GREGG KOWALSKY: L’Orange, L’Orange LP/CD/MC Mexican Summer

GREGG KOWALSKY: L’Orange, L’Orange          LP/CD/MC   Mexican Summer

‘What does the sun sound like?’ asks the press release.  It’s a mystery that never crossed my mind and most likely one we will ever truly find out, if it’s worth asking at all.  No matter, as Kowalsky obliterates any questions that may be directed at himself, with an impressive conceptual 7-tracker that took me completely by surprise.

Warm summer enriched ambient is the order of the day here, with multi-layered pads that compliment each other as a fusion of pitch that sit on a bed of oven baked bass lines.  Lush, high-end pitter-patters are allowed to flow across a sea of ranging drones, never losing sight of essential melody.

‘L’Orange, L’Orange’ is a dreamy album; and one of those releases, which you really have to make some space and time for.  The rewards for the listener are endless here, once you allow yourself to be completely immersed in its tangerine, seamless folds.  It also gains kudos for an ability to have kept me transfixed from beginning to end; and I very nearly just hit ‘play’ once again, as the final notes reverberated out.

9.5/10

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CUT WORMS: Cable Mounds CD/DL Opa Loka Records

CUT WORMS: Cable Mounds        CD/DL     Opa Loka Records

This is Richard Van Kruysdijk’s second full-length under this moniker, once again manipulating a variety of electronic sources and effects to produce a prime slab of ambient, that surprisingly doesn’t tailgate around the bleaker end as I expected.

As far as Dark Ambient goes, Richard has this pretty much nailed on tracks such as ‘Witch Brogues’.  The low-ends drag in an alternate direction to the soaring highs; and the space between is utilised as a playground for other effects.

A variable palate is evident on ‘Cable Mounds’, where sounds cater for lovers of Drone and experimentalism and indeed, fans of analogue synth.  This variation does surprisingly leave the release disjointed in parts; and it’s the direction that suffers somewhat as a result.

Overall though, there is a lot on this latest piece of work to smile about if you separate the tracks into sections; and the sum of its parts more than outweigh the structure as a whole.

7.8/10

ZE-KA: Ghost Planet CD/DL Opa Loka Records

ZE-KA: Ghost Planet         CD/DL     Opa Loka Records

French composer Jean-Phillipe Feiss has a background in classical music that isn’t all that evident on this project, which for the most part loiters with experimental noises until the cellos make an appearance on ‘Red Forest’.

‘Ghost Planet’ is an obscure affair, where the tracks themselves sound like midsections of background scores to a movie; that never actually evolve into full songs (apart from ‘Landscapes’ and ‘Oceans’).  As such, this just adds to the peculiarity of the album as a whole.

This is not to say that this work is bad; it isn’t, not by any means.  Track by track (barring the opening pointless high pitched number, ‘Fission’) there is much to become involved in if you like obscure and disjointed moments of desolate space.  In those aspects alone, Ze-Ka has been successful.

7.5/10

KEDR LIVANSKIY: Ariadna LP/CD/MC 2MR

KEDR LIVANSKIY: Ariadna    LP/CD/MC  2MR

Moscow based Kedr Livanskiy (real name Yana Kedrina) surprised me somewhat with this release.  With imagery conveying something more in a classical vein, this is actually a synth based album that utilises the very basics when it comes to 80’s pop beats and programming; and tops it off with Kedrina’s reverberated vocals, that for the most part appear to be sung in her native tongue.

‘Ariadna’ is an odd affair that captures a desolate empty backdrop to cold abandoned buildings; and it’s anyone’s guess if this is intentional or not.  I will give some kudos for not being able to nail down exactly whom or what this reminds me of compositionally, even if this isn’t the most challenging of works, from a musical standpoint.

For all its simplicity, there is something about Yana’s latest output that is endearing none the less; and if anything, it’s nice to listen to something once in a while that’s not over complicating matters and just gets on with the job at hand.

7.8/10

ORCHARD: Serendipity LP/CD Ici d’Ailleurs/Mind Travels

ORCHARD: Serendipity       LP/CD   Ici d’Ailleurs/Mind Travels

A collective of artists brought together by the label, of which; Aiden Baker is the only name I recognise.  This did help somewhat when listening to the album, as I immediately could latch onto some of his input as a foundation.

When ‘Serendipity’ shines, it invariably is a result of the ambient tracks on offer; and these are more up my street musically speaking.  However, a lot of the project revolves around a varied stream of musical apparatus; and freeform Jazz-esque improvisation and random fannying about will always bring about a pit of inconsolable rage, with me having to endure it in any shape or form.

It would be unfair to completely pull this apart though, as there are some genuine moments of musicality on here, that stand out regardless of musical taste.  As stated before, when they catch an ambient wave, they really nail it.  It’s just a pity the effort it took to listen to so much I dislike, to find such small moments of personal pleasure.

6/10

ANDERS HOLST & YANN COPPIER: Onomatopeia DL Clang

ANDERS HOLST & YANN COPPIER: Onomatopeia     DL  Clang

The press bumpf that came with this release, states that this is a collection of aggressive soundscapes created with live synth, programming and guitars; and as such, on paper, sounded right up my street.

As a whole, this isn’t bad at all.  Without being as challenging as I first suspected, a lot of ‘Onomatopeia’ is ambient driven, regardless of the instrumentation utilised; and is for the most part, a quiet affair where nothing truly kicks off, so to speak.

This 9-tracker has its fair share of experimentalism; and this, directionally speaking, is where it falls short.  When Holst and Coppier concentrate their efforts on outright atmosphere and ambience, they pretty much have it nailed down; with chasms of gritty peaks and troughs that stare upwards to the glassy air driven pads that float above them.

Nowhere near as aggressive as I first imagined; but a fairly interesting affair overall.  There is little on here to be unhappy with for lovers of experimental ambience across all associated genres.

7.5/10

SUM OF R: Orga 2xLP/CD/DL Cyclic Law / Czar of Revelations

SUM OF R: Orga        2xLP/CD/DL     Cyclic Law / Czar of Revelations

Switzerland’s Sum of R, have produced a slow string of releases since their inception in 2008; prevailing with a schedule that focuses on quality over quantity. To the outside viewer, it would be easy to take one look at this duo and assume they fall onto Dark Ambient territory; where in fact, this is just a utilised backdrop to fill out a pot of slow moving, bleak instrumentals.

Analogue sounds are carefully juxtaposed and given space to scratch at the surface of pads and orchestral influences, plying a web of desperation as bars rise and fall in an almost drip-fed fashion.   The end result draws on a sea of morose soundscapes; that are as expansive as they are oppressively engulfing.

The key to any album of this nature; is balance. Sum of R are effective in providing great moments of beauty that tread a finely drawn path, shining a light on much of blackness that prevails within ‘Orga’. The end result; is a gloriously hypnotic album that falls to the depths of vast oceans at the pace of Sunn O))), with heaps more musicality.

9.5/10