Sunday, 19 June 2022

Ambient/Drone Recommendations (June 22)

I've compiled another list of great ambient/drone recommendations for you all....


Galya Bisengalieva - Aralkum (2020)

GENRE : modern classical, ambient, drone, electronica
RECORD LABEL : One Little Independent Records

Galya Bisengalieva is a Kazakh-British modern classical composer/violinist who has collaborated with a bunch of famous musicians (including Thom Yorke and Frank Ocean) and is currently the leader of The London Symphony Orchestra.
This is her debut solo album. It's a concept album about the tragic and devastating shrinking of The Aral Sea in Central Asia. Satellite images have shown that the Eastern basin has completely dried up, and is now sadly referred to as The Aralkum Desert.

The music is dark, dramatic and the visible ecological disaster that's threatening this large beautiful body of water. Sad yearning violin parts ebb and flow over a rich haunting sea of slow brooding ambient electronica. The musical elements that comprise these compelling soundscapes are a mixture of atmospheric electroacoustic classical instrumentation (strings, contrabass flute), rumbling downtempo beats, saturated ambient textures, field recordings and minimalistic (often glitchy) electronica that are often playing out in strange conflicting rhythms.

This album is a vast and pensive journey from start to finish. If you relax and allow yourself to get immersed in this haunting and murky oceanic ambience, your patience will be rewarded tenfold. Great album.

Stream/Download the album here...


Leena Lee & Vania Fortuna - Niebla (2022)

GENRE : experimental, sound art, ambient, field recordings, Mexico
RECORD LABEL : Flaming Pines 

This is a wonderful sonic study/meditation on the quetzel bird. The quetzal bird is the sacred bird of the ancient Mayas and Aztecs, and is currently the national emblem of Guatemala. They are an important part of the cloud forest ecosystem and are in danger of extinction.

In this beautiful and inspired project, the collaborative duo of sound artist/researcher/teacher Leena Lee and vocalist Vania Fortuna (both from Niebla, Mexico) decided to do a sonic exploration of the deep entanglement and connection between ourselves as human beings and the natural world. They have used sound, field recordings and the human voice to specifically explore the listening and composing practices of women, while heightening and spreading ecological awareness.

This is an emotional, spiritual and deeply immersive album of quiet melodies, subtle whispers, glistening ambience, misty soundscapes and slow manifestations of human emotion. It is the reflection of a magical place, and the human and non-human relationships that naturally co-exist there. This music is intimate and alluring, patient and complex...and beautifully rewarding. Highly recommended.

Stream/Download the album here...


Jeannine Schulz - Luminous (2021)

GENRE : ambient, soundscape, post rock, neoclassical
RECORD LABEL : Polar Seas Recordings

Mournful and muted notes rise and fall, backwards and forwards within this shimmering sea of fragile audio hiss. The frequencies dance and mingle with each other - sometimes swelling to majestic heights, other times disintegrating and dissipating entirely...

German artist/musician Jeannine Schulz has created an album of beautiful grey undulating dreamscapes using minimalistic instrumentation. Sweeping and pulsing synthesizers are mixed with slow sorrowful post-rock guitars, executed with a wonderful subtlety and finesse, allowing the emptiness to breathe... Great album.

Stream/Download the album here...


Thomas Ragsdale - Sonder (2019)

GENRE : ambient, dark ambient, techno, electronica, soundscape
RECORD LABEL : Soundtracking The Void

Thomas Ragsdale is a musician/composer from Yorkshire that specializes in a wide range of cinematic electronica and atmospheric techno. In this album he has created stunning widescreen colour-drained soundscapes that feels like you're being sucked into long grey windy tunnels, not knowing what kind of a world you're going to emerge into at the other end. The rich textures, the intricate sound design and the deep trance-inducing atmospheres of these four long pieces are dark, chilling and wonderfully captivating. 

This is the first album I've listened to of his, and I'm really looking forward to checking out more. Incredible stuff.

Stream/Download the album here...


Sangam - Hope You Don't Leave (2022)

GENRE : dark ambient, dark electronica, dystopian, dreampunk
RECORD LABEL : Decaying Spheres

Here's a beautiful dark downtempo electronic ambient album from Manchester artist/producer Sangam. As the album title and song names suggest - it's a musical portrayal of heartbreak, longing, regret, anger and grief. 

Press play and let the dystopian soundscapes and swelling waves of electronic sadness wash over you and engulf you entirely. Though the music itself is very synthetic, the sorrow and heartache conveyed within the sound is very organic and real. These songs clutch at your heart and squeeze tightly, and it feels absolutely blissful. 
Perfect music for night time walks in the pouring rain, wallowing in your own emotional pain and suffering...or simply just sitting around, staring out a window, reflecting on what could have been...

Decaying Spheres are a fantastic little record label that release all kinds of dark dramatic ambient goodness - both digitally and on limited edition cassette tapes. If you like this album, you should definitely check out the rest of their releases.

Stream/Download the album here...


Euan Dalgarno - Swimitrupl (2022)

GENRE : modern classical, cinematic, experimental, IDM, dark ambient
RECORD LABEL : Not Yet Remembered

Here's a beautiful and unique modern classical album from Edinburgh-based musician/composer Euan Dalgarno - the latest signing to the wonderful Not Yet Remembered record label.

Right from the opening notes, this music twists and circles and soars like strange magical birds over quiet secluded forests that have been undisturbed by human beings for a long time. This album is very rhythmic yet soothing, triumphant yet haunting... a wondrous whirlpool of unpredictable yet infectious rhythms, playful wind instruments, sweeping string sections, glitchy IDM and beautiful choral voices that ebb and flow with a powerful yet subtle majesty.
The repetitive and additive rhythms and structures are slightly reminiscent of Phillip Glass or Steve Reich, whilst also having the soaring crescendos and sensibilities of more contemporary acts like Sigur Ros, Radiohead and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Great album.

(I wasn't too sure whether to include this one in this recommendations list, given that it's definitely more modern classical than ambient/drone...but it's close enough! Not going to overthink it.)

Stream/Download the album here...


Andy Cartwright - Form Less Ness (2022)

GENRE : ambient, minimalist, sound art, experimental

Here's a beautiful work of ethereal fluidity. This music is both melodic and abstract, dancing formlessly and fragile in its own aqueous soundscape. It splashes and gurgles like water in a ghostly container, whilst whispering and howling like air in some sort of otherworldly ventilation duct. 
The original source material for the sounds Cartwright creates is ambiguous and pretty much unrecognizable (at least to my ears), but from doing a bit of my own research I discovered that the album contains personal field recordings captured during trips to the Alps and Nepal. Very interesting.

As the Bandcamp blurb states, this music balances on the verge between ambient music and sound art. Whilst undoubtedly abstract and formless, it's melodic and soothing enough to be enjoyed as a dreamy ambient album, in all its strange delightful vulnerability. Awesome stuff.

Stream/Download the album here...


Autumna - Linden Home Range (2021)


GENRE : ambient, minimalist, electronica, field recordings, musique concrete
RECORD LABEL : Shady Ridge Records

Shady Ridge Records consistently serve up splendid aural treats, and here's a great example of beautiful ambient splendor. Autumna self-describes this album as a sound diary of a 3-week holiday in the South of France, and an analogy of the relationship between a visitor and his surroundings.

This music is full of peaceful reflections and fragmented glimpses into the unspoiled beauty of the natural world, and all its hidden places. The tranquil ambience, nature recordings and pastoral sound collages that comprise these 8 tracks tell us stories of serenity and escape. It brings to mind images of still waters, sweet birdsong and majestic open spaces... this album is a great getaway from the stresses and worries of everyday existence, and such a joyful listening experience.

Stream/Download the album here...


Veryan - Hiraeth EP (2020)


GENRE : electronica, ambient electronica, dark ambient, downtempo, shoegaze
RECORD LABEL : self-released

Here's a spectacular dark little EP from Scottish electronica musician Veryan. It's aptly named 'Hiraeth' - a mysterious and evocative Welsh word that has no English equivalent, but likens it to a feeling of homesickness/nostalgia tinged with grief and sadness over the lost or departed, which includes a ''home'' you can never return to...

However anyone wants to define the word 'Hiraeth' -  Veryan successfully manages to encapsulate and convey her own musical interpretation of this ambiguous feeling in the four songs that comprise this stunning little EP. It's a short but wondrous journey through the dark lonely tunnels of the human heart. Veryan combines cold cinematic electronica, dark ambience, ethereal shoegaze and sparse post-rock guitars to create these rich expansive beautiful soundscapes. 

This is the perfect soundtrack to a lonely night drive, or a winter walk across a frozen expanse, or simply indulging in some intense introspection. This music speaks loudly to those who are lost and slowly learning to let go of a past that may have never even existed in the first place....

Stream/Download the album here...


Bipolar Explorer - Forests, Voices, Coastlines, Dreams...(2021) 

GENRE : experimental, post-rock, dark ambient, shoegaze
RECORD LABEL : Slugg Records

It's time to close your eyes, open your heart and allow yourself to indulge in this gorgeous swirl of spellbinding psychedelic ambience. Mesmerizing voices and atmospheric guitars emerging from the depths of misty forests and the heights of darkened mountaintops amidst the pulsing of ominous drones, nature recordings and hypnotic swells of both organic and synthesized noise. 
As the title of the album suggests - this is the sonic interweaving of nature, human emotion and the metaphysical. A glorious head trip of post-rock psychedelia, hallucinatory English/French poetry, dreamy ambience and deeply immersive noisy soundscapes.

Something I really admire and respect is the guitar player's discipline and restraint throughout this entire album. His minimalistic use of simple tremolo'd chords and feedbacking loops of noise are powerful and alluring and atmospheric. It complements the mood of this music perfectly. The playing and tone kind of reminds of David Roback (Mazzy Star), heard in a completely different context. All the instrumentation and vocals on this album are wonderful and executed with such intelligence and finesse.

This music requires a lot patience... but it's such a rewarding and satisfying listening experience, if you give it the space and time it deserves. 

Stream/Download the album here...


Ninth Sign - Presence (2022)

GENRE : ambient, drone, meditative, ethereal, electronic
RECORD LABEL : self-released

Wordless mantras, slow breaths, deep quiet meditations on the present... Not much happens in this album, and you don't want it to. As soon as you click play, you realize within seconds that you've found a beautiful place - a sanctuary of wonderful stillness and tranquility. This music is all about savoring the moment, and giving your whole self to the here and now...

This album of lush beautiful ambient/drone music helps forget our past mistakes and future fears. Ninth Sign has created these glistening dreamscapes that forces the listener to slow down, breathe deeply and make the best of the present moment - something we all need to do more often. Lovely album.

Stream/Download the album here...


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