When you least expect it…

self portrait in repose

self portrait in repose

So, I’m listening to the new Hibernate Recordings sampler, Volume 6, while scrolling through Twitter the other day and this song comes on in my headphones. A looping, slightly hissy thrum starts cycling, a distant fuzzed out keyboard line hints of another song drifting lazily in from down the hall, over which this beautifully languid piano line drops. And then Fraser McGowan begins singing, “The first time I saw you, you looked like an angel…” Leonard Cohen would have cried. And I haven’t even gotten to the shimmering guitar riff…  I minimize the screen to see what it is and it’s Last of the Heroin by Caught In The Wake Forever. Rarely does music make me pause like this, but this is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in quite awhile. But, for those of you who know, this is not an exception to the rule for Hibernate. Featuring releases from some of my favorite artists, Wil Bolton, Ian Hawgood, Ithaca Trio and offthesky (among many others), their track record is impeccable. I can now add Caught In The Wake Forever to that list. But do yourself a favor, listen to the whole compilation, it’s full of gems and threads that may lead you down paths unknown.

Another inspirational site for discovering new music is Bad Panda Records. I’ve been an avid follower of them for awhile now and they never cease to amaze me with artists and tracks that have slipped under my radar. A case in point is autumna. Like many of the artists/projects I like, much mystery surrounds this project to me. Hailing from Antwerp, autumna creates glorious cascades of sound that float effortlessly down from the heavens above to warmly embrace the contours of the firmament below. The recently released memories of winter is a perfect example of this blend of ethereal and corporeal.

With almost 200 releases so far (one every Monday) recapping Bad Panda Records would be a book unto itself, but suffice it to say that I never would have heard Talvihorros, Kodak to Graph or Hypermagic if not for their efforts. If you’re unfamiliar with any of those projects, do yourself a  favor and click on the links. While similar in the sense that I love their music, all are as diverse as could possibly be while still falling somewhere within the boundaries I placed in the header to this blog.

Another invaluable resource is the music blog, Everything Is Chemical. Like Bad Panda, they release free music for the world to embrace. They’ve recently released 2 new songs from Hypermagic that continues my love affair with the project, EICV7″ No. 39. Layers of reverbed and effected vocals drift across laconic bass lines and pristine guitar leads that serve as counterpoint to the swirl of sound surrounding them. Truly magical.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are a handful of netlabels I return to again and again for inspiration. One of these is Silent Flow Netlabel. Based in Chisinau, Moldova (that’s why I love netlabels. Never in my life would I be able to travel to many of the places these labels are based in, but just by clicking a mouse I can listen to the sounds that flow from those regions…) and releasing music since 2009, I first came across them when downloading every release I could find from Tetarise. I then fell in love with Lingua Lustra and more recently, Engraved Memories. From Sparkling Hours In Stillness, the new release from Engraved Memories, is a majestic collection of transcendental visions that turn emotion into motion, feeling into being, memories into music. Song titles like ‘By the Valley of Buried Hopes’, ‘The Wheel of Brooding Memories’, ‘Colored Sea of Infinite Visions’ and ‘Ceaselessly Wandering’ should help you realize where this music will take you. At times breathtakingly beautiful and at times hauntingly aching, this is an impressive release and one which I can’t stop playing. Here’s a brief overview they’ve posted. I only wish I could link to the whole release for you.

And then there are those perfect moments of synchronicity where you stumble across a new netlabel that has released the exact sounds you’re looking for at that exact moment. Founded this year and based in Belgrade, Enshrine Netlabel is only 3 releases into their catalogue, but I was stunned by their debut release, Under the Falling Sky‘s ‘Entering Temple‘. Hypnotic, meditative loops ground distant anthropomorphic tones falling somewhere between communal religious gatherings and forgotten music from remembered dreams. For a debut release, I was floored. This is clearly one of my new favorite netlabels. And they’ve upped the ante with their third release, also from Under the Falling Sky, ‘Soft Stars‘. Moving closer to perfection, this is a tremendous release.

And finally, there are those netlabels and artists that rise mysteriously from the ether leaving no trace of the path you used to find them but are permanently seared on your synapses. Hands in the Dark is the netlabel, and SAÅAD is the project. Originating from Toulouse, SAÅAD is Romain Barbot and Greg Buffier. Combining murky, distended drones and haunting, echoing soundscapes, their recent album ‘Orbs & Channels‘ is a sonic journey into reaches and realms rarely visited by the human psyche. Each listen opens up sounds and textures unheard previously and for that I thank them. A release for the ages.

Hopefully there are a couple of threads you can pick up from this post and carry with you on your own musical journey of exploration and inspiration. After all, this blog is all about noticing the signposts and gleefully leaving them well behind.

Link to accompanying Mixcloud mix: