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Following in the footsteps of their previous album, Louisiana-based duo Belong have recently released their sophomore album entitled Common Era on Kranky (home to an impressive array of influential musically like-minded artists).

Belong is most widely known for creating an album called October Language in ’06 released on a small label dubbed Car Park Records. That album continues to be a defining staple in ambient music today, and although not strictly ambient by any sense of the word, it did push boundaries in what the genre could be described as.

October Language remains a very strong, perhaps defiant sounding record with heavily washed out and sometimes possessing a near apocalyptic-level of corrosiveness, often retreating from that level of noise to a distantly surreal and almost lonely flurry of ambient noise. It remains one of my all time favorite records to this day.

At first, I was hesitant to write about Common Era. When I had first listened to it all the way through, it was obviously immediately noticeable that some things had changed from the iconic album before it. I wasn’t disappointed with it – I think it’s great that artists try to improve themselves through the way their music sounds as they continue to create different things.

I was hesitant mainly because I needed time to digest. It’s markedly easier to listen to over October Language where some people might be turned off to somewhat harsh ambient noise rocking across their headphones, but the addition of drums as a prominent musical instrument surprised me. After all this time “digesting” though, I’ve come to discover that they’re not a turn off and it’s somewhat of a pleasant surprise.

Whereas their first record was heavily aimed into the shoegaze direction, this album doesn’t quite venture as far down that path. Yes, it sports minor vocal work (“A Walk”, “Perfect Life”, “Keep Still”, et cetera), but it’s not aggressive, it’s not very prominently featured, and it certainly doesn’t try to force it as the centerpiece of the record.

Common Era may or may not blow your mind (perhaps at least not as much as Belong’s previous work did), but it is nevertheless a very solid, very well thought-out, and decisively written album that does manage to effectively pull off an enjoyable and rewarding listening experience.

To learn more about the artist, visit the following resources:

Last.fm

Discogs

Kranky

Buy this release at:

Kranky

Amazon

Download.

It has been awhile, hasn’t it?

In my absence, I hope you’ve all discovered a few gems here and there. Undoubtedly, the record I’m about to showcase here is probably old news to a lot of people who follow the genre. However I am sure that a refresher to remind of its greatness to even its first listeners would be appreciated.

Ravedeath is an interesting album because it already captures the artistic finesse and workmanship that Hecker has shown us in his previous records right off of the bat. I think I began to realize this to a greater degree within his 2006 album Harmony in Ultraviolet. I’m sure older listeners still would cite his beginning works dating back to the early 2000s and possibly what he has accomplished under another alias as a young, budding musician.

 

And while Harmony in Ultraviolet certainly showcased Hecker’s abilities, 2009’s An Imaginary Country saw the artist grow quite a bit not only in style, but in restraint, tact, and skill as well. The album solidified the artist amongst his fans as competent and genuine, and with that, his audience has only grown. There exists a great deal of musicians who create controversial (intentionally or otherwise) records for their fans, its effect sometimes splitting that band’s fanbase in half over it, with many scoffing in disbelief wondering how their favorite artist could create such a monstrosity.

However, with Tim Hecker, there hasn’t really been a record like that, at least with the general consensus. Time and time again, the musician is able to throw down the gauntlet of grayed out soundscapes with luscious texture and feeling, and Ravedeath is not an exception.

With his three recent albums, there have always been a top tier favorite track that I’ve been able to pick out and with that, show other people what wondrous sounds that album contains within. In Harmony, “Chimeras” was a colossal song that I think got a lot of people to appreciate Tim Hecker’s work, and in An Imaginary Country, the song “Currents of Electrostasy” proved to be a great way to introduce people to the rest of the album and the artist as a whole. I think with Ravedeath, “No Drums” just might be that next step: calm and eloquent, yet persistent and articulate. It’s honestly one of the most marvelous tracks that I’ve heard from recently released albums from this year, and I can without a doubt say that of the record itself. Bravo to Tim Hecker for creating a fantastic piece of work.

Go ahead. Buy this one.

For more info, check out the following resources:

Last.fm

Discogs

Buy this at:

Kranky Records

Download.

This is The Effective Disconnect – Brian McBride’s latest album released not even a month ago. McBride is one part of the respected ambient duo Stars of the Lid, who have quite a few truly masterful albums under their belt.

It feels like listening to And Their Refinement of the Decline for the first time. A resonating and inward album. In all actuality, it feels each element that comprises the material is working in perfect concert with each other in harmony.

The album sifts through the traditional elements found throughout ambient-based music: delicate pads, gently exposed piano pieces fading in and out of a loose, easy going musical structure topped off with absolutely gorgeous violin work.

The three part “Toil Theme” series is a wonderfully crafted set of tracks and probably my personal favorite out of the album. Each song works in perfect harmony that provides its listener with a fantastic array of choice pads and instrumentation.

At parts, it can be quite cold. I wouldn’t necessarily declare it to be a “sad” album but I’ll be damned if this isn’t one of the more melancholy records I’ve had the pleasure of listening to recently. Bottom line is that The Effective Disconnect is an astounding contribution to the genre.

For more information, check out:

Last.fm

Discogs

Kranky Records

Buy this at:

Boomkat

Kranky Records

Download.

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posted by JC

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Californian Tim Gray, recording as Ethernet, finds a most agreeable balance in his truly enchanting ambient release entitled “144 Pulsations of Light,” released on Kranky, could not be more appropriately titled. In conjunction with the artist’s name itself one can envision a stretch of tangled glowing wire, slowly pulsing in a dark room, sending a constant code through its length to no receiver in particular. As if the sender or recipient matters – the light and messages evaporate into thin air in their slow rhythm, the constant flashes curling into a warm nothingness at the edges.

With a lack of its certain charm, this album could have ended up as a bland muddle of drones and stock pads, but an interesting duality lends originality and cohesion. Gray uses sustained, warm tones, evolving into complex and lush electronic landscapes. He juxtaposes this texture with almost-microhouse beats underneath, drenched in reverb and suspended in air yet giving regularity to the undulating waves of drones. The effect is perfect: Gray subtly brings the beats and evolution of the sound in and out, unfolding in captivating detail, comforting like the strange but familiar breathing of diodes in the dark.

For more information, check out:

Last.fm

Discogs

MySpace

Support the artist, buy this release at:

Amazon

Boomkat

Download.

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.

posted by admin.