Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cousin Silas' Dronescape series now 20 strong

Over the weekend, I was proud to release the twentieth Dronescape from Cousin Silas.

In the liner notes I waxed lyrical about what this longform drone reminded me of ...
This Dronescape reminds me of the first H.P. Lovecraft story that I read: "The Nameless City". I read it because it was the first story in an anthology that I had purchased for pennies for my Kindle. I remember vividly being hooked with the sense of mounting terror that Lovecraft conveys. My mind was brought back to this story when I heard this Dronescape and, in particular, a point where the terror had taken hold and the protagonist recalled the following: 
"I repeated queer extracts, and muttered of Afrasiab and the daemons that floated with him down the Oxus; later chanting over and over again a phrase from one of Lord Dunsany's tales - 'The unreverberate blackness of the abyss.'
The twentieth Dronescape is an excellent form of ambient impressionism, portraying, as it does so well, this quote from Dunsany - 'the unreverberate blackness of the abyss'. It is what came to mind when I listened to Silas' latest offering, for both the quote and the drone complement each other so completely.
For more go to ... or have a wee listen below:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Moby's Creative Mornings talk ... Creativity and the Freedom to Fail

Here's an interesting video from one of my fave musicians, Moby. In the video he speaks of moving to LA from NYC, creativity, inspiration, and the freedom to fail.



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Loving ... "Alterations" by Earlyguard

I've been a very vocal supporter of Earlyguard’s longform ambient soundscapes for some years now. I really like the way he can take an idea and run with it over an extended period of time.  "Alterations" is more of the same in this regard: an intriguing idea effectively executed in a longform capacity. However, there is something more to his sound on this recording that is most welcome, something more that takes Earlyguard’s longform soundscapes to the next level.

First off this isn't simply a drone. It is a soundscape that is, in parts, more in keeping with minimal or modern classical expression, such as Gorecki's Third, than solely Earlyguard's earlier drone work ... it is more complex ... more nuanced ... a soundscape that begins with a series of deep string-like chords that interplay with each other and a melodic glockenspiel-type sound to create something truly wonderful.

There is a cinematic ebb and flow that is intoxicating. "Alterations" has the air of the soundtrack to a dark, offbeat, Noir-ish film. This air continues throughout the piece.

The track does evolve as it progresses, however ...

At the 15min mark, for example, the strings change to a more harmonic synth sound, a very eery synth that interplays with raindrop-like bells.

Whereas at the 30min mark, the soundscape broadens out with a drone that feels very wind-like, blowing the bells about like wind chimes.

It does return the more film-noirish sound near the end of the track, bring resolution to the piece.

All these elements combine to create some tremendous sonic impressionism. "Alterations" by Earlyguard is a fantastic longform soundscape which is more in keeping with a soundtrack than a longform drone. He has certainly upped the bar for the other longformers out there ... and made what could possibly be his best recording yet.

Have a listen below and, if you like what you hear, please support Earlyguard by buying his music.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Seven questions with … musician Simon Allum aka Ancient Colours

As part of my focus on the label Preserved Sound, I'm pleased to feature an interview with Simon Allum aka Ancient Colours ... an artist whose work I really am looking forward to checking out.


1) Who are you and what do you do?
Simon Allum aka Ancient Colours

2) What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on the second Ancient Colours album for Preserved Sound. Recording will begin on Orkney in July, which I’m very excited about. Hopefully it’ll be ready for an autumn release. Working titles include Pixie of Metro-Land & Owlswick on my mind.

3) Who inspires you? 
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
The answer to this could run to several pages and I still wouldn’t be happy with it so I’ve tried to whittle it down to a vital list. You may or may not be able to detect these influences in Ancient Colours records, but these people, in particular, have inspired me to create music:

  • Felt, 
  • John Cowper Powys, 
  • Nick Drake, 
  • Eric Ravilious, 
  • Bert Jansch, 
  • Aubrey Burl, 
  • The Telescopes, 
  • Kate Bush, 
  • Neil M Gunn, 
  • Echo & The Bunnymen, 
  • British Sea Power, 
  • WH Auden, 
  • Led Zeppelin, 
  • Arto Paasilinna, 
  • The Jesus Lizard, 
  • Paul Klee, 
  • The House of Love, 
  • Aphex Twin, 
  • James Blackshaw, 
  • Derek Jarman, 
  • Black Sabbath, and 
  • John Ormond.

In terms of guitarists, my favourites are Maurice Deebank, Bert Jansch & Jimmy Page.

- Name a place that has inspired you.
Again this list could be huge, but the places that have generated the most inspiration in writing music for Ancient Colours are:

  • Avebury & The Marlborough Downs, Wiltshire.
  • Wester Ross, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe & Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
  • Brussels & Bruges, Belgium.
  • The Moon (Haven’t been)
  • Eythrope & The Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
The human condition, the elements, the esoteric, the night sky, the early hours of the morning, travel, various prehistoric monuments and landscapes and the thoughts and feelings I have whilst amongst them, maps, unusual tunings, the countryside and finding a really good jumper.

4) What drives you to do what you do? 
I think it’s essentially a desire to communicate, but if so I’m unsure what it is I’m trying to say. If there is meaning behind any of the music I create, its really about everything and nothing at the same time. Imagery, feeling, and mood are important.

I often feel that there is a magical element, for want of a better word, to some of the music that I love. It’s often vague and fleeting, but some pieces of music seem to contain something extra special. I suppose my hope is to generate some of whatever that is in the music I create too. I like the thought of something otherworldy & timeless, music that creates a world of its own.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I’m not sure about values, but to complement or encourage certain moods/states of mind. I’d like to think it could make somebody in a bad situation feel better, comforted, perhaps less alone in whatever they might be going through. Also, maybe an aid to thought, or a soundtrack for a journey, of any kind. I tend to think of Ancient Colours as music to be played at night, or in the early morning.

6) What role does community play in what you do? 
Very little. Or, more accurately, none whatsoever. I’ve never been or wanted to be part of any sort of musical community or scene. The music is for individuals, not groups or types of people.

7) What is next for what you do?
Completing the 2nd album and playing the first Ancient Colours live shows. I’ve hesitated to play live so far with this project, as I’d like the gigs to be special, perhaps in unusual or interesting locations. Other than that, more writing and the continuing quest to track down the perfect jumper.


I really do hope you find that perfect jumper, Simon! I thought I had ... a lovely secondhand, grey Merino wool sweater ... until my wife spotted a wee hole.

I have embedded "Relent" below for your listening pleasure ... as before, I would ask that if it is your thing that you buy it and support both Simon and Preserved Sound.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Loving ... ’Building Nothing, Laying Bricks’ by Evolv

’Building Nothing, Laying Bricks’ by Evolv has been a very pleasurable audio companion of late and for fans of innovative music, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

It transcends genres, shifting as it does between ambient and post-rock with ease. It also features a rapper laying down some spoken word over a delightful post-rock soundscape which must be a first, at least a first for me.

There is something wonderfully languid about this album ... it doesn't challenge but instead soothes the weary listener. The sampled references to ’love’ in the opening track - "ishfious" - really  do set the album off on the right track.

The album really flows and packs a considerable amount into its 10 tracks over 34 minutes. It also has a decided euphoric edge with the fifth track - "colours" - really standing out as a real builder.

All in, I thoroughly enjoyed this album ... even, you'll be surprised to hear, the track with rapper Ackurate’s spoken word expression - "indistinct memories".

I would highly recommend it and would point to the closing track - "oscillate" - with it's delightful field recordings juxtaposed with a quirky sample of a theologian waxing lyrical about evil in the good ol’ US of A. Trust me, it's a great track.

Have a wee listen below and, if you can, support Evolv by buying the album.


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Seven questions with … Adrian Lane

When Hayden from Preserved Sound sent me a couple of his recent releases I was instantly drawn to the new album by Adrian Lane.

Entitled "The Answering Smile", it is utterly fascinating. Lane has used the following instruments – alto bowed psaltery, baritone bowed psaltery, violin, acoustic guitar (bowed and plucked), mandolin, zither, percussion and laptop - to create something otherworldly and cinematic that is very Mica Levi in expression.

Hayden from Preserved Sound recently caught up with Lane and asked him my Seven Questions ... this is what he had to say:


1) Who are you and what do you do?
I am a musician and visual artist; which one I am most depends on my mood, time of year and ideas at any one time. I don't tend to make much distinction between the two and my working processes are quite similar; I tend to work in layers and build up by reacting to the previous layer whether that happens to be a musical phrase or a brush mark.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
My previous two albums for Preserved Sound were very much solo affairs; I am interested in getting other people to contribute to the next one. I have a friend who did a masters degree in percussion in Bali and he has agreed to contribute, although it is at the very early stages at the moment. My first two albums have very little percussion so I am thinking that some acoustic percussion would add a different texture to the pieces.

I have also been working on some collaborative pieces with Japanese musician, Ikutaro Ishida, and Italian musician LoaLue where files have been sent back and forth. This has been exciting as to a certain extent I have relinquished creative control, I send the files (usually myself playing phrases on acoustic instruments) and then see what happens with them.

3) Who inspires you?
Many people have inspired me and I will answer this question now but I am sure that when I think about it again I'll come up with someone else.

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
There are many, many musicians/composers who have inspired me but if I was to list some defining influences who have stayed with me since I was young I would list David Sylvian and Philip Glass. I was into David Sylvian in the early 1980s (giving away my age here) and have liked most of the things he has done since particularly his (more difficult) work from the last 10 years or so. David Sylvian also led me to the next question, in that his music made me investigate music from other cultures particularly East Asia; listening to his music meant that I became interested in his collaborators (Jon Hassell, Holgar Czukay, Kenny Wheeler, Danny Thompson) and opened up music outside of the mainstream.

I am not sure how I got into Philip Glass but I remember seeing a performance of Music in 12 Parts when I was about 19 years old and I had never heard anything like it. I have seen it performed again in recent years and it was still just as mesmerizing.

- Name place that has inspired you.
Lots of places but most profoundly Japan (where I have visited on numerous occasions) and in more recent years South Korea. The culture; music, art, food and the people have all been great inspiration to me.

- Name some “thing” that has inspired you.
Not sure of any one thing but I do enjoy getting new instruments; I have quite a range of acoustic instruments and picking up something new that I am not familiar or confident playing forces me to try new things.

4) What drives you to do what you do?
I suppose there is always a drive to express yourself in some way. I am not a great talker, although do enjoy being with other people, and I guess I need to find ways to express myself outside of words.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I'd like to think there is an expression of calm and a sense that people should be seen as individuals not nations. I am quite happy being English but I wouldn't say that is better than being from anywhere else and I’d like to think that what I produce is affected by where I am from but is not totally defined by it and expresses something common to particular personality types from all over the world.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
Community in the sense of my specific locality is not so important to what I do; I am quite happy where I live but feel the music I produce is for audiences that include people much further afield.
In the sense of the online community, the digital revolution has meant I am able to get my music heard by people with similar interests and tastes from all over the world. The kind of music I produce could be described as being for a niche market, but when looked at with a global view that becomes much more significant. In a sense it becomes a global community of like-minded music fans.
The online community and social networks have meant I am able to do things very differently to how I was 10 or 15 years ago. The collaborations mentioned earlier came about this way.

7) What is next for what you do?
I think that is answered in question 2, ultimately I’d just like the opportunity to get my music heard by a few people who appreciate it, if the number of those people grow then all the better.


Thank you Adrian.

Have a wee"The Answering Smile" below and, if you like what you hear, please do your bit to support both Adrian Lane and Preserved Sound.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Loving ... "ClarOscuro" by Bruno Sanfilippo

Bruno Sanfilippo creates my kind of modern neoclassical soundscapes and he has really nailed it with his latest album, from the opening bars of the title track - "ClarOscuro" - I knew I was in for a treat.

And what a treat "ClarOscuro" is ... it is a powerfully cinematic expression ... a graceful, elegant, refined expression that doesn't demand your attention but, most definitely, warrants it.

Sanfilippo is a fine pianist. On the tracks where he plays solo piano - such as "absenta" - you are given a master class in expressive dynamics, in mood & temperament. This isn't just minimalism, it is the less-is-more of an elegant actress who doesn't need the ’bling’ to show of her beauty. I find Sanfilippo's solo expression utterly captivating, I am entranced like the moviegoer watching this beautiful actress, I follow Sanfilippo’s music wherever it goes.

"ClarOscuro" isn't just the solo piano of Bruno Sanfilippo, however. Dotted throughout the album are tracks that combine his exemplary playing with the most luscious strings, tracks like the opener (and title track) "ClarOscuro", "A constant passion" with it's deep cello or "It happens on the ship" with it's swirling, hypnotic strings.

"ClarOscuro" by Bruno Sanfilippo is an exceptional album and a real highlight of 2014. If modern neo-classical soundscapes are your thing, in particular the piano-orientated and cinematic, then you will thoroughly enjoy this album as I have.



Have a listen below and, if you like what you hear, please support Sanfilippo by purchasing his work:

Why Vinyl? A short documentary from Natalie Green

Here's something to watch ... a short documentary, from Natalie Green, that asks a very simple question - Why Vinyl?



Monday, July 07, 2014

The latest circumambient podcast features music from weareallghosts


Reposting this from ... the latest podcast features a guest mix from Ade Hodges that celebrates the music of my own netlabel: weareallghosts. Hodges was given carte blanche to curate a mix of the very best of the label and I am delighted with his output, which features music from Cousin SilasBrother SaturnColin BlakeChristopher Alvarado & Stephen BriggsWilliam SpiveyToasterKevin LyonsAlison G. MadrigalIvan Ganza, and Red Pools ... as well as a collaboration between Hodges and Cousin Silas.

Please support the artists featured by downloading their music and spreading the word.

Dive deep!



circumambient 019 ... (right click your mouse and choose "Save As" to download the Podcast)


or via iTunes ... please subscribe to catch all the episodes.


For tracklisting, please visit ...

Seven questions with … Vitaly Beskrovny

Vitaly Beskrovny is a musician who deserves more attention, certainly more attention from me. His compositions are modern, minimal and delightfully neo-classical; he plays the piano with such finesse and an understated touch that is both elegant and expressive.

I recently got the opportunity to pose my seven questions to him ... this is what he had to say.


1) Who are you and what do you do?
I am Vitaly Beskrovny, from Novomoskovsk, Ukraine. I have loved listening to music since my childhood, because my father was a music lover and had a collection of old reels and tapes. I became interested in composing music in 2004, as soon as we had a personal computer at home, and I first became acquainted with the music sequencer (then it was FL Studio). I love listening to music of all genres, although in my heart there is place for only one song (“Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven) and one musical instrument – the piano. I am studying piano at home (I have no musical education) and at the same time compose melodies that were previously on my music sequencer, and which now I translate into a minimalist piano sound. So, I am listener and a student.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
I am composing some new songs for the piano. Once I have finished the material, I will think about how to record it.

3) Who inspires you? 
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
Ludwig Van Beethoven, Frederic Chopin, Yann Tiersen, Max Richter, Philip Glass, Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds, and many more great artists

- Name place that has inspired you.
My living room

- Name some “thing” that has inspired you/
Love, friendship, books, and, of course, music!

4) What drives you to do what you do? 
I can’t explain it. I consider myself an amateur, because I just do what I like doing. I like to listen to the music, playing the piano, writing/composing, and enjoy doing what I like :)

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Each song is part of the emotions, events, and/or stories from my life. I just write “musical stories” and share them.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
A very important role. With the help of social networks has become possible to find like-minded people: creative people, interesting people who are interested in listening to you and that can inspire you to create something. For people like me, with a family and circle of friends who are not like-minded (musicians, writers, etc.), social networks and the Internet have a very important role in the formation of my personality.

7) What is next for what you do?
I come home from work, sit down at the piano and play, play, play. Who knows, maybe something will come of it ...


My thanks to Hayden from Preserved Sound for facilitating this interview. I have embedded Beskrovny's music from Preserved Sound for your listening experience ... if it is something you like, please support both the artist and the label.

--- I also include "Highway", Beskrovny's release on Twice Removed:


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