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Tag Archives: highly.recommended

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I’ve already posted about this album. However, suffice it to say that that write-up was done at a time when I had no idea where this blog would be going months later. The goal has always been to write about music that effects me (us, now that we have more writers) deeply, compelling me to write about it and promote and share it with other people so that they might find it enjoyable. And, if they are so inclined, to actually purchase the album.

However, some of these albums that I’ve written about haven’t gotten the attention it deserves, Night Falls by Hecq was one of them. Released in mid-2008 on Hymen Records (sublabel of Ant Zen), Night Falls is a brilliantly composed piece of work that has no boundaries.

People like to talk about how to think out the box and how this concept relates to music (et al) and specifically albums that have stood the test of time, who have a place in the coveted musical hall of fame. With Night Falls, there is no box to think out of. It is a roving, boundless, and deserted landscape painted with hues of dark blues and grays further characterized by an aurally nomadic experience: going from one place to another, the destination unknown.

There is a huge, huge sense of isolationism that I’ve really grown to appreciate pretty highly. It is precisely this multi-dimensional sense of isolationism that few albums in the genre have attained to a degree that you can’t help but notice. This is a phenomenally monumental work that asks that you simply exhale and consume the cinematic elements that are so concentrated within – chock full of bitter cold ripples of musical elements (specifically, orchestral) signal a retreat to a safe place that only has one inhabitant: you.

The album art hints at this a bit, and obviously, the record’s title as well; the former of which is deceptively simple: the record’s artwork is just a black cover with informational text. But inside is a journey from the hyperactive, schizophrenic world to one that sinks to low levels of escapism in comfortable resignation. Almost like falling backwards into your sofa couch after a particularly long day.

This is why I feel that Night Falls is one of the best albums ever written. Sit back, put on some good headphones, and listen to this all the way through.

For more information, check out the following resources:

Last.fm

Discogs

Hymen Records

Order this album physically at Discogs.

Download.

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Compass is the brand new record by EBM mastermind Tom Shear, who records under the alias Assemblage 23. The album is being released on the lovely Metropolis – home to many industrial bands like Front Line Assembly, Mentallo & The Fixer, and on the lighter side, Covenant, Apoptygma Bezerk, and VNV Nation.

From this records, it’s quite obvious A23’s learned a lot musically since his previous full length Meta (which has great album art), released in 2007. Production wise, it feels rejuvenated. It’s mixed very well, which is a huge plus.

Lyrically, there is a bit of similarity to his last record in the sense that a lot of the lyrics are associated with introspection (evident with track titles like “Sorry,” “Ghosts,” Damaged,” “Old,” etc, on Meta, and then “How Can You Sleep,” and “Alone Again” on this). However, this album is more low-key in that aspect which in my opinion fits quite neatly with the pulsing synths and class beats that emerge in the background.

“Spark” is the first single, which contains some of the introspective lyrics that are present in much of Tom Shear’s discography as mentioned above. Its release brings us a nice remix by Combichrist.

I used to listen to lot of A23 back in the day. In fact, this is the artist that introduced me to “industrial dance” music, then I went on to discover the majority of the other artists on Metropolis, first working my way through the lighter side of the label a la VNV Nation and Covenant and working my way through Front Line Assembly and especially :wumpscut: (whose material gets released on his own label Beton Kopf Media; Metropolis just licenses his stuff for US distribution). This album is a nice refresher for those who haven’t listened to any of A23’s previous works, though I highly recommend that you lend your ears to the slightly darker Storm released in ’04 … that is, after you’ve listened to this.

It’s calculated. This record feels like it was created with a strong-willed determination, and not aimless like so many albums I’ve listened to from the genre. There’s effort, there’s focus, there’s something that I feel in this that tells me this record goes somewhere. The last half is especially good, and I really dig the remix of “Spark” by “Burikusu!!!,” which is a nice, slightly slower (bpm) rework of the original.

Fifteen fantastic tracks that clock in at 1hr 15 minutes. Truth be told, I could not be more impressed, and evidently, I am not the only one. Tom Shear on his website states that the 2CD deluxe edition of Compass, limited to a mere 1,000 copies, sold out pretty quickly upon arrival on his website. Unfortunately, I missed picking one up, but I’ll be placing an order for the regular edition ($14 USD) at A23’s webshop.

Highly recommended. P.S, if you needed any more proof that you should check out the rest of Tom Shear’s work (as if this post wasn’t enough), listen to this.

For more information, check out:

Last.fm

Discogs

MySpace

And obviously, if you enjoy what you hear, purchase it at:

– A23’s webshop

Download.

Even though Burial’s Untrue has received an enormous amount of attention since its release in ’07, I still felt it appropriate to do a write-up on this fantastic album.

Untrue, released on Hyperdub – is a uniquely fascinating piece of work. Broodingly moody, it sets itself apart from the label’s other releases with its mysterious midnight atmosphere married a massive sense of introspective isolationism. It is deceptively surreal right upon the first listen; a dark and cloudy forecast until the album ends.

The album employs more vocal use than Burial’s self-titled, this time around fusing hyperprocessed rave-like vocals with a 2-step/dubstep-ish (on its lightest side) backbone counterpart. If you like this, consider looking into the man’s first album, which often gets overlooked when it comes to Burial’s music as a whole. It’s slightly less polished than this record (he’s learned a lot musically since then), but still maintains melancholy atmospherics with the trademark Burial sound, especially evident in songs like “Night Bus” and “Forgive.”

A mysteriously complex and valuable album, it crackles on and off in an introspective midnight haze, content to let the listener drift away into an emotionally compromised state of mind. Highly recommended (if you haven’t already heard it).

For more information:

Last.fm

Discogs

MySpace

Support the artist, buy this release at:

Bleep

Amazon

Download.

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Geskia is a Japanese breakbeat wizard, creating organic, lush, beautifully woven abstract soundscapes that is eerily similar to acts like Flying Lotus. Incredibly solid and groundbreaking music. Extremely refined music; very detailed and very polished. A diamond in a desert of sand.

This album comes highly recommended from yours truly. If you like Clark (as in Chris Clark on Warp), you will like this as well.

In fact, Geskia has been covered on this blog before and remains one of Clothes HQ‘s favorite artists and deservedly so. This album is out now on Flau Records (based in Japan). Just listen to it, I’m 110% sure you’ll enjoy this album as much as I have.

For more information:

Last.fm

Discogs

MySpace

Support the artist, buy this at:

Flau Webshop

Download.

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Dying in Time is the fifth studio album (including the split LP with Absent Without Leave) from Italy-based port-royal (all lowercase) signed to n5md. The band tastefully blends elements reminiscent of shoegaze; specifically, long-winded, submerged vocals drowned out in a sea of traditional instrumentation. The vocals are treated as another instrument, with a variety of telling effects being carefully and artfully mixed in with the music, only adding to its dream-like quality.

With this release, the band dips its toes into shoegaze waters while keeping to the core ambient sounds that port-royal is so loved for. The album opener, a song entitled, “Hva (Failed Revolutions)“, articulately expresses to the listener what direction the remainder of this nearly hour and fifteen minute record is going in. Crisp vocals emerge naturally into place as the song unfolds into its more instinctive state.

The album explosively bounces back and forth between an upbeat ambient style married with influences of post-rock (and even a bit of synth-pop) and sounds of a more a melancholy and downtempo variety. It’s a very naturally flowing album, almost like a poem without any words, or a book without text. Where Flares left off, Dying in Time begins.

I could give no higher praise for this album. It is very well thought out, tasteful in its presentation, fantastic mastering, and most important of all, it is the natural step in the exciting evolution of port-royal’s music. Highlight tracks include Hva (Failed Revolutions), Anna Ustinova, and the three part Hermitage series. Album of the year material. Highly recommended.

For more information about this album, check out the band’s n5MD’s profile page. You can listen to extended previews from that link as well. The record is slated for release 10.05.09. Pre-order here. This is an essential purchase.

Yet more information:

Last.fm

Discogs

MySpace

Support the artist. If you like what you hear, buy it at:

N5MD webshop ($11.25 USD)

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Geskia is signed to Japanese independent record label Flau; he makes fantastic downtempo/IDM/ambient-ish music fused beautifully with elements taken from trip-hop, glitch, and breakbeat. There’s a lot of similarities to Obfusc, in the sense that the music feels very “organically” created; a delightful blend between downbeat styles found within the IDM scene and more of an abstract style found within electronic-oriented instrumental hip-hop acts a la Flying Lotus as well as trip-hop acts like Portishead, Hooverphonic, and The Atomica Project.

Extremely enjoyable and laid back, this 15 track, one-hour long record is highly recommended. Lush, beautiful trip-hop-like beats combined with a rich, organic texture and brilliant craftsmanship makes this one a solid hit at Clothes HQ. 5/5.

There is a lot of detail witnessed here; an exercise in boundlessness and finesse. It’s a rich marriage between a multitude of styles spanning multiple electronic-oriented genres. I am extremely impressed with this record; definitely album of the year material. Be sure to check out Eclipse 323, his latest full length that was just pushed out the door on Flau.

For more information:

Last.fm

Discogs

MySpace

Support the artist, buy this at:

Amazon (import)

Boomkat (digital download; £6.99/~11 USD)

Flau Webshop ($17 USD)

Download.

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Danny Norbury is from the UK who makes “modern classical” music. Wonderful use of cellos and violins. It actually reminded me of Clint Mansell’s score for the 2006 The Fountain directed by Darren Aronofsky. Searching on Youtube, I find that I’m not the only individual who made this connection …

Album of the year material. Truly remarkable.

It sports piano pieces similar to what you would find in acts like Library Tapes (an act Mr. Norbury has contributed to in the past, incidentally). Listening to this album solidifies my belief that the piano, the cello, and the violin are some of the most richest instruments the human race has invented. Full of concentrated emotion, all intricately weaved together to make a quilt of refuge in audio-form. A modern classical masterpiece.

If you enjoy this, you might try Hildur Guðnadóttir.

For more information:

Last.fm

Discogs

MySpace

Support the artist, buy this at:

Boomkat

Download.

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Eluvium is Matthew Cooper, who releases under Temporary Residence Limited. Eluvium is perhaps most known for his monumentally great album Copia (certainly very memorable) released in 2007 on the aforementioned label.

However, Talk Amongst the Trees happily sits along side some of the best output in ambient music, not all unlike Biosphere’s legendary Substrata or almost anything Brian Eno has composed. Really, quite simply put, if you’re as much as an ambient fan as I am, this is essential listening. The opening track “New Animals From the Air” masterfully sets the stage for the rest of this nearly one-hour long, eight track record; a gentle drift into an abyss of hazy gray fog on a chilly morning.

Upon listening to this for the first time a long while ago, “Taken”, is where this entire album just clicked for me. A seventeen-long minute epic of sprawling, drawn out features that lure its already contently-dozy listener into a hypnotic trance, vaguely similar to “Indoor Swimming at the Space Station” off of Copia; although the layers of feedback gradually increase by the time “Taken” has reached its completion (the latter ends smoothly with arctic wolf calls in the winter).

My personal favorite is the album’s conclusion track “One”. Very calm, relaxing music for a rainy day.

Matthew Cooper (Eluvium) states on his website that a new album is in the works and it is slated for release just after the new year. Spectacular news. No word yet on its title.

For more information:

Last.fm

Discogs

MySpace

Available to purchase at:

Amazon

Temporary Residence

Download.

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2006 saw the brilliant release of Tim Hecker’s Harmony in Ultraviolet. A warm and expansive (if you get what I mean) recipe of ambient music coupled with small references to noise (to a relatively small degree, this record reminds me of Belong’s October Language). Space music, if you will. Headphone music, even. This is his most popular album in accordance with his Last.fm charts, while Chimeras is his most popular song.

The man’s latest full length was pushed out the door earlier this year on the same label, entitled An Imaginary Country; also quite a force to be reckoned with in ambient. The man’s talented. Both records are released by Kranky (Think Stars of the Lid, The Dead Texan, and Windy & Carl). Recommended for those who enjoy the aforementioned artists. If you like this, you might also like Benn Jordan’s Pale Blue Dot.

And here’s a really mellow and calming song off of An Imaginary Country. My favorite out of the album, personally.

For more information:

Last.fm

Discogs

MySpace

Download Harmony in Ultraviolet.

Download An Imaginary Country.

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Influenced by artists like My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse, Slowdive, and more, Ulrich Schnauss makes fairly upbeat ambient music. What makes this music special is that it’s easy and pleasant to listen to without drifting into the realm of dull and stagnant elevator music. This upcoming song (embedded below) is his most popular in accordance with his Last.fm charts, but everything he’s put out is pretty solid material. If you like this and drum and bass, Schnauss created an album in 1999 called Landscapes under his alias Ethereal 77; defunct now, but worth looking into nevertheless.

He’s also got a remix compilation out which was a birthday present to one of his friends. As the story goes, said friend shared the compilation with another friend, who uploaded it to share with a forum that he posted on. In this, he remixes selections from artists like Asobi Seksu, Mahogany, the lovely port-royal, Madrid, and more! In his earlier full length album Far Away Trains Passing By, released on the label CCO, he covers Crazy For You, originally a very lovely track by the now-defunct shoegaze band Slowdive, covered on this blog previously. Musically, Ulrich Schnauss is similar to acts like Boards of Canada and Tycho.

Title track of A Strangely Isolated Place. Such a great song on an equally great album:

Here’s a sample of one of the songs he remixed. I’ll put this one up for download too.

More information:

Last.fm.

Discogs.

MySpace.

Download A Strangely Isolated Place.

Download Remix Compilation.

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