We’ve got some of our own, HYPNOS RECORDINGS items on sale this week, and at just $5.99 each, it’s the perfect time to grab any you might not yet have in your collection! Sale prices are good through May 24th or while supplies last.
Explorations into unmapped landscapes… Vidna Obmana is Europe’s foremost practitioner of atmospheric and tribal ambient sounds, and already has nearly twenty CD releases to his credit. He is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Steve Roach, including “Cavern of Sirens,” “Well of Souls,” and “Ascension of Shadows,” but solo works such as the recent “Crossing the Trail” and “River of Appearances” make a powerful and unique artistic statement. LANDSCAPE IN OBSCURITY, a long, exploratory driftscape, integrates spacious and atmospheric performances on flute and saxophone (by Italy’s Capriolo Trifoglio and Diego Borotti) with the familiar sonic clouds of Vidna Obmana’s own electronic and acoustic instrument mix. This is a journey of almost 70 minutes of luminous, airy ambience. Smooth, subtle and unobtrusive, yet at the same time sonically complex and illuminating, this CD works fantastically on “repeat” mode for hours on end. Wonderful for meditation or as background for sleep or creative work, this is one of Vidna Obmana’s most minimal and truly “ambient” pieces in recent years.
“His first release on the Hypnos label, Vidna Obmana’s ‘Landscape in Obscurity’ is an impressionistic study of isolation, memory and lament. Somber saxophone leads and floating flute lines (by Italy’s Capriolo Trifoglio and Diego Borotti) mix with clouds of floating electronic ambience to evoke a feeling of isolation a cold city gives off in the dead of night.”- Chuck VanZyl, Stars’ End, WXPN, Philadelphia
“Perhaps the most compelling aspect of this union is the unusual sense of harmony this trio shares despite their choice of instruments. Drifting through the grey areas between the soothing and familiar, the surreal and uncharted, this project blurs the preconceived barriers between classical and contemporary. With another artistic triumph to his credit, Vidna Obmana further demonstrates his thorough insight into the language of amorphous sound.”
– Adam M. Bialek/Outburn (USA)
“…minimal atmospherics that blossom with beauty and wonder…. basked in a luminous, pristine glow, easily one of my favorite releases from Vidna Obmana.”
–John C. Smith, Side-Line
The first Hypnos release by Markus Reuter. Based in Germany, Markus is a member of Europa String Choir, an instrumental group whose recent work has been released on Robert Fripp’s DGM label. His two previous works in the ambient genre (as 1/2 of Centrozoon, and with Ian Boddy) were released on Boddy’s DiN label, and both items have been very popular items at the Hypnos Online Store.
Markus’s instrument is the Warr Guitar, a tap-style 8-stringed instrument which is played less like a true “guitar” and more like a Chapman Stick. The sound, especially on Digitalis, goes through heavy electronic processing, with the result that (like fellow Hypnos label guitarists Jeff Pearce and David Tollefson) he ends up with a very un-guitar-like sound, but with a “feel” and style of playing that sets it apart from keyboard-played electronics. DIGITALIS has a fairly bright and vivid sound, as compared to the smooth and mellow tones of Pearce, or the heavier, sometimes challenging sound of Tollefson. Still, the end result is abstract and definitely “ambient.”
“Markus Reuter plays the touch guitar and benefits from the different approach afforded by an instrument that does not resemble the typical tools (i.e. synthesizers) used to produce our community’s wealth of musical releases. Reuter could surely market his album Digitalis as a demo disc of the latest in sound manipulation and processing gear, but his vision as an artist in ambient sound is clearly evident and Digitalis rises above our too often technology driven medium.
Recorded essentially in real-time, Digitalis is a churning and drifting swirl of interesting harmonics and subtle moods realized through the vision and character of an insightful musician. The idea of layering the sounds of a guitar by means of a long delay is about as old as our modern concept of ambient music. On Digitalis, Reuter stretches the parameters of his tools and the depth of the genre and aspires to more than he inherited. On one hand, Digitalis does represent Reuter’s mastery of the gear that loops, shifts, delays, flanges and filters a sound source. However, his involvement with the music goes deeper than just twidling knobs. Talent is the invisible force behind this gentle and amorphus music – acting like a soft breeze on the direction of mountain mist.” –Star’s End Radio host Chuck VanZyl
The second collaboration between Ma Ja Le (who previously released IMAGINARIUM with Vir Unis, now available again at the Hypnos store) and James Johnson (who released ENTERING TWILIGHT on Hypnos this year, also also just released a CD of his own with Vir Unis, PERIMETER, below) is a sonic melding of the minimalist overtones and organic synth work of James Johnson & the ethno-tribal-atmospheric sounds of ambient duo Ma Ja Le. The sonic tapestry is as lush, emotive and transportive as it gets. A Spiraling journey to the deepest depths of ethereal ambience and back.
“There is undeniable appeal in spacious music — music whose airiness can fill a room while its substance almost sub-consciously engenders both personal and universal visions. Ma Ja Le is Paul Vnuk, Jr and Christopher Short, who provide e-bow, bass flute, drone loops, “melted machinery, shakerscapes, sound-worlds,” ticking watch, wavedrum, udu, “cosmo-horn, prehistoric insect worlds, altered reality,” percussive drones and voice. Johnson supplies what may be the backbone: synthetic architecture, piano, reprocessed sound inversions, software synthesis, and ethereal textures. (Need I tell you that the sounds from this CD are unusually intriguing?) Six tracks total more than 72 minutes and transport the listener to an interior, earthy, somewhat shadowy space that feels as voluminous as the external cosmos. Ma Ja Le’s “ethno-tribal” atmospheres and Johnson’s organic minimalism combine surprisingly well into music that not only feels relaxing, but is as interesting as it is listenable.” –NAPRA Review, Sandy Marshall
“This is a stunning collaboration by three of the most gifted artists in the ambient genre, Christopher Short, Paul Vnuk Jr.,and James Johnson. Together with one vision they have created a sound world of rich textures and beauty that transports the listener to a different space and time. The sound flows effortlessly as the interplay between these artists conjures up the concept of all life originating from some type of seed. The production on this disc is awesome with a perfect balance ,blending guitar ,synthesizer ,percussion,flute, piano,effects and much more into a magical sonic garden. Yaquona [part 1] sets the stage with a swirling introduction, a collage of synth, guitartronics, percussion and effects. A tribal rhythm starts and marks the smooth transition into Yaquona [Part 2], a stately procession of intriguing sound. Up next is “Methane Sea”, eighteen minutes of beautiful flowing and drifting chords,with some nice guitar. Some snaky flute sounds and percussion entice the listener into the next track, the slightly oriental sounding and intoxicating “Outside In”. The fifth track “Hibiscus Ceremony” features some lovely piano work by James Johnson. Finally the last track “Seed” takes the listener on a long voyage through distant galaxies to the ends of time.
This is one of the very best ambient works and is highly recommended! It is space music of the highest order and a must for any electronic music lover’s collection. Hypnos Recordings has added another masterpiece to it’s catalog of high quality ambient releases.” –Dodds Wiley
ENTERING TWILIGHT is a single long track, about 66 minutes long, in a sparse, almost subliminal style. Fans of Johnson’s previous works Surrender and Unity know the beautiful, glimmering restraint with which he expresses himself, but this one is even more minimal…. like floating in a thick fog with vague chiming chords drifting toward you through the haze.
“…at the end of the day
when the past & the future
slowly end & unfold
bathe in the dreaming light of the sun…”
In a slow moving, almost still ambience, ENTERING TWILIGHT creates an atmosphere that surrounds and unfolds for 66 minutes. This long form piece was created for continuous playback to enhance the listeners environment with an amorphous, and at times almost transparent, background of sonic imagery.
“This 66 ½-minute, one track CD reveals a style that may be part of the lineage of positive, gentle, cloudy ambient music that one finds on Steve Roach’s Quiet Music albums and in early Eno. It is a relatively low volume piece of music with gentle, melodic notes resounding and fading in and out of the deep. It more or less fills the space for an hour with bell tones, soft voice-like chorales and lots of resonant ambiance. The notes drift on the winds rather than work as distinct melodies, almost like MIDI controlled wind chimes. The title, Entering Twilight, is aptly descriptive, an album perfect for all-night repeat sessions.”
— Mike McLatchey
“Genres are always expanding. The ambient domain covers a great portion of music that takes a less aggressive approach to gain recognition. James Johnson’s release Entering Twilight spirals further away from the original ambient source to outer regions that are defined only as sparse or meditative. Exhibited in one 66 minute opus of serenity and enlightened Bliss, we see flight further ahead in time, music that is soundtrack to the path taken during afterlife. There is no other way to accurately describe the music other than as The Opus from Heaven. Even the most non-religious, open-minded person could see how Johnson’s production on Entering Twilight could be categorized as heavenly or celestial in shape and form. Johnson’s vision for the future of ambient has veered quietly towards celestial realms that can be none other than described as pure, unadulterated tranquility.”
“Entering Twilight has carried me to sleep every might for the last 3 weeks, and every time I experience it the beauty of its nuances grows stronger and stronger. As I become more familiar with the terrain, its depth and magnitude only intensify. A stunning work of art, and a stunning journey. Thank you.”
Debut release by Stephen Philips on the Hypnos label “proper” following his album Dagboken on the Hypnos Secret Sounds imprint a couple of years earlier.
Into the Dark is a beautifully restrained and elegant piece of ambient music reminiscent of Neroli by Brian Eno, and Entering Twilight by James Johnson. Moving patterns of sounds, varying from bell-like chimes to deep rumbles vaguely-ethnic rattles, interact and react to create an always-shifting atmosphere, a sense of “place” and mood while avoiding ambient music cliches.
Stephen Philips is a prolific ambient music composer, best known as founder of Dark Duck Records, and he has collaborated with such diverse and respected artists as Numina, Austere, IXOHOXI, Ben Fleury-Steiner, James Johnson, Rigel Orionis, Ben Summers, and Isomorph. He has frequently performed live, and has worked in styles ranging from drone minimalism to glitch to deep chill, mostly centering around restrained ambience.
A single, continuously-evolving track of over 74 minutes, Into the Dark works great as a background atmosphere for continuous repeat play. But like the best ambient music, it is appealing enough for careful listening as patterns repeat and evolve, and themes emerge throughout.
“Finally got to listen to this disc in its’ entirety, and it is very impressive indeed. No overload, exquisite balance. What at first appears to be soulful trancing repetition evolves with wonderful sounds, deployed with a deft and disciplined hand. I have never heard Eno’s Neroli, to which this album has been compared, but am now tempted to check it out. I do have some basic experience with Eno, though, and can tentatively say that Into the Dark, to me, seems to have a deeper sense of soul (or an animistic outlook on life) and narrative, things I particularly enjoy in ambient music, as opposed to being ‘programmed’ and designed…Just my initial feeling though…I can sense a kind of thread here, a visual movement through a landscape…It is beautiful…so many subtle sounds and transitions…”
–Reviewed by 9dragons on the Hypnos Forum
“I have had it on continuous repeat since I got it out of the envelope. This isn’t the drone that Steve is known for but instead a very addictive, work of highly refined minimalist ambient–as Mike G mentions very much in the tradition of Eno’s utterly sublime and timeless Neroli–Steve lays down a very catchy main rhythmic motiff that floats over propulses of light chiming exhalations. over and over again for 74 minutes and 29 seconds…. It’s one of the best single track immmersions in a very long time–an immersion that is definitely on the same level as Steve Roach’s recent and appropriately titled Immersion discs (particularly my favorite Immersion I)…” –Reviewed by gearsofsand on the Hypnos Forum
“Sometimes even reviewers judge a book by its cover. Hypnos release, check. Stephen Philips, check. Abstract cover art, check. A single track over an hour long, check. It’s obviously going to be deep dark ambient drones for the duration, right? Well, that impression goes out the window on the first note. The pinging noises sound more like the Barron brothers’ “Forbidden Planet” soundtrack or modern classical, than say, the latest Steve Roach hour-plus ambient epic. Bells, gongs and chimes are the predominant sounds, used rather sparsely, with synths and other sounds and effects for good measure. Wood blocks appear now and then, just briefly. Bass notes ring out from time to time and give just a hint of jazz flavor. This is thinking man’s ambient, like Brian Eno’s recordings from 30 years ago. While quiet, it isn’t exactly background music, as it doesn’t exactly flow. Notes are discrete and intermittent. It is subtle yet assertive in a way. The basic overriding theme and sound palette changes little over its course, just the placement of the notes and sounds. It’s like taking a thin slice of something and studying it intently, deliberately, ignoring everything above and below. Engage, listen intently, and see what you find.”
–Reviewed by Phil Derby, ElectroambientSpace
Griffin (Hypnos label founder, and also known for his solo album SUDDEN DARK, as well as work with A Produce and Viridian Sun) and Fulton (best known as a founder of Dweller at the Threshold, now with the Binary sub-label of Hypnos) release their follow-up to the well-received collaborative debut THE MOST DISTANT POINT KNOWN. IMPRINT updates the sound and concept of the duo’s previous recording, while still exploring the concept of balancing the artists’s divergent backgrounds and influences. Griffin leans more toward the ambient & end of things while Fulton’s influence runs toward Berlin school, sequencer music and prog rock, but what may seem at first a mismatch in fact brings about a blending of two complementary styles.
IMPRINT is a bit more dynamic and brighter-sounding, whereas THE MOST DISTANT POINT KNOWN was more slow-moving and nocturnal. The duo hope ambient fans may be surprised how much they enjoy the sequencer & analog synth elements, while those who approach the project from the “old school” point of view will like the many-layered complexity and atmospheric quality.
At last, the Hypnos label debut of one of the great names in ambient/electronic music, Robert Scott Thompson. At the Still Point of the Turning World is spacious and meditative, yet with a delicate musicality. Robert is Director of the Center for Audio Recording Arts (CARA) in the School of Music at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He also runs the Aucourant Records label, which has released selections of his work in a wide range of styles.
The first release on Hypnos by this up-and-coming ambient artist based in Colorado. Numina, real name Jesse Sola, arrived on the scene following a handful of self-released albums and quickly rose to become one of the most popular new faces in electronic ambient music.
“SANCTUARY OF DREAMS (73’14”) by Numina (a.k.a. Jesse Sola) comes from the same spark as many other soundworld realizations in the field of Spacemusic. Through the subtle manipulation of deep drones, sub-sonic swells, metallic sonorities and the slow spiraling of contrasting chords, Numina provides the listener with a wondrous sonic sanctuary in which to reflect upon their own inner workings. Throughout his music we find an artist trying to identify his relationship with the scale of his work, and the relationship of this work to the environment. The material on SANCTUARY OF DREAMS guides the form in which Numina is working. The 10 tracks are each a storm of color and sound, less representative of the chaos of the unconscious mind than of the enigmatic and ominous world of dreams . . . visions beyond cognition.” –Chuck VanZyl, Star’s End Radio, WXPN, Philadelphia
“Jesse Sola records as Numina. Sanctuary of Dreams, his first release on a major label (Hypnos Recordings), might be his best effort yet. In the past, his CDs have leaned to the darker sides of ambience. While this disc does have some ominous tones, the overall timbres are gentle and soothing. Sola’s style allows the uplifting chords to be the overriding persona of this CD. He combines organic textures with languid atmospheres to create warm and friendly soundscapes. This disc is a friend. It will appeal to fans of Jeff Pearce, Remco Helbers, Markus Reuter, and Zero Ohms.” –All Music Guide, reviewed by Jim Brenholts
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