microphones in the trees: 2018

Thursday, December 06, 2018

virtual dream plaza / useless / saturn's daughter

When vaporwave legend t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 declared that he's opening a cassette label, people were sure there will be something vaporwave related. Since Mr. Telepath himself is responsible for introducing quite a few vaporwave subgenres, many were convinced that we about to experience some huge doses of slushwave, hypnagogia, Japanese smooth jazz edits or, most certainly, some ambient vaporwave blissfulness mastered by Telepath in his Virtual Dream Plaza project - especially since this name was borrowed for the label. The latter turned out to be the truth, but to even bigger and more pleasant degree (at least for me personally) - the newborn label started to release not just vaporambient (which usually is just way too much slowed down version of classic vaporwave), but some real quality ambient and drone music made without sampling and stealing. Which seems to be the next (and well-expected) step in the development of vaporwave scene.

Looks like history made a circle once again, but that doesn't really matter here, especially when you tune in to these drones. Drone music has always been a point of return to any "musical research projects" (say experimental genres) and took many forms even throughout the years this blog exists. Once an artist starts to look deeper and gravitates to the source, there will be drone, an endless field of enormous potentials. Vaporwave or not, millennials, new agers, hippies or scientists - there's no significant difference between the drones, say, Eliane Radigue recorded in the '70s and Telepath did in '10s. Of course, we can argue the sound, instrumental approach, the context and so on but that would lead us to nonsensical arguments like "it used to be better before" or even worse elitism. What is crucial here is the intention, the mindset which brings the artist to taking long duration excursions inside the realm of a single tone and which mindset it brings to us, the listeners.  

Translating his Virtual Dream Plaza moniker to Japanese and joining the tape with Useless with Vaperror's Jeff Cardinal behind it, this tape presents us a fresh vision of the drone music. Technically it may sound pretty much same as it was back in the '80s when Robert Rich recorded Trances/Drones or many other modern drone-ambient projects, yet intuitively it brings an important message from the "vaporwave" (read postmodernist) world. The future is now. It always was. But right here and right now it is looking at us through the ocean of possibilities. We can see its eyes. We can play as many games as we want, we can do whatever we want with the planet and our lives... but in the eternity of the parallel universes, there always will be the future where the harmony was achieved. And it guides us through the peripeteia of existence giving us hints to its omnipresence and inevitability. One of those hints is the drone music for sure. And it guides us through the eternity of multiverse. 

When the drone music hints not just to eternity and transcendence but also weaves its tapestries back down to the Earth, usually term New Age comes into play, implying certain use of the music. Though it always was present through music history, the idea of Sound being able to heal or to help with meditation or anything still faces a lot of misreadings. Of course, there are artists which are okay with the exploitative element in this equation, while the others insist on the idea of music being self-sufficient. Yet, quite often we can see the music being made for certain purposes which may affect the perception of it, giving the listener a one-dimensional experience. Certainly, no one takes seriously some "Music for Spa and Meditation" these days and if you are familiar with vaporwave agenda, you'll probably see such title as ironic and maybe even buy it to listen to it through that irony. But what are you going to do if you'll really enjoy it? It seems that somehow irony became a necessary tool in our world of multiplying meanings and it infects the music to the degree when one can say "in the world where vaporwave happened - everything is vaporwave now". Nothing is taken as it is, statements are vague. Saying that music is self-sufficient in such setting is nonsense. All is vapor, all is ambient, just a background for some other things which are backgrounds too. No center, endless drift through sensations... 

That's why the words like healing or transcendence can be just vague labels to tag this music somehow, and that's why the initial New Age idea of music being a form of spiritual practice meets the irony today and dissipates in the air. Without the irony, we will have to believe that some of the backgrounds are actually foundations and some of the words are actually mean what they supposed to. And having that coordinate system set, we'll be able to transcend somewhere else. Endless drift stops and we start to see things clear, transparent. So if the irony is kind of glasses to makes things vague, the transcendence is taking them off. Drone music works this way, and that is healing. When you drift through the endless weavings of Saturn's Daughter's drones, there always a possibility to slip through them to a completely different level. Every tiny sound which accompanies these drones can be an entry point for you. At this level it doesn't really matter how long these drones are and what happens around them - they are built so exquisitely, that putting them on repeat one can easily transcend the sense of time and spend a whole day in this state. And letting yourself do that would be the best gift you can give yourself. Stopping the drift of emotions, thoughts, and meanings. Letting all things become transparent. Call it meditation, healing, transcendence, magic... but it feels that for our mind it exactly the same as drone to music. The point of eternal return and eternal stay. The possibility of everything and at the same time - nothing. 

It is really inspiring to see such magically powerful sounds released on a newborn label from vaporwave world. It really puts some bigger perspective on this scene which is often referred to as a joke. Yes, experimental cassette scene made a full circle once again but a closer look reveals a spiral. And it goes upwards with some beautifully ringing overtones.

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"

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.

Thursday, April 26, 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?  

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

zazz ~ soft harbinger

"Zazz is the long distance collaborative project of Ang Wilson and Braeyden Jae. Out of mutual admiration for each other’s musicality and expression, the project came to life when the two decided to develop a creative dialogue through sound, sending files back and forth with no pre-determined aesthetic or agenda. That space of not knowing and openness nurtures the trust and respect that guides the project. It allows for an honesty and presence that can be difficult to tap into when the course has already been charted. 

Soft Harbinger follows the thread of gentle and pastoral work that Braeyden has pursued with his project, softest, and that Ang has been known for, both with their solo project, teasips, and with Electric Sound Bath. Soft Harbinger is the debut album from Zazz and it’s a beautiful opening." ~ inner islands

Vernal equinox is definitely a good day to share some peaceful music with the world and honestly I can't think better place to look for it than Inner Islands label. For many years now it keeps this delicate flow of acoustic sensations which adds something meaningful to our world. Just a little bit of harmony... 

When David Bohm, one of the quantum physics pioneers, discussed his theories with attendees, he described our world as a hologram and the difference between hologram and usual picture is that each part of hologram keeps the whole picture. So if you tear a regular photo you'll have fragments which can't really tell you what was captured on the original (especially if it's really small fragments), while each piece of broken hologram will have same picture in it, just more blurred than original. Each tiny piece of it will be same, just less detailed... When I read about it in my childhood, guess my life was irreversibly changed that moment. If the Universe is holographic in its nature, it means each tiniest part of it is the universe itself. And of course I knew about it before – metaphorically, from tales, myths, from poetry... But this was science, huh! 

But yes, your yoga teacher or psychologist are right when they say each person is a universe. But important part here (from physics) is that if even smaller part contains the whole picture, it can be so blurry that you'd never tell that something's there. It's hidden, it's out of reach. Parts must be connected, integrated and here lies another trick moment – there is a big difference between a part and a fragment. A bunch of letters may create some words but you need a concept of harmony to create poetry of it. Rhythm. Waves. Patterns... There is no music in the world until the listener appears. A mind with an idea of harmony. And that's the hologram, the picture of the whole, the music made of natural noises, the very beginning of it. 

Of course we don't need to go metaphysical to enjoy music. We even gone so far that we can see harmony in something which was considered dumb noise only a few decades ago. I guess that's inevitable process, that's seeing the bigger picture. Following the patterns of harmony. I'll leave the question about nature of the harmony itself because I'm trying to talk about music here and music is obviously my favorite thing in this Hologram. Simply because it doesn't need words to make you feel these things. It always connects you with other people, events, places and sensations, you become something bigger than you was. And in case of Zazz it does that thing so delicately, that you may lose any thoughts just after few minutes spent inside these blissfully repeating patterns of universal harmony... If each musical track is a hologram then these two sides are filled with so many things that you'll need an eternity to explore them all. It's just like a window into the wider space. Wide as world itself. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

inner travels ~ yonder

Flickering music at the edge of natural and abstract. Invisible structure of morning air. Web of tiniest threads connecting perception with so-called reality... New tape at Sounds of the Dawn it's always a revelation and each Inner Travels' work is an expanding universe of intuitive knowledge about phenomena we usually avoid to notice in our daily routine. All these barely noticeable nuances, a multidimensional space between what we call "myself" and "everything". You know they are endless, but it's your personal infinity, your own universe created on the edge of what you see and what you think you see. The game of life and death. What you believe and what is hidden. 

Despite its purely electronic nature I always see Inner Travels as music about nature. Yet it's not simply landscaping or ecologically inspired – the weaving of the sound here is abstract enough, yet with a strong rhythmic background. I'd say it's the air chiming. All kinds of air: morning, evening, air above lakes... But it's not about the air – like a book is not about pages and letters. When I'm trying to express that feeling Yonder gives me, it vanishes... When this music was born, it did same thing. Nuances of the perception, the miracle of memory which we often take for granted. Something was here for a moment and then vanished, but it lives in our perception... Not just a static picture, but vivid object, living thing. Of course we have a mechanism in mind which says "that is real and this is not". "It's just a memory", "it's just a dream"... Safety mechanisms. But listening to Inner Travels I feel like this distinction dissolves in the ripples of sounds. It's all same thing, one thing. No matter how you call it, real or made up, it lives its own life, it has its own infinity of nuances, true miracle! Just like everything else. 

rhucle ~ handmade ocean

Since 2014, young ambient producer Yuta Kudo aka Rhucle managed to publish more than fifty albums full of calmest ambience. You can safely trust this music to lull your children, use it as a growth stimulant for domestic plants or simply put it on 24-hour repeat without fear that something suddenly will change dramatically there. Rhucle albums sound absolutely same! It took me two years to start to distinguish them from each other (and I even published one), but even now I will not agree for a blind test. We all know Celer, Hakobune and Hatakeyama-san, and Yuta clearly studied with the best, but, in fact, what he does with his music is even more diverse in a sense. Yes, in every Rhucle album you'll hear sea waves, whispering springs, brooks and all other kind of water element. And his ambient sounds behave in similar fashion - instead of a static drone, Rhucle threads simple tones into undulating patterns causing the resonant frequencies to tremble - just like ripples on the water surface or streams inside a river body. But where Will Long ascribes another beautiful concept or situation, in order to justify another portion of the humming sounds with some reason (doing that, apparently, for himself - for me it's absolutely fine when music even doesn't have a title), Yuta won't do anything - same simple titles like Quiet Moments or Someday in the Rain, same sounds and the same murmuring water - absolutely pastoral, truly Japanese impressionism.

And this is his strength and his courage - not to try to surprise anyone with something, not to compete whose drone is more fat or deep... Just doing what he likes most. And repeating it again and again to the perfection. It's absolutely natural. The river flows every day just as it did yesterday. And maybe, at first glance, nothing changes in it. But you should slow down, calm down and just start looking - and you start to notice how thousands of tiny grains of sand change patterns every minute. As the reflection of the clouds trembles on the surface of the water. How infinite variability is combined with the disarming saturation of statics... This definitely has something Japanese and generally eastern in it - where we see simple, everyday things, Japanese find an infinite number of shades, nuances, meanings. And makes art of this. Maybe I'm just being stereotypical, but It seems to me that Rhucle mastered zen of ambient music - maybe just for himself, not necessarily for everyone... But that's how it usually happens, isn't it?