Saturday, November 01, 2008

Favorite Netlabel albums: Part III

Well, It's been months since I posted anything really substantive here. Not only did life get busy, but I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by a lazy, defeatist, can't do attitude towards writing anything here. It seemed like too much effort and not enough time or energy, and I felt I just didn't have the ability. I'm trying to fight back against that mindset, though, so today I'm writing a substantive post here. This is one of the many further posts I promised a while back, a further listing of some of my favorite netlabel releases of all time:

Drifting in Silence - ladderdown (tonatom) - This is a great album of melodic, cinematic electronic music that ranges from ambient to straight-ahead, driving, high-energy electronica. The presence of these upbeat but still melodic tracks is one thing that really distinguishes this album from a lot of other netlabel music. The pieces are very well written, nicely recorded, and emotionally engaging. The album is also nicely paced, tending to alternate back and forth between the slower and more upbeat tracks, which keeps you from being either overwhelmed or lulled to sleep. Among my personal favorites tracks are the opening track, "uphillbattle," which is comprised entirely of what sounds like strummed, heavily reverbed electric guitar; "process of now," with its stunningly beautiful, melancholy piano melody; "wakeup," a driving number with gnarly keyboard sounds; and the closing track "between the lines," a beautiful piece of atmospheric, melancholy ambient that effectively incorporates a choir. The track "shadow" actually has vocals, and though I am not particularly crazy about them, it ends with a cool bit of sampled dialogue. All in all, this is a great, very listenable album that stands out in the world of netaudio. The follow up album, "Truth," which is a purchasable release, is a much more ambient affair, is also good and features reworked, renamed versions of some of the material from this album. There is also a third album "Fallto," which I have not really heard yet. These last two are both available for purchase from the iTunes store.

Jap Jap - Blue Shimmery Fall ( - Originally released through the now defunct Maetrixsolution netlabel, this is a great album of bright, melodic electronic music. It is hard to classify this album stylistically, but there are elements of ambient, IDM, chillout and even a shoegaze influence. I have seen it compared to Ulrich Schnauss, which doesn't seem like a bad comparison, though it has it's own unique sound. Sometimes, parts of it also remind me a bit of the Boards of Canada. Personal favorite tracks are "In a Bright Light," a nice piece of warmly glowing, mid-tempo ambient/electronica with a nicely mixed in vocal loop; "Only You," floating ambient electronica with a mid-tempo IDM beat underneath that evokes sunny afternoons; and "Now that You're Here," a more upbeat but still very atmospheric piece that features some nice electric guitar cords and a great vocal part at the end that I always find moving. There are several other very good tracks on the album besides these. One minor complaint I have about the album is that some of the keyboard souns used here veer a little to close to a cheesy synthetic sound on some tracks, though, thankfully, they manage to avoid going all the way there while some other tracks, like the above listed, avoid it altogether. All in all an excellent release.

Well, I guess that's it for now. Hope you enjoy these two great releases. I'm getting closer to the end of this series of favorite netlabel releases, but I can still think of several albums that I'd like to write about, so hopefully something new will go up here soon. Peace.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Intelligent Toys 5 on the way

It's been awhile since I posted on here. I've been busy a lot of the time and have just felt too drained to write anything whenever I'm not busy. Today, however, I received a bit of good news in my e-mail box that seemed appropriate to share here.

Sutemos netlabel, one of the most consistently excellent netlabels around, has just announced that they will soon be releasing the fifth installment of their excellent Intelligent Toys compilation series. I featured the Intelligent Toys series in a previous post about my favorite netlabel compilations. They feature many well-known and respected IDM and electronic musicians as well as the work of lesser known but often excellent artists. I have been introduced to many excellent artists and albums including Ulrich Schnauss, Quench, Near the Parenthesis, and Sleepy Town Manufacture through these compilations. The latest installment is said to feature tracks by Ulrich Schnauss, SubtractiveLAD, Ruxpin, Funckarma, Sleepy Town Manufacture, and Stockfinster, among numerous others. Hopefully the newest installment will be arriving sooner rather than later.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Good Find of the Week: free albums from Sleepy Town Manufacture and Myrakaru

One of my favorite netlabel releases of the past couple of years that I haven't written about here is Sleepy Town Manufacture's "Inspired By You," available for free download from Sutemos netlabel. Sleepy Town Manufacture excels at making beautiful, warm, melodic IDM/ambient music. He has produced enough really good tracks to qualify as a top notch artist in my opinion. Aside from "Inspired By You," he also has releases on the Monotonik netlabel and numerous tracks available on Sutemos's "Intelligent Toys" compilations. He has also released several albums that, in the past, were available for purchase.

The good news, however, is that he has now made all of his past albums available as free downloads. You can go to his website to download them or follow this link.

In a similar vein, Sutemos netlabel has just made Myrakaru's "Tammetoru" album available for free download as well. I was not familiar with Myrakaru before now, but the "Tammetoru" album was previously released for purchase by the electronic record label Expanding Records, which also released music by Benge, Sovacusa, and Maps and Diagrams. It is a good album of melodic IDM with glitchy beats, reminiscent in some ways of another of my netlabel favorites, Esem's "Scataren." If you like melodic IDM it's definitely worth your time to check it out.

Hope you enjoy these!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Earth Mantra Netlabel - a recomendation and a link

To my regular readers, I again apologize for the lack of new posting, especially for the lack of new posts that I promised a while back would be forthcoming. I have many plans for this blog, but far less time and energy, especially now that the school year is starting back up and things are much busier at my job. Have patience, and I promise that some substantial posts will be forthcoming, as I am able to work on them. Aside from the posts I promised, I am constantly finding myself bombarded with random ideas and inspiration for subjects to post about. Today's post is one such inspiration.

I want to simply offer a quick recommendation and link today, to the Earth Mantra website. Earth Mantra is a netlabel which focuses on deep ambient music. Some of you may have already discovered them from my earlier (still incomplete) post on free deep ambient music, which featured a couple of their artists/releases. If you are into deep space music, dark ambient, or other kinds of deep ambient music in the vein of Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Vidna Obmana, or the like, you should at least check out their list of releases as you will probably find something you like. You could build an entire collection of this type of music from their site completely free. Lately they have been especially prolific (which is what inspired this post), releasing something like six albums in a period of about three weeks. These include releases from the highly praised Kit Watkins, as well as a just released album by Philip Wilkerson that is supposedly in the vein of Thom Brennan styled ambient music (I haven't had the chance to download and listen to this one yet, though I am excited to hear it.) Happy listening!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A couple more free tracks

Well, the big three mentioned in my last post have come out and I have downloaded them all. I've had time to listen to the Bitcrush and the Near the Parenthesis, and they both sound good. I'll be listening to the Lights Out Asia shortly. I'll try to post more about these albums after I've had the chance to listen to them some more.

In the meantime, I discovered that Hidden Shoal Records is offering a free track each from a couple of their upcoming releases, one from Sankt Otten and another from My Majestic Star. The Sankt Otten track is a groovy, almost menacing number driven by a low, dirty bassline and slow beat, vaguely reminiscent of Massive Attack. The My Majestic Star track is a really nice piece of beat driven shoegaze.

Click the links above to go to the download page for each track. Hurry though, as both tracks are only available as free downloads for a limited time. Enjoy!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Big Three: with some free download links

Most electronic, shoegaze and ambient music fans are probably aware of this by now, but just in case you're not, this coming week, on August 19, three of the most anticipated albums of the year will be releasing simultaneously on the N5MD record label: Lights Out Asia's "Eyes Like Brontide," Near the Parenthesis' "L'eixample," and the rerelease, with additional tracks of Bitcrush's "Shimmer and Fade." This is like Christmas in August. I'm saving aside the requisite number of downloads on my emusic account in hopes that they'll be available there on the day of release or shortly thereafter. Once I've had the chance to adequately listen to them, I'll try to review them here as I have time and energy.

In the meantime, if you're unfamiliar with these artists or, like me, a fan chomping at the bit waiting for the new releases, here are some links to free music from these artists to familiarize you or to tide you over.

Bitcrush - There are five free downloads available from the Bitcrush website, which are all worth downloading. They give a good example of the scope of the Bitcrush sound, from the haunting electronics of "as end begins," to the more guitar driven/shoegaze sound of "dusstrait," and the lovely "to the beach."

Near the Parenthesis - I first discovered this artist's music through the Sutemos netlabel compilation "Intelligent Toys 4" and the track Nidae. Also the Sutemos remix compilation "Leon Somov feat. Jazzu: Offline Remixed" features a remix of the track Mano by Arclab and Near the Parenthesis.

Lights Out Asia - Has two free downloads available from their web page. These two tracks are from their first album "Garmonia," and though their sound has progressed some since that album, these tracks should still give you a general idea of their sound.

Happy Listening!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Best Free Music: Deep Ambient (A Rudimentary List)

Hey Everyone. Sorry for the delay in getting something new up here. Aside from going back to work full time after a month of extended weekends, I've also been fighting a summer cold for the past several days. Nevertheless, I wanted to get something posted on here for those of you who have begun checking this blog regularly. I am putting up a rudimentary version of this post, which I will go back and fill in soon, adding links, commentary, etc.

I've been thinking for a bit about some of my favorite deep ambient music available for free download. By deep ambient music, I mean spacious, floating, vast, largely beatless soundscape type music exemplified by folks like Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Vidna Obmana, and similar artists. There are a number of good artists making this type of music and offering it for free on the web. Here are some of my favorites:

1.) Mooma - Herd Forming - This is a lovely album of deep, drifting ambient music. Whereas, a lot of the free ambient music available on the web veers towards experimental, dark, or drone oriented ambiance, this album has a brighter sound, in keeping with the album cover artwork, and even features melodic elements at times. If that description makes you think of New Age music, don't worry, this is definitely serious ambient music. One of the things that distinguishes this album for me, from among the many ambient releases available for free download, is that it avoids the sappiness of new age music on the one hand, and the oppressive darkness and isolationism of a lot of ambient music on the other. The music calls to mind vast open spaces.

Tracks like "Shelter" and "Hello Dawn Horizon" have a kind of nostalgic, melancholy melody to them, while other tracks like "Entropy" feature drifting pads and vague background noises that bring the natural world to mind. Even the darkly named "Don't Bring Light Into This Place" is far more spacious and bright than one would expect, and also features sparse melodic elements. This one is a definite winner. If you like beatless, drifting ambient music, it's hard to go wrong with this album.

2.) Altus - various releases - Altus is an ambient artist who offers nearly his entire discography as free downloads. While his music can be generally classed under the deep ambient/new age label, his sound varies from album to album. There is the dark, dramatic "Only One Earth to Destroy," the lighter, more melodic sounds of "Excursion One," and the majestic space music of "The Grand Expanse, to name just a few. His most recent album "Macro" is highly different from anything he has done before, collection of short instrumental pieces that vary in sound and style, from "classical" sounding string pieces, to sparsely treated piano sounds, to full on electronic ambient. "Singulus," a collection of various pieces composed for different compilation albums, also gives a good introduction to the variety of Altus sound. Most of his prodigiously large output is available for download directly from the Altus website. Very good stuff.

3.) Deepspace - The Barometric Sun; Subantarctic Sessions

4.)Palancar - Various releases

5.) Copal River - Ancara

6.) The Nature of Light - Shores of Jupiter