Sound Bytes : Pjusk, Celer, Hidden Landscapes 2, Sequence3

Glacial Movements
With previous releases by Rapoon, Lull, Skare, Bvdub, Loscil and Stormloop, the Glacial Movements label (founded by Alessandro Tedeschi) has become a sort of quality trademark in itself. A trademark for”glacial and isolationist ambient”. Pjusk‘s Tele, the label’s latest release, firmly establishes this reputation. For non-norwegians, Tele may not have the right associations: it is the Norwegian word describing frozen underground water. “Tele is a journey of snow, ice and cold.” …and the beauty within, I might add. Pjusk (Rune Sagevik and Jostein Dahl) create their music from a cabin high up in the Norwegian mountain, “framed by snowy peaks and the sound of cold streams”. Previously, Geir (Biosphere) Jenssen also found his inspiration (for Polar Sequences) from the very same landscape, and in fact the music is somewhat linked in mood and atmosphere. Starting slow and quiet with glacial sound effects, the mood is soon set with the sound of what seems to be a gigantic fog-horn. From there, the journey continues deep into the harsh Norwegian landscapes. Slowly building up the underlying rhythms, then deconstructing them again until returning back to the sound of the foghorns in the closing track “Polar”. The 9 tracks on Tele are carefully crafted and ordered in such a way that the sequence feels like it’s telling a story. The story of a Norwegian round-trip, maybe. If for you, “Snow”, “Ice” and “Cold” are words with mainly negative connotations, listen to this release and think again. And, if possible, book a trip to Norway!

Evaporate and Wonder / Tightrope
Experimedia / Low Point
If you are in any way familiar with ambient music, Celer will probably be familiar too. The discography boasts about 80 titles, most (if not all) of these well worth the listen. Celer started out as a husband-and-wife duo in 2005. After the tragic death of Danielle Baquet-Long in 2009 (she died of heart failure at the age of 27), Will Long has released music they had previously recorded together. “Evaporate and Wonder” was originally recorded in may, 2009, only a few months before Danielle’s death. The source material was limited to improvised synthesizer and field recordings, but two tracks (about 20 minutes each) have all the warm aesthetic qualities that have become the Celer-trademark from the very beginning. A sound well-balanced and harmonically pleasant – ‘utterly devoid of rough edges’. The basic material for “Tightrope” was recorded in november 2010 in Tokyo while Will was touring with Yui Onodura. The main difference compared to “Evaporate and Wonder” is that a lot of different instruments were involved in this recording: “piano, television, synthesizers, fire crackling, pipe organ, eating rice, guitar, medicine drip buzzer…” which are just a few. All source pieces are layered and mixed on top of each other, and presented in a 70 minute continuous collage. The variety of sources makes this a somewhat more cinematographic album compared to “Evaporate And Wonder”, but it still has the same unmistakable trademark, the same comfortable, timeless, immersive sound.

Hidden Landscapes 2
Audio Gourmet / Hibernate
Like its predecessor from early 2011, Hidden Landscapes, this second Audio Gourmet / Hibernate com-pilation offers a stunning palette of contemporary abstract impressionist music. Curated by Harry ‘Spheruleus‘ Towell and Bartosz ‘Pleq‘ Dziadosz, and presented with stunning photography by Jonathan Lees, Hidden Landscapes 2 presents over 70 minutes of music by artists like Talvihorros, Danny Norbury, Federico Durand, Lawrence English, Field Rotation, Pjusk, Offthesky, Konntinent, Strom Noir and Ian Hawgood (just to mention 11 of the 16 artists). Although the tracks were selected to fit the dreamlike landscape from the cover art, the music offered is in fact quite diverse. The album opens with some guitar minimalism from Marsen Jules, continues to explore post-classical territory, taking a (somewhat Tolkienesque) detour with the beautiful Rudi Arapahoe track, dives into immersively deep ambient by Field Rotation, before slowly venturing into somewhat more glitchy and noisy experimental tracks. There’s enough variation to keep the listener interested, yet the compilation stays coherent by avoiding too extreme devia-tions. Hidden Landscapes 2 presents a view into the kind of landscape you’ll never get tired of staring into… revealing new details with every new listening… the sounds just as fascinating as the cover image.

With 41 tracks and over 4 hours of experimental music, the Sequence 3 compilation could be a bit too much to chew at once. So (unless you simply can’t get enough) it’s probably best to digest it in smaller portions at the time. Or, create your own sub-selection according to your liking, because, with such a diverse offering, it’s clear that not every track can be for everyone’s taste. But there is so much to choose from, it’s easy to compile your own sub-compilation! The Sequence collection is a great showcase of all kinds of sounds that can be filed under ‘ambient’ / ‘electronic’ / ‘experimental’ / ‘acoustic improv’ genre-tags. It covers a large part of the contemporary experimental music scene (although it mainly focusses on the more introvert side of the musical spectre). I won’t start to mention contributors here, simply because there are too much. And apart from that. those unknown may be as interesting as those already familiar. Since this is a free download, there’s no risk in trying out the package yourself! Musically, there’s a lot more where this came from: not only is this the third massive compilation in a row (Sequence 1 and Sequence 2 are still available as free downloads), but Futuresequence intends to release a follow-up compilation every three months (!) in the coming year: one for every different season.

Reviews by Peter van Cooten of Ambient Blog. Republished with permission.