Sunday, May 22, 2016
A number of people have taken Cousin Silas’ Dronescapes series to their heart, myself included. I find them utterly fascinating and eagerly await each instalment like a child on Christmas Eve. This month, rather than release another dronescape in all its longform ambient glory, Cousin Silas has decided to put out 6 shorter pieces that all sit comfortably within the 11 to 13 minute range. These pieces are an utter delight: they are long enough to easily convey their respective ideas but not long enough to become repetitive … they are just right in a way Goldilocks would approve, if longform ambient soundscapes were her thing.
I am uplifted by the music presented, uplifted and refreshed in the way only music can and does. I hope you can connect to the music as I have.
A 320kbps version of this release will be available over on Archive for free with a lossless version available on Bandcamp for ‘pay what you want’ which does include ‘free’. If you decide to download this album here for free, and you can with our best wishes, then all we ask is that you please tell people about it.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
For Pete Namlook [1960-2012] & Edgar Froese [1944-2015]
In 2012, ambient composer and musician Pete Namlook died of an apparent heart attack. His passing saddened the ambient music world, and Namlook's music will always stand as a testament to his talent. In 2015, we lost another electronic genius, tangerine dream founder Edgar Froese. I had first come to know Froese through MySpace, and I would send him links to whatever I was working on. Of course, Edgar was supportive of my work, especially my paean to him entitled, “scattered frequencies”, but he hardly saw me as a fledgling musician: “considering how long you have dedicated yourself to your art, I would consider you among my peers. You have developed your own style, and while I am flattered to hear that I have influenced your work, I admire what you have created ... it is uniquely yours.” So I was doubly saddened by his passing – I had really connected with a kindred spirit, and it seemed just as our friendship was growing, he was taken from not only me, but the many ambient artists who were inspired by his group and solo recordings.
Though I never got to converse with Namlook, whenever I listen to his music I get that strange sense of déjà-vu, much like what happened when I reached out to David Borden and Steve Drews of Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co. They both told me how my music hearkened to their halcyon days working with the inimitable Bob Moog in his studio/factory in Trumansburg, NY. It is an honour and a privilege to get such affirmation from the true pioneers in the electronic milieu. And yet, I had already mastered 2015's “homage” so it didn't seem fitting to just squeeze in some pieces dedicated to both men – besides, what I really wanted to do was less of a homage and more of an album in the classic tradition of electronic recordings, and dedicate the album to them in memoriam. And so that is what I set out to do: a gapless album to realize what those albums would have sounded like in their entirety, without the disadvantage of having to flip an LP or cassette over. I also make the album conform to what albums of that nature generally ran: so, no 60-80 minute extravaganzas – a 47-minute and some change aural odyssey through the universe of my mind. In much the same way previous releases “Bremsstrahlung” and “Music From The Pillars Of The Saints” were, this album ebbs and flows with a quality that is sometimes trancelike, and sometimes outerworldly. In fact, if you play this album in repeat mode, you will find that surprisingly everything comes full-circle as well as being cyclical in nature.
In my heart, I know their spirits are listening. And I can hear them doing so.
Montreal, Quebec, 2016
I was intrigued when David Gerard approached me at the start of 2016 with “Awakenings”, pitching it, as he has as a tribute to both Pete Namlook & Edgar Froese. When I received the raw file and listened to it, I was inspired … and a wee bit overwhelmed, if truth be told … it is an exceptional album and a fitting tribute to two giants of electronic music.
Awakenings is electronic music at it’s very best: expressive and utterly beguiling. I really hope you like it as much as I do!
This album will only be available to purchase on Bandcamp.
PS: Big shout out to Tim Jones from Stone Premonitions. I passed the album to him and he worked his mastering magic … not too soft, not too firm … just right … I should call him Goldilocks! Thanks Tim!
Monday, May 2, 2016
I have been working with David Gerard on his upcoming WAAG release ... Awakenings ... for a wee while now and it felt fitting to provide you with some background in the run up to release.
I really look forward to sharing this album with you.
TM: I understand you consider Awakenings a conceptual album, in the vein of some of the most notable releases in your catalogue. How so?
DG: Well Thomas, I tend to operate on two planes when I am inspired to write an album. Sometimes, it's a compilation of tunes in a similar vibe, or that collectively, sound good together. Most of the time however, they are “conceptual” in the sense that I feel the album tells a larger story, and the individual tracks are pieces of a puzzle, as it were. Rubaiyat, The Dream Chamber and Pillars Of The Saints for example, were each conceptualized. With Awakenings I wanted to tell the story of a space mission, from liftoff to reentry.
TM: Would you classify this as “space music” then?
DG: A Conspiracy Of Planets would certainly qualify as space music – and The Dream Chamber was based on a short story I wrote, which has sort of a sci- vibe to it. I'd say Awakenings is more simpatico with those conceptual electronic music albums I grew up on and loved, from folks like Jean Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream.
TM: You dedicated the album to TD frontman Edgar Froese, who passed away last year, and to Pete Namlook, who passed in 2012...
DG: Yeah. I had discovered Pete's work around 2005 or so, when I was just starting out in terms of a making genuine commitment to my music. His sudden death came as a big shock to me, and he was only 51 years old. As someone who has danced on the precipice of mortality, it reminded me of how important one's legacy is to leave behind. Luckily for us, we have the gift of his music.
TM: And of course, you've cited Tangerine Dream as an influence countless times...
DG: Let's face it – they were the preeminent electronic ensemble of the 70's, and certainly as much an influence on my work as minimalist composers like John Cage and Steve Reich. Edgar and I really connected in 2010: he had heard my piece, “Scattered Frequencies” (which I dedicated to him), said how much he liked it, as well as my 2007 album, "Moog Opus No.1". It was great not only to have his friendship, but we had engaging conversations about how we both approach compositions, in spite of us knowing little of each other's native tongue.
I wouldn't go so far as to declare myself standing on the shoulders of giants like him, but I think this album pays tribute to them both through the music and the styles. I never realized how much my work had in common with Pete's until I starting combing through his back catalogue. It was just like the shock I felt to discover my early albums hearkened to Mother Mallard, though I'd not yet heard of them or their music.
TM: Speaking of which, the album art for Awakenings reminds me of one of Froese's earlier recordings.
DG: Another weird coincidence: I was playing around with different ideas for the artwork. I posted a mock up on my Facebook page, when musician Christian Fiesel and others came forward to say it was reminiscent of Froese's second solo disc: "Epsilon In Malaysian Pale". I googled the album art for it, and I was like, “cue the Twilight Zone music, - dada, da, da....." That makes the dedicatory nature of Awakenings even more fitting.
Awakenings (waag_rel085) will be released on 6th May via Bandcamp.