Friday, October 30, 2009

Harold Budd - Lovely Thunder

Label: Editions EG
Released: 1986
Style: Ambient

"The phrase 'Lovely Thunder' suggests a beautiful sound with an undertone of menace. One need go no farther than "Gypsy Violin," the last song and centerpiece of the album Lovely Thunder, to hear how Harold Budd takes the phrase and forges a musical equivalent. Underneath the plaintive melody of the synthesized violin and an occasional foghorn-reminiscent bass note lies a bed of synth chords that are present throughout, sometimes adding notes, sometimes dropping them, sometimes moving a chord up or down a key and into dissonance with the rest. The overall result is an undulating base that never quite lets the listener settle onto firm ground, giving the song a distinct edge.

Drones do figure prominently as a musical base for many of the album's other songs, yet the music is generally more akin to the reverberated keyboard treatments Budd utilized to stunning effect on his two collaborations with Brian Eno. Those looking to explore beyond The Plateux of Mirror and The Pearl would do well to give this album a listen, as they will most likely be both challenged and satisfied.

(Cocteau Twins fans will recognize the song "Flowered Knife Shadows" as a slightly edited version of the song "Memory Gongs" from Budd's collaboration with that group on the album The Moon and the Melodies.)" - Allmusic


1 The Gunfighter (3:10)
2 Sandtreader (5:28)
3 Ice Floes In Eden (3:20)
4 Olancha Farewell (2:15)
5 Flowered Knife Shadows (For Simon Raymonde) 7:11
6 Valse Pour Le Fin Du Temps (4:45)
7 Gypsy Violin (20:45)


Edgar Froese - Epsilon In Malaysian Pale

Label: Virgin
Released: 1975
Style: Ambient

"As lush and entrancing as listeners are led to believe from the exotic foliage on the cover, Epsilon in Malaysian Pale is the Froese solo record closest in sound to Tangerine Dream. The light sequencer trance and waves of statuesque synthesizer effects on "Maroubra Bay" are quite similar to TD's work on Rubycon (released that same year), and it's just as beautiful and hypnotic. The title track however, is an atmospheric flute piece that forsakes the sequencer for most of its length." - Allmusic


1 Epsilon In Malaysian Pale (17:00)
2 Maroubra Bay (17:15)


Monday, October 26, 2009

Higher Intelligence Agency & Biosphere - Polar Sequences

Label: Beyond, Beyond
Released: 1996
Style: Ambient

"A collaboration between Biosphere's Geir Jenssen and Bobby Bird of Higher Intelligence Agency, commissioned by the Norwegian government for live performance at the 1995 Polar Music Festival. Suitably frosty melodies and glacial textures provide the framework for compositions utilizing the natural environment of the Arctic Circle for inspiration and source material (snow falling, ice cracking and splitting, the clang of cable car mountain lifts, etc.), to often remarkable effect. Sparse beats occasionally bubble up, but the focus is definitely on the icy edge of Arctic life." - Allmusic


1 Cimmerian Shaft (13:11)
2 Snapshot Survey (8:21)
3 White Lightning (10:13)
4 Countdown To Darkness (6:21)
5 Corona (9:55)
6 Meltwater (9:18)


Friday, October 23, 2009

Manuel Göttsching - Dream & Desire

Label: Spalax Music
Released: 1991
Style: Krautrock, Electro, Downtempo, Minimal

"The '70s were a fertile period for Manuel Göttsching. Having pioneered the kosmische guitar freakout with Ash Ra Tempel, he had embarked on a new phase by mid-decade. Inspired by minimalist composers Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass, Göttsching traded musical visions of outer space for trance-inducing meditations on inner space. Between 1974 and 1977, Göttsching pursued this new aesthetic on Inventions for Electric Guitar, Le Berceau de Cristal, New Age of Earth, and Blackouts, immersing himself in an electronic environment that often fused his signature guitar work with sequencers and synths. Although not released until 1991, Dream & Desire was recorded in 1977. Its ambient and proto-techno explorations hold up reasonably well alongside Göttsching's previously released recordings from the mid-'70s, and also resonate favorably with the work of like-minded contemporaries such as Edgar Froese, Klaus Schulze, and Tangerine Dream. The half-hour "Dream" is appropriately oneiric. Prefaced by elemental atmospherics and soothing synth washes, it builds with sparse, delicate guitar lines. Göttsching crafts mesmerizing layers of intricate notes as the track gradually gathers momentum and settles into tighter, more defined patterns. In contrast with the cool, glacial aura of "Dream," "Desire" has a warmer, more energized feel, rooted in its relentless bass pulse, sheen of electronic percussion, and Frippertronic-style guitar. However, the components fail to coalesce to hypnotic effect; instead, they test the patience and sound somewhat dated. The more economical "Despair" succeeds where "Desire" falters, putting similar sonic elements to more compelling use. While the weaving, sinewy guitars infuse a melancholy air, the rhythmic dimension radiates optimism and dynamism that stand in ironic counterpoint to the track's title. Dream & Desire isn't, perhaps, as consistently strong as Göttsching's other recordings from the period, but this lost album provides further insight into one of his most innovative creative phases." - Allmusic

They rip on the 2nd track, but it's pretty good as far as I'm concerned.


1 Dream 30:14
2 Desire 22:56
3 Despair 8:29


Monday, October 19, 2009

Wagon Christ - Musipal

Label: Ninja Tune
Released: 2001
Style: Leftfield, Breaks, IDM, Downtempo

"Vibert Returns, this time round on Ninja Tune, with a follow up to his Virgin-released 'Tally-HO' LP. Marking a return to upright feelgood funkiness that made his name with 'Throbbing Pouch' and 'Big Soup', this is purely joyful, easy music. Elements of Hip-Hop, breaks and after-hours chillouts, this is such an incredibly undemanding LP, beautifully constructed, seamlessly flowing and always with a heavy dose of feel-good engineering. Recommended." - Boomkat


1 The Premise (3:28)
2 Bend Over (4:46)
3 Tomach (4:31)
4 Thick Stew (7:47)
5 Natural Suction (7:33)
6 Musipal (4:00)
7 It Is Always Now, All Of It Is Now (4:55)
8 Receiver (3:24)
9 Boney L (2:01)
10 Cris Chana (4:50)
11 Tomorrow Acid (3:42)
12 Step To The Music (6:30)
13 Perkission (5:31)


Allan Holdsworth - Sand

Label: Relativity
Released: 1987
Style: Space-Age, Fusion

"Brit guitar hero Allan Holdsworth, ex of the Soft Machine, Gong, U.K., and Bill Bruford and Annette Peacock's solo projects, has been wildly inconsistent when it comes to his solo projects. Completely bonkers for technology, he's employed every gadget he can get his hands on own records, and has gotten results that range from the near sublime to the kind of dross one usually associates with prog excess. But Sand is a different animal, a respite from the relentless kitchen sink approach Holdsworth was mired in through much of the late '70s and early '80s. Utilizing a new contraption, the "Synthaxe," a guitar that has the tonal and sonic possibilities of the synthesizer but can be played straight as well, it seems to satisfy the artist's technology jones, and allows him to compose sensitively for the instrument while not forgetting he's a guitarist first. Guitar fans might be a little put off by the sounds and textures of the synthaxe, which allows for a guitarist to subvert its limited range of tones and colors for rounded off keyboard sounds and warm textural aspects. In other words, the traditional sound of the electric guitar -- and, in particular, Holdsworth's trademark sound -- is nearly absent. In place is a near keyboard sound played in the same way he plays guitar. The six compositions here range from the knotty, mixed tempo, arpeggio-rich title track to the reflective, near pastoral grace of "Distance Vs. Desire" to the electronically astute, fast and furious jazz-rock fusion of "Mac Man." The only time a keyboard actually appears is Alan Pasqua's solo in "Pud Wud," where the guitarist wields his traditional instrument and rips free of the constraints of his own composition for some truly fiery pyrotechnics. The rhythm section of bassist Jimmy Johnson (a killer electric jazz bassist who has also played with Percy Jones and Brand X) and drummer Gary Husband are more than equal to the task of accompaniment, and, in fact, are creative foils for Holdsworth, who allows his sidemen plenty of room to shine -- also unlike many of his earlier projects. Is Sand the mark of a new contentment and refined aesthetic for Holdsworth? Only time will, but it is safe to say that this is one of his most innovative and texturally beautiful to date." - Allmusic


1 Sand (5:26)
2 Distance vs. Desire (5:17)
3 Pud Wud (6:43)
4 Clown (5:14)
5 The 4.15 Bradford Executive (8:28)
6 Mac Man (4:02)


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ashra - New Age Of Earth

Label: Virgin
Released: 1977
Style: Leftfield, Krautrock, Experimental, Minimal, Ambient

"The first album for Virgin was New Age of Earth, an album that since became a classic. Although it is credited under the group name Ashra, New Age of Earth is actually performed by Manuel Göttsching alone. Relying more on synthesizers than his usual guitar, Göttsching created four richly-textured compositions that are both intriguing and stimulating. [...] It is no doubt that New Age of Earth is Manuel Göttsching and Ashra's finest album. [...] In all honesty, no music collection should be without Ashra's New Age of Earth." - D. Kaufmann, "Beyond the Horizon"


1 Sunrain (7:26)
2 Ocean Of Tenderness (12:36)
3 Deep Distance (5:46)
4 Nightdust (21:52)


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thomas Fehlmann - Lowflow

Label: Plug Research
Released: 2004
Style: IDM, Dub, Electro, Downtempo

"After extensive forays into more physical, club-related tracks with his series of releases (on Kompakt) Lowflow, recorded on and off over the last years, now heralds a return to his slower, more experimental side and provides a surprisingly concise description of the album's overall feel.

Both minimal and expansive, Lowflow allows its tracks to float across and into each other, an infinite, gentle mix to which Fehlmann playfully introduces the soft murmur of chimes, pedal steel guitar or his very own trumpet.

From opener "Goldhaar" and the disjointed fascination of the decidedly unslinky "Slinky" with its hypnotic, focused distortion via the briefest of Alice Coltrane homages on "Interstellar" to the almost rocky determination of "Alice Springs" and the classic, minimalist house of "Andrea is Delighted," Lowflow nevertheless retains a distinctly dubby, German flavor, a seamless pleasure that loves to pause and interrupt itself to create its very own, idiosyncratic flow.

Everything on this record was generated by Thomas himself, except the cover supplied by seminal artist Raymond Pettibon (Black Flag, Minutemen) who was his only contact when he first came to LA 15 years ago, as well as three short, connecting interludes growing out of a collaboration with Detroit artist Dabrye (Ghostly International)." - Label


1 Goldhaar (3:25)
2 Prefab (5:12)
3 Interstellar (1:31)
4 Lindt (4:34)
5 Slinky (4:26)
6 Intertwine (0:39)
7 Hana (5:11)
8 Alice Springs (5:21)
9 Springer (5:12)
10 Andrea Is Delighted (6:51)
11 Intersect (1:11)
12 Feat (5:33)
13 Fellmaus (6:02)


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lone - Lemurian

Label: Dealmaker Records
Released: 2008
Style: Instrumental Hip-Hop, Downtempo

"Wonky heads take note - if you're into the whole Flying Lotus / Samiyam / Rustie / Lukid thing - this is just the ticket. Deriving its name from a lost, mythical continent, Lemurian has little to do with lost undersea cities and the like, although there is something ever so slightly fantastical about these heavily compressed instrumental hip hop productions and their evocative song titles: 'Lens Flare Lagoon' conjures up the glistening, watery effect suggested by its name, and 'Buried Coral Banks' has a Boards Of Canada-meets-Jacques Cousteau feel that's hard not to love. Incongruous with all this, interlude tracks like the gratuitous '80s soul sampling of 'Green Sea Pageant' steer the tone in a different direction, but divorced from the implied Jules Verne elements of it all, Lemurian makes for a sick collection of bass-heavy beats and quasi-ambient textures. Really good stuff - highly recommended!" - Boomkat


1 Koran Angel (1:02)
2 Cali Drought (3:17)
3 Interview At Honolulu (3:51)
4 Banyan Drive (2:37)
5 Green Sea Pageant (1:08)
6 Girl (3:13)
7 Orange Tree (0:49)
8 Maya Codex (2:04)
9 Atoll Mirrored (1:15)
10 Sea Spray (3:52)
11 Under Two Palms (1:32)
12 Lens Flare Lagoon (3:10)
13 Borea (3:30)
14 Buried Coral Banks (0:54)
15 Phthalo Blue (3:36)
16 Sunken (2:01)
17 Minor Suns (2:48)


Bersarin Quartett - Bersarin Quartett

Label: Lidar
Released: 2008
Style: Dark Ambient, Modern Classical, Ambient

"Some lovely modern classical/electronic stuff now with Bersarin Quartett. Opener 'Oktober' is a fine track that manages to bridge the gaps betwen hip-hop, classical and dub. A gorgeous track with lazy beats, lush strings and effects washes. Max Richter, Johan Johannsen, Sylvain Chaveau, Ryan Teague and Angelo Badalamenti all spring to mind. As far as this kind of orchestral stuff goes this really is as good as it gets. Phil has likened this to Arovane's Tides and Brian has mentioned Telefon Tel Aviv.There's some clever sound design going off and all. Track 6 even has some jazzy drums. There are haunting piano moments too Phil's just clocked the press release and informed me that this is 10 tracks composed for imaginary film scores. It does have a real soundtrack feel that just lets your imagination run wild. This is one you'll want to bang on all cuddled up with a glass of wine. I dont know what else to say other than this is simply lovely stuff. Digi-pak CD with fantastic sleeve on Lidar." - Norman Records


1 Oktober (6:26)
2 Geschichten Von Interesse (4:56)
3 Inversion (5:42)
4 St. Petersburg (5:16)
5 Und Die Welt Steht Still (8:52)
6 Die Dinge Sind Nie So Wie Sie Sind (8:05)
7 Nachtblind (4:04)
8 Es Kann Nicht Ewig Winter Sein (4:28)
9 Endlich Am Ziel (4:38)
10 Mehr Als Alles Andere (5:47)


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Klaus Schulze - Timewind

Label: Virgin
Released: 1975
Style: Electro, Experimental

"Dedicated to Richard Wagner, Timewind is a 60-minute electronic expedition that is broken up into two half-hour tracks, "Bayreuth Return" and "Wahnfried 1883." The first 30 minutes involves icy pulsations and lengthy tonal flights that unnoticeably converge into each other. While one rhythm gains momentum, the other one slowly fades into a bubbly electronic bath of bright swirls and meandering keyboard waves. Similar to early Tangerine Dream, the music here rises and falls above a distant sonic horizon, and the effect is truly mesmerizing. One specific flow can last for minutes, while small, detailed noises adhere themselves to the main electronic run. On the second track, more of the same far-off synthesized altering takes place, but the washes of keyboard become inoculated with a sharper, more precise sound. Longer notes build into resilient pieces with the same comforting result. This album will sketch a barren wasteland in the mind through the wispiness of the wind-like effects. Timewind serves as splendid mood music, and the ears are forever kept busy following Schulze's electronic wandering. " - Allmusic


1 Bayreuth Return (30:22)
2 Wahnfried 1883 (28:37)


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