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Recommended

Jóhann Jóhannsson – IBM 1401, A User’s Manual

IBM 1401, A User’s Manual

Label: 4AD
Format: CD
Country: UK
Released: 2006
Genre: Classical, Electronic
Style: Modern Classical



Comes in a four-panel digipak with a liner notes paper sticked inside.

The orchestra was recorded at Barrandov Studios, Smecky Soundstage in Prague in September 2005.

Additional recordings were made in Reykjavik, Skálholt, Florence, Madrid, Zurich, Piran and Rennes during the period 2003-2006. Mixed in Syrland, Reykjavik in February 2006.

Mastered in Abbey Road.

Tracks two and three feature the voice of “an unknown instructor from an IBM 1401 Data Processing System maintenance instruction tape found in my father’s attic.”

All electronic sounds were derived from the IBM 1401 Data Processing System and the Hammond B3 organ with Ring Modulator, Distortion and Filter pedals. The music and sounds of the IBM 1401 Data Processing System were recorded by Jóhann Gunnarsson, Örn Kaldalóns and Elías Davídsson in Reykjavik in 1971. The musical fragment played by the computer is from the hymn “Ísland Ögrum Skorid” by Sigvaldi Kaldalóns, used by kind permission.

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Recommended

Boards of Canada – Random 35 Tracks Tape

No oficial cover.

Random 35 Tracks Tape

Label: Music70
Format: Cassette
Country: UK
Released: 1995?
Genre: Electronic
Style: IDMDowntempo, Ambient



Random 35 Tracks Tape (real name unknown) refers to a collection of 35 tracks leaked on P2P networks around September 2004. Unlike other “Old Tunes” tapes, the tracks are completely unlabeled; however, a few match known tracks from other sources, including commercial releases. No liner notes or tape scan have ever surfaced.Despite its uncertain provenance, the tape is generally believed to be authentic.

Background

Random 35 Tracks Tape seems to be sourced from a cassette tape containing a (presumably) hand-selected set of pre-BoC Maxima tracks. The leaking of these tracks to P2P networks (Soulseek, originally) provided much drama on WATMM.All files are encoded as 320kbps MP3.

For a long time, it was assumed that this tape was the missing Old Tunes Vol. 1 (since A Few Old Tunes and Old Tunes Vol. 2 were already known), although this was never confirmed. This was finally proven false when, on 08 Aug 2009, Twoism forum member dealer posted new photos of a cassette and liner notes showing the A Few Old Tunes and Old Tunes Vol. 1 were, in fact, the same release.

MDG has said that it is not known who compiled the tracks, calling it “a mystery, just a mixture”.

Zoetrope, a user on radiomute.com, refferred to not only the commonly known A few Old Tunes and Old Tunes vol. 2, but also a third volume, which he appeared to reffer to this leaked release as. Some also seem to believe that this is a ‘Closes vol. 2’.

Download link soon.

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Recommended

Grouper – A I A : Alien Observer

A I A : Alien Observer

Label: Yellow Records
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: US
Released: April 2011
Genre: Rock
Style: Experimental, Drone, Ambient


The tools Liz Harris uses to make music as Grouper tend to be pretty basic: piano, guitar, synths, drones, hiss, and lots of reverb. If you’ve been following along with the twists and turns of noisy ambient music these last few years, this collection of elements may sound familiar, possibly bordering on cliché. But it’s all in how you fit the pieces together. Despite sharing characteristics with a lot of other current music, Harris’ has a distinctive sound that she pretty much owns. These short LPs, released at the same time and that share an overall aesthetic, sound beamed in from another realm, and they also sound like they could have come from no one else.

Part of the distinctiveness can be traced to Harris’ voice, which floats above the music and can sound delicate and shrouded and mist and can also evince an approachable earthiness. Particularly on Alien Observer, she layers her voice in a way that occasionally brings to mind Julianna Barwick, but Harris sounds comparatively distant and less immersive. Her voice haunts these songs instead of leading them; it’s a presence and not a personality, and the voice and instruments are in balance, serving each other without any one element becoming more prominent.

The other aspect that sets Grouper apart is an approach to sound that feels somehow both cruder and more sophisticated than the majority of the lo-fi crop. It’s crude in the sense that it seems to hearken back to the dark, home-recorded songs of an earlier era. David Pearce’s music as Flying Saucer Attack, recorded mostly during the 1990s, was often referred to as “rural psychedelia,” and that description would fit this pair of records. This music feels both spacey and expansive and also oddly intimate and grounded, the work of someone who has mastered her tools and knows how to get the most out of them. The sophistication comes from the care in presentation. This music doesn’t sound like it was built from mistakes or thrown together, it seems precisely ordered and arranged even while it’s often muffled and warbly and distorted. Every sound exists for a reason.

Full review and more please follow this link [http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/15332-a-i-a-alien-observer-a-i-a-dream-loss/].

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Recommended

Dolphins Into The Future – Canto Arquipélago

Canto Arquipélago

Label: Underwater Peoples Records
Format: Vinyl, LP
Country: US
Released: March 2012
Genre: Electronic, Non-Music
Style: Abstract, Field Recording, Experimental, Poetry


This sound will take you out your bedroom for a small trip around windy mounts. I promise you.


“There is something phenomenally enticing about a sequestered island chain, literally bounded by a vast and enveloping sea.Perhaps it’s the romance of discovery – the knowledge that here lies the safety of land within the great seclusion of nature. Perhaps it’s the raw beauty that is simply emerald speckled turquoise.Lieven Moana as Dolphins Into The Future dedicates his latest effort to the Azores, a remarkably beautiful volcanic archipelago that lacks very little by way of inspiration. The ambient conjurer weaves glorious tones and minimal percussion with brilliant and evocative field recording, having spent several weeks on the island cluster for this body of work. “Once an island gets born,” Lieven articulates, “it’s a continuous struggle, a continuous dialogue, a learning, a BATTLE and cooperation of influences. The sea starts bashing on it’s shores. Erosion starts the complete demolition of the island. But at the same time, sun and sea give birth and food… Archipelagos have a heavy rhythm.”

Quoted from http://underwaterpeoples.com/

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Recommended

Nathan Fake – The Sky Was Pink

The Sky Was Pink

Label: Border Community
Format: Vinyl, 12″
Country: UK
Released: Aug 2004
Genre: Electronic
Style: Leftfield, Progressive House, IDM, Downtempo, Minimal


Of course, the remix of James Holden is absolutely self-dependent track on this release. With its help the world has got to know the name of N. Fake. Of course, if a moment of inspiration of J. Holden would have concurred with appearance of another track, not Fake’s, the world would have got similar masterpiece. In support of this – Holden’s Techno Tool Remix is based absolutely on Holden’s main remix. The Dancefloor has got a similar example – Timo Maas with his remix of Azzido Da Bass “Dooms Night” (have you ever heard the original version?).

But it’s not fair not to keep in mind the Fake’s creation. It should be named here – Original Live Take and Icelandic Version. Beautiful (!) melodic progressive downtempo tracks with especial FX, catchy melodie, exclusive IDM-like production. Master’s at work!

Review by IntelliGiant [http://www.discogs.com/user/IntelliGiant/]

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Recommended

Sinoia Caves – The Enchanter Persuaded

The Enchanter Persuaded

Label: Brah Records
Format: CD, Album
Country: US
Released: 2006
Genre: Rock, Electronic
Style: Progressive Rock, Ambient


The Enchanter Persuaded, the debut album from Black Mountain keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt (billed here as Sinoia Caves), is a nice example of the early-21st century’s fascination with synthesizers. Unlike his contemporaries, who tend to echo new wave acts, Schmidt draws inspiration from a different pack of synth gods — bands that boasted cosmic monikers like Tangerine Dream and Hawkwind, musicians who wielded their Moogs and Mellotrons like mighty swords.And as such, this album shouldn’t be viewed as a particularly innovative work but rather as an adept tribute to the analog wizards of the mid-’70s and early ’80s. The standout tracks here are the soundscapes, which echo Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra both in terms of the vast aural territory covered and in terms of actual length. “Dwarf Reaching the Arch Wonder” and “Sundown in the New Arcades (Milky Way Echo)” make for over half an hour of galactic terrain built on sheet after sheet of analog synth and Mellotron effects.

There’s a definite sense of composition here; every whoosh and drone serves the structure, and Schmidt does a good job of keeping these sprawling compositions under tight rein. Shorter, acoustic guitar and vocoder-knit tracks like “Naro Way” and “Through the Valley” are a nice break from the epic stuff going on elsewhere, and they’ll probably draw more than a few comparisons to some of the tracks on Air’s 10,000 Hz Legend. From the druggy green cover art right down to the humid, slightly grimy production, The Enchanter Persuaded is a convincing period piece, not to mention a fitting showcase for Schmidt’s impressive synth sorcery.

Review by allmusic [http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-enchanter-persuaded-mw0000451923]

Categories
Discovery

Muslimgauze ‎– Sandtrafikar

Sandtrafikar

Label: Staalplaat ‎– Muslimlim 011
Series: Muslimgauze Subscription – 011
Format: CD, Album, Limited Edition, Numbered, Digipak
Country: Netherlands
Released: 11 Nov 1997
Genre: Electronic
Style: Ambient, Experimental, Tribal


So, so good. I have by no means heard everything Bryn Jones released, his earliest stuff being a bit of a black spot for me in particular – I’m getting there, though! Having said that, I have been listening to his stuff for close to 15 years now and this, for me, is his best work.

The Muslimgauze material I love the most is the stuff that really conveys an exoticism and otherness. Keyboards that drift like a Saharan wind, Middle Eastern percussion, electronic pulses, sudden bursts of distorted drums and voices. And, of course, those vocal passages, either from the passionate tongues of Arab and Persian peoples, or in English. Sandtrafikar has this all in abundance and it is executed in the most intoxicating way.

The two versions of the title track are so well balanced, almost restrained. One uses a primarily electronic rhythm to underpin it, while the other uses more acoustic percussion. Both, however, feature the same brooding keyboard line, touches of what sounds like an Iranian santur and the recital of lines from some unidentifiable, deep-voiced speaker of Arabic. What’s he saying? Who knows? But it sends a chill down your spine whatever his words are.

The two versions of Baku Oil Field use more electronic trickery, employing phased drones and bleeps alongside the blasts of hand percussion. The tension builds as the noise rises. Shards of an oud-like instrument spin out without warning. Someone intones without emotion, and in American English, that there is damage to the optic nerve of some unfortunate individual. A war casualty? A victim of a workplace accident at the titular oil field? Again, no context is provided and it makes it all the more mysterious.

With the looped interlude tracks providing short breathers and a churning Rootsman remix at the end, this is a highly recommended release. Not sure if it’s one to start your Muslimgauze journey with (maybe try something like Vampire of Tehran for that) but you could soon graduate to this truly epic and deeply satisfying entry in the mammoth Bryn Jones back catalogue.

Review by AllyKarate

Categories
Discovery

The Leisure Society ‎– The Sleeper

The Sleeper

Label: Full Time Hobby ‎– FTH081CDA
Format: CD, Album
Country: UK
Released: 2009
Genre: Rock
Style: Folk Rock, Indie Rock


It’s real easy to be cynical about The Leisure Society is the wake of the unexpected Ivor Novello nomination – it’s a quiet album, wrapped in its own world without ever directly engaging the listener, and it’s one that doesn’t deviate much (if at all) from a pattern it establishes within one track.  ‘Learn some more instruments’, ‘lighten up a bit’, and ‘pay someone else money to record and produce it’ would all be pretty valid suggestions to make.

To take that attitude, though, would be to completely ignore the charm this album has.  Like all the great lo-fi albums, it gets you on its side – you can’t help but notice that you’re listening to an underdog, and you can’t help but root for him, whether the forces he’s up against are the music business or an ex-girlfriend.  Nick Drake comes to mind for the intimacy you start to feel with the voice you’re hearing, although Nick Hemming hasn’t quite achieved that level of mastery yet.

“The Last of the Melting Snow”, for the record, is lovely.  It’s difficult to see why it was plucked from obscurity for the nomination, because it doesn’t really rise that far above anything else on the album, nor is it the absolute stunner you will probably be hoping for.  It is, however, very good.  Considering what else has been nominated, it might even win, and might even deserve it.

Review by Iai

Categories
Recommended

Loscil – Plume

Plume

Label: Kranky ‎– krank096
Format: CD, Album
Country: US
Released: 22 May 2006
Genre: Electronic
Style: Abstract, Minimal, Ambient


Vancouver based Scott Morgan is a sound director within the video game industry. But that’s his daytime job, and his contemporary ambient soundscapes constructed with looping oscillators (a similar function in Csound computer language is compounded to Loscil) don’t have much in common with game music.

In contrast, Morgan’s fourth album Plume, on Chicago’s Kranky Records, is a relaxing, atmospheric, and hypnotic trip unfolding layers of sound complimented by ethereal percussion, gentle xylophone taps, and strums of elbow guitar. For Morgan, the creation of music starts “with a harmonic root from which sounds [are] processed into a loose structure over which the live players could improvise”. Each track within the album grows, transitions, and gradually develops into a piece bestowing a specific state of mind or a flashback to a concrete memory.

A quote from Morgan’s elaboration on a piece capturing the growth of family, if you will: ” ‘Charlie’ was composed after seeing/hearing my daughter Sadie through ultrasound while she was still in the womb. The track was also partly composed as a womb-like sound experience for her to sleep to after she was born, hence the heart beats…”

Recommended if you like his ambient label mates, Stars of the Lid, or other excellent artists in the modern classical genre, like Helios, Deaf Center, and Xela.

Review by Headphone_Commute

Categories
Recommended

Field Music – Tones of Town

Tones of Town

Label: Memphis Industries
Format: CD
Country: England
Released: 2007
Genre: Rock
Style: Indie Rock, Pop Rock


Try listening to this album while you cook or go to college or to work, it’s funny. If you take the train, it’s nice listening to them in that nostalgic cold of the morning.


Field Music’s gorgeous, audacious 2005 debut wound up eclipsed by the jerky pop success of north-east comrades Futureheads and Maxïmo Park. Following last year’s backstory comp Write Your Own History, their second album proper takes them ahead of the pack.

Emboldened by a year on the road, they’re now a glorious band – supple as a jazz trio, punctual as a chamber troupe – and TOT plays to their new strengths, augmenting tricky prettiness with bold vigour. Simultaneously more pop (“A House Is Not A Home”) and more extreme (“Give It Lose It Take It”) than their debut, it sets the benchmark for – what shall we call it? British Prog Pop? – in 2007.