Frag’mnts, Greenosophy, Pop Ambient and Rotation

When it comes to ‘glitch’, Australian Enig’matik Records skims the cream off the the top from the deep pool of talent, leaving the rest to stay luke warm and sour. Following two successful compilations, Painting Pictures On Silence (Volumes 1 and 2), the label boss, Sun In Aquarius, curates another special showcase of music. Unlike the two previous massive releases, Frag’ments collects only ten tracks, but these come from some of the rising top-notch producers [keep your eye on them], and most importantly, it’s available as a free (name your price) download directly from Bandcamp. Among the many, the selection of artists include Mind Tree, Fine Cut Bodies, Circuit Bend, Quanta, In:terlaken and Super Galactic Expansive (that’s KiloWatts‘s glitch-hop side project with Anand Petigara behind the microphone). As with everything that Jake Rose puts together for his label, each piece unravels a high-definition universe of aural perfection and sonic ideal. These are not the semi-random chaotic bedroom productions. These are DSP-rich mind-warping journeys, each one unique in their own special way. Frag’mnts is another great introduction to the label and its collective of artists. And if you want more tunes, be sure to pick up yet another free compilation from the label, titled Evolving Freedom. The latter, kicks off with a psybient track by Sensient, one of my personal favorite psytrance producers circa 2003. “In a world of aural experimentalia where words can often be superfluous, Enig’matik invites you to strap in and make your reality what you choose to believe.”

Going into the city on a Monday after the Hurricane Sandy back in November I expected some sort of normalcy, knowing well in advance that there is no such thing. Each day brings with it another state of mind, another state of the world, another state of being. Even when all of these states are just in your head. And somehow, even the music sounds different depending on these things. Have you noticed that? A few resounding notes may carry hope or pure despair. And yet the music has no state. It simply is, outside of time and being. And just when I ease into the newer ‘norm’ the beat picks up to drive the rhythm. Progressing from contemplating psybient textures to early morning trance, the selections on the latest compilation from Ultimae, effortlessly blend into a euphoric cocktail. What’s great about compilations in general, such as Greenosophy, is that a listener gets to experience a full range of sound as offered by the label. And it’s more than an offhand sampler of the wares buried within – its a guided journey through a landscape of inner secrets as told by the natives who built it themselves. Compiled by Cyril Miserez (aka Mizoo), the eleven tracks on Greenosophy showcase works by Liquid Stranger, Cell, Tripswitch, Solar Fields, James Murray, Cygna and many others. “Mizoo believes that music can develop a sense of empathy between people, philosophical reflections on our thoughts and acts; a point of view and a way of life he develops in this compilation.” Available from the label on a CD or a digital download from Bandcamp.

Pop Ambient 2013
Kompakt‘s annual Pop Ambient series is not showing any signs of slowing down. And although the label is not exactly known for ambient and drone releases, its ongoing compilation is something that I look forward to every year. As usual, the 2013 edition is compiled and curated by the one and only Wolfgang Voigt (aka Gas), who once again appears on the release with his own “Rückverzauberung 7”, as well as a remix of Michael Mayer‘s “Sully”. Mayer, by the way, aloing with Voigt and Jürgen Paape are the co-owners this Köln (Germany) based label, which has been in existence since 1998 (after it got renamed from Delirium). Besides a few well known and usual suspects, such as Leandro Fresco, Triola, Marsen Jules, and Mikkel Metal, Voigt introduces us to some new projects, like Jens-Uwe Beyer (previously contributing under his Popnoname alias), Anton Kubikov (member of SCSI-9) and Terrapin. The latter is a project by the very same Jörg Burger (aka Triola and member of Mohn) and Matias Aguayo (aka The Don), providing a gorgeous cover of Pink Floyd‘s “Cirrus Minor” (from the 1969 movie “More”), which actually happens to be the only vocal track in the entire series since its inception in 2001. The release retains its restrained and minimal ambiance, based on repetitious waves and meditative atmospherics. If, like me, you’re a long time follower (and a collector) of the series, then this installment is an absolute must.

Uncoiled Loops / Facility
A new and unexpected surprise appears on my rotations courtesy of Uncoiled Loops and Facility Records. The former is a small independent label focused on genre specific compilations, with the past releases covering minimal techno and even “darkhop” styles. The latter is also a small label, specializing in a handful of industrial, experimental, noise and ambient albums. This literally titled release, Rotation: A Dark Ambient / Experimental Compilation, is exactly just that – a collection of ten tracks showcasing some known and previously unheard artists, such as Ateis, Herwig Holzmann, Roth Mobot, Ambient Mechanics, and Secant Prime. The last name should be familiar to some of you, if you read Headphone Commute’s review of his self-released Ambients album, which I covered last year. As clearly proclaimed, the selection features some lo-fi shuffling tones, experimental drones, and ambient explorations, taking you on a stroll through dark corridors, spooky pathways and eventually a hollow dead end. But the road does not stop there, as the music beckons for another thoughtful trip. A favorite track from Mark Spybey, recording under the alias Dead Voices On Air, presents a captivating and harmonically rich texture of rolling waves with a computer date recital of a power-failed answering machine. And although its gust is full of thick and stale darkness, it’s still a breath of fresh air – one I may recommend for all parts of the night.