I can’t remember the last time I listened to an entire album from start to finish.
I simply don’t do that…anymore. I used to – when I was 16 & had just bought a new Bowie or Robert Fripp album – I’d listen to the whole album – but then one track would remind me of the guitar riff by another artist…or the bass line would be similar to another song…and I began making cassette mixes (non-segued @ that time) on my TEAC double cassette deck. At the time, I’d hand draw the mix cover-art & passengers in my car would marvel at the creativity it took to put everything together in an enjoyable music mix for the road trip we were on.
And I’ve been making mixes, on & off, ever since (Round 1: 1974 ~ 1990). I had taken a break for a few years – when out of the blue, my 10 years younger brother sent me a cassette mix he had made as a way of thanking me for “saving” him from a Village People fate in which his peer group was immersed. That mix, made with a dual turntable & a mixing board, contained songs from his generation (The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Sugar Cubes, Pixies) & mine (David Bowie, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Ian Hunter) and we labeled it P.H.A.C. – Progressive Hits / Alternative Classics. The series went on for 11 more editions (and, as a side note, I’m restoring a few of them by recording the tape to a digital source). Then Eric enrolled in the Peace Corps and shipped off to Nepal (where he eventually met his wife) and I shipped him 3-4 more editions of ‘After the P.H.A.C.’ – adding acts like Monty Python into the music stream as well as narrated portions using a microphone.
That brings us to, roughly, the year 2000…when I mixed one of my all-time favorites, ‘Lanterna‘ (a tribute mix to the Henry Frayne album by the same name): initially onto cassette, then CD-R in 2004 and digitally in 2014. And I’ve never listened to the entire Lanterna album in toto – only by way of its mixed iteration.
Lanterna can be downloaded free here: Ambient Landscape’s Bandcamp, & will give you an entree into my mixing style.
That mixed reignited the art of making mixes within me, purely as a pastime, (Round 2: 2000 ~ Present) and I stumbled across the Art of the Mix website & joined their online community – posting under the moniker ‘g.a.b. l@bs‘. The site got glitchy after several years (though is still up & running), but the core group of elite mixers to which I palled around with began to fall apart. But I had had a nice run of things from 2000 through 2010 & resigned myself to posting purely on my blog & cross posting to Facebook (our FB account is no longer).
In 2015 I found Mixcloud, a streamlined version of Art of the Mix with better categorization & a worldwide membership of world-class mixers…within all the genres I participated & a lot more – and have been posting there ever since.
Mixes are, for me, the ONLY way to listen to music. When I purchase or download a new album – it goes on my phone only long enough to determine what songs I like & which ones I’ll utilize to craft a new mix…usually within the same genre – but not always (my ‘elements‘ series (Jazz) is a border-crossing mixed bag of classic Jazz, European Jazz (a la ECM) & Ambient…even Classical.
Albums are categorized into folders on my hard-drive, from whence I derive my mix play-lists & the final deliverable which is then rendered with cover art & uploaded to my phone & Mixcloud.
To my ears albums are boring – too much of one artist & not enough derivation. In fact, when shopping for music, one requirement is that it be different enough to warrant my listening attention…yet similar enough to garner inclusion for the next mix project. Thus albums, CD’s & digital collections sit idle until the master (that’s, uhm…me ; D ) hand selects compositions from same as the new mix is crafted.
There are, however, 2 albums which do reside on my phone’s hard-drive & will probably never be deleted:
…just because I consider them near perfection (within their respective genres).
Bottom line is: I love these 2 albums in the entirety! And I’m sure the reader also has his or her favorite.
So there you have it. The plastic & waxed shape of one man’s opinion on the topic of listenable forms of music. The mix is the thing: taking the creative input of artists & reshaping them into something better, something finer, something able to be shared without violating the artist’s creative world…AND, at least within the genres I mix…a final product that actually grants increased exposure of the artist & their work.
Thanks for reading and, if you have a differing opinion…please share it with me. I’ll read it…when I’m not tilting my head sideways to peruse the spines of stacks like these; in search of the perfect tune.
This classical-music based mix was built upon the skeletal structure of
burned out Chevrolets an unreleased mix from 2012, entitled ‘another fripp’ (which was a Robert Fripp inspired mix revolving around his release ‘The Wine of Silence‘). I was never fully enthralled with the final deliverable and would pop it on & off my phone for listening now & again.
Then, this past March, I received a promotional copy of Izumi Kuremoto‘s Late Chrysanthemums, which I very much enjoyed. And in April, I tripped across Daníel Bjarnason‘s ‘Recurrence’ while on Twitter; and the mixological wheels began to churn…
It is one of the more aggressive projects I’ve undertaken in awhile: segmenting tracks, using portions of material or bits of compositions & layering tracks to construct an entirely new & reconstructed f-l-o-w of sound.
The cover art is a nod to an old & strange fiancé of mine, named g.a.b. l@bs – ;- )
Part 1 | 81:11
01 Leonardo Rosado – The Blue Nature of Everyday Var. in Blue #1- Dusk
02 Ambient Landscape – Intro 2 [custom wash]
03 Daníel Bjarnason – BD (excerpt)
04 Robert Fripp – Glass & Breath (excerpt)
05 Izumi Kuremoto – Three Movements for Harp & Strings (1; excerpt)
06 Yo-Yo Ma, David Zinman, Baltimore Symphony Orch – The Dormition of the Mother of God (excerpt)
07 Iceland Symphony Orchestra – Flow & Fusion
08 Ralph Vaughan Williams – In the Fen Country
09 Daníel Bjarnason – Emergence I. Silence
10 Andrew Keeling/Robert Fripp – Miserere Mei
11 Iceland Symphony Orchestra – Emergence II. Black Breathing
Sort of like ambient glitch meets a neo-classical ghost…
Prominent Iranian artist Siavash Amini continues a triptych of works with ‘Subsiding’, an album of instrumental ambient drone. His most full and detailed sound to date illustrates Amini’s ability to bring together modern classical composition with that of controlled noise, granular synthesis, and atmospheric soundscape. Both monolithic and micro sound sculptures coexist within a perfect balance, a mix which makes for an all encompassing listen across the audio spectrum, funereal yet uplifting.
Complete with striking cover photography by Alex Kozobolis, “Subsiding” will be available on glass-mastered CD in digipack sleeves (run of 200) and digital formats.
released November 2, 2015
All music composed by Siavash Amini
Violin, Viola: Babak Koohestani
Clarinet: Soheil Peyghambari
Strings and Clarinets Recorded at Migrain Studio by Pouya Pour-Amin
An antique, experimental mix of mine…from 2003; painstakingly restored on a digital cutting board. I ripped the .wav files from a CD-R, imported them into Audacity & began re-segueing the tracks [Zoom in, Fade-in/Fade-out, Zoom out].
The project was driven by a question that, @ the time, permeated the minds of ALL mixers: “How does one successfully blend Ambient, Experimental, Post-Rock, Glitch & Classical onto a solitary mix?”
01 Brian Eno – Signals
02 Gustav Holst – Neptune the Mystic
03 Firmament – Pinhole View
04 Michael Griffin/David Fulton – Biometric
05 eM – Across the Milky Way (treated/ghosted edit)
06 Roland Ivarsson – Coral
07 David Fulton/Michael Griffin – Plastic & Flesh
08 Pan American – Noun
09 Alien Planetscapes – Energy Fools the Magician
10 Robert Fripp/Andy Summers – Lakeland-Aquarelle
11 Arvo Pärt – Darf Ich
12 Jan Garbarek – Arc
13 Henry Frayne – Dog Days, part 1
14 Sinead O’Connor – Just Call Me Joe
So what makes a good mix?
What separates a “mix” from a collection of songs? And why do some mixers resonate with their genre while others simply record a few similarly constructed tunes onto a playlist?
Here, in my opinion, are the beginning components of what it takes to make an outstanding mix – regardless of genre.
Experiment! I can’t tell you how many mixes I have either scrapped, left on the drawing board or left to sit while i searched for the proper compositions to accompany the “feel” of the mix.
Also – take good notes! This begins with organization in file folders:
Note the tracks you use (partials, excerpts, revisions, etc). I usually make a mix, listen to it, then revise or re-script/re-order the tracks. Once I’ve listened to the final product twice, do I even consider deleting the .aup file created by the software. After numerous revisions, you’ll forget what you mixed-blended-treated, etc. I take notes in note-pad:
Audacity (mixing software) is what I use to craft all my projects. It can do everything listed above as well as rip the output to different file formats (e.g. Bandcamp prefers FLAC files) and excerpt portions of songs for times when you just don’t wanna’ use all 27 minutes of a long-form composition ;- ] (and it’s free!)
And, finally, mix for yourself! If you like it, chances are others will too. But, if not…at least you have something listenable that you can enjoy.
A hat-tip to Dave over @ Low-Light Mixes for alerting me to this release; a track from which is in the works for an upcoming mix.
High Plains is the duo of Scott Morgan and Mark Bridges. Morgan, based in the Canadian Pacific Northwest, is predominantly known for his drifting, textured soundscapes released under the pseudonym loscil. Bridges is an accomplished, classically-trained cellist residing in Madison, Wisconsin. The two met in Banff, Alberta while they were simultaneously there on residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2014.
They first collaborated when Bridges contributed cello parts to Morgan’s generative music app ADRIFT, recorded in Seattle in 2015.
In early 2016, the duo embarked on a collaborative set of compositions in the oxygen thin air of Wyoming, spending two weeks holed up in a refurbished school house in the town of Saratoga, where this album was recorded. Inspired by Schubert’s Die Winterreise and the rolling landscapes of their surroundings, the collaboration culminated in a collection of recordings that evoke a shadowy, introspective and dizzying winter journey. Cinderland takes cues from classical, electronic and cinematic musical traditions but is mostly a product of the rugged, mythic landscape; vast and sprawling with a wild, uncertain edge.
The recording was made with a portable studio and all sounds were sourced on site, most notably from Bridges’ cello, the resident Steinway D piano, and field recordings collected from the local soundscape.
The results are a site specific, wide scope view of the high valley terrain the duo worked in, a mix of analog and digital, neoclassical and modern electronic sounds, a complemental series of tracks to become absorbed in, a truly deep listening experience.
This is a nice, blended album that Mr. Reedy sent to me a week or so ago. It blends sparse, introspective piano with minimal electronic backing & a lot of sentiment contained within the compositions – please have a listen!
The Great Long Distance is an audible recollection of the first 12 months of a long distance relationship, including the highs and lows and moments in between. It is a journal without words, each of the 12 tracks representing each month respectively.
Inspired by the format of NIN’s “Ghosts I-IV“, the album is a sonic tapestry of different moods and themes, with various recurring motifs and the subtle melding of synthesizer & samples; the result something not quite classical, ambient or electronic – rather, an eclectic blend of the three.
#ModernClassical #Ambient #Minimal
As a bonus, here’s an unofficial concoction including tracks from John Reedy (mix begins with ‘Lost Dog’), Markus Reuter & Sha, Dirk Serries, Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer, David Torn, 36 & Svarte Greiner – enjoy!
Note: this has been remixed & upgraded to official mix status & will be released, via Mixcloud, this June.
What do spinning tops have to do with ambient music (one might ask)?
Well…one could field-record their rotating gyrations/machinations & turn that into an extended drone…(I suppose).
But I like them. They aid contemplation, as do ambient wave-tables & sound-slabs.
I ordered 2 for Christmas from ForeverSpin: one Titanium & 1 Stainless Steel. I keep one of them in my trouser pocket (usually the lighter Titanium), and spin them for clients (while instilling leadership content – not simply for the sake of the spin ; D ).
They’re beautiful though; wrought from a single piece of metal…and great for developing strategy & patience. Sometimes I spin them two to three times a day…& sometimes I simply ignore them (go figure!)