Ken Downie, Ed Handley and Andy Turner were mates back in the day, digging into b-boy stuff as it came into England, mixing in sounds from Chicago and Detroit, acid and techno, and making it their own. They released three EPs on their own, and joined Warp Records in 1993 with the iconic album, Bytes, which already showed a fractured nature to the group, with eight different entities attributed for the album and individual tracks, but they wouldn't formally fracture for a few more years. Ken Downie kept The Black Dog, which he named in part for his battle with depression, while Ed and Andy became Plaid. With Plaid's newest album, The Digging Remedy, each now with 11 albums to their names. Read on for more history and tunes. [more inside]
The background engine noises of iconic science fiction spaceships can be remarkably soothing. That is why Spike Snell created 12-hour sound loops of the background hum of the TNG Enterprise (prev.), the old Battlestar Galactica (and the new), a Cylon Basestar, the Discovery from 2001, the Heart of Gold, the Millennium Falcon (made from the sound of a P-51 Mustang), Mass Effect's Normandy, Babylon 5, Serenity, and hundreds more. Strangely, these fake space ship sounds don't sound too different from the actual noise on the ISS or space shuttle Atlantis. And if you don't like any of these, you can always generate your own!
(Visible) Cloaks’ Spencer Doran knows how to crate dig (via):
- 2010 : The cult-classic Fairlights, Mallets and Bamboo : “Fourth-world Japan, years 1980-1986” Previously
- 2013 : Music Interiors : “Mix of Japanese new-age/ambient/minimalist music… emanating from the corporate infrastructure of the 1980s asset bubble.”
- 2014 : Fairlights, Mallets and Bamboo, Volume 2 : “[F]urther investigation into the futuristic spaces in Japanese ambient and pop music from the 1980s…”
- 2016 : Music Interiors, Volume 2: Interni Italiani : “DJ mix of Italian ambient/minimalist/avant-garde music…”
Felix Manuel, better known as Djrum (pronounced as "drum," evolved from his initial DJ Rum handle) blends hip hop, house, jungle and bass seamlessly in his mixes, plus splices the DNA of techno, dubstep, garage and grime in an attempt to make them, in his words, “live inside each other” in his own productions. This blending is not frenetic, but slow and methodical, often including extended clips from movies, such as heard in The Miracle. With a relatively scant 9 EPs and singles, including two splits, and one album to his name, you can get hear more of the scope of Felix Manuel's musical tastes from his mixes... [more inside]
Every recording of Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie 1” played at the same time, stretched to the length of the longest recording. About 60 versions of the piece incorporated - "less than I thought I would find, but enough," says the arranger. A lovely piece of musical architecture to roam around in. [via the always-excellent Disquiet.]
Since he started Akkord (s/t album playlist) with Synkro, Liam Blackburn has been in search of a sound. His last few solo releases skirted past drum & bass through to techno, ambient, IDM and, with 2013's excellent Storm, some sort of ultra-hi-tech jungle.... [H]e's re-emerging as Ancestral Voices on the increasingly out-there label Samurai Horo....The debut album for Blackburn's new alias is "yawning chords, complex drum patterns and existential dread," directly inspired by his mind-expanding, life-altering experiences on Machu Picchu and in the Amazon, and you can hear all of Night Of Visions on Bandcamp.
Two unique, evocative Japanese mixtapes to assure you that spring is really here at last: Spencer Doran's Fairlights, Mallets and Bamboo and Ventla's Astrocast 45. [more inside]
Paul Morley conducts arguably the worst ever Brian Eno interview sometime in 1992. "A boring question is when you already know the answer" and other throwaways. [more inside]
Are you interested in making ambient, drifting, densely-layered electronic music? But don't know where to even start? This is the most thoughtful and gentle introduction I'm aware of, from a fine musician. It's a 45-minute video workshop from Rich Vreeland aka Disasterpeace, composer of the gorgeous, acclaimed Fez soundtrack. Rich composes a Fez-like track on the fly, explaining what he's doing in the process. While he uses Logic and the softsynth Massive in this workshop, his general approach and attention to sound design and synthesis will be applicable to whatever software or hardware you choose to use. (Hat tip to sparkletone for the link. Fez previously on Metafilter.)
Word has arrived that Edgar Froese, founding member of the massively influential electronic group Tangerine Dream, has passed away. Froese was a pioneering figure in the German Krautrock and Kosmische styles, and contributed an unfathomable amount to the world of ambient/psychedelic electronic music. [more inside]
If a band opened their set saying they were going to wake people up with techno music, you would probably not expect the musicians to be a BAFTA-award winning modern classical composer and a member from an electronic pop/dance group, but that's how Kiasmos introduced their music during Iceland Airwaves/KEXPort in Reykjavík. If you like what you hear there, here are a few more tracks on Grooveshark, and read on for more on the members of Kiasmos, Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen. [more inside]
Tabletop Audio - a new site with sixty ambient sound and music files for science fiction, horror, fantasy, modern and historical tabletop games. Plus a nifty queue manager and the option to download the tracks for play offline.
White noise a little too stuffy? Nature sounds a little too outdoorsy? Wish Starbucks had a cricket infestation? Mix it up with a custom ambient noise generator!
Here's a look back at sounds of summers past, with a review of EMI's series of Balearic compilations, and for a bit more mystery and diversity, mixes that focus and include Balearic styles from Test Pressing. If the whole "Balearic" thing is confusing, Boiler Room TV has a nice write-up with photos from the period to set the mood, where the music was a mix of mixture of soul, reggae, rock, pop, and Latin, mixed with chill out, lounge and dance music. [more inside]
[LuckyMe's Claude Speeed] may have labeled this his Summer mix, but it isn’t all sunshine and good times – instead, it’s somewhere between Kanye’s Cruel Summer and Fennesz’s Endless one. 90+ minutes in length, it hypnotizes you with a succession of beatless music by CFCF, Sevendeaths,
Richard Skelton Tim Hecker and Speeed himself… then, at the mix’s climax, the world comes crashing in on you.
"His work is rooted in the power of collaboration within systems: instructions, rules, and self-imposed limits. His methods are a rebuke to the assumption that a project can be powered by one person’s intent, or that intent is even worth worrying about. To this end, Eno has come up with words like “scenius,” which describes the power generated by a group of artists who gather in one place at one time. (“Genius is individual, scenius is communal,” Eno told the Guardian, in 2010.) It suggests that the quality of works produced in a certain time and place is more indebted to the friction between the people on hand than to the work of any single artist." The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones on Brian Eno's career and new album High Life.
In 1992, the then-young independent British record label Warp Records launched a series entitled Artificial Intelligence. A foray into what the label called “electronic listening music”, the seminal chain of albums forever altered the way electronic music was viewed, written, and heard. At the time, most of the electronic music known to the public was club/rave/dance music. Though this had it’s place, Warp’s founders, Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell, had a vision of electronic music that could be listened to and enjoyed rather than only dance to.Warp's Artificial Intelligence series revisted.
myNoise.net uses audio synthesis cleverness and the HTML 5 Web Audio API to give you a vast array of ambient soundscapes and background noises right in your (recent) browser. Each generator is highly customisable and users can share customisations with each other.
Photobooth Innards: the inner workings of a vintage black and white photobooth in real time. Via photobooth.net, the most comprehensive photobooth resource on the internet (previously)
Astroblast and Overstepping Artifacts are music videos by the project Musicians with Guns, which take the viewer through detailed tours of some beauty. Relax and enjoy.
Dennis Hlynsky is a professor of film and animation at RISD whose most recent work, titled Small Brains on Mass, looks at bird behavior, particularly how they interact when flying in groups. To better understand how flying as a flock is achieved, Hlynsky filmed the birds and then stacked the images on the same frame for a set number of frames, the results show each bird’s flight as a trail, but synchronized with the flock. The results are often pure poetry. [more inside]
Stakker Humanoid - How 25 years ago Future Sound of London brought Acid House to the mainstream.
Dexter Tortoriello makes various forms of sad music. The most prolific persona is Houses, which is a duo with his girlfriend Megan Messina, which Tortoriello thinks of in terms of "old Elephant 6 recordings," though it's been classified with the chillwave craze of the recent years, escapist songs are understated in mood and minimalist in structure. Then there's his solo project, Dawn Golden and Rosy Cross, named for the centuries-old secret occult sect Golden Dawn and the symbol of Rosicrucianism, built with intensely sculpted collection of skittering electronics and delicate acoustic textures, ... marked by heavy beats and synthesizer pads. You can hear tracks from both projects on Soundcloud (Houses; Dawn Golden) and YouTube (Houses official channel, and a playlist for A Quiet Darkness, the newest Houses album).
The 10 best ambient tracks, according to The Orb. May your Monday be chill.
yu-ra (Google translation) are (were?) a Japanese duo who've produced an eclectic mix of beautiful, layered, often ethereal music. [more inside]
Chouchou are a Japanese duo of artist/musicians who make haunting, ethereal electronic lullabies of otherworldly beauty. [more inside]
C.J. Boyd is a wandering bassist improvisor/composer who has found time to make 11 "multimedia mixtapes" for his Obsolete Media label-mates, and you can stream or purchase (for a price of your choosing) more than 16 hours of enjoyable, experimental music, featuring a ton of artists.
Deafheaven are a black metal/shoegaze/post-rock/emo/ambient/pop-metal/what-have-you band from San Francisco. The band consists of vocalist George Clarke and guitarist/songwriter Kerry McCoy and are signed to Deathwish Inc. [more inside]
Coffitivity is a website that allows you to listen to the sounds of a coffee shop on your computer. The New York Times's Well Blog has the details.
Tackling everything from Abba to the Velvet Underground, Brian Eno reveals his insights into popular music in this 81 minute talk at a music academy sponsored by a popular sugar-and-caffeine-infused drink. [more inside]
Listening to birdsong is really good for you. But many of us live in urban environments where birdsong is a scarce resource, so you might consider opening up this YouTube audio clip, or this one, or this one, and just let those little birdies serenade you while you work at your computer, or savor your morning coffee, or do your household errands. It's good for the soul.
Psybient or psychill is an chillout genre that combines elements of ambient with psytrance and world music, along with some glitch and dub sounds. Excellent examples are Land Switcher (more), Solar Fields (site), Euphorica, and Entheogenic. [more inside]
Every Day We Are Dying and Outer Space Does Not Give One Single Fuck, a 60 minute ambient piano suite by Jared Brickman of One Hello World. [more inside]
Drift into the weekend with Henry Flynt, Zomes, and Spacemen 3. Hell, play all three at the same time.
GRiZ - Mad Liberation. Take a 21 year old bedroom producer from Michigan, raise them on the the internet with a near complete access to the history of modern music with a focus on electronic/dance and apparently you get this incredibly humanistic and cross-cultural album that's both homage, monument and appropriation of hundreds of influences in modern music in an incredibly dubby dubstep framework. (Free album download here.)
"With Jan Nickman's skilled direction and exceptional cinematography by Gray Warriner of Camera One Productions, this 40-minute video album transforms the Grand Canyon into something magical." Canyon Dreams was recorded as an album by Tangerine Dream, though it was first released with the videos of the Grand Canyon that were recorded over 3 years. Audio and video inside. [more inside]
Now That's What I Call Drone: Vol. 1 - Drone ambient versions of top 40 pop songs. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Days of music and ambient audio served up with no searching, little setup, and no subscription:
- PartyCloud (Flash) auto-syncs millions of musical tracks to create your own mixes.
- 75 minutes of thunder and rain; a half-hour audio recording in the Amazon rainforest; 24 hours of the engines of the starship Enterprise at idle (previously).
- Sonos Terra mixes musical tracks with ambient background sounds (jungle, stream, ocean, and more).
musicForProgramming(); a series of mixes intended for listening to while programming to aid concentration and increase productivity (also compatible with other activities). [more inside]
Ambient bus arrival monitor from hacked Linksys WRT54GL. Transport for London has a wonderful service called Countdown that can give live bus arrival times. For example, here's a page showing live buses passing No. 10 Downing St. Underlying this is a simple JSON API that, while not public, seems to be usable by the average programmer. So with its details deciphered (hardly hard since the web site uses the API) John Graham-Cumming set about building an ambient bus monitor into a model London bus. The idea is to glance at the model bus and see the times of the next two real buses you're likely to want to catch, and know when to leave the house.
"The following is a short demonstration of Quintronics' latest musical invention called The Singing House. This drone synthesizer can be installed into any building in order to provide its inhabitants with a pleasing chord that is constantly changed by the weather." Brought to you by the maker of The Drum Buddy. [more inside]
"One of the most moving releases I heard in 2010 was the 90-minute cassette entitled Ornitheology, by a mysterious individual by the name Chubby Wolf. Two long, 40-minute long songs that recalled beautifully the best moments of Brian Eno, yet the two songs struck me as something more…more. In doing research, I discovered two things about this mysterious band: a. that Chubby Wolf was the moniker of Danielle Baquet-Long, who performed in a group entitled Celer with her husband, Will Long, and, b. sadly, that Danielle had passed away suddenly, at the tragically young age of 26." Joseph Kyle of The Big Takeover interviewed Will Long, providing an overview of Danielle's life and art. Much of her music, which was released on limited edition CDrs, cassettes or vinyl is streaming on bandcamp, along with music she created with Will as Celer.
SYGNOK and The War For Radical Computer Music. -- "We join Gæoudjiparl van den Dobbelsteen (aka Goodiepal), internationally acclaimed 'Danish Techno Prophet' and creator of Radical Computer Music (RCM), in the aftermath of his war against the Danish Royal Academy of Music. Now operating under the moniker 'SYGNOK' after teaming up with DJ HVAD and VJ Cancer, the film traces how Gæoudjiparl's RCM goals of creating music for 'artificial and alternative intelligences' has now diverged into a tangled web of race wars, theft, forgery and death threats."
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