I recently did this mix for Words On Tracks. Thanks to Fred for the invitation. Here’s some stuff I wrote about my track selection:
This is a selection of my favourite recent tracks. They could all be termed Ambient and mostly feature field recordings and acoustic instruments alongside electronics and processing. There’s also an emphasis in this mix on warm and fuzzy sounds – tape hiss, softly saturated tones and delicately broken textures. And most of these tracks are from friends of mine – I consider myself lucky to have connected with some really lovely people over the last few years, both artists and label honchos. This mix is dedicated to them (including any I’ve missed out!) and to their friendship, generosity and talent. Thanks for listening!
1 - Antonymes - Means Of Escape [ii]
I’ve decided not to include any of my own solo or collaborative tracks in this mix, but am kicking it off with a remix I did for my friend Antonymes for the finest ambient label around (OK, I’m biased!), Hibernate Recordings. Last year Ian reworked his 2009 modern classical piano album Beauty Becomes The Enemy Of The Future (Cathedral Transmissions) into There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay (spot the Withnail And I Uncle Monty quote!) and invited a few friends to remix tracks from the original. For my version of the newly titled Means Of Escape I recorded his original piano lines to cassette tape, re-recording them multiple times to build up the fuzz and degradation before further laptop treatments and layering.
2 - René Margraff - blau schwarz
René mostly records as Pillowdiver, as well as being one half of Two People In A Room. This is his first release under his own name and has just come out on the fantastic Home Normal label. I won’t pretend to know exactly what instruments or gear René used for this one, though his setup ranges from tape-recorded pedal-laden guitar loops to laptop-stretched and convolved samples. This is a gorgeous track which combines thick drones with beautiful half-buried melodies and sheets of hissing noise.
3 - Tone Color - An English Summer
My mate Phil Edwards (who records as PJE and also collaborates with yours truly as Ashlar) runs quality netlabel Assembly Field. He’s put out some lovely stuff and Tone Color’s The Last Day album is my favourite and this is my favourite track from the album, combining synth and environmental sounds with some lush guitar tones. And it’s all free to download!
4 - David Newlyn - Winterheight
Another Hibernate Recordings release from another good friend. Hard to believe, I’ve known Dave since 2004 and he’s released some wonderful recordings over the years, first as October Man and more recently as David Newlyn, as well as running the boutique CDR label Cathedral Transmissions. This track, from his new album Disintegrating Suburban Dream, sees him further honing his warm and fuzzy sound which combines electronics, guitar and piano with lo-fi field recordings made on phone and camera, reflecting his love of exploring and photographing derelict and abandoned spaces.
5 - Pausal - Distance
Pausal are Alex Smalley and Simon Bainton. Alex also records as Olan Mill and Simon under his own name. Together they make some of the most beautiful and ethereal reverb-drenched drones you could ever have the pleasure of hearing, using an array of acoustic instruments, field recordings and processed vinyl loops. This track is from their recent Sky Margin LP on Own Records.
6 - Federico Durand - Iris, La Niña Invisible
Federico’s debut album La Siesta Del Ciprés came out on Spekk back in 2010 and its foggy drones and twinkling melodies make it one of my all-time favourite albums and one I still listen to regularly. He’s recorded for a few other labels since (Own Records, Home Normal and Desire Path) but now returns to Spekk with El Estanque Esmeralda. This album uses tape loops, field recordings and quiet melodies to draw on the artist’s hazy childhood memories of the mountains, forests and emerald lakes of his native Argentina.
7 - Maps And Diagrams - Valargo
I’ve been listening to Tim’s music for over ten years now, since his early more beat-based classic melodic electronica on labels like Expanding, Static Caravan, Pause_2 and Moamoo. His more recent ambient and drone material is no less beautiful and this one is from his In Circles CD on Time Released Sound. The music is wonderfully melodic, organic and deeply textured, and as with all TRS releases the packaging of the ‘deluxe’ version of the CD is ridiculously extravagant – digipaks collaged with antique Spanish cork wallpaper in hand-stamped and diagrammed envelopes with a 75 year old page of hand-drawn and written diagrams and text!
8 - Listening Mirror - Mixtli Sleeps (ft. Alicia Merz)
This track is from my good friend Listening Mirror’s The Heart Of The Sky album, which he recently re-released in an expanded and remixed CD edition. I contributed one of the remixes, but here I’d like to include one of his original tracks which features the haunting vocals of Alicia Merz (Birds Of Passage) over atmospheric environmental sounds recorded in Mexico and Jeff’s trademark wind-blown guitar drones.
9 - Olli Aarni - Kimalla
This track is side B of Olli Aarni’s cassette release Kimalle. It’s just come out on Ghent-based tape label Dauw and I was lucky enough to snag one of 50 copies – I’m a sucker for numbered hipster editions in handmade packaging! It comes in a screen-printed sleeve within a hand-sewn felt pouch and the music is equally lovely – minimal, elongated and glowing tones and drones.
10 - Eluder – The Event Horizon
Pat Benolkin also records glitchy IDM stuff as Electricwest, but under the Eluder moniker his work is pure ambient. This track is from his recent Through Horizon album on Infraction Records, a kind of concept album that “documents the voyage of an unnamed vessel through star fields, solar superstructures and dark space.” These haunted sci-fi pads, drones and creaking, rattling field recordings could be an alternate soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey or Solaris.
11 - Illuha - Structures Based On The Plasticity Of Sphere Surface Tension
My mix concludes with a track from Illuha’s Akari album on 12k, an amazing work that is at once epic in its scope and instrumentation and sparse and minimal in its delicacy, spacing and structure.