PSYCHONAVIGATION / OFFSHOOT / TRANQILLO – Spring 2014

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Oliver Lieb – Inside Voices

Ambien guru Oliver Lieb returns with a new full length and I’m definitely not the only person who is excited for it, so I won’t look silly marking my calendar for July 21st.  The full album will feature eight breathtaking tracks (sadly, we in the media only got to sample two of these, but what we did get is just AWESOME!) and will be a limited edition on CD.  Lieb does not stray too far from previous efforts, creating another dark yet brilliant world, using elements from classical ambient forms from the 90s while taking us into the future into the most uncharted and unexplored realms.  This is nothing short of fantastic.  Fans of his previous works will love this, as will fans of FSOL, Biosphere and Pete Namlook. (4.8 out of 5)

Shammon Delly – Midnight Sessions EP

The title track is taken from the band’s LP but we get a remix via Skam Record’s own Anodyne.  The opening track is the LP version and it stays true to a unique mixture of IDM/electronica, hinting at a prime pile of Aphex Twin’s ambient side with hints of Redeye, Autechre, and B12.  The remix play a little more into the electro side of IDM.  It still has its gentle side but it leans a lot more on synth and engaging loops. We get one B-side here and it’s quite reminiscent of 90s IDM and downtempo.  This is a great EP; well worth a buy. I think this would sound great on vinyl…. (4.7 out of 5)

Steve Stoll – Praxis

One seamless track that is the whole of sixteen combined parts.  Stoll returns to the world of ambient music once again, creating something deep and moving.  Now, given Stoll’s vast catalog and his reputation, you know you’re in for something amazing here.  It’s a cosmic journey, touching on elements of space ambient, dark ambient, and a variety of other bits.  Fans of his earlier releases will not be disappointed, especially those familiar with his FAX work.  If you’re new to the Stoll experience, this is a great way to get introduced.  This is definitely a new ambient classic. Do not let this one slip under your radar. (5 out of 5)

Johnny Yesterday – Alice, Don’t Let Me Disappear EP

An interesting blend of IDM, ambient, retro styled electronica and futuristic infused purple/electro/techno/who-knows-what bring this EP to life. The sounds here are varied and cover a lot of ground and that in itself is impressive considering this EP never sounds like it wanders or isn’t sure what it wants to be.  There is a clear plan here and every sound works.  It is like someone took Aphex Twin, Mu-ziq, Autechre, Art of Noise, and Boards of Canada in a blender and added a strong shot of booze.  I particularly like the fourth track.  Whatever the vocal samples are from, they work a little too well.  Creepy but amusing.  Eight tracks in total make up this EP, which is a cool deal considering that typically would make an LP.  This is a great debut!  (4.7 out of 5)

Lorenzo Montaná – Leema Hactus

Hitting hard on the IDM side of things, this album reminds me of Plaid, and certain Autechre tracks.  The tracks hear bring a lot of variety without losing focus. It’s easy to see why this has achieved so much praise.  Like some of the other recent releases Psychonavigation has pressed, this brings the best of the classic elements of ambient, IDM and techno to the ‘future.’  It’s not quite retrofuturistic but it certainly is groovy.  What’s not to like here?  (4.8 out of 5)

Galati – Mother

A soundtrack to a deeply personal journey, “Mother” brings a mixture of glacial and dark ambient to the spotlight.  Six longform tracks deliver us from the first steps of this journey, as we leave things behind and gain insight and knowledge as we progress.  I’ll admit that I’m not terribly familiar with “glacial ambient” as a genre but I’ve noticed it surfacing here and there on small labels.  I’ve yet to hear it personally until now, of course.  And I have to say that it is quite interesting, and it seems to be a blend of minimalism, drones, space ambient and snippets of a few other ambient oriented genres.  The sound here is powerful, even at its softest moments.  It’s a sonic and mental journey, it’s lonely and yet not alone, it’s dark yet light…. It’s really amazing.  Deep.  There’s ambient instrumentations the hide within the drones, sometimes coming out to shine before weaving back through the waves just below the surface.  There is so much depth here that calling this glacial or drone just doesn’t seem right.  Trust me, it’s good.  (5 out of 5)

Arche – Final Cause

Described as improvised drone and ambient “jams”, this release opens with a soft, somewhat string sounding synth piece.  It sounds a lot more isolated and somewhat more minimal than Galati’s album, however, this does not mean it lacks in depth, emotion or direction.  Some of these tracks are downright haunting.  This is a brilliant album from start to finish, and I’m feeling really spoiled for getting two superb drone styled pieces in a row like this.  Fans of Galati’s album reviewed above, Mystified, Celer, Cinchel and Mytrip will like this.  (4.9 out of 5)

Scale – Tales – via Offshoot Records

From Psychonavigation’s sublabel comes this genre bending piece from Russia.  Right off the bat I’m getting bits of footwork, experimental drum’nbass styled beat processing without the grit, broken beats, the soul of dubstep without the headache, and hints of hardcore and acid.  This is a pretty wild mix to have together in one glass.  This release, I feel, is on the cutting edge of something new that is only just now being touched on.  Planet µ seems to be moving in this direction and I am glad to see that this is starting to take root in other labels as well.  Whatever this genre is going to be called, it certainly is engaging, deep, entertaining and intelligent…. It’s like IDM evolved into some sort of dance guru of higher intelligence, grabbing a few of its fellow electronic genres along for the ride.  Solid… just solid…  (4.8 out of 5)

Federico Masconi – Acquatinta – via Tranquillo Records

Tranquillo is Psychonavigation’s newest division located in Italy, and its debut release is by this guy, Federico Masconi.  We’re back in ambient soundscapes once again, but here we’re getting some organic instrumentation thrown into the mix and fed through the machines.  Acoustic guitars get mixed together with a variety of strange sounds and atmospheres, creating something down to earth but still miles away on a dream.  The result is amazing and mellow, playful and twangy, simple yet complex, challenging and relaxing, and of course, awesome.   This is a good, strong debut release for the new division and I am eager to see what will come next.  Welcome, Tranquillo! (4.7 out of 5)

 

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About Nick H.

I'm a geek for music whether it be on vinyl, CD, 78 or whatever. My goal is to sniff out the greated music on Earth, specializing in the obscure. I make music myself as well, mostly ambient and sound collage (1 album out and a few remixes so far). I work full time as a professional mascot (it pays the pills) but will soon retire, i hope.
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