We’ve got some great deals this week on selected items by various artists, and the low prices are good through November 1st!
Robert Rich – Temple of the Invisible –Regularly $7.99, right now just $5.99
First new Rich work since Seven Veils, this one uses entirely “natural” and acoustic sound sources to weave an exotic and hypnotic sound tapestry. Features performances by Forrest Fang, Tom Heasley, Sukhawat Ali Khan and others.
Temple of the Invisible finds Robert Rich at his most organic, eschewing the trappings of modernity or stylistic boundaries. Using only simple acoustic instruments, Rich crafts a document from a distant time and place, a lost culture with musical underpinnings that reach from Java to North Africa, from Medieval Europe to the Tibetan Plateau. “A music-scape that oozes with primitive life, as if pulsing from the swamp itself. . . A time traveller searching for the aperture that looks back to Eden.” –San Francisco Chronicle
Listen to the track, “Entranon” from this album HERE.
Robert Rich – Calling Down the Sky –Regularly $7.99, right now just $5.99
Robert’s second self-released disc (following last year’s well-received Temple of the Invisible) is a recording of a 2003 Denver concert — ambient and atmospheric Rich sounds, similar to the Humidity release on Hypnos.
This 74 minute live recording documents an entirely improvised concert in Denver CO, on Saturday July 26, 2003, with an intimate audience who came prepared for anything. With a thunderstorm forming outside, breaking to a peak mid-concert, this improvisation refered directly to the recent weather I had experienced on tour that summer. Below are two journal entries that might flesh out the meaning of the cover artwork, visually interpreted by John Bergin.
Tuesday June 10 – East of Oklahoma City
I’m watching a giant storm cell bubbling to the south. My position eastbound on I-40 is perfect, at the edge of the storm avoiding danger, far enough away that I can observe the shape of the towering cumulonimbus with its top sheared off into ice crystals high up in the stratosphere; yet close enough to study the battleship green shelf of mammatus clouds overhead to my right, a clausterphobic ceiling textured underneath with curling roiling bruise-colored tubules, not unlike giant intestines. My sense of distance gets boggled by the size of this storm, on the horizon of a flat land, possibly centered 100 miles away, yet with tendrils that drop an occasional pocket of heavy rain and lightning on the highway in front and behind me. I’m mesmerized by the power and danger that this living entity represents, enchanted by its awesome beauty.
Monday July 21 – Tornadoes in Southern Michigan
Driving southwest to Peoria I hit the most intense weather I have seen yet on this trip. Blue-black clouds up ahead, deep opaque blurs underneath, telling me I’ll hit heavy rain. I tune into the radio news, and listen to tornado warnings for the two counties north of me, with a tornado moving southeast. It’ll probably miss me, since I’m driving west, but the weather looks big.
The 18 wheel semi in front of me slows down as we approach a wall of rain. The driver turns on his hazard lights, and for 20 minutes those blinking red lights provide my only clue about the road. We’re driving about 15 miles per hour through an airborne lake. Water hits the car so hard it’s deafening, and the wipers prove useless. I feel like I’m driving a submarine. Common sense would have suggested I pull over and wait for the storm to pass, but I figure I’m OK as long as the truck in front of me stays on the road.
From the Liner Notes:
Heavy weather tailed me during Summer 2003, as I circled the country giving concerts. From wind storms in the desert to tornadoes in the Midwest, flooding in the East and lightning on the high plains, the sky exerted its influence.
All came into focus during this improvised house concert in Denver, a journey joined by a circle of 26 friends. A dialog between music and the elements took form like a shamanic exchange, an act of supplication in respect to stronger forces, calling down the sky to return a gift from the clouds.
Listen to the track, “Erasing Traces” from this album HERE.
Robert Rich – Open Window –Regularly $7.99, right now just $5.99
While better known for his electronic textures, Robert Rich often includes piano solos during his live concerts. Open Window documents his improvisational approach to acoustic piano, with influences ranging from Alan Hovhannes, G.I. Gurdjieff and Erik Satie to Terry Riley and Keith Jarrett.
Rich chose to record Open Window on his own 1925 vintage A.B. Chase baby grand, an instrument with a more intimate sound than a full-size concert piano. Over a period of two months, he kept a daily schedule of piano improvisation, with microphones set up to record at all times. The pieces selected here reflect special moments during this concentrated period. These were the moments when effort vanished, and the music seemed to write itself.
Listen to the track, “Insular” from this album HERE.
David Tollefson – Near and Far –Regularly $7.99, right now just $4.99
David Tollefson, perhaps best known as half of Viridian Sun, also received much praise for his 1997 solo debut on Hypnos entitled NEW EYES ON THE UNIVERSE. Like his debut, NEAR AND FAR is at times both musical and dramatic, while at other moments unabashedly experimentalist in its approach.
Every sound on this CD was made with an electric guitar, though many will doubt this claim, as with Tollefson’s previous work. Whether or not your consider yourself a fan of “guitar music,” you’ll find an astonishing sonic variety here, as well as an unquestionable breadth of artistic reach.
“Top 10 Albums of 2000.” –Pretty Bruises Magazine
“Top 10 of 2000….Three Hypnos releases in my top ten… any question what label is releasing the best ambient music these days?” –David Bass on the Ambient Music mailing list
“David Tollefson is an experimental guitarist whose recording debut began as a member (along with Hypnos founder and solo recording artist M. Griffin) of Viridian Sun on 1997’s ambient/experimental work, Solar Noise. Tollefson’s solo debut, New Eyes on the Universe, was released in the following year to wide critical acclaim. Viridian Sun’s 1999 second release, Perihelion, went deeper into abstract sonic expressionism.
His new release is a brooding, contemplative collection of eight compositions that drift deep into the listener’s stream of consciousness. It contains cinematic atmospheres and dark abstract rich textures, both detailed and organic.
It is a collection of some of the most beautiful haunting music I’ve ever encountered. It is one of the most thought provoking and significant musical statements that Hypnos has released to date. Near and Far brims with possibilities for the future, pushing electronic synthesis and acoustic manipulation deep into forbidden lines of enquiry.
Tollefson’s triumph here does not lie merely in his technical prowness, but in the emotional aspect of his music. The tracks that make up Near and Far are compelling and moody, displaying Tollefson’s talent for traversing the space, ambient, and experimental genres with ease and grace” –Alternate Music Press reviewed by Ben Kettlewell
Listen to MP3 clips for this album HERE.
David Tollefson – New Eyes on the Universe –Regularly $7.99, right now just $4.99
Tollefson explores the use of treated electric guitar as a sound source for unusual ambient textures and rich sonic atmospheres.
“Best Release of 1998.”
–Phil Derby / Wind and Wire Magazine
“Top 10 of 1998.”
–Chuck VanZyl, Star’s End Radio, WXPN, Philadelphia
“Top 30 of 1998.”
–Eric Meece / Mystic Music / KKUP Radio
“An exquisite collection of moody, minimal and very effective pieces, beautifully sequenced and with the right pace of movement and choice of soundcolors. Excellent.”
“Extremely high quality guitar ambience from one half of Portland’s Viridian Sun, David Tollefson. ‘Empyrean’ has a tentative, threatening air, a kind of looped and progressively virulent agitation that fades away before possible violence; ‘Phase (Travel)’ is a somber, swirling ride through the Milky Way; the title track also cruises the heavens, the intermittent subterranean machinery pulse of the engines drawing focus from the stars to the tenuous confines of the space ship; ‘Painted Sky’ has an anxious, subdued turbulence quality–Van Gogh’s Starry Night (on Mars). My favorite track, ‘Palomar,’ flows from dark crystals reverberating by sunlight, to winking stars shimmering by moonlight, to clouds of lightly distorted, ominous radiance that pass in front of both–an amazingly textured stream of consciousness journey that holds within it’s multifaceted layers: wariness and wonder, caution and awe. What really makes this work is the use of the guitar as a conduit for David’s broad sonic trek through the heavens, through the deceptively gentle, seemingly familiar, to the subtly unearthly; in that respect, there are only a few moments on this disc where it is noticeably a guitar creating the music. Not unlike Maeror Tri, though the songs are shorter, more compact (more appropriate for the attention deficit 90’s?). Well worth your attention!”
–John C. Smith / Outburn Magazine
Listen to MP3 clips from this album HERE.
Saul Stokes – Outfolding –Special low price of $4.99
The primary sound sources on all Saul Stokes recordings are several vintage-style analog modular synthesizers built by Stokes himself. But don’t mistake this to mean Stokes is working in a retro or “classic E-music” style, because this is definitely not the case. Perhaps no artist in the ambient/experimental music scene possesses a sound as distinctive, fresh and modern.
Those who have seen Saul’s much-acclaimed live performances in Philadelphia during the past year can attest to his challenging and dynamic sound. It’s world music for the mid-21st century, way ahead of its time. Ambient atmospherics blend with riveting electronic experimentalism, guided by an artistic savvy and grace all too rare in this tech-oriented genre.
“Significant Releases of 2000 list.”
–Star’s End Radio host Chuck VanZyl
“An understated, clever set of rhythmic and/or floating ambient pieces. Abstract, dry, and intelligent.
Top 4 of 2000 (#4).”
–Hannah M.G. Shapero on rec.music.newage
“Quite recently I have had the distinct pleasure of hearing Saul Stokes’ “Outfolding.” Absolutely brilliant piece of work.”
–Jeff aka Mxyzptlk, on the Ambient Music internet mailing list
“Saul Stokes is a very characteristic artist specialized in the electronic ambient/experimental music. In his recordings he tends to use primarily, as the basic sources of his sound, the modular analog synthesizers as well as other electronic instruments he himself builds, yet his music possesses a modern touch, fresh and daring indeed, masterfully managing the technology at his disposal. A supporter of live performances, his sound is challenging and dynamic. His music flows, evolving, never losing its intrinsic beauty, deep, hypnotic, with electronic undercurrents that lead to atmospheres full of a soft energy, at times with space or cosmic brushes, and always having in mind the exploration of new soundscapes with a creativity that can hardly be surpassed.” –Amazing Sounds, MONTSE ANDREU
Listen to MP3 clips from this album HERE.
Saul Stokes – Abstraction –Regularly $6.99, right now just $4.99
First release by Saul Stokes on the Green House label. Combines never- before-heard live performance elements into a soundscape collage — a very fresh sound that’s different from his Hypnos releases…. more “abstract,” as hinted by the title.
Says Stokes: My latest release “Abstraction,” fuses the best of 3 years of concert recordings with my latest multitrack atmospheric work. From Philadelphia to Seattle, this album is a fireball of ambiance. “Abstraction” isn’t a noise collage, or easy listening ambient fluff. It is an incredibly listenable, wildly fresh and inventive continuous play album.
“Electrical appliances today are taken for granted by our culture, but not by Saul Stokes. Dubbed everything from Sonic Innovator to (in jest) “Popular Science’s Electronic Musician of the Year”, Stokes stands out in his field by having designed and built his own array of museum quality electronic instruments. This achievement enables Stokes with precise control over his original sounds and textures from the AC plug all the way to the PA speakers. But this is about more than just wires and solder. While Stokes demonstrates unprecedented real-time control over the output of his gear, inspiration for his music comes from an outlet on a more human scale. The intimacy of the concert stage is where Stokes transforms his craft into art. The immediacy of the moment, the consistent pattern of change and the spark of inspiration all act upon Stokes as he produces continuous currents of sound for a spellbound audience. At these rare and wonderful events, harmony takes a backseat to timbre as determiner of the emotional content of a piece. Constantly adjusting the tonal qualities of the composition by ear, the direction of a piece can change at will as the schematic of the performance is updated and changed by Stokes moment to moment. Although faded from his consciousness, the audience plays an important role in his music too. According to Stokes, these compositions cannot be realized outside the intimacy of the live environment. The new album Abstraction, compiles highlights from several such occasions. Each track is born out of vision, craft and spontaneity and strung together one after the other to form a virtual concert. The album flows smoothly through a contoured electric landscape of distinctive pads, drifting pitches and atonal synthesizer effects. Abstraction is a cerebral album that seductively draws the listener in, leaving you to find your own way out.” – Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END
Listen to the track, “The Twin Worlds of Abstraction” from this album HERE.
Saul Stokes – Villa Galaxia –Regularly $8.99, right now just $5.99
Always one of the most popular artists on the Hypnos and Binary labels through the years, Saul Stokes is also one we’ve been very proud to “launch” into the ambient/electronica world. The first new work by Saul Stokes on Hypnos/Binary since Fields in 2005, this is certainly one of the most hotly-anticipated discs we’ve released in years.
Saul Stokes says: Stokes’ 8th solo album to date, Villa Galaxia is a hyperfusion of sonic exploration seeded in Stokes’ seminary music past, while arcing into a completely new genre defining collection of songs. Stripping away any notion of ambient drone or chill out labeling, Villa Galaxia surfs its own ocean of contemporary electronic music culture with eccentric listenable experimentalism wrapped in catchy lyrical orchestras of electronic fireworks.
A Produce – Reflect Like a Mirror, Respond Like an Echo –Regularly $9.99, right now just $5.99
1997 special edition (remastered, with extra tracks) version of 1992 release.
“Each piece is polished and deep, an evocative marvel inspiring an alert state, sometimes a let’s-go-bye-bye state in others…. This heartfelt and intelligent creation is a worthy successor to Harold Budd/Brian Eno’s Plateaux of Mirror.”
“Absolutely entrancing and mood-seducing, this is active ambient music, and, although electronically derived and motivated, results in an abundancy of lush, warm sounds that invite, beckon and entice. Keyboardist Ruben Garcia assists on the title track and the achingly beautiful “Clear Pools,” where the dark hues of A Produce’s electronics mesh seamlessly with Garcia’s striking digital chords. Captivating.”
“This fascinating CD combines the best of Eno, Budd, Hassell, Roach, Rich, and Borden. The result is a meditative trance journey the like of which I haven’t heard since Michael Stearns’ Planetary Unfolding…. an utterly sublime tour of outer and inner space….. This CD covers a lot of ground and will cross many listening genre boundaries, as is evidenced by its reviews in all the other alternative music publications.”
“Eno/Hassell fourth-world ambiance and Harold Budd styled keyboard atmospherics….. The most distinctive tracks are the last three, all of which have a strong invented ethnic flavor….. Other tracks are nicely (and even beautifully) done, but have a more generic meditative quality which hovers somewhere between background and foreground.”
“Overall, this creation is haunting, almost unsettling, probing hidden mysteries of the soul. Many cuts are very long, and very hypnotic, with an organic shimmering sound like random molecular movement. Its otherworldly ambiance brings to mind the devic kingdom. Great for deep journeying.” Heartsong Review
“Well away from the melodic-based Eno ambient explorations, this is much moodier and strange music where often the sounds are unidentifable and the mood elusive. A kind of uneasy ambient music, I suppose, that reveals itself more with each listen.”
Listen to MP3 clips HERE.
Listen to the full title track from this album HERE.
A Produce – White Sands –Regularly $9.99, right now just $5.99
“A Produce has done it again with his best work ever, White Sands. This is one of those recordings that gets better with each listening. Is it because it’s timeless, trance inducing, yet ‘alert’ music? That rare moment of clarity when one is quiet yet very ‘alive’? Or is it a reflective, sonic snapshot of an at peace artist? A Produce, I feel, is on to something.”
–Dwight Loop, Santa Fe Sun
“This is a contemplative, diverse mix of slow ambient synthesizer places that compare favorably with similar works by Brian Eno, Steve Roach, Aphex Twin and Sati. The CD flows well even though it contains a considerable variety of sounds, and merits a serious listen. There is something here for every New Age/ambient/space music enthusiast– electronic New Age, tribal techno, meditative, ambient and sombient pieces, as well as works falling between definable genres, making this one of my favorite recent releases of ambient music by a single artist.”
–New Age Voice
“A Produce has consistently turned out albums of highly evocative and frequently very beautiful music which has on occasion been referred to as ‘trance’ music but would more accurately be described as ‘sound paintings.’ Each place evokes a place, a natural environment, a state of being. The composer is subtle in his use of eclectic resources that span the techno-tribal spectrum…. The White Sands anthology is a perfect introduction to this talented artist’s oeuvre.”
Listen to the track, “Clear Pools” from this album HERE.