Steve Brand – The Path of the HeartrM_0057
Steve Brand – The Path of the Heart
May 2016

"This music reflects my realization that I often feel that my entire life has been a journey to and of the heart, my heart, my core..."

Kloob – Solid FoundationsrM_0056
Kloob – Solid Foundations
February 2016

A sonic journey featuring metaphysics, attraction, emotions management, extraterrestrial life, astral projection and personal development.

Anguaji Music – Trigger, HappyrM_0055
Anguaji Music – Trigger, Happy
October 2015

A joyful jumble of up-and-down musical sketches to stir your imagination.

Massergy – A Novel Sense of CalmrM_0054
Massergy – A Novel Sense of Calm
September 2015

Beautiful ambient music to help on the greatest journey of all.

Markus Reuter & Zero Ohms  From Worlds Unseen A Light Yet Streams A Sound RepleterM_0053
Markus Reuter & Zero Ohms – From Worlds Unseen...
August 2015

Sparse melodic drone-based soundscapes and warm, ethereal spacemusic

Chris Russell - BlurrM_0052
Chris Russell - Blur
July 2015

Blur, an album created slightly out of focus.

Roy Mattson – MesmerrM_0051
Roy Mattson – Mesmer
May 2015

Hints of tribal and ethno-ambient music mixed with a strong dose of psychedelia.

SiJ – PlaentagoserM_0050
SiJ – Plaentagose
April 2015

A suite of sparsely decorated vignettes / postcards of moments on a long stretch of highway.

Numina – Through the Gate to NowhererM_0049
Numina – Through the Gate to Nowhere
March 2015

A sonic journey influenced by many events and emotion.

Steve Brand and Ran Kirlian – The Uncarved BlockrMEp_0002
Steve Brand and Ran Kirlian – The Uncarved Block
March 2015

Journey back to our natural state of being before cultural conditioning takes place.

Kloob – Deep Emotional PhasesrM_0048
Kloob – Deep Emotional Phases
February 2015

Elegance and darkness are successfully combined to create tracks that evoke subtlety and strong feelings at the same time.

Steve Brand – Into The Currentpl0020
Steve Brand – Into The Current
February 2015

Steve Brand's document of, and tribute to, his experience at Steve Roach's "SoundCurrent Master's Class"

åpne sinn – Worlds ApartrMEp_0001
åpne sinn – Worlds Apart
January 2015

"between two worlds life hovers like a star, twixt night and morn, upon the horizon’s edge." – byron

Frore - Cyclic MovementrM_0047
Frore - Cyclic Movement
January 2015

Ambient journeys synced to the cycles and rhythms of the universe.

Andrew Lahiff - Slow Paths BeyondrM_0044
Andrew Lahiff - Slow Paths Beyond
November 2014

A story that began evolving in January 2013.

Steve Brand – The Space BetweenrM_0046
Steve Brand – The Space Between
October 2014

Past events, loved ones, even the resources we need from all our pasts and futures are there waiting for us…in still, quiet moments.

Seren Ffordd – Fractured III – ShardsrM_0045
Seren Ffordd – Fractured III – Shards
August 2014

Shards is the third album in a trilogy titled Fractured.

Chris Russell – IlluminoidrM_0043
Chris Russell – Illuminoid
July 2014

Illuminoid is a journey into the realm of the spirit.

Steve Brand and Roy Mattson - MeltstreamrM_0042
Steve Brand, Roy Mattson - Meltstream
May 2014

Amazing beatless ambient. Roy and Steve both have a strong affinity with nature, especially the mountains, and this music grew out of those moments, immersed in nature…and sound.

Robert  Scott Thompson - ArcanarM_0039
Robert Scott Thompson - Arcana
April 2014

A carefully crafted, subtly nuanced ambient album. Languidly drifting textures, prepared piano, and an array of synthesized and acoustic sounds make this a rewarding listen.

Arbee & Specta Ciera – Elemental GatheringrM_0041
Arbee & Specta Ciera – Elemental Gathering
March 2014

Delving into techno, drone, experimental, dub and more - Arbee & Specta Ciere's debut on rM will move you.

Steve Brand – Because We Were Once Covered in Goldpl0011
Steve Brand – Because We Were Once Covered in Gold
February 2014

Re-working of 2009 release, fascinating and exceptionally detailed, full of subtlety and delicious sonic twists and turns.

Relaxed Machinery Artists - reBOOTrM_0040
Relaxed Machinery Artists - reBOOT
January 2014

17 tracks, 2.25 hours of new music from some of the best names in the industry.

Steve Brand - Over-soulpl0015
Steve Brand - Over-soul
November 2013

61 minute long form piece, divided into three seamless expanses of driftscape, created entirely with keyboards and medicine drum.

Chronotope Project - Event HorizonrM_0033
Chronotope Project - Event Horizon
October 2013

An earthy foundation of sustained drones and rich chordal soundbeds, flowing watery melodies, the scintillating sparkle of fiery sequences.

Steve Brand  - She Covers The Skypl0014
Steve Brand - She Covers The Sky
September 2013

Re-imagining, re-working, re-mastering of the 2009 release, now with two new tracks.

Zero Ohms - 369rM_0036
Zero Ohms - 369
July 2013

A journey of what seems to be an unending ascension of shifting drones and wind-synth chords which take you to the very edge of space and beyond.

Steve Brand – The Great HooprM_0038
Steve Brand – The Great Hoop
June 2013

Music inspired by Native American cultures, their history and pre-history, the spaces, colors, flora and fauna, and wide variety of landscapes of the American Plains.

Relaxed Machinery Artists – Butterfly EffectsrM_0034
Relaxed Machinery Artists – Butterfly Effects
May 2013

An album comprising remixes of material from several James Johnson albums.

Frore - ShadowlandsrM_0035
Frore - Shadowlands
March 2013

Frore's first album on Relaxed Machinery. Hints of tribal and modern ambient take you on a thought provoking journey.

Steve Brand – Bridge to Nowherepl0010
Steve Brand – Bridge to Nowhere
February 2013

Bridge to Nowhere is a spacious, slow-breathing exploration of a meditative state, and nowhere in Brand’s work is the ritualistic element more present than in this case

Chris Russell - PortalrM_0037
Chris Russell - Portal
February 2013

Other worlds, other dimensions and glimpses behind the veil.

Steve Brand - Our True NaturerM_0029
Steve Brand - Our True Nature
December 2012

A soundtrack for hope, growth and expanded ways of being.

Chronotope Project – ChrysalisrM_0032
Chronotope Project – Chrysalis
November 2012

Deep ambient textures infused with gentle rhythm and soulful melody -- introspective soundscapes to relax the mind and gladden the spirit.

Broken Harbour – The Geometry Of ShadowsrM_0031
Broken Harbour – The Geometry Of Shadows
October 2012

Light and shadow, past and future, distance and time, informed the creative process and inspiration of this album.

Steve Brand – Sunprintspl0007
Steve Brand – Sunprints
September 2012

Five quiet and sometimes intimate atmospheres focused around nature.

Andrew Lahiff – Inner Worlds ReturningrM_0030
Andrew Lahiff – Inner Worlds Returning
August 2012

Synthetic and mechanical notions overlaid on an organic yet detailed landscape.

Shane Morris / Disturbed Earth – Suburban CatacombsrM_0028
Shane Morris / Disturbed Earth – Suburban Catacombs
July 2012

What goes on under suburbia, the day to day, literally, the pipes, storm water drainage, electric cable, communication, internet.

Steve Brand – CatalystrM_0026
Steve Brand – Catalyst
June 2012

Four cavernous, ethereal, sentimental and lilting inscapes timing in at just over an hour.

Chris Russell - BloomrM_0027
Chris Russell - Bloom
May 2012

Warm and peaceful zones inspired by nature. All carefully sculptured using a combination of field recordings and electronic atmospheres.

åpne sinn – en seierrM_0025
Peter James – Landfall
April 2012

Part of a journey. Not the final part or the start. Just a part of it. A mixture of long and short form ambient.

åpne sinn – en seierpl0004
Steve Brand / Ishq – Spiritual Science
March 2012

Easy and organic multiple disc release of several long form ambient pieces. Re-mastered during 2011-2012 for this special re-release.

åpne sinn – en seierrM_0024
åpne sinn – en seier
February 2012

"en seier" from the Norwegian meaning “one victory”. Rhythms, ambient soundscapes, and multiple collaborations. All straight from the heart.

Austere – EuterperM_0021
Austere – Euterpe
January 2012

Honed sonic goodness that covers every style or genre Austere is known for (which is many) but mostly brand-new ground broken, no paths retraced.

Peter James – MementorM_0022
Peter James – Memento
December 2011

Musical pieces kept as simple as the moments they depict so as not to blur the memories they evoke.

Steve Brand - Subtle Movements InsiderM_0011
Steve Brand - Subtle Movements Inside
November 2011

“Subtle Movements Inside,” was inspired after re-visiting a group of old poems and by recent events in my life.

Steve Brand - SoulSpiralpl0003
Steve Brand - Cahokia
October 2011

A three-song journey into one of the deeply mystical places of America’s heartland.

Bob Ohrum - All Around MerM_0020
Bob Ohrum - All Around Me
October 2011

In the sky and the trees,the sunlight and the breeze, in the buildings and the windows that surround me... they are all around me.

Zero Ohms - Worlds, AfterworldsrM_0019
Zero Ohms - Worlds, Afterworlds
October 2011

We constantly stand on a precipice of the unknown without the possibility of reversing. This seemingly unknowable void looms, beckoning. And flight is the only, albeit inadequate, response.

Steve Brand - SoulSpiralpl0002
Steve Brand - Upwelling
September 2011

Upwelling is collection of epiphanies, experiments, singular moments, remixes and re-discoveries.

Lowell Levene-Sims - <br>A Thing of Beauty to an Object of RegretrM_0017
Lowell Levene-Sims - A Thing of Beauty to An Object of Regret
August 2011

Cover Painting: There are No Wrong Notes by LLS, 2010.

Chris Russell - HomerM_0013
Chris Russell - Home (double album)
August 2011

recorded june 2010 to march 2011.

John Koch-Northrup - Temporal ArcrM_0002
John Koch-Northrup - Temporal Arc
(reissue w/ bonus track)
July 2011

Originally released on Red Antenna on 2001. Re-released July 2011, with one additional track.

Disturbed Earth & Steve Brand – What is Memory?rM_0016
Disturbed Earth & Steve Brand – What is Memory?
July 2011

This release is a 69-minute aural exploration of the nature of memory and time, utilizing keyboard atmospheres, flutes and voice.

Max Corbacho – Lost LinksrM_0018
Max Corbacho – Lost Links
June 2011

Deleted, unreleased and forgotten tracks.

Steve Brand - SoulSpiralpl0001
Steve Brand - SoulSpiral
May 2011

First in a series of re-mastered, re-worked, re-releases and special releases to come on Steve's own label, Pioneer Light.

Bob Ohrum – Subliminal ListeningrM_0014
Bob Ohrum – Subliminal Listening
March 2011

A collection of organic soundscapes created by capturing various field recordings, and then creating music to accompany them.

I’ve Lost – Scáth M’anamrM_0010
I’ve Lost – Scáth M’anam
March 2011

Scáth M’anam is a Gaelic phrase, which can be translated as “Shadow of My Soul”. The artist, aka Bobby Jones, chose this title by looking to his Irish roots.

Relaxed Machinery Artists – sleepMODErM_0009
Relaxed Machinery Artists – sleepMODE
March 2011

Relaxed Machinery presents sleepMODE, a snapshot of the rapidly-growing label celebrating its first anniversary.

åpne sinn – espiritistarM_0015
åpne sinn – espiritista
January 2011

By turns drifting and ethereal then beat driven, this debut recording spans many musical types and genres.

Leonardo Rosado – for rrM_0012
Leonardo Rosado – for r
November 2010


Chris Russell and Disturbed Earth – The Approaching ArmadarM_0008
Chris Russell and Disturbed Earth – The Approaching Armada
October 2010

The Approaching Armada is all about Chris’ electronics that have been soft soaked, the brittle remaining dark and edgy and Disturbed Earth’s presence in the sound.

Beta Cloud – The Book of Five RingsrM_0007
Beta Cloud – The Book of Five Rings
October 2010

All tracks recorded reflect “aural essays” of the concepts Musashi defined in his text of Go Rin No Sho.

Steve Brand - ConiunctiorM_0006
Steve Brand - Coniunctio
August 2010

Coniunctio is the joining of two longform ambient works. Pale Blue Orb is very celestial, spacious, glowing in the warmth of enveloping light and consciousness while The Beginning of Days is more terrestrial, Earthy.

Bob Ohrum - ElevatedrM_0004
Bob Ohrum - Elevated
June 2010

Elevated is a journey through heartbreaking loss and the celebration of a spirit set free from a broken body.

Chris Russell - FrozenrM_0003
Chris Russell - Frozen
July 2010

Frozen recalls the stillness and silence of a winter snowfall transitioning into spring, celebrating the rebirth and renewal of life.

Steve Brand - Circular ScripturesrM_0001
Steve Brand - Circular Scriptures
June 2010

Circular Scriptures is charactarized by beatless, diaphanous, semi-transparent layers of sound that flow and overlap, layered with deep earth-shaking timbres and near orchestral and choral allusions.

Ambient Exotica Review – Frozen by Chris Russell

18th December 2013

The third time is the charm: Frozen is Chris Russell’s third studio album and the third artifact of John Koch-Northrup’s Relaxed Machinery label, recorded between June 2009 and March 2010 and released in the same year… in July. While that month is the most unfortunate one in regard to the aesthetic principals, the album itself aurally depicts a superb synth-driven progression that is as obvious as it is mind-blowing, for it is rarely realized in such a cohesive manner; more about this in a moment. For now, it is question time: what is the big Relaxed Machinery logo about to represent in its prominently centrical spot? The well-known cogwheel? A snowflake? Or – gasp! – the sun? Notwithstanding the original summerly release date, it could depict both of these natural ingredients, as Frozen is a strikingly dualistic work. Except that the synthesist and producer made sure to cover this perception up, only revealing it slowly and bit by bit. This conceptual realization truly deserves an in-depth review as part of my Winter Ambient Review Cycle 2013. Here is the particular feat Russell achieves and which will be further carved out below: at first, Frozen wondrously glorifies winter in all facets, but goes downhill from here, and literally so, as the temperature drops constantly and the artist places lesser texturized euphonies before a raucous, frostily thin interim state. The track titles nurture and support this perception further. It is thus one of those rare releases that is situated in-between the genres of New Age, Drone and Glitch, and since it is so beautifully carved out and coherently projected before the inner eye, it should not frighten aficionados of either genre away. Start reading this review in your t-shirt… but be advised to wear your coat later on.

The opener of every album marks the important gateway, and no matter how often the death of the music album has been announced, the first track is still the most crucial part, and if the respective work happens to depict a stringent sequence of events or an overarching concept as is clearly the case with Chris Russell’s Frozen, its impact only grows. In this regard, a prelude called Aurora greets the listener. I do often not use the expression of being greeted when I am reviewing wintry music, as it is most often horribly out of place. Here, however, Russell succumbs to the originally Cologne-based formula called Pop Ambient. Aurora is a magnanimously amicable gestalt of radiant billows, thickly wadded crystalline polyphonies and euphonious encapsulations of rapture. Everything feels purified and pristine, and it is this freshness which gives this opener its coldness. However, since Aurora floats and glides like a gently tumbling snowflake, it is too small an artifact to evoke hazardous coldness. The result, therefore, is a multilayered synth susurration of the polished and embracing kind, an anthemic artifact of contemplation in technicolor. The follow-up Thaw is already a tad colder than Aurora, but there is anything wrong with that, given that this is a hibernal album. Stereo-panned skating noises or resemblant wind gusts become enmeshed with contrabass-like synth strings and interstitial globs of contentment. Bliss oozes out of the micro-pentatonic, downwards spiraling coils. Fully fleshed out bolsters meet comparably fragile moments of quiescent tranquility. No matter the phase Thaw is in at any given moment, it is aquiver with pleasure and aglow.

Time Lost is the only artifact which implies a certain fatigue or negative reaction, for there is simply no time to lose nowadays, so why the reminder of finitude, or worse: mortality? The answer is given in the soundscape which comprises of a camouflaged Detroit track, sans beats, naturally. The candela of the synths decreases, letting them glow in turquoise and fir-green emerald-like colors. In tandem with the mysterious tone sequences and interim phases of nullity – with anything but the howling wind – Time Lost is a piece of hachured cascades that is as melancholic as it is timorous. Tundra meanwhile showcases an arrangement whose sine tones and dark matter pads are as emaciated and parched as the landscape it is dedicated to. To make matters more cinematic, the superimposed dissonance of the multiple sinews creates an enigmatic dichotomy that would not be out of place in an X-Files episode. The vibrato of the brazen drones, the bronze undulation of the galactic matter altogether augment the dusky scenery. Shuttling between a potentially apocalyptic afterglow and complete independence of anything prospering and erbacious, Tundra lives up to the album title by not sporting any frilly or glorifying particle. Can Chris Russell create an even colder diorama? He sure can! Numb is a Drone track with striking Glitch flecks: aerose clangs, buzzes of electric current, a nocturnal frostiness as well as icy flute-like New Age shards meet, mesh and depart constantly. Sounds lead to sustain, sustain to silence, and silence to nonentity. The up to this point coldest of all tracks consist of spheroidal thinness, glacial minimalism and bit-crushed slopes. And the temperature is still about to drop-p-p-p…

The sixth track is also the title track: Frozen feels like an appendix to Numb. Being the shortest track with a runtime of four minutes, it is an addendum of metallic whorls, desiccate square lead pads and arcane icicle schemes. The darkness even increases, the tones are now enormously thin, portentous bass flumes run below hibernal ice floes. Both the opener and the title track are similarly important within the boundaries of an album, and here the titular one explicates Chris Russell’s increasingly life-threatening coldness which eliminates the formerly beautiful glorification of winter. Gone is the superstructure of dense synth braidings, and it won’t appear ever again (unless the listener presses repeat, that is). The following Otzi almost crosses the 12-minute mark, and naturally, it spawns another cavalcade of recluded sine tones and incisive pads. The listening subject gazes over the Ötztal Alps. And shiver me timbers, things improve temperature-wise: while there are droplets of retrogressive 8-bit warmth in here, it is the low frequency protrusions that truly serve as a source of thermal diffusion. Euphony is coming back, seemingly gauche, but vibrant enough to create an argentine, tramontane panorama of a pixellated mountain range. In order to keep the longest piece in sync with the concept, its second half turns into a much creepier surrounding of spectral stokehold drones and cosmic laser eruptions. The final track is called Slowly Drifting and gets rid of the self-imposed thinness, embracing – and transfiguring – winter yet again via opalescent faux-vibraphones, ethereal driblets and a stupefyingly gorgeous reconciliation with the coldest of all seasons. A composition with a high plasticity and saturated colors of the light blue range, Slowly Drifting is a Tetsu Inoue-esque ode to the snowflake, an aural macro photography of a shelter-like structure and eminently peaceful self-aware universe that bathes in the beauty of its own existence.

Forwards ever, backwards (almost) never, this adage describes Chris Russell’s firm and adamant progression into sub-zero territories best. Rarely has there been a synth-driven work whose stringency is so sternly inclined to turn the beatific exaltation of a chilling winter’s landscape, complete with oversaturated timbres and tone formations, into a gruesomly emaciated, increasingly Glitch-accentuated work of crepuscular shadows before harkening back to its point of origin in a divine closing track. The constancy and cohesion of the drop in temperature throughout Frozen leads me to believe that this is no accidental or ill-perceived theme based on chance, but the cleverly thought out leitmotif and actual driving factor of the album. Since Russell’s constructions become thinner and more glacial over time, this leads to the risk of deterrence, of testing the listener’s will and finding his or her weak spot, the moment they give up and yearn for the – admittedly super-gorgeous – Pop Ambient-oriented point of origin. Glitch fans will have a field day with the album’s latter half. Most impressively though, the artist does not succumb to eclectic, labyrinthine or acidic tone sequences. As is the case with every good genre-related composition, the joy of jagged dissonances, Geiger counter-like pops and pristine icicles outweighs the increasing horror of being trapped – connoisseurs would say: enshrined – in a no man’s land. To sum my impression up, Frozen sports a cleverly camouflaged diversity, but since it is organically drifting and twirling downwards, one does not perceive the gradual shift as such. Now would be the perfect time to mention the old urban myth of a frog who won’t jump out of the hot water bucket as long as it is slowly heated… but blimey, Frozen sits on the diametrically opposite side of the hinted spectrum!

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