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A very lovely review from A Closer Listen on Arbee / Specta Ciera – Elemental Gathering.
arbee is Mathieu Lamontagne from Quebec, spectra ciera is Massachusetts-based Devin Underwood. Both are prolific electronic artists with a taste for collaboration in their work, with a string of shared credits behind them, although this is their first outing together. They’ve never met but thanks to a decent broadband connection and a dose of inspiration they’ve madeElemental Gathering, a combination of new age-style whooshy synths and taut electro-inspired funk laced through with a good amount of dubby space. It’s an understated release and takes a few plays to get under the skin but when it works, it works beautifully – “Pomme Grenade” has just the right amount of whoosh over a muscular yet dialled back rhythm pattern, “En Pleine Ascension” is a slice of dub techno that gets surprisingly dense before stripping the elements away again for maximum impact. It doesn’t all flow – it might have been wise to have found “Turn Around” a home elsewhere – but overall it’s a high strike rate. Score another for the internet.
Steve Brand, Roy Mattson – Meltstream was recently played on “Les décibels sont dans les
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Electroacoustic composer Robert Scott Thompson has built up an impressive discography over the years, which might make it difficult for someone coming to his music for the first time to know where to begin. As it turns out, his latest collection, Arcana, would seem to be as good a point of entry as any for a couple of reasons (even if Thompson himself cites The Silent Shore, Frontier, andAt the Still Point of the Turning World as Arcana‘s kin): its breadth, for one, given that its nine pieces cover many of the stylistic bases touched upon in his previous recordings; and quite simply its quality, as the material is at the same high level in terms of compositional writing and sound design as his best work.
Issued on ambient composer Steve Brand’s Relaxed Machinery imprint rather than Thompson’s own Aucourant Records label, Arcana is, according to its creator, an example of “classical ambient,” a style of long standing that emphasizes languor, nuance, and subtlety over epic, beat-driven structures in its arrangements of synthesized and acoustic—prepared piano among them—elements. But while percussion might play a lesser role on the seventy-minute set, it’s not wholly absent as Stuart Gerber is credited with contributing percussion samples and performances to the album.
Regardless of the ambient character of the material, Arcana ‘s tracks, each one a distinct world from the others, overflow at every moment with detail and incident. The seeming pluck of a string instrument (though it may well be a keyboard) drifts across the oceanic expanses of the shimmering title track, for example, whereas cowbells tinkle o’ertop a base of synth washes and cavernous rumbles within “Night Has a Thousand Eyes.” During “Liminal Worlds,” wordless choral voices intone amidst sparse Rhodes patterns and echo-laden synthetic flourishes, while an Asian character seeps into the material during “Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight,” arguably the album’s most sonically rich soundscape.
Many a setting is peaceful, but there are some, such as “Imagination is Memory,” that suggest geological force of towering strength and magnitude, and the piano-heavy exploration “Unwoven” is similarly unafraid to wade into dissonant waters. In Thompson’s ponderous scene-paintings, icy sheets of sound stretch themselves across immense, flat surfaces. Don’t be thrown off by the ambient label associated with his music: listening to these mist-cloaked electronic landscapes proves to be a compelling and rewarding experience.
Lacking some magic perhaps from the previous release Gramophone Transmissions, Broken Harbour returns with The Geometry of Shadows, nonetheless a piece of fine high-quality ambient music. It retains many of the same characteristics, but obviously differs in the lack of classical samples, tending instead toward traditional ambient music. There is some influence of space ambient, but for the most part it presents a stationary and glimmering, pleasant atmosphere, rather than a more kinetic sound. Certainly, there is an uplifting feel to the whole, warm yet sparse; not as dramatically emotive as Gramophone Transmissions. It feels like one suite instead of six distinct tracks, nearly all of which are over 11 minutes in length.
more info: http://relaxedmachinery.com/releases/broken-harbour-the-geometry-of-shadows-rm0031/
Steve Brand needs no bigger introduction here, he is constantly confirming his reputation as one of the giants of primordial shamanistic electroacoustic soundsculpting. But Roy Mattson comes here as a new name on the ambient map. Based in Stony Creek, NY, Roy Mattson has been making music for many years, but according to my knowledge, he didn’t share it until 2013, when his collaboration with Mystified “Pluto And Charon” was released on Treetrunk Records (July, 2013). Steve Brand and Roy Mattson have met for the first time on Steve Roach’s Into The Soundcurrent workshop in Sonoita, Arizona in September, 2007. And that was the triggering point for “Meltstream”. The album comes in beautiful 4-panel digipak, for sure both artists and Relaxed Machinery deserve this catchy packaging, a way to continue!!!
More info on Meltstream: http://relaxedmachinery.com/releases/steve-brand-roy-mattson-meltstream-rm0042/
The 6th anniversary episode of the Hypnagogue Podcast is now available and Relaxed Machinery is thrilled John chose a track from Andrew Lahiff’s “Inner Worlds Returning” - Thank you, John! Congratulations, Andrew! And stay tuned, because later this year Andrew Lahiff has a new album coming out on rM!
Here’s Hypnagogue’s post:
Well, happy birthday to me! The podcast starts its sixth year in production with three sets of some hand-picked favorites. As always, pulling a dozen “favorites” out of a library of nearly 10,000 tracks isn’t easy. I hope you enjoy the ride, even if I am a bit overly talky in this one. (No interruptions next time, promise!)
Steve Rose, Somehow Different (Pt 1), The Diminishing Day
I got so soft-brained from the last set that when listing track names at the end I mistakenly kept saying “after” rather than “before.” But you’re smart enough to have figured out what I meant, right? And if not–hey, look! A playlist!