Martin Nonstatic - Granite


Sometimes, you get to see one of your favorite artists continue to strive for beautiful music and sometimes, they land exactly where you hope they would. This is one of those instances.

Martin Nonstatic has featured on our good friends Silent Season and Dewtone with several EP's before this, his coming-of-age album, and undoubtedly his finest piece to date. There's no greater platforms than the aforementioned labels for this type of organic music and Martin has never failed to lull us into his warm tones on each occasion. After several EP's, we were all wishing for a full-length album one day.

Granite, has landed, and on Ultimae Records no less. A favorite label of mine for years, playing host to the likes of Solar Fields and Carbon Based Lifeforms, it's a fitting home for Martin, but one that raised an eyebrow in terms of how Martin's music may present itself on such an esteemed, atmospheric label, often home to the more trance-like or psychedelic sound.

It's a natural progression to say the least. Martin's gracious warmth and appreciation for slow-burning melodies have evolved to reach new atmospheres - more space, more angst, and more definition in his sound. A unique balance of dub-techno, ambient, psy-trance and electronica - a sound that Ultimae have continued to push forward since early 00's, And in Martin Nonstatic, they've found the best of the bunch.

Available on Bandcamp.


We have a very special Martin Nonstatic isolatedmix dropping in December...


Interview: Amigas, Soundtracks and remastering with Carbon Based Lifeforms


Carbon Based Lifeforms have been a big influence on me over the years and I stay close to their every move in a hope to hear another genre-defining, psychedelic ambient album. The duo's releases are few and far between considering how long Johannes Hedberg and Daniel Segerstad have been producing music, and we were lucky enough to get an exclusive production on our Europe Compilation recently (and even an isolatedmix). But, any news of another full-length soon has left their many fans crossing fingers in anticipation.

I recently caught up with Johannes and Daniel to see what they were up to, and whilst any new album might not be on the immediate horizon, the pair are busy in the studio remastering some of their classic albums for our listening pleasure. I also took the opportunity to get to know the duo a bit better and talk Amiga games, soundtracks, production techniques and Notch.

Hi guys, it’s been a while since we last spoke (2011!) I see that you’re busy remastering your albums?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: Yes, we decided to remaster the first three albums. Our aim was to get a more coherent sound between them. A lot happened between Hydroponic and Interloper, so we felt there was a lot of details waiting to be heard, especially on Hydroponic.


I'm sure your fans will be happy to have some of your albums on vinyl (me included). Why did you decide to remaster and press on vinyl?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: We've been wanting to release the albums on vinyl for a long time. Last year we were contacted by Blood Music, and we felt the time was right to do it. It's also a good new start for us as an independent band.

Did the support or encouragement of your fans help this decision?

Carbon Based Lifeforms:  We got a lot of questions about vinyl from our fans over the years so when Blood music asked us it was a no-brainer.

How comes we haven't seen any of your previous albums on vinyl before? Was this mainly because Ultimae Records didn’t support vinyl? (I see they are, only now releasing some)

At the time we were releasing on Ultimae they were too busy to bother with vinyl releases and back then there wasn't that big of a demand for vinyl.


So some other labels will be helping out with the remastered releases. Can you tell us how that came about?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: Since we went independent, we were discussing doing vinyl releases ourselves and then Blood Music contacted us. Given their track record of really special releases we were immediately intrigued to work with them. Also we felt it would be interesting to work with a label that isn't not really deep into the electronic scene.

You’re also revisiting the artwork for the releases, who do you have on board to do this and why did you choose them?

Carbon Based Lifeforms:  As we're aiming for a consistency between the albums sound wise we felt it was a great opportunity to update the graphics to reflect that notion.

We are working with Mattias Fredriksson who is an old friend and graphics/photography collaborator of ours. He's done a lot of stuff for us over the years. He also happens to make music, look out for a remix we did of his track "Snö på hisingen" on an upcoming compilation we're working on, release date tbd.

I always find artwork to be one of the most valuable, and time consuming pieces of a release - how much do you value packaging and artwork in your releases?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: For us the music is front line and center, however the packaging and graphics really help convey the mood we're aiming for, so in that sense it's really important. One of the really great things about vinyl releases are that the graphics can be really impressive.

Has the remastering process been painful? Can you tell us how you approached it and who is doing this for you?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: Yes!! It was hell for a while there :) especially Hydroponic. Since we did not do a proper job of exporting everything in a good format back in '02-'03 we had to get the old Cubase projects up and running which meant we had to spend way way way too much time tracking down really old plugins, most of which are not available anymore, so there was a lot of hunting the dark corners of the net.... and once we got everything up and running there was a lot of hours spent making sure the old plugins were doing what they were supposed to be doing.

Once we got everything up and running in Cubase we got the stems over to Vincent Villuis (Ultimae Studios) for mastering. We found some more bugs in the stems once we got the test masters back, but we sorted it out and Vince did a really awesome job with the tracks.

Getting the tracks ready for Hydroponic Garden was also a pain, especially MOS6581. Once we revisited the mastered files the first time, we realized that all the delays were missing...

What would you say is the biggest difference in your production technique now, versus back then? Has it changed much?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: We thought that we worked in pretty much the same way we’ve always done but we discovered during our remastering sessions, opening old projects from Hydroponic, that our method had changed significantly over the years. Back in the old days we relied heavily on effects such as delays and filters and we used a realtively small number of tracks and a lot simpler sounds. These days we tend to use much more complex sounds and a lot more of them.

I’m, intrigued to know more about your early work as Notch in the 90’s. Is it true you used the Amiga computer to produce? 

Carbon Based Lifeforms: Yes, we started out using Trackers on the Amiga in '91 and switched to Fasttracker II on PC a few years later. Not long after that we started using MIDI. Notch was us two, and our friend Mikael Lindquist. We shared our first hardware equipment and moved the rig to one another every three months.

I loved the Amiga - what was your favorite game? Mine was either Cannon Fodder, Speedball or Chaos Engine!

Carbon Based Lifeforms: There were tons of cool games, some favs were Hired Guns, Stunt Car Racer, Battle Squadron and Silkworm. Great times :)

If Carbon Based Lifeforms could soundtrack an old Amiga game, what would it be?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: That would probably be Elite or Syndicate :)


Will there ever be more music as Notch?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: No that will probably never happen. That was a different constellation of people and a lot of what we did back then was just getting to know the machines and the processes of writing music. That being said, we’ll probably make tracks in the vein of that era but that will most certainly be done under different monickers…

You were at the front of MP3 sites back in the day, what’s your opinion on the evolution of these today? And what about the likes of Spotify - is it something you support?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: Being geeks we embrace the new technology. Thanks to mp3.com we were discovered by Ultimae. Thanks to Youtube our music is found by new people. We love Spotify, both as users and as musicians. Spotify is actually our top source of income.


You have quite a special following, so I'm not entirely surprised! Have you seen a decline in downloads or sales since Spotify, or has it always had a positive impact on your album sales as far as you know?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: If anything we’ve seen an increase. Spotify is a good source of income, providing you have a good deal with your label/distributor. We feel that a lot of the crap that spotify gets is because of old school record deals. If you just go through a good aggregator, such as record union, you get a very good percentage. The shares that labels tend to take from digital sales is really odd, especially for older releases, since they have basically no expenses for those kinds of distribution systems.

You mentioned in your 2011 interview that you hope to work with a singer in the future - is this Ester? Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: Yes, we work with two singers, Karin and Ester. Ester being our newest find. Both are very talented and we hope to work with them both in upcoming projects.

How do you incorporate singing into your (mostly instrumental) ambient music? Is it hard?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: We tend to use it like another synthesizer most of the times. It requires that you work with good talent that hears/sees things the way we do though. 

The only album you’ve produced since 23 has been your soundtrack for Refuge. I would love to know how you approached this - how did you find the experience of writing a ‘score’?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: We were contacted by the director who gave us free reign, but of course with some input. Our take on it was to find a theme and to incorporate it in different moods. We used characters and chapters in the movie as basis. For the album we added more structure and sounds to make the tracks more interesting.


What would be your dream movie to score?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: A cross between Tron (1982) and Mullholland Drive maybe? :)

I noticed you recently posted a picture composing on a train! Is this a regular occurrence? Can you name any track you’ve made whilst on the move like this?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: hehe nope, first time:) That's Daniel trying to find time for music between work and family life:) Worked great though. The track is still an embryo, unnamed. A possible candidate for the new album.

It looks like you’re set to play/ have played a few festivals this year, Symbiosis Festival in September, Earthcore in November. How do you approach live set-ups for festivals? Will you do anything different?

Carbon Based Lifeforms: We have a very flexible setup in Ableton using two iPads running TouchOsc with several controllers for effects and other ways to manipulate tracks. We have several pages with tracks, controllers and additional samples, and the two iPads have the same setup. This way we can do pretty much whatever we want and follow the vibe of the crowd. No set sounds the same. We usually bring one TT-303 and a OP-1 for additional layers.

And so… will we see Twentythree on vinyl anytime soon?!!...

Carbon Based Lifeforms: We're focusing on Hydroponic, World Of Sleepers and Interloper for now. Depending on the outcome we might consider 23 :)


(Header photo by Aneta Hudzik)


isolatedmix 23 - Carbon Based Lifeforms

Anybody see the link yet? That’s right, it’s both an honour and a privilege to introduce the 23rd isolatedmix, by none other than the legendaryCarbon Based Lifeforms.

Us CBL fans have been pretty lucky recently; two albums in successive years, with Interloper in 2010 and Twentythree in 2011. But, it hasn’t always been so. With albums sometimes three years apart, this extended anticipation has left many-a CBL fan suffering for years on end. For many, that’s what makes their productions so special and for me, this mix even more so.

Not only are Daniel and Johannes cult heroes heralded by many ambient fans from across the world, but stumbling across any of their releases, or indeed insight into their workings is as rare as the sunshine on a Swedish winters day. Everything that floats out of their studio is quality and has been since their very first release on the ground-breaking Ultimae Records back in 2003.

How do you keep such a fan base in tune over such an extended period? (Damn it, I didn’t even ask that question below). Well, from my point of view… you set the standard for stunning ambient music, you keep raising it with each release and you make sure that every album you produce has the ability to envelope you in warm synthesizers and transport you to that welcoming but strangely isolated place. Daniel and Johannes have it nailed.

isolatedmix 23 is a truly stunning and eclectic journey into the minds of two maestros, with retro sounds and pioneering productions alongside tracks from some of today’s best producers – it’s a who’s who of ambient and electronica and if any of you need an intro into this world, this is it. And if you need an intro into CBL’s world, then scroll down to read a few questions I put their way…



01. Raymond Scott – In The Hall Of The Mountain Queen
02. Space Lab – Blue Planet
03. Brian Eno – An Ending (Ascent)
04. Aphex Twin – Rhubarb
05. M83 – I Guess I’m Floating
06. Vangelis – Ireland
07. Autechre – VLetrmx
08. Murcof – Isaias II
09. Barn Owl – Lotus Cloud
10. Fennesz – River Of Sand
11. Boards Of Canada – Open The Light
12. Hammock – Cruel Sparks
13. Trentemøller – Miss You
14. Terry Devine-King – Life Cycle
15. Solar Quest – Singtree
16. 23rd World – Enchanted Isles
17. Foundland – Everybodys Neighbour
18. Sally Shapiro – Sleep In My Arms
19. Solar Quest – Liquid Sky
20. Lusine – Operation Costs – Disassembled Mix
21. Bo Hansson – The Old Forest (Tom Bombadil)
22. Mathew Dear – Slowdance
23. Tycho – Coastal Brake
24. TV On The Radio – Staring At The Sun


Hello Daniel, Johannes! I always like to picture the scene for someone answering an interview – can you tell us where you are and what i’ve interrupted you from doing?!
Drinking beer and making the mix in Johannes studio 

For anyone not familiar with Carbon Based Lifeforms, can you give us a quick intro to your sound and your main influences?
Textures, pads, 303’s, arpeggios and melodies. Most of our influences can be heard in the mix.

It’s nearly ten years since you signed with Ultimae – that’s quite a long time on one label. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with them?
They´re really great people and quite easy to work with. They’re more of a family than a label to us.
The reason it’s been working for that long is that they leave us a lot of creative freedom and they are extremely professional… They’ve got their shit together.

Can you describe your working relationship and the roles you both take in producing music? Are there lots of arguments or are you a duo made for each other!?
We tend to start out ideas for songs in our separate studios, and when we find something the other one likes we start hammering it out to a complete song. Not a lot of arguments however we have different roles when it comes to the production. Johannes likes to get lost in a lot of details on sounds and Daniel is usually the one to get things rolling again. Except when it comes to drums and percussions, then the roles are pretty much reversed.

I’ve read before that you love using the Roland TB-303 synth in your music and that you try sneaking it in every track at some point – is this true with twentythree? If not, what was most used instrument in this album?
Well the 303 made it’s way into that album as well but not as predominantly as our previous albums. We used a lot of Clavia G2 Modular on 23 though.

Can you tell us how twentythree differs from your previous albums? What was the idea behind the album?
We had been talking about making a beat-less album since we released World Of Sleepers, and we actually finished a version of it in 2009. But after a lot of self doubt and critical listening, and a good long talk with Ultimae we decided that many of the tracks would sound a lot better with beats than without so we added the beats that were needed and released Interloper instead, hence the name.

I find it really easy to imagine places, landscapes and feelings with your music. Most ambient music possesses this ability, but yours seems to be that much stronger. Is this intentional and do you try to paint vivid pictures with your music?
We have quite a visual way of thinking of music, so maybe thats why. Another reason might be that we usually don’t finish a track in just one sitting, it’s more of an ongoing process which can last for a couple of years. When we´re producing an album we tend to write work on the songs a bunch at a time.

My favourite track from twentythree is ‘Somewhere in Russia’. Where is this somewhere, and what was the inspiration behind the track?
That’s quite a story really… We hade been booked to do a gig in Moscow, Johannes did not want to go but Daniel decided to go alone. However the festival was cancelled and the organizers decided that it would be a terrific idea to not tell Daniel about it so he ended up alone and just a little bit worried at the Moscow Airport. There were no hotel rooms at the airport and no flights back to Gothenburg until two days later. But after countless phone calls to Ultimae and back to Sweden he finally got a hold of Andrei, one of Ultimae’s distributors in Moscow who was on his way to a party a couple of hours outside of Moscow so he picked Daniel up and brought him along. It was during this trip the idea was born. The poem that can be heard at the beginning of that track was written by one the guys from the party.

Where is your ‘Strangely Isolated Place’?
Usually when driving, walking or working.

Sweden seems to be a hub for atmospheric electronic music. How much does Sweden and the places you visit influence your music?
Good question… We tend to think that everything kind of influences the music we make. But maybe it’s the cold and dark climate, or maybe it’s just a cultural thing, it’s usually pretty easy to spot if music is made in the states, the UK, in Scandinavia etc.

You recently played in London at the (very intimate) Inspiral Lounge – do you enjoy gigs like this? What would be your ideal setting for playing a live gig and who would be playing with you?
Yeah Inspiral is a really great place to play, very intimate as you said however it’s really uncomfortable for old geezers like us  The stage is basically a small staircase..  But the vibe there is excellent.
As far as ideal setting we came pretty close when we played at Cosmonova in Stockholm, it is the only state of the art imax theatre in sweden with a huge dome and stuff it was really cool, however there is no connection with the audience what so ever… so maybe the ultimate place would be a combination of the two..

Did you get up to anything else whilst in London? Any sightseeing? Did you get to see Kensington Gardens?!
A bit of sightseeing, lot’s of beer and food  Yes we went to Kensington Gardens again. We recorded the strange piano thingie on the track Kensington Gardens last time went there. This time we tried to figure out what was making the sound but it turned out you had to have a kid with you to get into that area so i guess we’ll never know.

Can we expect another brilliant 15 years or so of CBL? What have you got planned for the future?
Keep your fingers crossed! Our next project will probably not be another CBL-album. We’ve met a really talented singer, so the next thing we do will probably be something with her. We have not figured out the direction of that project exactly yet but we think it will be something that will please the CBL-fans.

And last but not least, can you talk about your approach and inspirations behind the mix you’ve put together?
At first we just wanted to include tracks that have inspired or influenced us when we started out, but realised we would miss out on a lot of really sweet newer tracks, so it’s a combo of old “important” things and stuff we really love.

Big thank you to Daniel and Johannes for the time and effort with the words and the mix. You can grab Carbon Based Lifeforms latest release ‘Twentythree’ from Ultimae here.

Carbon Based Lifeforms – Twentythree


It’s been floating about for a few weeks now, but there’s quite a few reasons why I’m finally posting about this majestic piece from Sweden’s most discerning ambient and long lasting duo. One, i’ve realised I havent even featured Daniel and Johannes’ work on ASIP before (criminal). Two, they will be gracing London next week in a very rare Ultimae performance (I CANNOT wait). And three, this album will go down as an all-time classic with me, after several repeat listens and a growing love for the album each time.

Twentythree is Carbon Based Lifeforms fourth release on Ultimae, the long-standing label which is also home to fellow countryman Solar Fields. A fourth album from a partnership which has stood the test of time – since Daniel and Johannes were just 15 years old to be exact, and their relationship seems to have hit it’s peak; Twentythree is already being touted as their best work to date.

I’m not going to go into detail on each of the tracks included on this release. This album is quite simply, classic, perfected ambient music. Atmospheric, melodic, emotive and spacious, Daniel and Johannes seem to come off effortlessly with an album which will stand the test of time. I wouldn’t be surprised if i’m looking back at this album in fifteen years time the same way I do with Biosphere’s masterpieces… Big, I hear you say? Just give it a try…

Oh and I almost forgot, the fourth reason for this post; we may be expecting a little mix series contribution from Daniel and Johannes in the near future…

You can purchase twentythree from the Ultimae Bandcamp or the physical version from Ultimae directly. If you’re planning on attending the CBL London gig, please get in touch!