Stellardrone

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.

 
 

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.

 

ASIP - Journey Upwards

 

With our next release by Merrin Karras just weeks away, I've decided to celebrate the unique style of the album with a themed mix.

Merrin Karras' upcoming album, Apex combines Brendan's gilded production techniques with an armory of hardware (including the Moog Minitaur, Vermona Mono Lancet, Juno 106, Nord Rack 2, and the Korg Monotron) serving as both a modern ode to the synthesizer and a reverential nod to the early pioneers, a sound and style any ambient and electronic fan will appreciate. 

Along with influences that Brendan lists as having an impact on his upcoming album (Steve Moore, Oneohtrix Point Never, Abul Mogard) the mix features some of my favorite contemporary synthesizer pioneers such as Alessandro Cortini and Donnacha Costello. As the title may suggest, there's a subtle story at play here; beginning at ground-zero and ending in a galaxy far, far away.

This mix should give you a taster of what to expect when Merrin Karras' album, Apex, hits the shelves June 10th, featuring the title track, Apex along with a first listen of Isolation. Pre-order for vinyl and digital is now available.

Download.

Tracklist:
01. ASIP - Ground
02. Abul Mogard - Bound Universe (Circular Forms)
03. Steve Moore - Aldebran Exchange (Light Echoes)
04. Merrin Karras - Apex (Forthcoming on ASIP)
05. Alessandro Cortini - Retta (Forse 3)
06. Oneohtrix Point Never - Months (Rifts)
07. Donnacha Costello - Ten Ton (Love From Dust)
08. Merrin Karras - Isolation (Forthcoming on ASIP)
09. Majeure - Solar Maximum 2 (Solar Maximum)
10. Stellardrone - The Belt of Orion (Invent The Universe)
11. Steve Moore - Light Echoes II (Light Echoes)

 

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