isolatedmix 50 – bvdub (Sleep Tight, Ono)

 
 

So here we are. Half-a-century of isolatedmixes. Each, a window into the world behind ASIP; an insight into the inspirations and passion behind the site and label over the past six years, and beyond.

I always set out to keep the series exclusively for artists who’ve had a profound impact on ASIP and I’m glad I’t’s stayed that way. We’ve been lucky enough to host heroes of the genre, legends, new-comers, friends and innovators over the years, and each one is special in its own right.

Ulrich Schnauss provided the very first isolatedmix (fittingly so) but as soon as I realized the series, I started making lists of artists I dreamt would contribute, and bvdub was up top. Brock’s music is unique, and as close to perfection in my world, striking a balance of euphoria, emotion and musical progression in every production.

Many of you would have heard Brock’s music if you follow this site in any shape or form, but I’m pretty sure there’s lots of who you haven’t heard a mix from Brock – they’re as rare as they come.

Brock turned me down a few times before agreeing to do this mix. Mainly because a mix to him, isn’t about sitting down for hours, maybe days and carefully crafting an hour-long journey (like it is for most of us). For Brock, he needs to be in the right state of mind; the right period in his life. Mixes zap him of energy, and if the inspiration isn’t there he wont force it.

Let’s just say the stars aligned on this one. Some true inspiration that led to the mix; an emotional moment that unfurled; and a unique and original approach, led to Brock pouring his energy into a personal journey in the most unforgettable and special way possible.

Thanks to Brock for this rare opportunity and insight into his world and to everyone who has contributed, listened, commented and downloaded the series so far. Here’s to the next 50.

Introduction to the mix by bvdub:

This mix intertwines two meanings: sleep and death (I know, so surprising, me and death). It was originally to embody the former, but ended up also taking on the latter, due to the time it was made. Plus I guess in the end, are the two really so different?

I’ve suffered from insomnia my whole life – and when I say my whole life, I mean it. I was diagnosed and began (attempting to get) treatment for it literally from kindergarten. So sleep has always been a strange, beautiful, frightening, monster that I’ve both feared and hunted my whole life. It’s often an underlying (or sometimes prevailing) theme in much of the music I make as well, as it is, unfortunately, a big part of my life and greatly influences who I am and how I see the world, for better or worse. Mostly worse I guess, depending on when you ask me.

So I set about making a mix to tell the story of sleep – yeah I know, wow, what a fucking landmark moment – an ambient mix about sleep. But it’s not just ‘music to sleep to.’ It’s more my personal account of the massive undertaking that is sleep – with all its fears, anxieties, concessions, and mostly elusive but occasional pleasures. It’s the story of an entire night’s sleep – from lengthy preparations, to failed attempts, to small victories, and the heavens that they hold, as well as the often painful but inevitable memories of the night gone by as I sit and examine it the following morning. It’s as much about the concept of sleep itself as it is a kind of diary of a night’s sleep in my world – not that I would wish my world on anyone.

But as it so happened, literally as I sat down to begin making the mix, I had a super small kitten, Ono, die on my watch. No I’m not trying to make everything I do about cats, don’t worry, but they are a massive part of my existence and everything I do, and anything I do musically is a direct reflection of my own life as it’s been, as it comes, or as I wish it would be… none of which I can control. Besides music, my other reason for living is rescuing homeless and dying cats, and my house serves as a sort of makeshift shelter (well I guess it’s more of a shelter for me, as they pretty much run it), and I often take in cats that are as near death as any living being can get. So for some unbeknownst reason I surround myself with intense suffering and sadness, or the intense risk thereof, on a daily basis. Well actually the reason isn’t unbeknownst, but I won’t bore you with it.

Ono was already nearly gone from starvation when I found him. I never really knew him, as he spent more time unconscious than conscious, but I named him in the hopes that establishing some sense of permanence would give him the spirit he needed to survive. After nearly a week of hospitalization and constant attempts to bring him back from the brink, I was unsuccessful, and he passed away. Strangely enough, it was as I sat down and was literally about to start the mix, I had a sudden feeling of panic and went to check on him in the other room, where I found that he had already begun his journey out of this life.

When I knew he wasn’t going to make it, it was too late at night. I couldn’t get anyone to take him out of his pain, and so I had no choice but to let him go through hours of anguish. I never went back to turn my equipment off, and instead just sat with him, petting him, attempting to be a loving voice, and tried to let him know someone was there, even though at that point I don’t think he knew anything anymore. It got me thinking, as I sat with him till sunrise, as I often do by myself, the parallel between the two. For years I sought ways to put myself down every night at any cost, both to my wallet and my health. How many times had I felt the night would never end… or honestly been willing to trade in the torture for a final end to it all? We all just want an escape, and for our pain to end… whether some of us choose or are chosen by death, or choose or are chosen by sleep.

I sat with him until he was gone, took him downstairs and buried him under a shady, quiet tree, and came back upstairs, sitting in silence. By that time it was already around 9 in the morning, and at that point I hadn’t slept in two days. As much as I wanted to attempt to do so, it wasn’t going to happen for a myriad of reasons. So I went back into my studio, where I found all my equipment on and ready, as I had left it nearly 12 hours before, and I proceeded to tell the story I needed to tell… both for myself, and for Ono, to wish him peace. I was tired beyond comprehension… but I guess that was fitting in a lot of ways. I made the mix in one take, turned everything off, and collapsed into my bed, where I managed only a few hours of sleep, but which strangely enough nearly exactly mirrored the contents of the mix, as it echoed its soundtrack in my subconscious.

This mix was made 100% live in one take on 2 Discmans and 2 computers (yes Discmans, not iPods), in a conscious melding of my old-school ways with the new, doing all the selecting and mixing live on Discmans (as I did for years with my ambient mixes, on the radio, and in chill rooms), while looping and editing live on the two computers simultaneously. I employed a weird, traditional (for me) method that I used for years – choosing at random hundreds of tracks and burning them to CDs – with no tags, names, or order. This way I myself have no idea what I want to do, where I want it to go, or ‘who’ I want to have on it. I just take the music as it comes, and let it take me where it may, searching blindly, only by feeling, basically like walking in the dark, rather than knowing where I am or where I’m going, instead finding my way with each step.

As with every mix I have ever made in my life from my first ever over 20 years ago (which, incidentally, was also ambient), there is no tracklist. Anyone who has heard the once-every-million-years mixes I’ve done before should be used to that, though, and should know why. It’s not because I think I’m too cool, or that I think I have something others don’t. In fact, I’d be willing to bet the exact opposite is true. I just don’t believe in people looking at a tracklist before they listen to a mix. You shouldn’t have pre-conceived notions going into it, be mentally already mapping it out, or have any judgments of any kind. A mix is its own entity… not countless small ones that need to, or should be broken apart… and it should be preserved in that way. You should just listen and experience, and go where it takes you. Simple as that. Just listen, just feel, and revel in the fact that not everything in life needs to be figured out – but instead just experienced, and to later echo in your memory in whatever forms it decides to take.

It’s not a mix for the casual ambient listener. It requires patience and perseverance, but hopefully it’s worth it in the end – just like sleep… and life I guess. I hope it can give you some peace, and also maybe help those who, like me, are Sisyphus at the base of the mountain every night when others have been at the top for ages, sound asleep. Thanks and I hope you like it.

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ASIP - Reflection on 2014

 
 

It’s been another big year for me personally and despite it taking longer than anticipated, 2014 has seen our second vinyl release, Europe go into production, set for a Jan 19th release. On average, posts have been down on the site from month-to-month, with the record and my full-time job taking up much more time than normal, but I’ve still managed to squeeze a little reflection on the year into the schedule, and a look back at what’s tickled the ASIP earbuds.

My reflection normally comes in these mixes as opposed to lists or top-tens. (See 2013’s edition here). Anyone can put a top-ten together, but I feel like it needs a little more meaning and constraint, and a mix normally helps me with that. It enables me to touch on some of my favourite music of the year, cross different genres, include both the recognized and the new, and have a little fun along the way. One negative of course, I miss out on an absolutely tonne of music which I’d otherwise spotlight, but there’s plenty more sites out there that will help you find what you’ve missed, and an exhaustive list isn’t always helpful. This is my opportunity to capture the past year in one personal journey. Be it an accurate reflection or not, I never normally know until the mix is finished – that’s why it’s so fun and unexpected… but I’m happy with how it’s turned out.

On reflection, and an obvious difference this year to last, has been my focus, (or maybe a lot more peoples focus) on dub-techno. It helped that I was DJ’ing more this year, so I was definitely on the hunt for more vinyl, but I don’t think anyone will disagree it’s been a great year for the dark and dubby ambient side-kick, and I feel the need to call this out here. I could’ve put together an entire mix of my dub-techno finds, but I’ve chosen to include just a couple on this mix instead.

As with last year’s episode, the mix covers the genres we love here, including modern-classical, ambient, dub-techno, electronica and post-rock. So yes, be ready for twists and turns – unlike your more considered and conventional mix techniques. I’ve also decided to provide some track-notes below to give a bit more context on the music included – they deserve it.

Happy listening, and thank you to everyone who has read, listened and supported the site in 2014. 2015 is set to be an even bigger year with our second vinyl release, more great isolatedmixes and our very first artist release!

Download.

 
 

Tracklist:

01. Levi Patel – The Light Unbalances Her
02. A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos VII
03. Otto A.Totland – Steps
04. Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal (Asleep version)
05. Loscil – Iona
06. Marsen Jules – Beautyfear III
07. ASC – The Machinery of Night
08. Leandro Fresco – Nada Es Para Siempre
09. Purl – The Stars Will Have An End
10. Neel – The Secret Revealed
11. Frank Sebastian – Towards Distance
12. Tdel – 1830
13. Donato Dozzy & Tin Man – Test 3
14. Gidge – Growth
15. Greg Chin – Dashboard Angels
16. To Destroy A City – First Light

Track notes.

Levi Patel – The Light Unbalances Her (Dado Records)
Levi has proven my belief in what I do. The young aspiring composer put together an amazing EP titled Forms and together we found a fitting home for it on John Beltran’s Dado Records. An absolutely sublime composition. Read the full ASIP review here.

A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos VII (Erased Tapes / Kranky)
With Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds sidestepping on the Erased Tapes label front this year, it was the turn of AWVFTS to take centre stage. A well celebrated album, Atomos encapsulates their magical stage presence and beautiful compositions that I first witnessed on the Erased Tapes 5th Anniversary show in 2012.

Otto A.Totland – Steps (Sonic Pieces)
Similarly, with Nils Frahm busy touring and becoming the new-found-master of live performances, the world was busy searching for the majestic piano-tinkering void left in his wake. We didn’t have to look far, and it came in the form of Deaf Center’s Otto A.Totland on Pinô – my favourite modern-classical release of the year and probably the most desired vinyl packaging to boot.

Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal (Asleep version) (Domino Records)
Another ambient master-mind that hit astronomical status this year. An Essential Mix, remixing Coldplay, and being shortlisted for a Mercury Music Prize are just some of the highlights for Jon this year. But, I’m a die-hard Hopkins fan and believe you’ll never beat him when it comes to his ambient pieces, so thank god he released the Asleep Versions this year – a small taster of why we all fell in love with his music back in2001.

Loscil – Iona (Kranky)
Sea Island is probably Loscil’s most accomplished release to date, and definitely my favourite. You can hear echoes of his previous releases scattered amongst these tracks, giving you familiarity whilst breathing new air into one of our favourite ambient producers of recent years.

Marsen Jules – Beautyfear III (Oktaf
I haven’t given Marsen enough love on ASIP over the years. The prolific german producer turned out Beautyfear for Oktaf this year. An instance of ‘abstract musical poetry’, created in a week during a stay in Lisbon. Look out for Marsen’s contribution to our very own release,‘Europe’ in January.

ASC – The Machinery of Night (Silent Season)
ASC returned with Truth Be Told, his second ambient release on Silent Season, again, to wide-applause selling out pretty much immediately. Deservedly so, it’s another dive into the hypnotic and immersive world of ASC.

Leandro Fresco – Nada Es Para Siempre (Kompakt)
This was the stand-out track on Kompakt’s annual pop Ambient series this year and apparently Leandro is set to return with a new album in 2015 too. The quality of his releases never ceases to amaze me.

Purl – The Stars Will Have An End (Dewtone)
Dewtone started off another succesful year with Purl’s return to the label, Behind Clouds. Another beautiful, bubbly slice of organic and dubby ambient music.

Neel – The Secret Revealed (Spectrum Spools). 
It came late in the year, but Phobos is one of the best releases of 2014. The Italian techno veteran takes a completely ambient approach this time around, in a similar guise to his Voices of The Lake alter-ego (with Dozzy). This record however, is much more ‘space-ambient’ themed, with expansive pads and enough depth to loose your head for days.

Frank Sebastian – Towards Distance (Subspiele)
In what was a big year for Subspiele, the label produced it’s first vinyl record, and what a great way to begin. Label boss Frank Sebastian was up first with a mixture of ambient and dub-techno on Towards Distance. More detail here.

Tdel – 1830 (Don’t Trust Humans)
One of the new finds from 2014, on ‘Don’t Trust Humans’, is this brilliant techno LP from Tdel. It ended up being one of my most loved techno records of the year. I’m looking forward to seeing what both Tdel and the label have in store for 2015.

Donato Dozzy & Tin Man – Test 3 (Acid Test)
I also spent a lot of my time this year exploring the Acid Test series. After seeing Dozzy and Neel play in Seattle, my love for their music took on a new meaning and 2014 has seen me accumulating pretty much anything I can find of theirs on vinyl including the latest Acid Test instalment, Acid Test 09.

Gidge – Growth (Atomnation)
The record of the year in many respects – Gidge’s Autumn Bells, is definitely one of my most played, and probably my most recommend album for anyone I speak to about music this year. An exploratory masterpiece in electronica. Gidge’s isolatedmix has also been one of the most loved mixes to date… who knows what this young norwegian pair have up their sleeves next.

Greg Chin – Dashboard Angels (Delsin Records)
Perhaps one of the more unrecognizable names on the track-list, comes in the form of Dashboard Angels from Greg Chin, taken from John Beltran’s latest compilation, Music For Machines. I haven’t got around to putting anything up on ASIP about this release yet, but it’s a superb double compilation of new ambient acts, highly recommended and this track is a shining example of the quality.

To Destroy A City – First Light (n5MD)
n5MD had a pretty big 2013 and looking back, 2014 has been just as big for them too, despite the spotlight not leaning their way too many times. To Destroy A City returned with Sunless, their sophomore album and a highly anticipated record for many post-rock fans. It certainly did the trick, and this track was a perfect closer for me.

ASIPV002 - Europe

 
 

After the success of our debut vinyl release, Uncharted Places, I’m very pleased to announce we’ll be returning with Europe, a meticulously curated compilation inspired by some of the most beautiful locations on the continent.

Spanning ambient, modern classical, drone and electronica, it’s a journey experienced through the eyes and ears of the artists, capturing their memories, travels, tributes, and exquisite musical depictions.

Beginning with a peaceful ode to her Greek home, Dalot finds harmony on Kalathas beach, Halo is enraptured by a wet city scene in Zurich, and 36 tries to make sense of London’s countless contrasts.

In more remote parts, Horizontal Excursions (aka Roger Martinez) discovers the symphony of life on the subtropical island of La Gomera,Bjorn Rohde paints a vivid picture of the Pyrénées, and Marsen Jules finds paradise in the Andalusian mountains.

From cosmopolitan utopias to breath-taking cornucopias, every track on Europe is immersed in discovery. Effortlessly traversing geography and emotions, it’s a collection that revels in borderless ambition but also celebrates the intricacies that makes every passage unique.

Closer to sea-level, Dextro finds inspiration in the Isle of Barra’s oceanic panorama, Parks channels the coastal howl of Helsingborg, andCarbon Based Lifeforms uncovers delicate harmonies in the Spring-time forests of East Gothenburg.

Finally, Yagya brings Europe to its beautiful conclusion. Alone on Reykjavik’s north shore, the iconic producer forgets himself, and the city behind him, as the infinite ocean horizon commands his lost gaze.

Personal and poignant, the album artwork also reflects the craft of the music with a specially commissioned, mixed-print and hand-painted piece by Nick Brzostowski created exclusively for the release.

Europe is available on limited edition double-transparent blue vinyl (300 copies with digital download) from January 26th 2015.

There is also a special limited edition wooden vinyl case – just five pieces – made for this release. More details available here.

BUY THE VINYL: *SOLD OUT*
BUY THE DIGITAL: ASIP Bandcamp

 
 

TRACKLIST
A1. Dalot – Home
A2. Halo – Rain Says
A3. 36 – London
B1. Horizontal Excursions – Garajonay
B2. Bjorn Rohde – Tour De Pyrénées
B3. Marsen Jules – Andalucia
C1. Dextro – Heaval
C2. Parks – When The Last Ferry Left Helsingborg
D1. Carbon Based Lifeforms – Vakna
D2. Yagya – The North Shore

Reviews: Igloo Mag | Sceen.fm | Boomkat

Europe was manufactured by Furnace MFG / Pallas (DE), distributed by Juno, and mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri (Ghostly International).

More on the artists involved:

Dalot
By blending post-rock and ambient textures, Greece’s Maria Papadomanolaki sculpts a delicate personal sonic territory animated by life stories, experiences, places and people. She has released music on n5MD, Coorecords, Headphone Commute, Radical Matters, This Is It Forever, Sound In Silence, Sun Sea Sky, Futuresequence and Hands Productions.

Halo
A young composer from Italy, now residing in Zurich, Pasquale Riviezzo started Halo as a very personal experience inspired by his thoughts and feelings. Playing piano for 13 years and the guitar for 8, Halo is already gaining acclaim for his beautiful compositions with releases onDewtone Recordings and the ASIP Places Series.

36
36 (pronounced three-six) is the ambient/experimental project of Dennis Huddleston from the United Kingdom. Raised on a healthy diet of old skool hardcore and techno, these days he spends his time releasing highly emotive and melancholic ambient, mainly for his own label 3six Recordings.

Horizontal Excursions
Roger Martinez is a multi-disciplinary artist from the Netherlands. He mainly works in the field of music, but is also an avid painter and poetry writer. His main musical projects include “Roger Martinez LIVE” and “Horizontal Excursions”, with a previous HE project released as part of the ASIP Places Series.

Bjorn Rohde
An elusive and varied producer hailing from the Ruhr Area in Germany, Bjorn is best known for his emotional journeys in dub-techno for the likes of Dewtone Recordings.

Marsen Jules
The German electronic music composer is a poet in sound. Focused on minimalism and abstraction he creates atmospheric and deeply emotional tunes. Since his CD debut on City Centre Offices he released 10 full-length albums and several compilation tracks on labels as12K, Kompakt, Miasmah and Dronarivm as well as his own imprint Oktaf Records.

Dextro
An avid live performer, Scotland’s Ewan Mackenzie has played alongside the likes of Ulrich Schnauss, Loscil, Jacaszek, Amon Tobin and Bonobo to name just a few. His energetic, drum-focused productions have been released through Border Community, and Ninjatune, with ‘Heavel’ recently featured on Nick Warren’s Soundgarden Compilation.

Parks
Composer Igor Bystrov has been releasing music for nearly 25 years and has only recently received deserved acclaim for his warm and emotional, analogue based electronica and ambient soundscapes. Truly unique and original in his approach, Igor has released on Infraction RecordsEntropy and the ASIP ‘Places Series’.

Carbon Based Lifeforms
The Swedish ambient duo of Johannes Hedberg and Daniel Segerstad are often cited as one of the original innovators of electronic ambient music, with many acclaimed releases on the legendary Ultimae Records, it’s a rarity and a celebration to finally see CBL’s music on wax.

Yagya
Icelandic dub-techno pioneer, Aðalsteinn Guðmundsson concentrates on atmospheres and moods to reflect the beauty of the world around him. Concentrating on the softer side of music and avoiding heavy rhythms, Yagya finds harmony and beauty in the simple sounds of nature. Previous releases on DelsinSending Orbs and Subwax Bcn.

Vinyl photos by Hikaru: www.capturecollect.co.uk. Vinyl Case photos by astrangelyisolatedplace.

Rich-Ears – Unlimited Universe

We love a change of pace and an injection of a new music style every now and then. Funnily enough, it nearly always seems to come in the form of Rich-Ears.

No stranger to ASIP, Rich-Ears is pretty much our resident Balearic beat(less) master, bringing his many months spent on the island, and the many hours, days, months and years engrossed in ambient music, to every mix he produces.

After 12 months in the depths of the French Countryside, Rich Ears returns with his trademark style, blending classic chill, ambient, samples and spoken word for Unlimited Universe – a true purveyor of sonic solitude, and a creator of enjoyable narratives mastered in this exclusive mix.

Download.

 
 

Tracklist:

01. Claudio Curciotti – 5 A.M. pray number 1
02. Loop Guru – …Katmandu …Crabpeople …The Words Of The All Powerful …Sleep
03. Sigur Rós – Rafmagnið Búið
04. Chakra (Seven centers) – Muladhara Chakra
05. David Toop – Wing Beats (Composed By Jon Hassel With Spirit World)
06. David Sylvian – Words With The Shaman: Pt. 1 – Ancient Evening
07. Chris Coco – Queueing For Shangri-La With A Surprisingly Level Head
08. Original Rockers – Mecca Of Space
09. The Orb – Alles Ist Schoen
10. The Irresistible Force – Sunstroke
11. Mixmaster Morris & Jonah Sharp – Camberwell Green
12. Goldie – Letter Of Fate
13. Haruomi Hosono – Higher Flyer
14. Chris Coco – Rain And Walking and A Strange Moment Of Calm 2
15. Chris Dooks – Gardening as Astronomy
16. Bing Satellites – Awakening
17. Chris Coco – You Parked Your Car In The Spaceport
18. Biosbios – Undan (Purl Remix)
19. Chris Coco – Did You Enjoy The Country_ _ One Song, You’ve Only Got One Song
20. Spectrum – Waves Wash Over Me (remix)
21. Jimi Cauty Streamer – PlutoSleepWalks (rich ears edit)

Rich-Ears on Twitter | Facebook | Mixcloud

bvdub – Tanto

 
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If you’re a fan of Brock’s music, or are even lucky enough to have had conversation with him, then you’ll know a couple of things ring true about this elusive character.

Brock is a genuine artist, doing it for the love – not money or fame. He doesn’t thrive on promotion, doing the latest or greatest thing. He sticks to what he knows and does best, often with only marginal movement either side of his beloved sound and for this reason, he is one of the most respected artists in the industry today.

His music is some of the most thought-provoking and emotional pieces you will come across. His combination of distant vocals, soaring atmospheres and more recently, some very impactful and dramatic beats, have helped establish him as one of the best and most innovative ambient artists of today. His releases go as far as as Kompakt’s Pop Ambient compilations, and as close to home as his own imprint, Quietus.

He’s one of the most passionate people you’ll meet. Just read one of his interviews. There’s not many artists out there who will take the time to go into so much detail, be it a rant or not – it’s passion and it always shows in his music.

He’s productive. Four albums in 2013, two so far this year (and not counting the many before 2012). To quote from his 2012 interview“What drives me to be so productive, quite simply, and at the risk of sounding trite, is that this music is what I live for. Without it, life for me literally would have no meaning…”

And after his best friend, his cat, Tanto passed away recently, Brock turned to the many aspects above that make him one of today’s greats and channelled his energy and focus into producing Tanto – his latest album and a personal ode to his best friend.

To go into describing this album wouldn’t sound right – it’s a personal journey, and one that is clearly evident upon listening. Fans of Brock’s music will undoubtedly enjoy it – some are calling it a return to his best, but the most important factor here is to support a cause which Brock believes in – and the life of a friend who has indirectly inspired the many Bvdub albums we’ve been lucky to enjoy over the years.

You can buy and listen to samples from Tanto direct on n5MD – 100% of everything from this album will be donated to the UC Davis Center for FIP Research. Available to preorder now and to buy from December 1st.