Neel

isolatedmix 69 - Bersarin Quartett

 

One of the joys of being nearly 70 mixes into the isolatedmix series, is reflecting upon the many styles of mixes that artists have contributed. Straight-up playlist style curations, conceptual approaches, perfectly key-matched transitions, DJ mixes, genre or style showcases, or in the following instance, extensive, thoughtful journeys into a wide spectrum of influences.

Thomas Bücker aka Bersarin Quartett is likely a recognizable name to anyone who has dipped their toe into the modern classical world. Releasing primarily on the impeccable Denovali Records, his output has been modest, and yet extremely well respected under the Bersarin Quartett name, with many years of production prior under different names such as Jean Michel (if you choose to dig deeper).

His most infamous piece to date however, is undoubtedly his self-titled album released on German label, Lidar. Drawing comparisons with pretty much every beloved modern, neo, classical and ambient producer of our age in some shape or form with any review written so far, it's hard not to enjoy Thomas' approach. From downtempo, and jazz infused constructions, to experimental drone infused pieces, cinematic scores, and more intelligent electronic programming, Thomas has expressed himself through every potential connotation of ambient music across his modest catalog over the past few years. 

Originally aired earlier this year on Barfly Radio, Thomas' mix was deserved of another platform given its carefully considered track listing, slowly shifting sections and unearthing of many beautiful pieces. I had to bring it to a wider audience. Clocking in at 2-hours long, this is one of those life-affirming mixes - the kind of mix you remember exactly what you was doing when you first heard it, and the kind of journey any potential mix-curator longs to put together. 

We spoke as Thomas prepared for two upcoming festival dates (June 2nd, Bielefeld, Germany, and July 6th, Tolmin, Sajeta Festival, Slovenia) and he had this short and sweet intro to the mix:

"Hi, I´m Thomas from the Bersarin Quartett, and I´m glad to share with you a new mixtape at this beautiful strangely isolated place. This mix takes 2 hours and it contains some of my favorite film scores and other cinematic tracks I like a lot at the moment. So turn off the lights, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride ... "

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Tracklist

00:00:00 : Rupert Gregson-Williams -- Duck Shoot
00:03:56 : Brambles -- Pink and Golden Billows
00:06:15 : Donato Dozzy -- Vaporware 1
00:06:32 : Alexandre Desplat -- Girl With A Pearl Earring
00:08:39 : Deepchord presents Echospace -- Untitled 12
00:09:17 : Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard -- A Little Push
00:11:24 : Andrea Belfi -- Roteano
00:18:54 : Cliff Martinez -- Death Shall Have No Dominion
00:19:48 : James Ginzburg & Yair Elizar Glotman -- Nimbes (Eric Holm's 1050 mix)
00:20:21 : Jóhann Jóhannsson -- Arrival
00:22:35 : Mica Levi -- Lipstick to Void
00:24:39 : Neel -- Storm in Stickney
00:27:18 : Akkord -- Greyscale
00:30:22 : Ancestral Voices -- Night of Visions [Snippet]
00:31:46 : Asche & Spencer -- Opening Title
00:34:12 : Deepchord presents Echospace -- Untitled 6
00:35:26 : New Rome -- Venus
00:38:02 : Rupert Gregson-Williams -- Dressing Down
00:40:51 : Rachel's -- A French Galleasse
00:46:52 : Lawrence English -- Forgiving Noir
00:49:30 : Mychael Danna -- The First Time
00:49:54 : Tropic of Cancer -- Stop Suffering
00:53:52 : Curter Burwell -- Canada
00:55:33 : Bohren & der Club of Gore -- Mitleid Lady
01:01:12 : Bersarin Quartett -- Die Nächte sind erfüllt von Maskenfesten
01:05:55 : Om Unit -- Le Singe
01:10:06 : Deepchord presents Echospace -- Untitled 5
01:12:05 : Voices from The Lake -- Drop 1
01:14:28 : Rachel Grimes -- The Herald
01:18:40 : Tim Hecker -- Radiance
01:20:43 : Antonio Sanchez -- Claustrophobia
01:21:50 : Brambles -- In the Androgynous Dark
01:26:05 : Duane Pitre -- Bridges CupAetherCrane
01:29:47 : Alexei Aigui -- Fall Of The Empire (prologue)
01:31:37 : Pedro Bronfman -- No Amnesty
01:33:08 : Jóhann Jóhannsson -- Hydraulic Lift
01:35:40 : James Newton Howard -- Hole In Shoe
01:37:31 : Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross -- What Have We Done to Each Other
01:39:37 : Shifted -- Untitled - B1
01:41:42 : Radian -- Codes and Sounds
01:44:09 : Asche & Spencer -- You're Real
01:46:10 : Elizabethan Collar -- 06
01:47:34 : Faures -- Orogenic Uplift
01:50:29 : Sophie Hutchings -- Half Hidden
01:52:55 : Tomáš Dvořák -- By The Wall
01:57:12 : Talk Talk -- New Grass
02:00:00 : End

Bersarin Quartett | Web | Facebook | Bandcamp

 

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

 

Neel, Donato Dozzy, Just Music, Dewtone

 
 

Neel - Live at Free Rotation '15

From one of our favorite producers comes a rare live set recording, featuring tracks from WNDFRM, Global Communication and a host of other warm, driving atmospheric techno artists. My experience seeing VFTL a few years back was still one of my most memorable gigs of all time and Neel is still evidently pushing the magic far and wide. Available to download on Soundcloud.

 

Phonatic - Dozzy Dives under 120

You can't really have Neel, without Dozzy, so here's a tribute mix by Phantic that captures some of Dozzy's more subdued (<120bpm) ambient productions as himself, in remix mode and as half of Voices From The Lake. Available to download on Soundcloud.

Ambient Zone 2: Just Music Café Vol 5

Just Music have been around for over ten years now and are solely responsible for introducing the world to Jon Hopkins, and ASIP friends and favorites, Echaskech. Just Music's newest compilation shouldn't simply be glanced over as your average chill-out compilation simply because of the rather cliché title. Melancholic ambience from Digitonal, an individual piano piece from Jon Hopkins, driving atmospheres from Xspance, and that infamous ethereal-Schnauss sound from Echaskech grace this compilation, curated by the mighty Chris Coco. This is the type of music that I used to write about when I first started this site, and it makes me happy to know it's still going strong today. Available on Bandcamp.

Dewtone - Reflections

Dewtone have been relatively quiet recently, but that hasn't stopped Dustin and his collective from piecing together some of their finest work over these two Reflection compilations. Remastered and edited for re-release, the compilations capture the very essence of the label with tracks from some of their most notorious releases of recent years including Purl, Deflektion, Martin Nonstatic, Alveol, Sven Laux and ASIP's Halo. Available on Bandcamp.

 

ASIP - Reflection on 2014

 
 

It’s been another big year for me personally and despite it taking longer than anticipated, 2014 has seen our second vinyl release, Europe go into production, set for a Jan 19th release. On average, posts have been down on the site from month-to-month, with the record and my full-time job taking up much more time than normal, but I’ve still managed to squeeze a little reflection on the year into the schedule, and a look back at what’s tickled the ASIP earbuds.

My reflection normally comes in these mixes as opposed to lists or top-tens. (See 2013’s edition here). Anyone can put a top-ten together, but I feel like it needs a little more meaning and constraint, and a mix normally helps me with that. It enables me to touch on some of my favourite music of the year, cross different genres, include both the recognized and the new, and have a little fun along the way. One negative of course, I miss out on an absolutely tonne of music which I’d otherwise spotlight, but there’s plenty more sites out there that will help you find what you’ve missed, and an exhaustive list isn’t always helpful. This is my opportunity to capture the past year in one personal journey. Be it an accurate reflection or not, I never normally know until the mix is finished – that’s why it’s so fun and unexpected… but I’m happy with how it’s turned out.

On reflection, and an obvious difference this year to last, has been my focus, (or maybe a lot more peoples focus) on dub-techno. It helped that I was DJ’ing more this year, so I was definitely on the hunt for more vinyl, but I don’t think anyone will disagree it’s been a great year for the dark and dubby ambient side-kick, and I feel the need to call this out here. I could’ve put together an entire mix of my dub-techno finds, but I’ve chosen to include just a couple on this mix instead.

As with last year’s episode, the mix covers the genres we love here, including modern-classical, ambient, dub-techno, electronica and post-rock. So yes, be ready for twists and turns – unlike your more considered and conventional mix techniques. I’ve also decided to provide some track-notes below to give a bit more context on the music included – they deserve it.

Happy listening, and thank you to everyone who has read, listened and supported the site in 2014. 2015 is set to be an even bigger year with our second vinyl release, more great isolatedmixes and our very first artist release!

Download.

 
 

Tracklist:

01. Levi Patel – The Light Unbalances Her
02. A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos VII
03. Otto A.Totland – Steps
04. Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal (Asleep version)
05. Loscil – Iona
06. Marsen Jules – Beautyfear III
07. ASC – The Machinery of Night
08. Leandro Fresco – Nada Es Para Siempre
09. Purl – The Stars Will Have An End
10. Neel – The Secret Revealed
11. Frank Sebastian – Towards Distance
12. Tdel – 1830
13. Donato Dozzy & Tin Man – Test 3
14. Gidge – Growth
15. Greg Chin – Dashboard Angels
16. To Destroy A City – First Light

Track notes.

Levi Patel – The Light Unbalances Her (Dado Records)
Levi has proven my belief in what I do. The young aspiring composer put together an amazing EP titled Forms and together we found a fitting home for it on John Beltran’s Dado Records. An absolutely sublime composition. Read the full ASIP review here.

A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos VII (Erased Tapes / Kranky)
With Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds sidestepping on the Erased Tapes label front this year, it was the turn of AWVFTS to take centre stage. A well celebrated album, Atomos encapsulates their magical stage presence and beautiful compositions that I first witnessed on the Erased Tapes 5th Anniversary show in 2012.

Otto A.Totland – Steps (Sonic Pieces)
Similarly, with Nils Frahm busy touring and becoming the new-found-master of live performances, the world was busy searching for the majestic piano-tinkering void left in his wake. We didn’t have to look far, and it came in the form of Deaf Center’s Otto A.Totland on Pinô – my favourite modern-classical release of the year and probably the most desired vinyl packaging to boot.

Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal (Asleep version) (Domino Records)
Another ambient master-mind that hit astronomical status this year. An Essential Mix, remixing Coldplay, and being shortlisted for a Mercury Music Prize are just some of the highlights for Jon this year. But, I’m a die-hard Hopkins fan and believe you’ll never beat him when it comes to his ambient pieces, so thank god he released the Asleep Versions this year – a small taster of why we all fell in love with his music back in2001.

Loscil – Iona (Kranky)
Sea Island is probably Loscil’s most accomplished release to date, and definitely my favourite. You can hear echoes of his previous releases scattered amongst these tracks, giving you familiarity whilst breathing new air into one of our favourite ambient producers of recent years.

Marsen Jules – Beautyfear III (Oktaf
I haven’t given Marsen enough love on ASIP over the years. The prolific german producer turned out Beautyfear for Oktaf this year. An instance of ‘abstract musical poetry’, created in a week during a stay in Lisbon. Look out for Marsen’s contribution to our very own release,‘Europe’ in January.

ASC – The Machinery of Night (Silent Season)
ASC returned with Truth Be Told, his second ambient release on Silent Season, again, to wide-applause selling out pretty much immediately. Deservedly so, it’s another dive into the hypnotic and immersive world of ASC.

Leandro Fresco – Nada Es Para Siempre (Kompakt)
This was the stand-out track on Kompakt’s annual pop Ambient series this year and apparently Leandro is set to return with a new album in 2015 too. The quality of his releases never ceases to amaze me.

Purl – The Stars Will Have An End (Dewtone)
Dewtone started off another succesful year with Purl’s return to the label, Behind Clouds. Another beautiful, bubbly slice of organic and dubby ambient music.

Neel – The Secret Revealed (Spectrum Spools). 
It came late in the year, but Phobos is one of the best releases of 2014. The Italian techno veteran takes a completely ambient approach this time around, in a similar guise to his Voices of The Lake alter-ego (with Dozzy). This record however, is much more ‘space-ambient’ themed, with expansive pads and enough depth to loose your head for days.

Frank Sebastian – Towards Distance (Subspiele)
In what was a big year for Subspiele, the label produced it’s first vinyl record, and what a great way to begin. Label boss Frank Sebastian was up first with a mixture of ambient and dub-techno on Towards Distance. More detail here.

Tdel – 1830 (Don’t Trust Humans)
One of the new finds from 2014, on ‘Don’t Trust Humans’, is this brilliant techno LP from Tdel. It ended up being one of my most loved techno records of the year. I’m looking forward to seeing what both Tdel and the label have in store for 2015.

Donato Dozzy & Tin Man – Test 3 (Acid Test)
I also spent a lot of my time this year exploring the Acid Test series. After seeing Dozzy and Neel play in Seattle, my love for their music took on a new meaning and 2014 has seen me accumulating pretty much anything I can find of theirs on vinyl including the latest Acid Test instalment, Acid Test 09.

Gidge – Growth (Atomnation)
The record of the year in many respects – Gidge’s Autumn Bells, is definitely one of my most played, and probably my most recommend album for anyone I speak to about music this year. An exploratory masterpiece in electronica. Gidge’s isolatedmix has also been one of the most loved mixes to date… who knows what this young norwegian pair have up their sleeves next.

Greg Chin – Dashboard Angels (Delsin Records)
Perhaps one of the more unrecognizable names on the track-list, comes in the form of Dashboard Angels from Greg Chin, taken from John Beltran’s latest compilation, Music For Machines. I haven’t got around to putting anything up on ASIP about this release yet, but it’s a superb double compilation of new ambient acts, highly recommended and this track is a shining example of the quality.

To Destroy A City – First Light (n5MD)
n5MD had a pretty big 2013 and looking back, 2014 has been just as big for them too, despite the spotlight not leaning their way too many times. To Destroy A City returned with Sunless, their sophomore album and a highly anticipated record for many post-rock fans. It certainly did the trick, and this track was a perfect closer for me.