Ourson

Full Circle Anniversary and Charity Compilation: now available

We’re very excited to share with you our ten year anniversary compilation titled, Full Circle. This has been well over a year in the making and was due to be released on the exact anniversary of August 26th, (the date of the first blog post in 2008), but due to our need to get a perfect press, it has been delayed a little until now.

The music presented in this compilation is probably the closest distillation of what has inspired ASIP over the past ten years. The ASIP website and its many versions; blog posts; guest mixes; even some of the older archived (now hidden) posts, were revisited to find the perfect tracks to put forward.

There was however, a few limitations in mind: (1) It had to be a track previously written about or featured in some capacity on ASIP from 2008-2018. (2) The track has previously not been released on vinyl. (3) The artist isn’t currently a part of the ASIP label family.

The end result isn’t a compilation of rarities, b-sides or label exclusives that you may have expected at a typical ten year milestone. Instead, it’s a compilation of music that has helped define ASIP as many people know it today. From drone and space ambient; to shoegaze inspired guitars; nostalgic electronica and melodic synthesizer music, Full Circle presents many of the elements that have been captured over the past ten years on A Strangely Isolated Place.

Pressed into the grooves of this record is some of the finest music to grace my ears that I felt passionate enough to feature on ASIP in the past, and now once more on vinyl - Ryan.

To help celebrate the occasion, all profits from this compilation will go to a charity called The Harmony Project: www.harmony-project.org. We felt that investing in and helping the next generation of potential musicians would be a fitting tribute to the overall concept of the release.

In more ways than one, we’ve come full circle.

For more information, links to buy and listen see the release page.

Thank you to all of the artists, labels and everyone involved in bringing this to life.

 
 

Ourson - Simple Sanctuary

 
a1908311983_10.jpg

Luke Hazard, aka Ourson is one of our original ASIP finds, dating back to 2011 when we stumbled across one of his first albums, Warming Plant. This album still remains one of his strongest in my opinion and indeed my favorite (if only for the brilliant opener in, 237). However Luke's latest offering includes tracks from as far back as 2006, ensuring an overlap with the Warming Plant-production-era and a promise of similar-sounding textures. 

Whilst Ourson can also be heard capturing some amazing field recordings in 'Collected Natures', his latest album Simple Sanctuary gets back to the lo-fi, deep and textured recordings that made Warming Plant so special. Just like the artwork depicts, a very subtle, perhaps off-kilter edit on what would be a very innocent scene, Luke's music follows a similar suit. Extended drones harbor amongst echoes and reverb, with subtle melodies punctuating an otherwise dense blanket of rumbling bass, static and distant filed recordings. 

Whilst some tracks, like Gems Of The Dry Season, ring hope and light, others such as Sunbeams Through Treelines portray a more ghostly and ethereal sense. There's often a very deep, driving swell amongst Luke's music, pushing it along into (sometimes) deep-dubby-techno-territory, with  tracks such as We Fell (The Well) immersing the listener into a cloudier, more cotton-wool based Deepchord world. It all makes for a varied and emotional listening experience, invoking the kind of nostalgia you can only get from old equipment, and a musician with his ear to the ground. 

Luke calls is "sci-fi ambient for dusty basement tape decks", and to be honest, I couldn't put it better myself. 

Available on Bandcamp

 

Portals: Music For Mindfulness

 
Mindfulness3.png

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. 

 

ASIP - Mysteries of the Deep LXVII (Windows at midnight)

 

I am very honored to be a part of the great Mysteries of the Deep series, which has hosted some of my favorite ambient DJ's and producers over the years. 

The mix I put together was drawn from a scene in my head which involved a kid escaping his bedroom at midnight. After the initial jump down into the garden, the complex emotions as he explores uncharted territory follow. He's scared, intrigued, has a sense of freedom and joy, but knows he shouldn't be out there, as he explores close-by woods, and deserted streets under the yellow hum of street lamps.

A big thank you to Mysteries of the Deep for hosting and to Candace Price for the beautiful accompanying artwork. I hope you enjoy it. 

Tracklist:

01. Ourson - Night Roads [Self]
02. Arovane - Electroacoustic Session 7 [Self]
03. Harkan - Unnamed [Self]
04. 1 Mile North - Broken Corners [Wortcunner]
05. Rafael Anton Irisarri - Abandoned (too soon) [Self]
06. Secret Pyramid - VII [Proposition]
07. High Plains - A White Truck [Kranky]
08. Malibu - Held [PAN]
09. Richard A Ingram - Valehouse 2.2.01 [Medium Format]
10. Arovane & Hior Chronik - Dornenreich [A Strangely Isolated Place]
11. Broken_Canyon - (MISSING) (Sea Of Clouds)
12. 36 - Black Horizon [Self]
13. Steve Moore - Depths Of The Earth [Moon Glyph]
14. Abul Mogard - Unarmored Love [VCO]
15. Paul Wolinski - MidiFlood [Self]
16. Carl Stone - Kuk II Kwan (1981) [Unseen Worlds]
17. bvdub - 01 [Self]
18. Ourson - Night Roads + Carl Stone - Kuk II Kwan

 

Passing by: Carbon Based Lifeforms, Ourson, Vermont, GWFAA, & Ametsub

Carbon Based Lifeforms – The Path

This is CBL before they were even CBL. This is spaced-out ambient music from Sweden before we even knew there were producers IN Sweden. This is music thats spinning off the back of The Orb, FSOL and Aphex Twin in the late 90’s; mixing psychedelic soundtracks, samples, synthesizers and god-damn didgeridoos. Two of the finest carving the very CBL sound we know of todayAvailable on Bandcamp.

 
 

Ourson – Light From A Closing Door

Only the long-time ASIP readers will remember the name Ourson. But after what seems like an eternity, Luke has put a neat little album of previously unreleased works up on Bandcamp. Think long-form grainy, warm ambient and you’re in the right zone. It’s just… if you get in that zone, it’s pretty hard to get back out with this kind of stuff… Available on Bandcamp.

 
 

Vermont – Vermont

Kompakt isn’t in the game of taking on too many new artists. You’ll often find their deep roster on rotation or releasing under numerous guises, but here’s a new colab between Innervisions’ Marcus Worgull and Danilo Plessow (of Motor City Drum Ensemble fame). I had no ideas what to expect with this album due to minimal knowledge of Motor City Drum Ensemble, but after several listens, this is definitely growing on me.

It’s alarmingly addictive straight-up synth-muddled ambient electronica. The tracks are simple, memorable and obviously produced by two guys exploring each others styles, yet individually, know where to take a track if they needed to; they just strapped restraints on themselves this time around. I can foresee some pretty amazing remixes coming out from this album… i’m thinking (hoping) Pantha Du Prince, The Field or even Dominik Eulberg – there’s certainly enough to play with. Available on Kompakt.

 
 

Good Weather For An Airstrike – A Home For You

I know how many fans of Hammock there are out there. And trust me, if you’re one of these then you’ll love what Tom has to offer with Good Weather For An Airstrike. He’s by no means an imitation – rather a younger prodigy of the ambient post-rock genre. ‘A Home For You’ is a beautiful new album peppered with emotion, heart-wrenching crescendos and best of all, the ultimate space to breathe and take it all in. That is until, you experience the epicness of the track ‘Tides’. Available on Bandcamp.

 
 

Ametsub – Seek Sick Sound Podcast

What starts as a jazz-oriented ambient interlude, soon progresses into the notorious glitchy world of Japan’s finest IDM master-mind, Ametsub. Never one to remain stagnant in a mix, Ametsub then goes on to present moments of dub-techno, breaks and even more complex beats. If your world of melodic bleeps isn’t quenched with this one, then try his slightly more subtle isolatedmix which he did for us back in 2012. Download and more information on Seek Sick Sound.

 
 

Photo taken on approach to Dallas by A Strangely Isolated Place.