isolatedmix 89 - Steve Moore

 
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Over the past ten-or-so years Steve Moore has increasingly impressed circles outside of his association with prog-rock band Zombi. In fact, I’m probably one of the very few people that discovered Steve without knowledge of his association with one of America’s most revered bands, which adds further intrigue to his euphoric synthesizer work under his own name. I think I’ve included one of his tracks in 90% of the mixes I’ve put together (on hindsight) but that speaks to how perfectly apt I find his music in setting moods, places and spaces. Along with this superb new isolatedmix to follow below, I had the chance to send a few questions Steve Moore’s way…

My first introduction to Steve’s solo work was his 2012 release ‘Light Echoes’, quickly followed by picking upBrainstorm’- a split 12” with Majeure, (found in Tokyo’s Big Love Record Store by memory). Between both of these albums I caught a glimpse of the sublime ambient-leaning synthesizer work and the more colorful and energetic influences of the 80’s.

“I’ve been writing and recording music on my own since the early 90’s. Back then I had a Fostex 4 track cassette recorder and an Ensoniq VFX-SD. I’d share some of this music with friends but mostly I was just doing it for fun and practice. Zombi gave me the confidence and the connections to release my music”

It’s easy to start making associations to some of the early synthesizer pioneers with Steve’s work you hear today, especially on records like 2010’s Primitive Neural Pathways, which I managed to pick up a copy of just last week. It’s like a modern-day polished Jean-Michel Jarre record, pressed on a neon-Pink slab of vinyl (Pink must be a favorite color as his new one is also available in Pink)

I love those first few Jarre records so much, with Primitive Neural Pathways I definitely wanted to write something in that style. But that’s how I used to think when writing, in terms of who I wanted to reference and what time period, etc. Now I’m more interested in trying to do something new or different. I’m more into experimenting.

Experimentation is definitely apparent in Steve’s new album for Temporary Residence. With Beloved Exile, Moore states his goal was to “make an album of songs that featured instruments other than synthesizers - and instrumentalists other than myself. I wanted to create situations in which I thought Emel’s voice and Mary’s harp would sound interesting”.

Mary Lattimore (Ghostly International) features prominently and after several listens of the album in full, her grace is felt in such a natural and organic way it’s hard to believe a synthesizer and harpist could create something so classic and timeless across an entire record, not just a feature on one individual track.

Even the track titles of Beloved Exile have been sub-let to add further experimentation, input, and ultimately, subjectivity to the album meaning. (Personally, I feel like album opener, ‘Your Sentries Will Be Met With Force’ is one of the greatest opening track titles for an album like this featuring an onslaught of synthesizers and harp).

The story is what you want it to be! John Darnielle (the Mountain Goats) was kind enough to supply the song titles. Song titles never come naturally to me, so I thought “who do I know who has a way with words?” I asked John and he said yes, so I sent him the tunes and he titled them. What these titles mean is up to the listener!

Beloved Exile is no doubt an evolution in sound from some his previous work if you’re a Moore collector, combining perhaps the trifecta of his influences - synthesizers, soundtrack and instrumental elements, but it’s still unmistakably narrated by someone who understands storytelling. Asked about this evolution, Steve seems to be progressing his sound organically: “I do feel pressure to do something new and interesting with each album, but that’s all coming from me. I put that pressure on myself. As far as evolving, I just let that happen. I feel like when artists try to evolve things can end up sounding forced. As I get older my influences and interests are gradually changing and so it seems natural that my music should as well.”

The insight and experience from scoring these cult horror flicks adds to the vivid narration that occurs amongst his synthesizer work too, with the last track on Beloved Exile spanning a mammoth fifteen minutes. As the album closer, My Time Among The Snake Lords is a fine example of the narration Steve can inject into a piece of music. If the track title alone didn’t paint the picture ahead, Steve’s progression and storied approach helps end the album on one of his most euphoric pieces yet - a combination of marching tribal elements, the distant plucks of Mary’s harp and a soaring expansive outro.

Asked about his work on cult-horror films such as The Minds Eye, Cub and Mayhem, I wanted to find out what it takes to make a good horror score:

It takes both a good composer and a good director to create a good film score. Also good producers! It’s a collaborative process. I think a sense of pacing and dynamics is very important. Also space - knowing when not to add music. Sometimes silence is way scarier than music.

Along with the crack team, I can’t help but imagine Steve has a secret sauce hidden somewhere amongst his synthesizer arsenal, and as it turns out, he has a banker for those scary moments and a dependable sound to help keep things on the edge: “My Sequential Circuits Prophet 600 and Pro One definitely have the scariest sounds. I use them on almost every score - they’re great for atmospherics and those Carpenter-style stingers”.

For Steve’s isolatedmix, we’re treated to a slightly new and original style of music across the twelve tracks, straddling the split personality between prog rock and ambient music. Steve admits he has no idea where a mix will end up once he starts, with this one being put together on the fly:

I start with a track that’s been on my mind then sort through my library and add songs as the mix plays. When I start a mix I don’t know where it will go, but I try to include artists from seemingly incompatible genres and different corners of the globe. For this mix I started with “Heavy Light” by Animusic. Zombi just played a couple shows so I’ve been rehearsing for those lately, and this track always comes to mind when I think of Zombi. It’s a big inspiration and you should definitely check out the video on YouTube.

Along with Animusic we’re excited to finally feature Enya within an isolatedmix, and it seems as though we share a mutual appreciation for the Irish-Castle-Queen. One of the finest soundtrack producers, Mark Isham, also makes an appearance; a big inspiration for Steve’s soundtrack on The Hitcher, listed alongside musicians like, Brad Fiedel, Howard Shore, John Carpenter (and Alan Howarth), Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh as other similarly inspiring composers and influences.

There’s a kindness to Enya’s music that really appeals to me. It’s magical and otherworldly and completely sincere. And from a production standpoint the albums are total ear candy (especially the early albums where she’s using a lot of Juno-60). She’s incredibly talented.

To quote the label when they sent over the final mix, “This may be the proggiest isolatedmix yet”, so sit back and absorb yourself amongst the mind of a man who is as comfortable scaring the hell out of people in cinemas, as he is performing in front of thousands, and then casually creating some of the finest synthesizer music this side of the Millennium. Listen on Soundcloud, or Mixcloud below.

Steve Moore’s Beloved Exile is out now on Temporary Residence.

Download.

01. Animusic - “Heavy Light”
02. Return to Forever - “Medieval Overture”
03. Arsen Gedik - “Neptune”
04. Patrick O’Hearn - “At First Light”
05. Christian Chevalier & Alan Feanch - “Electric Mistress”
06. Constance Demby - “Novus Magnificat: Through the Stargate Pt 3 [edit]”
07. Enya - “Deireadh An Tuath”
08. Mark Isham - “Dust and Gasoline”
09. Enslaved - “793 (Slaget Om Lindisfarne)”
10. Johanna D’Armagnac - “Siren of the Sea”
11. Goblin - “Le Cascate Di Virdiana”
12. Il Baletto di Bronzo - “Epilogo”

Steve Moore | Bandcamp | Twitter | Discogs

 

isolatedmix 88 - An On Bast

 
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On the heels of our modular-synthesizer-heavy release and remix album by James Bernard, we dug into some other artists playing within the rabbit holes of analog frequencies. There are of course many to choose from, but one artist has recently caught our ear as a purveyor in both techno and ambient sounds within the modular realm.

An On Bast is Anna Suda, a Polish based musician who, whilst making techno and experimental music also has a fine ear for beautiful ambient compositions. With a steady cadence of recordings since 2006, Anna was selected from thousands of candidates to participate in the (soon to be defunct) Red Bull Music Academy in Melbourne where like many others, she got to hone her craft. Since then, her infamous live sets which combine many of her production approaches and jump between modular to drum machines, have graced the likes of major festivals such as, Sonar (Barcelona), and Nachtdigital (Germany), and clubs from Berlin’s Watergate and Berghain, and Shanghai’s Elevator.

Anna’s ambient productions were what really stood out for us, and her latest outing on the Dutch label, Shimmering Moods, titled Nothing Shapes Everything, is a perfect example of why this producer is so intriguing, malleable and talented across various approaches.

Anna’s isolatedmix traverses a variety of territories that could be said to define her eclectic and varied production approaches. From the infamous Bill Laswell opening it up, to Woob, Coil, Loscil and Pan American, hidden amongst some of of the greats of the genre are some of Anna’s own productions adding a personalized tint to this extraordinary journey.

The mix I recorded contains very important tracks to me, for my personal evolution of taste and feel of time and space in music. Ambient was the genre that introduced me to electronic music so it has very special place in my heart. It taught me how much story can be told, how much ideas and emotion can be put within infinite possibilities of sound creation. I am sharing the tracks that had and still have very big influence on me, plus a few of my own productions, as well as in my duos. It was a huge pleasure to put them together in a long music journey, I hope you will feel it too - An On Bast

Download

Tracklist:

01. Bill Laswell - Káshí
02. Mouse On Mars - Unity Concepts
03. An On Bast & Maciej Fortuna - Our Plateux
04. David Toop - Bodies of Water
05. James Bernard - Euph
06. Atone - Qobac Sine
07. Unknown - ShiveRX
08. Arvo Part - Tabula Rasa - Fratres
09. Coil - Finite Bees
10. Pan American - Coastal
11. Celia Green - In The Extreme
12. An On Bast & Allca - 04:05
13. An On Bast - Rootless
14. Unknown - 10060
15. Woob - Later
16. Dream Fish - Underwater
17. Tatsu - Stilness / Introspective Me
18. Loscil - Monument Builders
19. An On Bast - Enter
20. Meritum - Harfowa

An On Bast | Soundcloud | Bandcamp | Facebook | Discogs | Website

 

isolatedmix 87 - Seahawks: Celestial Voyage

 
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I feel a little disappointed in myself that I hadn’t stumbled across Seahawks when I was back in England. It turns out the duo, consisting of Jon Tye (Lo Recordings) and Pete Fowler (known for his work with Super Furry Animals and his monsterism toys) have been frequenting some of my old haunts back home for quite some time. The Big Chill festival for example, or even the Big Chill Bar in London - both regular destinations for me a few years back. Funny, that I should come to own my first Seahawks record after picking it up at, of all places, Technique record store in Tokyo last year. But that’s the great thing about this type of music and in particular the approach of Jon and Pete as Seahawks- it’s music that transcends time and place.

As they prepare to release their latest album on Cascine, titled Eyes Of The Moon (released 15th March) Jon and Pete have prepped a journey into their very hard-to-pin-down-cosmic world. Taking advantage of their many years DJ-ing, collecting and throwing boat-parties, this isolatedmix does exactly what the title suggests. A celestial voyage, into the minds of Seahawks, traversing the many imaginable worlds they conjure up through their colorful, vivid and complimentary music and art.

Download.

Read more about the Seahawks project and the mix in the Q&A with Jon and Pete, below.

Tracklist:

1. Iasos – Helios and Vesta
2. Seahawks – Eyes Of The Moon (Ocean Moon ambient mix)
3. Clifford White – Lost At Shore
4. Suzanne Ciani – Eighth Wave
5. Meditation Y.S. – Neocrystal (On The Beach Mix)
6. Swami Kriya Ramananda – Hymn To A New Age
7. Larry Heard – Summertime Breeze
8. Waak Waak Djungi – Rainbow Serpent
9. Jon Anderson – Deseo (Future Sound Of London remix)
10. Emerald Web – Nightsong
11. Seahawks – Run Through My Mind
12. Wally Badarou – Awa
13. Yoshio Ojima – Glass Chattering
14. Body San – Marimba Class
15. Iasos – Helios and Vesta

ASIP: You both have some serious history between you. Would you mind giving us the quick rundown of how you got to where you are today?
Seahawks: It’s the 10th anniversary of our first release next year so yes indeed some serious history. To some extent we just pointed the ship in the right direction, stocked up with supplies and set sail into the unknown. It’s been a great trip but as to how…I guess we let the cosmic wind carry us along.

How did Seahawks come about and what inspired the project?
The Seahawks boat party at the Big Chill bar was our R&D (research & development) centre. We would try jamming different styles and adding FX and tracks we were working on and also invite friends to join in. At the time Pete lived just up the road so we could continue our research, sometimes deep into the night…

When it comes to the specifics of the project, Jon, you look after music and Pete, art. How important is it to you that these two are presented as one in today's throwaway streaming world?
It makes a big difference for us to present a conceptual whole, the Eyes Of The Moon album is actually the first where one of us has not created the artwork but it was fun to work with other people and direct the art rather than make it for a change.

I've seen a few terms describe your music. Everything from "Cosmic deckshoegaze", "Balaeric" "New Age", "Kosmische" and "Celestial" - often interchanged between each other - to "whale drone amplified through an enormous pearlescent conch". How would you describe the Seahawks sound? (or rather, what does it look like!?)
It’s a many headed good natured beast that likes to venture out for a cavort in the cosmos and loves all kind of esoteric delights from deep space vibrations to deep ocean drones, but we’ll settle for "whale drone amplified through an enormous pearlescent conch”.

You don't hear much music like this anymore. Am I just not digging hard enough, or are you just fighting the good fight and bringing it all back?
Well it’s all out there but I think our music is just a little more expansive than most current music I hear. We’d certainly like to bring back a strong cosmic vibe in these troubled times.

Who or what are the main inspirations for this specific sound?
Right now the Mu-tron Bi Phase is a big feature in our lives, it just instantly makes everything sound more lush and immersive. Cassette tapes are also a really big influence, the sound is so ear friendly.

It sounds like you like to lay low, play great parties and put out timeless records that abide to no-one or nothing (how it should be!) How do you find the ambient and experimental scene in particular? Would you even place Seahawks within it?
There’s a lot of incredible music out there and the reissue scene helps keep things interesting. I think we’re part of a historical scene that includes all sorts of music and vibrations.

Thank you for such a great, eclectic and as you describe "celestial" mix. How did you approach the mix and where was it recorded?
This mix contains mainly tracks from CD. I think CD has got a bad rap and that if you have a good CD player they can sound great and it’s also a way to find tracks that are either not available or too expensive on vinyl.
It was done over a two week period.

Where should people be listening to this mix? Poolside? The other side?
Wherever feels conducive. One suggestion: Transfer to cassette and listen on a walkman on a train to Amsterdam before heading for a smoke by the Amstel.

And in what state?!
A suitably modified one and hopefully our mix will help take you to a ‘very fine state of mind’.

The influences in the mix range from classic ambient and chill-out, to dub, ethnic, tropical, disco, even classic Larry Heard - the list goes on. What makes a DJ set great in your opinions?
We like surprises but not ones that are jarring and there has to be a flow but there’s no reason the journey can’t visit some unexpected ports on the way.

It feels like a very grown up and mature set - like a hell of a lot of experience has gone into your ears and record collections. I can smell the years digging. Are you both serious collectors?
We both have plenty of music on multiple formats but I don’t think either of us consider ourselves serious collectors. We know people who are and we’re nowhere near that league!

You've treated us to an exclusive remix in here too, how often do you make edits of your own music to suit a set or a mix? Is it important for you to always present new music in this way?
There are always potential alternative versions of tracks, ideas we’d like to extend and transform. We definitely like to present a multi-faceted vision when we can.

Jon, you played at a bunch of places in the UK (where I used to live) - from The Big Chill to Spiritland. Where would be the ideal place to spin this type of set nowadays?
I think it might well be The Hutong Café in Plymouth. It’s right by the sea and only an hour or so from the studio in Cornwall and we can arrive by ferry and play whatever we like.

What track/s didn't make it in the mix that you might still want to share with us?
Too many to mention and we’d share it all if we could : )

Finally if this was your closing set - last set ever - lights coming on - what would you be ending with?
The Floaters - It’s Magic (We Thank You) – Extended mix

~

Seahawks | Discogs | Bandcamp

 

isolatedmix 86 - Scanner: The Night You Dreamt

 
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Releasing music since the early 1990’s, electronic music producers rarely come as seasoned as Scanner. Robin Rimbaud’s productions can be found on seminal labels such as Sub Rosa (home to early records and label-mates such as Coil, Gigi Masin, Bill Laswell, John Cage, Stars of The Lid) Glacial Movements and Lawrence English’s, Room40 amongst many more over the past ~30 years.

But along with the relentless catalog spanning the full spectrum of experimental and electronic music, Robin has also scored over 65 contemporary dance productions including works for establishments such as The London Royal Ballet, the worlds first Virtual Reality Ballet, sound installations at airports, and collaborations with Bryan Ferry, Michael Nyman and Steve McQueen. And you know that classic trick of police scanner recordings over ambient music? Well Robin was doing that back in 1993, with Scanner -Scanner.

To try and do his background justice here would probably be an injustice… so to say, there’s a world of Robin Rimbaud to explore, is an understatement.

Our journey here though, begins after Robin and I were discussing some of his unreleased music which he made in Captiva Florida at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency last year. It featured only one synth and one effects unit, and was stunningly beautiful for such a minimal piece of music. It inspired me to ask Robin to make a synth-focused isolatedmix, of which he duly obliged and even included one of the pieces we were discussing. Timing worked out perfectly too, as we gear up for James Bernard’s Modular synth release on 25th Feb, this is a lovely warm up. The result is a true narrative told through the many styles of synthesizer-focused music. From vets such as Klaus Schulze and RDJ, to modern day innovators in Loscil, James Holden, OPN and Cortini, this is The Night You Dreamt.

Download.

Tracklist:

01. Coil: U Pel (Insense Offering)
02. Scanner: Captiva Pulse
03. Klaus Schulze: Wahnfried 1883
04. Alessandro Cortini & Lawrence English: Immediate Horizon 3
05. Aphex Twin: 101 Rainbows ambient mix
06. Oneohtrix Point Never : Child of Rage
07. Bruce Haack: Untitled #2
08. Matthew Shaw: Totemic Topologies part Three
09. Loscil: Deceiver
10. James Holden: Self-Playing Schmaltz
11. Scanner: Random Dreams

Scannerdot.com | Twitter | Soundcloud

 

isolatedmix 85 - r beny

 
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If like me, you often spend time exploring Bandcamp and the genre charts on the homepage, you’ll likely stumble across one of r beny’s albums. That’s not to say he’s a chart topping superstar (he could be our very own ambient equivalent) but more so that he is the type of artist that once stumbled upon, I’d guess people end up buying his entire catalog. There seems to be a steady stream of support behind his albums of late, and 2018 might have been one of his best years yet, with three albums released on top of his previous, one in 2016 and one in 2017. 2018 could be defined as the year Austin Cairns aka r beny found his stride amongst us lovers of deep, textured and extremely engrossing analog wizardry.

r beny made many of last years best of lists, and depending on which list you read it could’ve been any one of his three 2018 standouts popping up: Saudade, eistla and Reasons To Live (alongside Paperbark) all heralded in some shape or form. Austin’s core approach lies amongst the fascinating world of modulars, which he seems to manipulate so much, you’d be hard pressed to know the warmth and color coming through in his music is made from hard electricity. Instead, the ingredients are often bubbled up through the minute details, the outro maybe, as the fuzz of inputs comes to an end. A true master of analog ambient has that capability - bringing out the most unique and unrecognizable feelings from a piece of equipment that on its own, might sound raw and disjointed.

Eistla album opener, 'in the violet and lingering winter dusk’ followed Abul Mogard in our Reflection on 2018 mix - an initial indicator of where his sound can align to in the spectrum of deep, immersive ambient music. That track is a great example of the type of soaring atmospherics he is capable of, all while retaining a subtle sense of attachment and romanticism that keeps it from entering any dark ambient or straight-up drone territory, and keeps the emotional pull firmly within distance.

For his isolatedmix, Austin has continued this meld of melody, texture and granular detail, and as he best describes below, “Rhythmic pulses… Warm, fuzzy and maybe broken textures”, are the heroes behind the story of some his many recent musical inspirations.

This is a mix for contemplation. For staring at the ceiling and wondering if you should get out of bed today. Also, for cooking? This is music that I feel pushes and pulls, in both sound and emotion. Contemplative, looping melodies that reveal rhythmic pulses. Warm, fuzzy, and maybe broken textures. Music to get lost to.

This is a lot of what I've been listening to this winter. A few all-time favorites (Hecker, Caminiti, Microphones), friends and peers that constantly inspire me (Paperbark, Hainbach), and some recent 2018 favorites (Mary Jane Leach, Leon Vynehall, Skee Mask). This is all music that moves me in some way. 

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Tracklist:

01. Mary Jane Leach – Dowland’s Tears
02. múm - Hú Hviss
03. Hainbach – Hands on Ears
04. Ant’lrd – Shoulder Width Apart
05. Mark Templeton – Burning Brush
06. Paperbark – Impulse Toss
07. Leon Vynehall – Ice Cream (Chapter VIII)
08. Microphones – Organs & Pianos from “The Moon”
09. Fieldhead - Northern Canada
10. Huerco S – Skug Commune
11. Vladislav Delay – Ranta
12. Evan Caminiti – Bright Midnight
13. Deru – Midnight in the Garden With Ghosts (Remix)
14. Jasmine Guffond – Degradation Loops #2
15. Thomas Köner – Ruska
16. Skee Mask – Soundboy Ext.
17. Dalhous- Methods of Elan
18. Bell Orchestre – Water / Light / Shifts (Tim Hecker Remix)
19. Sinerider – Walking Home Alone

r beny | Bandcamp | Discogs | Facebook | Twitter