Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The songs of 2015

According to Spotify I listened to 2378 different artists this year.  That seems like a lot but I don't have anything to compare it to.  Most of my Spotify listening is "normal" music, not ambient/electronic.  I guess my taste in music would be categorized as "indie" with a leaning toward "indie folk."

There was a lot of very good music again this year.  I've said this before and it continues to be true - anybody who says there is no good music anymore just isn't trying.  My favorite quote on that subject is from Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal - "If you still like all of the music that you liked when you were in high school – and nothing else – you probably don't really like music."

This list is a collection of favorite songs from the past year.  Some of the songs cross reference with my favorite albums of the year.  But it also has many tunes that I loved as stand alone cuts.  Tracks like Get to Know by Charlie Belle or That's Love by Oddisee or All You Favorite Bands by Dawes are all great tunes that deserve to be in heavy rotation even if the albums didn't make my final list.

It's available to stream at Mixcloud here...


Here's the download link...


Here's to another great year in 2016.  Cheers!  

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00  The Chemical Brothers - Wide Open
  • 05:41   Public Service Broadcasting - Go!
  • 09:35   Courtney Barnett - Pedestrian at Best
  • 13:22   Beck - Dreams
  • 18:33   Charlie Belle - Get to Know
  • 22:08   Sports - Saturday
  • 23:20   Crushed Beaks - Overgrown
  • 26:00   The Decemberists - Make You Better
  • 31:00   The Wild Reeds - Where I'm Going
  • 34:46   Caitlin Canty - Get Up
  • 38:21   Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield - Fond Farewell
  • 41:13   Howard - Religion
  • 44:33   The Lone Bellow - Telluride
  • 48:31   On An On - Drifting
  • 52:50   Sufjan Stevens - 4th of July
  • 57:20   Aero Flynn - Moonbeams
  • 1:03:33  David Bowie - Blackstar
  • 1:13:15  Ibeyi - River
  • 1:17:18  Oddisee - That's Love
  • 1:21:15  Tame Impala - Let It Happen
  • 1:28:45  Bayonne - Spectrolite
  • 1:31:55  GEMS - Living as a Ghost
  • 1:34:50  Beirut - No No No
  • 1:37:39  The Punch Brothers - I Blew It Off
  • 1:40:40  Dawes - All Your Favorite Bands
  • 1:44:00  Waxahatchee - Summer of Love
  • 1:45:58  SOAK - Sea Creatures
  • 1:48:55  David Wax Museum - Guesthouse
  • 1:53:00  Father John Misty - The Night Josh Tillman came to our apt
  • 1:56:33  Strand of Oaks - Wonderful(my morning jacket cover)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 Jazz

This collection isn't necessarily a "best of 2015" , it's just some of my favorite jazz tunes from the past year.

It begins with one of my favorite albums of the year in any genre - The Thompson fields by The Maria Schneider Orchestra. The title track is remarkable.  The Jaga Jazzist album was a big surprise for me.  I've listen to them on and off for years but had lost interest for some reason.  The track in this mix is strange, futuristic electronic/jazz cut that I have listened to a ton this year.  The other two great discoveries were albums from Kamasi Washington and Kendrick Scott Oracle, definitely worth checking out.

Is there any jazz out there that really engaged you in 2015?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments.


T R A C K L I S T :
  • 00:00 Maria Schneider Orchestra - The Thompson Fields
  • 09:50 Jaga Jazzist - Oban
  • 15:12 Kamasi Washington - The Magnificent 7
  • 20:57 Andy Sheppard - Tipping Point
  • 26:37 Kendrick Scott Oracle - we are the drum
  • 32:00 food - this is not a miracle
  • 36:00 Hidden Orchestra - the Revival
  • 39:50 Chris Potter Underground Orchestra - Imaginary Cities(part 2)
  • 48:12 Jakob Bro - Copenhagen
  • 52:24 Giovanni Guidi Trio - The might it rained forever
  • 59:10 Vijay Iyer Trio - Geese
  • 63:45 Ben Monder - Zythum
  • 70:10 Maria Schneider Orchestra - Walking by Flashlight
  • 75:10 end

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Best of 2015 - Ambient

These year end lists are always difficult.  But at least the top 3 spots this year were easy selections - 
Alva Noto - Xerrox, Vol. 3
Max Richter - Sleep
Chris Walla - Tape Loops

It doesn't really matter which one grabbed the top spot, I listened to these three over and over in 2015.  Noto is known for his electronic minimalism but Vol. 3 is beautiful and lush. Max Richter's Sleep is a recording of epic proportion - 8 hours long, it amazes me each time I listen.  Tape Loops by Chris Walla(drummer for Death Cab for Cutie) has an old school ambient feel.  It reminds me of Eno's Music for Airports and Music for Films.  As large as the first two albums on the list can sound, Tape Loops is just the opposite - simple and intimate.

A few albums worth mentioning - Brian Eno: Discreet Music by Contact is an orchestral arrangement of Eno's 1970s Discreet Music.  Like Bang On A Can's cover of Music for Airports this one is familiar yet fresh and different.  Worth checking out.  I've used Sine Dust tracks in several mixes and I will probably use them for years because I love the classic, spacey edge to this EP from 36.

I made a few different end of the year lists, which I will post soon.  One is Best Of 2015 - Instrumental, which is a combination of ambient, electronic, classical and jazz.  For this mix I pulled out the 15 ambient albums on the list and mixed them in the order that I ranked them in that list.  The mix flows very well considering I had the order already selected for me.

I'll post full year end lists soon.


T R A C K L I S T :
  • 00:00   Alva Noto - Isola from Xerrox, Vol. 3
  • 07:20   Max Richter - Return 2 from Sleep
  • 12:35   Chris Walla - Kanta's Theme from Tape Loops
  • 17:05   Benoit Pioulard - Shut-ins on Sunday from Sonnet
  • 19:20   36 - Sunriders part 2 from Sine Dust 
  • 23:40   Olan Mill - Live at the Millenium Barn from Cavade Morlem
  • 29:00   Mikael Delta & Hior Chronik - How to Define Existence from The First Ray
  • 33:00   Bersarin Quartett - Bedingungslos from III
  • 36:06   Contact - Brian Eno: Discreet Music
  • 44:22   Marconi Union - Aftermath from Departures
  • 48:40   Spheruleus - The Railroad from Chronota
  • 55:05   Goldmund - Turncoat from Sometimes
  • 57:57   Nils Frahm - Merry from Solo
  • 61:45   Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie -  The endless battle of the maudlin ballade part 2 from Travels in Constants Vo. 24
  • 64:40   Horizon Fire - Earthlight from Earthlight
  • 67:26   end

Sunday, December 06, 2015

The moon plays the ocean like a violin

As with all mixes this one had a specific starting point or inspiration - the incredible new album from Max Richter - Sleep.  It's 8 hours long!  8 hours!  Here's a link to purchase the full version...


I'm a sucker for high concept projects so I was interested from the start.  Add that to the fact that I am a fan of Richter's music and I knew I'd probably love it.  And yup, I do.  It's the perfect combination of Richter's classical style with an ambient sensibility.  

I knew I had to make a mix with tracks from the Sleep album.  I decided to keep the whole mix in the classical realm.  A lot of the tunes are new like the Besarin Quartet stuff.  Some cuts I've been waiting to use for awhile now, like the John Luther Adams cut.

As much as I like the Max Richter tracks I think my favorite track in the mix is Pie Jesu.  The cut is from The Wine of Silence by Andrew Keeling, David Singleton and Robert Fripp.  The music is based on Fripp's soundscape series, guitar improvisations that use tape loops and echo and reverb.  From there Keeling and Singleton scored the soundscapes for orchestra.  They finally subjected the orchestral recording to further electronic manipulation.  The result is transcendent.  It's a beautiful, beautiful album.

The title of the mix comes from a favorite Andrew Bird song, Night Sky, and I thought it fit somehow.  I really like the way each piece dissolves into the next on this mix.  I hope you like it too.


[ 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 Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Farwell at Tinguit
    • 02:15 Max Richter - Patterns(cypher)
    • 05:55 David Wingo - Opening(Take Shelter ost)
    • 06:55 John Luther Adams - The Light that Fills the World
    • 11:20 Bersarin Quartet - die nachte sind erfullt...
    • 15:50 Brambles - Such Owls as You
    • 20:25 Metropole Orkest - An Ending
    • 24:30 Fripp, Keeling, Singleton - Pie Jesu
    • 31:35 Max Richter - Nor Earth, Nor Boundless Sea
    • 39:05 Olan Mill - Tallole
    • 42:30 Aphex Twin - Rhubarb orc. 19.53 rev
    • 48:35 Keaton Henson - Elevator Song
    • 51:40 Bersarin Quartet - verflossen ist das gold der tage
    • 54:55 Islands of Light - Gypta

      Saturday, November 21, 2015

      the healing piano

      After the attacks in Paris on November 13th, NPR music did a show about music for healing.  You can find it here... http://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2015/11/17/456343231/music-for-healing
      Two cuts on their playlist are from two of my favorite albums this year, Goldmund - Sometimes and Nils Frahm - Solo.

      As I listened to those two tracks over & over I started to think about the piano as a healing instrument.  The right song & circumstances can make just about any instrument a healing instrument.  But somehow the piano seems ideally suited for that role.

      Most of the tunes used here are new.  In addition to the Goldmund & Frahm cuts another 2015 favorite album included in the mix is Chris Walla - Tape Loops.  Walla is the drummer for Death Cab for Cutie and he has put together a nice collection that reminds me of Music for Airports & Music for Films.

      I hope this mix can act as a musical balm, soothing our psyches in these turbulent times.


      [ 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 Goldmund - Sometimes
      • 02:40 Chris Walla - Goodbye
      • 08:00 Nils Frahm - Ode
      • 12:10 Hior Chronik & Mikael Delta - Everything We Want to Feel
      • 15:00 Max Richter - Cumulonimbus
      • 20:20 Moon ate the dark - If Vanishing
      • 24:25 Ocean in a Bottle - Circling Winter
      • 25:50 Eskmo - Tamara
      • 27:48 Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts II
      • 30:55 Nils Frahm - 4'33"
      • 32:40 Mette Henriette - .oOo.
      • 35:55 Aphex Twin - Aisatsana
      • 40:55 Chris Walla - flytoget
      • 49:28 A Winged Victory for the Sullen - Atmos III
      • 53:27 Stars of the Lid - Humectez La Mouture
      • 57:45 Nils Frahm - merry
      • 61:45 end

      Saturday, November 14, 2015

      Slow Decay

      A slowly developing amalgamation of mixed-genre madness, fusing ambient, experimental & jazz soundscapes into a mixture of quiet deconstruction.

      "Slow Decay" is a collaborative mix from Low Light Mixes & Ambient Landscape.  We've each done mixes for each other but we thought it would be cool make a mix in which we both contributed alternating sections. 

      Gene(ambient landscape) came up with the title and I started things off with a couple of cuts.  I sent it to Gene, he added a few more, sent it back to me, I added more tracks and so on and so on.  Until we had a fascinating 1 hour & 16 minute journey.

      I love how things turned out. The combination of ecm-style jazz and ambient and experimental music worked perfectly.

      Don't forget to check out Ambient Landscape here...




      [ 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    Signal Structure (w/treatments) - Positive Centre
      • 03:12    Upon Contact Reworked - Jorge Haro (Bruno Sanfilippo)
      • 07:10    The Squealing of Rats & the Squeaking of Boards - Marielle V Jakobsons (w/treatments)
      • 08:45    Parallel Realities (excerpt) - Jack DeJohnette, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock
      • 11:40    Dis Loops 1.1 - William Basinski - performed by The Wordless Music Orchestra
      • 21:40    Upon the Break Arch - Benoit Pioulard
      • 26:20    Structural Functions Of Prezens (excerpt) - David Torn, Tim Berne, Craig Taborn, Tom Rainey
      • 30:25    Sluimer (excerpt) - FANTOOM (René Aquarius, Otto Kokke, Dirk Serries, Martina Verhoeven)
      • 34:50    Passage D.E. - Jon Hassell
      • 39:10    Solphaer - Alva Noto
      • 44:05    Porch Swings - Cinchel
      • 45:55    Arder De No Sentir Calor - Mauro Beltran
      • 50:27    Night Peculiarities – Johan Troch
      • 53:19    Tunis at Dawn - Anouar Brahem
      • 59:44    Rosemarie - Trio3: Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille w/ Vijay Iyer
      • 66:04    Setting Out - Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
      • 67:50    The Wind in High Places: Above Sunset Pass - John Luther Adams
      • 70:45    Tipping Point - Andy Sheppard Quartet
      • 76:15    end

      Wednesday, October 14, 2015

      Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still

      My good friend, Gene over at Ambient Landscapeasked me to do a guest mix for him and this mix is the result.  Ambient Landscape is a great source of ambient info and mixes.

      What got me started on this mix was an interesting video I found on YouTube by Wouter van Veldhoven called "two sad tape recorders."  It's basically two portable reel to reel tape machines each playing their loops at the same time.  Here's the video...


      The sound of those two sad tape recorders reminded me of mixes I've done that combine very old recordings with new music that blends well with those scratchy, noisy old records.  That's where this mix began and from there I went in search of old cylinder recordings, which have gotten easier to find since my first mix with this theme back in 2008.

      The vintage cuts that I used in the mix come from Edison cylinders recorded around 1906 to 1908.  Most of the old tracks are effected in some way.  Sometimes I slowed the original way down, other times echo and reverb were added.  For many of them the original is combined with the effected version to create some bizarre other-worldly sound.

      The new music in the mix is a collection of stuff that seems to work well with this theme.  Gavin Byars "Sinking of the Titanic" works on two levels - sonically is blends well with the tracks around it and it's about the sinking which took place in 1912.

      When thinking about music that uses cracking, scratchy noises I immediately thought of Harry Towell aka Spheruleus.  And wouldn't you know it, Harry just released an album entitled "William Barber" that makes use of a wax cylinder recording from 1906 as it's inspiration and sound source.  It's a wonderful album.  You can find it here...

      It's remarkable how much excellent music Harry has put out over the years.  Check out his music and his labels...

      I think the mix does a pretty good job of mashing up the old and the new.


      [ 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 various - vintage recording montage
      • 01:01 The Edison Venetian Trio - Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still 1908
      • 01:55 The Edison Venetian Trio - Her Bright Smile(stretched and remixed)
      • 03:50 Gavin Byars - The Sinking of the Titanic(2007 version w/ Alter Ego and Philip Jeck)
      • 06:00 Gavin Byars - The Sinking of the Titanic(1994 version)
      • 10:20 William Basinski - Cascade
      • 15:45 Wouter van Veldhoven - two sad tape recorders(original and stretched played together)
      • 18:27 Ian William Craig - Second Lens
      • 20:50 unknown - 13_360º
      • 23:00 Otto A Totland - pinô
      • 25:22 Guy Gelem - Jerusalem
      • 28:05 Hans Kronold - The Swan 1906(reworked)
      • 30:00 Field Rotation - Zeitreise(remixed by the frozen vaults)
      • 35:20 Spheruleus and Friends - To Us Thy Memory Can Never Be Lost
      • 37:20 Octavio Yanez - Anita 1907(reworked)
      • 42:05 Bill Seaman and John Supko - The Hiding Place
      • 43:50 Hildur Gudnadottir - Birting
      • 46:05 The Frozen Vaults - Cloak of Lingering Fog
      • 48:30 unknown - flute and violin phrase slowed down 20x
      • 49:49 Spheruleus and Friends - All Good Things Come From Above
      • 50:55 Bill Seaman and John Supko - And the Ice Appeared Blue
      • 53:15 Hans Kronold - Chopin Nocturne 1907
      • 53:45 Gavin Byars - The Sinking of the Titanic
      • 57:50 end

      Sunday, October 04, 2015


      I use ambient mixes for sleeping almost every night. A long time ago a friend once mentioned that the best ambient tunes for sleeping are the ones that mimic the rhythm of breathing. Over the years I've found that to be very true.

      So this mix, like the other 'breathing' mixes before it, is a collection of tunes that ebb and flow, quietly mirroring your sleepy breathing patterns.


      T R A C K L I S T :
      • 00:00 The Dead Texan - The 6 Million Dollar Sandwich
      • 02:55 Abstract Aprils - Breathing Sculptures
      • 08:50 Le Chat Blanc Orchestra - She Left This Morning
      • 15:38 Olan Mill - Spare Smoke Template
      • 18:20 Alva Noto - Spiegel
      • 21:15 James Johnson - Minimum(excerpt)
      • 29:40 Offthesky - Snow Filled Summer
      • 31:45 Steve Roach - The Delicate Forever
      • 38:30 Billow Observatory - kronstadt
      • 42:42 ASC - Hall of the Gods
      • 46:50 Experiments in Silance - A Ghost of Stars
      • 52:10 Marsen Jules - Lazy Sunday Funerals 7
      • 57:05 Manual - Last Light
      • 63:36 end

      Sunday, September 13, 2015

      dubby & rainy

      I was planning on making a rain mix sometime this fall & I was planning on making a dub mix as well.  Then I realized that those two theme as perfect for each other.  So here is the appropriately titled mix "dubby & rainy."

      I love how a lot of ambient dub tunes already sound sort of "rainy."  They make liberal use of white noise which is great for conjuring a rainy atmosphere.  So many of these tracks already sound & feel "rainy" that I didn't have to add much rain fx.


      T R A C K L I S T:
      • 00:00 DeepChord - Morning
      • 01:00 Segue - Rain Drone
      • 03:20 Mind Over MIDI - Soften By Rainfall
      • 07:05 Fieldhead - I'm Fond of Maps
      • 09:50 Optical Frameworks - Silenced Streets, Reflections in Rain
      • 14:00 As If - Trip 5
      • 18:50 Donato Dozzy - Vaporware 1
      • 23:05 Shaded Explorer - Sea Mist
      • 28:30 DeepChord - Prayer Wheel
      • 32:44 Loscil - Angel of List
      • 37:37 krill.minima - Serpentine
      • 39:00 Marco Madia - Hydrotropism
      • 41:00 Mr. Cloudy - DS4
      • 48:20 AES DANA - Beneath
      • 52:10 Blamstrain - Sunday Dub
      • 57:57 Ethernet - Rain Elemental
      • 61:50 Deepchord - Neon and Rain
      • 65:20 Deepchord - Day's End
      • 66:50 Variant - After the Rain
      • 78:30 Ethernet - After Dark
      • 86:24 end

      Sunday, September 06, 2015

      Sunday Morning Music vol. 12 - September's Here Again

      As usual with these mixes there is one song in particular that gets the ball rolling and in this case it's the title track from the album The Thompson Fields by the Maria Schneider Orchestra.  The whole album is wonderful collection open, airy jazz tracks and the title song is just stunning.  Definitely one of the most beautiful songs released this year, second only to Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell.

      The rest of the mix is your standard Sunday morning mix.  Maybe a bit more jazz in this one.  Other than the Davis Sylvian tune most of the cuts are fairly new.


      T R A C K L I S T :
      • 00:00 David Sylvian - September
      • 01:11 Maria Schneider Orchestra - The Thompson Fields
      • 08:00 Bosques De Mi Mente - El amanecer reflejado en tus ojos
      • 10:38 AXX - Interstellar Ambient
      • 14:10       Patrick Watson - Love Songs for Robots
      • 17:11       Kenny Reichert Band - Cascades
      • 22:20 Bill Seaman - A Dark Thought
      • 26:40 Ben Lukas Boysen - Sleeps Beat Theme
      • 30:31 Anouar Brahem - Tunis at Dawn
      • 37:03 Cliff Martinez - Placental Repair
      • 39:11 Hidden Rivers - September Sun Memory
      • 42:52 Olan Mill - Tallole
      • 46:33 Maria Schneider Orchestra - Walking by Flashlight
      • 51:33 end

      Friday, August 21, 2015

      Hammock Music - tracks for relaxing in one

      The pic above is of the hammock in my backyard.  My kids got it for me for Father's Day and I love it.  I can't figure out why I didn't have one before.  On many nights this summer I grab my kindle and a beer and lay contentedly under our big birch tree.

      Of course as a true music obsessive I have speakers out on the deck that I control remotely.  So whenever I head out to the hammock to read or just space out, I cue up some ambient, classical or jazz and just drift away.

      That's where I got the idea for this mix.  I needed a new collection to keep me company while I sway in the cool evening air.  For some reason when I think of "porch music" or evening music, I think of ambient guitar.  So most of this mix is guitar based, some more ambient than others.  A lot of it is fairly new and all of it works well with bug spray and a beer.  I couldn't resist ending the mix with a tune from...Hammock.  


      [ 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 Nathan Amundson - More Horses
      • 05:18 Jakob Bro - Lyskaster
      • 09:00 CFCF - A Various Language(from the same hill)
      • 12:25 Daniel Lanois - Space Love
      • 14:00 David Tagg - Comanche
      • 20:20 Josh Mason - Petals Too Tired To
      • 23:00 Dirk Serries - Disorientation Flow
      • 31:15 Christopher Willits - Now
      • 35:35 Tonepoet - Headspace
      • 41:50 Brian Eno - From the Same Hill
      • 44:24 Matt Borghi - Homage to Dave Liebman
      • 47:54 Alessio Ballerini - Night in Day
      • 51:21 Tone Color - City of Three Rivers
      • 56:45 Hammock - Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow