Tag Archives: Drone

Northaunt – Istid I-II

(Cyclic Law, 2015)

The man behind Northaunt, Hærleif Langås, has been working on the material of this album (released as a double-CD, with an awesome length of 1h 19mins) from 2003 to 2014. The music is a combination of extremely atmospheric Ambient music and field recordings of nature-sounds. What is special about Northaunt however, are the feelings of indeed nature brought forth by the synths alone.

Quite minimal in their essence, the songs feature mostly glowing, gleaming, hissing, dripping, blowing, flowing, increasing and decreasing, airy and celestial synth-sounds often quite reminiscent of the eighties and nineties Tangerine Dream (yet even more minimal) -like atmospheres with a modern sound and production. There are also some classic Vangelis-like moments here and there. What the music brings to my mind’s eye are sceneries of the themes of the album as well as concrete emotions of been exposed to nature, especially Nordic nature. The theme of the album is the “Ice Age”, which truly comes forth in the soundscapes of all the music on this release. I am taken over and under the icy surface of the sea, to the snowy mountaintops beholding majestic sunrises, or to the deep woods observing nature untouched by man. Being from Scandinavia myself, this album reminds me particularly of the wintry atmospheres of Lapland, with it’s clean air and unique light, the Aurora Borealis dancing in the sky, with thousands of stars still visible and bright.

Simply put, to me this album is an audial journey to northern nature, more winter- than summer-oriented, timeless and unaffected by mankind, and I believe that’s how it has been intended to be. With this in mind, Hærleif Langås has created a very unique album of high quality, a definite must to all fans of Ambient music. There are, in the end, few albums where the intentions behind the music are clearly heard in the end results.

Northaunt (Facebook)

Cyclic Law

Apócrýphos – The Prisoners Cinema

(Cyclic Law, 2015)

Born from the ashes of Psychomanteum, Apócrýphos (crafted by the solitary member Robert C. Kozletsky) delivers very slow-moving yet elevating intense Ambient music. The music on this album is made mostly of etherial choir-like and orchestral sounds, soft and cold Noise and Drone, various sample-like effects, and extremely high and low frequencies from the synths balancing the misty, high and deep atmospheres.

The inner sceneries on this release range from wandering in some vast forgotten halls and long turning corridors or touching the walls of claustrophobic chambers (perfectly reminiscent of the cover-art of the album), to swimming to the far corners of the known space and beyond. I can see how this album has been intended to be a sensory deprivation tank -like experience, shutting off the outside world and the chatter in ones mind, drifting into more expanded awareness within, like slowly floating out from the Plato’s cave in a sleep-like yet alert state.

The nature of the songs are quite similar to each other, rising and falling like waves of cosmic dust in extremely slow motion, raising spectacles of drama from one’s own subconscious. With a length of over an hour, this album is guaranteed to grant the patient listener moments of release or flashes of horror, working splendidly as a soundtrack to a long cleansing meditation-session or a cathartical ritual, purification through exposure to ones fears and utter solitude. A highly recommended purchase to all fans of Ambient-music.

Apócrýphos (Facebook)

Cyclic Law

Sound Awakener – September Traveler

(Self-Released, 2015)

Sound Awakener is an Ambient-project by Vietnamese musician Nhung Nguyễn, whom has released quite a lot of similar kind of music in the past few years alone. Although the songs on this release are recorded in 2011 and 2012, they are topical now as they provide a soundtrack to Madrid-born photographer Irene Cruz’s exhibition “What Dreams Are Made Of”, taking place in Berlin from 6th to 18th of February, 2015.

The music fits perfectly in the world of the photography of Irene Cruz, with it’s hazy and misty dreamlike visual ambience. The songs feature many acoustic sounds of for example the piano or music-box-like chimes, some of them field-recordings, surrounded by soft yet Noisy and Drony veils and layers of psychedelic sound. Haunting and beautiful at the same time, the music creates visions of misty woods or jungles, with high sleeping trees raising towards the light and foggy sky. The sceneries of the songs move and turn like in a dream, with the logic of a mind deep asleep yet constantly experiencing deep emotions. The spontaneous playing and the unique ghostlike melodies lead the listener deeper into the dream, like a child wandering in the woods towards some eerie light. The experience is however very cleansing and beautiful in nature, suiting marvelously as the background of a psychedelic mediation session or an art exhibition, as is the case.

The soundscapes of the songs, although recorded at different times, fit perfectly together as an album, with a clear theme. While being quite distorted at times, the overall quality of these recordings is very high when it comes to Drone or atmospheric Ambient, making this a highly recommended collection of songs for anyone into atmospheric music of these styles.

I also urge you to check out other releases by Sound Awakener, and the photography and art of Irene Cruz.

Sound Awakener (Bandcamp)

Sound Awakener (Facebook)

Irene Cruz (Official)

Irene Cruz (Facebook)

Interview with Utu Lautturi

The magnificent Ambient music of the Finnish artist Utu Lautturi is so experimental, cinematic and full of various sounds created by acoustic instruments, I am often on the verge of total annihilation of concepts when thinking of ways to label the music (which is of course a positive thing). True art is meant to function at various psychological levels, making it naturally Magical, and the art of Utu Lautturi is certainly an odyssey to planes deep and high, having truly enlightening qualities.

Greetings Utu Lautturi! How has the year begun for you?

Greetings, and thank you for asking! I’m feeling very inspired and in the best of health.

In your music you combine Electronic (mostly) Ambient music and Noise, with a vast amount of acoustic instruments. How long have you been experimenting with sounds in this way? What can you tell me about your musical past, regarding the learning of various instruments?

My parents are semi-pro musicians so life has always revolved around music in some way. I started playing with my brother when we were around 10 years old and after that my musical life has almost exclusively been spent in playing drums in (experimental) grunge and metal bands. I’ve always been interested in any kind of sound source, though, and have always embraced the possibility of trying out and learning about whatever instrument I can get my hands on.

However, it was only about five years ago I began experimenting with sound by myself. I felt the ways of creating music and composing I was used to simply weren’t enough to express my inner visions. It might be hard to believe but that’s when I first stumbled on the genres of ambient, experimental and cinematic music. Since I didn’t know how to use any software I started creating stuff with elements I was familiar with. That is, common instruments. I just approached making sound with them in an unorthodox way, plucking and rubbing on them, bashing and twisting them up. Soon I felt the need to record and process the sounds so I grabbed the closest DAW which was Garage Band! Through trial and error I then started using Garage Band to record and manipulate field recordings and instruments. That’s when the world of plug-ins, synthesizers and all kinds of electronic hardware – loopers, samplers and drum machines – opened up to me. I had some friends who’d been in the electronic music scene for a long time so I asked them to teach me about this (to me) new world of making sounds. So I learned some basics but never really got into the electronic music making thing because I felt natural, organic sounds just resonated deeper within me. But I put to use what I had learned and started to find my own way of making sound collages through the use of pure and/or manipulated field recordings supported by instrumental stuff. My first release, Korpinkorva ep (Etched Traumas, 2013), was completely produced with Garage Band. After that I decide to learn a more sophisticated DAW and now I use Ableton Live (only know how to use the session-mode though). I very rarely use synths, and don’t use drum machines or samplers at all. 99 % of the sounds I create are recorded from “live sources” and then processed.

CD400_in

What other musical styles interest you the most besides the more Ambient and Experimental styles? Have you been or are you currently involved in projects of other forms of music?

As I said, the whole ambient and experimental music scene is fairly new to me. Nowadays I very much enjoy artists from those genres and their sub-genres but my heart will always resonate most strongly to extreme metal, be it doom, sludge, black or whatever. Then again, I have a very warm relationship with various types of ethnic music as well.

Apart from grunge and metal bands I’ve been involved with various projects ranging from complete noise cacophony through techno to hip hop and reggae. I want to stay open to any style of music (or sound art). I honestly try to understand and feel the driving forces behind everything I hear.

On your newest release, you seem to move in the spiritual landscapes of our home country, with elements of the East reminiscent of your previous release “Arcane Pyres” present in the music as well. Was this intentional from the beginning of the work on the album?

Arcane Pyres was a deliberate attempt to summon Ancient Eastern Gods, especially on side A produced with 45:KO. On Nielu I held only the purest form of self-expression as a guiding star. As a sort of Nature worshipper I feel it’s natural for my music to depict elements I feel closest to in Finnish nature. There’s a lot of field recordings from wandering the vast forests of our home country. But there’s also recordings from Southern France so it’s not all about Finland but the magnificence of Nature in general.

I’ve lived in Taiwan when I was a kid so maybe that’s where my fascination towards the East comes from. All the more reason for me to be very happy Rasplyn wanted to do a collaborative exchange and co-created Teetä maatuneista lehdistä – Pu-Erh Tea. She’s an amazing musician with a strong Oriental vibe in her compositions, and I feel her vocals and playing suit the track spot on.

Talking about the fascination with the East, what can you tell me about your personal relationship with for example the topics of your aforementioned release?

I’m not a religious person (although I have been, very much so). For the past decade I’ve been mostly interested in a communion with archaic memes (such as sacrifice, enlightenment, spiritual endeavors and consciousness raising) pervading the history of mankind and how, combined with inner and outer rituals performed in/with Nature, it seems possible to use those memes as tools in a hermetic re-creative and empowering process. Far East has the longest history in the use of systematic thought/body-manipulation practices (yoga). That really interests me. At the same time I feel strength and creativity can be derived from modern memetic entities as well. It all depends on the force of intent behind the practice. I feel Arcane Pyres was an example of that – ancient powers brought to form by modern technology.

Utu Lautturi 04

Are you fascinated by the melancholic atmospheres of our native sceneries, finding something positive about the silent Finnish mentality and for example scenes of autumnal fields with their abandoned wooden cabins, or would you see working with these topics more as a cleansing and therapeutic process?

What inspires me most in Finland is its four distinct seasons and their extremes. Sadly a warming climate is screwing that all up but for now I find it endlessly awe-inspiring how people have managed to survive here – and still do (albeit the demands today are more mental than physical). Perhaps it is because of my history of living in the tropics and/or traveling quite a bit, but I don’t feel kinship to what you so well called “the silent Finnish mentality”. I believe behind that silence there’s a lot of hidden shame, un-dealt with emotions as well as being restricted by thinking about what others might think of you. I think Finns are lucky to be a part of a colourful planet with various exciting influences seeping into our society through immigration. I work as a teacher in a multicultural primary school class and I really see what a positive influence mingling with more social and open cultures has on native kids. Of course there are also challenges but mostly I see it as a positive trend. Then again, I do feel there are aspects of the solemn Finnish mentality worth cherishing as well. But for me personally the path to “healthy” silence is by first opening up and having the courage to make some noise. To me it seems our planet is run by 4 year-olds in suits and all of us with half a brain should take a stand in order to preserve Earth for future generations. That demands courage to speak up instead of keeping your silence (as we are so many times taught in Finland).

Considering the nature of your music, I assume you are a very Spiritual person? Is Spirituality something you engage in with your musical work, or do you have other practices in your daily life that might be labeled Spiritual?

Heh, I really couldn’t say anything about that, sorry. All I know is that on more than one occasion I’ve had to choose between literally taking my life and taking my life into my own hands. Obviously I’ve chosen the latter. That has meant confronting a lot of inner conflict and a daily dose of hard mental work in order to sort things out and learn to gather strength instead of spending it. “Spirituality” is a good word to narrow down certain ideas but I feel in using such terms there’s a danger in oversimplifying reality. At the heart of it all, I really can’t differentiate between spiritual and mundane – it’s all part of the same natural processes. However, I do feel sound can have a sacred, spiritual quality, and I’m certainly drawn towards sounds that “pluck that string” in me.

CD400_in

Considering the high quality of you releases, how has the response been to your music in general? Do you for example get invitations to play live often?

I’m only a newcomer in the field so it’s still all very low profile. I consider myself a total noobie in the field I’m releasing solo music at. I find myself constantly struggling, and mostly failing, to get the results I’m looking for. But I’m willing and able to learn so who knows. The overall response from my peers has been very positive and encouraging, though. I’ve played some live shows but the scene in Finland is so small there really aren’t that many chances. Also, my live performances differ somewhat from the stuff I release. But there are some cool things cooking for 2015, I can tell you that!

How do you see the Electronic (and especially Ambient) music scenes today? Are they mostly build of various small labels, with perhaps artists releasing multiple releases all from different labels? How do you see the digital format compared to the physical releases in this kind of music?

It’s pretty hard for me to say anything about any “scene” since I don’t feel like an active part of any, except SoundCloud perhaps (which has pretty much dispersed due to the new interface). I know next to nothing about my type of musicians in Finland, only could name a handful. I’d love to get to know more likeminded people, though. But as I’m not such a big fan of hanging around the net or keeping virtual contact, the opportunities are seldom. Still, I feel like everything takes its own time and all is flowing wonderfully. I’m positively in a very different place now than I would’ve though five years ago.

I’m quite excited about the new era of DIY labels releasing a lot of high quality music. There’s really almost no limit for the opportunities of an artist to get their work across these days. Of course it also creates a lot of static in the field but I’m certain those who have ears will hear. To me, the form in which music is released isn’t such a big issue. If I’d have to choose, I love how ambient/experimental music sounds on tape so that’s where my money goes at. The only thing I feel digital releases are lacking is decent, tangible artwork. Since audio and visual are two sides of the same coin to me that is something I sometimes really miss.

Utu Lautturi 05

Thank you for this opportunity to discuss with you! What does the future hold for Utu Lautturi?

Thank you to you for your kind words and such in-depth questions! I’m very excited about Nielu’s release and revealing to the world what I’ve worked on for the past three years. The music video and full streaming of the album will be premiered at A Closer Listen before the release so that’s the next cool thing I’m waiting for. Then there are some plans on releasing two collaborative albums as well as an ep with Dronny Darko. And I’ll definitely be starting a completely new musical Utu Lautturi journey later this spring. I’ve got a huge databank of recorded sounds I’m anxious to get working with. Other than that it’s all day in day out hard mental work to keep it all sort of together. But one day at a time, focusing on the ever-changing present. And that’s that.

Utu Lautturi (Facebook)

SoundCloud

Bandcamp

Utu Lautturi – Nielu

(Pale Noir, 2015)

I first heard the Finnish Ambient musician Utu Lautturi in the form of his collaboration (with two artists) “Arcane Pyres” (released by Cursed Tapes last year), which featured awesome soundscapes of Hindu-like spirituality. The Aghori-themes of the release were captured magnificently in the music with the use of Ambient and Noise textures and different organic acoustic instruments.

On this his latest release, Utu Lautturi moves (in my opinion) more in the spiritual landscapes of our native country, again with a vast collection of instruments of traditional qualities. Pianos, organs, chimes and various string-instruments sound in perfect harmony with different kinds of gentle Ambient sounds, full of texture. The music of the acoustic instruments is not completely Scandinavian in nature, with feelings here and there in the form of sounds and singing reminding of the Orient, which brings universality to the overall atmosphere of the songs. The Electronically produced sounds vary from extremely vintage-sounding synths to light Drone and soft (and partly violent) Noise. Also spoken and sung vocals in Finnish can be heard, suiting the music splendidly. Various sound effects also take the music strongly to cinema-like realms.

The melodies played by the instruments are imaginative and original, nothing too complex, but as they mostly sound with feelings of (modern and traditional) experimental Classical music, I could picture other terms of classification for this kind of music besides just “Ambient”.

As the atmosphere of the album is mostly melancholic, I am constantly taken to the natural landscapes and wooden cottages of my home country (in a positive and cathartic reviving way), but on some songs the music takes me to some mystical undefined Eastern lands, such as in the case of artists like Dead Can Dance. Because of the soundtrack-like nature of the music, there are many moments when I forget I am listening to music, but rather feel like I am watching an inner film.

This release is highly recommended for everyone into Ambient, Ethnic, Experimental Classical or Soundtrack music.

Utu Lautturi (Facebook)

Pale Noir (Bandcamp)

[ B O L T ] + Ewaldt – Collaboration Tape

(Wolves And Vibrancy Records, 2014)

The German duo of [ B O L T ] has released a couple of full-lengths, as well as a split, a remix-album of their work made by other artists, and two collaboration-releases, of which this Tape made with Ewaldt is the newer one. On the works of their own, [ B O L T ] has used two basses to create (usually) long and hypnotic Drony Ambient works of art, bringing their abstract world here with them, while Ewaldt focuses more in creating more traditional and beat-oriented style of Electronic music, classy and cool at some parts, soft and beautiful at some, while the rest is quite Industrialized and harsh.

The beats are mostly calm and repeating in a Downbeat-kinda way, nothing too complex, with sounds reminding me of nineties (and why not modern) IDM, sometimes going a bit more aggressive. The synths deliver thin, high and etherial almost howling sounds and beautiful simple melodies, floating and moving above a sea of Drone and quite Noisy Industrial-like clanky rhythmic ambience. The low, humming and crackling waves of sound produced by the basses, synths and effects work extremely well in contrast with the beats, and the softer and lighter music.

Sometimes sounding like a harsh (yet not distressing) factory, sometimes like an electronic forest full of life, these songs deliver different calming and sensitive atmospheres of awesome quality, despite the harshness and kind of black-and-white (grey) aesthetics of the whole. If you’re into bands like (modern) Ulver, Sunn O))), or if the catalogue of for example Warp Records usually pleases you ears, you’ll most likely find this release extremely worthwhile. I also urge you to check out other music done by both artists.

Wolves And Vibrancy Records

[ B O L T ]

Ewaldt

Northumbria – Bring Down The Sky

(Consouling Sounds, 2014)

Toronto-based Northumbria could be labeled as an Ambient-band, although they have chosen the moniker Ambient Metal to describe the soundscapes they produce, due to the instruments of their choice. Using only guitar and bass, the duo of Jim Field and Dorian Williamson (formerly of the Ambient Post-Rock/Metal-band Holoscene) create huge walls of sound, clearly with large amounts of skill and expertise when it comes to crafting vast audial landscapes. Without knowing exactly how they do their magic, I am guessing the material is recorded live through different amplifiers and various effects.

The result is extremely diverse and awesome. Sometimes the strings of the two instruments summon huge and heavy entities of drony haze, taking you immediately to a dreamlike states of hypnotic calm trance. Sometimes the guitars play slow yet beautiful leads, somewhat reminiscent of for example the later albums of Pink Floyd in their style. There are many moments when it seems incredible this music has being made with using only the guitar and the bass, since the sounds are often very synth-like. This is most definitely work of true audial-wizards. Although there are parts where the sound breaks in a noisy and drony way (which is most likely the intention of the musicians anyway), the overall quality of the sounds on this album is very high.

The music has a tendency to take me to quite different mindscapes. There were parts when I felt like sitting in a cabin somewhere very far up north, surrounded by frost and snow, turning on the radio only to find a single station playing this music. There were parts when I was soaring above the clouds in daylight, like watching from a window of an aeroplane, and times when I was lying by the warm sunny beach in the caress of the clear blue sea. I am guessing these same parts might give me different feelings on the next listens, as some music tends to work according to set and setting. This kind of audial art is definitely rich in many magical qualities.

The cover-picture of the album fits the music splendidly, with it’s partly thin and luminous, partly heavy and hanging kingdom of clouds spreading in various densities over the dry and cracking land. I heartily recommend this to all into Ambient music or to anyone simply in need of some quality escapism.

Northumbria (Facebook)

Consouling Sounds

[ówt krì] – The New Seed

(Alrealon Musique, 2013)

Kenneth K. has been making music under the name [ówt krì] since 2005. This review focuses on his 2013-release “The New Seed”, although he has two newer digital releases out as well, namely “White Glaciers” (Format Noise, 2014) and “Sounds Of Liquid” (Spheredelic, 2014). He also performs live as well.

Kenneth uses soft and deep, yet sometimes Noisy Ambient synth-sounds mixed with electric guitars to create audial paintings of many layers and colours. His way of mixing calm and subtle melodies (played with equally calm sounds) and heavier Drony waves of quality sound result in an atmosphere and soundscape reminiscent of a mind in meditation.

These sounds move like passing thoughts or clouds of psychedelic colours through skies of different temperatures and beautiful alien landscapes of many seasons. Just when you are about to fall through a subconscious floor into an even deeper cosmic stream, a beautiful piano-melody picks you up with soft fingers.

Some songs on this album feature quite artistic and avant-garde vocals, which are not bad by any means, but take the feelings at times to artistic Hip hop or something similar, although there are also calmer vocal-parts appearing. I can imagine using this album for meditation or self-hypnosis with skipping the songs containing the vocals (since they contain a bit harsher Noisy sounds as well), and I can imagine myself listening to these songs separately as well, as individual pieces of art.

The whole meditative atmosphere of most of the songs makes me wish they were longer, but that might be just a question of taste, depending on the moment of listening as well.

The quality of sounds on this album is extremely good, with many different subtle frequencies audible, working like a charm on my psyche. These songs are beautiful audial paintings, visual to the inner eye. This is Musick with Magickal qualities, creating strong effects within the listener, almost like a psychedelic substance. I can imagine how well this music would work when listened while tripping on for example Psilocybin.

A highly recommended album for all fans of meditative Ambient music with multiple textures sounding well together. This is so much more than some “Relaxation” music form the New Age section. This is true art of sound, a whole multifaceted reality in itself.

9/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

[ówt krì] (Facebook)