isolation, introspection, relaxation
ambient, folk, drone, acoustic, vocal, field recordings, early music, spiritual
The Academy of Maqâm - Invisible Face of the Beloved: Classical Music of the Tajiks and Uzbeks (2005, Smithsonian Folkways)
Intense traditional Central Asian classical music. Very call-and-response, and subtly underpinned with strings and percussion.
Alden Jenks’ drone works from the late 60s/early 70s are divine, and have been given a loving release by Other Minds this year. Tape-stretched electronics constitute the melancholic first 30-minute piece, which features a variety of horn-like sounds. The other two pieces are composed on a Buchla 100 modular synth. “Space (for Stephen Hill)” is similarly wistful in tone, with plaintive horns over soft drones. The last and shortest piece, “Lapis”, is more noisy and concrète.
Andrew Weathers and Blaine Todd getting together for a split on Houdini Mansions: yeah, that’s one good thing in life (September 2018, tapes still available). Both artists present a handful of wistful, hazy songs, some abstract soundscapes. Highlights: “Llano” is Weathers doing his trademark melancholy desert autotune folk, and it’s rarely sounded better. Todd has a beautiful sad song on “Between the Dream and the Thing”, followed by some great ambiance on “I Guess It Must Be Some Kind of Holiday”.
With fingerpicked acoustic guitar at its base, and warm synth drones as cover, Asuna’s Tide Ripples (2016, Home Normal) is a soothing album with a gorgeous afterglow.
The Devil’s Trade is a singer/songwriter with a ton of that good grit. What Happened To The Little Blind Crow (2018, Golden Antenna) is his latest album, a strong collection of songs that marry Americana to his Hungarian roots. It’s rough man-music in a way, particularly his pronounced vocal style, but there are fragile moments, too… The arresting opening and closing sections are proof enough.
Endless Melancholy has a new album out on Dronarivm and it might be his best one yet. Fragments of Scattered Whispers is as wistful as you’d expect, with melodies in piano and more abstract synth alternating with sweeping, misty waves. It’s a delicate balance struck between sentiment and dissolution, with neither side taking over and diminishing the whole. If melancholy were always this blissful, then yes, let it be endless.
From a while ago: Continental Drift by Faures (2014, Home Normal) is a gorgeous floating dronework. It definitely touches upon its theme with a suite of shifting and grinding tectonics. But the lighter side of the spectrum is equally rich, with subtle hisses, gentle melodies, and aural whiteouts. A delicate piece of art.
The Green Kingdom outdoes itself on Seen and Unseen (2018, Sound in Silence). The joining of synthesised and acoustic sounds is seamless, the atmosphere serene. Cottone divides the melodies evenly between his various instruments. This lends the album a richness without it ever feeling overburdened. The serenity is relative, too: a track like Woolen Sky introduces a tension that offsets the gentler moods. ‘Seen and Unseen’ is subtle, and unerringly strikes at the heart of electro-acoustic ambient.
Gorgeous blissful chillouts on this new live album by Jamie Awakshidar featuring Evelyn Glyndwr. Prismdeath is out on tape on Hairs aBlazin’ and starts with hazy synth and vocal explorations, before moving into the soft beats of “Metro + Interstellar”. Lush and relaxing.
Leyla McCalla’s second album is full of beautiful, (mostly) cello-based folk from a variety of traditions: Haitian, Louisiana, American. A rare mainstream representation of Haitian Creole songs. (2016, Jazz Village / Harmonia Mundi)
The Cloud of Forgetting is a cloud of bliss: read my review of The Penitential Station’s album here: http://www.eveningoflight.nl/2018/11/10/the-penitential-station-the-cloud-of-forgetting/
Pete Seeger - American Industrial Ballads (1957, Smithsonian Folkways)
Songs about poor pay, poor working conditions, capitalists and unions. As relevant as ever.
The new Moments of the Fall compilation on Hairs aBlazin’ is full of relaxing electronics, ambient, and vapor tunes. Cool tracks by Fae & Seffi, Jamie Awakshidar, Whettman Chelmets, Malocculsion, and others.