Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012 pt. 2 - ambient version

As I said in my previous post, I spent more time listening to "normal" music than usual this year.  But hat's not to say there weren't some fine ambient recordings released in 2012. 

Back in October I did a mix of my favorite ambient artists of all time and three of those artists appear on the 2012 best of list.  Topping that list is Kyle Bobby Dunn.  He continues to put out absolutely perfect ambient music.  Very much like 2010's "A Young Person's guide...", the new album, "Bring Me The Head Of Kyle Bobby Dunn", creates waves of sound & drones that calm & transport.

Here's the entire list of the best ambient/electronic/whatever of 2012, with audio samples when available...

1) Kyle Bobby Dunn - Bring Me The Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn(low point)

2) Bersarin Quartett - II(Denovali Records)

3) Mohn - Mohn(Kompakt)

4) 36 - Lithea(3six Recordings)

5) Taylow Deupree - Faint(12k)

6) Forrest Fang - Animism(Projekt)

7) Loops of Your Heart - And Never Ending Nights(Magazine)

8) Loscil - Sketches from New Brighton(Kranky)

9) Sonmi451 - Four Peaks(Time Released Sound)

10) Steve Roach & Dirk Serries -  low volume music(Projekt)

11) Spheruleus - Cyanometry(Tessellate)

12) V.A. - lost in the humming air (music inspired by harold budd) (Oktaf)

13) Willamette - Always in Postscript(Own Records)

14) Marconi Union - Different Colours(Just Music)

15) Eivind Aarset - Dream Logic(ECM)
dream logic player

16) Nils Frahm - Screws(Erased Tapes)

17) John Adams - Harmonielehre - Short Ride in a Fast Machine(SFS Media)

18) VA - Air Texture Volume II(Air Texture)

19) Andy Stott - Luxury Problems(Modern Love)

20) Peter James - Landfall(Relaxed Machinery)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best of 2012, part 1

Over the last couple of years, I've been listening to more & more "normal" music.  By "normal" I mean music that is not ambient or electronic.  Most of it I guess would qualify as indie music.  

I think my changing taste is due to the influence of my daughter & a few coworkers.  Maybe it's also due to accumulating such huge amounts of ambient music over the years that it all starts to blend together after awhile.  I still listen to a lot of ambient & electronic music and I'll have a list of my favorite ambient/electronic records of the year soon.  I will definitely keep making ambient mixes with some beat driven & vocal mixes sprinkled in.

My son is trying to turn me on to electronic dance/trance/dubstep/club music and even some hip hop.  As a matter of fact one of my top albums is a hip hop record from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - "The Heist".  It's a ton of fun and has one of my favorite songs of year on it - "Same Love"That tune will be on another list of great songs from 2012.

For my top album of the year I kind of cheated.  Andrew Bird released two fabulous albums this year, "Break It Yourself" and "Hands of Glory".  "Hands" is sort of a companion piece to the first album so I combined them together as my favorite of the year(they are sold together as a set now).

Recorded in a weeklong session at his barn outside of Chicago, the songs were performed essentially live.  That approach gives the music an intimate feel.  I had always been aware of Bird's music but was never really sucked into his world.  But these deceptively simple folk songs combined with his beautiful violin playing absolutely blew me away.  I am now on a mission to listen to his entire back catalog.

An album that I really liked but am surprised to not see it on more end of the year lists is "History Speaks" by Deep Sea Diver.  Front-woman Jessica Dobson has played bass and keys with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, guitar for the Shins and Beck.  Just one great song after another.  Check out the link below for an excellent video from Sound on Sound.

Deep Sea Diver : In Black & White 

 One of several surprises this year was the album "Home Again" by Michael Kiwanuka.  It's possibly the most "normal" album I've listened to in years.  It has the wonderful retro, soulful feel to it.  The recording obviously is trying to sound like it's 40 years old but it doesn't feel forced, the music is completely natural.  It sounds like something I've been listening to my whole life.

 Another surprise was Neil Young's "Psychedelic Pill".  Some epic tunes that go on forever and are all the more awesome for it.  Here's a short version of "Walk Like a Giant"(long version is much better)...

One last sound sample I couldn't resist posting because they are a local band from Milwaukee.  They are Vic and Gab, a songwriting sister duo playing indie pop/rock with nice harmonies.


 I think that's probably enough babbling on for now.  I'll post a list of ambient favs soon.  And a list of favorite songs, some of which I've been playing on continuous loop for weeks now.  Wow, it was a good year for music!  I haven't had this much fun discovering, playing & really getting into new music for years.  Anyone who says there is no more good music out there is either an idiot, not really trying or both.

Here's the list...

Best of 2012:
1) Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself & Hands of Glory
2) Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams
3) Neil Young - Psychedelic pill
4) Deep Sea Diver - History Speaks
5) Of Monsters & Men - My Head is an Animal
6) Father John Misty – Fear Fun
7) The Lumineers - The Lumineers
8) Michael Kiwanuka  - Home Again
9) Best Coast - The Only Place
10) The Avett Brothers - The Once and Future Carpenter
11) Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Here
12) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist
13) Arrange - New Memory
14) Grizzly Bear - Shields
15) The xx - Coexist
16) Elbow - Dead in the Boot
17) Patrick Watson - Adventures in Your Own Backyard
18) DIIV - Oshin
19) Sun Kil Moon - Among the Leaves
20) Tallest Man on Earth - There’s No Leaving Now
21) David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant
22) Vic and Gab - Bridges and Guns
23) Daniel Rossen - Silent Hour/Golden Mile
24) Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits
25) Alt-J - An Awesome Wave 


Monday, December 10, 2012

Headphone Commute...and darkness came

The awesome folks over at Headphone Commute asked me to do a special mix for them and of course I could not refuse.

The mix is special because it is helping promote a fantastic new compilation they have put together.  It's called "...and darkness came" and you can find out about it here...
Headphone Commute ...and darkness came.

The compilation features 80 tracks(yes, 80 tracks!) from great artists in ambient, modern classical and experimental music.  Artists like Max Richter, Clint Mansell, offthesky, Julien Neto, Ólafur Arnalds, Dakota Suite, Christopher Willits, Loscil, Lawrence English, Maps And Diagrams, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Nils Frahm, Talvihorros, Bersarin Quartett, Antonymes, Simon Scott, Dustin O’Halloran, Machinefabriek, :papercutz, and many, many, more.

100% of the proceeds are donated to two charitable organizations, Doctors Without Borders and The Humane Society, to help all those affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Please head over to Headphone Commute and think about picking up this excellent compilation.

[ s t r e a m ]  [ d o w n l o a d ]   [ i t u n e s ] 

T R A C K L I S T :
  • 00:00    Yuki Murata - Prologue
  • 04:34    James Murray - Still Waters Rise
  • 08:55    Monolyth & Cobalt + Évo Lüthi - Dust Off
  • 13:25    riverrun - Maallinen Kuu
  • 16:00    Antonymes - Elegy IV
  • 20:05    Julien Neto - Los Cien Enamorados
  • 23:15    M.Cadoo - a.m.
  • 26:45    Jóhann Jóhannsson - Melodia (iv) (Live at Ancienne Belgique)
  • 28:15    Brambles - Reflected Consciousness
  • 30:45    Tomoyoshi Date, Corey Fuller, Marcus Fischer and Simon Scott - Quartet(intro)
  • 33:20    Simon Scott - For Betty
  • 35:15    offthesky - Still Breathing
  • 38:50    Dakota Suite - Now I Am Lost
  • 44:20    Christoph Berg - Silence
  • 46:56    Erik K Skodvin - Amber & Glass
  • 49:05    Honig + Templeton - Reginald Cousins
  • 52:10    Takahiro Kido - Sweet Silince
  • 55:45    Minus Pilots - Illuminating The Dark Fields
  • 58:30    Dustin O'Halloran - Fragile #2
  • 1:01:15    end

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Mixcloud vote

This post is just a blatant plea for votes.

Mixcloud is having their annual end of the year voting for best Cloudcast.  So if anyone is so inclined please click below to go to my Mixcloud page then there will be a vote button to click on.  Unfortunately, just like last year, in order to vote you have to share on Facebook.  I hate that.  So if you don't want to share to vote I totally get that.  It's obvious that Mixcloud doesn't really care about the votes they just want the free facebook pub & linkage.  Grrrrr.

Anyway thanks for another great year of music & mixes.  Hopefully I can squueze in one or two more mixes before the end of December.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

asleep at the piano

Looking back over the last six years of mixes, the piano has been the featured instrument in many of the the tracks.  I guess it goes all the way back to Ambient #1 : Music for Airports.  The piano is a perfect instrument for the contemplative, ambient music in the mixes found here.

As far as I can tell, I've done four mixes devoted exclusively to the piano.  They are...

1) Piano Mix
2) Piano Mix 2007
3) Antique Sunlight
4) pno 2010

This fifth installment, "asleep at the piano," is very similar to the others.  Although this one may be a bit more ambient in nature. 

I was happy to squeeze in two tracks related to Harry Towel, the man behind the brilliant net label Audio Gourmet.  The first by Talvihorros is from the 2011 Audio Gourmet release "Just a Moment" which you can find here...Just a Moment.  The other cut is from Harry's recording artist guise, Spheruleus.  The track, Blueprint, is from his album on Tessellate Recordings called Cyanometry.  You can find that one here...Cyanometry at Bandcamp.  You can find some of Harry's excellent mixes on Mixcloud here...Spheruleus on Mixcloud and here...Groundingsounds on Mixcloud.


[ s t r e a m ]  [ d o w n l o a d ]   [ i t u n e s ] 

T R A C K L I S T :
  •  00:00    Sissors & Sellotape - untitled #1
  • 01:51    Cepia - Malcesine
  • 03:23    Jon Hopkins - water
  • 04:20    Cluster & Eno - ho renomo
  • 07:45    Ruben Garcia - Rainy Day
  • 13:15    Tim Hecker - sketch 1
  • 17:20    Tomoyoshi Date - the sound of the moon
  • 20:10    Antonymes - 301210
  • 24:50    Loscil - City Hospital
  • 28:28    Willitts & Sakamoto - Reticent Reminiscence
  • 32:00    Talvihorros - Hallowed
  • 33:15    A Winged Victory for the Sullen - minuet for a cheap piano
  • 36:00    The Beautiful Schizophonic and Yui Onodera - nubian clouds over Saskia
  • 41:00    Spheruleus - Blueprint
  • 44:25    Janek Schaefer - eyrie of the phoenix
  • 45:30    Harold Budd & John Foxx - After all this Time
  • 50:25    Sissors & Sellotape - untitled #4
  • 52:15    Tape Loop Orchestra - the word on my lips is your name
  • 57:25    Jon Hopkins - the end
  • 02:06    END

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Morning Music vol. 4 - To Speak of Solitude

Oops!  It's Sunday night & I'm posting a mix called Sunday Morning Music.  Oh well, play it next Sunday while reading the paper with a cup of coffee.

This is the fourth in the Sunday morning series.  It follows a similar pattern - some ambient, some vocal tunes, some jazz - all of it nice & relaxing.  Perfect for a Sunday morning.  This morning I was actually able to sip coffee out on the deck(shown in the pic). Not bad for the 11th of November in Wisconsin.

Two of my favorite cuts in the mix are the two tracks(End of the World & The Smallest Piece) from the soundtrack of "Beasts of the Southern Wild."  I'm o very fond of the cuts from Geoffrey Oreyma & Andrew Bird.  The latest release from Andrew Bird will definitely be on my year-end,best-of list.


[ s t r e a m ]  [ d o w n l o a d ]   [ i t u n e s ] 

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Brambles - To Speak of Solitude
  • 03:30    The xx - Angels
  • 06:11    The Boats - The Ballad For The Girl On The Moon
  • 09:40    The Bark Psychosis - Pendulum Man
  • 16:40    Trespassers William - Believe Me
  • 20:46    Yo Yo Ma & Chris Thile - Franz & The Eagle
  • 24:20    Geoffrey Oryema - Makambo
  • 28:55    Pat Metheny/Steve Reich - Electric Counterpoint
  • 32:09    Philip Glass & Nosaj Thing - Knee 1
  • 35:35    Charles Lloyd Quartet - Dwija
  • 40:40    Clarke - Black Stone
  • 42:34    Benh Zeitlin, Dan Romer, The Lost Bayou Ramblers - End of the World
  • 44:00    Benh Zeitlin, Dan Romer, The Lost Bayou Ramblers - The Smallest Piece
  • 45:25    Andrew Bird - Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses
  • 51:25    Horse Feathers - Summer for Capricorns
  • 54:28    David Sylvian - Camp Fire Coyote Country
  • 58:00    Nils Frahm - Sol

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

s t r e t c h e d beyond recognition

This is a very slow, droney kind of mix.  All the music has been stretched or slowed down so much that the tunes are unrecognizable from the originals.

I used a great little program called Paul Stretch which you can find here...

It take music and stretches or slows it down dramatically but still keeps it very musical.  I've used the program a few times for mixes in the past but never for creating an entire mix.

All the tracks are slowed by at least 10x to 15x.  The slowed down result is perfect for meditation, sleeping or daydreaming.  It's kind of amazing to me how it was possible to create something entirely new from the source material.  Steve Reich's Six Marimbas seemed to work well because it's so repetitive that you still got a sense of movement even slowed way down.


[ s t r e a m ]  [ d o w n l o a d ]   [ i t u n e s ] 

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Cliff Martinez - First Sleep
  • 05:30    Steve Reich - Six Marimbas
  • 12:15    Noto & Sakamoto - By This River
  • 21:00    Anonymous 4 - medie noctis tempus
  • 21:40    Tangerine Dream - Tangram
  • 34:45   Steve Reich - Six Marimbas
  • 52:50    Budd & Eno - A Stream with Bright Fish
  • 1:00:00    end

Thursday, October 18, 2012

illusions of autumn

I wanted to get this mix in while it is still autumn.  I originally did this mix last fall for the good folks over at Headphone Commute.  If you've not been there, head over to their great site for reviews, news, sound clips & of course mixes.

The music in the mix sort of has an autumnal feel to it at least I hope so considering the title is “Illusions of Autumn.”  Not sure what qualifies a tune as being autumnal, I guess it’s a case of “I know it, when I hear it.” 

I was glad to use the Arve Henriksen tune, I love his stuff but sometimes it doesn't fit in a straight ambient mix.  But it works well here, it really has a nice fall color feel to me.

Enjoy autumn while you can, winter is will be here soon.

T R A C K L I S T :
  • 00:00    Nils Frahm - Old Thought
  • 04:00    Cliff Martinez - Rubber Head
  • 06:25    Benoît Pioulard - Malick
  • 08:45    Daniel Lanois - Matador
  • 13:05    King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - First Watch
  • 15:10    Harold Budd - Come Back to Me in Dreams
  • 16:55    Arve Henriksen - Sorrow and It's Opposite
  • 19:00    Steve Tibbetts - Nine Doors Breathing Space
  • 20:55    Arve Henriksen - Sorrow and It's Opposite(continuation)
  • 21:40    Andrey Kiritchenko - Agravic Illusion
  • 26:50    Animal Hospital - Nostalgia
  • 28:00    The Fun Years - Fucking Milwaukee's Been Hesher Forever
  • 31:15    Bexar Bexar - n.r.o.t.
  • 34:05    Daniel Lanois - Sketches
  • 38:00    Antonymnes meets Slow Dancing Society - A Feeling of Being Closer
  • 46:55    Maps & Diagrams - When the Night Came
  • 50:15    Emanuele Errante - Counterclockwise
  • 55:40    Cliff Martinez - Wrong Floor
  • 57:05    end

Friday, October 05, 2012

Favorite ambient artists

There is a new release from Loscil called "Sketches from New Brighton."  And of course it's excellent, everything from Loscil is excellent.  As I listened to it I figured that Loscil would have to be one of my favorite ambient artists of all time.

That got me thinking...what are my top ten ambient artists of all time?  The artists on the list are ones I come back to again and again.  And also ones that have a decent sized body of work.  Scott Solter did one of my favorite ambient albums of all time, "One River."  But that was pretty much it from him.  So to make the list it was important to have a fair number of releases.

Well, here's the list, in no particular order:

  1. Stars of the Lid
  2. Brian Eno
  3. Steve Roach
  4. Loscil
  5. Harold Budd
  6. Maps & Diagrams
  7. Alio Die
  8. Sonmi451
  9. William Basinski
  10. Kyle Bobby Dunn

This mix is a collection of tracks from each of those artists.  The cuts used in the mix are not necessarily my favorite track from that artist, just tunes that worked well within the mix.  I did want to use something new from Loscil but something old from Eno & Harold Budd.

Honorable mentions might be:

  • Marconi Union
  • Robert Rich
  • Taylor Deupree
  • Saul Stokes
  • Gas
  • Hammock
  • Aglaia
  • Marsen Jules
  • Spheruleus
  • Windy & Carl
  • David Tagg
  • A Produce
  • 36

If any listeners would like to leave their lists in the comments that would be very cool.

[ s t r e a m ]  [ d o w n l o a d ]   [ i t u n e s ] 

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Loscil - Prairie Trains
  • 07:15    Steve Roach - Tranquility Base
  • 13:55    Stars of the Lid - The Atomium, part 2
  • 21:00    Harold Budd - Balthus Bemused by Color
  • 25:25    Brian Eno - Slow Water
  • 28:00    Maps & Diagrams - Secrets of the Shore
  • 30:45    Kyle Bobby Dunn - The Tributary(for voices lost)
  • 38:03    Alio Die - Ultima Latet
  • 50:40    William Basinski - 92982.3
  • 55:30    Sonmi451 - Ruis
  • 1:03:33    end