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[Music] Departure Street – Two Islands in the Heart

Departure Street is American/French guitarist Allan J. Kimmel.  Reading his bio on the Bandcamp release page, he calls his work neo-folk.  I thought it a strange term, as I normally associate it with dark bands who worked with music that would set well with fans of bands like Death In June, Current 93 and the like.  Giving this a couple of listens, perhaps there is some connection there.  What I hear a bit more strongly is a sound that compares well with contemporary guitarists like Cousin Silas.  This has floaty, pleasant feel to it.  Worth a third or fourth listen, definitely.

From Allan’s Bandcamp page:

Departure Street, AKA Allan J. Kimmel, creates tranquil electric guitar meditations that sprawl and explore like the hungry tendrils of an aggressive ivy.

Kimmel, who hails from both America and France, has filled this record with nothing but vividly surreal instrumental soundscapes, which are comprised purely of his multi-tracked and effects-laden solo guitar. Across the record’s nine tracks, Kimmel takes his unique brand of psychedelic loner-folk, and stirs in elements of reverb-heavy ambient music, cosmic American primitivism and even some Middle Eastern folk traditions. The resulting brew is a heady yet mellow mix that glides along with a pleasant ease.

While the album feels like one large suite, “Ascension” is certainly a highlight. David Gilmour-esque slide guitar coasts through slow waves of spacey, repetitive riffs, all while Kimmel laces melancholic solos across the entirety of the piece. There’s a heavy atmosphere in “Ascension,” and it makes you think about people and places that you’re nostalgic for, or pleasant dreams that you’ve once had. It’s certainly a comforting recording, but there is some sort of loss hidden just below the surface.

Two Islands in the Heart is a complex record despite its minimalist approach, and it’s an unexpectedly emotionally charged one, as well. If you are a fan of Steve Palmer’s latest record, Cian Nugent or David Grubbs, then you need this album.

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[Music] Wayne Robert Thomas & Isaac Helsen – RÁS

Past Inside the Present Records are churning out incredible release after incredible release.  This one is a special gem, however, as guitarist and composer Wayne Robert Thomas & film composer Isaac Helsen pair upon a 30+ minute drone epic.  Though the who album floats beautifully, I have no choice but to declare the first track, a tribute to former Talk Talk frontman and producer of the greatest album I have ever heard in my life, Mark Hollis, who passed away in February of this year.  What a near-perfect collaboration this is!

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[Music] Glåsbird – Svalbarð

This album by Glåsbird is so utterly enthralling to my ears that I feel like the angels are talking to me at the moment.  There is a sense of a cool peace that this album is making me feel at the moment in a grimy, grotesque Beijing that I have to thank the creators of this sublime work for their efforts to keep me sane in this very, very odd place.

From the Whitelabrecs Bandcamp site:

In February 2019 we released the debut album by an anonymous artist named Glåsbird, in the form of Grønland, a sonic expedition of Greenland. The album received much critical acclaim despite being from an anonymous artist and was even featured on Bandcamp Daily under their ‘best Ambient’ feature. CD copies of this record have long since sold out, but the Glåsbird continues its flight to a new destination: Svalbard.

Svalbard lies 78 degrees north, is inside the Arctic Circle and had a population of around 2600 people and an estimated 3000 polar bears! Its calendar year divides between the midnight sun and the polar nights. The former is a period of constant daylight and the latter is the opposite. However, the dark season is broken from time to time by spectacular Northern Lights.

In Svalbarð, Glåsbird became immersed once more in this next excursion, through means of Google Earth, 360° photos, blogger accounts of the isles, maps and also, videos by Efterklang who were an obvious reference point with the band having visited.
This time, we are treated to a greater number of tracks, as ten movements weave Modern Classical influenced Ambient soundscapes. The pristine, polished reverb of Grønland is replaced with a slightly muddier, more lo-fi approach to the sound as the artist strived to present a tape-eroded aesthetic to their work. The recordings deal with dramatic landscapes, glaciers, an abandoned coal community, a seed vault, the Island’s capital city Longyearbyen and of course, polar bears. Each piece feels icy cold, yet the warmth and hiss provided by the decaying tape effects provide a comfort blanket for the listener as perhaps you take in these scenes from a lonely cabin, at one with isolation and natural beauty.

The packaging for the album includes photography from Svalbard itself, courtesy of Aldona Pivoriene who is a professional photographer based in Norway. We are also set to release the next Glåsbird album next year. Where will the destination be? For now, we hope you enjoy immersing yourself in this new set of works exploring Svalbard.

Cold-climate ambient.

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[Music] NUM – False Awakening

Only a fool would believe we’re not living in a great time for music.  The world of pop is banal, and should only be seen as entertainment.  Actual music, that which is trying to continue breaking borders, bending (or snapping) rules, is doing quite well.

Iranian-born composer Maryam Sirvan has been featured on the blog before, having her powerful solo album reviewed here, but this is a newer release where she teams up with fellow composer Milad Bagheri and saxophonist Rezo Kiknadze.  Few composers of this stripe are able to combine the intellectual rigors of electroacoustic music, especially that of the INA-GRM variety, with the gritty, ghostly feel of 20 Jazz Funk Greats-period Throbbing Gristle.

This is a brilliant work, and I hope to see more composers appearing out the of Caucasus soon.

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[Music] Arctica – Hanami in Tokyo


 
DMT Records tend to be hit-or-miss for me, which is no surprise considering the sheer volume of releases they put out. Still, on average, they rarely disappoint, and can in fact still surprise me with a charming release.

A case in point would be Montreal’s Arctica, who put out an EP’s worth of music that sits in a hole between vaporwave, ethereal music and dream pop. I really enjoyed what I heard here, and I hope that DMT continue to put out releases like this.
 

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[Music] Mark Hollis – The Colour Of Spring (RIP)

According to a post at Bella Union, it seems that former Talk Talk singer and composer of the most perfect album I ever owned, Mark Hollis, has passed away.  More news will follow all over social media momentarily.

A heartbreaking loss.

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[Music] Wings Of An Angel – Disgusted By The Monotonic Shortsighted Grayness Of Civilian Life


Wings Of An Angel is a mysterious one-man project out of Israel who release a new album VERY frequently, but manage to maintain good quality throughout.  Long, droning, wandering ambient tracks with horribly long names in the finest post-rock fashion, but all in all, a decent and very engaging listen.

As an aside, WOAA is generously offering his entire back catalog, at least a couple hundred releases, for the sum of $1.50.  A good investment.

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[Music] AK – Branches


Aljosha Konstanty (AK) has quite a good body of work, but this particular release, his newest, really caught my ear.

Downtempo, relaxing, and it allows you to work unencumbered by anything distracting.

A beautiful release.

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Alternative/Indie Bandcamp Gothic MP3s Music Music Downloads Music Technology New Releases Post-Punk Rock

[Music] a place both wonderful and strange – The City Smells Like Cat Spit


These fine folks must be from either New York or Los Angeles, as the euphemism cat spit (well, something more urine-related, anyway) seems to hold true in both cities to an ugly degree.

More importantly, that term serves as the title of an EP released by Brooklyn residents a place both wonderful and strange, who produce music that straddles the grimy Batcave-era London goth music scene with a more ethereal touch that would be familiar to fans of Dif Juz, Chandeen or even the Cocteau Twins.

I like the directions this EP is heading. It’s nostalgic, but there is a lot of fertile ground the band can plow in this style.

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Ambient Bandcamp Electronica Ethnic Folk Gothic MP3s Music Music Downloads Music Reviews Music Technology New Age New Releases

[Music] Katarína Máliková – Pustvopol


 
There’s not a lot of music I could compare Slovak chanteuse Katarína Máliková to. Her sound is utterly unique, and I could only imagine bands like Dead Can Dance as sharing her ethereal vibe. The instrumentation could fit somewhere comfortably between folk, fusion and Fourth World Ambient (think Jon Hassell).

For fans of these genres and of artists like Loreena McKennitt.