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

Saturday, August 09, 2008

More stuff on the way

Hello all. Just wanted to let those of you who have begun to check this blog with some regularity know that there is plenty more stuff on the way. I've been listening to and thinking about music I like for a long time now, and have plenty of ideas for more posts here. I've run out of vacation time, however, and now that I only have two day weekends again for the foreseeable future, my posting may slow down a bit, so please bear with me. I'm currently working on a new post featuring some of my favorite deep ambient music available for free download on the web. Aside from this post I also have posts in the work on the following topics:

1.) More of my favorite netlabel releases of all time (at least one more post)
2.) More of my favorite shoegazer music
3.) Some of my favorite instrumental/ambient guitar albums
4.) More of my favorite netlabel compilations

Keep checking back and I will be posting new things when I have the time and energy to get to it. Also, I've updated the songs in my player to reflect the contents of the last few posts. I've attempted to include as many full length songs as possible. Peace.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Favorite Netlabel Compilations - Part I

It's hard to believe it's been almost two months since my first post featuring my favorite netlabel albums. I promised, in that post, to do a list of my favorite netlabel compilations before too long had passed. Two months seems long enough, so here it is. I should note before I start the list that there really are very few compilations from which I like every song. Most of the compilations listed here have at least a couple of tracks which I consider really superb.

Draumar Um Kalt Sumar (Sutemos) - I've already made a complete post about this album, which is the only post still around from when I first started this blog two years ago. This probably gets my award for the best netlabel compilation ever. Being mainly made up of ambient/IDM music with an other-worldly vibe, it is remarkably consistent in its overall sound and feel, has a very nice flow from track to track, and is simply beautiful. While there are a number of tracks that stand out on it for me (especially the first five) the whole compilation is good and deserves to be listened to from start to finish. I basically discovered the music of artists like Am-boy, Isan, and Static from this album and went on to purchase or download albums by all three of them. Excellent stuff.

Intelligent Toys 1, 2, 3, & 4 (Sutemos) - Sutemos scores again on this list with their excellent Intelligent Toys series. These compilation albums which again focus mainly on melodic IDM and ambient music are one of the best places on the web to discover a host of great electronic music that you may not have been familiar with before. It was through these compilations that I first discovered the music of numerous well known and respected electronic artists such as Manual, Ruxpin, Sense, Sleepy Town Manufacture, Ulrich Schnauss, Near the Parenthesis, and Quench, as well as lesser known but equally great artists like Crashed By Car, Bauri, Verbose, and Skardas. As with Draumar Um Kalt Sumar above, I have gone on to purchase the works of many these artists. While I think the first two releases in the series are probably the best, every one of them contains some real gems worth discovering. There is enough good music found on these compilations to launch you off in multiple directions into the world of electronic music. Highly recomended.

The Silent Ballet I - IV (Lost Children) - The Silent Ballet compilations, associated with the excellent website of the same name, are pretty much to post-rock music what the Intelligent Toys compilations are to melodic IDM/ambient music. So far there are nine compilations, with one releasing roughly every quarter of the year (although the last two came out simultaneously.) Though most of the compilations lean towards post-rock music, a few of them are geared towards other styles of music, such as number IV, which features a lot of cinematic and moody ambient and instrumental music. Again, as with the previous compilations on this list, I have discovered the music of many excellent artists with whom I was previously unfamiliar, including Caspian, God is an Astronaut, Joy Wants Eternity, City of One Hundred Spires, Apeiron Flux, pg.lost, Tunturia, Anoice, Bersarin Quartet, and The Abbasi Brothers to name a handful. Lots of great stuff waiting to be discovered here.

Red, Green, Blue, and other Summer Feelings (Sutemos) - Sutemos shows up one more time with this compilation, which shies away from the IDM oriented Intelligent Toys releases and features a wider selection of styles. While I am not as enamoured of this release as a whole as I am of some other Sutemos releases such as Draumar Um Kalt Sumar, there are numerous tracks that stand out here including the post-rock oriented sounds of Fonoda, and the super catchy shoegaze oriented sounds of ST and Readymade. Stockfinster features two cuts here from his excellent debut album "All Becomes Music," including an alternate version of the title track that I actually like better than the album version, while FusedMARc offer up eleven minutes of Massive Attack influenced electronic menace and aggression. Good stuff.

Okay, I need to take a break as I've been blogging for two hours now. I still have other albums to add to this list, but these recommendations should be enough to give you many hours of listening pleasure and new music to explore. I hope to be back soon with another entry featuring more of my favorite netlabel compilations, as well as with a third post featuring more of my favorite netlabel albums of all time. Peace.