Marcus Fischer

isolatedmix 80 - Roel Funcken

 
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Roel Funcken is well known around these parts; playing an engaging role in our small online ambient community and amassing a respectful following for his output. Whether through his unique IDM releases (read about one we covered a few years back, or a recent favorite of mine here) or even some of his epic ambient and electronica mixes, he's always been one to spend his time pushing the electronic sound forward.

Just this past month, Roel decided to combine a few of these aspects and bring together some of his close community for a worthwhile charitable release. With the help of the esteemed charity collective, Touched Music, "Dear of the Yog" was released to help raise funds for as the name might suggest; a charity that aims to improve the welfare of dogs and cats in Asia. Roel has brought together some of our favorite artists to take on some of his own productions, including Lusine, Martin Nonstatic, Illuvia (Purl), Kettel, and Ochre, whilst also providing a fine bunch of remixes himself. 

If you're familiar with some of Roel's previous ambient-oriented mixes, you'll know he tends to err of the side of 'epic' when it comes to duration. Take a few of his contributions over on Headphone Commute for example. Whilst his isolatedmix isn't quite a six-part series in a similar manner to his Isotope Cobalt project, we still have a trademark journey on our hands reaching nearly 2-hours in length and featuring a wide range of influences, from the deep worlds of ASC, Abul Mogard and Deru, to the light touches of Nest, Purl and Marcus Fischer and the metallic electronics of Ital Tek and Lorn. 

Roel demonstrates a unique ability to effortlessly match tone and texture whilst keeping every twist and turn interesting through many evolving through styles. 

Download

Artist/Track/Release

01. Marcus Fischer & Simon Scott - Thorns (Shape Memory)
02. Toàn - Unsolved (Histós Lusis)
03. Pepo Galan & Max Würden - All Of A Sudden (All Of A Sudden)
04. Deru - 1979 (On a Snowy February Day) (1979: Remixed)
05. Solo Andata - Loom (Solo Andata)
06. Roel Funcken - Android Robson (Ochre rmx) (Dear of the Yog)
07. Rival Consoles - Be Kind (Persona)
08. ASC - Quaoar (Trans-Neptunian Objects)
09. Huerco S - A Sea Of Love  (For Those Of You Who Have Never...)
10. Julien Neto - III (Le Fumeur de Ciel)
11. Clark - Oaklands  (Clarence Park)
12. Autechre - Altibzz (Quaristice)
13. Nest - Charlotte (Retold)
14. Lorn  - SPINNING IN A DREAM (A/D)
15. Rival Consoles - Memory Arc (Persona)
16. Abul Mogard - The Purpose Of Peace (Abul Mogard)
17. Woulg - Ocean (Thin Veil)
18. Kane Ikin - The Violent Silence (Sublunar)
19. r beny - cities sleep like seeds  (cascade symmetry)
20. Legiac - Bycam Fosfane2  (The Voynich Manuscript)
21. Roel Funcken -Pead Bandorum (Kettel rmx) (Dear of the Yog)
22. Purl - Montauk (Evighet)
23. Ital Tek  - Reflection Through Destruction (Hollowed)
24. Roel Funcken - Spawkings (Martin Nonstatic rmx) (Dear of the Yog)
25. Sofus Forsberg - App lol (Udefra)
26. Boards of Canada - Nothing Is Real  (Tomorrow's Harvest)
27. Lorn - Mercy (Ask The Dust)
28. Arovane - ambelio (Atol Scrap)

Roel Funcken Web | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook

Imagery by Antonie Rault, Hao Wang & Rene Bohmer - edited by ASIP. 

 

Portals: Music For Mindfulness

 
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Mindfulness, is undoubtedly subjective and situational. But one thing I’ve noticed, is that most of the material you hear on this topic often has a stereotypical sound; normally new-age, and often yoga or meditation focused with buddhist chanting, or crashing waves. Sometimes, you might be lucky enough to find a sweet-spot with Brian Eno, and with it, you draw a sigh of relief. 

I've often wondered how (or why) hotels and spa's choose their music and how this 'background style' has become so mistakenly synonymous with ambient music. Ask anyone who isn't familiar with ambient music is and they’ll likely say "spa music" or "meditation/yoga stuff". No digs on that type of music, I mean some elements even find their way in here - it's the root to many ambient concepts, and I could sit and listen to the sound of the sea and waves crashing for years on end. But as with all of these Portals series, I try to find and explore a different perspective where possible. 

The goal of this feature and accompanying mix was to create a journey of escapism and comfort. Whereas the previous Portals feature, ‘Music For Sleeping’ could be deemed very similar, the approach here focused on keeping an attentive layer/s that ended up being more pure to Brian Eno’s definition of ambient music: “As ignorable as it is interesting”, which aligns very well with the definition of what it means to be mindful; "the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”

There’s a lot of ambient music that fulfills this goal, so what’s different here? As I was curating tracks for this mix, I found common themes that resonated with me personally when it came to mindfulness, which I tried to reflect throughout, and ultimately formed a filter for what should be included. Perhaps you’ll identify with one or more and can descend into a rabbit-hole of exploration, or hopefully you'll enjoy it as a whole. 

Nature
Field recordings and the pure sound of the outdoors is undoubtedly calming and reassuring. It’s an escape from our busy lives, and a reminder of what’s good in our world. The mix opens with my favorite field recording from Biosphere that somehow encapsulates the exact sound I used to hear from the field behind my childhood house. Nature sounds are a common theme throughout this mix, whether on purpose or inadvertently as an intro or ending to certain tracks. 

Submersion
The warm, blanket-like approach to ambient music is a favorite of mine, often created through analog equipment, or layers of undulating synthesizers that build, wrap and immerse. Markus Guentner, Donnacha Costello, Marcus Fischer, Heathered Pearls, bvdub, and Billow Observatory are just some of the many moments in here that keep you warm and comforted. 

Subtle/subliminal layers
The KLF’s ‘Chill-out’ album is one of ambient music’s most pioneering pieces, and on paper, it really shouldn’t be. The sound of trains, sheep and Elvis Presley are not the first ingredients that come to mind for relaxation, but the key here, is how they’re interwoven into a moving piece of musical art - an undercurrent of subtle moments that on their own would be distracting, but together form a story. They provide moments of interest and escapism - enough to keep one foot in the door, and one foot in a world of your own. I’ve tried to replicate this approach in this mix, by lowering volumes of certain tracks into the background, or including something a little unexpected in a few places, so if you see something you like in the track-list, don’t assume it will feature prominently. 

Choral sounds
Beautiful, emotional choir singing is pretty cliche, but who can argue against it when it comes to feeling good? Whether it’s the religious connotations, or just the simple realization that the sound you're hearing is coming from a person, is as stunning as it is comforting. Moments from Hammock and Jonsi & Alex provide the highs in this instance. 

String instruments
Whether it’s a slowly drawn cello, a harp, or a lone guitar pluck, there’s something about string instruments when it comes to reflecting positivity (and in the right context, ultimate sadness!) However, I often associate these sounds with light - I have no idea why - but perhaps thats why they feature in here so heavily. Be it the acoustic version of Aphex Twin’s ‘Rhubarb’, Mary Lattimore’s beautiful harp, or Kit’s portrayal of a walk on the beach as fireworks light the horizon. 

Strong-sounds can also go to the other end of the spectrum too, with reverb-laden guitar-haze forming complex palettes that you’d normally expect to come from synthesizers. Examples in here being Manual and to a simpler extent, Neozaïre. 

Repetition
We’re creatures of habits, and the beat of the drum is what makes all music so special. When it comes to ambient music, this often comes to life in loops, or slowly evolving textures that do just enough to keep you intrigued, yet are familiar enough to hypnotize and make you feel comfortable. Given its minimal nature, most ambient music is repetitive, but sometimes it can become more evident in its form, for example, a track here Klimek that anticipates each evolution and movement with a similar instrumental pluck of strings. 

Overall, I have tried to avoid anything that can be seen as daunting, intriguing or so vividly different that you switch into new worlds with every track. You may notice some distinct phases throughout the mix, where similar sounds are tied together, and you may prefer certain phases to others, but eventually I hope you finish on an extremely positive note. Just sat here listening back and writing this, I’m feeling better than I was a few hours back...

Thanks to everyone who commented on the original Facebook post with their own suggestions, a few of which made it into the final journey. 

Download.

Tracklist + links to buy/download:

01. Biosphere - As The Sun Kissed The Horizon [Biophon]
02. Ourson - Mountain, Calm Day, Birds, Saw [Self]
03. Brian Eno, Roger Eno, Daniel Lanois - Deep Blue Day [EG / Polydor]
04. Parks - Forest [Self]
05. Kit - Girl Walking on The Beach Wearing A Skirt [A Strangely Isolated Place]
06. Sage Taylor - Raintime Ten [Cold Fiction Music]
07. Bjorn Rohde - Intentionally Gone [Self]
08. Billow Observatory - Calumet [Felte]
09. Hammock - Now And Not Yet [Hammock Music]
10. Heathered Pearls - Glass Routine [Self]
11. Donnacha Costello - This Way [Ursa/Self]
12. James Devane - Rhubarb (Acoustic) [na]
13. Aphex Twin - Rhubarb [Warp]
14. Marcus Fischer - Arctic 2 [Luxus-Arctica records International]
15. Helios - Halving The Compass [Type/Unseen]
16. Yeter - Dart 2 [A Strangely Isolated Place]
17. bvdub - 10 [Self]
18. Markus Guentner - Express Yourself [Kompakt]
19. Leyland Kirby - Polaroid [Ghostly]
20. Martin Glass - Welcome To The Four Seasons [Kit Records]
21. David Bowie & Brian Eno - Moss Garden [RCA]
22. Klimek - Sun Rise [Kompakt]
23. Mary Lattimore & Jefre Cantu Ledesma - Borrego Springs [Soap Library]
24. Brian Eno - Music For Airports 1/1 [Polydor]
25. Jonsi & Alex - Boy 1904 [XL/Parlophone]
26. Neozaïre - Blue Bell Treasure [Fauxpas]
27. Manual - Azure Vista [Darla]
28. Peter Broderick & Nils Frahm - Sketch 24 [Fugues]

If you enjoyed this, dive deeper into ambient music with our in-depth introduction 'Neither Scene Nor Heard: An Introduction to Ambient Music', or some of the other Portals series, below. 

 

The Thesis Project: a lesson in craft

 

We're big fans of craft when it comes to physical releases. We've gone so far as creating custom wooden CD and vinyl cases for previous releases here at ASIP, and often spend more time discussing artwork than the actual music when it comes to each release. So to see Gregory Euclide pushing forward a truly custom take on physical vinyl releases, we wanted to find out more, especially given the music at hand. 

The Thesis Project was triggered by a deep desire to bring something valuable back into a world of fast consumption, as Gregory began during a recent twitter conversation: "music has always been an object and not just files on a device. I wanted to make music physical, unique and precious again". As an artist behind some well known releases from Erased Tapes and Lubomyr Melnyk, this was Gregory's chance to combine his passion for art and music: "I see the world in musical terms... everything has a sound. Colors, movements... every sound has an action... and that is where I worked for a long time. I was making music with my pencils and brushes. I think it is pretty common for artists to have this connection. I tried to play music when I was in high school and college. I'm not mathematically gifted. I really struggle with it. So, my college music theory class was really hard for me. I think I thought it was out of the picture for me... to be involved in music in any other capacity than a consumer. I did a few album covers for musicians I really respected, but I still felt outside of it all.

When I think about my practice as an artist, I often try to mirror that of the music world. I like how musicians can have different projects, with different names. Artists always seem to be... just them, their name and they have to be consistent. Basically, my move to music through Thesis Project was a move away from the traditional idea of being an artist".

As with all deep desires and ambitions, it took a couple of real-life moments to push Gregory to begin the Thesis Project. Whilst attending a Vic Chestnutt concert, Gregory started wondering how much it would cost to commission a song from such an artist, after which he received a grant from the McKnight Foundation for his artwork, and decided to take his work into a new direction:

"I decided I would start asking musicians that I know if they would like to work on a project. When I am listening to certain musicians I think 'this would be really cool with this or that.' I started thinking about the idea of collaboration as a way to push something forward".

The Thesis Project was born, with the premise to combine two artists who have never worked together before and create a beautifully packaged, and custom release, with each sleeve laser-cut and etched by Gregory himself. Whilst this may seem like a tall ambition, given each piece would be custom and limited to 300 pieces, Gregory knew this was the only way he would be able to fulfill his burning ambition for the project.

"I don't really like the idea of me being the only visual artist for the project. One goal of the project was to try and compensate the artists well. Pay them up front and then give whatever extra is left from sales. This seems to be a successful model as musicians I have spoken with like the arrangement. In order for me to do that I have to do much of the artwork. I make each jacket and sleeve from scratch as well as make each of the unique covers. If I had to pay another artist to do that it would not be possible. So, for now, I'm doing it. I hope people don't get sick of it or think it is an ego thing".

I asked Gregory why he feels each piece needs to be unique, after all, from my experience, a premium, differentiated and highly-considered piece of artwork is enough to make something much more valuable in today's world. But his desire to create something individual stemmed from a desire to go against today's mainstream approach to music. It's his way of giving back to the artists, and to the listener, and leaving something truly unique in the world. 

"Handmade is not a big deal to me in general. If something can be made better with a machine... I think, why not use that. When it comes to music it is different. Much of the project's concept comes as a reaction to my own life. I was eating up albums, buying them online, listening to them, buying more... downloading and downloading. I didn't even know what I had and what I didn't have. I wanted it everywhere. I wanted it free or cheep. It was gross. I wanted to pay attention again. To know the names of songs, to stop and listen, not just have it on as I was doing things. So, I decided it was going to be vinyl only. No streaming. No downloading. No on the go. The process of making the album covers takes over 2 hours a piece. I cut the paper, run the sleeve through the laser cutter, put a drawing on the sleeve, spray a stencil over the drawing, fold and glue the sleeve. I cut the paper, run the jacket through the laser cutter, put a unique painting on the cover, fold and glue the jacket. It is hard work. It is my way to make something that is the opposite of Spotify. It is my payment to the artists. To give them something unique. It is my payment to the music. Music can be turned into 10100001100010110101 and duplicated and deleted and downloaded again and so on. But I wanted to make something that people are careful with. I don't want it to be goofy or over the top. Just hand made because I care".

A wide spectrum of ambient, experimental and alternative stars have been a part of the project so far. Taylor Deupree and Sean Carey (of Bon Iver) graced the Thesis Project's first release, with Loscil & Seabuckthorn following, Sonic Pieces' Takeshi Nishimoto & City Centre Offices' Roger Döring (Dictaphone), Dustin O´Halloran* & Benoît Pioulard, gracing the catalog so far. As if that wasn't enough, the project has also announced collaborations between some ASIP favorites (and artists) including Rafael Anton Irisarri & Julianna Barwick, and Michael Price (Erased Tapes) & Christoph Berg and (it just keeps going), Eluvium & Marcus Fischer. If that list of artist collaborations isn't enough to persuade you of the project's ambition and curatorial skills, then I don't know what is. 

Gregory's curatorial process is based loosely on who he may see as an interesting fit, but mainly because he sees something greater coming from the two parts. As Gregory describes, "I ask these people to work together because I think it is going to be meaningful... to them, to us. When I hear it, it is like... "ok, I was right" Taylor and Sean's work - the first one I did... was over the top. It was so satisfying. They liked it. I liked it. It was a win win. Nothing beats that feeling". 

It's undoubtedly a challenge, defying the norms and akin to the format and approach, bringing something new to an otherwise fast-paced, ephemeral world, but these pairings aren't taken lightly and it takes Gregory a while to think of who would work well together. His dream pairing being Beth Gibbons and Justin Vernon, but until that works out, Gregory's trying to push the boundaries on a classic ambient approach that could quickly become a stale recipe: "I'm always hoping for musicians to take the opportunity to shed a skin, try something new, be totally open. I have a group of amazing musicians that I have not paired up yet, because I don't want the sound to be tired. I don't want to repeat the sound over and over again. I could do piano and ambient things till the end of time, but I'm looking for there to be a little something new in each of the releases."

Once he has decided on the duo, he'll make a graphic for each musician before they make the music: "It is kind of based on what I love about their work... how it makes me feel".  From that, he develops the cover, adding things to the mix based on what comes back music-wise.

The vinyl sleeve artwork is abstract enough, but if you look closely, you'll notice the ongoing theme between them all, with Gregory taking contour drawings of each musician's hand and the city where they reside into consideration. 

Gregory's ambition doesn't stop solely with the Thesis Project concept, with a similar but subtle concept Print/Track also gathering pace. Slightly different to the Thesis Project, Print/Track  features a musician completing one side of a 10" by themselves in response to a work by a visual artist. Or alternatively, a visual artist responds to the work of a musician. The first release out of the blocks comes from Ed Carlsen and Heather Woods Broderick

With two base-concepts, a host of amazing artists and all of the artwork falling on Gregory's lap, he's undoubtedly a busy man pushing through a very labor-intensive project. Thesis Project is a platform built entirely with the artists in mind. Funding is set-up to help everyone involved (you buy through a subscription), and Gregory is committed to doing most of the hard work to keep costs down.

It's projects like this that help push ambient and experimental music forward as a whole, whilst also raising awareness for lesser-known artists, now given an esteemed platform to express their works. It's a celebration of the format, showing the world what hard-graft, a focus and a passion for music and artwork can get you. And it's a big middle-finger to the way everyone thinks things should be done. You can move slowly. You can control it all yourself. You can spend more time on the artwork than the music if you wish. You can even fulfill dreams of seeing some of your musical heroes on the same record together. Thesis Project is proof. 

https://thesisproject.us/

 

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

 

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