Jon Hopkins

isolatedmix 84 - Black Swan

 
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Black Swan’s music goes back to the early days of discovery here on ASIP. It was our good friend 36 who put us on to the cinematic drones of Black Swan’s 2012 album Aeterna, and by way of an introduction, the musical similarities between the two aren’t dissimilar, especially when concerning some of 36’s earlier works. The pair even teamed up in 2012 for a track called, Mist and are also set to collaborate again this summer. News also just hit that Black Swan and Hotel Neon will be collaborating in 2019. Two artists who are great at creating dense and interesting soundscapes, evident by Hotel Neon’s latest album, Means of Knowing’.

But where Black Swan’s music comes into its own (dark)light, is the continual swirling descent; music that pulls you down deeper, in the very best way. Black Swan is built for cathedrals at night, with mysterious, sometimes religious connotations, and most importantly, epic walls of sound. It’s vivid ambient music that demands your attention.

Given the introduction so far, you’d probably expect a full-on drone isolatedmix to follow, but instead Black Swan draws a certain tense and suspenseful tone through numerous styles. From the recorded manipulations of Chris Watson setting the scene, to the driving pulses of The Field, and the break in the clouds with Jon Hopkins and Aural Method. It’s a journey as emotionally charged as Black Swan’s own productions.

Download

Tracklist:

01. Chris Watson - El Divisadero
02. 36 - Hollow
03. The Field - Made Of Steel. Made Of Stone
04. Witxes - Orients
05. Black Swan - Slow Oblivion"
06. Tomasz Mreńca - Pleasure
07. Jannick Schou - Veldt
08. Jon Hopkins - Feel First Life
09. Aural Method - I Dreamed of Choirs Slow and Steady, The Song Was Ours Its Woe Was Heavy
10. The Dale Cooper Quartet and the Dictaphones - Son Mansarde Roselin
11. Adam Wiltzie - Potosi
12. Daniel Hart - Post Pie
13. Burial - Archangel

Black Swan | Bandcamp

 

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.

 

todos: Ten Years of A Strangely Isolated Place

 
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The impossible task. Find a way to summarize the last ten years of music featured on the A Strangely Isolated Place blog and website.

First off, we have created the ‘tagged’ project, listing some of the hundreds of artists featured on the blog for you to explore over here. And pretty soon, we’ll have a special release for you all.

But I also wanted something that was closer to our blog beginnings, and a story told through a mix. What better way than tasking our favorite journey-maker, todos.

todos and his Kilchurn Sessions have been a staple of ASIP over the past ten years. We’ve even collected them all in one place, given how many posts they ended up spanning. I don’t need to add many superlatives about him here, but they are some of the best recorded mixes I have ever heard. And I mean it. You can hold-up (my personal favorite) professional mixed CD’s by Sasha, or James Holden for example, and I would be just as pleased listening to some of todos’ Kilchurn Sessions. He has a knack, a perfection and an obsession with mixing unique journeys that span everything from ambient, electronic, techno and instrumental elements, alongside a unique use of samples and movie quotes. He creates familiar and emotive narratives that need multiple revisits to appreciate the detail, skill and passion he put in.

Once todos agreed to my ask (nearly a year-ago now) I sent him the archive of posts from the old site, and a list of all the tags used across both new and old. My only criteria was that he needed to select tracks from artists or albums that were a part of that list - an attachment to ASIP and the blog. He had hundreds to sift through, some known, some new to him.

I don’t know how he did it.

I do know it was a headache for him, for months, but what he turned in, was something well beyond my expectations. He went through many iterations and different approaches, trying to do one chronologically in the order they were featured on ASIP for example, sending me revisions up until the very last minute, but in the end, he managed to find a selection of tracks that truly reflect the past ten years of discovery here on ASIP. And in a style only he knows how to execute.

A big BIG thank you to todos for soundtracking ASIP all these years. And for this, a superb piece of no-doubt painstaking work to help us celebrate ten-years of existence.

Once you’re done listening here, check out our ‘tagged’ project to explore even more.

Download MP3

Download WAV

~

Ten years of A Strangely Isolated Place - mixed by todos

Tracklist:

1. Minilogue - ‘Yesterday Bells’ edit (2008)/ Grzegorz Bojanek - A Huge Explosion After The War’ edit (2017)

2. Altus - ‘Virgo’ edit (2013) / Little Dragon - ‘Twice’ edit (2008) / Lights Out Asia - ‘Except Europa’ edit (2010)

3. Herbstlaub - ‘Softly hidden she.’ (Stray Theories remix) (2016)

4. Stellardrone - ‘Pale Blue Dot’ (2010)

5. Freescha - ‘Kite High’ (2009)

6. Benjamin Dauer - ‘Harmony Bound’ (2011) / Rhian Sheehan - ‘Standing In Silence Part 1’ edit (2010)

7. Jon Hopkins - ‘Private Universe’ (2008) / Opus III - ‘It’s A Fine Day’ edit (2009)

8. Sasha - ‘Broadcast’ (2016)

9. Umber - ‘Tomorrow We'll Throw Out Some Old Shoes’ (2011)

10. Kiyoko - ‘Sea of Trees’ (2012)

11. Bjorn Rohde - ‘Forest of Forgotten Hearts’ (2013) / Nils Frahm - ‘Peter’ (2013)

12. Jason van Wyk - ‘Eyes Shut’ (2017)

13. Roel Funcken - ‘Android Robson’ (2016)

14. Synkro - ‘Midnight Sun’ (2015)

15. Martin Nonstatic - ‘Open Minded’ (2015) / Aphex Twin - ‘Rhubarb’ (2009)

16. Sonitus Eco - ’Storegga Slide’ (2015)

17. Vermont - ‘Übersprung’ (2014)

18. Ocoeur - ‘Resonance’ (2013) / Sigur Ros - ‘Takk’ (2011) / Carbon Based Lifeforms - ‘Intro’ / ‘Hold’ (2014)

19. Donnacha Costello - ‘That Empty Feeling’ (2011)

20. Rhian Sheehan - ’Sileo’ (2013)

21. Markus Guentner - ‘Baryon’ (Feat. The Sight Below) edit (2015) / Porya Hatami - ‘Fen’ (By Segue) edit (2015)

22. Tegh - ‘Down’ (2014)

23. Arovane - ‘Woven’ (Peter Benisch Remix) edit (2015)

24. John Beltran - ‘Seasons Go’ (2013)

~

Includes audio recordings taken in and around USA, Germany, UK, Italy, Poland, Australia, Netherlands and Japan.

Special thanks to Ryan, Marcel, Eiko, Spencer and James for the support and sending me snippets of your own strangely isolated places. It was a pleasure incorporating them into this mix.

*Years indicate when tracks were featured on ASIP, not necessarily when they were released*

Artwork by ASIP, containing elements from Mario Morales and Nick Brzostowski.

 

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

 

Optic Echo Presents – Best Vinyl of 2015

 

Mike Jedlicka's Optic Echo radio show consistently serves up some of the best ambient, experimental and modern classical vinyl-only selections. In this special edition, Mike has curated some of his favorite vinyl of the year specially prepared for Headphone Commute.

As you would expect from a weekly show trying to summarize a years worth of wax purchases, it was no doubt an arduous task narrowing it downvand the result is a lovely journey through the many styles Mike covers on his show.

Mike's included some of my favorite vinyl of the year too, namely Night Sequels, 36, wndfrm, Benoit Poulard and Inventions, all sitting proudly in my best of 2015 lists. And a big thanks to Mike for also selecting Arovane & Hior Chronik's release.

Check out the Optic Echo Mixcloud page for all of the previous shows and Headphone Commute for full details and all download options.

Download.

Tracklist:
Mountains – Parallel Two – You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever
Kreng – Bargaining- The Summoner
Night Sequels – Siamese Summer – Children of the Night Make Music
Jon Hopkins – I Remember (Nils Frahm Dub Interrupt Remix) – I Remember 10”
Four Tet – Morning Side – Morning / Evening
Max Richter – Space 11 (Invisible Pages Over)- From Sleep
Shuttle358 – Can You Prove I Was Born?
Andrew Weathers – We Will Never See A Cloud Again – Fuck Everybody, You Can do Anything
VA (Marcus Fischer) – Field Works: Progue’s Run
Rival Consoles – Ghosting – Howl
Pye Corner Audio – Quasar II – Stars Shine Like Eyes 10”
Benoit Poulard – Whose Palms Create – Sonnet
36 – Sky Fire – Pulse Dive
wndfrm – Monopole – Formal Variant EP
Christina Vantzou – Stereoscope – No. 3
T.Raumschmiere – 007 – T.Raumschmiere
Inventions – Wolfkids – Maze of Woods
Nils Frahm – Our Own Roof – Music For The Motion Picture Victoria
Arovane & Hior Chronik – Scale – In-between [BUY]
Valet – Transformation – Nature
Anduin – Last Days of Montrose House 10”
Helm – I Exist In A Fog – Olympic Mess
Kamran Sadeghi – The Right Direction is Left
Lawrence English – Antarctica – Viento
Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm – Three – Loon
Celer – Distant Misgivings – Jima