Posts Tagged ‘ Electronic ’

Biosphere – Substrata

Biosphere – Substrata

11 songs, 58 minutes long

Biosphere (real name: Geir Jenssen) is a well known and well respected ambient artist from Norway. He has released a notable catalog of music and is an essential listen for anyone who enjoys ambient music. He has many good releases, but his 1997 album Substrata really shines among them as a true classic in ambient works. Substrata is a cold, lonely, distant album, but among all that it is beautiful and relaxing. The whole album has a very arctic feel, and its easy to imagine sitting on a glacier viewing the northern lights completely alone for miles and miles while listening to this album. The album is full of looping strings and distant drones with detail and diversity that keeps the listeners attention (which is a feat for an album as ambient as Substrata). And on that note I must mention that this is a very ambient album. There is very little beat or rhythm and most of the focus is on creating a sound scape and atmosphere. If you are looking for something with just a little more beat, check out Biospheres album Microgravity, it is also fantastic and contains the same arctic feel, but with more techno beats and rhythm.

Substrata at Amazon

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Alva Noto – Xerrox, Vol. 2

Alva Noto – Xerrox, Vol. 2

11 songs, 1 hour 6 minutes long

Xerrox, Vol. 2 is an ambient masterpiece. One of my all-time favorite sleeping albums, Xerrox, Vol. 2 is ambient enough to sleep or work to, but also enjoyable to simply sit and listen to. There is never much rhythm or melody; Xerrox, Vol. 2 is probably closer to being interesting noise than it is truly music. That being said, Xerrox, Vol. 2 is beautiful and will have you questioning the definition of music itself, as the album is most certainly minimalist music. Full of buzzes, hums, and bleeps, Xerrox, Vol. 2 sounds like what I thought industrial would sound like when I first heard of it. It’s like listening to the thump-thump-thump of a dryer that is spinning off of its axis, and then a steam generator, and then a satellite. Xerrox, Vol. 2 has to be heard to be understood, and for any fans of ambient music, it’s high on my recommendation list.

Xerrox, Vol. 2 is available in vinyl on Amazon.

Skeeter

Air France – No Way Down

Air France – No Way Down

6 songs, 22 minutes long

This is an EP I have meant to review for a long time. It is probably my favorite 22 minutes of music and something that everyone should give a listen to. Air France is a group from Sweden that has gained respectable popularity for a band with only 2 EP’s. No Way Down is their second effort and while their first EP, On Trade Winds, was fantastic, No Way Down is, dare I say, perfect. The only good way I can describe Air France is beachy; not beachy like party pop music, instead melancholy and relaxing. The album is dreamlike, from the repeating “Sort of like a dream. No. Better.” to the dance worthy basslines to the horns and piano that fill the EP. Even though this is a disappointingly short album, every moment on it is worth listening to over and over again.

I can’t recommend this album enough. Its something I will be listening to for a long time, and I cant wait to see what else this group can come up with in the future.

Get No Way Down at Amazon

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Pilot Balloon – Ghastly Good Cheer

Pilot Balloon – Ghastly Good Cheer

12 songs, 40.9 minutes long

Ghastly Good Cheer is Pilot Balloon’s first and only LP, released in 2004 on the 2nd Rec label. 2nd Rec is currently on an “indefinite hiatus,” and it’s unfortunate because this album is a gem. A darkened side of hip hop or trip hop, Ghastly Good Cheer straddles several genres. The album is unsettling, and the beats start and stop. There is a lot of empty space in the album, not in pauses, but silence between the beats. In many ways, Pilot Balloon is crafting beautiful silence among schizophrenic beats rather than drowning away the silence. Singing is muffled and quiet for most of the album, but suddenly lyrics emerge some twenty minutes in; the sudden introduction of rapping is as jarring as the rest of the album. Maybe Pilot Balloon was unsuccessful because it’s not music that would appeal to the masses, but I find it haunting and beautiful, like an abandoned cathedral.

You can still find Ghastly Good Cheer for sale at places like InSound but if you send an email to 2nd rec, they accept PayPal and then the struggling label will see more of the money that they need to keep promoting under-appreciated artists like Pilot Balloon. This album, more than the others I have posted, I recommend both because it is astounding, but also because if the artists don’t get any attention, it may be the last of its kind.

Skeeter

Sin Fang Bous – Clangour

Sin Fang Bous – Clangour

12 songs, 42 minutes long

Hailing from Reykjavik, Iceland, Sin Fang Bous’ (the solo project of Sindri Mar Sigfusson from the band Seabear) first album, Clangour, is a catchy and original Dream Pop album. The album has the distinguishing Icelandic feel similar Sigur Rós but with a much more Pop-esque and lively sound. This is an album that will be repeating in your head for days to come after just one listen. It doesn’t contain much of a synth sound like other dream pop bands; instead the album relies a lot more on guitars, violins, and pianos (along with electronic effects) to produce a fairly upbeat (though not generally dance worthy) and joyful album. Not many dream pop or indie pop bands catch my attention like this album has. It stands out from bands with similar tags for reasons that are hard to put into words. It is an album that has to be listened to in order to hear why it’s so good; I can’t imagine any review doing this album justice.

Clangour at Amazon

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Koan – When The Silence Is Speaking

Koan – When The Silence Is Speaking

9 songs, 1.3 hours long

Koan’s 2009 album When The Silence Is Speaking is a chill adventure. The album is fairly ambient, and this is an album I don’t mind throwing on to drown out noise from neighbors when I’d like to sleep. The album is full of empty sounds, lots of echoes over a slow but steady rhythm. Fans of Bluetech should definitely check this one out. Like Bluetech and other ambient works, it’s easier to talk about the atmosphere of When The Silence Is Speaking than other aspects of the album, and like Bluetech’s work, When The Silence Is Speaking has an aquatic feel. However, Koan’s work is less layered and more ambient than Bluetech. This isn’t a bad thing, it just leaves the album with a more lonesome feeling. Altogether, it’s a cool listen, and one I definitely recommend. Apologies to those who don’t know Bluetech for leaning so heavily on the comparison between the artists.

When The Silence Is Speaking in mp3 at Amazon.

Skeeter

Lullatone – Songs That Spin in Circles

Lullatone – Songs That Spin in Circles

10 songs, 38 minutes long

Lullatone is a husband and wife  group from Nagoya, Japan, and their latest effort, Songs That Spin in Circles, is a beautiful and soothing ambient album. The group refers to their music as “Pajama Pop” because of the lullaby-esque sound that encompasses their music and thus makes this a perfect bedtime album. The songs are diverse and complex while remaining minimal and ambient. The album contains everything from basic keyboards, to guitars, to glockenspiels combined in a beautiful ambient harmony that will conjure nothing but good emotions and a tranquil state.  One of my favorite aspects of this album is the female vocals. The vocals are sparse and come in a mix of Japanese and English, but it is an amazing voice that only adds to the relaxing feel of the album and the overall lullaby feel.

This album is perfect for anyone looking for something beautiful and peaceful to listen to while trying to slip away in to sleep, or for anyone looking for non-invasive, beautiful background music.

Songs That Spin in Circles at Amazon

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