Gas

36 - A Closer Listen 100 mix

 
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I haven’t posted a guest mix on here for quite some time (outside of the isolatedmix series of course). But this one has inspired me to get back to sharing great mixes we found out in the big wide world again, for a few reasons.

Namely, it’s a great mix by our very own Dennis Huddleston / 36. He’s chosen a few tracks and artists that have been recent discoveries for me too (and featured on a few of my past mixes), including Rashida Prime and Sangam. Both these artists are well-known in the Vaporwave arenas but essentially, offering what we classic ambient fans know as some deep and futuristic/space styles of ambient music. These fall alongside the great GAS, a classic space-ambient track from Michael Sterns and a track from another album I’ve enjoyed recently on Music From Memory by Terreke.

Additionally, this marks a major moment for A Closer Listen. ACL have been releasing mixes for years now, and this marks their 100th and final installment - in its current form at least. Going by the text on ACL, it looks like they will have several other new exploratory / mix inspired avenues coming soon, which sound extremely promising.

For now, escape to the latest from 36 and read his mini-interview with ACL with a nod to an upcoming release….

Tracklist:

01. Rashida Prime – Damaged Interface
02. Marvin Horsch – Sun After Rain
03. Useless – 128E
04. GAS – Narkopop 11
05. Hammock – Oh the Bliss (Reinterpretation)
06. Terekke – Atba
07. Michael Stearns – In The Beginning
08. Sangam – Egotistical
09. Flame 1 – Shrine
10. Woob – Subterranean District
11. Pulusha – Isolation Part 1
12. 36 – Ego Death

 

isolatedmix 65 - Würden & Pfeiffer

 

We start our 2017 schedule with two of ambient music's most recent strongholds, Max Würden & Thore Pfeiffer.

After arriving on Kompakt's Pop Ambient compilation in 2015, and making appearances with tracks in the subsequent two years ('16 & '17) both artists have helped shape the new-school of Pop Ambient artists and sound emerging from this notorious platform - an ever-developing, yet distinct sound from the mind of label boss Wolfgang VoigtThore also helped launch the Pop Ambient album series, following in the footsteps of Leandro Fresco, with his debut, Im Blickfield - a melodic and inviting sound that's synonymous with the series.

Whilst also in 2015, Max presented his album Retour on Wolfgang Voigt's other recently launched curated series, Exponate - a label which intends to, "open up new musical spaces and to sound out the increasingly liquified confines between abstract ambient music and art music, between electronica and new music". 

After a production together on 2015's Pop Ambient edition, titled Feinherb the duo intend to continue their plans of producing together. Max and Thore have been enjoying creating mixes in the meantime, with their first dropping Savvy Records last year, and more recently a Winter special on Kompakt last December.

For isolatedmix 65, we're treated to an amalgamation of overlapping textures and finely tuned atmospheres. Expect a similar approach to Markus Guentner's isolatedmix (Ten Years of Pop Ambient), which focused heavily on the Pop Ambient sound, but with some additional unique twists and turns that span the spectrum of influences for them both, all wrapped amongst some carefully considered, extended transitions. 

Mixing ambient music can be exploratory in approach given its similar capacity and textures, and the duo take advantage with many tracks played at the same time. Questioning when one ends and another begins will be a familiar experience throughout - but that's when you know you're wrapped in something so deep you won't want to surface. 

Download.

Tracklist:

01. Intro – Road Works / Open Fire
02. Anton Kubikov – Dekka - Pop Ambient 2017 (Kompakt
03. Marsen Jules – Yara 4 - Yara (Oktaf) / The Hunt For Red October (O.S.T.) – Plane Crash – The Hunt For Red October (MCA Records)
04. Gas – Pop 5 – Pop (Kompakt) / Efdemin – Ohara – Decay (Dial)
05. Higher Intelligence Agency & Biosphere – Augusta Road – Birmingham Frequencies (Headphone)
06. Markus Guentner – Paragon – Theia (A Strangely Isolated Place)
07. Max Würden – Perfect Moment - Or Lost (Farfield Records) / Pauline Oliveros / Stuart Dempster / Panaiotis – Suiren – Deep Listening (New Albion)
08. Thore Pfeiffer – Good Life – Pop Ambient 2017 (Kompakt)
09. Cory Allen & Marcus Fischer – Two / Twenty-Two / Seventy- Seven – Two / Twenty Two (Bandcamp) / Shades Of Orion – Liquid Shade – Shades Of Orion (FAX +49-69/450464)
10. Maps and Diagrams – The Shape of Things To Come – Air Texture Volume I (Air Texture)
11. Max Würden – Unterwasser III – Retour (Exponate)
12. Wounds – Losing Focus – Winter Ambient Box (Not on label) / Martin Schmitz – Orgel DX 10 - 50°58'2.19''N, 7°0'6.73''E (Noorden) / Main – Cavitation – Deliquescence (Beggars Banquet)

Würden & Pfeiffer | Facebook
Max Würden
| Wuerden.com | Kompakt.fm | Soundcloud | Bandcamp | Facebook
Thore Pfeiffer | Kompakt.fm | Soundcloud | Facebook

 

Portals: Music For Sleeping

 

The easiest way to describe ambient music to somebody who isn't aware of it, is often to explain it as background music, or music that puts you to sleep. I find myself in that situation regularly, be it with taxi drivers asking about the show I'm heading off to ("so you don't dance - you just listen?!") family members asking about the music I put on the label, or pretty much anyone who only listens to nothing but pop music and think this stuff doesn't exist... However, when you explain it as "music for sleeping", it doesn't do the genre any justice whatsoever. Just take a look on Youtube, or Google "music for sleeping"; it's packed full of generic new-age type material that probably does the job for the many mums out there, but isn't a true reflection of some of the amazing coma-inducing music available. Let's open this world up a little more.

Music for sleeping doesn't necessarily mean music with the least obtrusive manner, or the most unnoticeable of noise. In my experience, you can probably fall asleep to any music you personally enjoy, feel comfort in, and can zone out to - be it full-on techno, subtle field recordings, ancient chanting or never-ending guitar loops. I think I've fallen asleep to all of the above at some point. 

During this exploration, I found several themes or styles of music that I enjoy falling asleep to. So instead of listing out individual tracks in a random order,  I've separated out the music by the five stages of the sleep cycle and given them each a theme / style of music that matches. 

Sleep cycles are apparently 90-minutes long, so you'll find two mixes accompanying this feature, (two cycles each consisting of 90-minutes) with each mix made up of the five sleep stages. The selection includes some of my favorites, as well as suggestions from a few readers via Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to all who suggested albums, and made compiling this feature a new journey for me in many instances. 
 

Stage 1 "Fragmented Visuals" 

Light sleep; we drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily. Our eyes move very slowly and muscle activity slows. People awakened from stage 1 sleep often remember fragmented visual images. Many also experience sudden muscle contractions called hypnic myoclonia, often preceded by a sensation of starting to fall

For stage one, I've chosen music that creates detailed and immersive textures. Music that's been crafted with pictures in mind, often including field recordings, giving you the sense of something happening, painting the world you're about to enter. These tracks have just enough detail for you to tune into whilst awake, but enough texture and unknown space to zone out to.

These types of tracks are often in the purest of ambient form consisting of simple textures made famous by many of the early ambient pioneers, such as Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, The KLF and Biosphere

To help keep things interesting in this stage, the veterans sit alongside some more recent ambient/experimental artists such as Robert Rich, Gallery Six and Sage Taylor (Textural Being's more ambient guise). 
 

Stage 2 "Slowly floating"

When we enter stage 2 sleep, our eye movements stop and our brain waves (fluctuations of electrical activity that can be measured by electrodes) become slower, with occasional bursts of rapid waves called sleep spindles.

By now, I start to drift off and for this stage I've chosen the purest of ambient music focused on soft melodies and colorful textures - the easiest type of ambient music to fall asleep to due to its cloud-like feelings. It can range from simple synthesizer music, to orchestral scores, all uplifting and comforting in tone and texture; nothing too dark, and all very welcoming. 

This type of music ranges in style, from a more electronic feel to more instrumental. Kompakt's Pop Ambient Series is a great place to start (pretty much any of their stuff) and Pass Into Silence feature here alongside more soft electronic processing from Altus,  Home Normal'sChronovalve, the widely regarded Disintegration Loops from William Basinski, one of my favourite tracks from Helios and perhaps my most played album at bedtime by Jonas Munk's Billow Observatory project. 

Some of the more instrumental pieces that offer gentle, drifting lullabies include Hammock's inviting guitar drones, or beautiful soundtracks from Jon Hopkins and Stars Of The Lid's, Brian McBride - each a delicate balance between comforting melodies and a poignant attention-grabbing movie score. 
 

Stage 3 "Rhythmic waves"

In stage 3, extremely slow brain waves called delta waves begin to appear, interspersed with smaller, faster waves.

After drifting, comes the gentle trance-like repetition. For this stage I've chosen tracks with subtle rhythm, ambient pulses, or the gentle enveloping warmth of beats. It's hard to find music that doesn't disrupt within this style (an art it seems). Some will find this style too busy, whilst some will find the repetition soothing and comforting. 

This stage includes my personal favourite bedtime album from Yagya, the undercurrent of Wolfgang Voigt's, Gas project and fellow german Markus Guentner's pulsing ambient, the ethereal, angelic progression of bvdub and one of Loscil's finest ambient projects to date, Fern & Robin, taken from his album Endless Falls


Stage 4 "Into The Deep"

By stage 4, the brain produces delta waves almost exclusively. It is very difficult to wake someone during stages 3 and 4, which together are called deep sleep. There is no eye movement or muscle activity

The second stage of deep sleep requires indulging atmospheres, so the theme of this stage suited more intense sounds, erring on the side of drone music in many instances. These are the washes of sound that remove the finer details and blanket you with color and texture to confirm your paralyses. 

This stage includes the deep electronic experiments of Alva NotoLine's Tu 'M, and Thomas Koner, alongside the drone gods of Rafael Anton Irisarri and the infamous Stars Of The Lid 


Stage 5 (REM) "The Other Worlds"

 

When we switch into REM sleep, our breathing becomes more rapid, irregular, and shallow, our eyes jerk rapidly in various directions, and our limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed. Our heart rate increases and our blood pressure rises. When people awaken during REM sleep, they often describe bizarre and illogical tales – dreams.

By now, you're starting to dream, which calls for new worlds and vivid landscapes. This is perhaps one of the more popular styles of sleep music looking back at what's out there already. The psychedelic worlds and space-like ambient music is often the stereotype for escapism and outer-world experiences and along with meditation and relaxation. 

For this stage I've chosen the space-like sounds of Global Communication, Biosphere, Neel, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Solar Fields and Stellardrone, alongside the eery melody of Aphex Twin's Blue Calx - potentially the softest-ever travel pillow.

~

The list, and the mixes could have gone on forever but I had to stop somewhere, so maybe there will be a time for future sleep cycles if you enjoy them. For now, here's two to see you through a couple of horizontal sessions. 

As described previously, the mixes are split into the above sleep stages in a hope they mirror the overall sleep cycle. I'm no doctor or expert in sleep, so this is by no way mean't to actually be a prescriptive sleep session! It was just a nice way to structure the approach, and you never know, it might work for you. 

Once you've listened, feel free to comment below with your experience and if the mixes did the job. Of course, you probably wouldn't know if they did... 

Cycle 1 (90 mins) Download

Tracklist:
Stage 1.1 Brian Eno - Drift (Apollo A&S
Stage 1.2 Aphex Twin - Rhubarb (SAW II)
Stage 1.3 Sage Taylor - Raintime Ten (Raintime)
Stage 1.4 Gallery Six - The Frozen Lake (The Fogbound Island)
Stage 2.1 Pass Into Silence - Iceblink (Pop Ambient 2006)
Stage 2.2 Chronovalve - The Gravity Of Dreams (Trace of Light)
Stage 2.3 Billow Observatory - Pankalia (Billow Observatory)
Stage 3.1 Gas - Pop 3 (Pop)
Stage 3.2 Yagya - Rigning tiu (Rigning)  
Stage 4.1 Tu M’ - Monochrome #01 (Monochrome Vol.1)
Stage 4.2 Alva Noto - Xerrox Radieuse (Xerrox Vol.3)
Stage 5.1 Carbon Based Lifeforms - Somewhere in Russia (Twentythree)
Stage 5.2 Global Communication - 9.39 (76.14)
Stage 5.3 Neel - The Secret Revealed (Phobos)
Stage 5.4 Biosphere - Kobresia (Substrata
 

Cycle 2 (90 mins) Download

Tracklist:
Stage 1.1 Biosphere - ’t Schop (The Hilvarenbeek Recordings)
Stage 1.2 Robert Rich - Summer Thunder (Echo Of Small Things)
Stage 1.3 The KLF - Six Hours to Louisiana, Black (Chill Out)
Stage 2.1 William Basinski - The Disintegration Loops 3 (The Disintegration Loops)
Stage 2.2 Helios - Vargtimme (Eingya)
Stage 2.3 Brian McBride - Girl Nap (The Effective Disconnect
Stage 2.4 Jon Hopkins - Campfire (Monsters OST)
Stage 2.5 Hammock - Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow (Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow)
Stage 2.6 Altus - Sodium Glow (Black Trees Among Amber Skies)
Stage 3.1 Markus Guentner - Dockside (Talking Clouds EP)
Stage 3.2 bvdub - I Would Have Waited (Songs For A Friend I Left Behind)
Stage 3.3 Loscil - Fern & Robin (Endless Falls)
Stage 4.1 Rafael Anton Irisarri - Persistence (Unsaid EP)
Stage 4.2 Thomas Koner - Nuuk Air (Nuuk)
Stage 4.3 Stars Of The Lid - The Artificial Pine Arch Song (The Ballasted Orchestra)
Stage 5.1 Solar Fields - Silent Walking (Origin #1)
Stage 5.2 Stellardrone - Nightscape (Echoes)
Stage 5.3 Aphex Twin - Blue Calx (SAW II)

Spotify playlist featuring a majority of music from this post:

Feature image by Dorian DenesT-shirts with the Music For Sleeping design are now available on his website.

If you're new to ambient music or would like more of the same, try our in-depth feature, Neither Scene Nor Heard : a journey through ambient music

 

isolatedmix 60 - Porya Hatami

 

Porya Hatami first featured on ASIP at the beginning of 2014 as we geared up to his release on Tenchtitled Shallow. The interview gave a short and sweet introduction to the Iranian producer and his respected field recording and live sampling production approach. 

Shallow, went on to receive the remix treatment on Dewtone, with many of our favorite artists contributing to a stunning release, including: Loscil, Arovane, Halo, Bjorn Rohde, Purl and The Green Kingdom. Porya also combined forces with Arovane and his analogue, granular style on the brilliant Resonance last year - a finely tuned craft of subtle electronics, as well as a partnership with Darren McClure in a similar vein, on In-Between Spaces.  

These partnerships have allowed Porya's subtle ambient manipulations to combine forces with similar artists to great effect so far, and 2016 sees him continue this trend as part of The Angling Loser, a collective alongside Lee Norris, Gordon Jones and Shintaro Aoki.

With all this pretense, it goes without saying that Porya was an obvious choice for the recent ASIP Arovane & Hior Chronik remix EP, where he adorned the powerful cello and deep drones of Past Creates The Future; creating an enriching, deeper and more minimal take on the original. He possesses an acute and powerful skill to manipulate the most delicate of sounds, drawing on single elements and expanding tones, rhythms and emotion. 

For his isolatedmix, Porya gives us a unique insight into some of his favorite tracks that have influenced his approach over the years. The minimal glitch of Raster Noton and Mille Plateaux, transcend into the ambient beauty of PurlMarkus Guentner and Gas before the warm energy of Gramm and Jan Jelinek's subtle beats complete the proceedings. 

Download.

Tracklist:

01. Shuttle358 - Frame  (Frame) [12k]
02. Modul - Kkun I  (Isol) [Raster Noton]
03. SND - 00039 d.6  (Stdio) [Mille Plateaux]
04. Robert Lippok - Open (Open Close Open) [Raster Noton]
05. Farben - Bayreuth (Textstar) [Klang Electronik]
06. Porya Hatami - White Forest (Purl remix)  (Shallow Remixes) [Dewtone]
07. Markus Guentner - Der Wustenplanet  (1981) [Kompakt]
08. Porya Hatami - After the rain (The Green Kingdom Remix)  (Shallow Remixes) [Dewtone]
09. Gas - Königsforst 04  (Königsforst) [Mille Plateaux]
10. Gramm - Type Eins (Personal Rock) [Source Records]
11. Jan Jelinek - Tendency (Loop Finding Jazz records) [~scape]

Porya Hatami Web/Bandcamp |  Soundcloud | Twitter

 

ASIP Wantlist #1

 
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Introducing a new feature series for the diggers out there; the ASIP Wantlist. We'll be asking friends and artists for the five records that sit at the top of their wish list, the records they make a beeline for every time they step into a record store, the covers they've never ran their finger across, the pieces of wax that long for a space on their shelf. 

Finding these elusive records has been made increasingly easier over the years with the likes of Discogs and eBay, but if you ask any record collector, nothing beats finding a piece of vinyl without the means of the internet; wrongly filed, turned backwards, hanging on to an original, busted sleeve, and inappropriately priced. The moment that goes through all of our heads; "is this it? Is it the original? Is it in OK condition? Yes! Why is it it filed in the Jazz section?? OK, how much is it..."

Some submissions in the series will undoubtedly be easily found on the internet, maybe at an extortionate black-market price, but this isn't just about highlighting the rarest LP's with only one acetate ever pressed. Instead, it's a personal love affair with a cherished format. It's a chance for the people who appreciate the physical product, to talk about the pieces they've wanted for some time, and the copies they long to find in a dusty old store - the earned find, not the one-click buy. Nothing beats it. 

I'll kick things off.

Doing this was harder than I thought given how many sought-after records have been re-pressed recently, but I found this to be a proof point in why this feature could be interesting. It wont be a list to show-off peoples collections; "hey why don't you tell me about all those great records you have?" No. It will probably end up being a weird anomaly of records that unearth a bit of nostalgia and personality surrounding said person. I toyed with including some wants from my techno list, my trance list even, but ultimately settled on an ambient theme to begin proceedings. 

And as a reference for all the true crate diggers, I've been collecting for about fifteen years now, which is not that much compared to many people, so expect a relatively modern list, all things considered. Future Wantlist features will undoubtedly dig even deeper...

 

1. Gas - Gas. 1996. Mille Plateaux [Discogs]

 
 

I'm yet to find a Gas vinyl in a record store  and I don't own any Gas on vinyl. It kills me. And given the quality across his four albums between '96 and '00, any of them could be on this list.  

The grandfather of ambient techno (you could say) Wolfgang Voigt, released his defining self-titled LP on the just-as-legendary Mille Plateaux label in 1996 and has seen nothing but praise and imitators (in the good sense) ever since. His sound undoubtedly went on to influence his curations for Pop Ambient  (this is where it started) and likely spawned a generation of washed-out, blissful techno music that straddled between ambient and dance-floor techno. 

Wolfgang is a big influence to many of the artists I listen to today and is responsible for Kompakt's infamous contribution to the ambient world, making his LP's top of my Wantlist by a long way. 

2. Slowdive - 5 EP. 1993. Creation Records. (12") [Discogs]

 
 
 
 

Perhaps an obvious choice, but I don't own many Slowdive records. I'm not sure if it's down to them generally being hard to come across; if I haven't had the urge to dig them out; or if deep down I can't even begin collecting Slowdive records properly until this one is in my collection (I'm an all-or-nothing type of person). 

In Mind is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever created and Rachel's soft, angelic voice sounds even better on a warm, crackly piece of vinyl. I also want this to accompany my treasured Reload remixes of In Mind 12". Which leads me nicely on to...

3. Chapterhouse Retranslated By Global Communication ‎– Pentamerous Metamorphosis. 1993. Dedicated. (2xLP)  [Discogs

 
 
 
 

Another shoegaze related want, with Chapterhouse receiving the remix treatment from Global Communication at the very beginning of their infamous ambient era. Tom Middleton and Mark Pritchard set the bar high in 1993 with this unexpected remix album, yet managed to better it even further with the release of their genre defining 76:14 album a year later. Whilst I'm lucky enough to own an original copy of 76:14, it's this remix album I'm on the hunt for now. Each track, taking the core of a Chapterhouse melody, feeling or vocal and capturing the very essence of Global Communication each and every time. 

4. Brian Eno With Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno ‎– Apollo - Atmospheres & Soundtracks. 1983. Editions EG. (2xLP) [Discogs]

 
 

This is an example of an LP that is commonly available online, but one I long to come across in a record store, in pristine condition, sat there patiently waiting for me. It's a classic ambient album, inspired by America's conquest of new frontiers, and contains one of my favorite tracks of all time, An Anding (Ascent)It's the the blueprint for the likes of the KLF's Chillout album (combining elements of Country music for example), undoubtedly some of the Aphex ambient sound, and plenty of Pop Ambient musicians who went on to use subtle guitar loops as textures. It's heralded as one of the best-ever ambient albums for many reasons. Not to mention the track, Deep Blue Day, used in that infamous Trainspotting toilet scene. A must have in any collection, and surprisingly, one still missing from mine...

5. Alessandro Cortini - Forse 1. 2013. Important. (2xLP) [Discogs]

 
 
 
 

This last one took me a while to think about. There's hundreds of older records I'm on the hunt for (which I'll no doubt have to cover in later features), but I wanted to provide variety across the five, so I looked to more recent 'misses' which are now on my hit-list.

Alessandro Cortini (of Nine Inch Nails fame) has released three Forse albums and I unfortunately jumped on the bandwagon just a little too late, picking up the third (purple) last year.  I now need to track down the previous two, because not only do I have an obsession with completing sets (for example, I'm still on the hunt for a few remaining Donnacha Costello Color Series 12"s and a couple more Pop Ambient LP's to complete those collections) but Alessandro's albums are similarly worthwhile collectors items. Beautifully presented, color vinyls, quality packaging and above all, include some powerful, stunning music by Alessandro and his synth-obsessed world.

I think Alessandro's albums will undoubtedly become some of the most sought after records for ambient/ drone/ experimental fans in years to come. If you see Forse 1 or 2 in the store, you know where to send them...

~

Wantlist #2 coming soon, featuring five selects from friend, Jamie Mccue of Silent Season.