Sunday, 26 February 2023

Bandcamp Recommendations (Feb 23)

Hey guys. I'm back after a bit of a quiet spell. January was a very busy month for me and I simply couldn't get enough writing/reviewing done during this time, so I bypassed it completely. 

Anyway, here I am with another list of amazing Bandcamp recommendations for you. Enjoy!


The Lonely Bell - Ghost Town Burning (2023)

GENRE : dark ambient, drone, electronic, shoegaze
RECORD LABEL : Blackjack Illuminist

'Ghost Town Burning' is a somber and vaguely apocalyptic vision of a dark and desolate world. The music moves like a thick slow-moving fog that gradually envelopes the lost lonely wanderer who finds themself far away in a strange and isolated place. The solemn majesty of these songs penetrate deeply and invoke feelings that often go unchecked, and linger long after the final notes have faded into a misty oblivion...

The Lonely Bell (a.k.a Ali Murray) is a dark ambient artist/musician from the cold windy Isle of Lewis, which is located in the far north of Scotland. This album consists of two 20-minute long dark nebulous dreamscapes of haunted sullen beauty and meditative surreality. Wave upon wave of ghostly drones and slow rippling ambience gradually builds and sweeps over the land. It feels like watching some sort of cold wintry time lapse footage... 

The music was created using mostly guitars and synths, but unlike most of The Lonely's Bell previous work, there's some subtle (and tasteful) female vocal loops buried in the mix, fighting to cut through, which gives the whole thing a strong sense of desperation and yearning. A beautifully haunting and deeply immersive album from an artist who never disappoints.

Stream/Download the album here...


Lottie Sadd - a practice in taking up space (2023)

GENRE : contemporary classical, experimental, improvisation, sound art
RECORD LABEL : Sawyer Editions

Here's an album of quiet improvised performances on various organic instruments, captured in their raw natural state on whatever recording device was available at hand. Gracefully fluctuating between poignant melodic contemporary classical music and surreal avant-garde sound art, these improvisations paint vivid pictures of the ephemera of life. It's a study of the very nature of sound itself. As the artist herself states in the album description : ''does the act of recording change the nature of a thing?'' An interesting question...

Lottie Sadd is a Leeds-based interdisciplinary composer/performer who experiments with improvised sound works, moving image and text. In this album, Sadd entices the listener into her quiet and tender world of decadent space and subtle wonder. Whilst the recordings are raw, minimalistic and bare, the compositions themselves are warm, dreamy and achingly beautiful...

The five pieces that comprise this album were performed on piano, a string instrument (of which I can't identify) and voice...and set to a hypnotic backdrop of gentle birdsong and everyday life sounds, which creates an undeniable sense of earthly realness to the meditative atmosphere of the album. The discipline and restraint shown in these performances is impressive and admirable, and seems to be a consistent thread throughout all the releases on the Sawyer Editions label. 

This album is an alluring and captivating work of art. Ideal for these quiet introspective moments, looking out the window and watching the world go by...

Stream/Download the album here...


Brad E. Rose - Annular Silhouettes (2022) 

GENRE : ambient, drone, soundscape, electronic

This album is one 42-minute long composition of minimalistic soft-focus ambient drift. Tendrils of long-sustained muted tones wrap around the ethereal atmosphere of the piece and rise skywards towards the light, slowly mingling and merging with one another before dissipating entirely... 

Brad E. Rose is a prolific Tulsa-based artist & musician that's released many albums under many different monikers. In this album, Rose has created an introspective and melancholic musical ode to Tulsa - the place where he grew up. It was created and recorded in the house where his grandparents lived for two decades, just a few minutes walk away from his childhood home. 

The sense of place and the idea of belonging (both geographically and spiritually) seems to be a central and pivotal theme of 'Annular Silhouettes'. It is a subtle and poignant meditation on existence, memory and the space that one occupies during their brief time on this earth. 

This album is not only a love letter to Oklahoma, it feels like an ode to life itself. A calm and captivating listening experience, and a beautiful contribution to the world of drone music. Click play and let slowly pulsating rippling tones and soft dreamy textures lull you into a gentle introspective trance. Beautiful stuff.

Stream/Download the album here...


Linda Rum - Friede (2023) 

GENRE : modern classical, solo piano, minimalist
RECORD LABEL : Moderna Records

This is an album of gorgeous minimalistic piano compositions to calm your troubled soul. These soft tender chords and infectious melodies paint beautiful images of a peaceful world, a childhood dream, a place we all deeply yearn for...

Linda Rum is a German musician/composer, and this is her stunning debut release on Moderna Records. I've always been a sucker for minimalistic piano music, and the fourteen vignettes that comprise 'Friede' completely stole my heart. The mood that Rum has created on this album is playful and peaceful, joyous and melancholic, intimate and cinematic... 
Stripped down to nothing but the bare lonesome sound of the piano - the chords and melodies frolic and sway in a playful and endearing fashion, like a garden of flowers in a sweet summer breeze. This album is so gentle and captivating, and the compositions are so brief and fleeting... the whole thing is over before you know it, leaving you wanting so much more...

'Friede' is the German word for 'Peace', which is a very fitting title for these collection of songs. It's an album of beautiful and life-affirming piano music - a delicate dance of joy and sorrow, and everything in between. An emotional and calming listening experience. Highly recommended.

Stream/Download the album here...


Norio - Somebody (2022)

GENRE : ambient, minimalistic, modern classical, electronic, post-rock
RECORD LABEL : Hush Hush Records

This is an album of minimalistic ambient electronica from Japanese filmmaker, documentarian and musician Norio (a.k.a Noriaki Okamoto). The nine beautiful compositions that comprise this album are tremulous and fuzzy, shimmering and iridescent, glistening and calm, reductive and bare...

Norio's work is influenced by the art of subtraction, reducing his artwork to its essential elements to create a rich, immersive, vivid painting. This simplistic and minimalistic approach works wonderfully in this album. The compositions are intimate and bare, yet cinematic and powerful. The beauty of this music lies in its stark and delicate simplicity. 
Norio's sound is a unique and refreshing amalgamation of IDM electronica, minimalistic ambient, modern classical, dream-pop and post-rock. While the album is mostly instrumental and predominantly focused on Norio's emotive piano playing and fuzzy electronics, there are some dreamy guest vocals in there that help cleanse the aural palette. 

'Somebody' is a tender and emotional listening experience. It's full of gentle and hushed tones of melancholic beauty, vibrant electronic soundscapes and rich cinematic atmospheres. This is not your typical ambient album. Despite its reductive and downbeat nature - this music soars to dramatic heights, and captivates in all the right ways. A wonderful and comforting album for long rainy days.

Stream/Download the album here...


Kate Moore - Revolver (2021)

GENRE : contemporary classical, experimental, soundtrack

This is an album of dark, sparsely-orchestrated, haunting compositions written for a dance installation, and performed by a small ensemble of virtuosic contemporary classical musicians. Inspired by kinetic physicality and movement, the polyrhythmic figures/structures and tense dynamics of these pieces, along with Moore's penchant for merging objects and matter with the invisible world of sound in her music makes for a brilliantly broody and suspenseful sonic environment to let go of everything for a while, and be taken away by the sullen beauty and lonesome drift of this album.

Kate Moore is an Australian-Dutch composer, sound artist & musician based in the Netherlands. Originally written for The Restraints (a dance piece by Autralian artist Ken Unsworth), 'Revolver' is an emotional and evocative journey of slowly-evolving classical compositions that enrapture the listener with their hypnotic and dream-like atmospheres. 
The eight pieces that comprise this album come alive and dance in a lonesome ghostly fashion. The arrangements of these songs are pretty minimalistic and bare, but the dark arpeggiated melodies, the weeping tones and the powerful dynamics make for a stunning and haunting listening experience. 
The feel of the music goes from being eerily subdued to soaring majestically in a sweeping spectral bliss. A wonderful and intoxicating modern classical album. Highly recommended.

Stream/Download the album here...


Karen Vogt - Losing The Sea (2023)

GENRE : ambient, drone, soundscape, vocal ambience
RECORD LABEL : Mare Nostrum

This is a gorgeous ambient love letter to the sea, and a heartfelt sonic expression of the distant longing to be near it. It's a theme close to my own heart - one that resonates deeply with my own personal relationship to the ocean. I listened to this album while staring out at the sea near my home, basking in its sheer power and beauty, imagining what it would feel like to not have it so near and dear...

Karen Vogt is an Australian artist, vocalist and musician living in France. She mainly uses her voice and guitar to create atmospheric, ambient and experimental compositions. In this new mini-album, Vogt harnesses her natural talents (along with guest guitarist/filmaker Guillaume Eymenier) to create her own little ocean of ambience that ebbs and flows, melodies that tremble and shimmer, and tones that glisten and sparkle and ripple like the vast bodies of water she likely carries in her heart. Fuzzy swells, tremulous guitar notes and gentle breezy vocals float and swirl around these tranquil soundscapes. This music dazzles and stirs emotions and feelings that may have been lying dormant and unacknowledged for a long time.

'Losing The Sea' is a beautiful and poignant album of soothing sounds and dreamy ambience that wonderfully captures the yearning to be close to the ocean, and the meaning and significance of something that was so integral to the artist's Australian upbringing and youth. It's also a wonderful aural reminder of why I love the sea so much, and why I personally need to have it in my life. Great stuff.

Stream/Download the album here...


Kagami Smile - Obscured Face (2023)

GENRE : dark electronica, dark ambient, drone, noise, shoegaze
RECORD LABEL : Decaying Spheres

Shuddering walls of dark ethereal noise, melancholic drones, swelling ambience, minimalistic techno and pulsing electronica...punctuated by a ghostly airiness that makes for surreal and meditative listening.

Kagami Smile is the ambient dreampunk music project of Ryan Hill, who was born in the United States but currently resides in Shenzhen, China. In the five immersive compositions that comprise this captivating album, Hill has created grainy textures of rich decadent fuzz, fractured percussive sounds and somber rumblings that paint stark images of lonely urban dreamscapes, filled with blurry lights and faded silhouettes. This music is like cinematic soft-focus, a deep yearning, a nostalgic dream....

'Obscured Face' is a dark and beautifully immersive work of art. Powerful and haunting, this album makes walls rumble and shake in its sheer force and unrelenting visceral emotion. Highly recommended.

Stream/Download the album here...


Lila Tristram and The Last Dinosaur - Black and White Memories Ignited by the Scent of Springtime Explode in Colour (2022)

GENRE : psych folk, modern classical, chamber pop, experimental
RECORD LABEL : Modern Aviation

This is a collaboration album between vocalist/songwriter Lila Tristram and experimental musical collective The Last Dinosaur. It consists of five sparse, minimalistic, slow-moving compositions of a fragile and delicate beauty that surrounds and gradually envelopes the listener in its unique ghostly shroud. Combining elements of psychedelic folk, modern classical and chamber pop into a glorious hotpot of subtle experimentation, this music dances in a slow and mesmeric display of ethereal catharsis. 

Tristram's gentle and whispery vocals are the central focus of these compositions, and sit perfectly in the unique landscape of this album. Simultaneously tender and eerie, her hushed tones and delicate melodies provide such beautiful intimacy against the wonderful backdrop of sparsely-played classical piano notes, softly sweeping strings, dreamy flourishes and trills of clarinet/flute, nature field recordings and atmospheric guitar loops that all help colour these exquisite soundscapes.

This album is wistful and downbeat, yet comforting and captivating. It's a beautiful work of art, and a wonderful display of musical talent. Brilliant stuff.

Stream/Download the album here...


Aleksandra Słyż - A Vibrant Touch (2022)

GENRE : drone, minimalism, contemporary classical, experimental
RECORD LABEL : Warm Winters Ltd.

This is an album of powerful minimalistic drone music, full of slowly-unravelling tensions and haunting electro-acoustic vibrations that are equally frightening and beautiful.

Aleksandra Słyż is a Polish composer whose recent work explores the physical phenomena and energy of sound, and the connections between acoustic instruments and modular synthesis. 
In this album, Słyż has created three long-form compositions of rich dramatic drones that shimmer with eerie dissonance and tremble with an unbearable tension. The melodies bend and warble, the tones (and microtones) subtly shift and evolve, and the drones ring on and on, soaring majestically into the air, never to return...

This music is like a slow-moving ocean of sound, and the atmosphere is ghostly and solemn, full of yearning and loss... but it's also a captivating and exquisite listening experience.
Backed by a quartet of outstanding musicians (on alto saxophone, violin, viola & cello), Słyż has successfully sculpted out her own unique amalgamation of organic classical instrumentation and dark ambient electronica that rattles, reshapes and challenges our pre-conceived notions of what this type of music should sound like. It's a sonic exploration of the microtonal variations and deep resonances that can be heard and felt within these lush minimalistic dronescapes. 

'A Vibrant Touch' is a subtle yet complex study of movement sonification, and an intense and fascinating album of a dark dissonant beauty. Great stuff. Highly recommended. 

Stream/Download the album here...


Blush To The Snow - Cascades (2023) 

GENRE : ambient, drone, soundscape, electronica
RECORD LABEL : Healing Sound Propagandhist

Here's an album of sweeping foggy drones and melancholic misty ambience, filling vast and colour-drained dreamscapes with intense feelings of longing, and a hazy nostalgia for another time and place. It's a bleary-eyed reverie, a pensive meditation on one's relationship with a particular location and environment, and how we carry it in our hearts wherever we go...

Blush To The Snow is the ambient / drone project of Japanese-American producer William Creason, who's also the co-owner of Not Yet Remembered Records. I've written about a few of his earlier albums that were released through his own record label, and I was happy to see that his latest release has come out through another awesome ambient label - Healing Sound Propagandist.
This album was inspired by a picture of the dense marine fog and coniferous forests located in Pacific Northwest of the U.S, and the immense feelings of saudade it conjured up within the artist. The six compositions that comprise the album are minimalistic and mirage-like in atmosphere. They whoosh like wind, flutter like snow, and blanket like the fogs they were inspired by.

'Cascades' is a broody and ethereal album of grey immersive soundscapes. The music is just how I imagine the coastal sea fog from the Pacific Northwest to be - chilly, eerie, vaporous, dramatic, ghostly, slowly-enveloping and hauntingly beautiful. Brilliant stuff.

Stream/Download the album here...


Lalén Ríos Luna - And the Sky Fell Down on Fresno (2022)

GENRE : avant-garde, experimental, musique concrète, sound art
RECORD LABEL : self-released

Lalén Ríos Luna is an avant-garde artist/musician and experimental improviser from Fresno, California. He has created and released a massive body of work under Porous Collective. Lalén Ríos Luna's music is an intelligent and meticulous blend of avant-garde sound art, abstract electronica, musique concrète and haunting sound design.

In these compositions you will hear puttering drones, crackling static, gurgling rumbles, sinister squalls of noise, low frequency humming, electrical glitches, erratic clattering, metallic swells and choice moments of sweeping somber ambience, and (what I think are) manipulated and fractured piano chords -  cutup and disseminated throughout these abstract sonic environments. 

The atmosphere of this album constantly expands and contracts, and seems to be permeated with some kind of mechanical breathing, which makes the whole listening experience rather eerie and unsettling. Yet there's moments of an almost tranquil beauty to be found in there, especially in the last track 'The Falling Sky'. I would highly recommend this album to fans of experimental noise music and avant-garde sound art. A great listen.

Stream/Download this album here...


Conducive - Modern Prophecy EP (2023)

GENRE : experimental, sound art, drone, noise, dark ambient
RECORD LABEL : Veinte33 Records

This is a fleeting abstract sound journey through what I gather to be the busy urban streets of some unknown Spanish-speaking city. The voices of mundane everyday existence mingle with haunting drones and terrifying squalls of ominous industrial noise to create the unbearable tension and general unease that awaits some kind of oncoming apocalyptic event.

Conducive is the music project of British sound artist Julian Miller. In many ways this EP sounds like a sequel to his previous EP - 'Hidden Canals', which focused on the busy streets and dark underbelly of France. Whether that was the intent or not, I don't know... but what I do know is that this is magnificent and wholly powerful sound art. In this EP you will hear the common street sounds and voices of city inhabitants, vendors and casual passers-by mix with the broody dark ambience, abstract field recordings and hypnotic noise of Miller's unique artistic vision. The end result is one of pure calamity, and unfathomable dread.

'Modern Prophecy' sounds like a herald of doom, a dark hallucinatory dreamscape that was once an ordinary urban environment...aurally captured in this short yet stunning 3-song EP. Great stuff.

Stream/Download the EP here...


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