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Music

Norman Westberg: After Vacation (LP, Room 40, July 2018)

Ahhhhh! Swans-chappy Norman Westberg has been playing with his guitars and his effects pedals and has come up with a lovely sort of ambient drone thing which immediately sweeps you away in a sort of floaty haze. Little plucked melodies drift in and out of the gentle waves of texture. It reminds me a little […]

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CV & JAB: Zin Taylor — Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface (LP, Shelter Press, February 2018)

When I discover a record I really like by an artist with a few releases under their belt, it’s tempting to go back and binge on their back-catalogue. I normally try to resist, having found that it mostly leads to disappointment, and often dilution of the pleasure of the music that kicked the whole thing […]

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Music

Abul Mogard: Above All Dreams (2LP, Ecstatic, June 2018)

The buzz started with the 2016 retrospective album simply called Works. Abul Mogard had worked for decades in a steel plant in Serbia, and it was only when he retired that he bought a bunch of electronics, got tinkering, and started making music — trying to recreate the sounds of the factory, which he missed. Or […]

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Music

Christina Vantzou: No. 4 (LP, Kranky, April 2018)

Christina Vantzou keeps us on our toes here. Glissando for Bodies and Machines in Space is all sighing voices and synthesized hums. Percussion in Nonspace is sparkling little number of delicate chimes. At Dawn is a generously-processed string drone number (the cello is by Clarice Jensen whose For This From That Will Be Filled I was […]

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Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto: Glass (CD, Noton, February 2018)

You’ll think I’m silly, but I almost didn’t want to listen this: I love Alva Noto, I love Ryuichi Sakamoto, I love Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sakamoto’s latest album was almost heartbreakingly perfect, and I didn’t want to be disappointed. Well, I’m glad I got over myself, because this is a magical and wondrous […]

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Music

Marc Barreca: Aberrant Lens (CD, Palace Of Lights, March 2017)

Confession of ignorance time: Marc Barreca has apparently been a big noise (as it were) in electronic ambient music since the late seventies, but I’d never encountered him until now. I’m happy to correct that, though, because this is a beguiling piece of work: twelve tracks that hover tantalizingly between ambient (but they’re too structured […]

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Mike Cooper: Reluctant Swimmer / Virtual Surfer (LP, Discrepant, February 2017)

Here’s one to file under “strange but strangely wonderful”. The first 11 minutes of the A-side is Reluctant Swimmer, an ambient experimental thing which seems to be done on a prepared guitar, all scrapes and bloops and rattles: it sounds oddly like you’re inside some kind of arcane machine but in a much softer, more […]

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Music

Bethan Kellough: Aven (CD, Touch, August 2016)

This is a short (28 minutes) but perfectly formed bit of intense atmospheric ambient. It’s made mostly of Kellough’s own droning string arrangements, field recordings (from Iceland and South Africa), and a bunch of processing. From the opening seconds you’d be forgiven for thinking this was going to be at the floaty end of the […]

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Music

Thomas Köner: Tiento De La Luz (LP, Denovali Records, March 2016)

This is a superbly stately piece of ambient classical. It’s centred around piano and electronics, with a touch of strings (early music favourite the viola da gamba, I gather), brass, and tuned percussion. Köner thinks nothing of leaving a single piano note hanging for five or ten seconds, echoing into the ambient wash. From time […]

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Secret Boyfriend: Memory Care Unit (LP, Blackest Ever Black, February 2016)

A variety of synth stuff on this intriguing album. The Singing Bile is, as its title wonderfully suggests, kind of sludgy yet melodic, a murky but sweet ambient number. Little Jammy Centre has a sort of wheezing drone, an echoey but jaunty little melody which is sort of like pop at one remove, and towards […]