NEW MUSIC: John Beltran – Childhood Memories

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It’s the tension and mood of this piece that caught our ear when we came across it online. The way that John Beltran sonically suspends the mood before introducing the tentative snippets of piano that flutter and suggest, like a butterfly unfurling wet wings. The back half emerges with greater weight on the back of swells of synthetic drift that rise and fall with heavy emotion.

This piece comes from Pure Sounds of Michigan an ambient album that invites listeners to take a sunrise-to-sunset tour of Michigan, from coast to coast. The album is set for a May 22nd release on Detroit-based Assemble Sound, and was imagined, created, and released by Michigan’s tourism arm, Travel Michigan as a part of the Pure Michigan campaign, in conjunction with the label.

The music was executive produced and mixed by composer Blair French, mastered by Eddie Logix, and features songs composed by the likes of Michigan-based heavy hitters John Beltran, Waajeed, and Windy & Carl, along with up and coming names such as Greater Alexander, Dave Graw, Todd Modes, and more.

 

FIRST LISTEN: Prudence – Major Tom

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Sydney artist Prudence releases his debut EP Major Tom tomorrow on Bandcamp and streaming platforms. Prudence is songwriter (and bassist for DMAs) Tom Crandles who also releases music as Au.Ra with Tom Jenkins.

Major Tom’s six tracks were recorded in Margate, Kent UK, completed in Sydney and finally mixed in Auckland earlier this year. The results are a kaleidoscopic blend of post punk, new wave melancholia and art rock.

They are songs that dig into dark corners one moment and shine psychedelic colour wheels of sound across the speakers the next. Languid guitar chords hang in the air on songs such as ‘Caramel’ while ‘Save It For Me’ is an intoxicating blend of New Order and liquid pop dance-floor shapes and ‘Euphoria’ is an aching wander through rhythm and dark synth textures.

Major Tom is out May 10th on Forged Artifacts.

 

NEW MUSIC: Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Affluenza

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Two of the guys from S U R V I V E, Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein, who are best known for the soundtrack work on Stranger Things, have composed the music for Rashid Johnson’s dramatic directorial debut Native Son, which was Sundance’s opening night film.

Based on Richard Wright’s seminal novel of the same name, the modern reimagining of Wright’s 1930’s coming-of-age drama chronicles Bigger Thomas, a young African-American man who takes a job working for a highly influential Chicago family — a decision that changes the course of his life. HBO Films and A24 released the film on April 5th with Milan Records releasing the score on the same day.

‘Affluenza’ is a billowing, gaseous synth bed that envelopes the listener with a tense and foreboding quality.

NEW MUSIC: Forest Management – Blue Leaves

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Forest Management is the work of Chicago, IL experimental artist John Daniel, a producer who knows how to expertly blend dissonance and ambience, finding that middle ground between harmonious hypnotic drones and something more unsettling and foreboding. ‘Blue Leaves’ is comprised of pulsing waves of warm distortion that push and pull at the surface of the track, eventually dissipating into the sonic ether.

‘Blue Leaves’ comes from Forest Management’s five track 2019 LP Passageways.

NEW MUSIC: Tristan Welch – Tuesday

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‘Tuesday’ comes from Tristan Welch‘s 2019 album 40 Hours (via Verses Records (a label collective out of Washington D.C.) and it’s quite a mesmerising, slowly unfurling piece of droning ambient music. There’s a gentle swell, ebb and flow to the track, almost akin to an entity slowly breathing. Guitars, effects and a saxophone shape an immersive listening experience.

NEW MUSIC: Josephine Wiggs – Time Does Not Bring Relief

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Best known for her role as bassist for The Breeders, Josephine Wiggs is also a fine composer of atmospheric ambient music. ‘Time Does Not Bring Relief’ is the first taste of her new solo album We Fall. It’s a haunting piano-based, instrumental composition that gently pushes and pulls rhythmically across nearly five minutes, evoking the work of Harold Budd and Nils Frahm. Evocative, textural soundscape music.

We Fall was composed, performed and recorded by Wiggs, with drums and electronics by her longtime friend and collaborator Jon Mattock (Spacemen 3, Spiritualized).

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We Fall is due out May 17th via The Sound Of Sinners.

NEW MUSIC: Henrik Von Euler – F-dur

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As much as we love manic post-punk, sweet alt-country tunes and arch indie-rock, we also love to bliss out to relaxing ambient sounds. Not the cheesy lift music or Muzak or hippie-lite new age bullshit. We’re talking experimental, avant garde composition, whether it be electronic, acoustic or a combination of the two. Think Eno, Harold Budd, Fenenesz, Caretaker or Hiroshi Yoshimura.

This elegant track from Swedish producer Henrik Von Euler this the spot for us with its meditative qualities but in the background there lurks both beauty and distant ominous clouds on the horizon. It’s tranquil yet possessing some darker mystery beneath the surface.

We know little about Von Euler other than he runs the label Flora & Fauna and has been a part of the Swedish electronic scene for over fifteen years with numerous releases on labels all over the world. This track comes from his recently released EP Hemskogen.

NEW MUSIC: Tindersticks Soundtrack ‘High Life’

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Tindersticks and Stuart A. Staples are custom built for soundtrack work, such is their ability to conjure such exquisite and restrained mood and atmosphere, both musically and vocally. They’ve worked on a number of film projects in the past and this latest one by Staples is for the movie High Life, directed by Claire Denis – who Staples has worked with on seven of her other films. His soundtrack and sound design compositions on High Life earned him the George Delerue Award for Best Music at the Gent Film Festival.

Below you can watch the video for ‘Willow’, with lead vocal from actor Robert Pattinson, and listen to the instrumental piece ‘The Garden’ which rises and falls with dramatic tension and poise, a brooding cousin to late period Talk Talk experimentations with its droning bed and searching brass.

Most of the music for High Life was made before the filming. The conversation with Claire started maybe as far back as 2012. There were many ideas I wanted to explore and I appreciated the foresight of Claire and the producers in offering me support and encouragement to do this. As well as work with usual collaborators Dan McKinna, Neil Fraser and Earl Harvin, this afforded me purely experimental recording sessions with David Coulter, Thomas Bloch, David Okumu, Julian Siegel, Seb Rochford and the BBC singers. Several long sketches / pieces were created from these sessions that the eventual score was formed from or informed by. 

And then there was ‘Willow’. a seed of a song shared by myself and Dan Mckinna that eventually grew to be the conclusion of the High life with Robert Pattinson, the lead actor, singing the song in character to his daughter Willow, a theme that runs through the film.

~ Stuart A. Staples