ASIP - Reflection on 2016


2016 was a busy year! The label started with the Arovane & Hior Chronik Remix EP, then Merrin Karras' glorious synthesizer piece, Apex. And more recently, the much-desired 36 album, The Infinity Room.  It was also a very sad year in many ways, with ASIP artist, Igor Bystrov aka Parks, passing away. The In Memory EP, featuring a collection of his works was also released, with all proceeds going to Igor's family. Thank you to everyone who supported the label and the artists throughout 2016 - I can't express how grateful I am to have such an amazing bunch of listeners and supporters.

It was an amazing year for music. I was overwhelmed for the most part, and didn't get round to writing about half as many albums as I would have liked to. But my yearly Reflections mix goes some way in helping soothe my guilt and pain. Featuring many of my favorite tracks from some of my favorite albums and releases from the year, it's my version of the infamous journo 'best-of' list but presented in the best way possible I start with a playlist including one track from every album I've enjoyed over the year, and then whittle it down, based on what sounds right in the mix and ultimately, what I've been listening to the most. It goes without saying, this only scrapes the surface of the many great albums and releases we've been treated to in 2016.

A quick run down of the inclusions in this years mix...

Sad Elron, the one track I spent the year looping, was the standout in one of this years best albums from Mark Pritchard. Bvdub surprised us with a selection of shorter-than-normal cuts, and potentially his best album yet. The Green Kingdom is this years under-the-radar gem, cutting up dubby-ambient and post-rock. Steve Hauschildt topped the year of the synthesizer, as did Phaeleh, with outstanding albums on both fronts. ASC made a sneaky retro-electronica appearance as Comit. Synkro enlisted the best for his remix EP - with Helios providing a glorious take, alongside a superb album of his own. Jesse Somfay returned after over 5-years with a unique and exciting new album. Segue turned in da-dub as usual on the ever-brilliant Silent Season. Isan made a return with their quirky melodic electronica. The Orb made an attempt to out-chill-out the Chill Out. Ametsub dropped a sneaky jazz-infused ambient piece. Tangent proved the newcomer of the year on n5MD. Jóhann Jóhannsson should be on the front-cover of Time magazine as man of the year with his outstanding score for Arrival and another complete masterpiece in Orphée. Heck got the remastering and reworking of choice by Field Rotation's Christopher Berg. Ocoeur got our year off to a stunner with his modern-classical masterpiece. Eluvium won the hearts of everyone with his operatic tearjerker. Drape kept Infraction's continually brilliant ambient output up-to-scratch. Warmth treated us to one of the years best ambient surprises. Deepchord turned in one of the years best remixes - out-ambienting Wolgang Voigt's flip. Benoit Pioulard broke his wrist and showed us how to remix Aphex Twin. Porya Hatami and Arovane joined forces once again book-ending their ASIP remix EP.  And lastly, as a special tribute, we end the mix on one of my favourite tracks by Park from 2009 - RIP.

And breathe. Enjoy the look back.



01. Mark Pritchard - Sad Alron [Under The Sun] (Warp)
02. Bvdub - 07 [Yours Are Stories Of Sadness] (Self)Read the review
03. The Green Kingdom - Haze Layers [Harbor] (Dronarivm) 
04. Steve Hauschildt - Time We Have [Strands] (Kranky) Read the review
05. Phaeleh - Frequency [Illusion of The Tale] (Undertow) Read the review
06. Comit - Under Your Spell [Trip 01] (Warm Communications) Read the review
07. Synkro - Midnight Sun (Helios Remix) [Changes Remix EP] (Apollo)
08. Jesse Somfay - Chorona (A Voice Like Sunshine) [Levamentum] (Tipping HandRead the review
09. Segue - Deep Valley [Over The Mountains] (Silent Season
10. Isan - Lace Murex [Glass Bird Movement] (MorrRead the review
11. The Orb - 4am Exhale [COW] (Kompakt)
12. Ametsub - Skydroppin' [Skydroppin' EP] (Blueberry Records)
13. Tangent - Perceived Horizon [Collapsing Horizons] (n5MD)
14. Jóhann Jóhannsson - Heptapod B [Arrival OST] (Deutschegrammophon)
15. Hecq - Night Falls (reworked by Christopher Berg) [Night Falls] (Hymen Records)
16. Ocoeur - Fixo 2 [Reversed] (n5MD) Read the review
17. Eluvium - Fugue State [False Readings On] (Temporary ResidenceRead the review / mix
18. Drape - Detrial Rest [Let There Water Air] (Infraction)
19. Helios - Land Father [Remembrance] (Unseen Music) Read the review
20. Warmth - Odessa [Essay] (Archives) Read the review / mix 
21. Peter Michael Hamel - Colours of Time [Reinterpreted] (Deepchord’s Carolina Forest Mix) Read the review
22. Benoit Pioulard - Stone In Focus [Radial] Read the review / mix
23. Porya Hatami & Arovane - iaan [Kaziwa] (Time Released Sound
24. Jóhann Jóhannsson - Flight From The City [Orphée] (Deutschegrammophon) Read the review
25. Parks - Eternal Wind [Hidden] (Infraction - 2009)

[Artwork / photo taken on a trip to Japan in August 2016]


ISAN - Glass Bird Movement


Berlin's Morr Music was responsible for some of the best electronica/IDM releases during the pioneering period of the early 00's, alongside labels such as City Center Offices. With the likes of Manual, Christian Kleine, and a rather brilliant Slowdive remix compilation, Blue Skied An' Clearit's often easy to look back and think the label's best times have passed, but as proven here, one of it's most notorious inclusions, ISAN are back with some of their best work yet. 

The title of their latest release is a perfect reflection of the sound you can expect from Antony Ryan and Robin Saville (ISAN) - six years after their last. Working from different locations (UK and Denmark), the pair create glorious, shimmering patterns of warm electronica that are familiar, yet unmistakably ISAN. Many would claim to have been inspired by Antony and Robin, and it would be easy to draw comparisons that exist somewhere in-between the analog depths of Freescha, the innovative abilities of Aphex Twin, the melodic constructs of BoC, and the technical drum-patterns of Loess, but I do so only to draw attention to the brilliance of ISAN's music.

Tracks like 'Lace Murex' hit with an air of confidence, the crispness of a fine production, that makes the hairs on your neck stand on end, as the slow-burning melody creeps in amongst the pulsating, crunchy synthesizers, all set on a crisp day at the seaside, full of color and joy. 

Switch to the analog 'Rattling Downhill' to hear ISAN's fun retro side, manipulating simple synthesizer constructs into an addictive, progressive dance, as a spectrum of color swirls around your already hypnotized head.

As if demonstrating a breadth of approaches to a sound which is often easy to pigeonhole, tracks like 'Slow Rings' present a completely unique approach to this quirky electronica sound, leading into more ambient and inviting sounds in the softer album closer, 'Risefallasleep'.

As well as being another ISAN classic, this album is one of two things. It's either two master-minds of electronica finally polishing off tracks that have been finessed over 15-years or so, which still feel as fresh today as they ever would. Or Antony and Robin just decided, 'hey, it's about time we showed the world how great this type of music can be again' - like those people you meet who are just so damn good at something, no-matter how little practice they've had - they've just got it, popping up six years later to remind us how music can make you feel. Beautiful colors, happiness, and music that was made with fun and laughter. This is music that ISAN do best, and they do it better than anyone else.

Available on Morr Music and Bandcamp.