microphones in the trees

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

baldruin ~ vergessene träume

«Johannes is quite a regular guy following a well-arranged, unhurried 24/7 routine. Given this almost boring day in, day out one might wonder how he manages to piece together his colorful, imaginative and meticulously manufactured sonic miniatures? Well, it’s obviously that kind of untroubled artistic existence that leads to a mindset to create a slightly unsettling music quite far from the artist’s own experience. It’s not real, it’s phantasy. It’s art, it’s entertainment – and it’s meant to be fun...» ~ ikuisuus

It's not that easy to make creepy things fun, you know. Of course, there are thousands of horror movies which are somehow both, yet they may be boring as well, especially if you have seen a lot. Previous Johannes' work was everything but fun, it was creepy and catastrophic in a full measure. (Okay it was fun, but only if you are experienced noise & forest-folk user). Here, on the once again amazingly designed vinyl record, that story seems to continue but with a tone of irony. Small village zombie-apocalypse has happened (classical scene from low-budget horror arises) but it wasn't that bad at all. Now everything is back to the way it was, the daily routine continues – with some weirdness about it though. Some people are still working where they used to work, the others can't because they don't have legs, for instance. All food is rotten in the markets but the chips are still fine. Carousels at the amusement park are running, but with half-dead corpses sitting and staring into nowhere... Holding hands, like they're on a date. Probably they'd be happy to have some ice-cream, it may be refreshing. for their dead minds. But all milk is sour and the ice has melted. Sounds not so funny though, if you really think about it, but you should really be listening to the album by now, and combined with music it may have a completely different effect.

Melancholic notes and sudden bursts of string psychedelia, cold synths and unvarnished rhythms of childish percussion – Baldruin's music functions like self-driving mechanism, perfectly working despite obvious faults, seemingly unnecessary parts and weird engineering solutions made by its creator. Yet, it's alive! And it's purpose is unknown. It may sweeten your evening like a purring cat or can be as dangerous as the window left opened during the Samhain. When you sleep and one of your hands is on the floor. And this thing is under your bed... Or maybe it's already in the kitchen, talking to the brownie? It's hard to know their intentions, but the intention of Baldruins body of work seems to be a constant disillusioning the fact that our world is simple and devoid of magic. When there's nothing weird around you, why not to create it? Maybe all the magic needs are someone to channel it to our world. Only if that's a pure intention and self-made domestic rituals. And it doesn't matter if anyone sees what you channeled. Just be calm and careful, don't tell anyone about gnomes in your cellar. Let them eat all pickles. You won't need them in a dreamland...  

It's actually the same with music reviewing – you hear and see something in the sounds, you tell about it, and people start wondering if that's true. But the magic here is the fact that nothing is carved in the stone. Or even if it is, the stone itself is fluid, ephemeral, it radiates drones and affects the surroundings by the clatter of unknown origin. Don't you realize? We are in a dream. Try to read what is written there again. Where? On the stone. Which stone, what are you talking about? About wild goose wearing green gloves. Ah, I see... Oh, she's sooo beautiful, I'm gonna faint! Please, faint – I made a fresh bed for you out of these gentle bells and drones. Have a good sleep, we are going to the amusement park tomorrow! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

bedroom ~ moons

Bedroom – a resident of the already legendary label Tranquility Tapes, is back at Fluere Tapes with the new album! Blissfully enveloping symphony made of tape-softened atmospheres. Like a shoebox of old polaroids found in the attic of parents house, these compositions cast a pleasant melancholy, outlining smoothly the shapes of half-forgotten images of childhood. Notes of piano blend into a viscid syrup, slowly diffluent in transparent waves, synth lines break into shimmering fragments for one moment to gather into powerful clusters of energies a little bit later, tunneling and preparing the head for the perception of cosmic energies. No matter how we are attached to the environment, memories, emotions - it's crucial not to forget about the infinity of the universe, and to come into contact with it from time to time.

There is a lot of music in the world both "earthly" and extraterrestrial, absolutely detached from mundane reality – but on this cassette, everything falls into the integral picture. Pastoral compositions of the first side seem to be moving away gradually, we are already at the height of the bird's flight, then we see the stars already twinkling – just to shine with a full force supported by the springy pulsation of the beat on the beginning of B side and to disperse into thousands of multicolored streams in psychedelic flight through the dimensions in a very characteristic for Tranquility Tapes sound, which will surely please fans of Cliffsides, Afterlife or Lunar Miasma. In the end, everything returns back to earth, the circle closes, history repeats itself – just as the Moon hints us with its phases, simply as our earthly life passes. Nonetheless, in endless repetitions, nuances and variations are born, and in every cycle, there is something that will never happen again.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

kenji kihara / joe fujinoki / h. takahashi

With every new cassette released by Inner Islands, the world gets a little more peace. It feels absolutely right (though a bit surreal) that peaceful music recorded on tape and released in a small edition can make some impact on the surroundings. Even if no one listens to it, simply the fact of its existence. Maybe it's something in my mind, spoiled with esoteric teachings and drone music, yet it feels true. This album is a seed waiting for the right time. It contains everything needed to become a tree, a huge interconnectedness of colors, juices, movements, powers, stillness, shade, fruits... Between water, earth, and sky, nurtured and strengthened by wind - even until it's death in someone's fireplace, turning into smoke and ash. It will pass along this path once again when you hit play button next time. It's so miraculous if you think about it, music existing in a timeless dimension, though its nature is the time itself. Feels like everytime tape spins unfolding these vibrations to the air, it creates itself from the simple but elegant formula. Starting to sound familiar after a while, yet not exactly same. Maybe I'm going esoteric again but with music like "scenes of scapes", a strong feeling of renewal appears. Like autumn rain washes away summer's dust, the music here releases unnoticeable incense that cleanses the air and body with every single breath. Volatile music with a deep harmony hidden inside. 


After the long sleep comes awakening. The same state of mind, but a different reality – or vice versa? Deepest impressions are like self-containing virtual realities inside our mind – dreams or memories, both can be vivid and alive once you put a bit of energy into them. Every time we remember something it is a new experience and each time our mind adds new details to the picture and, at some point, it's not recognizable – what's was real and what's not... We all know it perfectly, but barely notice such things, used to the way it is. Same goes for music – our memory often holds not the actual sounds we heard and not those sensations in detail, but something quite subtle – we can call an overall mood, yet it's something more elusive than we think. Repetitive sounds and drones are meant to play with this phenomenon, changing the ground behind the given listening habit, putting us into a state of constant levitation. It's melody but it's not, you hear repeating loops, but they're different every time. This tape isn't that psychedelic as it may appear from the thoughts above, but its caries one very prominent quality of minimalist music – the ability to bring much more music than sounds from which it's made of. As well, as memories or dreams. Combined, they produce miracles. 


Muzan Editions is another place of admiration for any cassette enthusiast and with H. Takahashi it becomes even more comfortable. Loops and blips, gentle progressions of sound which envelop your head into a high-sensitive web of vibrations. Despite the track names like "Despair" or "Loser", it sounds incredibly chill and cozy, as if you are riding a driverless car which takes you to the pastoral countryside. Let it exist only inside a tiny snowball standing on the mantel. Little connotations of tiny sounds hidden behind the simply pulsating rhythm are like snowflakes on the rearview mirror. You look back and you see no road - it vanishes behind the wheels, turning into a white canvas. This music leaves no traces but same elusive sensations as the sun through the leaves of the trees. Maybe it's something highly subjective, but this elusiveness haunts every time – no need to catch it, no meaning intended. It simply exists for a moment and then it's gone. It's like trying to remember a dream when it slips away. Let it go, you'll have another one again. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

magnétophonique ~ une cartographie idéale

Une Cartographie Idéale collects 12 gems from the Magnétophonique catalog to map a nuanced portrait of his evocative mirage exotica, wavering between bliss and abandonment, paradise and prison. Isolation and island fantasy intermingle in bewitching delirium, the sound of waves and tropical birds refracted through heat-stroked haze while melting cassettes unspool refracted melodies into lost horizons. Escape is heaven – until it isn’t; in the artist’s words: “You’ll never belong here". ~ not not fun

Tropical ambient always seems escapist in its haziness and nostalgia for the places you never been, but in case of this tape (and considering its name), it's rather an exquisite critique of escapism. What feels like an ordinary story about lush islands hidden somewhere far from the modern world's haste, slowly turns into a philosophical quest to the realms of what is human race has become. Yes, we love nature, somewhere deep inside, even though we destroy it slowly, intentionally or not. But this hazy sound realm rises rather not an ecological question – it hints that human being has become separated from its origin once and for all. What is the ideal map if not the territory itself? 

Slowly building a mesmerizing meandering around the listener to the state of dazed psychedelia, Magnétophonique leaves us without means to salvation. Here we are, finally alone with nature and what will we do? It may seem blissful – to get lost in those jungles, to rest without the need of being online all the time, but will this reality accept us? The Only Survivor Is Now Alone On The Island and it's doubtful that island is friendly because actually nature never was friendly to human creatures... That's why we started to build cities in first place. That's why we are capable of enjoying only the idea of wild unspoiled nature, riding through it on some vehicles or hiking through it with a proper set of tools we need for survival. A tropical paradise where one may find comfort and ease has always been utopic. And we love it and look for it everywhere, except nature itself. Human civilization could have taken a different path and maybe then you would read these lines from the organically grown smartphone with photosynthetic cells instead of pixels. But the way it is now, leaves us with a beautiful mirage only, a picture of tropicalia fueled by psychedelic sounds, lo-fi field recordings and tape hiss. It's definitely a pleasant image worth of hours of explorations on repeat, but... as it said earlier, you'll never belong here.

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. 

Friday, August 03, 2018

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"