne Ciani - Quadrophonic Part 1 (Atmospheric)

  11. Felicia Atkinson - Vermillions (Shelter Press)

  12. Heavenly Music Corporation - Reentry (Astral Industries)

  13. Eternell - Dancing With Wind (Eternell)

  14. Martin Glass - Welcome to the Four Seasons (Kit Records)

  15. Wanderwelle - Her Name Is Vairumati (Silent Season)

  16. Mark Peters - Twenty Bridges (Andi Otto Remix) (Sonic Cathedral)

  17. Seahawks - Emergence (Cascine)

  18. Dagerlöff - From The Womb To The Tomb (Tigersushi)

  19. Ana Caprix - Terminal (Self Released)

  20. CFCF - Closed Space (Single edit) (BGM Solutions)

  21. DJ Healer - Protectionspell (All Possible Worlds)

  22. Datasette - 65536 KiloEnyas (Self Released)

  23. Jesse Somfay - Levamentum [Aqua Regia] (Tipping Hand)

  24. Parks - Forest (Self Released)

  25. Procedamus In Pace (Paschale Mysterium)

  26. Kettel & Secede - Admittance (Sending Orbs)

  27. Tongues Of Light - Awakening Side (Pre-Cert Home Entertainment)

 
 

ASIP - MNMT Label Showcase

 
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Believe it or not, over the past six years (since our very first label release in 2013) I haven’t put together a label showcase mix. However, this year I find myself sitting on an amazing amount of upcoming music, so when MNMT Podcast asked me to put together a label mix, I went all in. I tend to hold on to previewing upcoming music, so it makes me a little nervous to put this out there but hopefully you all get a sense of the amazing albums we have coming up.

60% of the music in this mix is upcoming on ASIP, so get ready for some new and exciting moments alongside some familiar sounds…

For more info on the mix and a short Q&A, head over to Monument.

 

ASIP - Reflection on 2018

 
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This year marked some significant milestones in my life personally and with ASIP. It was our ten-year anniversary and with it came our Full Circle vinyl project. I didn’t think I would get around to doing this year-end mix given everything going on, but it’s always funny how and when inspiration strikes to pull something together. Sleepless, stressful nights, this mix provided me with just the right amount of reflection, and distraction for my insomnia.

As with all of my ‘Reflection’ year-end mixes, I start with a long list of tracks and albums I have enjoyed over the year. By the process of putting together a mix that I feel flows well as per any other mix I put together, the songs are whittled down and selected. This means many of my faves are often omitted in the process. But as I say every year, this isn’t a definitive ‘best-of’ list, but an organic selection of some of my favorite music from 2018 in an enjoyable format, as a piece in itself.

I subsequently put together a second 1.5 hours following this mix, but when I got into that territory, I started to wonder where I would actually stop... I found new releases I loved just this week, and wanted to revisit it all again. But, I was hard on myself to keep it to just this one mix - a 2hr journey through some of 2018’s finest. The mix spans many styles I love, touching on modern-classical, experimental, ambient, drone and electronica but the biggest omission (that is often included in previous years mixes) is much of the techno and dub-techno I’ve listened to. The mix didn’t go that way naturally, and then I ran out of time after giving myself a 2-hr limit.

Here’s the quick rundown:

Rhian Sheehan opens the mix as he does Full Circle, returning after several years away with a stunning new compositional album. Johnny Greenwood pricked my ears whilst watching You Were Never Really Here. Steve Good made it into the year-end mix once again with another solid ambient album. Poemme provided the light and tranquil vibes whilst Warmth added the density with another superb full-length. Mount Shrine lulled me to sleep on many occasions and Hotel Neon offered some of their best work to date. Abul Mogard never disappoints and r beny should be held to a similar superlative given his great work this year. Acronym & Korridor brought their rare tape to the digital realm. Laura Luna Castillo was a lovely new find for me with a varied experimental album. Indulging in the Field Works boxset this year, I struggled to only offer one track out of the bunch. Grand River finally put out her album opus after several strong EPs. Richard Devine blew our minds with a crazy piece of IDM - as expected. Diamondstein tag-teamed with Sangam for a future-facing journey and 36’s Patreon subscription continued to provide some of his best work yet. Vril hit us with one of the years bets ambient techno albums on Delsin. One of this years biggest surprises probably goes to Skee Mask dropping his genre-traversing rave inspired album. Wanderwelle created one of the years most unique sounding storied albums. Helios, came back to the ambient fray with his debut on Ghostly and a more nostalgic melancholic album. DJ Healer was likely one of my most-listened to albums of the year for the lo-fi reflective nature of his sound and a definitive soundtrack to my trip to Tokyo. Ocoeur continued to innovate his varied production approach for n5MD and Rival Consoles perfected his upfront electronic sound on Erased Tapes. A dream duo in Synkro and Arovane lived up to the hype of both, and The Black Dog’s two albums reminded us all of their mastery and depth. Inner River lead Atomnation’s 2018 output and Jon Hopkins will be topping many lists no doubt. Lastly, Mysteries of The Deep launched their label with an amazing roster, and presented us with Lori Scacco, who rounds out the mix on an uplifting note.

To see all the music I’ve enjoyed this year and many great pieces I didn’t manage to fit into this mix, just head over to the ASIP Bandcamp collection page and some of the accompanying notes I write on each purchase.

Thanks to everyone here for the music, and a big shout to anyone not included who’s music I have loved and supported this year. I’m still catching up on many and wish I could’ve included so many more.

Download

Tracklist (View all Bandcamp links in one link here, via "BuyMusic.club")

01. Rhian Sheehan - All Who Remain [Self]
02. Johnny Greenwood - Tree Stings [Lakeshore Records]
03. Steve Good - 360 [Self]
04. Poemme - At the Gates Of Dawn [Stereoscenic Records]
05. Warmth - Receiver [Archives]
06. Mount Shrine - Winter Restlessness [Cryo Chamber]
07. Hotel Neon - Roke [Archives]
08. Abul Mogard - Where Not Even [Ecstatic]
09. r beny - in the violet and lingering winter dusk [Self]
10. Acronym & Korridor - Sscending [Vaagner]
11. Laura Luna Castillo - Moskstraumen [Genot]
12. Field Works (Loscil) - Imprints [Temporary Residence]
13. Grand River - Ecouri [Spazio Disponible]
14. Richard Devine - Astra [Planet Mu]
15. Diamondstein & Sangam - Finding Peace Where There Isn't [Doom Trip]
16. 36 - Midnight Helix [Self]
17. Vril - Riese (Rework) [Delsin]
18. Skee Mask - Session Add [Ilian Tape]
19. Wanderwelle - The Seed of the Areoi [Silent Season]
20. Helios - Eventually [Ghostly]
21. DJ Healer - 2 The Dark [All Possible Worlds]
22. Ocoeur - Passage [n5MD]
23. Rival Consoles - Unfolding [Erased Tapes]
24. Roel Funcken - Sapper Morton [Analogical Force]
25. Synkro & Arovane - Aspen [Apollo]
26. The Black Dog - The Truth Is In The Post [Dust]
27. Inner River - Floe Flow [Atomnation]
28. Jon Hopkins - C O S M [Domino]
29. Lori Scacco - Strange Cities [Mysteries Of The Deep]

Stream select tracks on Spotify or Apple Music (Not all tracks are included)
Artwork photo by
Naphtali Marshall.

 

ASIP - Subtempo Guest Mix 012

 
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Last year we featured one of the first releases from the Subtempo crew; this lovely Alejandro Bento album and its accompanying remixes. Fast-forward a year and Subtempo have some ambitious plans with both the label and their new website/blog, and they’ve invited me to help kick-off the newly refreshed design by contributing to their ongoing guest mix series. There’s also a little Q&A with yours truly should you be interested!

For full background on the mix and to read the interview, head over to Subtempo here.

Big thanks to Rocco and Subtempo for the support, invite and the great feature.

Tracklist

01. Tongues of Light - Healing Side [Pre-Cert]
02. DJ Healer - At Last (Becoming The Storm) [All Possible Worlds]
03. DJ Richard - Dissolving World [Dial]
04. Lori Scacco - Other Flowers [Mysteries Of The Deep]
05. Sonae - Soul Eater [Monika Enterprise]
06. Sophia Loizou - Order Of Elements [Kathexis]
07. Strië - Capsule [Serein]
08. Christoph De Babalon - High Life (Theme) [DHR]
09. Abul Mogard - Quiet Dreams [Ecstatic]
10. Hands - Beelitz Heilstatten Pt6 [Ecstatic]
11. Suzanne Ciani - Quadrophonic Part One [Atmospheric]
12. M Geddes Gangras - Kalapana [Umor Rex]
13. DJ Healer - Hopes And Fears [All Possible Worlds]
14. 747 - Cretaceous (edit) [Aquaregia]
15. Hotel Neon - Roke [Archives]
16. 36 - Soul Boundary [A Strangely Isolated Place - forthcoming]

 

Portals: Stories from Tokyo

 
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It's a miracle, I remembered my sound recorder on my trip to Tokyo earlier this month. I was traveling alone, so I had no excuse not to put it to good use. No-one to ask for my time, or interrupt an 10-minute silence. I managed to take down a whole bunch of record stores on my trip and write about them here, yet still squeeze in a couple of days worth of field recordings. 

This latest Portals episode (six) is focused on the sound of Tokyo, Japan. My recent experience - to be exact - told through the stories of these field recordings in-and-around Tokyo. The below mix, takes on the exact same story and journey I took to gather these field recordings. In-between, I've added some of my favorite Japanese ambient music that helps extend the story from that day. 

After watching Japan exit the World Cup at 5am, I found myself on a deserted Shinjuku road (a rarity) and not wanting to return back to bed. Instead, I headed back to the hotel to grab my Zoom recorder, returning to Shinjuku station as the very first trains started to fire up. I then headed south through Yoyogi, walking to the Meiji Shrine. This is a beautiful park, set in the middle of Tokyo, a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and packed full of natural beauty. I walked around here for a few hours, and as the hoards of tourists began to appear, I made a quick exit, jumping on the train at the south of the park, at Harajuku. 

The next day, I headed out to Koenji, capturing more sounds on and around the trains, the small market area, and a very noisy Pachinko (slot machines), eventually ending up in Shibuya, roaming the streets and eating ramen. You should be able to hear all of this in the mix as the story progresses from Shinjuku to, Meiji, Harajuku, Koenji and Shibuya over the course of two days. 

Additionally, I thought why let these recordings go no further, so I've posted them up on the ASIP Bandcamp for everyone to enjoy. It's set at $1 so it adds to your collection when purchased, but feel free to email me if you'd like a Bandcamp download code. I'd happily allow you to use these recordings in mixes and productions too, just let me know - I'm interested to hear what you can create! Download Field Recordings (Bandcamp).

Enjoy this audio trip around Tokyo and the accompanying ambient music from Japanese musicians and Japan-inspired productions. 

Download Mix (MP3).

Episode 6 Tracklist:

01. ASIP - Shinjuku 6am
02. Ryuichi Sakamoto - 音盤 [Milan]
03. Ryuichi Sakamoto - 兄の亡霊 [Milan]
04. ASIP - Early Risers
05. Chihei Hatakeyama - The Distant Sound of a Bustle [Home Normal]
06. ASIP - Yoyogi commuter
07. Ametsub - Sun Of Madrid [Nothings66]
08. ASIP - The Gravel Path
09. Koss - Ancient Rain [Mule Electronic]
10. ASIP - Chōzuya
11. Hiroshi Yoshimura - Creek [Air Records]
12. ASIP - Meiji Before
13. Toshiro Masuda - Presence [Mushishi Soundtrack]
14. ASIP - Forest In A City
15. Susumu Yokota - Hagoromo [Leaf Label]
16. ASIP - Rise of the Cicadas
17. Toshiro Masuda - Mushi  [Mushishi Soundtrack]
18. Hiroshi Yoshimura - Green [Air Records]
19. ASIP - Rise of the Cicadas
20. ASIP - Interruption
21. Nobuto Suda - Nobody Levee [A Strangely Isolated Place]
22. ASIP - Selfies
23. Ian Hawgood - A Film  by Chihei Hatakeyama [Home Normal]
24. ASIP - Harajuku Station
25. ASIP - The Announcement
26. Biosphere - Fujiko [Touch]
27. ASIP - Trip to Koenji
28. Kaito - Travelled Between Souls [Kompakt]
29. ASIP - I Believe I Can Fly
30. Arc of Doves - Pluto [ANAY]
31. 仮想夢プラザ - あなたの目で [Virtual Dream Plaza]
32. ASIP - Presented Through The Curtain
33. ASIP - Goodbye Shibuya
34. Aus - Different Sky [Someone Good]
35. ASIP - The Walkthrough