The Black Dog

ASIP - Reflection on 2018

 
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This year marked some significant milestones in my life personally and with ASIP. It was our ten-year anniversary and with it came our Full Circle vinyl project. I didn’t think I would get around to doing this year-end mix given everything going on, but it’s always funny how and when inspiration strikes to pull something together. Sleepless, stressful nights, this mix provided me with just the right amount of reflection, and distraction for my insomnia.

As with all of my ‘Reflection’ year-end mixes, I start with a long list of tracks and albums I have enjoyed over the year. By the process of putting together a mix that I feel flows well as per any other mix I put together, the songs are whittled down and selected. This means many of my faves are often omitted in the process. But as I say every year, this isn’t a definitive ‘best-of’ list, but an organic selection of some of my favorite music from 2018 in an enjoyable format, as a piece in itself.

I subsequently put together a second 1.5 hours following this mix, but when I got into that territory, I started to wonder where I would actually stop... I found new releases I loved just this week, and wanted to revisit it all again. But, I was hard on myself to keep it to just this one mix - a 2hr journey through some of 2018’s finest. The mix spans many styles I love, touching on modern-classical, experimental, ambient, drone and electronica but the biggest omission (that is often included in previous years mixes) is much of the techno and dub-techno I’ve listened to. The mix didn’t go that way naturally, and then I ran out of time after giving myself a 2-hr limit.

Here’s the quick rundown:

Rhian Sheehan opens the mix as he does Full Circle, returning after several years away with a stunning new compositional album. Johnny Greenwood pricked my ears whilst watching You Were Never Really Here. Steve Good made it into the year-end mix once again with another solid ambient album. Poemme provided the light and tranquil vibes whilst Warmth added the density with another superb full-length. Mount Shrine lulled me to sleep on many occasions and Hotel Neon offered some of their best work to date. Abul Mogard never disappoints and r beny should be held to a similar superlative given his great work this year. Acronym & Korridor brought their rare tape to the digital realm. Laura Luna Castillo was a lovely new find for me with a varied experimental album. Indulging in the Field Works boxset this year, I struggled to only offer one track out of the bunch. Grand River finally put out her album opus after several strong EPs. Richard Devine blew our minds with a crazy piece of IDM - as expected. Diamondstein tag-teamed with Sangam for a future-facing journey and 36’s Patreon subscription continued to provide some of his best work yet. Vril hit us with one of the years bets ambient techno albums on Delsin. One of this years biggest surprises probably goes to Skee Mask dropping his genre-traversing rave inspired album. Wanderwelle created one of the years most unique sounding storied albums. Helios, came back to the ambient fray with his debut on Ghostly and a more nostalgic melancholic album. DJ Healer was likely one of my most-listened to albums of the year for the lo-fi reflective nature of his sound and a definitive soundtrack to my trip to Tokyo. Ocoeur continued to innovate his varied production approach for n5MD and Rival Consoles perfected his upfront electronic sound on Erased Tapes. A dream duo in Synkro and Arovane lived up to the hype of both, and The Black Dog’s two albums reminded us all of their mastery and depth. Inner River lead Atomnation’s 2018 output and Jon Hopkins will be topping many lists no doubt. Lastly, Mysteries of The Deep launched their label with an amazing roster, and presented us with Lori Scacco, who rounds out the mix on an uplifting note.

To see all the music I’ve enjoyed this year and many great pieces I didn’t manage to fit into this mix, just head over to the ASIP Bandcamp collection page and some of the accompanying notes I write on each purchase.

Thanks to everyone here for the music, and a big shout to anyone not included who’s music I have loved and supported this year. I’m still catching up on many and wish I could’ve included so many more.

Download

Tracklist (View all Bandcamp links in one link here, via "BuyMusic.club")

01. Rhian Sheehan - All Who Remain [Self]
02. Johnny Greenwood - Tree Stings [Lakeshore Records]
03. Steve Good - 360 [Self]
04. Poemme - At the Gates Of Dawn [Stereoscenic Records]
05. Warmth - Receiver [Archives]
06. Mount Shrine - Winter Restlessness [Cryo Chamber]
07. Hotel Neon - Roke [Archives]
08. Abul Mogard - Where Not Even [Ecstatic]
09. r beny - in the violet and lingering winter dusk [Self]
10. Acronym & Korridor - Sscending [Vaagner]
11. Laura Luna Castillo - Moskstraumen [Genot]
12. Field Works (Loscil) - Imprints [Temporary Residence]
13. Grand River - Ecouri [Spazio Disponible]
14. Richard Devine - Astra [Planet Mu]
15. Diamondstein & Sangam - Finding Peace Where There Isn't [Doom Trip]
16. 36 - Midnight Helix [Self]
17. Vril - Riese (Rework) [Delsin]
18. Skee Mask - Session Add [Ilian Tape]
19. Wanderwelle - The Seed of the Areoi [Silent Season]
20. Helios - Eventually [Ghostly]
21. DJ Healer - 2 The Dark [All Possible Worlds]
22. Ocoeur - Passage [n5MD]
23. Rival Consoles - Unfolding [Erased Tapes]
24. Roel Funcken - Sapper Morton [Analogical Force]
25. Synkro & Arovane - Aspen [Apollo]
26. The Black Dog - The Truth Is In The Post [Dust]
27. Inner River - Floe Flow [Atomnation]
28. Jon Hopkins - C O S M [Domino]
29. Lori Scacco - Strange Cities [Mysteries Of The Deep]

Stream select tracks on Spotify or Apple Music (Not all tracks are included)
Artwork photo by
Naphtali Marshall.

 

ASIP - The Last Frequencies (mix for Headphone Commute)

 
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One last time, tuned to nothingness,
A swan song for the remnants. 
Empty buildings, rain and the dark abyss,
Lit by neon rain and the artificial descendants. 
 


Our good friend Headphone Commute has just published a new mix of mine, titled The Last Frequencies. It's a pretty obvious concept once you listen, but sometimes these things come to me at the end rather than the beginning. I started this mix after the terrible news of Jóhann Jóhannsson's death and was left wondering what the score for Blade Runner would've or could've been at the time. Perhaps, this thought process subliminally inspired me to create something of my own. Only on hindsight did I realize.  

It took a few months to compile and I went through five different versions before finally settling here. Given how much time I spent on it, I thought I'd try to do it even more justice by adding some comments on the featured tracks below. As always, I see mixes as an amazing point of discovery here on ASIP, so want to do everything to support the artists featured within. 

Make sure you check out the rest of Headphone Commute's guest mixes - the last one by 36, for example, and a recent epic journey by Roel Funcken - just two that shouldn't be missed. 

And thanks to HC for hosting me on his great platform for music discovery - our partner in the ever-expanding conquest to highlight the best ambient music out in the world. 

Read more on Headphone Commute.  

Listen on Soundcloud

Direct download

Tracklist + track notes:

01. Computer Afterlife - (Various samples) [Self released]

This album is the perfect entry point to Vaporwave (shudder?). If you haven't already been digging around the recent phenomenon that's rife on Bandcamp. 'Infinity Frequencies' is like a compilation of retro advertisements and elevator music, all put through the Vaporwave machine. On its own, the album is an interesting listen as opposed to a relaxed experience, but I chose to edit several of the tracks and combine with TV static to give the effect of someone/something searching through frequencies. It also inspired the name of the mix, as the journey goes on to dictate the dystopian world before the last frequency is heard. Available on Bandcamp.

02. Rashida Prime - {modular frame} [Cyber Dream Records]

Continuing the Vaporwave-wave, there's a side to this style that I really love, and Rashida Prime is a good example. To many, this is just heavily textured and processed drone music. But in a similar vein to the likes of Rafael Anton Irisarri, Rashida manages to score a beautiful melody amongst all the noise and static. I also added a little monologue from Blade Runner here to set the scene. Rashida Prime's album, Damaged Interface, is also available on Bludhoney - perhaps one of the most influential Vaporwave labels out there should you want to dig deep. Available on Bandcamp

03. Innerst Inne - Solen Träffar Topparna Först (Further Records)

Innerst Inne are Andreas Tilliander and Johan T Karlsson and this, I believe, is their first outing together - on Further Records, no less. Hailing from Scandinavia, with the album made in Sweden, it'd be silly to think inspiration hasn't been drawn from the cold depths, or the ever-growing techno scene that seems to influence everything that comes out of this part of the world right now. This album contains it all though - murky, deep ambience alongside some beautiful analog synthesizer moments, rooted in archaic dissonance. Fans of Alessandro Cortini, Isorinne, Rashad Becker, rejoice. Available on Bandcamp

04. Merrin Karras - 47 Drawn [Unreleased]

Some exciting music in the near future from Merrin Karras. For now... 

05. Steve Moore - Aphellion [Spectrum Spools]

I think I've included a Steve Moore track in nearly every mix I've put together in the past few years. He's a master of manipulation and does an amazing job at portraying new, futuristic places. This album, Pangaea Ultima does just that, and depicts a vision of a new world "away from the standards of time that we have insisted upon giving it". Available on Bandcamp. 

06. 輕描淡寫 - 我昨晚梦见你了 [Bludhoney Records]

Back into Vaporwave again, but I bet you didn't know it... This is where the genre crosses over with many other ambient styles, with the introduction of a piano blurring the lines. Still, the ominous sound of dystopian rain-soaked city streets is still present. Available on Bandcamp. 

07. Swoop & Cross - St. No [Time Released Sound]

A beautifully packaged vinyl by the aesthetic-forward label Time Released Sound, Swoop & Cross create a delicate and unmissable album in every way. I enjoyed the harmonious shift from the previous melody into the similar piano melody here - like the rainy, neon-lit streets emerging out of the dark into the daylight. Available on Bandcamp.  

08. Aleksi Perälä - UK74R1406060 [DUB]

Aleksi's music is often electro/techno-forward and normally wouldn't fit into this set (unless I took a turn into much heavier stuff), but this track features a stripped-back underlying analog tone that shifted the mood of the mix from a quaint piano melody into something a little more ominous. Aleksi's Colundi Sequence albums are pioneering in their approach, and you'll no-doubt find something mesmerizing amongst the many editions out there right now - even if you can't decipher the track names. He's a modern-day Aphex Twin in many ways. Available on Bandcamp

09. Isorinne - Whereabouts Unknown [Field Records]

This track features a bunch of abstract sounds and samples at the beginning, which is a little out out of the ordinary for the normally icy-smooth ambient stylings of Isorinne. The album this track is lifted off is from 2016, so if you've enjoyed Isorinne's recent brilliance on Northern Electronics, take a dig back into his earlier works for a little variety. Whereabouts Unknown gave the impression of something changing - a bustle and commotion - that led into the warmer tones of RAI.  Available on Bandcamp.

10. Rafael Anton Irisarri - Two and a Half Minutes (Geographic North)

Rafael continues to surpass expectations with his very purposeful "active-listening" ambient aesthetic. This is just one of many great tracks that have recently seen the light through two tape releases - one on Geographic North titled Midnight Colors and another, Sirimiri on Umor Rex. I felt bad keeping the inclusion of this track pretty short, but in a similar belief to RAI himself; less is more. Hope he agrees here! Available on Bandcamp.

11. 36 - Further Room 4 [A Strangely Isolated Place] + Alva Noto - Xerrox Monophaser 2 [Raster Noton]

For those that purchased 36's album, Infinity Room, you likely received a hidden surprise (that many still to this day might not know about). A full EP titled Further Rooms, accessed via a password-protected page hidden in the vinyl etching. Many say it's as good as the main album, evident here with Further Room 4. Again, not one to purposefully blemish an already good track, I originally had Alva Noto's infamous Xerrox Monophaser 2 at a very low level in the background to add some additional depth to the mix, but brought it up a little more as it seemed to fit well with the overall lost-in-space vibe Dennis' track was painting. Further Rooms still lies hidden for those that want to hunt it down... but Alva Noto's classic album is available in all good stores / Alva Noto website

12. Markus Guentner - New World Order  [A Strangely Isolated Place] + Global Communication - 0.54

For those that are taking the time to read this, then let this be your official notice - our next release on ASIP will see the return of Markus Guentner. More on that to come, but to continue this idea of lost and dying frequencies in the mix, Global Communication's now infamous intermission from their legendary ambient album 76.14, came to mind, and fitted perfectly with Markus's track. Like floating out into the dark void... 

13. The National Pool - Brick Cloud-Area 2 [Infraction]

I've already gushed about this album on ASIP, so head on over here to read more. Available on Bandcamp

14. Christoph De Babalon - Brilliance [DHR]

Hype hype hype. This album did receive. And it's a hard listen overall, but this Gas-esque track is one of the better from the album that will strike a chord with us ambient fans. The rest of the album however, is mainly very hard techno-edged-drum'n bass. You have been warned (or encouraged). Good luck hunting it down again, after a recent repress. 

15. Biosphere - Hyperborea [Biophon Records]

No-one depicts being lost in space, as sounds from far off worlds echo in the distance, better than Biosphere. All mixes should consider a 'classic' moment within the track list, and this one does the job for me. At this point in the mix, I had pictured a person floating through the void with his/her communication struggling to grasp the last few sounds from the world they just departed. Or is it the world they're floating towards? Available on Bandcamp

16. The Black Dog - Part One [Self released]

Dig anywhere amongst The Black Dog's extensive catalog and you'll find some beauty hidden amongst the darkest depths of techno. This self-released EP was the last time they got to work with good friend, Shawn Bloodworth - a fittingly beautiful tribute. Available on Bandcamp. 

17. Dino Sabatini - And It All Ends Here (feat. Antonello Salis) [Outis Music] 

I initially had the mix ending up in waves of static - a more literal homage to the title and concept of the mix. But this track by Dino Sabatini paid homage to a dystopian future in a different way - like an 80's film closing credits. Slightly Vangelis in style. An apt title too, from a stunning album. Available on Bandcamp.

Check back here soon for links to download the mix. 

~

Artwork edited by me; Ryan Griffin, featuring photography by Karen Sayser, Keith Camilleri & Sandeep Swarnkar. 

 

 

ASIP - Deep Electronics Ambient Sessions #27

 

Honored to have a mix included in the brilliant Deep Electronics podcast - a steadfast mix series for great ambient curators for some time now. Check the series out on Soundcloud. Thank you to Jeroen Smulders for hosting me.

My introduction to the mix: 

I rarely approach mixes with a concept in mind and often find them developing organically in the process. I did however, want this mix to be a deep journey, which was hard, as I've been listening to lots of melodic synthesizer music recently, so I had to get in the right mind-set for it. I started to picture space, and was partly inspired by this video for an Alva Noto track which is a spectacular combination of imagery and sound. The mix ended up being an accompanying soundtrack to some kind of failed rocket launch - starting with optimism, becoming more intense, experiencing glitches and more dramatic moments along the way, and finally falling back down to earth and more recognizable, familiar ground. It's a little cliché for an ambient mix- but I find it extremely relaxing to picture a journey along the way and felt this one came together quite nicely if listened to as a whole. I called it 'Familiar Ground'.

Hope you enjoy it.

Download (also available in the ASIP iPhone App)

Tracklist:

01. Moby - Long Ambient 3 (Excerpt) (Self released)
02. Steve Hauschildt - A False Seeming (Kranky)
03. Abul Mogard - The Purpose Of Peace (VCO Records)
04. The Black Dog - Phil 3 to 5 (Dust Science Recordings)
05. Phaeleh - Absence of Light (Undertow)
06. Casino Versus Japan - Miano: A Pink Night For The Snowmen (Attacknine)
07. Ben Guiver - Ex Machina (Silent Recordings)
08. Alva Noto & Blix Bargeld - Bernsteinzimmer (Kompakt)
09. Alva Noto - The Revenant Theme (Alva Noto Remode)
10. Tangent - Perceived Horizon (n5MD)
11. Carbon Based Lifeforms - RCA (Leftfield Records)
12. Phaeleh - Visions (Undertow)
13. Merrin Karras - Isolation (A Strangely Isolated Place)
14. Lav - Freedom & Joy (Amone Recordings)