If ever there is a need for beauty in this world, it is now. Some calm, some escape, soundtracks to make things just a little better. I present to you the latest releases from The Green Kingdom, Hugar and SVLBRD.

“The Green Kingdom is Michael Cottone, based in Michigan. His compositions blur the line between soundscape and structure, utilizing a variety of processed acoustic and electronic sources, sampled textures and field recordings. ‘Springhill’ is a new album by The Green Kingdom, following releases on such labels as Dronarivm, Archives and Past Inside The Present.

“This album is about home. Springhill is the name of the neighborhood my family lives in, and in a way, this album is a sonic love letter to our little piece of this earth and its surrounding areas. Little themes to soundtrack our daily existence and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us, but is often easily overlooked. My hope is that it can be the same for your home, wherever that may be.” – Michael Cottone.”

At this moment in his career it is hard to be objective about the music that Michael Cottone aka The Green Kingdom releases. Let’s just face the fact that he can’t put a foot wrong. With neigh on a decade and a half of music behind him on labels such as SEM label, Home Line Assembly, Nomadic kids Republic, Lost Tribe Sound, Dronarivm, Sound In Silence and Past Inside the Present to name a few, his most recent release “Springhill” on the Hidden Vibes label once more hits the mark. Whether it’s a case of Japanese styled melodic chime based tunes, Nostalgic tracks or Americana influenced guitar ambience, the warmth, colour and light emanates through his music. “Springhill” is a soundtrack to contemplation, relaxation and regeneration with slices of music that are infused with beauty without being too saccharine. Cottone is the type of artist who has that rare ability to flip the switch in a listeners head and alter their mood just through the magic of his music. Like all his other releases “Springhill” is a must hear and another great addiction to the Hidden Vibes catalogue.

“Springhill” is available on limited CD (100 copies) and Digital. The deluxe CD has sold out.

“The Vasulka Effect: Music for the Motion Picture” is the soundtrack album to film of the same name by Hugar. The feature film traces the once-bright careers of Woody and Steina Vasulka- pioneers of video art, lifetime hackers and grandparents of the “YouTube” generation. They are struggling in their retirement years to archive their body of work. By chance, they are rediscovered by the art world that had forgotten all about them. People and institutions are all of the sudden fighting over who will represent them after they are gone.”

Hugar are the Icelandic duo of Bergur Þórisson & Pétur Jónsson and they do the reputation of Icelandic music no harm. Last seen on these pages with the “Varða” this time around sees the duo venture into a more ambient framework while still having the great hallmarks of Modern Classical music. There is a muted feel when put in direct comparison to the above The Green Kingdom album, but there is no less beauty. With a minimalistic approach, the music on “The Vasulka Effect” best reveals itself in a quiet place to listen. While not having seen the film I can only go by what the music represents for me and that is a feeling of sadness, regret and deep introspection. I am always blown away by how musicians are able conjure so many emotions within pieces of music and make them so multi-faceted. With Hugar you are not getting a single take on something, you are getting a layered and considered approach that much like the emotion, hits you in waves in different ways. The music has a natural, unforced approach with Þórisson and Jónsson nicely the organic / electronic influence of instrumentation when it comes to delivering their take on human emotion.

If you have followed Hugar from “Varða” or even their self titled debut, then you know you are in for a treat. If they are new to you, I can guarantee you will not be disappointed. You can buy the album here.

I could easily run the gauntlet and share the observations I made about the work of the Green Kingdom and transpose it here for SVLBRD. Like The Green Kingdom, SVLBRD is the work of one man, Agustín Mena who also records as Warmth and is behind both the Archives and Faint labels. Mena’s name is one which guarantees quality with both the music that he makes and the artists that he selects for his labels.

There is a certain calming, slow burn that runs through his music, with the difference being that under the SVLBRD moniker he moves in a darker, but not dark ambient direction. You get the feeling that this is a soundtrack to deep underwater with slow cold currents swirling around you. The pieces have slight ominous qualities within them which is in contrast to Warmth’s more light filled sound making the two projects the flip sides of a coin.

Subtlety is the key in the compositions. As they slowly evolve revealing layer after layer in a rolling pattern, little changes that combined are quite epic, are noticed. For that reason, Mena challenges the listener to stay focused and be active rather than passive. This form of music can easily be seen from an outsider to be ‘just sound’ which undersells this style. Fans of the Ambient/Drone genre can easily find themselves listening to these pieces and conjuring images to match, such is their cinematic and atmospheric feel. For true Ambient heads.

“Inland” is released on Faint in a limited edition CD-R (150 copies) with the ever great photography of Alexander Kopatz and also Digitally.

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