Constantine – Hades

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[ Bedouin Records, 2017 ]

A massive, dark wave rises over the horizon on the debut LP by the Greek composer Constantine Skourlis. Named after the mythological underworld, with track names such as “Cosmos” or “Emptiness”, it wants to describe something epic and beyond our grasp. The first three tracks seem to come straight from the Void: endless reverb and doomy strings emulate a gargantuan cavern create an atmosphere of being lost in the vastness of space, the final track, “Erebus”, appropriates Tim Hecker with noisy, destroyed comptuer textures corroding on top of thickly layered, yet airy pianos. An experiential, cleansing experience. Recommended to listen to with headphones on.


TVLab – Music for Rural Bedrooms

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[ Peace Tunic, 2017 ]

Music for Rural Bedrooms is the debut tape by the very fresh Connecticut based label Peace Tunic. Both the music and the artwork were created by David John DiBella who goes by the truly Fangs&Arrows friendly alias TVLab. The tape has a lovely, lo-fi glaze over its progressive electronic atmosphere and the air or amateurish, unpolished joy of creation. In fact, the somewhat hypnagogic tunes here remind one of the golden era of microscopic tape labels and hazy drone/ambient cassettes coming out by the hundreds of the 2000s/2010s. The psychedelic, lazily tropical atmosphere is strongly reminiscent of classic Brother Raven works, with similarly over-enthusiastic approach to knob fuckery and skeletal structures. Lovely.


Loto Retina – Fiction

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[ Orange Milk Records, 2017 ]

More crystalline internet musique concrete from the always boundary-bending label Orange Milk. Fiction is an ADHD infested mirror hall was constructed by the French glitch conoisseur Loto Retina. The album is yet another pristine labirynth of MIDI deconstructions, momentary microgenre outbursts and snippets of wordless vocals mixed with self governing rhythm patterns. With generative titles like “Canal Xylo Sat1” and “Tension Chrono” it reminds one of the cheerful randomness of Autechre, but Fiction is far more abstract than that: it’s more like a music making software using deep learning via neural networks to create electronic music. The effect is eerie, yet aesthetically pleasant. Sounds from the other side. Recommended!


Nico Niquo – In a Silent Way

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[ Orange Milk Records, 2017 ]

Hey there! You know what? The second full-length by Nico Callaghan a.k.a. Nico Niquo is out and it’s just as lovely as the debut one, except better. How? Probably because it fuses together the two schools of ambient music: one is the more rigid, sequencer-driven one, relying upon clear time signatures and mathematical precision, the other being ethereal, rhythmless tracks that rely purely upon atmosphere. In a Silent Way sounds like R Plus Seven that got its ADHD medication and manages to become slower and more coherent while retaining the relaxed, calming atmosphere. Recommended!


Various Artists – Mono No Aware

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[ PAN, 2017 ]

The year 2016 might have seemed for some as some sort of end-of-the-world year with all the major changes going on in the US, Europe, or globally in general. The media were keen to fuel the panic with nearly apocalyptic images of protests, terrorist acts and riot, leading many to believe the next Big War is coming. Meanwhile, the team of the Berlin-based electronic label PAN asked themselves a simple question: What is ambient music in the 21st century? With the help of the musicians who released albums on PAN they answer this question: Well, ambient is still mostly about calmness and atmosphere, but in 2017 it’s stylistic influences are much wider than in the 1970’s when Brian Eno coined the term. The compilations title refers to the Japanese philosophical concept regarding being aware to the passing of all things. The ambience on Mono No Aware is “contaminated” by noise, musique concrete, grime, even ASMR aesthetics. It’s indeniably futuristic but also very traditional at the same time, keeping faithful to the original concept or answering to the question of what ambient music is. Featuring tracks by Helm, Yves Tumor, M.E.S.H., Jeff Witscher, SKY H1, ADR and many more, Mono No Aware is an ecletic, yet coherent collection of the 21st century ambient music. Highly recommended!


Julia Bloop – “I Gotta Get Outta This Place”

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The spring batch of tapes from Crash Symbols comes spearheaded by Brooklyn ambientalist Julia Bloop, who promotes the upcoming cassette Roland Throop with “I Gotta Get Outta This Place”. Bloop creates a dreamlike atmosphere by cleverly juggling relaxed percussive loops, spoken word samples and delicate melodies, resulting in a calm, melodic microcosm that sounds like a clever quote of late 90’s Ninja Tune and their downtempo classics.

Roland Throop is out March 24th via Crash Symbols.


KURO – KURO

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[ Rocket Recordings, 2016 ]

A primordial fog rises above this genre-bending dark masterpiece by the Bristol based duo KURO. With its minimalistic artwork (and name) referring to the masterpieces of Japanese psychedelia and avant-garde, the thickly layered drones bring to mind the music of Tetragrammaton or Yoshi Wada (although not that minimalistic) with an occult twist. Referring to ancient cults and religions, KURO creates a dense, thick atmosphere that sounds like a preparation for a conjuring of a forgotten deity about to emerge from a trans-dimensional portal. This is a work of psychedelic beauty to get lost in. Recommended!