Lost In The Humming Air
First up is a thirteen-track release from Martin Juhls’ Oktaf label titled Lost In The Humming Air (Music inspired by Harold Budd). As the title suggests, this is a collection of exclusive tracks from some of the world renown artists [and all of my favorites] paying tribute to Harold Budd. “Well known for his spacious piano playing and his early collaborations with Brian Eno, Harold has inspired a whole generation of modern protagonists of ambient, jazz and especially the so called modern classical genres.” I could go on to describe this enormous and beautiful compilation, but instead I’ll take the easy route and let you project by listing some of the contributing artists: Deaf Center, loscil, Biosphere, Xela, Mokira, Christopher Willits, Taylor Deupree, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Porn Sword Tobacco, bvdub, and of course, Marsen Jules himself among others. What an outstanding selection of talent! All tracks have been donated by the artists, and the surplus of the sales will be passed on to the charity of Harold’s choosing. You absolutely must own this piece!

Pop Ambient 2012
Sometimes I’m afraid I’m going to run out of words. There are only so many adjectives and so many nouns. It’s a little different with sound, which is constantly augmented, filtered, layered, rearranged. To remind us of its constant evolution, the Cologne (Germany) based Kompakt label issues its annual installment in Pop Ambient series. Launched in 2001, by the label co-founder, Wolfgang Voigt, the release explores beatless corners of a restless mind. The collected tracks share a repetitive nature of moving textures, brushing at the surface like the waves of the ocean. Here, Voigt appears together with Jörg Burger under their Mohn alias, while Axel Willner, aka The Field contributes a track under his Loops Of Your Heart moniker. Among the many familiar faces like bvdub, Triola and Marsen Jules, we notice new appearances by Simon Scott, Morek, and Magazine. This is another excellent addition to the series, and an introduction to a few new faces. Be on the lookout for a full length release by the above mentioned Mohn, out on Kompakt in the spring of 2012!

Truth Serum
I, Absentee
Los Angeles based label, I, Absentee, has been releasing electronic, experimental and ambient music since 2008. Yet it is its 40th catalog entry that has finally captured our attention. The reason is simple – this sixteen track compilation, titled Truth Serum, features some of our favorite artists. In addition, the collection and all of the profits are dedicated to The Human Society and UNICEF. The roster is extremely impressive. Among the top masters like Manual, Leyland Kirby, Maps And Diagrams, The Green Kingdom, The Remote Viewer, Lackluster, Hummingbird, Ian Hawgood and David Newlyn, we find a few new names to add to our radar, such as Hakobune, Ambidextrous, Magic Arrows, and Forrest. The mood of the release can be summarized with the above appearances: a bit of ambient, a dazzle of shoegaze, a sprinkle of electronica, and a dash of downtempo. Only a few tracks from the compilation have been previously released, so if you’re a fan of the above artists, you should definitely get your hands on this rare release. In addition to a CDr release, Truth Serum is also available as a digital download from the label’s bandcamp page.

Air Texture Volume I
Air Texture
For the final entry in this Sound Bytes column we are honored to introduce you to a brand new label slash series, titled Air Texture. Similar to the above covered Pop Ambient as well as the early 90s Excursions In Ambiance series, Air Texture aims to promote the world of ambient sound through its carefully selected artist roster. In addition, the series hand picks artists to curate the individual disks for this double CD release. For the first volume we are honored with a selection by bvdub and Andrew Thomas. And what a selection it is! Brock van Wey doesn’t waste any time and kicks off his picks with a track by Orla Wren, followed by Rafael Anton Irisarri and Let’s Go Outside. In addition to a track of his own, Wey selects previously unreleased works by Maps And Diagrams, Ian Hawgood, The Green Kingdom, Ryonkt, and Arc of Doves. Wait… that’s not all! The second disc curated by Thomas features Klimek, Atlas Sound, Oneohtrix Point Never, Chihei Hatakeyama, loscil, Biosphere, Markus Guentner, Leyland Kirby and Wolfgang Voigt. Whoo!!! And I’m already looking forward to the second volume in the series, which promises to deliver selections by loscil and Rafael Anton Irisarri!