Once in a while you tend to stumble across music accidentially, music which seems way out of the genres you usually deal with… and yet, it works. Something like this happened to me when discovering Botany Bay on jamendo.com, a platform I have been frequently using the last couple of years for various reasons. Reading tags like “pop”, “triphop”, “postrock” or “folk” weren’t really what I was looking for, but I decided to listen to it nevertheless, and, after listening to “inhale” and “moon child”, I knew I wouldn’t be likely to get this music out of my player anytime soon. Ordered both albums (as I didn’t want them to be in my collection “just” as mp3 files burned to disc), enjoyed the cover artwork, enjoyed the music, even though, as my musical tastes tend to differ, I can’t listen to the same stuff all the time…
A few days ago, while browsing archive.org I stumbled across “Incubi Succubi” by Daina Dieva and Svart1. Somehow, this 25-minutes beast of an ambient track has caught my attention and been played quite a couple of times ever since. Initially, this track partially reminded me of Vangelis’ incredible soundtrack to “Blade Runner”, but “Incubi Succubi” is way more, way stronger in some respects: The course of a nights worth of dreaming, travelling through its different stages from nightmare to relieving wake-up in the morning, captured altogether in soundscapes somewhere between (dark) ambient, industrial and folk. Ethereal, somewhat distant voices (I don’t want to call them “vocals” as I don’t know whether there are any articulated lyrics), deep distant drums once in a while, all kinds of noises and sounds, and an overall construction of “atmosphere made sound” all around this. A perfect soundtrack to a movie taking place in your head, and you decide what kind of movie this might be. And, asides being a great audio track, thanks to stumbling across this release I also learnt about Daniele Serra, a truly interesting artist, and I dared to discover more musical doings both by Daina Dieva, most notably darkwinter dw056 (another rather strong ambient production), and the doings of Svart1, a very effective merging of audio, visual, … into one working “whole”. A good way to spend a winter evening, I guess. ;)
Inspired by the isolation and emptiness inherent in the Polar Night, the Toronto-based electronic duo Kalte has released “Glaciations”, a series of five sound environments made up of cold elements and deep darkness. Drawing from a range of organic sound sources which have been altered and reassembled, “Glaciations” immerses the listener in a space that evokes the feeling of solitude and glacial winds, where dark tones drift through the soundscape, shifting in subtle ways.
Go get your headphones and check it out. ;)
Wow, looking at the timestamp of the last entry, it seems it’s been a while, vacations and project business included, since I wrote anything here. Anyway: As a regular follower / user of jamendo, I am by now pretty much used to stumbling across new and interesting music and average quality on jamendo.com seems pretty high which is a good thing. However, even given this high level of quality, once in a while there are albums, bands that just excel, either because of being especially original, or because of being especially good at what they do, or because, for reasons unknown, their music just works out. Been browsing and searching for some darker, noisy electronica a while ago, I eventually found “Grounded” by German trip-hop-world-music-electronic-jazz-whatever “crossover” twopiece Botany Bay. Listened to it once on my mp3 player, listened to it a second and third time while in car, and eventually kinda fell in love with the music on it, although it actually seems nowhere next to what I am usually listening to, at the moment…
I don’t know… it just worked out. No matter whether talking about instrumental or vocal performance (both male and female, even though I prefer the tracks sung by Laura), production, song writing, the video clips they did so far or (cover/booklet) artwork, the album to me is on an exceptionally high level of quality – way better than just “garage band” and like some of the releases to be found “on-line” today, in some respects even better than records to be found in regular CD stores sold by major record companies.
Adding to this, however… but even more, it just works… the music sounds and feels pure to the core, one literally can hear the musicians are pretty honest about what they are doing, and they are pretty effective at creating songs and sonic landscapes reaching one even without actually knowing why: Listening to the album on a grey autumn morning, it’s not just listening to the songs but rather being surrounded by the music, feeling it, eventually breathing it, and, eventually, when Laura starts singing “Tu m’as dit” (my French is way too limited to get the meaning of the title or even the lyrics, however), one knows this album, even though it might not work out in all situations, has found its way to the shelf of all-time favorites pretty quickly. Maybe, from an effectiveness point of view, this is the best an album eventually can achieve. Knowing the album is released under CC BY-NC-ND ;), giving it a closer look (listen?) won’t hurt or cost much except for a download, so maybe this is the first and foremost thing to do in order to start discovering the world of Botany Bay.
By the way seeing the “Old Men With Ballpoint Pens” clip and reading some of the (German) blog posts related to internet culture and censorship in Germany, it is pretty good to see that, while being focused on music, the two people in BB aren’t limited to it. Really enjoyed discovering this ambitious, inspiring band.
Amongst all the net labels out there nowadays, then and now I come back to the stuff found at darkwinter.com, as overall quality of these releases usually is pretty good. At the moment, however, I feel mesmerized by “elements”, which, in my opinion, is an exceptional release even by darkwinter standards. One hardly could say there is a lack of dark, “drony” ambient music these days, as it seems creating this kind of soundscapes is trivial at least from a technical point of view, you’re not really likely to need a lot of equipment and skill to get this kind of stuff. And still, listening closer to some (most?) of these releases, one quickly learns that indeed there are differences both looking at technical aspects and, even more, talking about originality and inspiration found in it.
Talking about this, “elements”, the creation of Australian one-man project Abre Ojos, surely knows how to excel. Earth, fire, water, air – each of the “four elements” captured in one long piece of musical creation, in one great, musically evolving world. In the end, these four elements end up forming an acoustic universe dense and inspired, moody, electronic and yet evolving and highly “organic”, directly next door to releases like the incredible ‘Zeit’ album by Tangerine Dream, created in 1972, or, same as ingenious, Coil’s ‘Time Machines’ released a couple of years later. From this point, I dare to consider “elements” the logical successor to the both of these records at least talking about music.
But there’s more: Along with the music, “elements” also does come with a video clip (or, better, a visual collage) for each of the elements / songs. Initially, I felt torn about this idea, given that this kind of music usually works best being a “soundtrack” for a movie to evolve in your mind while listening to it. But, however, after looking at parts of the clips I have to say that, fortunately, they indeed work out emphasizing the effect of the music itself, indeed working out as “…sound reactive looping visuals and animated mandalas to create an immersive synaesthetic experience to give time for reflection and meditation…”, as the release liner notes claim.
So, coming to a conclusion, I have to say that “elements” is one of the most outstanding pieces of drone ambient music I have been listening to in quite a while. Given it’s available on-line for free download (and, actually, under a Creative Commons license), one shouldn’t hesitate checking it out, listening to it, eventually drifting along through the worlds of Abre Ojos for while. And, if you decide you actually enjoy this one and want to show your appreciation to its creator, there’s always a carefully packed and designed CD/DVD box available to be ordered online. Worth checking out definitely, I am thinking about creating a PayPal account. :)