Category Archives: Ambient

Review: Be my Friend in Exile – The Silence, The Darkness

Be My Friend in Exile - The Silence, The Darkness
Be My Friend in Exile – The Silence, The Darkness. Twice Removed Records, 2013.

True Story: I was taking a run through the woods at dusk when I decided to listen to The Silence, The Darkness, the newest release by Be My Friend in Exile. I usually don’t listen to much ambient music when I run; the lack of melody and rhythm tends to adversely affect my pace. However, right from the opening track, “Sleepwalker,” I was running faster.

This isn’t because the music is particularly fast. In fact, it was slow, meditative, even. There wasn’t anything about the beat that pumped me up and breathed new life into my legs. No, I was running because the album is so damn ominous.

To be honest, I don’t listen to much ambient; it’s more Jayson’s thing. In fact, I almost wish he were reviewing it. He’s tell you that Be My Friend in Exile is subtle but complex, that there are layers upon layers of sound going on here, and such things as that. As I don’t listen to much ambient, I feel like I don’t really have the language to describe it. I do know that I like it. A lot. The Silence, The Darkness is less music and more digitized dread.

Usually, in reviews like this, I like to point out what tracks were my favorite, and if I absolutely had to, I’d say that “Eternally ephemeral” was probably the most menacing, the one that made me most feel like I was about to stumble into The Black Lodge. However, The Silence, The Darkness really is kind of a work with 9 movements, and the sum is greater than its parts.

Be My Friend in Exile – The Silence, The Darkness is available for download or limited edition digipak from the artist’s Bandcamp page.

-jason

Review: Sunwølf – Midnight Moon

Sunwølf - Midnight Moon

The UK’s Sunwølf are back with their sophomore album Midnight Moon.

While that Kinski-esque vibe remains, Midnight Moon is cool because it manages to achieve a sound best described as stonerdrone. Less ambient than their last outing, Sunwølf get to the riffage quickly and keep at it for the duration. As that Polygon Window album was titled Surfing on Sine Waves, Sunwølf have created a sound that is surfing on riffs. The first three tracks of Midnight Moon are not drone enough to be boring/for enthusiasts only, nor does it ever quite hit that “gonna drive my Camaro into the heart of the sun” level of groove. It maintains a slow, steady groove balanced right between

Later in the album, we do hit the point where the music is much more ambient. In these moments the music sounds quietly beautiful to the point where I started feeling a little reflective while listening. Compared to their first album, Midnight Moon isn’t as evocative of a specific locale or sense of place, but an emotional space. A lot of the rest of what I said about Beyond The Sun is true here, Midnight Moon is also lovely stuff. As good as the first one was, this sophomore effort demonstrates a huge artistic progression.

- Jayson

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Review: Sleepy Tree – Extended Play (Vols. 1 & 2)

Sleepy Tree - Extended Play Vol. 2
Sleepy Tree – Extended Play Vol. 1 & Extended Play vol. 2. Self-released, 2012 & 2013.

A few months ago, I reviewed AC Deathstrike’s Space FLyer, which concluded with an EP of 8-bit and Synth music. I really liked the album proper, and I thought the 8-bit project was great but could have been improved by adding vocals.

As it turns out, Alex Dougherty was thinking the same thing, which is why his new project, Sleepy Tree, came to be. Sleepy Tree is mostly synths, with some chip-tune thrown into the mix, and Dougherty singing airy, echoey lyrics. As I said, it’s not exactly an 8-bit with vocals thing. In fact, it kind of sounds like a bridge between Space FLyer and the 8-bit EP. In other words, none of the music on either of the first two Extended Play volumes will sound completely foreign to fans of AC Deathstrike, but it will sound like a new direction for Dougherty.

As you can expect, it’s great stuff. Dougherty has a knack from saying terrible things in the happiest way possible. On “Pick up the Pace,” an upbeat, downright bouncy tune, he sings:

We’re being lead into
a burning forest full of napalm
and people would rebel if they could
if they knew who is bad, who is good

At the end of the song, he warns, “We can learn from the past/read about it’s been done before.” So, ultimately, it’s a subtly hopeful song full of violent imagery hidden in a happy song. In other words, it’s the AC Deathstrike formula, but with synths.

I decided to play catch-up and review the first two volumes together because a) I don’t think there’s any specific theme that separates the two volumes, and b) Sleepy Tree is releasing one EP a month for 12 months. Dougherty intends to take the best tracks and turn those into an album sometime next year, so these kind of offer a look into the making of a future album. I’ve loved everything from the AC Deathstrike family, and this is no exception.

Extended Play and Extended Play Vol. 2 are available for free on AC Deathstrike‘s Bandcamp page. You can also take a look at other AC Deathstrike projects and side projects there.

-jason

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Pellets: Late Night Venture & Joe Evans

Late Night Venture – Pioneers of Spaceflight
Late Night Venture are a self-described post-rock/shoegaze outfit. I will say “sure” to that, because yeah-they are doing that kinda thing. You throw on Pioneers of Spaceflight, you’re going to here that “shimmering” guitar thing that all post-rock bands are obligated to do. What I dig about Pioneers of Spaceflight is that Late Night Venture are not afraid to do other things that are not that shimmering guitar tone or the whole bombast and crescendo thing. To be specific there are scoops of indie pop, almost Washing Machine-era Sonic Youth type moves, and singing! It can’t be post rock if there is falsetto. Really all of Pioneers… has a much more gentle tone than what you’d hear from the likes of Caspian, almost a late 90s indie rock feel to it. Goes a long way toward combating genre burnout. Good stuff.

Joe Evans – Affected Piano
You pretty much could never ever title an album better than Joe Evans titled Affected Piano if you wanted to name an album in a way that describes the music inside the best way possible. You could have also called it Piano Drone, if you wanted, but that would be too limiting. Starting with a piano tuned to a 19 note system and proceeding to to massively modify the resulting sounds to the point where they’re not recognizable as coming from a piano in any traditional sense. A lot of the dynamic of Affected Piano is shifting between moments of traditional recognition and passages of abstract modification. It’s an interesting dynamic and the whole of the album hovers around some strange emotional places.

- Jayson

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Review: The Star Pillow – Fattore Ambientale

star pillow f a

The Star Pillow is a great name for band, for this band specifically because they actually kind of sound like it – in a very “I could easily imagine myself floating through the heavens on a cosmic voyage of infinite discovery as I listen to Fattore Ambientale” way.

The Star Pillow weave guitar, electronics and most prominently, piano and keyboard into subtle compositions. Purposefully written to have a strong narrative sense; it’s almost visual on Fattore Ambientale. The stand out quality to The Star Pillow’s sound how each song is grounded in a very delicate beauty. The piano & keyboards are the key here, their presence is what makes me think “drifting through the cosmos as the starts twinkle.”

Fattore Ambientale is a welcome break, something new in ambient music. Don’t skip this one. A beautiful way to ring out the year.

The Star Pillow Soundcloud

 

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