I have always loved ambient music but I have always been really picky about what records I put myself into. It is such a unique genera in that it is not as obvious as pop music, it takes patience to enjoy. There are a lot of different directions it could take, everything from tacky new age sounding melodies for yoga studios to noise based drone music that holds one sustained note for 20 minutes. There are of course happy mediums to discover and artists that use the genera to create truly creative, emotional music unlike anything else out there.
My personal history listening to ambient started with Aphex Twins Ambient Works II, then I discovered Brian Eno, then came Tim Hecker’s Haunt Me, and later I fell in love with a number of Japanese musicians such as Daisuke Miyatani who were using a lot of environmental recordings and incorporating them with sparse instrumentation. While there have been a few I have enjoyed on the noisier and more drone based recordings that I have enjoyed I have always gravitated toward ambient music that told more of a story. It’s amazing when ambient music is able to convey an emotion and it is this type that I get so lost in when I let myself fall in.
This brings me to this amazing album by Heathered Pearls, Loyal. I was immediately hooked on the first track and its subtly gritty sine tone music box like melodies which instantly brought me back to some of the early ambient records that made me love the genera to begin with. Listening to Loyal with a good pair of headphones and kicking back somewhere comfortable is like being wrapped up in a cocoon of warm sound that gently persuades your mind to wander aimlessly through the noise. The music here is classic yet stands on its own as a powerful collection of great ambient music. No fan of the genera should be without this in his or her collection.
The thing about ambient music is that it seems to speak to each listener differently. It is a meditative genera that leaves your mind to wander. The speed of the changes in tone and any hints at a rhythm alter in your mind depending on your state of awareness. It’s a beautiful way to amplify things you are feeling and center yourself.
Enter Contrail, yet another wonderful release from 12k. You may be familiar with Kane’s work as part of Solo Andata which is also a beautiful album that for some strange reason I have not added here yet. The music on Contrail features beautiful ambient melodies which gently create a bed for sparse guitar and other meandering layers of sound and melody. These elements all combine to form engaging compositions ripe with warmth and a delicate sense of wholeness. I am excited to have this in my collection because although at 20 Minutes it can feel short once you get lost in the music I can’t help but continue to head back to the start and listen through again and again.
It has been released on a 7” vinyl record which I find highly appropriate for ambient releases such as this. Something in the act of putting a record on adds so much to the listening experience. I can only hope that 12k continues this series of releases on vinyl or perhaps even expand it to 10” or 12” inch records as well but I won’t hold my breath as they have traditionally stuck with CD releases.
Artist Site label page
I have no idea why it took me as long as it did to discover this album. John Orth is front and center within the music as the vocalist and his distinct songwriting and singing lingers and keeps me coming back for more. He seems to go largely under appreciated as being part of Isaac Brock’s Ugly Casanova project. Maybe this is why it took so long for me to find his music. I remember going out to see Ugly Casanova long ago when they were touring for their release (boy do I regret not picking up a vinyl copy of their album at the show). This is easily my favorite album from Holopaw because of its quiet, country/folk influenced feel. The harmonies and simple yet lush instrumentation often seem to get stuck in my mind. It is an essential album for your collection that should not be overlooked.
Laura Arkana Met Peter Broderick - Lentemuziek
While Peter Broderick needs no introduction among these pages, Laura Arkana was new to my ears when I came across this album. While she sings in Dutch and I cannot follow along what she is singing about I still find myself gravitating toward her voice and wonderful, uplifting melodies. Peter Broderick’s classic elegance is found on every track and makes for a beautiful collaboration. It’s one I am happy to have a vinyl copy of, perfect for a quiet night by the fire.
Ezza Rose - Jacob
This was a gem of a find. I love this sort of soft, lo-fi singer songwriter music that pushes expectations of what an album like this could be. She incorporates a number of styles and instruments into the mix which I really love. Most songs have a gentle sway about them with a touch of classic country/bluegrass that adds a nice charm to the music. If you enjoy the recent movement of underground folk artists and lo-fi recordings this will be right up your alley.
Nils Frahm - Felt
I Find it hard to believe it took me so long to discover the music of Nils Frahm. Its nothing short of amazing and has quickly shot up the ranks of my personal favorites within the world of quiet music. Felt is a sparse work centered on the piano and dashes of minimal electronic elements. The result melts into my mind as I hear it. His performances on the record are telling of his ability to use the piano as a voice in which he is able to communicate a sense of calm. The post production and mixing work using a handful of nostalgicc sounding synths has been added with a delicate touch and leaves the original recordings of piano plenty of room to breathe within the music. The soft sounds of keys being pressed and the subtle ambience of the room in which it was recorded gives you a sense of being present during its performance and lets the listener connect in an intimate way. I find this to be essential listening for anyone that follows You Disappear.
A Winged Victory for the Sullen - Self Titled
I came across this album while checking out what was new over at the label Erased Tapes and quickly fell for it. It’s full of lush music driven by piano, strings, and subtle synth work and leaves your mind at peace. This is beautiful, meditative music. The kind that leaves you daydreaming of those impossibly perfect moments that only exist in your mind. If you let it take shape and lay down and give this album the attention it deserves your breathing slows and this becomes a soundtrack for your imagination and personal space. Maybe I am over stating it a bit but I believe music can bring such meditative calm to anyone if they let it soak in.
Filed in: Songs
James Blake - What Is It You Said About Luck
B-sides are always a bit of a mystery, what may once have been considered lesser tracks, left off a full length album are now seen more often as those hidden gems by artists only found and known by the true fans. Seems to me these days a song can have just as much weight as a full album as far as its weight is concerned. In this case I feel as though this song stands well on its own and it deserves to be heard. It’s less genera pushing than some of the work on his full length album. Clocking in at just over two minutes its easy to overlook but with its humble, simplified approach it leaves me coming back to it again and again.
Squanto - On being Lumpy
I love coming across humble, self released albums such as this. The music holds a sentimentality that can get lost in the polish of label releases. Listening to this takes me somewhere in my imagination that is an invented memory of laying around in front of a fire while friends pluck away on guitars and instruments and occasionally find stories to tell as they sing along with the light, floating melodies that emerge from the somber mood hanging in the air. A warm experience all around and well worth supporting.
Robag Wruhme - Thora Vukk
Here is one for those of you who enjoy a rhythm to your calm moments. You will find an intricate blend of field recordings, clever sound design, and dim beats to guide your mind as you listen. WIth its slow pull you may find yourself feeling uplifted by its warmth as quiet beats lead you to nod your head along to the music. I can’t help but feel a wash of calm happiness while I have this record on and I love it. It feels like the warm sun shining upon my face on a cold day. Highlights in my mind are the short interlude between the more beat driven songs in the ‘Brücke’ series which add breathing room to the overall experience. Beautiful music not to be missed.
Small Sur - Tones
This was an exciting discovery when I came across it. A new record of beautiful hushed music that is familiar and has a sleepy calmness about it that I really love. The wavy melodies sung through a warm hushed voice with songwriting that leaves me feeling at ease. There are a lot of beautiful layers at work as the songs glide forward which blend together in a way that leaves me discovering new favorites every time I listen through. Highly recommended.
Ezekiel Honig - Folding In On Itself
I could not help but add this wonderful minimal ambient album to youdisappear. Using collected sounds, synthesis, and a minimal rhythm at times, Folding In On Itself ends up being an amazing work from start to finnish. It’s one of those albums that is perfect for rainy days or contemplative time alone and I can’t get enough of it. It was released on the always great, Type records. One of the best labels in the world for amazing ambient and exploratory music such as this.
iTunes Link - Artist Page
Mt. Egypt - III
Mt. Egypt fell into my mind after a friend shared a song with me a year or two ago that I really loved but for some reason I never got around to looking the artist up again, that is until I heard the guest audio engineer at a club I work at put on one of his albums between sets and I knew the voice was familiar so I had a look and sure enough it was Mt. Egypt. Odd thing was that it was at a metal show that this happened so I was not at all expecting to hear such great, quieter music being played. So the next day I went online looking for more of his music finally and came across his newest album and saw it was available in a limited vinyl form and bought it sight unseen. I was not at all disappointed and it quickly has become one of my favorite new music discoveries. This seems to be his most calm, collected album and I really love it. Clever but simple, insightful songwriting that I cannot get enough of.
Minamo - Durée
The ever impressive 12k deserves its own category here on the site. I feel like I have slowly been filtering in every album I hear from their catalogue and it shows no signs of slowing down. This release hinges on a beautiful minimal esthetic driven by lightly picked and strummed guitar and piano layered with bits of electronic and acoustic accompaniment that fill in the space between notes leaving me with a light hearted sense of fulfillment. This album has been one of my go to sources for calmer moments and I happily recommend it to anyone looking for something to breath life into any moment in your day needing a peaceful interlude. An interesting fact about the music is that it is being performed by four different musicians. Usually music so minimal and haunting comes from one or sometimes two musicians yet these four manage to play music together in this delicate without adding a lot of clutter to the overall sound. Great music, not to be overlooked.
iTunes Link • Artist Page
Kele Goodwin - Hymns
It seems like it had been a long time since I had discovered a new soft spoken songwriter with a wonderful voice and ability to capture my attention. That is, until Hymns fell into my hands. Long time favorite Hush Records released this wonderful album of gently sung stories and lullabies. His voice calls forth distinct similarities to Nick Drake and his hushed, deep vocal delivery and I can’t get enough. It is impossible not to slip into a peaceful state of mind with this album on. Perfect for snow falling in slow motion or a warm sunset.
iTunes Link • Artist Page
Woodworkings - "We Sit On Floors We Stand on Chairs"
This album was recommended to me long ago through the site and I have wanted to get it posted here ever since my first listen through. The music found on this release will do nothing less than leave your mind breathless as it is cleared out and left full of light. These are drifting ambient songs that explore the boundaries between soft organic melodies and gritty distortion. At times melodies will drift through a song cohesive and lighthearted but slowly spin outward into a looser form only to eventually be found again as time progresses. Other moments bring a thick distorted buzz that will fight its way to the top and give an interesting contrast to what hides beneath.
Through and through it is a wonderful listen and a really solid release that any fan of the genera should certainly check out. My favorite piece from the album is the first cut, Sketch (adrift) which ended up being one of my favorites from 2010. You can pick this up choosing your own price so you have no reason not to head over and check it out.
Album page on Bandcamp
James Blake - Klavierwerke
This is surely not the last time you will see James Blake come up here on You Disappear. While I am curious to see where his career takes him he certainly had a great year in 2010 releasing a number of EP’s all unique and thick with a distinct appreciation for doing more with less and showing a large amount of potential as being a heavily influential voice in the future. This is by far my favorite release of his to date, calm, a bit dark, and thick with emotion. The music here has a great moody and deep electronic influence yet it still holds so much soul in its approach. Simple, minimal music that will leave you nodding your head with your eyes closed. The perfect late night headphone album and one that I highly recommend.
iTunes Link • Artist Page
Steiner - Untitled
Surely this is the music they play in heaven. This album came up as suggested listening and within the first couple of minutes I was hooked. I have a soft spot for meandering electric guitar without the aid of any elaborate effects and this release delivers on that craving with elegance. I was initially a little worried at the fact that the release was one single 25 minute piece of music because modern musicians who take this approach often end up with something a bit over conceived and often leave me wondering if or when it will end.
This song however doesn’t seem to wear on me, it grows slowly across my mind and calms my nerves with each pluck of a sting. To be honest, it’s been a slow start to this year and i have been feeling a bit uninspired as of late but for the first time in a good while I found my mind had that old spark of motivation that had been hiding from sight. The peaceful, organic sounds of the recording put my mind at ease and reminded me to slow down, take one thing in at a time and it felt good.
The physical CD release comes available with original polaroid artwork which I love.
Bandcamp page for the project.
Filed in: Songs
Airhead - Paper Street
While this musician seems to have slipped in under the radar for many, this song found it’s way to sit comfortably among my favorite music from 2010. The incredible long breaths of air the song takes between movements is nothing sort of perfection. A few months after first hearing it I still cannot hear it enough. It is sitting comfortably between a slow wandering dub beat and does not pretend to be anything other than what it is. The track progresses beautifully through movements and leaves you crazing another listen. I can’t wait to see what this artist has in store for the future.
iTunes Link - Artist Page (label)
Szymon Kaliski - Out Of Forgetting
Like a fuzzy memory lurking somewhere in the back of your mind this sparse yet fulfilling album will bring forth the feeling that the world is slowing around you. Subtle layers of piano, crackles, and warm beds of ambience will leave you catching yourself staring off into nothing as your mind wanders among the layers of sound rolling through your ears. I love music that can achieve this and I encourage anyone else who appreciates such delicate omnipresent music to give this album some of your time.
iTunes Link - Artist Link