I was gratified by the response to my first of these posts, so lo, I presenteth another. Believe me, I could do this all the time. Netlabel ambient has been my saving grace for years, providing me with an endless supply of top-quality music guilt-free at, like, no price at all. God bless these noble beings for sharing their talents with us. As with my first list, these are not ranked. They are just all good. Each of these albums presents the artist’s own vision in a coherent and inspiring way, and I thank them. Any of the albums below will brighten your day, or your money back…figuratively. Click on the album title for the direct link. It behooves me to add that yes, I’m very happy with the netaudio community’s response to my blogging about the fruits of its labour, but if you stop in here, please do take a few moments to read about some of the other non-freebie artists I’ve blogged about and check out some of the YouTube links at the bottom of each post. You may find something new and good! I proceed:
Astrowind – Kurland (Resting Bell, 2009)
Astrowind should be no stranger to netaudio enthusiasts. This happening Latvian produces a very distinct brand of sound art using an array of vintage synths which help to give his music an original vibe. Kurland is probably his best work, an hour of melancholy, spectral music and noise that really does sound like mysterious receptions from the void at a Siberian radio tower. Radio noise, scratchy sounds, throbbing sub-bass and deep drones characterize this wonderfully consistent work. If you like this also check out VACVVM.
Lähto – Shadows of What We Were (Dead Pilot Records, 2007 )
I had thought this album no longer available, but it’s up on last.fm for download, so get it. Lähto produced a number of wonderful dark ambient albums, of which this is the finest. It’s definitely very sorrowful music, featuring waves of crescendoing keyboards and distorted guitars. This is the kind of sadness you can dive into and never want to come back up. In particular I direct your attention to track 2, “Kim”, one of the most satisfyingly emotional experiences I’ve had in ambient music.
Silvercord – I Smiled Because I Knew Death is But a Door (Free Floating, 2012)
Silvercord is an artist whose music I have not explored much till recently. I am rectifying that. Silvercord’s music is at the inspirational end of the genre. Despite the fact that passing on appears to be a strong theme on this recording, it is not a sad one, having more of a Buddhist feel to me — a peaceful acceptance. Soothing pads characterize this very warm set of tracks. One track features some kind of sampled liturgical chanting. Though this is a recent acquisition, I can tell I’ll be returning to it often.
Miles Tilmann – Melt (Experimedia, 2006)
This is an oldie but a goodie. It’s a collection of mostly short pieces that have a light, airy feel. They kind of flutter by like, well, a few butterflies or something. What I’m trying to say is the cover art featuring a beautiful summer sky does capture the feel of this music quite well. Not dissimilar to some of Eno’s collections of short pieces, this is a feel-good collection of melodic ambient that is sure to please.
Eluder – Drift (Archaic Horizon, 2009)
Drift is an EP-length collection of four pieces. Again, a good choice of cover art shows us exactly how this music will make us feel. Hazy clouds of oscillating pads take us on a journey through the stratosphere. A very impressive drone collection — as we all know, making a compelling drone piece is not easy, but Eluder has it down.
EugeneKha – Low Sky (Earth Mantra, 2011)
EugeneKha is Russian musician who has been quite prolific. Low Sky is an incredibly eclectic collection of pieces that literally touch upon almost every ambient subgenre you could think of, and every one is done well, from the dark ambient of “November Night” to the ethno-ambient of “Chinese Souvenir” to the almost Berlin-school stylings of “After the Storm.” EugeneKha is definitely a top-level talent and this is a good introduction to his work.
Jack Hertz – Complex Silence 25 (Treetrunk Records, 2012)
There’s some great work being done in the Complex Silence series on Treetrunk, so congrats to everyone concerned. Jack Hertz is a musician with an excellent ambient pedigree and a number of fine netlabel recordings under his belt. His contribution to this series is four pieces of nocturnal drones and field recordings that really do make you imagine what’s going on in the night, in the underbrush at ground level.
Coldstream – Drown/Lights (Rural Colours, 2011)
Rural Colours is another netlabel putting out top-level work by leading ambient artists. This release of two sound-art pieces reminds me very much of the melancholy work of Matt Borghi. Deep, misty, disquieting drones. The second piece features some great swelling ambient guitar tones and an effective use of field recordings. Perfect for a rainy afternoon.
Mystified – Ocean of Vapor (Webbed Hand, 2008)
Another venerable recording on the equally venerable Webbed Hand label by a busy artist, Ocean of Vapour sounds very much like a lost Steve Roach album, one of his more abstract releases like The Magnificent Void. Though there are occasional beats, the essence of this album is a nebula-sized soundworld, big slabs of noise that take the listener on a journey through uh, well…an ocean of vapour. Anyway, it’s good.
Loscil – Stases (One, 2006)
Scott Morgan’s Loscil project is quite well known and he has put out a number of very successful commercial releases of his super-ambient techno/drone stylings. I’ve purchased a number of his recordings, which are all excellent, but this freebie he has kindly offered (quite a while ago, in fact) is as good as any of his commercial releases. A super-trance-inducing collection of drones that are perfect for meditation. The work of an ambient grand master and not to be missed.
See also part 3 of this series.