A funny thing happened on the way…

circumnavigating the edge...

circumnavigating the edge…

For further proof that you never can be too sure where the next point of inspiration will come from, I present this post. As you know from the link at the bottom I also throw the occasional mix up on Mixcloud.com. And as I am a fanatical stats follower, I’m always curious where any of my work shows up. A couple weeks ago I noticed Antropik had created an inspired mix of Petroglyph Music‘s A X-Mas Compilation which included my would-be messiahs‘ compisition, seasonal affected disorder (distant rains arrive mix), in his tracklist. As you might imagine, I immediately think, hmmm, I like his choice of music… I wonder what else he has out there? So, lo and behold, the next thing I know I’m fixated on his recent self-released collection, Absydion – [collected works 2012-2013]. Low, grumbling drones ebb and flow beneath crushed bits of static and hiss, time stands suspended, laconic in layers of reverb and echo leading you across soundscapes of disjointed geography through unsettling, indistinct vistas. Yup, this release is getting massive amounts of play in johnny’s headphones right now.

Of course that’s only the beginning of this week’s thread. Further unraveling revealed Antopik has also released an EP, Persistances on Bruits Netlabel, a label I was completely unfamiliar with less than a month ago. And wasn’t I more than pleasantly surprised once I’d begun searching through their back catalogue to find an extensive selection of releases from Moonsugar, who I’d only just become aware of through their recent release, Lost from Electric Light, on Petroglyph MusicBruits Netlabel, to follow down this rabbit hole, has also just released Oystein Jorgensen‘s Inside EP (which I was very pleased to add to the vault.) Petroglyph’s influence on my musical selections over the last year or so has weilded surprisingly hefty return and one for which i am extremely grateful. So, to bring this bit of nonsense full semi-circle, Petroglyph Music has also just released label co-founders Oystein Jorgensen and Rune Martinsen‘s, The Four Elements, EarthAirWaterFire, a 4 part suite that is as monumental as the topic implies. Built entirely on samples and layers of effects, these releases are epic in their undertaking, having taken the last couple years to produce. Much too encompassing to discuss in detail, these are releases that I will be returning to again and again. Do yourself a favor, download them now. Now.

But, back to the thread, Moonsugar, one of several projects from Gennady Vladimirov, and the one which features a more classical structure than his darker, more experimental monikers, has also released material on the French netlabel, Sirona Records. Sirona Records, which you may recall from my mention of Substak‘s release These Days a couple weeks back, and for hosting a handful of Mystified productions over the last year or so, have just released Mystified’s Nocturne. Comprising 16 tracks of manifest realities built on field recordings, sound collages, and evocative, disparate samples, which once held personal import for the composer, but are now part of the collective internal consciousness where each listener adds their own individual interpretation and expression, this is an intriguing release, and, as always, very entrancing material from Thomas. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg with Sirona Records, whose releases cover a wide range of experimental styles including IDM, techno, noise, ambient, hip-hop, trip hop, glitch, breakbeat and hardcore, among many other. Having only begun releasing material in 2011, this is definitely a netlabel to keep an eye on.

Revisiting another label that has become a favorite of mine, Nostress Netlabel has recently launched a sister label, Batenim Netlabel, focusing on ambient releases. Their first release, Morphine Bandit‘s, subtle shift theory, is a collection of 6 tracks that are built on subtle, transcendent drones interspersed with seemingly random noise samples that highlight the collection’s title/modus operandi as they slowly shift both the compostion’s relentless cycling tones as well as the listener’s mental equilibrium. Not to be outdone, Nostress also has a new release, this time the debut release from Black Cocks, Sweet Illutions. A lo-fi affair built on Mauricio Diaz Varela’s decidedly punk attitude and his love of “Japanese science fiction from the ’60’s” (really, how can you not love someone whose self-reference point is that obscure!), these 6 tracks hum and thrum with lower ranges drones and endlessly looping  ringing fills as discordant, disembodied vocals float untethered to soundscapes never imagined playfully lay waste to preconceived notions. A decidedly strong release from a talent to watch.

The find of the week for me, though, has to be The Shimmer Effect, and their new release, Mechanosensitive, on South Africa’s Bushmen Records. A deep, dark dubbed out drop into the underside of dub-techno and discordant beats scoring soundtracks for worlds unimagined inhabited by generations yet to be born, this release grabbed me by the throat and just wouldn’t let go. How this duo has passed beneath my radar for so long boggles my mind! And despite extensive searching, I can’t for the life of me piece back the thread that lead me to Bushmen Records, but whatever it was, I’m glad I picked that thread up. A whole new world of beats and attitude have opened through their focus on experimental South African music and I’m the richer for it. Yup, this is one label I will support empathically.

Finally, I spent a few days last month checking back in on some of the netlabels that have been my trusted companions for the last several years. While most continue to host great alternative netlabel releases, a few that jumped off the websites and into my consciousness were Gargan Record‘s Bim, by aris_h, a sublime set of downtempo tracks that were released as a promo for his latest album, Tep Zepi, Huron‘s latest release on Crazy Language, Pictures from the Past, a melange of idm beats and sputtering staccato riffs that is among his strongest work yet, and headphonica‘s release of Jan Grunfeld‘s A Trace, a stunning collection of cascading, somnambulant layers of flowing water sampled beneath strummed chords and free-floating melodies (and whose words to describe this release may come closer to summing up this blog than I could myself, ” The last four or five years I followed a trail. Plenty of footprints. I collected tracks, pointing in different directions. Now the traces are almost beyond recognition. But you can still listen to it.” Exactly!) All should be reviewed in full, but that’s not this blog’s point. I merely act as a guide, pointing out the visible signposts that lead from one landmark to the next, each journey a trek only the curious begin and the intrepid embrace. Each label hosting many, many more treats that may appeal to your tastes without my prompting. Enjoy!

http://www.mixcloud.com/johnny_nowhere/sounds-from-the-outer-edges-a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way/

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sounds from the outer edges

lost in a digital forest...

lost in a digital forest…

First of all, thank you for accepting the invitation to hear sounds that may not have passed your way or that may give you pause to revisit warm, old haunts from sessions past. I know you probably won’t love everything you hear on these posts, but hopefully one or more of the following links will help lead you on your own sonic exploration. Because for me, music is a series of transits with neither beginning or end… just an unsatisfied sense that the sounds you’re truly looking for are just around the next corner, sounds heard in an unconventional way, under unique circumstances for no other reason than the sense of discovery.

But how does one express the first tentative steps to someone who has never taken that quest? Would a brief overview of personal favorites provide the necessary signposts for journeys to come, or should there be a linear delving into the individual genres hinted at above in this blog’s tag-line, and should it be necessary to provide the technical specifications that composers use to fashion their visions? After long and deliberate deliberation, I’ve decided to approach this endeavor in much the same manner with which I’ve come to appreciate the great interactive community of musical composers and the network of promoters and labels that help it take flight, by following the threads that tie many of these experimental artists together and to allow room for each reader to interpret their own sounds. Less review and more an offer to listen, each post will be a brief hint at what has recently been released within the reach of my gravitational pull and, more often than not, being freely offered by those creating and releasing it. As many of you know, I’ve long been an advocate of Creative Commons licensing and the countless netlabels that release astonishing music under those terms and this journey will feature many of those labels, as well as band and composers’ personal websites, Soundcloud and/or Bandcamp pages and maybe an occasional link to one of the many blogs I follow that paints a more poetic portrait of the aural experience in question than I ever could.

Okay, so how does this work? Simple. One of the netlabels I’ve recently come across is etched traumas; an impressive new netlabel from Athens that have been releasing material since October ’11. In January they released Nicholas Fair‘s How to Get Lost in Your Bedroom, a laconic, hypnotic suite of 3 instrumental tracks layering treated guitar runs over decaying vocal echoes. Stemming from older recordings, they carry the warmth and noise of time past, of days hazy in memory.

The reason I follow this label and found Nicholas’ wonderful release is etched tramumas’ earlier, back to back release of Red CloudsThe Introduction of a New Species, in April of ’12, and IOK-1‘s That Which Remains is Silence, a month later in May of ’12. Both are projects which I’ve followed avidly through their Soundcloud pages for quite awhile now. Right, I think you’re beginning to see how this works…

James Hoehl, aka Red Clouds, followed “The Introduction of a New Species” with the brooding, droning “Mythology”, 3 soundscapes which continue his dive deeper and deeper into the hypnotic hum of engines yet invented, of an overarching industrial ambience which the future will thrum with night and day. Released in November of ’12 on “Petroglyph Music”, a new Norwegian netlabel launched in the earlier that summer by Rune Martinsen and Oystein Jorgensen, it proved to be a very fortuitous find for me as they would include one of my recent compositions on their extensive, end-of-year holiday compilation, The X-Mas Compilation (sorry, shameless plug, but an amazing compilation featuring more new sounds and musicians for you to discover than there are hours in a day to listen to them all.) And as is often the case with netlabels, those who run them are also artists in their own right. A case in point is Oystein’s new release on Petroglyph Music, “Winter EP”, a blend of crystalline Aurora Borealis shimmers bracingly arcing across the night sky as the cold tones of barren, snowswept tundras howl across the landscape. Rarely does a release’s title match the feelings it evokes, but this truly is the sound of cold Nordic winters slowly passing to their own rhythms and time.

Petroglyph Music continues to impress with their roster of artists, also releasing new material from the Greek producer (who has recently relocated to Manchester, England, I believe) John Ov3rblast. Veteran of several of the more influential netlabels, I first came across his music through DeepinDub. One of the elder soapboxes for Creative Common releases, DeepinDub has a long history of releasing some of the most influential music in the dub and dub techno communities. Although started way back in 2006, it wasn’t until 2008 and their releases from Zzzzra, Upwellings, Idealist and, in particular, the amazing Fingers in the Noise, that I become an advocate of DiD. Like many of the netlabels struggling to cover the costs of production and release, DeepinDub have recently crossed over into the realm of physical releases with another new favorite of mine, Textural Being, having just released his latest collection of tracks, Dreams of Falling, as the second CD to be offered with the DeepinDub imprint.

Another young veteran of the netlabel release circut, Textural Being’s Sage Taylor has released material on basic_sound, which I will feature in-depth in later posts, the influential Monokrak, as well as one of the most promising new labels, Cold Tear Records. In roughly 3 years, Cold Tear has gone from a small Lithuanian upstart to having released material by Textural Being, Brickman, who is currently one of my favorite artists, slow noise and Moonwalker. In addition to all those wonderful releases on Cold Tear, they’ve also just released a new series of tracks from Brazilian born Cesar “M1A1” Alexandre, aka Iminazole, who, while vacationing in Japan, created 10 tracks of sonic space that continue his exploration of the frequencies and tempos that inform and define minimal ambient techno.

And so there it is, the first tentative steps on this epic voyage of discovery. From Nicholas Fair’s haunting sounds of moments slipping into memory to Oystein Jorgensen’s hyperboreal Arctic ambience to Iminazole’s dubbed out clash of modulated loops and distant, hissing Oriental rains, all in one easy journey. And this is only the beginning…