microphones in the trees

Saturday, August 04, 2018

rod hamilton & tiffany seal ~ enchanted forest

Looks like we covered almost every release made by this magical Baltimore duo except the previous tape on famous Sound of the Dawn which (we believe) doesn't require much presentation. Yet, the new work by Hamilton and Seal is something you truly need in your collection, especially if you're a fan of arpeggiated synth magic enforced by xylophones and cassette lo-fi goodness. It's actually a bit of a miracle that such music exists in 2018 because it sounds like it was excavated from some 70s archive of super-limited-private-press new age jams inspired by Terry Riley and tropical expeditions of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Yet this album isn't really about relaxation or meditation, but rather adventurous, keeping the buoyant pace and intrigued mood until the end. Outbursts of psychedelic melodies are very well contrasted by repetitive seances of hazy hypnosis. Fast-forward impressions from the places never visited in person, but visited in dreams and imagination. Repetitiveness always plays with trance-like states and this music is no exception - once this tapes starts spinning it won't be out until few rounds. "Enchanted Forest" is full of fairy creatures, ghostly voices, electric birds and ephemerally sparkling phenomenons, but when you in it, you take it all as a matter of course. Their dances and voices are gorgeously mesmerizing and the trail is long lost anyway. Where's the boundary between reality and imagination, when just a music can blur it so easily? What is reality anyway? If music is just a vibration of air, why it produces such an impact? Okay, let's drop these big questions until the long winter evenings, it's summer after all! And this music perfectly fits the sunshine. Aren't we all reaching out to the light?

tuluum shimmering ~ dancing in the seven skies

Newest offering from Tuluum Shimmering's universe turns to more raga-like forms, presenting eight track of sparkling sitar tunes, guitars, flutes and tribal percussion. Being a huge fans of Jake's output we can testify that there's always something really special about his music and this release is no exception. Throughout the years, Tuluum Shimmering provides the sunniest music we ever experienced. Be it long-form drones of earlier albums, noisy outburst jams or endlessly looped meditations, his music always shines brightly, bringing the joyful mood and clear vision. It's not even about music, but the state in which it is created and which it translates – it radiates through the sound, pure joy of being alive, of experiencing life as a gift. It may sound too new-agey, but once you dive into these waters, you start believing that nothing was ever wrong with our planet of with human race. After all, it's just a tiny part of huge ornament, unfolding though the Universe. All our joys and pains intertwined in one repeated composition. Music is indeed an universal force, multipurpose language that needs no words to invoke a special feeling of interconnection of every living being. Tuluum Shimmering is an ascending cosmic spiral we all live on. 

ron ~ material progress

"Material Progress" highlights the continued efforts of Portland, OR duo RON to divest from cluttered composition and heavy handed catharsis. Seeking space and and urging patience, RON unfolds each piece in a cloth-like manner. Laukkanen (autoharp, Juno, effects) & Wenc (pedal steel, synths, effects) peak at a world unquantized, without calculation. What happens if we were still? Certainly, similar sentiments have been probed within the canon of new age and drone music before. With their latest, RON pries open the door a little further, with new found confidence, patience, and curiosity. ~ lobby art

Music on cassettes is always mesmerizes when it sounds like it was born on tape. No high frequencies, not really wide range, kind of underwater sound... If you follow this blog, you know what we mean here. There's always something special about music drowned in that hiss, feeling of distance and comfort at the same time. Yet, most of all genres, drone music fits the cassette format best - exactly because of that hiss. Dominance of low-to-mid frequencies tends to sound flat, but the presence of tape hiss expands the experience. Seems weird that thing which was driving people crazy now serves as the compliment or even aesthetic element, but that's the way it is now. When virtually any genre of music sounds so well-produced, lo-fi cassette drone stands out as something completely otherworldly. Did you ever encountered situations when you listen to some lo-fi stuff for hours and then switch to something else and it hits like the bright artificial light after the pleasant gloaming? Remarkable, isn't it? 

What RON duo does on this tape is definitely pleasant, heady in a good way, gently enveloping mixture of guitar drones filled with delay meanderings and minimalist melodies. When you look at sun during the day it's painful, but the sundowns and sunrises are always pleasant and unfolding many nuances. That's the way this music works - it shows infinite amount of details in a seemingly simple sound. That's kind of odd to realize that blurry music can sharpen the perception, but miraculously it does. Turn the volume down, do some errands and all you'll get is muffled background (which sometimes is well-needed too), but listen to it attentively and you'll get the full story. It never stays the same, it's changing all the time. Like water surface, like leaves on the trees. One step closer and you're surrounded by beauty. This scale changing music has it's own hidden dimensions which unfolds even when you think you know it, because every listening gives some new details. Whether it's the magic of cassette format or the virtue of the music itself – it's hard to tell. Probably it's both. The only flaw of this album is its duration, but gladly there's repeat button on my deck. 

attack of the field mixtapes

field recordings mash-up mix (maybe first of its kind), that contains more than 90 recordings in one hour (exactly 01:02:03), that I taped in United Kingdom, India, Dubai, Czech etc. Its hallucination collage creating (un)probable encounters in (non)existing spaces, where ethno/electronic/psychedelic/religion music meets spoken word, musique concrete and comedy
Mixed in Excel (No added effects except few loops, slow-downs and reverses)

You may guess what to expect here from the description, but we warn you - it's definitely something hallucinative. Sounds come and go, but the overall effect accumulates through the listening, resulting in heady state. As if you returned after a long trip back home and you really wanted to return, but home looks different, like things changed... Weird feeling when everything is on its places, but something is missing. Of course it's you. But the feeling stays. So be prepared that something will change while you're missing from the real world listening to this mixtape. We warned you. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

constellation tatsu ~ spring batch

Being already known for his Sounds of the Dawn release, Alex Crispin is not a newcomer in electronic music creation. His portfolio includes such clients as BBC and Royal Academy of Arts, and even without knowing that fact, simple listening through 'Open Submission' proves the professional attitude and top-notch composition. Without being lo-fi drone-ambient or hazy vaporwave it still fits Constellation Tatsu catalog perfectly, adding one more direction to the infinitely growing, enchantingly shimmering continuum of this wonderful label. Gentle touches of electric guitar melodies, pipe organ lines and sparkling synths – everything one can expect from the good ambient music is present here. What truly amazes is how laconic this album is, it goes through many moods, keeping the journey short yet impressive. Considering the usual continuance in the genre, this is a mastery one can envy! A bit melancholic in a very good way, this tape takes you through giant halls full of light and colorful glares, through  dimly lit caves and wide open shoreline landscapes... It brings the sense of something everlasting, something elusive yet really important. I'd call it inevitable effulgence of all things seen from the bigger perspective... But you can see it yourself once you're there. 


Hatakeyama-sensei is definitely a hard worker in terms of proficiency to create sound blankets so cozy that once experienced you'll never want to part with them. It's always melodic in a sense drone music can be, yet velvety enough to loose attention on the music itself and fall through it's surface way-way deeper – to your own self, to the very core of that neurological process which defines music for our mind. What is extrinsic noise and what is music – this question bothered enough composers and philosophers, but in the end of the day intuition always wins. We can spend hours and days debating such moments, but listening to something like this tape instantly answers all these questions without words. It simply exists, that very feeling of music, of melody, of some sensation channeled through sound. It can be straightforward or abstract, but it can also be just a feeling. Basic enough for everyone to understand. Or to feel, because understanding is more about rational ways, while what I'm talking about is truly intuitive. Maybe it's some kind of Zen mastery, but listening to this tape I truly believe that I experience absolutely same sate of mind which its creator had. So I'd even don't call him creator but a medium. Gate opener to some fundamental state of being and feeling. And it's more than nice to be there.


One more Sounds of the Dawn artist and fellow contributor to our blog Daniel Guillén  aka Lunaria specializes in wide-open ambient landscapes and healing drones, in case of this tape combining them with nature sounds and choral spheres which reflect album's title and brilliant artwork just perfectly. Immediate sensation of something stellar happening spirals here up and down with enough harmonic saturation to bring gentle psychedelic effect. Something similar to which I always admired in David Parsons and Mathias Grassow's pioneering works, and in the ambient new age in general – heady drones lifting your mind up from the routine and small thoughts. Up to the planes of pure experience of the moment, to acceptance of things how they are right here and right now... Wait, that's exactly what album title says! Okay, guess it's inevitable for an ingrained spiritual drone listener like me to experience such things, but I'd take it as a good sign. Sing of quality and harmony – when every detail adds to the whole, when everything is on its own place. Travelling through never-ending spirals and fractal ornaments of this album one may truly ascend to a higher scale view – simply to behold that it was a mandala, a beautifully crafted space with bigger meaning than the sum of its parts. That meaning is wordless for me, so yes, it's all about intuitive knowledge again. Just ascend to it!


Endurance was a recent discovery for me and now its tapes are on my heavy-rotation-shelf, simply because of the feeling of endlessness they bring. Whichever release I listen to, it leaves me with the this infinite feeling of longing to something which cannot be reached – yet knowing that the process of reaching it is everything I truly want from life. "Music to heal imaginary persons" – states release page and guess that's the kind of healing this music does. Not just peace of mind or relaxation, but a reminder about that aspiration. When forgotten, it leaves routine only. But just one hint and once again this feeling grows, the inevitability of looking outside the picture. It may sound kind of sad, giving the connotations of such words as "longing". But same happens when I'm alone with nature, somewhere deep in the woods or on the sea shore (and this tape is wonderfully filled with natural sounds here and there) – sense of disunity with nature on some very basic level, impossibility of simply be, like grass, like water, knowing nothing but days and nights... This feeling that since I'm human being, I'm condemned to think, to interact, to know more than any animal needs... And to seek for even more. Okay yes, it is kinda sad. Yet, it is a gift, a purpose, an ability to dwell in many places simultaneously – right here, in my mind, in my idea of me in my mind, in my imagination, in probabilities and variants which never happen in the real world... Like the music here. It reflects the world, yet it creates another one. And the more attentive you are to it, the more detailed and real in becomes. Your personal music-induced reality. And it brings something which never happened in nature, in artist's life or imagination, even in you. Newness is everything we want, somewhere deep inside knowing that it is eternal return to the place where nothing ever happened. Maybe that's what Shade Terrarium stands for.


the ivytree

"The Ivytree, as some may know, is the project of San Franciscan musician Glenn Donaldson. In the early 2000s Glenn was a founder of the Jewelled Antler Collective, forming such projects as The Blithe Sons, Thuja, and The Skygreen Leopards, among many others. I admire the range of projects he is associated with, they all beautifully web together. Between 2001 and 2005 Donaldson published a handful of discs under the names The Ivytree and The Birdtree. These boiled down and tanned the patient, outdoor ambiences of the long-form instrumental recordings. These were slow and pastoral and pensive songs, carried by Glenn’s haunting voice: my favorite of his work. Glenn recorded outside with field-recorders and mini-discs: in forests, headlands, and tunnels of the Bay area.

I grew up listening to his recordings ~ throughout high school and college in Goleta, CA. They spark many memories: driving around beach parking lots, dragging boomboxes into creeks, camping in the mountain valleys etc. I remember once driving 5 hours up to San Francisco with a group of friends to try and get into a Giant Skyflower Band concert (another Donaldson project). It was at a bar and we were under 21 ~ so we couldn’t get in, even after trying to bribe the doorman. As you can tell, very special places in my mind and memory. My fondness for The Ivytree never dissipated, and I always dreamed of hearing more material from that time, as I know how prolific the Jewelled Antler association can be.

On a whim in 2017 I reached out to Glenn and asked him if he wanted to publish a “best-of” The Ivytree as a limited LP. This idea blossomed and provoked Glenn to dig through his vast mini-disc archive, where he unearthed some forgotten jewels. The recordings were trickling in to my email ~ one by one, each better than the last... Ranging from the Robert Wyatt-esque piano ballad “Evil is Circular” to the gentle melancholy of “All the White Plumes” that could belong on Richard Youngs’ Sapphie. Unburdened Light carries on the warm breeze and innocence of the early 2000s CDr culture. 

So our project then turned into publishing a new album of unreleased Ivytree recordings. A full circle youthful wish now ripens in my adulthood. I am honored to have stirred up the bees-nest to deliver you these tragically honeyed songs"

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

günter schlienz / h. takahashi

 "recorded 2017 using synthesizer and tape machines. the voice on "stauboper" belongs to david callahan, the voice on "coda forever" belongs to teresa smolnik. mastered by niko."

Tokyo based Architect and sound designer

Friday, May 04, 2018

tim six ~ infinity studies

Disco debut de Tim Six bajo este nombre, Infinity Studies es una colección de drones de factura exquisita y multifacetada. La música se siente artesanal y cuidadosamente confeccionada a partir de instrumentos acústicos (harmonium, shruti-box, santur, flautas, cuerdas), grabaciones de campo y tape loops, todo ello procesado electrónicamente en una alquimia en la que el autor es maestro tras muchos discos de su proyecto Creation VI.

Tras varias escuchas superficiales, me sumerjo por fin en una escucha atenta y absorbida y voy poniendo por escrito las sensaciones e imágenes que recrea en mi imaginación. "Noumenal Hierarchy" me introduce en un mundo de texturas y vibraciones orgánicas que se arremolinan en torno a mí como un túnel de luz de destino incierto pero de cualidad cálida y luminosa que me hace sentir arropado. En "On the Shore", el túnel me deja en la orilla de un mundo astral donde las olas no acaban nunca de llegar al final, en un incesante e hipnótico vaivén que se disuelve plácidamente en una nada que se revela como totalidad. "Towards Totality" pone en marcha un proceso misterioso elevando el tono energético de la conciencia que viaja mediante esa riqueza de texturas, armónicos y distintas profundidades que plantea este orgánico drone hipnótico de muchas capas. Por último, "One Night By Campfire" parece el descanso tras ese viaje a lo ignoto, un lugar de reposo en un mundo luminoso de azules, verdes y colores lechosos, de corrientes energéticas visibles que viven y respiran junto con el agua, las plantas y la tierra. Da la sensación de haber recorrido un largo camino sin haber salido del bosque, que es donde todo empieza. Ahora, todo se ve diferente, todo está vivo y respira, y la luz del fondo es visible.

Gracias Tim por el viaje y las visiones. Infinity Studies fue publicado en un lote junto con Tuluum Shimmering y Mrako-Su y está disponible en el interesantísimo sello que dirige Tim, Π.

Friday, April 27, 2018

les halles ~ zephyr

 «Zephyr takes its name from a light westerly wind, which aptly evokes the warm, weightless, whispering spirit of these beguiling electro-acoustic designs». not not fun

Baptiste Martin always been good at making pastoral landscapes with just few touches of flute loops and transparent veils of delay, but this time he surpassed himself. This record sounds way too good! It feels exactly like a gentle wind which envelops you softly from the very first seconds of playback. Nature is always like this – there's no such thing as imperfect wind or nonideal wave in the sea. Our mind tends to evaluate everything (like I just did few lines earlier) and we always seek for some abstract perfection, comparing things – and that's completely normal, that's the way mind works. Also, it would be weird to state that evaluation is bad, right? 

But my point here is that things are always have some place relatively to each other and when we say something about them, this relation is the starting point of our judgement. What I'm trying to say is that some things feel perfect as they are because then don't change given configuration. They just give you a possibility to see from another viewpoint. Thing becomes a portal to new vision. That's why this music is so perfect, its ability to realign simply amazes! Few minutes in and you're completely in a different world. Everything around remains the same, you are the same – but your perception is different. World definitely needs more music like this. Not really emotional. Not simply relaxing. Just making you more attentive to things. Not escaping reality, but accepting it. Sharpening the perception. Just like the wind reminds you to breathe deeply, just like the sun emerging from behind the clouds reminds you to look around... 

Gentleness and calmness of Zephyr may feel contrasting with our world, but carefully realigning your vision Les Halles' music gives you same feeling which wind itself probably has. Endless motion. Unstoppable flow. Of course, there are moments of stillness and moments of storming rage. But after all it's just a motion, state of being. The more steady it is, the more you see. Correlations, interconnections, cause and effect... If music is a state of air, then life is a state of mind. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

CYBEREALITYライフ ~ v i r t u a l r e s o r t ™

Of of the genre's pillars in vaporwave, "virtual resort™"  by CYBEREALITYライフ finally gets cassette reissue the newly formed TheINFINITYpool label, which already put out some no less iconic releases by Amun Dragoon, MindSpring Memories and Fujita Scale. Perhaps this album may not sound as unique as it used to be because of the clichee abundance happening with the genre these days, but CYBEREALITYライフ was one of those who introduced them in wide use. Virtual vacations to the cyber-space resorts already were in 90s, in Roger Zelazny's epic book "Donnerjack" and this album may be a really nice companion for such fantasies – advertisement breaks, weather channel's music, lounge jazz, 80s to 90s, subtly ironic atmosphere of new age and futuristic chill-out... Cheerful atmosphere of consumption, the rhythm of the buyer, briskly moving from one store to another in the brightly lit endless corridor of a shopping mall... A virtual paradise for ideal consumers only!

listen / support (sold out)

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

marta smilga ~ lunar maria, vol. 1

«'Lunar Maria' was created in Marta SmiLga's home studio on a barge in Riga across many cold autumn nights, when the sky was clear, full of shimmering stars and bright, embracing moonlight». ~ crash symbols

When I saw this tape for a moment my thought was "oh, new Lunar Miasma album!", probably because this is something that is not going to happen anymore and I was a huge fan of those psych drone analogue synth space excursions from Panos Alexiadis. But it's from Latvia this time, and Marta SmiLga is surely are well-experienced synth explorer – so when I listened to this album, it seemed like I'm there again, on this nostalgic road towards stars... Guide has changed, but the space is the same. The pace is slow, not much of psychedelia is going on, we are experiencing more thorough and scientific approach. Yet, it's as breathtaking as it was when I was five and saw an astronomy textbook for the first time... Yellowed pages with galaxies, planets, comets, asteroids and of course – lunar map. Gasping admiration. I remember telling my mom that there are seas on the Moon (and even one ocean!), but those are not real seas and that Lunokhod went there and people went there, and... And she was saying okay, okay, good... Ten years later I was out every clear night, sitting with my self-made telescope, sketching lunar surface in my observations journal, all those craters, mountains and seas – watching how shadow slowly changes the picture on the edge of light and dark... 

Yes, music can provoke a lot of nostalgia! And that's the beauty of it, the miracle of memory and perception. Listening to slowly changing delicate compositions on this tape brings this subtle feeling of childish excitement mixed with awe and admiration, which was probably best captured in Kubrick's Space Odyssey. Gazing into a deepness of the Universe and realizing equal profoundness of your own mind. It's perfectly reflected by ringing resonance of Marta SmiLga's drones and tiny detailed veils of microsounds around them. Thin surface of events around barely perceived vastness makes all the sense. No matter how cold or dark space is, our mind finds it strangely attractive because it mirrors something inside us, because we are same thing... And same thing happens with music here. Isn't it wonderful?