We're six months down the line in this the year that's supposedly the time where the World is [in some unlikely way that won't be down to us] coming to an end. That is if you believe either the Ancient prophecies of the ages, or that one film that got released some time ago, that attempted to spell out what the end might look like from Hollyw- errr I mean, our point-of-view. If such an outpour of outright destruction and debasement were to occur, then we can at least take comfort in the fact that 2012 has brought about already some interesting releases, both Long Play & Extended Play alike. And while some sites and blogs may already have spelled out the best and the most-loved so far from their own perspectives, we here at Music Review Database take a different approach to half-yearly reflections. I, for one, would rather focus on releases catered towards a genre I have longed to get more into. A genre that, while received less commercially still produces some of the finest listening material for both the ear as well as the mind. I'm talking, of course, about Ambient music. And while one of my new-year resolutions to listen more to what's out there has been [partially] met in this respect, it is the material itself that I am guiding your attention too here. So, without further ado, I present to you a select few of the must-have listens in the World of Ambient music...so far, in 2012 (associated record labels provided in brackets)
36 - Lithea
Dennis Huddleston - the man behind the alias 36 (pronounced Three-Six) - cites (to name a few): Aphex Twin, Tangerine Dream, Max Richter & Photek, as his influences. Whether this is musically, mentally or ideaologically remains unseen, but it's clear to see these artists of the past 30 years flowing through the guy's recordings. Lithea, is no exception; an album much like its artwork, swirls, splashes and sails varying tones and pallettes of colour, it's hard to find that supposedly necessary pigeon-hole to shove this guy into. And across an album spanning eighteen tracks and over 70 minutes of content, the task of doing so only gets increasingly more difficult.
Olan Mill - Paths
Paths' mail-out describes Alex Smalley and Svitlana Samoylenk's partnership as Olan Mill as producing 'unashamedly romantic music'. It's a notion one can not easily deny. But on Paths, the duo can be found ditching their signature composites of piano-led tracks for a more varied collection of traditional instruments, all processed through a digital means that only heightens the intensity to which the duo express their deliveries of such sounds. A beautiful 6-track journeying of accoustics, brass and somber electronics, Paths clocks in at just over 31 minutes in length. But even at its end - much like the state at which you will undoubtedly find yourself in half-way - the response as soon as the listening ceases is quite the striking double of young Oliver's infamous line from the book of the same name.
Atrium Carceri - Reliquiae
[Cold Meat Industry]
For those who love their fair share of dark ambient as much they do the lighter side, then Swede Simon Heath's Atrium Carceri releases are definitely up your street. Reliquae marks Heath's fifth release under this name, and it's safe to say this marks his most shadowy yet most enlightening listen to date. Encompassing both a shadowy industrial edge yet at the same time moving its masterful hands through specks of opaque noir-like flutter, this is an album intended both for the enjoyment of the music and an enjoyment of the experience in equal measure - a remarkable record.
Greg Haines - Digressions
Artists who envoke such a powerfully hard-hitting deliverance of composition, are few and far between nowadays. Greg Haines, a Berlin-based UK musician and composer stands as one of the pinnacle torch-bearers for such a sub-category of the ambient. Digression, much unlike its title suggests, keeps straight to the matter of compiling and presenting to us the finest deliverance of neo-classical ambience and the presentation of said music in an atmospheric and emotional detailing. Passing from each delicate string to delicate string, the record is a finely-tuned moment within the symphonic delicacy that classical musical can so often create. But I guess such a work is to be expected from a man compared, in places, to the likes of Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Simon Scott - Below Sea Level
12k have always had a reputation for some of the finest and favourited ambient recordings of the past 10 years, and Below Sea Level is no exception. Simon Scott - his first release under 12k having departed from Miasmah Recordings - on this six-track forty-three minute piece explores the outdoor and open-minded environment through conventional use of found sound and unconventional placement of guitars and synths through a broader and more minimalized magnitude. Yet the result is neither faltered nor limited because of it. Scott's 2012 offering both tests and tribulates the listener with sounds that invite as much as they withdraw, the confined reaches of electronic exposition.