One of my favorite summer albums for calm yet hot southern summer days is Made The Harbor by Mountain Man. It quickly snuck into my favorites back when it was released in 2010 and is still a go to record for catching a moment of rest during a busy day or adding a touch of solitude to an already calm summer night. Recorded with a minimal, lo-fi approach the folk influenced music found here sways calmly through vocal harmonies and catchy melodies that linger in your mind long after listening. More information on the release can be found here on the Partisan Records shop page.
Finding good ambient music seems to be getting harder. Not because there is any shortage of it, but because it’s hard to find interesting new takes on the genera. While I don’t need music to constantly break new ground I do like it when I come across something refreshing enough to go beyond my expectations going in. That said, this new release by Stephen Vitello and Taylor Deupree is really hitting the spot.
I have always had a soft spot for field recordings and Captiva is full of them. Recorded while in residence at a beautiful looking guesthouse/studio in Florida you will hear sounds of birds, water, shells and other samples from the ocean fall intimately together with guitar, piano and synthesizers. The music found here is not something that will grab ahold of your attention and stick in your head. It’s more suggestive and leads your mind through various moods and landscapes as it evolves.
I find it perfect for stolen moments of meditative time at home or while at work during a stressful day. While this release is available digitally they only pressed 300 copies of the double 10” vinyl so if your interested don’t wait to pick up a copy of your own. A great addition to any collection and one I am sure to be putting on for a long time to come.
Release page on 12k with more information.
Unless you have been under a rock I am sure most all of you know Nils Frahm by now. A modern composer who’s compositions center around the piano but often drift into modern experimentation using synthesizers and creative playing styles that lead to some truly beautiful music. In his most recent release, long delayed on vinyl, he has released a set of live recordings as a means to closer connect his audience to the versions of his music heard at his live performances.
It’s interesting to see how a modern classical performer allows his music and compositions to evolve while he explored ways to perform them live as opposed to their original forms aided more by home recording techniques. These live recordings offer a look into the intuition and creativity he has as a performer and I love every minute of it. I could see this record easily becoming a long standing favorite over time and suggest you grab a copy of your own before they run out.
Malcom Kipe may not be a widely known name these days but in the heyday of the now defunct Merck records he released a couple of fantastic albums I consider to be classics in the realm of instrumental hip-hop. At the time, Merck was releasing music way ahead of the curve right along a handful of other small labels at the forefront of pushing electronic music forward in new directions. A few names off the top of my head that you may recognize who got their start in the Merck camp are Tycho, Helios, and MachineDrum. Merck may be gone but are certainly not forgotten to those who know the part they played in the evolution of electronic music.
Give Breakspiracy Theories a spin if you are in the mood for good old head nodding boom bap influenced hip-hop beats, some of my favorites from that era, right up there with the likes of perfuse 73, Daybre, Madvillain and others. Considering this was released back in 2004 I think it has held its ground well and can easily recommend it. The vinyl version was released in two volumes, which you can still find through Discogs, for reasonable prices but it’s also on iTunes and streaming services for those of you who have not yet been bitten by the vinyl bug.
Damien Jurado has done it again with his new album Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Sun. Flying in under the radar with an amazing album that both pushes his songwriting to new levels yet still maintains the charm that makes him such a prolific songwriter. I believe this is his 11th album and it’s one of his more adventurous sonically with hints of psych-rock and other uncharted territory sneaking into the fray. I have always admired his ability to test the waters with new ideas and sounds without going so far off course you don’t recognize the music as his.
Early copies of the LP contain a second 12″ with alternate takes of each song on the record which offer stripped down versions of each song and is well worth seeking out a copy with the bonus content. You essentially get two versions of the same record that suits two different moods. I think the extra content is available digitally as well but this is a perfect example of an album that begs to be played on a record player. Love it.
In my early days of working in live audio I bartered my time and ran the sound at a small record shop that would host small, in store shows with passing indie bands. In exchange for work I earned money toward records rather than money. It managed to get me hooked not only on vinyl but started my love for live sound at the same time. If memory serves me correctly, this record was a product of that labor.
Sphere by Landing is from “way back” in 2004 but it has been living on my record player for the past few days because it puts me in a mood to create. It is still my favorite album of theirs because of its perfect mix of laid back post rock and ambient. It strikes a delicate balance without the epic builds that many similar groups resorted to back then. There was a lot of great music coming out of the underground at the time that I really miss these days. Once computers took over the recording and releasing process nothing has been quite the same.
Look at me sounding like some old man. This is one of those subtle records that you could put on any time and be put at ease. It has certainly stood the test of time seeing as 10 years later I can still find solace in its sound. Highly recommended to anyone not already familiar.
You can find the LP at K Recs here.
The history of my love for electronic music started with Aphex Twin, and a couple of local record shops that would carry the latest albums from Warp, NinjaTune, Merck, and others. A friend of mine and I would dig and dig to find the weirdest, most interesting electronic music that did not have the four on the floor house beat that we pushed so hard against at the time. In the early days we also came across Boards Of Canada’s album Music Has The Right To Children, an album many BOC fans consider to be their favorite.
It was the followup that grabbed me personally though. Unlike the repetitive groove of Music Has The Right Geogaddi was lush, a bit darker, and a lot more interesting to me. Something in the faked nostalgia of the melodies and samples paired with the gritty yet somehow soothing textures in the sound design had me hooked and I have always considered it to be one of my all time favorites. I was not into vinyl when it was originally released so I missed out on the first run of it being pressed years ago. I was overjoyed to discover Warp was re-issuing the classic early BOC records for the first time in forever so I could finally have the early classics in my collection without paying horribly high prices wanted by collectors for over played old copies.
These re-issues are a definite must in anyones collection should you be into electronic music of any kind. Even if your not usually a fan of the genre you should at least give their old records (and new one for that matter) a spin. Timeless and worth checking into if you are not already familiar. Oh, and check out the etching on side F, I love records with etchings.
The first time I heard the lead track from the latest Les Sins single I passed it off and more or less thought I had forgotten about it. It hadn’t grabbed me like his previous release under this alias. Funny thing though, a few weeks ago while working or going about my usual day to day there was this bass line that crept into my head over and over for at least a week. It was one of those annoying moments where I just KNEW who’s song it was that was in my head but I couldn’t quite place it.
I did eventually realize it was the newest Les Sins single. I looked it up, put it on again and the bass line hook locked in immediately with its rolling charm that left me with a distinct need to move. Once it managed to permanently stick in my head I could not help but order a copy. Its one of those dance songs that lifts my spirits somehow. Not too heavily electronic, with just enough of an organic old school groove that puts me in a good mood any time I put it on. Easily recommended for anyone needing an extra hop in their step.
I have been a long time fan of the music of Travis Stewart who is most commonly known as MachineDrum. He and I have crossed paths a few times in the past but in the time since I last spent any time with him he has since moved his way up the electronic music food chain and now seems to constantly be on the road moving forward and upward. Years ago I remember talking to him about how so many electronic musicians at the time were simply treading water, following trends and that it felt like the genre in general felt a bit lost. He then mentioned that he just wanted to make the music he wanted to make, despite what others were doing at the time. From what I know, he has always looked to push his own abilities and has never been anything but humble about it along the way. Musically he has had a long winding history within electronic music, from his roots in IDM fused hip-hop to his more recent ventures into footwork/juke and darker early dub step influenced tracks as one half of Sepalcure.
I have to admit his last album Rooms was easily my favorite new album for at least two years running and now sits among my favorite LP’s. With Rooms he accomplished something many electronic musicians don’t do nearly enough these days, he takes chances, and in doing so creates music that helps move ideas forward rather than rest in a holding pattern with the copy cat producers of the world trying to keep up with what is popular at the moment. It was a near perfect collection of songs with a lighthearted depth that gave it a timeless appeal. I could easily see myself coming back to it 10 years from now and enjoy it just as much.
At any rate, Travis recently signed to NinjaTune, home to a long history of amazing music and I am excited to see where he goes next. The record photographed here is the first single from his upcoming album which is a conceptual affair where each track takes place in different districts of an imagined city. Eyesdontlie and its b-side Body Touch have been stuck in my head all too many times since their release. He’s taken an approach that feels more simplified on the surface than his work in Rooms yet it is sharply focused on layered rhythms and melodies that carry you weightlessly through the tracks.
While he seems to be taking a safer approach with this release I still see that same inventive character that has managed to break through what most producers these days are releasing. If I were you I would keep an eye out for Vapor City at the end of September, if you are a fan of electronic music it’s not something you will want to pass up.