ASIP - Reflection on 2016

 

2016 was a busy year! The label started with the Arovane & Hior Chronik Remix EP, then Merrin Karras' glorious synthesizer piece, Apex. And more recently, the much-desired 36 album, The Infinity Room.  It was also a very sad year in many ways, with ASIP artist, Igor Bystrov aka Parks, passing away. The In Memory EP, featuring a collection of his works was also released, with all proceeds going to Igor's family. Thank you to everyone who supported the label and the artists throughout 2016 - I can't express how grateful I am to have such an amazing bunch of listeners and supporters.

It was an amazing year for music. I was overwhelmed for the most part, and didn't get round to writing about half as many albums as I would have liked to. But my yearly Reflections mix goes some way in helping soothe my guilt and pain. Featuring many of my favorite tracks from some of my favorite albums and releases from the year, it's my version of the infamous journo 'best-of' list but presented in the best way possible I start with a playlist including one track from every album I've enjoyed over the year, and then whittle it down, based on what sounds right in the mix and ultimately, what I've been listening to the most. It goes without saying, this only scrapes the surface of the many great albums and releases we've been treated to in 2016.

A quick run down of the inclusions in this years mix...

Sad Elron, the one track I spent the year looping, was the standout in one of this years best albums from Mark Pritchard. Bvdub surprised us with a selection of shorter-than-normal cuts, and potentially his best album yet. The Green Kingdom is this years under-the-radar gem, cutting up dubby-ambient and post-rock. Steve Hauschildt topped the year of the synthesizer, as did Phaeleh, with outstanding albums on both fronts. ASC made a sneaky retro-electronica appearance as Comit. Synkro enlisted the best for his remix EP - with Helios providing a glorious take, alongside a superb album of his own. Jesse Somfay returned after over 5-years with a unique and exciting new album. Segue turned in da-dub as usual on the ever-brilliant Silent Season. Isan made a return with their quirky melodic electronica. The Orb made an attempt to out-chill-out the Chill Out. Ametsub dropped a sneaky jazz-infused ambient piece. Tangent proved the newcomer of the year on n5MD. Jóhann Jóhannsson should be on the front-cover of Time magazine as man of the year with his outstanding score for Arrival and another complete masterpiece in Orphée. Heck got the remastering and reworking of choice by Field Rotation's Christopher Berg. Ocoeur got our year off to a stunner with his modern-classical masterpiece. Eluvium won the hearts of everyone with his operatic tearjerker. Drape kept Infraction's continually brilliant ambient output up-to-scratch. Warmth treated us to one of the years best ambient surprises. Deepchord turned in one of the years best remixes - out-ambienting Wolgang Voigt's flip. Benoit Pioulard broke his wrist and showed us how to remix Aphex Twin. Porya Hatami and Arovane joined forces once again book-ending their ASIP remix EP.  And lastly, as a special tribute, we end the mix on one of my favourite tracks by Park from 2009 - RIP.

And breathe. Enjoy the look back.

Download.

Tracklist:

01. Mark Pritchard - Sad Alron [Under The Sun] (Warp)
02. Bvdub - 07 [Yours Are Stories Of Sadness] (Self)Read the review
03. The Green Kingdom - Haze Layers [Harbor] (Dronarivm) 
04. Steve Hauschildt - Time We Have [Strands] (Kranky) Read the review
05. Phaeleh - Frequency [Illusion of The Tale] (Undertow) Read the review
06. Comit - Under Your Spell [Trip 01] (Warm Communications) Read the review
07. Synkro - Midnight Sun (Helios Remix) [Changes Remix EP] (Apollo)
08. Jesse Somfay - Chorona (A Voice Like Sunshine) [Levamentum] (Tipping HandRead the review
09. Segue - Deep Valley [Over The Mountains] (Silent Season
10. Isan - Lace Murex [Glass Bird Movement] (MorrRead the review
11. The Orb - 4am Exhale [COW] (Kompakt)
12. Ametsub - Skydroppin' [Skydroppin' EP] (Blueberry Records)
13. Tangent - Perceived Horizon [Collapsing Horizons] (n5MD)
14. Jóhann Jóhannsson - Heptapod B [Arrival OST] (Deutschegrammophon)
15. Hecq - Night Falls (reworked by Christopher Berg) [Night Falls] (Hymen Records)
16. Ocoeur - Fixo 2 [Reversed] (n5MD) Read the review
17. Eluvium - Fugue State [False Readings On] (Temporary ResidenceRead the review / mix
18. Drape - Detrial Rest [Let There Water Air] (Infraction)
19. Helios - Land Father [Remembrance] (Unseen Music) Read the review
20. Warmth - Odessa [Essay] (Archives) Read the review / mix 
21. Peter Michael Hamel - Colours of Time [Reinterpreted] (Deepchord’s Carolina Forest Mix) Read the review
22. Benoit Pioulard - Stone In Focus [Radial] Read the review / mix
23. Porya Hatami & Arovane - iaan [Kaziwa] (Time Released Sound
24. Jóhann Jóhannsson - Flight From The City [Orphée] (Deutschegrammophon) Read the review
25. Parks - Eternal Wind [Hidden] (Infraction - 2009)

[Artwork / photo taken on a trip to Japan in August 2016]

 

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)

 

Lav & Purl - The Present Moment

 

Lav & Purl have existed as individual artists for a while now, with both making appearances on the collective Dewtone, and Purl  also contributing his unique, melodic pulsing ambience on Silent Season, with the much loved album, 'Stillpoint'

The Present Moment is the second release by the duo, after the recently released EP 'Earth And Beyond' on their own label, Amone RecordingsThis delicate, nurtured track, combines beautiful sound recordings from Lav (Christopher Landin) alongside piano and drifting melodies from Purl, (Ludvig Cimbrelius). I won't get into much further detail on this track however, as it's the start of something much bigger...

This track was a part of a larger album originally, but earned its own release as it distinguished itself from the other tracks with a softer, calmer atmosphere. The remaining tracks from this production will form ASIP's seventh vinyl release, titled 'A State Of Becoming' and arriving in early 2017 on double vinyl. 

So, here's a taster of what's to come!

Download on Bandcamp.

 

Merrin Karras Live at Klangsphäre, Planetarium Bochum 11-11-2016

 

Both Merrin Karras and Markus Guentner took to a unique stage in Bochum (Germany) this past weekend, alongside the likes of Max Würden, Sine Sleeper, Mario Hammer And The Lonely Robot, and Safrronkeira. The Ambient Festival, played out within a Planetarium, with listeners immersed in darkness as they stared up towards dream-like visuals across the ceiling. It was undoubtedly a very special and unique show, marking Brendan's first live show as his ASIP alter-ego Merrin Karras.

Below we have the recording of his set, featuring live renditions from the album, Apex, and one new track.

Merrin Karras' album Apex, is available to buy using the links below:

Digital @ Bandcamp
Vinyl (US) @ Bandcamp
Vinyl (Europe & Worldwide) direct from Merrin Karras' Bandcamp, or at Juno. 

Equipment used:
Macbook pro running Ableton Live
Nord Lead 2
DSI Tetra
Vermona Mono Lancet
Roland Jp-08
2 x Launchpads
1 x Launchcontrol XL

 (Photo by Markus Guentner)

(Photo by Markus Guentner)

 

Phaeleh - Illusion of the Tale

 

Music to escape to. It's what you're escaping from, or where you want to escape to, that often decides how you perceive music. It's what makes it so subjective and personal.

It's why I love the phrase 'A Strangely Isolated Place'. We all live in a busy world, where everyone is just a button away. But you can be stood in the middle of Times Square, or on a 7.34am commuter train to London Kings Cross, and escape to somewhere completely different, with the right type of music.

This train of thought inspired Matt Preston aka Phaeleh's, latest album Illusion Of The Tale. If the title alone didn't give it away, then dig deeper. Seventeen tracks long, Matt created the album as a way of saying ... "take some time to chill the fuck out. I want the album to be an escape from everyday lives. I want it to be a soundtrack for people to let go.” He's describing the daily illusion given off from social media and the facade that everyone is hiding behind, but the common thought is the same - ambient music helps you do this, switch off, go some place else - ignore the bullshit. 

With such a powerful inspiration you're sat hear now wandering how intense the music must have to be to achieve this, but whereas some people need complex rhythms, loud noises and patterns to get lost in, Matt has opted for the simplicity and emotion of ambient and electronica that just edges, pushes, nudges you along to new places - a gentle journey that envelopes and folds, cushions and lifts you off to your destination of choice. 

Seventeen delicate tracks comprising of live synth recordings, Matt has also incorporated piano recordings, field recordings, outtakes from live shows, and in one instance, a track "made from his thumb holding the end of a cable running through a pedal board, then looped and pitched down.". Some have an emotional efficacy of someone like Mark Pritchard, in tracks like Frequency, some a dense and intriguing texture of heavier drone musicians in Absence Of Light, whilst others like Blue Night, shift a little more into gentle beats, echoing the likes of Solar Fields and Carbon Based Lifeforms. We're even treated to some space-esque vintage sci-fi synthesizers in District, my favorite from the album. 

Despite the numerous electronic styles, there's an overarching sense of similar emotion. It's never too dark, never too euphoric, and each track could've easily progressed into either territory. It's a dynamic sound that is easily taken one way or the other, which is why the album does what Matt set out to achieve. If there was a specific arc, or tracks that peaked, then you're often being taken along a predetermined journey, but with Illusion of the Tale, it's a story decided by you, the listener. On a good day, you'll go one way, on a bad day, another. Put it on shuffle and add a fourth dimension. With every listen you'll find something new and travel someplace else.

Available on Bandcamp. 

Read more on Phaeleh and listen to a recent ambient mix on The Ransom Note