In light of my recent Instagram post that gave a snapshot of what the review queue looked like, I will keep these short and sweet in an effort to try and get through as many releases before I hit the brick wall.

“We’re returning to our release schedule with a work that has been a longtime coming, and brought to you by Berlin based Daisuke Imamura. Usually known by his stage name DJ Die Soon – part of the Small But Hard collective and fresh from releases on Morphine Records – here is the debut under his own name.

While I’ve been a big fan of Daisuke’s sonic attacks of beats and basslines, it was great to hear his new experiments on a more expansive tip. It’s unquestionably still like the DJ Die Soon I always knew but with an intimate tone and dare I say, even emotional.

The most recent release from the Berlin based Inner Space Travels label (Luis Meihlich, Taigo de Almeida) comes from Daisuke Imamura whose “Beyond Endless Ceilings” moves through a variety of electronic based moods and approaches. With a definite experimental edge that casts over most of the material, the pieces range from the more Ambient based “That dog and a rainy ice cream”, the more academic “Bumble Me Yellow Vaccine” through to the static soaked haze of “Beyond Endless Ceilings – Silver” and “Beyond Endless Ceilings – Brown” where Imamura adds layers of crunchy distortion and near SunnO))) drone vibes to his hazy warped palette.

If Ambient/Electronic music that revels in the more detritus soaked and more texturally explored end of the spectrum appeals to you, them “Beyond Endless Ceilings” may appeal to you. The release is available on highly limited cassette (10 copies) and Digital.

“СТРАТУМИ (STRATUMI or STRATUMS in Cyrillic) uses the metaphor of geological strata to meditate on the different aspects of reality, their relationships and tectonic confrontations. Political, Economic, Cultural, Mental, Morphogenetic, Libidinal strata are the constituents of what the personal and social realities are. Now is the time to stop taking it for granted, to come out of the philosophical cave and learn personal and social responsibility, solidarity, communication and collaboration especially in these troubling times of capitalism pandemic accelerating beyond our ordinary powers of comprehension. After ‘Dark political stratum’, slightly noisier and experimental release, on ‘СТРАТУМИ’ they return to more subtle plateaus, combining field recordings, drone and ambient sound, this time supported by drone superstars Robert Farrugia & Carlo Giustini!

This is the second Private Mountain release on élan vital recordings following on from the Machinefabriek endorsed “Dark Political Stratum” (also on élan vital recordings) and “Blue Mountain” (Neotantra). While I passed on covering “Dark Political Stratum”, “СТРАТУМИ” is more suited to my taste as it is more within an ambient framework than it’s predecessor. Definitely dark in mood, there is a minimalism and spaciousness to the pieces that becomes apparent with deeper listening. ‘Dark…” was a noisier more experimental sound and this time around the duo of Dimitar Dodovski and Toni Dimitrov (as well as the synth and piano work of Robert Farrugia and Carlo Giustini) set about exploring the beauty that is visible in the darkness.

Take for instance “Transcience” with it’s fractured melodies, glacial gold drones, cavernous space and clanking sounds or the underwater cave sounds of “Autopoietic Stratum” for examples of balancing the light and dark, beauty and decay. Since this release the North Macedonian duo have collaborated separately with each of the guest artists for the recently released “Panicdemia” compilation which may hint at further developments in the future.

“СТРАТУМИ” is available on limited Cassette (15 copies), limited CD (30 copies) and Digital.

“Originally released in 2013 on the Inner Ocean label, Porya Hatami’s “Kani” was a four track EP showcasing his intimate take on modern ambient music. The Iranian artist has issued a large number of albums that imbue pastoral ambient with subtle field recordings and melodies. The melodic aspect of Hatami’s work took centre stage in this release, and shone bright across the four pieces.

So now, seven years later, “Kani” is being given the reissue that it deserves, and will delight those listeners new to it, and those who are rediscovering it again. Besides the original four tracks, there are an additional five remixes by artists working in a similar orbit to Hatami, and some who have collaborated directly with him in the past.”

“There is a quality contained in the 28 minutes of Kani that stands out from the rest in Hatami’s long and growing catalog. Something that seems just beyond grasp, but there none the less. That nameless quality and magic surely makes Kani a stand out gem of releases in 2013.” – Original press release.

We move through life with great speed these days where everything new is craved as we look for the next endorphin hit. Music these days seems to have a shorter attention/lifespan as we try to keep up with what ever is the latest release. So, it is refreshing from time to time to look back in time to an early release that has been brought back out of ‘retirement’ and had a light shone upon it once more. One such release is “Kani” by Iranian artist Porya Hatami which originally saw the light of day on the Canadian imprint Inner Ocean, which at the time was more of an Ambient label before moving in a more Electronic vein (although they also have the Drift sub-label devoted to Ambient releases). Dronarivm gave this original Digital only ep a physical release and rounded up a collection of remixers which include Darren Mclure, Purl, Arovane, Tomotsugu Nakamura and Sven Laux to weave their magic on the pieces.

The end result is the rediscovery of a great ambient release that sounds as fresh as it did when first it came out (2013), coupled with a mix of beat driven and swirly electronica influenced Ambience. The original pieces work in a subtle way with gentle flowing feelings and a tangible tactile quality. There is a dream like quality to the tracks which make for perfect rainy day listening with the highlight for me being new dawn feel of “Kani (Day)’ and the glistening tones of “Fearless”. In the remix arena Autechre super fan Mclure goes full demented IDM on “Field”, while the likes of Purl add like skipping dance beats on “Kani (Day)” and Tomotsuga Nakamura adds an electroacoustic feel to “Restless”.

“Kani + Remixes” is a release that is perfectly balanced in all facets. The remixes add to the originals rather than detract, making for an enjoyable listen. The Cd is sold out directly from the label, but may be still available through their various stockists. Digital is also an option.

“Growing up, Mikael was influenced by Aphex Twin and much of the Warp catalog as well as showing a keen interest in classical music, with Arvo Pärt a particular inspiration. Piano and synthesisers form the forefront of his sound as he combines orchestral timbres with subtle electronics. Recently he has been moving increasingly away from the typical Ambient sound in two directions; one is towards more classical music, and the other towards more electronic, modular music. ‘Give Shape to Space’ is somehow representative of this friction, without taking sides; modern classical minimalism with strings and pianos share the field with evolving modular synths, both contributing to ripping apart the comfortable ambient soundscapes and making them more expressive.”

Mikael Lind has quite the catalog discography which he adds Whitelabrecs to with “Give Shape To Space” which came out at the end of July. The press release states a movement away from the more Ambient styled music into a diverging Electronic and Modern Classical inspired directions. From my point of view I still feel a strong connection to Ambient music through the guise of a more Modern Classical framework. A piece like “Ornamental Frameworks” demonstrates this nicely while weaving in fractured, flickering electronics. Throughout the album a stillness is demonstrated where Lind allows the music to take time, evolve naturally and not become forced.

Other than the stillness, another noted quality is the way in which the music is contained within certain frameworks. The music doesn’t chop and change, peak and trough. Instead there is a consistency to all the pieces which unifies them and makes for a balanced listen. But that said, this is not nine variations on a theme as Lind approaches each piece and offers something to each and every one. “Give Shape To Space” is available on limited Cd and Digital.

“We present No signal , the long-awaited new album from BROMO; combo formed by our Moedular Member Paloma Peñarrubia in the musical concept and our partner Azael Ferrer in the visual development. 

If “Traces Of Erosion” (Oigovisiones Label, 2017) took migrations as its starting point, with No Signal , BROMO points to the Common Space as opposed to the Cosmic Space; based on research and studies of different Aerospace Agencies that discern around the colonization, exploitation and militarization of that elusive ether.

Paloma has spent two years completing “No Signal” and the record shows the exponential growth of her songwriting experience. The sound design is more complete and the conceptual and visual impact of this new hit is more forceful. Squeeze the rhythmic IDM deepening in a sci-fi framework with arrangements that gain in complexity, spatiality and execution without losing sight of the organic. With a similar ratio of rhythm-noise and order-chaos but with an overflowing timbral palette, the beats collapse and the space expands and contracts between visceral arpeggios and lashes halfway between dark ambient , classical modern and noise . It is beautiful, terrifying, imposing….”

“No Signal” comes to us via the Spanish Oigovisiones label, a label which has a mission statement of being focused on experimental, ambient and non specific genres. The pieces contained on Broma’s “No Signal” fall within the IDM framework, but have enough of a point of difference not to just be typical of that genre. The pieces have stop/start twists and kaleidoscope of sounds that rush past the listener hinting at a variety of stylistic influences. For as much melody as there is, there is an equal amount of experimental sounds occurring. It feels like Peñarrubia is as much interested in creating soundscapes as she is pieces. She really finds her feet on a piece like the title track which nicely evolves through the process of adding elements and increasing the intensity of the piece, so by the time that it really starts to take off, there is a multitude of sounds and motifs to take in.

“No Gravity” is probably the purest example of IDM on the album with a percussion heavy piece that is matched with walls of retro synth pulses, while “Military Space” takes a similar approach and twists the feel to one that is more menacing in it’s circular ever moving style. That is not to say that IDM is the only style that Peñarrubia engages with as throughout the album you come across sections that have strong soundscapes and mood building, like the opener “Copuos”.

If IDM with a multitude of approaches, sounds and a desire to push boundaries and explore, then “No Signal” would be right up your alley. “No Signal” is available on limited LP (220 copies) and Digital.

“Somnbie was recorded in the first half of 2020 in Bentonville, Arkansas (USA) during the COVID-19 pandemic, the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and other racial atrocities, and the ongoing struggle for equality and basic human decency. On the artist’s mind were themes of sleepwalking, lucid dreaming, oppression, and isolation…but also deepening relationships, self-discovery, and stronger connections with the best of humanity. Hope is always there, even if it’s sometimes in the margins.”

Pagination’s “Somnbie” comes via Bueno Aires’ Cyclical Dreams label and is the work of  Tom Schmidlin from Bentonville, Arkansas. Schmidlin has appeared on the Past Inside The Present sub-label Healing Sound Propagandist as well as having a bunch of self released Digital works. The pieces on “Somnbie” are submerged in sound with a feeling that something is covering over them. There is a strong minimal sensibility mixed in with glacial pace and coldness that permeates all of the pieces. In small doses this would be fine, but you get the feeling that had there been a more dynamic shift in the music or maybe the mastering, the pieces would be elevated that much more. You can tell by listening that Schmidlin knows how to compose within a genre like Ambient/Drone, it is just that only this particular release the dynamics are missing which leaves them buried and the music becomes almost one dimensional, which is a bit of a shame as I want it to shine.

You can hear a similar sound on the Healing Sound Propagandist release “Slleet”, but on some of the tracks on his “Shelter From The House IV” release and some other, you can get glimpses of a bit more depth. That said this may just be his sound that he is pursuing, so if your particular interest within this genre is for more cavernous, muted soundscapes a release like “Somnbie” will suit your particular tastes. “Somnbie” is available Digitally.

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