In my experience, most people haven't heard of the Rentals — and most of those who have heard of them only really know them as "that other band that Weezer's old bass player was in." Or the band who wrote "Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad."
That is all technically accurate. The group was started by Matt Sharp while he was still Weezer's secret weapon. And Elon Musk does make him sad. Since leaving that other band, Sharp has continued to release orchestral synth-y power-pop with a rotating cast of musicians under the Rentals moniker over the last 20 years. The group has included performers like Maya Rudolph, the Haden Sisters, Joey Santiago from the Pixies, Patrick Carney from the Black Keys, and many others.
The spaced-out track above is an instrumental mix of a tune from the band's upcoming sci-fi-themed album, Q36. The band has been releasing a new track every 2 weeks, along with a corresponding limited-edition t-shirt and hitRECORD project. And while I liked the regular version of "Invasion Night," I absolutely love this ambient version of it. Sharp cut out all the the vocals, drums, and bass in order to focus on his synthesizer sounds and the guitar work of Nick Zinner (most famously of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and the result almost makes me feel like I'm in the head of Major Tom as he floats to his death.
The video that goes along with it was actually part of the Rentals' 2009 album Songs About Time, which included 365 photographs, 52 short films, and 3 EPs, all created in real-time over the course of a year. Read the rest
Yutaka Hirose is a Japanese composer who was a key figure in that country's ambient/environmental music scene of the 1980s that in recent years has been rediscovered by crate-diggers around the world. Hirose's "NOVA" (1986) is a classic of the genre, a soundscape that Misawa Home Corporation commissioned as a "soundtrack" for the prefabricated houses. While original LPs have sold for hundreds of dollars, WRWTFWW Records have recently reissued the record as an expanded double LP and double CD. (For a further exploration of Japanese environmental music of the 1980s, Light in the Attic Records' "Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990" is a perfect portal.)
To celebrate the NOVA reissue, The Vinyl Factory asked Hirose to create a mix of music he was listening to and inspired by in the 1980s Listen above. It's a beautiful, sometimes-jarring, and totally compelling journey through avant-garde sounds of the time. Here's the tracklist:
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1. Jan Steele – All Day
2. David Toop – Do The Bathosphere
3. Gavin Bryars – 1, 2, 1-2-3-4
4. Joan La Barbara – Poems 43, 44, 45
5. Meredith Monk – Waltz
6. Karlheinz Stockhausen – Stimmung
7. John Cage – Seven Haiku
8. Throbbing Gristle – Almost A Kiss
9. Robert Ashley – Yellow Man With Heart With Wings
10. The Flying Lizards – The Window
11. Henry Cow Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road
12. Faust – Faust
13. CAN – Future Days
14. Tangerine Dream：Rubycon
15. Michael Nyman – Decay Music
In this new 14-minute mini-doc from Noisey, Brian Eno, his music-therapist brother Roger, and producer/musician Daniel Lanois, discuss their 1983 writing and recording of Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks, their soundtrack for the Al Reinert film, For All Mankind. They also talk about the newly remastered Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks – Extended Edition and the 11 additional tracks they created for it.
There is some wonderful stuff in here, like Eno revealing that the country music influences on the record were inspired by him learning that many Apollo astronauts took country with them on their missions. He loved the idea of space frontiersmen carrying the music of an older frontier and decided to try creating a cosmic, psychedelic version of country. He and Roger also talk about how they tried to assume the character of the astronauts as they composed, for example, imagining being Mike Collins staying behind in the command module, and translating that feeling of isolation and awe into music.
There is also a touching moment when Roger chokes up talking about when Armstrong set foot on the moon, and how it seemed that, in a moment, humanity itself had jumped into a different mode, a more hopeful future, and how we now seem to have lost that leap. And that hope.
In case you've forgotten how glorious Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks actually is, here's the remastered version of "An Ending (Ascent)." In the Noisey documentary, Eno reveals that this final version of the track is actually the original piece he was working on played backwards. Read the rest
In 1983, Brian Eno with collaborators Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois released "Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks," a stunning ambient score for Al Reinert's glorious space documentary "For All Mankind." On July 19, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Eno is reissuing that record accompanied by 11 new tracks -- five composed by Brian Eno, three from Lanois, and three from Roger Eno. The new collection is titled "For All Mankind." Above is a video for one of the new tracks, Brian Eno's "Like I Was a Spectator."
More details in this announcement.
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Brandon Hocura of the excellent Seance Centre record label mined his (and his friends') rare and vintage cassette archive to create this sublime guest mix for the Noise In My Head show on NTS Radio. Listen below, preferably with headphones. Turn on, tune in.
Noise In My Head W/ Brandon Hocura (Seance Centre)
Claire Thomas & Susan Vezey - Bright Waves
Pablo's Eye - Blind And Quiet
Mo Boma - Jijimuge Two (Rebounders / Nanga Ningi)
Robert Haigh - Andante (For Strings, Piano, Percussion)
Sebastian Gandera - Chienne De Viel
The Field Mice - Let's Kiss And Make Up
Richard Truhlar - Portrait Of An Interview
Hearn Gadbois - Gaht Mayh Moh8joh3 Woykihn
John Celono - Instrument Flying
Bruce Russell - Indigo Pool
Joanne Forman - Codex
Antonio Zepeda - Cuando Los Dioses Juegan A La Pelota
Roberto Mazza - Artigli Arguti
Peter Griggs - Fragments
John Di Stefano - Nuage
Philip Sanderson & Michael Denton - Maps (Love In A Cold Climate)
Short Term Memory - Words
Houari Benchenet - Katrouli El Mhaine
Jack Charles - Traverse
John J Lafia - Life Is Short
Short Term Memory - Hysteria
John Di Stefano - Culture Schlock
Smith & Erickson - Blue Skies
Tony Wells - End Collage
Pauline Oliveros - Earth
Ellen Zweig & Gregory Jones - Sensitive Bones
Previously: "Keyboard Fantasies: exquisite New Age music you've never heard"
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In 1969, Irv Teibel(1938-2010) released a record that would have a profound impact on ambient and New Age music that's continues to this day. "Environments 1: Psychologically Ultimate Seashore" was the first in a catalog of albums that melded pop psychology with environmental sound recording to sooth the mind. Over the years, Treibel's company Syntonic Ressearch Inc. produced 11 albums with 22 soundscapes ranging from "Optimum Aviary" to "Wood-Masted Sailboat" to "Ultimate Heartbeat."
"The music of the future isn't music," Teibel said.
Now, audio archaeologist Douglas Mcgowan, curator of the sublime I Am The Center New Age compilation that I raved about here, Syntonic Research Inc, and the fine folks at Numero Group have brought the Environments catalog to iOS. Environments is now a fantastic $2.99 app with all 22 remastered long-form soundscapes in easily swipeable form. It's intuitive, beautifully minimalist, and a perfect evolution of the original work. Turn on, tune in, chill out.
Environments for iOS (iTunes)
For the whole Environments story, read: Natural Selection (Pitchfork)
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Imagine the horror of being trapped in a hostile landscape surrounded by snowflakes that were once objects of amusement but now form a blizzard of menacing proportions. Then smile because you're not a fascist, and are merely stuck on a polar icebreaking vessel for 10 hours. Read the rest
Several years back, we posted about the wonderful site youarelistening.to, a strangely soothing mix of ambient music and police radio chatter (!) from various cities. Youarelistening.to isn't the only source of lovely and relaxing field recordings and ambient noise though. Here are a few of DIGG's favorites:
If your cup of coffee isn't giving you the kick you need, flipping on Coffitivity might be a good next step. Coffivity provides the cozy and comforting sounds of a cafe (which can help you focus according to scientific research) in six flavors, including Paris Paradise, Texas Teahouse, and Brazil Bistro.
Mimicking the sounds of the room in the house where everyone does their best thinking, Virtual Shower also boasts a temperature setting that changes the color of the page. You can't hear it, but you'll know it's there.
Another simple one. Flip this year-round-yule log on to hear the crackle of a fire and not much else.
"The Most Relaxing Ambient Sound Sites On The Internet" (DIGG) Read the rest
If you're ready for a break, perhaps Clams Casino's sublimely trippy "Blast" would help get you in a better frame of mind. Read the rest
The mystical, lilting sounds of the great Indian vocalist Lata Mangeshkar feature prominently on this two-track record.
Beautiful video of air currents rippling through grassy knolls in Norway. Read the rest
Slow Walkers is the first release from the hypertalented Portland musician Liz Harris, better known as Grouper, and Australian composer/media artist Lawrence English. It was "born from a mutual fascination with horrific depictions of the human present and future." I can dig that. Slow Walker is a limited edition vinyl of 400 copies from the Peak Oil label. They've sold out, of course, but the record may still be available from your local independent record store. (via OMG Vinyl)
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Brian Eno designed a chill-out room at the private new Montefiore Hospital in Brighton and Hove, UK. It's meant to be a spot for patients to "think, take stock or simply relax." Ortopaedic surgeon Robin Turner orchestrated the collaboration apparently after he saw his mother-in-law finally relax while checking out an Eno installation at a local festival. From The Guardian:
Turner said they intended to examine any physiological changes to people in the Eno room – pulse, blood pressure, anxiety and so on – and there was anecdotal evidence this week when a cancer patient came out and began telling Eno, not recognising him, how wonderful it was. "He wanted a copy of that room at home," said Turner. "The scientist in me says that's not very scientific but the human in me says that makes it all worthwhile."
"Surgeon prescribes Brian Eno to patients"
(above: Brian Eno, 1974, Wikimedia Commons)
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My new ambient-sound-while-working internet radio jam: Brazilian Birds.
(Photo: Toucan eye, a Creative Commons image from doug88888's photostream) Read the rest
[Video Link]. YouTube viewer comment: "I liked the part where they played the opening chords of the symphony."
(thanks, Joe Sabia!) Read the rest
[Video Link, via LAist]
Los Angeles area radio station KPCC produced this lovely video portrait of designer, educator, and media artist Alex Braidwood. His work "explores methods for transforming the relationship between people and the noise in their environment." In the video, you'll see Alex wearing what I believe may be his Noisolation Headphones, "an invention for mechanically transforming the relationship between a person and the noise that immediately surrounds them." His video about that project is below.
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Filmmaker Joaquin Baldwin shares a beautiful new short film with us: composed from footage shot with the Sony HVR-Z5U at some of California's most beautiful wilderness sights.
The title "He Walked Among Granite Spires And Heard Celestial Music" came from a tombstone we found up on a graveyard on a hill north of Mono Lake, contemplated by a Saint Francis statue. It can seen in a few shots of the video. Sigur Rós' heavenly music fit perfectly with that image.
More at Joaquin's blog here, and here's a direct video (YouTube) link. The song is All Alright, by Sigur Rós. Read the rest