Awase, by Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin

Looking forward to the 5.04.18 release of this . . .

‘Awase’, a term from martial arts, means “moving together” in the sense of matching energies, a fitting metaphor for the dynamic precision, tessellated grooves and balletic minimalism of Nik Bartsch’s Ronin.

Six years have passed since the last release from the Swiss group (though Nik Bartsch did release ‘Continuum’ with his group Mobile on ECM in 2016). In the interim, trimmed from quintet to quartet size and with new bassist Thomy Jordi fully integrated, Ronin has become a subtly different band.

The pianist/composer speaks of a new-found freedom and flexibility in the approach to the material, with “greater transparency, more interaction, more joy in every performance”. The freedom here extends to revisiting early Bartsch modules alongside new compositions including, for the first time on a Ronin record, a piece by reedman Sha.

Awase was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the south of France in October 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher. It is released on CD and on a double LP (180g vinyl) with a free download code.

Nik Bartsch (piano)
Sha (bass clarinet, alto saxophone)
Thomy Jordi (bass)
Kaspar Rast (drums)

Awase 1


Nature Mirror, by Darren McClure

“The pieces that comprise Nature Mirror were composed and recorded during late spring 2017, as the rice fields of Nagano were being filled with water and planted. After a long winter, this process is known as “waking up the fields”.

These paddies surround my home area and are a common sight throughout Matsumoto. Punctuated by lines of rice stalks, the water is still and perfectly reflects the environment above and around. The four tracks on this album were greatly influenced by these flat mirrors of water and contain location recordings from these areas. Stillness, parallel lines and nature are represented in the music just as clouds and mountains are reflected in the flooded fields.”
……………………………………………………………………………………………~ Darren McClure


  • Released September 19, 2017
  • Composed, recorded, and mixed by Darren McClure in Nagano, Japan.
  • Mastered by Jason Lescalleet at Glistening Labs, USA

Before Sunrise, by Jeff Greinke

Nice. Not the classic, gritty/darker ambient shades of Greinke – but I’ll still be using a track from this on a future mix.
Rich with harmonic texture and delicate detail, sound-sculptor Jeff Greinke’s BEFORE SUNRISE presents an exquisite arrangement of ambient chamber music. The album follows a natural progression from the composer’s previous works, featuring abstract soundscapes and emotive passages of effortless beauty, created with an abundance of acoustic instruments. Piano, cello, viola, winds, brass, and vibraphone, all blend fluently with Greinke’s own sampled textures, synthesizers, and other electronic elements, resulting in an expansive palette of rich timbres that underscore a nuanced display of ambient impressionism.

Spanning the genres of modern classical, electronic, and ambient, BEFORE SUNRISE gently evolves, flowing through a predominately non-linear structure. The music is characteristically slow-moving, and the balance between composition and improvisation reveals an organic sound that is vital for a dynamic listening experience. The string instruments are recorded in such a way as to highlight the sound of the bow moving across the strings, and this attention to both acoustic details and performance techniques feeds the music’s natural quality. Greinke explains, “I instructed the musicians not to shy away from squeaks and scrapes that sometimes happen while playing such instruments. It’s the first time I’ve really paid attention to those sounds and I made sure to bring those qualities into the mix when appropriate. I find that those sounds evoke a lonely, abandoned landscape that appeals to me.” Indeed, the recordings conjure a desolate, and at times melancholy terrain, while the warmth and depth of the electronic textures offer a lush, comforting blanket of sound.

Greinke takes deep inspiration from the sights, sounds, sensations, and atmosphere of his natural surroundings, and as a result BEFORE SUNRISE is an intimate and spacious work that unfolds with the majestic subtlety of a pre-dawn sky.

Released April 6, 2018 on Spotted Peccary


f o r m l e s s

Ambient | 83:42

Some favorite tracks from ambient days gone by, yet right in step with
the recent Markus Guenter composition.

The cover art started out as a photo of a flock of Canadian Geese flying south . . .

01 Brian Eno – Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960
02 Numina – Lost on Silica Ridge
03 Robert Fripp – Requiem; Affirming
04 The Winterhouse – Winterhouse
05 Michael Whalen – The Heart Of Midnight
06 Lammergeyer – Against the Shore
07 Kirk Watson – Scarecrow
08 Vir Unis – A Mysterious Subatomic Fragment
09 Markus Guenter – Cavus
10 Saul Stokes – Thick Streets
11 Igneous Flame – The Language of Rocks
12 David Helping – Moon Dreaming Thunder
13 Robert Rich – Sky Tunnel



Climata, by Robert Curgenven

Climata‘ is a new [actually 2016] work by composer and sound artist Robert Curgenven comprised entirely of site-specific recordings captured in 15 of James Turrell’s Skyspaces, spanning 9 countries. Each of the individual recordings, with their quiet & slowly changing microtonal interventions made in-situ, interrogate and offer a specific document of weather, location and duration framed by the architecture of the Skyspace – a frame that blurs the distinction between interiority and exteriority – while allowing the physicality of the Skyspace to be subtly rendered audible.

Turrell’s Skyspaces are a specifically proportioned chamber with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky and outside world. The Skyspaces can be autonomous structures or integrated into existing architecture. The aperture can be round, ovular or square – each with its’ own “piece of sky” beneath an ocean of air. These variously shaped apertures let in and frame not only Turrell’s famous light but also sound and its medium, in this case air.

The initial tones you will notice are a by-product of the recording process in the Skyspaces, a technique which brings the air inside the Skyspace into movement against the air outside – oscillating through the ceiling aperture, creating a soft phasing sound, like a whooshing or fluttering where the listener can hear the air move – this sound is about as loud as the sound outside the Skyspace.

The two discs that make up ‘Climata’ were created to be played back to back or simultaneously, in any order and ideally on two sound systems. Together the two 58 minute CDs give rise to hours of unique combinations.

An installation version of Climata was exhibited in the National Gallery of Australia’s Skyspace in 2015 with more site-specific iterations to follow in 2016.

Released April 29, 2016


Veronica III

This mix began simply . . . with the Fripp & Reuter pieces . . . and slowly grew from there. Some of the toughest mixes for me to make are the unplanned ones . . . where I keep adding, tweaking, playing with volume & segue lengths – & then “finish” it; only to add another composition or treatment the next day!

The title originates from the Reuter track & the fact that I remixed this three times (until I was happy with it!) – it’s a Bandcamp-only release; remixed @ our Northern Point Studio with artwork painted/tweaked via 53’s Paper app.

Enjoy, and as always, thanks for your support!
: )


01 Robert Curgenven – Eclipse (excerpt)
02 Jeff Greinke – Night Watch
03 Ekca Liena – Onset Eve
04 Robert Fripp – Broad Chalke
05 Markus Reuter – Veronica
06 David Torn – Reaching Barely, Sparely Fraught
07 Emil Klotzsch – So schläfst auch du
……………………………….(So you sleep, too)
08 Porya Hatami & Arovane – Iaan
09 Ebauche – Chwiać
10 Boards of Canada – Satellite Anthem Icarus
11 Johan Troch – Just A Signature

Veronica III

Listening To Pictures, by Jon Hassell

Jon Hassell

Jon Hassell has announced his first new album in nine years, Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One).

Out June 8, the LP marks the Fourth World pioneer’s first release for his new label Ndeya (pronounced “in-day-ya”), which will also be home to selected archival releases, including unreleased music.

The eight-track LP is inspired by the concept of vertical listening, or “listening to yourself listening,” as Hassell says in the press release.

“Letting your inner ears scan up and down the sonic spectrum, asking what kind of ‘shapes’ you’re seeing, then noticing how that picture morphs as the music moves through time,” he explains.

Listening To Pictures follow’s 2009’s Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street. See the tracklist and artwork below.


01. ‘Dreaming’
02. ‘Picnic’
03. ‘Slipstream’
04. ‘Al Kongo Udu’
05. ‘Pastorale Vassant’
06. ‘Manga Scene’
07. ‘Her First Rain’
08. ‘Ndeya’

This album will be released on


Real Jazz Right Now!

A return to the jazzier side of the elements franchise – beginning with some light-fingered piano styling from Mr. Lightsey & winding down a Jazz & Ether pathway that finishes with a Monk/Train chestnut . . . as they light up your way.

01 Kirk Lightsey – Wild Flower
02 Dave Holland Quartet – 101° Fahrenheit (Slow Meltdown)
03 Adriano Orru – A Sa Muda
04 Otto Lindholm – Fauve
05 Triosk Meets Jan Jelinek – Munmorah
06 Jan Garbarek – The Path
07 Jeff Beck – Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
08 Hal Wilner & the 858 Strings – D. Sharpe
09 Tim Berne & Bill Frisell – M
10 Eberhard Weber – Nuit Blanche
11 Black Swan Quartet – Justification
12 Bill Frisell – Stringbean
13 Satoko Fujii Quartet – Caught in a Web
14 Thelonious Monk & John Coltrane – Epistrophy




Dirk Serries, Epitaph

Meandering through & dissecting this astonishing & breathtaking retrospective of one of the true ambient masters of our time: vidnaObmana, a.k.a. Dirk Serries.
Dirk explores sound, spacing & the distance between darkness, light & the inevitable gray areas uncovered by those polar opposite & opposing forces.

Sonic waves ebb, flow & wash over the listener as they’re immersed in the beautiful, introspective sonance delivered up via Serries’ guitar-crafted ambient sound-work.

Out on double LP & CD on April 8th via Consouling Sounds.

Dirk Serries on this album:

EPITAPH is the swansong of music I like to name my vintage ambient. For more than 30 years I’ve been trying to seek perfection, from synthesizers to electric guitars, a bumpy ride for sure with lots of doubts, frustrations, extreme self-criticism and a few highs and lows but the call kept on strong. This is what I breathe, this is the heart of who I am. But that momentum has arrived to depart from this, not that I’ll abandon my ambient music completely and forever. I do see this expanding as an occasional live entity but in the studio setting I’m looking forward to discover other terrain.

[Me: that “other terrain” has, as of late, been within the realm of eclectic, avant-garde Jazz in collaboration with several different lineups of musicians]

EPITAPH is therefore my finest collection of ambient pieces to date. One, as all were, quite personal and attached as they are performed in solitude with only the imaginative mirror to hold in front of me. Melancholic impressions improvised on the spot with just a guitar and a handful effects recorded directly onto computer. Will for sure continue to emphasize with ambient music but my frame of mind is currently focused on moving forward and applying my techniques and inspiration towards new sonic alliances.

For now I do hope you’ll join me on this closing chapter and embrace this space.”

~Dirk Serries October 2017

1. spectral grey walls
2. shining form constellation
3. alternation and return
4. eaves in dusk
5. the profusion of daze
6. torrential aether shadows
7. formations of grace
8. the nebulous chords
9. brittle air elegy
10. and all the murmur fell


Dirk Serries – Epitaph. Design by Le 7e Oeil, photography by Martina Verhoeven.

Borderland, by Hely

Nik Bärtsch has been busy on the production side of things as of late (with Kali’s Riot) & now Hely – great ritualistic groove jazz (primarily piano & drums). I grabbed both these releases on the day they became available.
Nice work, fellas!
Imagine a Rothko, from the Color Field Painting era: luminous, full of contrasts; layered, extremely saturated, yet all the while, deliberately restrained. An object which was designed to elicit a type of internal, compositional tension that is not only capable of triggering your latent emotions, but that can also invoke that, which can only be described as an expression of the sublime. Now, imagine this in musical form!

Borderland, the sophomore release from the Swiss piano and drums duo (with Lucca Fries, also known from the band Ikarus and Jonas Ruther) called HELY, is a collection of emotionally spiked compositions that sound like a series of intense, vivid, pictographic abstractions. A true feast for synaesthetics! It’s a record that reimagines the relationship between the piano and a set of drums and proposes a unique musical vernacular, one that fuses these two distinctly percussive instruments into an expansive, droning, polyrhythmic tapestry. The sound presented here could just as well be the bastard child of trance-inducing West African drumming traditions and the minimalistic, contemporary, European, post-classical and experimental sensibilities –if the two were to ever cross-pollinate and were presented in the form of an immersive soundtrack.

All the songs found on this album were recorded in just two days, as a series of single and double takes. The session took place under the auspices of producer Nik Bärtsch and sound engineer Willy Strehler, at HELY’s rehearsal space, in a Cold War fallout shelter. The key objective for the duo was to get an honest, context-specific sound, and not worry about anything but the actual performance. Plus, the fellas knew that no concert grand would ever be able to reproduce the magic of their beaten up 1920s Welmar short, with its beautifully uneven reverb and idiosyncratic resonances and overtones. Here, it’s important to note that all of the sound-design-like “special effects” that are scattered about Borderland (if you listen to this record on headphones you will find plenty) were made with the actual instruments.

Borderland is the product of a decade spent honing a singular sound and defining an operational modus which can sustain it in the long term. Novel contingencies between the piano and the drums were thoroughly explored. In the two years leading up to this recording session, sketches of songs were not only collected, but also repeatedly tested, both in a live context and during rehearsals. These thematic blueprints eventually became the core material for this record and were recorded as a serious of live improvisations. This should explain the extremely dynamic performances and raw emotional affect of this body of work.

Thematically, Borderland is a polychromatic sprawl, with each composition presented as a complete universe in its own right. The hidden architecture of every song is wholly an outcome of an emotional tension and the result of two extremely seasoned musicians mining the present moment for it. Hyoga and Opio, for example, explore the hypnotic affects of the drone, with each going about it in its own, singular way. Hyoga relies on a sequence of overlapping, intensifying currents of staccato piano, interspersed with glistening shards of percussion; which eventually explodes into a cinematic crescendo. Opio, by contrast, abandons all of these shimmering, icy qualities and crafts a taut, insular space out of seemingly repetitive combinations of dampened percussion and muted piano strings. Cluster cyclically revisits a cluster of notes, relying on a 10/4 time signature, making it sound completely new and simultaneously familiar with every returning cycle. Chopin SpaceStation revels in a melodic type of poetry, and despite what its title infers, was actually inspired by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Trance, on the other hand opens a field of limitless possibilities around a single note and a pulsating, shuffling breakbeat. It’s one of those songs that feels like it could play on forever. Borderland, the title track of the LP, is what the fellas half jokingly sometimes refer to as “the hit.” The reason for this is not only its simple harmonic backbone, but that it had connected with the audience every single time they played it out. Perhaps the fact that it was born out of personal turmoil is also not coincidental here. And it’s just a ravishing moment on the record. In sum total, all of these songs add up to one rich, highly gratifying, yet unpredictable soundtrack of a journey, through an imaginary space called Borderland.


Released March 26, 2018
Lucca Fries: piano
Jonas Ruther: drums
Music composed by Hely.
Album produced by Nik Bärtsch & Lucca Fries.
Recorded July 2017 in Zürich by Willy Strehler.
Mixed & mastered by Willy Strehler and Lucca Fries.
Cover design by Benjamin Kniel, Photography by Andrea Ebener.
Songs published by Ronin Rhythm Productions & Neonstars Publishing.
Supported by Popkredit Stadt Zürich and Stadt Winterthur.
Text by: Lukasz Polowczyk