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Reviewed this week
On the back of Kompakt's expansive retrospective of his work under the Gas alias, the essential Box, Wolfgang Voigt has decided to deliver a new album - his first for 17 years. Predictably, Narkopop is as cinematic, widescreen and densely layered as anything the German ambient producer has done to date. Over 11 spellbinding tracks, Voigt blends field recordings and droning electronics with sweeping, almost orchestral movements, swirling melodic cycles, and occasional forays into rhythmic hypnotism. The result is a collection of "wall of sound" ambient compositions that does a terrific job tiptoeing the fine lines between both grandiosity and intimacy, and joy and pain. In a word: essential.
Jamie Tiller and Tako's Music From Memory now present Gaussian Curve's second album entitled The Distance. Comprised of Amsterdam's 'Young' Marco Sterk on machines, Melody As Truth boss Johnny Nash on guitar and Italian ambient hero Gigi Masin on synths. The trio follow up 2014's wonderful Clouds LP with more dreamy and ethereal balearica ("Suspended Motion") by way of vague kosmic rock flourishes ("T.O.R.") and bluesy tones like on the lush "Last Breath". Much like its predecessor, the album had been recorded in a mere few days in Sterk's studio near the city's infamous Red Light District and this opus could potentially be held in such high regard by critics too. It's a superb effort from start to finish and highly recommended.
Featuring dialogue by Oscar nominated actress of the silver screen Joan Lorring, Norwegian ambient legend Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere presents two atmospheric and moody excursions into the deep. The man behind such seminal releases like 1997's Sub Strata LP presents "Black Mesa": a deep and mesmerising IDM cut interspersed with samples from the 1936 film The Pertrified Forest. Then we have got the brooding ambient house epic "Turned To Stone" with its breathtaking strings arrangement supported by hypnotic synth textures and chilled beats. Jenssen never fails to impress over his 30 year career and this fine EP is no exception.
Montreal's Pheek has been an integral part of the so-called 'downtempo' movement since the early 2000s, and it would be fair to say that the producer has certainly played a part in Canadian house's rise over the last decade. Specialising in all forms of the genre, from ambient through to tech or even the deeper end of the spectrum, there isn't a single bad slice of Pheek, and his long-standing Archipel imprint is testament to that. Known for his extended releases, this new Intra album is over twenty tunes long, but we are not at all surprised by this feat. Of course, we appreciate the span of the man's work but that's just to say that we are used to hearing him express his shade of ambient in such fashion. To cut a long - and handsomely crafted - story short, this albs is a veritable journey through the deepest and most introspective corners of electronica. An album that could almost work as a soundtrack for a Denis Villeneuve film, it is in a constant state of flux, and its diversity is endlessly compelling throughout. Our advice is to lose yourself in it. Masterful.
When Ben Thomas launched his BNJMN project some years ago, it was a radically different proposition to what he presents on the first release on his own label, Tiercel. "Mass Condcutor" sees the UK producer deliver a frenetic percussive assault to support wave upon wave of droning noise. It's about as far removed from the lush deep house that he originally made his name with. "The Greater Void", with its swirling ambient sound scapes also emits a frosty atmosphere. Meanwhile, on the title track, rickety percussion and a searing acid line unfod over a stepping rhythm that grinds with all the intensity of an angle grinder slicing its way through lead.