Nils Frahm

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.

 

isolatedmix 77 - Aukai: A Winter Of Listening

 
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I first happened across Aukai (Markus Sieber), when learning of Abul Mogard remixing his track, 'Snow' early last year. A seemingly delicate and beautiful original is turned into a haunting, synth-laden affair by Abul, was it not for a quick check of the original, I may have missed out on the greatness of Markus' work. 

A comparison that doesn't do his work justice, but one that hit me immediately upon listening to his ST album, were the similarities between Aukai and some of James Newton Howard's work, specifically 'The Village'. Delicate guitars lining the simple and minimal compositions, evoking moments of beauty, mystery and fear. One of my favorite quotes that go on to describe Markus' work though, comes from John Dilberto from Echoes:

"Think Gustavo Santaolalla cavorting in a landscape of Ludovico Einaudi while sitting on the Champs-Élysées with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra...In its matrix of mood and emotion, intelligence and sensuousness, Aukai could not be more perfectly pitched." 

Markus has recently returned with perhaps, his best work yet; a new album titled 'Branches of Sun'. Hosting a multitude of instruments and collaborators as 'The Aukai Ensemble', the album once again leads with Markus' secret weapon, the Ronroco (Charango) alongside subtle electronics, violins, the glockenspiel and cello (with Nils Frahm collaborator Anne Müller playing the part). The result is a soundtrack set for breezy fields, dusty plains and adventure beyond the snow-capped mountains. Each turn brings a new level of depth, featuring melodies fit for a theater and vivid compositions that will undoubtedly resonate with any listener looking for an escape into a new kind of wilderness.

For his isolatedmix, Markus has brought the same respect for beautiful instrumentation and a similar ability to capture the imagination we've seen across his modest discography. Featuring true masters of their craft, Markus blends the likes of Nils Frahm, Otto A Totland, Ben Lukas Boysen and even Harold Budd into one beautiful enchanting journey. 

"In anticipation of my latest release, ‘Branches Of Sun’ I much enjoyed putting together this mix for A Strangely Isolated Place. This last winter I had a good chance to listen to a bit more music again, as with the two previous winters I was busy with writing and recording my own music. In these moments I can’t listen to anything at all - I am already so full with melody and sound after sitting in the studio for a whole day. 

I picked mostly quieter ambient pieces here, that share a fine sense for an emotive minimalism and a space of reflection and contemplation.  These are all musical gems either from good friends I had the pleasure to work with like Martyn Heyne, Anne Müller, Alex Nickmann, Abul Mogard, Ben Lukas Boysen, Will Ryan Fritch or pieces that had crossed my path in one way or another leaving their traces within me, may it be for the composition, the sonic texture, sound of a particular instrument, or the way they were recorded. Wishing you all a good listening journey with this mix" - Markus Sieber (Aukai)

Download. 

00:00 Nils Petter Molvaer - Sober | Thirsty Ear Records 
03:20 Aukai - Snow (Abul Mogard Rework) | Self Release/Aukai Music 
07:04 Martyn Heyne - Afar | K7! 
10:34 Nils Frahm, Anne Müller - On Our Roof | Erased Tapes
15:35 Hecq (Ben Lukas Boysen) - Nescient | Hymen Records  
17:52 Dmitry Evgrafov - Wandering | 130701  
21:02 Snow Palms - Circling | Village Green 
24:47 Walter Fähndrich - Viola II | ECM
30:04 Sven Helbig - Meernacht | Neue Meister  
35:09 Harold Budd - Wanderer | All Saints Records 
39:14 Mogwai - Dust Bowl | Lakeshore Records 
41:53 Penguin Cafe - Half Certainty | Erased Tapes  
44:17 Aukai - Colorado | Self Release/Aukai Music
47:40 William Ryan Fritch - By the Letter | Lost Tribe Sound
48:34 Michael Price - Budapest | Erased Tapes 
52:18 Gustavo Santaolalla - Requiem | Sony Masterworks
54:08 Otto A Totland - The Lost | Sonic Pieces
57:20 Balmorhea - Dream of Thaw | Western Vinyl
1:02:09 William Ryan Fritch - Glass Slowly Shifts | Lost Tribe Sound
1:03:17 Anne Müller - Silbersee | Nonostar Records 
1:05:38 Alex Nickmann - Day Dreaming | Self Released 

Aukai Bandcamp | Twitter | Soundcloud

 

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. 

 

isolatedmix 72 - Wanderwelle

 
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It's hard to break through with a distinct sound where dub-techno is concerned. From its Detroit roots, we've seen many artists adapt the style into deeper into ambient territory; adaptations into more 'dub' than techno; the addition of vocals; or dub-techno based entirely on rain recordings. And now, with Wanderwelle's full-length debut on Silent Season, we have another innovative take...

Those that have listened to 'Lost In A Sea Of Trees', will know that the album, despite being rooted in deep, dubby kicks, adds a new creative dimension to the sound we're used to.  Inspired by the mysterious pagan tribes that once roamed across the European woodlands, you find yourself transported back in time to a place you can only dream of exploring. Balancing wistful, floating atmospheres that depict an often hopeful journey, combined with apprehensive shades of darkness, mysterious whistles of wind, and slowly unfurling melodies, the album is a journey into itself - a new mystical expression of the often functional side of dub-techno. This is the Yin, to Yagya's Yang; as the rain clears and you make your way out into the dense forest. 

As if creating a part II for their Mysteries of the Deep mix a few months back, Wanderwelle's isolatedmix captures this mysterious pagan spirit perfectly, blending dense ambient and subtle churns of melodic dub-techno, all featuring a sense of exploration, mystery and unknowing:

"This mix contains sounds and moods that will transfer the listener to a mystic realm where foggy atmospheres and moonlit melodies will haunt its travellers. A world that consists of deep electronics where at times subtle ivory keys will rise like autumn winds that sweep through ruins of past days. A strangely isolated place where like-minded souls will cross each other's paths".

Wanderwelle's debut album on Silent Season is now available

Download.

Tracklist:

01. Gigi Masin - Talk to the Sea
02. Earthen Sea - Our Bloods
03. Susumu Yokota - Secret Garden
04. Varg - Öhn
05. Mkwaju Ensemble - Hot Air
06. Fjäder - Shades of Light
07. Milena Kriegs - Svadisthana
08. Varg & Abdulla Rashim - Metro Entrance II
09. Wanderwelle - Unreleased
10. Function - Ember (Field)
11. Sky H1 - Huit
12. Huerco S. - A Sea of Love
13. Isorinne - Composite City
14. Periskop - Immerse (Component IX)
15. Isorinne - Los Angeles 2017
16. Yko - Shiro (Max Loderbauer Remix)
17. Leandro Fresco & Rafael Anton Irisarri - Un Horizonte En Llamas
18. Woodkid & Nils Frahm - Winter Morning I
19. Anthony Linell - Royal Island

Wanderwelle | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook

 

OKADA - Floating Away From The World

 

Released earlier this month, Gregory Pappas dropped his second album for the n5MD label titled, Love Telepathic and follows it up with this exclusive mix for ASIP. 

Following in the footsteps of his previous release, Impermanence, Love Telepathic is a dream-like trip through punching beats, ethereal vocals and layers of warmth, sitting somewhere between ASC, Kiyoko and bvdub. Taking the extended track approach (10+ minutes each), OKADA builds each piece with meticulous patience - the kind that makes time disappear and the world melt around you.

Angelic vocals set against conspicuous organic beats, tick over like the lull of a metronome, 
inviting you closer to its misty depths. A soundtrack for sinking to the bottom of a glistening ocean, or floating to the blue skies above. 

Gregory's influences are clear amongst his mix, presenting us with a range of styles from the beautiful vocals of Julianna Barwick, to the awe-struck complexities of Ametsub, and the euphoric ambience of Bersarin Quartett.

Download.

"Music of artists that intoxicate and evoke a pure emotional response from me and influence my OKADA compositions. Most of these artists I've been listening to a long time. In fact, one of the artists on this mix, World's End Girlfriend, is the reason why my music is in long-form, which I first started to do on the album Anathema under the name ZXYZXY" - OKADA.

1. Julianna Barwick - One Half
An artist with strong vocal composition skills. Someone I'd like to borrow for my own compositions, to be honest.

2. 2 8 1 4 - 真実の恋
Two-artist effort that have pierced the veil of vaporwave; hurling it far into the daydream atmosphere.

3. Ametsub - Faint Dazzlings
Japanese electronic music at its finest. Yes, there is a sound unique all to Japan and its electronic music scene. I'd say this is a great example.

4. Bersarin Quartett - Bedingungslos
No one does it like BM. The guy is eons away from everyone when it comes to pure beauty in music. Any of his songs could fit here.

5. Ex Confusion - Speak Softly in My Dreams
One of my favorite n5MD artists. Any of his songs could fit here as well.

6. Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm - a1
Need no introduction here. Just a fantastic collaboration.

7. OKADA - Reconciliation
While I probably should have picked something off my new record, it just wasn't the type of mix I wanted to make. One of my personal favorites, and I plan to bring this style of composition back in the future.

8. MONO & World's End Girlfriend - Part 5
Two of my top 5 artists in collaboration right here, and they create a piece that is equal parts from both groups. The whole album is fantastic.

9. A Winged Victory for the Sullen - Requiem for the Static King Part 1
A short, yet elegant piece from these two fantastic composers.

10. Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto - Moon
I adore all of RS's work, but his work with AN is always incredible. Perfect music to make me want to curl up in my bed on a rainy day.

11. envy - Fading Vision
A band I so badly wanted to sneak in this mix. Not easy since they are a screamo/post-hardcore band, but they're definitely in my top 5 as well and I had to have them here. This song is a great example of their breadth as musicians. Top tier group that exemplifies how to evoke an emotional response. I highly recommend them out.

Additional recommendation:

Eric Whitacre - Lux Nova
I couldn't fit this track on this mix, because of time and how it stuck out of place, but he definitely needs to be mentioned. His choral works prove that choral music is not dead. He is amazing.

~

OKADA n5MD | Facebook | Twitter