Jan Wagner - Nummern

 
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The album notes describe the atmosphere at play perfectly - a room set-up, mics, windows flung open. What starts as a simple cymbal, or an undercurrent of synthesizers, soon transforms this dusty space into a world of flowing colors, rushing through the air.

Delicacies of modern classical music combine with the subtle elements of jazz, and synthesizer in Jan Wagner’s new album ‘Nummern’, one of my favorite releases this year.

It’s a release that’s varied in elements, but comes together as a perfect whole, in a way that Nils Frahm’s Spaces in 2017 did - combining a beautiful juxtaposition of traditional elements, field recordings and dusty electronics.

Jan can be delicate in Nummer A, dramatic in Nummer I, channel Jon Hopkin’s-esque energy in Nummer G, or deep and engrossing in album closer Nummer N. The consistency is found in his ability to do so much with so little. Each track features only one or two main elements, but his strength in melody and progression, creates worlds akin to a dramatic movie score, or, like the album notes began to describe, a simple cozy studio in Berlin, with an instrumental alchemist at the ready…

Picture a cozy atelier / studio where all the windows are flung open, a pair of mics set to high gain hang in front of a piano, and the door to the space is locked. The thing is, if he’s going to play, the door has to be locked. A click track pops away relentlessly in the headphones, measuring off time. A seemingly insurmountable feeling rattles the bones, and with every chord which fills the room and spills out into the courtyard it’s slowly taking on tangible shape. It’s being released and translated, completely impromptu. The room tone, the kids playing in the backyard causing a raucous, the cat perched on the window sill about to jump off (making a thud), the creaking chair, the sound of the mallets and all the percussive, mechanical guts of the piano – everything that the mics pick up becomes part and parcel of the composition, and will eventually be woven into the very fabric of the finished full length.

Available on Bandcamp.

 

Losing Today - in memory of Brian Young

 
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One of the best things about ambient music is the community it creates. Probably because no-one truly involved, is in it for the money, fame or glory, as none of that really exists in this genre. The majority of people you meet are genuinely passionate, welcoming, supportive and in many instances talented.

I only met Brian twice in person, both at shows I was playing in Portland. He was all of the above.

We talked in the digital realm, mostly, and he took photos of ASIP records (out of passion may I add). He took photos at the shows I played at too; edited; and sent them over after the show, without me even asking. I followed his brilliant photography religiously. In fact, I regret not getting around to asking him to feature his photography on an ASIP record. I always mean’t to ask him.


“This album is dedicated to Brian Young, known to many of us as Losing Today, who died earlier this year. Brian was a brilliant photographer whose work was used for many album covers. He was a real fan who supported our music, a friend to many in the scene and a lovely guy. He is already missed.

All proceeds from this album will go directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline”

The album is available on Bandcamp, courtesy of the brilliant Dronarivm label. The compilation features many artists I know personally, digitally, or simply through their music as a close part of ASIP and this corner of the internet; making it a beautiful coming-together of our close community in memory of a very talented and appreciated person.

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 Photos by Brian Young

Photos by Brian Young

 

Mount Shrine - Winter Restlessness

 
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This one stood out for me given its similar sound to the recent ASIP releases from Leandro Fresco & Rafael Anton Irisarri. It’s not often you stumble across this type of deeply immersive, textured and granular ambient music that immediately grabs your attention. When you do, it often veers into more abstract, darker drone, or it begins to encompass elements or instruments such as a a brooding cello, signifying an evolution in the story. Not that any of that is bad - take Markus Guentner’s latest album and Julia Kent’s addition - it just makes it a completely different listening experience. But sometimes, you just want to be wrapped amongst a new world of warm textures and it can often come at the expense of being boring.

With Mount Shrine’s ‘Winter Restlessness’, it lies within itself; absorbing the dust, whispers, crackles and soft tones it created seconds earlier, only to rumble on and eat itself again. Movement is minimal on the surface level, but interesting, warm and storied deep down.

Available on Bandcamp through the dark ambient label, Cryo Chamber.

 

DJ Healer - Nothing 2 Loose

 
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I needn't spend the time explaining the many guises, both old and new of DJ Healer aka Traumprinz. A quick Discogs check will do that for you. I do however, want to share one of his latest albums released with little fanfare in our world, but with certain hype amongst his cult following, and to the utmost surprise of many at the time.

DJ Healer's, 'Nothing 2 Loose' was a vinyl only release,  so I now find myself sat on Youtube time and time again this past few weeks, kicking myself for missing the vinyl run direct through the label and obsessing over a low-res recording of what is now one of my favorite albums this year. 

Organic, nostalgic, dreamy and effortless ambient and deep house rooted in vivid characterized samples, crackling vinyl sounds and what might be any combination of the aforementioned run through some grainy, tape overdubs. 

You can hear the urban grain of Burial, the malleable hypnotism of The Field, Eno's quaint respect for distant atmospheres, the sampling manipulation of Tongues of Light, and any number of classic Detroit house chords and influences stripped down to their purest, in what is a truly unique and special sound. 

I haven't had feeling since hearing DJ Sotofett's Current 82, or that Leon sample in Fatima Yamaha's What's A Girl To Do - there's this awesome new sense to deep house music recently- much of it attached to sampling vocals from films etc - that really hits the spot. It's by no means a new technique, but this new breed are going deeper than ever. 

Nothing 2 Loose, and the last track in particular, places you in the same room with the cast and crew behind the many samples, as a single tape player whirrs beautiful synthesizers in the background, for your own meditative prayer session.

Someone please sell me the vinyl. 

If this is your thing, then check out the two mixes below: - one as DJ Healer, and another as one of his other aliases (DJ Metatron), albeit pushing the same deep, emotional sound. Just wait until the end of that DJ Metatron set where the Air sample comes in.... 

Also, the latest ASIP set for Subtempo features two tracks from DJ Healer.

 

Keaton Henson - Elevator Song (Ulrich Schnauss Remix) [Forerunners Bootleg]

 
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We'll soon celebrate ten years since ASIP began (2008-2018) and looking back these last few months, I'm reminded of a time when "blogging" was at its purest. The hunt for music didn't reside on social media alone, nor was it served up to you in feeds or through magic algorithms. Instead, you had to hunt high and low on the internet, often ending up on an artist's own cobbled-together website directory, or a select few music blogs (many of which are no longer around).

In fact one of those (you could say) 'blogs', XLR8R, is still around and offering up the same kind of service it did all those years back, hosting free downloads of individual tracks or under-the-radar indie remixes. Albeit more recently than the times we reference above, in 2014, they offered the brilliant Ulrich Schnauss remix of London based composer Keaton Henson's 'Elevator Song' as a free download. A beautiful remix that epitomized the sound and remixing capabilities of Mr Schnauss and brought that synonymous ethereal shine to the original. 

As we get back to our blogging routes (check out this and this as an example if you weren't following us all those years ago), we thought it'd be nice to continue the age of free downloads, by offering a remix, of that remix, by Forerunners (Brenden LaBonte) via Soundcloud. 

Arizona based Brenden and his Forerunners project heralds from a house and trance background (just check out his Soundcloud for many great examples), but we were originally connected due to his passion for ambient music. Stumbling across ASIP some years ago, and a supporter of the label, Brenden decided to send me this track to see if it was something I wanted to offer up to a wider audience.  At first, I hesitated but then I remembered why ASIP even exists and began all those years back - the joy of sharing great music. 

I am a passionate ambient fan and have been known to selectively rework, remix, and add production to some of my favorites so that I can fit them into live gigs or podcasts and share them with the world. This was exactly the intention I had for Elevator Song, and I think it came together well, at least for my purposes. Properly mastered and road-tested on dance floors worldwide, I felt like it was time to get this into the proper hands, electronic music fans who like myself would hopefully appreciate my humble take on an Ulrich masterpiece.
— Brended LaBonte / Forerunners

Now you all should know me by now too, as I have a soft spot for the more dance-floor oriented stuff of old, and this remix is nothing short of brilliant in the way it gradually builds upon the beautiful melodies both Keaton and Ulrich originally put into play.  

Both Brenden and I take great pleasure in presenting this to you all as a free WAV download below. Enjoy!

Forerunners Soundcloud | Mixcloud | Facebook

Original art by SIX37, @six37 on Instagram