GAS – Narkopop

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[ Kompakt, 2017 ]

17 years after Pop, Wolfgang Voigt, the fearless visionary behind the timeless techno project GAS and co-founder of the legendary German label Kompakt is back with new material, aptly named Narkopop. Now, if you’re familiar with the music of GAS, you know exactly what to expect: orchestral samples stretched into ambient oblivion, sometimes also complimented with a relentless, hazy techno beat that just goes on and on forever. The music of GAS has no beginning and no end, the lengthy tracks on Voigt’s albums are just tiny glimpses of the endless processes that take place somewhere deep, deep in the primeval woods of Germany, like the hearbeat of Mother Nature herself. Just naming it “ambient techno” doesn’t cut it. At all. This is something much more abstract and primal. This is some Twin Peaks kind of stuff. Highly recommended!

Caterina Barbieri – Patterns of Consciousness

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[ Important Records, 2017 ]

Italian composer Caterina Barbieri likes to keep things simple: a simple synthesizer sequence here, a massive drone there, add a pinch of some good ol’ reverb and you’ve got a whole musical microcosm in front of your eyes. Or rather, ears. Channeling both Stellar Om Source and early Oneohtrix Point Never, Patterns of Consciousness feel like a soundtrack to the retrofuturistic documentary about some of the newest advancements in medicine, sounding both vintage and incredibly polished and sterile, to the point of being antiseptic. No sound is accidental here, nothing gets off the track. It’s as if Tangerine Dream recorded one of their soundtracks in a laboratory instead of a studio. Surgeon synth for the organized. Recommended!

Carlo Maria – Kenk!

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[ Brutaż, 2017 ]

The diverse EP Kenk! by the Berlin-based Italian soundshifter Carlo Maria explores the different possibilities of the mighty Synthesizer: from the opening piece’s melancholic drone, through the lysergic progressive electronic of “Mirage”, reminiscent of many side projects of Emeralds members (quite possibly the highlight here) to the thumping, relentless techno of “Kenk Kenk”). It’s as if Carlo Maria is torn between the dancefloors of Berghain and the psychedelic trips of the early synth masters and he’s trying to find the golden ratio between the two extremes, with a surprisingly interesting results. Add the fact that it’s released on Polish label Brutaż and you get a truly international mix. Recommended!

Various Artists – Mono No Aware

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[ PAN, 2017 ]

The year 2016 might have seemed for some as some sort of end-of-the-world year with all the major changes going on in the US, Europe, or globally in general. The media were keen to fuel the panic with nearly apocalyptic images of protests, terrorist acts and riot, leading many to believe the next Big War is coming. Meanwhile, the team of the Berlin-based electronic label PAN asked themselves a simple question: What is ambient music in the 21st century? With the help of the musicians who released albums on PAN they answer this question: Well, ambient is still mostly about calmness and atmosphere, but in 2017 it’s stylistic influences are much wider than in the 1970’s when Brian Eno coined the term. The compilations title refers to the Japanese philosophical concept regarding being aware to the passing of all things. The ambience on Mono No Aware is “contaminated” by noise, musique concrete, grime, even ASMR aesthetics. It’s indeniably futuristic but also very traditional at the same time, keeping faithful to the original concept or answering to the question of what ambient music is. Featuring tracks by Helm, Yves Tumor, M.E.S.H., Jeff Witscher, SKY H1, ADR and many more, Mono No Aware is an ecletic, yet coherent collection of the 21st century ambient music. Highly recommended!

Çaykh – V I S C 0 2

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[ V I S, 2016 ]

Imagine a vast, sprawling, unknown land full of fascinating places but you don’t have any map and you just get into exploring, not knowing what will happen or what might await you at the corner. Can you imagine this? Well, you’re imagining Westworld V I S C 0 2 right now, a new cassette by the German percussionist Nicolas Sheikholeslami operating under the moniker Çaykh. The cassette is a 1,5-hour sonic maze of what he considers “psychedelic music”. For him, it’s the lo-fi exotica and drum loops patched up with a lot of found sounds and samples. For all the abundance of the sonic weirdness happening there, I can definitely spot some Khun Narin in the mix, which is always a very promising lead. A true gem for all sorts of self-proclaimed musical ethnologists and Sublime Frequencies fans! Highly recommended!

Aidan Baker – The Sea Swells a Bit

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[ A Silent Place, 2006 ]

Blast from the Past! Soothing classic from Canadian-born Berlin resident Aidan Baker, who pursued the perfect Ambience with his guitar and electronic works over the years. The Sea Swells a Bit is one the best and the most famous works by Baker, opening with the hauntingly hypnotic titular track, built around a deceptively simple, repetitive guitar riff later ornamented with some jazzy drumming and glowing drones that make its 20 minute running time a true trip. The following tracks have a much more post-rock oriented atmosphere, with slowly unveiling atmospheric instrumentals and spacious, yet hazy production. Truly a relaxing album to listen to, especially at night. Highly recommended!

Camera – Phantom of Liberty

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[ Bureau B, 2016 ]

Everybody want some fresh, krauty krautrock every once in a while. But not everybody is capable of delivering it (even though countless try their best). The Berlin based unit Camera are the ones who can deliver, true robotik style. They represented the more disciplined, synth- and rhythm-oriented side of krautrock, with hypnotic passages perfect for exceeding speed limits on an autobahn. Phantom of Liberty is equal parts cosmic and ass-kicking, proving taking cues from a 40+ year old genre still works really well. Where Berlin’s synthedelia meets Düsseldorf holy motorik, there’s Camera. Recommended!