Whitelabrecs Best of 2020 List

It’s been a strange old year, as pretty much anyone reflecting on 2020 is likely to conclude. I’ll see if I can write this without mentioning Covid-19. Failed already.

As many of our followers will know, our schedule of physical releases hit an unplanned break in April, due to the closure of our local post office. We also felt that even if it were to be open, it wouldn’t be right to stand in a queue of people to ship packages a few times a week. So we decided to stop all of our plans completely. Before long, we launched into another project: Home Diaries. 30 albums from 30 artists later, we were into the warmth of July and were delighted to release our CDs again! We summarised Whitelabrecs related things in our last post, so I think the Whitelabrecs story ends here for now as far as this post is concerned.

Aside from a seriously busy year of running Whitelabrecs and even making some of my own music, I also feel that in 2020 I was able to listen to more music than I ever manage in an average year. I’ve been working from home as well as having time away from work altogether, which resulted in lots of DIY. Any household chore or job for me will always involve music. The washing needs to go on the line – it takes 5 minutes – that’s a track that can be played. Glossing every radiator in the house for example, gives time to take in a few albums! The shortlist really swelled this year and as always, my list is not about the best executed record or the perfect sound. It’s about the feeling it created for me, and how well I connected with it. I want to listen back to the records in this list in a decade or so and be taken back to this year, as strange as it was.

I stopped writing on the Irregular Crates blog a while back and this is where I’d normally announce a ‘best of’ list. But we set up Wallofambient this year alongside some other ambient labels and it’s been a bit of a consideration on whether I would post my list there. As I finalised it though, I realised several albums I’ve chosen are not ambient… so I didn’t want to annoy the ambient purists too much.

So I’ve decided to share it on the Whitelabrecs page this year and I’m sure there will be a few Ambient purists that are disappointed in my selections! Hopefully you’ll find some gems here though still. I’ve made no secret of my wide open taste in music, probably influenced by my microscopically successful DJ career, which I still look back on nostalgically. This influences my curation of Whitelabrecs and the sound we put out. Sure, the label sound is ambient overall, but you’ll see that generally I favour a melodic, melancholic or textured sound. I’m sure this is linked to a taste that dabbles in Dub Techno, Drone, Jazz, Liquid Funk, African Music, Chillhop, Deep House, Modern Classical, Funk, Folk, Field Recordings, Bossa Nova and many other styles.

So if you click the big yellow image of Port Isaac in Cornwall (from our holiday in September), you’ll be able to listen to a mix which is a countdown show of a track from each album in my top 25. My wife Beth has kindly leant her voice to provide the countdown and I added some delay and reverb effects just for fun. Below you can see a gallery of the cover art for the list of 25, as well as my thoughts on each album:


1st:
Bibio
Sleep On The Wing
Warp

At the top of my list ever since the night I noticed this new Bibio record emerged on Warp. Definitely the soundtrack to late summer for me, and I played it in the car on our family holiday to Cornwall a lot this year. So this will be a very nostalgic record for me in years to come. The use of instrument, particularly strings is a perfect blend and it’s one of those albums you can easily listen through in full. It retains your interest too with its variety of moods.

https://warp.net/releases/189049-bibio-sleep-on-the-wing


2nd:
Melody Gardot
Sunset In The Blue
Decca

I was sat listening to jazz fm in the car when an advert for Melody Gardot’s album came on. It was starting to get pretty wintry and thoughts turned to Christmas – the lush string arrangements in the snippet of audio I heard urged me to listen to the album on Spotify. I literally listened to the album over and over that whole weekend; I decided I couldn’t live without the double LP too. This isn’t necessarily my usual taste as it’s singer-songwriter stuff. But it really is just so so good all the way through. The Philharmonic orchestra certainly help, as the whole arrangement in every single track is perfect. Nearly my album of the year, this…

https://store.universalmusic.com/melodygardot/


3rd:
Offthesky & The Humble Bee
We Were The Hum Of Dreams
Laaps

This record for me was the clear winner for 2020 right up until I discovered the top two in my list. It came out at around the time the lockdown kicked in here in the UK. I was doing lots of DIY jobs around the house and the expert sound design from these two masters was just the perfect tonic to long, slightly strange days stuck indoors. There’s so much detail to get lost in, yet it still sits in the ambient genre which allows you to drift as you listen.”

https://laaps.bandcamp.com/album/we-were-the-hum-of-dreams


4th:
Loving
If I Am Only My Thoughts
Last Gang

Out in January, this one escaped me to the point when the vinyl versions had long since gone. This is a small band creating hushed ‘indie’ music, dare I say. The tones of the guitar, keys and vocals are warm and enveloping. Every single track in the album is excellent and again, the sign of a top album is one you can listen to in one sitting, without feeling the need to hit ‘skip’.

https://loving.bandcamp.com/album/if-i-am-only-my-thoughts-2


5th:
Inventions
Continuous Portrait
Temporary Residence

This album was always set to be good with the combination of talented artists Eluvium and Explosions In The Sky. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting however, as this set of fun folk ambient tracks are full of twists and turns. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and some of the samples or recordings will make you smile, whereas there are also plenty of moments that are truly beautiful.

https://inventions.bandcamp.com/album/continuous-portrait


6th:
Mute Forest
Riderstorm
Lost Tribe Sound

It was another solid year for Lost Tribe Sound with another excellent series of releases. My favourite was Mute Forest’s Riderstorm, a blend of soft rock, folk, Americana and the lightest touches of electronica. Some of the pieces are instrumental whereas others make use of Kael Smith’s song-writing and vocals. There is a generous palette of instruments used throughout but a sparse, intimate feel to it too.

https://muteforest.bandcamp.com/album/riderstorm


7th:
Mathieu Karsenti
Bygones
Slowcraft

Over the years, Modern Classical ambient music has featured heavily in my favourite records of the year. Generally, I’ve relied on household names such as Arnalds, Frahm or Jóhannsson but this year, I discovered Bygones by Mathieu Karsenti as my favourite classically influenced record. The strings and arrangement of the instrument tones are as rich and lavish as you’d find in music by these household names and that’s likely due to the fact that Karsenti is a film score composer. Only gripe is that this one’s digital only… would love to own it on vinyl!

https://slowcraft.bandcamp.com/album/bygones


8th:
Matthew Halsall
Salute To The Sun
Gondwana

I’ve been following the work of trumpeter, jazz artist and Gondwana label owner Matthew Halsall since his album Colour Yes and pretty much own all of his albums. There’s a rich and vibrant feel to all of his work but this latest album, ‘Salute To The Sun’ there’s a slightly more exotic, ‘world’ feel to it in places with more than a nod to Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane. I’ve listened to this a lot since the beautifully designed CD arrived and wonder whether this might be higher up the list if I’d have been listening back in the summer.

https://matthewhalsall.bandcamp.com/album/salute-to-the-sun


9th:
Less Bells
Mourning Jewelry
Kranky

Kranky have a knack for releasing some real acoustic ambient classics and some of the finest albums blending acoustic instruments into melancholy drones. Stars of the Lid are the obvious stand out. This one by Less Bells was subject to a lengthy pre-order with a sample track available to whet my appetite. I knew this would be right up there from that very first listen and this one’s been a regular in my playlist this year. It has everything – variety, strings, texture, tasteful choral vocals, echoes of other stringed instruments and swells of cathedral drone.

https://lessbells.bandcamp.com/album/mourning-jewelry


10th:
Roméo Poirier
Hotel Nota
Sferic

There was a repress this year of Romeo Poirier’s excellent Plage Arriere but before this, the jazz flecked electronic sound art of Hotel Nota really impressed. An inevitable comparison to Jan Jelinek or Jon Hassell can be drawn but you’ll get past that to enjoy Poirier’s approach to composition and enjoy the enveloping detail of these works. I own it on vinyl and that really adds an extra layer of dust that gives another dimension.

https://sferic.bandcamp.com/album/hotel-nota


11th:
Alabaster DePlume
To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol. 1
International Anthem

“I listened to a fair bit of jazz this summer, particularly the more experimental or hushed works or slower, spiritual jazz. Discovering this album by Alabaster DePlume was quite something and from the opening moments of Visit Croatia, these restful woodwind, strings and guitar compositions were a welcome sonic backdrop for warm summer days indoors.

https://intlanthem.bandcamp.com/album/to-cy-lee-instrumentals-vol-1


12th:
Soulstatejazz
Annwn
Banoffee Pies

I’ve followed the work of Tom Ellis for years, since my DJing days. He originally produced a deep, minimal micro House style and it was interesting to see him branch into a live approach, focusing on jazz and soul. This year I’ve spent a lot of time listening (and mixing) house music and it’s disappointing to me that I don’t represent this in my end of year list. However, this record bridged my attempts to make DJ mixes again with my taste for jazz music too. It starts with a beautifully deep sax and Rhodes reprise and there are some slow, leisurely House jams intersecting this beautifully deep record.

https://soulstatejazz.bandcamp.com/album/annwn


13th:
Tomotsugu Nakamura
Literature
Laaps

Laaps has quickly established itself as one of the finest ‘ambient’ labels around, following on from the success of the Eilean imprint. This one from Japanese artist Tomotsugu Nakamura has been in my car CD player for most of the year and has been a calming ‘return to the office’ record, sounding particularly nice in the sun. Acoustic sound sources, reversed notes and clicks and cuts nod nostalgically back to the mid-2000s.

https://tomotsugu.bandcamp.com/album/literature


14th:
Okkyung Lee
Yeo-Neun
Shelter Press

This record by Okkyung Lee has caused quite a stir this year and I’ve seen plenty of positive reviews and comments in the press. Lee is a South Korean cellist and her album goes far beyond the cello, as piano, low slung bass and harp amongst other creaks and clangs which makes for a playful but at times, spooky record.

https://shelterpress.bandcamp.com/album/yeo-neun


15th:
Sinerider
Moonflowers
Dronarivm

Dronarivm is a label that you tend to expect to provide high quality year-end list esque material every year. In 2020, pick of the bunch for me is this beautiful ambient album by Sinerider, a range of woozy, hazy sun-speckled guitar drones. Some of the tracks are blurry, some are more open loops but this for me has to be one of the finest ambient-leaning albums of the year, something you can easily sink into at any time, and drift away.

https://dronarivm.bandcamp.com/album/moonflowers


16th:
Gastón Arévalo
Terrain
A Strangely Isolated Place

When I first discovered ambient music, through netlabels, I also fell across the work of Gaston Arevalo whose sound was often a mixture of field recordings and experimental, electronica influenced ambient. I must admin, I have not followed his discography for a good number of years but this mammoth collection of deep listening-drones on A Strangely Isolated Space was a big hit for me this year, particularly late at night. At an hour long, it needs plenty of time to give it your attention and is best enjoyed as a whole.

https://astrangelyisolatedplace.bandcamp.com/album/terrain


17th:
Morimoto Naoki
Dusk To Dawn
Lontano Series

“Lontano Series have emerged as a strong label in the ambient scene and this album by Morimoto Naoki is really quite something. It’s a collection of static-riddled electro-acoustic moods, full of warmth and light melancholy. It’s difficult not to think of the 12k label when listening to this and for me, it’s easily one of the finest ambient records of the year.”

https://lontanoseries.bandcamp.com/album/dusk-to-dawn


18th:
Andrew Wasylyk
Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation
Athens Of The North

.

https://andrewwasylyk.bandcamp.com/album/fugitive-light-and-themes-of-consolation


19th:
Mell-ø + Ambulo
Afloat Again
Chilled6Cow

I’ve been a fan of chillhop for a few years now and several of these short, chilled instrumental hip-hop eps and mini albums are in my headphones over the course of any given year. I was really impressed with this one by Mell-ø & Ambulo, with beautiful licks of smooth guitar taking centre stage.

https://mellomusicnl.bandcamp.com/album/afloat-again-ep


20th:
Footshooter
Libations & Movement
Dance Regular

“I discovered this one early this year and it sort of started my interest in beat driven music as I looked for some styles to help keep a level of positivity throughout the pandemic and its lockdowns. This one’s billed as an EP but the length is more like an album. The tracks use a street-wise London approach in the beats and vocals, but there’s a nu-jazz, broken beat and house influence running through too with some really clever production. There’s even a short ambient piece in amongst these tracks!”

https://footshooterbeats.bandcamp.com/album/libations-movement-dance-regular


21st:
Session Victim
Needledrop
Night Time Stories

I’ve got all of the Session Victim albums and have long since been a fan but Needledrop is easily a favourite, and an early contender for album of the year. This artist is often filed under house but in this record, there’s a beautifully adept ability to create downtempo, soulful tracks too. Waller and Pierce for me is the stand-out track with smooth and deep soulful vocals.

https://sessionvictim.bandcamp.com/album/needledrop


22nd:
Misha Panfilov Sound Combo
Days As Echoes
Funk Night Records

“.”

https://mpsc.bandcamp.com/album/days-as-echoes


23rd:
Leon Revol
Enter A Zircon
Church

I’ve been enjoying Ryan Bissett’s work as Halftribe for quite some time now and a jaw dropping moment occurred not long after I hit play on ‘Backwater Revisited’ from the trusty Dronarivm label. The record features synth and electro acoustic tones, drenched in reverb and a tasteful hint of chorus. Plenty of crackle and space between the lines to allow for a glistening, wintry backdrop. The artwork features an adaptation of open source imagery by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis from back in 1908 and this rustic, vintage cover fits in perfectly with the blanket-like folds of Ambience Ryan created here.

https://www.juno.co.uk/products/leon-revol-enter-a-zircon/773858-01/


24th:
Fabiano do Nascimento
Preludio
Now-Again

“I’ve always been into bossa and Latin music since my late teens, so occasionally I’ll discover something within these categories that I end up playing a lot, particularly in the summer. This one by guitarist Fabiano do Nascimento got some serious hammer and I found I played it a lot at around breakfast time. It’s got great variety and depth and has been pretty uplifting for a heavy old year.”

https://fabianodonascimento.bandcamp.com/album/prel-dio-2


25th:
Domenique Dumont
People On Sunday
The Leaf Label

“It happens every year; I finish agonising over my end of year list after months of shuffling my ‘chart’, casting an eye over everything I left out… then I happen to discover something wonderful in December. I’d already made my end of year mix and just had to swap in this album by Latvian artist Domenique Dumont, which had been on repeat all day. There’s a child like sense of wonder about all of these playful synth melodies and rhythms that I just can’t escape. I’ll state the obvious: a few more weeks of owning this, how high up this list might it have been?”

https://domeniquedumont.bandcamp.com/album/people-on-sunday

Out Now! Spring Quintet – Raven, Raven, Raven

The summer schedule continues, as we welcome a collaboration between Montreal, Canada based artist Stefan Christoff and Milan, Italy based sound artist Matteo Uggeri. The record sees a live recording between Stefan and his fellow musicians at Casa Del Popolo, a music venue  in Montreal passed to Matteo who provided further processing, samples and field recordingsRaven, Raven, Raven is a modern classical micro-symphony, featuring piano, cello, violin, double bass and tabla and the packaging includes the paintings of Chris Day. This will be available in 2019’s signature gatefold-LP style CD, in a run of 100 copies  and we’ll release this officially on or around the 27th of July 2019. This has wide influences so is difficult to classify but should appeal to you if you like Peter Broderick and Machinefabriek, Andrea Ferraris and Matteo Uggeri or Guy Gelem.

Raven, Raven, Raven is available now after having been released to subscribers of our mailing list last weekend, who had the first opportunity to grab a copy. These have been going well but we still have some copies left at the time of writing and you can buy one of these or grab a digital copy by clicking the link below or image above. To avoid missing out on future releases, you can join our mailing list HERE

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/raven-raven-raven

 

 

press release
“We’re pleased to announce our sixtieth release, which is a collaborative project between renowned musician and Montreal, Canada activist Stefan Christoff and Italian sound artist Matteo Uggeri, as well as musicians Claire Abraham (Cello), Fern O’Dactyl (Violin), Peter Burton (Double Bass) and Will Eizlini (Tabla).

‘Raven, Raven, Raven’ is a longform piece which originates from a live performance at Casa Del Popolo in Montreal, between Christoff and the aforementioned musicians. The ensemble performance was for a benefit show at the Native Friendship Centre and at a later date this was subsequently passed to Milan-based artist Matteo Uggeri, who had previously collaborated with Stefan through their mutual contact Vasco Viviani, owner of Old Bicycle Records. Matteo was tasked with the opportunity to deconstruct, rearrange and rebuild this raw recording as well as to adorn it with additional layers of sounds. Matteo’s own take on the original work took up a new approach to something that was originally live and flowing and once each artist had their own space in which to bring their own separate ideas, they then spent a slow period of regular communication via email during which the project gathered the momentum to eventually achieve the final results which have been beautifully mastered by Ian Hawgood.

‘Raven, Raven, Raven’ still flows like a live record, as if Matteo was there, present at this intimate live music venue, playing to the small crowd. Field recordings, samples and radio static blend through the individual movements of this modern classical micro-symphony in a seamless way. The album is intended to be gapless, playing continually both as the single track on the CD or as the split 5 movements within the stream or digital version.

The title to this body of work reflects back to how the original concert performance was set up to help support indigenous programs for people struggling with homelessness and poverty, with birds not only being particularly important in poetics, but also in different indigenous cultures too. It is often a symbol and this motif repeats itself within the recurring themes throughout this recording both within the music and the beautiful packaging, which features paintings by Chris Day and graphic design which Matteo also contributed to. Both Stefan and Matteo care deeply about human rights and the playful composition they have produced alongside this group of musicians represent this, with characterful glints of hope and freedom.”

credits
Originally recorded live at Casa del Popolo, Montreal 2017
Written and produced by Stefan Christoff and Matteo Uggeri
Claire Abraham (Cello)
Fern O’Dactyl (Violin)
Stefan Christoff (Piano)
Will Eizlini (Tabla)
Peter Burton (Double Bass)
Matteo Uggeri (Field Recordings, Effects, Samples)
Assembled and mixed by Matteo Uggeri between 2017 and 2018
Mastered by Ian Hawgood in 2019
Artwork by Chris Day
Packaging design Matteo Uggeri

Coming soon…Spring Quintet – Raven, Raven, Raven

The summer schedule continues, as we welcome a collaboration between Montreal, Canada based artist Stefan Christoff and Milan, Italy based sound artist Matteo Uggeri. The record sees a live recording between Stefan and his fellow musicians at Casa Del Popolo, a music venue  in Montreal passed to Matteo who provided further processing, samples and field recordingsRaven, Raven, Raven is a modern classical micro-symphony, featuring piano, cello, violin, double bass and tabla and the packaging includes the paintings of Chris Day. This will be available in 2019’s signature gatefold-LP style CD, in a run of 100 copies  and we’ll release this officially on or around the 27th of July 2019. This has wide influences so is difficult to classify but should appeal to you if you like Peter Broderick and Machinefabriek, Andrea Ferraris and Matteo Uggeri or Guy Gelem.

Whitelabrecs low-run releases will be made available suddenly without official release dates, meaning they’re likely to sell out fast. The best way to keep informed is to join our mailing list which can be located through our website menu or you can click HERE

press release
“We’re pleased to announce our sixtieth release, which is a collaborative project between renowned musician and Montreal, Canada activist Stefan Christoff and Italian sound artist Matteo Uggeri, as well as musicians Claire Abraham (Cello), Fern O’Dactyl (Violin), Peter Burton (Double Bass) and Will Eizlini (Tabla).

‘Raven, Raven, Raven’ is a longform piece which originates from a live performance at Casa Del Popolo in Montreal, between Christoff and the aforementioned musicians. The ensemble performance was for a benefit show at the Native Friendship Centre and at a later date this was subsequently passed to Milan-based artist Matteo Uggeri, who had previously collaborated with Stefan through their mutual contact Vasco Viviani, owner of Old Bicycle Records. Matteo was tasked with the opportunity to deconstruct, rearrange and rebuild this raw recording as well as to adorn it with additional layers of sounds. Matteo’s own take on the original work took up a new approach to something that was originally live and flowing and once each artist had their own space in which to bring their own separate ideas, they then spent a slow period of regular communication via email during which the project gathered the momentum to eventually achieve the final results which have been beautifully mastered by Ian Hawgood.

‘Raven, Raven, Raven’ still flows like a live record, as if Matteo was there, present at this intimate live music venue, playing to the small crowd. Field recordings, samples and radio static blend through the individual movements of this modern classical micro-symphony in a seamless way. The album is intended to be gapless, playing continually both as the single track on the CD or as the split 5 movements within the stream or digital version.

The title to this body of work reflects back to how the original concert performance was set up to help support indigenous programs for people struggling with homelessness and poverty, with birds not only being particularly important in poetics, but also in different indigenous cultures too. It is often a symbol and this motif repeats itself within the recurring themes throughout this recording both within the music and the beautiful packaging, which features paintings by Chris Day and graphic design which Matteo also contributed to. Both Stefan and Matteo care deeply about human rights and the playful composition they have produced alongside this group of musicians represent this, with characterful glints of hope and freedom.”

credits
Originally recorded live at Casa del Popolo, Montreal 2017
Written and produced by Stefan Christoff and Matteo Uggeri
Claire Abraham (Cello)
Fern O’Dactyl (Violin)
Stefan Christoff (Piano)
Will Eizlini (Tabla)
Peter Burton (Double Bass)
Matteo Uggeri (Field Recordings, Effects, Samples)
Assembled and mixed by Matteo Uggeri between 2017 and 2018
Mastered by Ian Hawgood in 2019
Artwork by Chris Day
Packaging design Matteo Uggeri

Out Now! Hipnotic Earth

Next up on Whitelabrecs, we welcome California, United States based artist Hipnotic Earth with a beautiful Electro-Acoustic ambient album which includes a wealth of delicate textures including instrument soundssynth dronesprepared-piano style creaks and birdsong as well as a careful use of silence. The album is fittingly titled ‘Suspended In Silence‘ and is mastered by Ambient legend Robert Rich. This will be available in our new look gatefold-LP style CD packaging for 2019, featuring coastal photography provided by Cosmos Rennert, the man who records as Hipnotic Earth. We’ll release this on or around the 11th of May 2019. Those who follow artists such as Nils FrahmPolaroid Notes or Valotihkuu should enjoy this!

Suspended In Silence is available now after having been released to subscribers of our mailing list last weekend, who had the first opportunity to grab a copy. These have been going well but we still have a few left and you can buy one of these or grab a digital copy by clicking the link or image above. To avoid missing out on future releases, you can join our mailing list HERE

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/suspended-in-silence

press release
“Hipnotic Earth is an electro-acoustic ambient soundscape project birthed from a deep need for quiet, slow motion music; from a carnal urge toward silence. California, USA based artist Cosmos Rennert’s project began dramatically when in 2015 the scheduled release of his debut album ‘Essence’ was missed when his home in the hot springs of Harbin, Northern California burned down in a sudden wildfire which swept the community. His home, studio, possessions, work place and the tiny town in which he lived succumbed to the flames. He is now deeply grateful to be able to continue recording and we’re pleased to present, a record which sees a departure from Cosmos’ usual style of sleepy drones.

‘Suspended In Silence’ is the second in a series of three completed albums presenting a new, more melodic direction. Continuing with spacious, evocative and immersive drone-based tonalities, the vast majority of these pieces are one-off improvisations that were recorded during the mornings of mid-2018 in the wine country of California. Here there is a love for not remembering how a song is made. The modus operandi is quite spontaneous, be it the recording process or sound design and mixing of additional colours afterwards. Simply in
the moment with no agenda, this music strives for eternal endings and slow rotations around an axis of serenity. During the recording of these tracks birds and other creatures would sometimes meander into the apple orchard where the studio is located. They seemed to
be drawn to the music as if they wanted to be on the album and occasionally, their wish was granted!

Previously steeped in a tradition of dance music, tribal drumming and Jazz, Cosmos has a long love affair with live looping as a tool for both rhythmic and textural inspiration. What was once a style using mad-scientist dub controllers that strove to be improvisational with emphasis on listening and responding to the other musicians in the mix, has now
evolved into deeply meditative washes of relaxed balmy soundscapes for tired ears. For this newer calming sound of Hipnotic Earth, loopers are used only occasionally as a source of experimentation. The technique of modulating the feedback amount so as to sculpt the looped material as it fades and evolves over time yields surprising
results. A love for the silent spaces in music has always been important to this artist; the breathing and resting and stretching of phrases is a lesson learned from Miles Davis’ music as well as from so many great ambient artists.”

credits
Written and produced by Cosmos Rennert
Mastered by Robert Rich
Photography by Cosmos Rennert
Packaging design by Harry Towell

Coming soon…Hipnotic Earth – Suspended In Silence

Next up on Whitelabrecs, we welcome California, United States based artist Hipnotic Earth with a beautiful Electro-Acoustic ambient album which includes a wealth of delicate textures including instrument sounds, synth drones, prepared-piano style creaks and birdsong as well as a careful use of silence. The album is fittingly titled ‘Suspended In Silence‘ and is mastered by Ambient legend Robert Rich. This will be available in our new look gatefold-LP style CD packaging for 2019, in a run of 100 copies, featuring coastal photography provided by Cosmos Rennert, the man who records as Hipnotic Earth. We’ll release this on or around the 11th of May 2019. Those who follow artists such as Nils FrahmPolaroid Notes or Valotihkuu should enjoy this!

Whitelabrecs low-run releases will be made available suddenly without official release dates, meaning they’re likely to sell out fast. The best way to keep informed is to join our mailing list which can be located through our website menu or you can click HERE

press release
“Hipnotic Earth is an electro-acoustic ambient soundscape project birthed from a deep need for quiet, slow motion music; from a carnal urge toward silence. California, USA based artist Cosmos Rennert’s project began dramatically when in 2015 the scheduled release of his debut album ‘Essence’ was missed when his home in the hot springs of Harbin, Northern California burned down in a sudden wildfire which swept the community. His home, studio, possessions, work place and the tiny town in which he lived succumbed to the flames. He is now deeply grateful to be able to continue recording and we’re pleased to present, a record which sees a departure from Cosmos’ usual style of sleepy drones.

‘Suspended In Silence’ is the second in a series of three completed albums presenting a new, more melodic direction. Continuing with spacious, evocative and immersive drone-based tonalities, the vast majority of these pieces are one-off improvisations that were recorded during the mornings of mid-2018 in the wine country of California. Here there is a love for not remembering how a song is made. The modus operandi is quite spontaneous, be it the recording process or sound design and mixing of additional colours afterwards. Simply in
the moment with no agenda, this music strives for eternal endings and slow rotations around an axis of serenity. During the recording of these tracks birds and other creatures would sometimes meander into the apple orchard where the studio is located. They seemed to
be drawn to the music as if they wanted to be on the album and occasionally, their wish was granted!

Previously steeped in a tradition of dance music, tribal drumming and Jazz, Cosmos has a long love affair with live looping as a tool for both rhythmic and textural inspiration. What was once a style using mad-scientist dub controllers that strove to be improvisational with emphasis on listening and responding to the other musicians in the mix, has now
evolved into deeply meditative washes of relaxed balmy soundscapes for tired ears. For this newer calming sound of Hipnotic Earth, loopers are used only occasionally as a source of experimentation. The technique of modulating the feedback amount so as to sculpt the looped material as it fades and evolves over time yields surprising
results. A love for the silent spaces in music has always been important to this artist; the breathing and resting and stretching of phrases is a lesson learned from Miles Davis’ music as well as from so many great ambient artists”

credits
Written and produced by Cosmos Rennert
Mastered by Robert Rich
Photography by Cosmos Rennert
Packaging design by Harry Towell

Out Now! Ben Rath – Any Given Moment

Something warmer just in time for Spring, we welcome back Ben Rath under his own name, after we released This Body Is Not Me under his Slow Heart Music alias. This will be available in a run of 100 copies as a gatefold LP style packaging design, featuring faded polaroid artwork by David Gonzalez Fuster. Any Given Moment is a warm and nostalgic blend of guitar performance and electro acoustic drones and like the artwork/physical packaging, this shades differently when played (held) against sunlight to when it is experienced on a dull or hazy day. We’ll release this on or around the 27th of April 2019. Those who follow artists such as Ben McElroy, Duane Pitre or Seaworthy might enjoy this one!

Any Given Moment is available now after having been released to subscribers of our mailing list last weekend, who had the first opportunity to grab a copy. These have been going well but we still have a few left and you can buy one of these or grab a digital copy by clicking the link or image above. To avoid missing out on future releases, you can join our mailing list HERE

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/any-given-moment

press release
“Our next release sees the return of Ben Rath, who released ‘This Body Is Not Me’ under his other alias Slow Heart Music back in 2017. The record was well received by many circles and featured in A Closer Listen’s top ten Ambient releases that year. Between this and a project under his own name, Manchester, UK based Rath has released on labels such as Eilean, Unknown Tone and Cathedral Transmissions.

Slow Heart Music focuses on Ben’s acoustic guitar playing whilst work under his own name is typically more Experimental and drone based. In ‘Any Given Moment’ we have an album that shows glimpses of plaintive guitar combined with Ambient drones to represent fleeting moments, memories and nostalgia. The combination is both restful and tinged with warmth, perfect for the Spring and the Summer months ahead.

The music on this album focuses on experimenting with the guitar as a sound source, both for processed and treated instrumental compositions and free improvisations. Ben wanted to take some of the more Folk inspired guitar instrumentals he has created as Slow Heart Music and incorporate them into more ambient soundscapes. He also had in mind a lighter, more uplifting sound after the darker, more meloncholy themes of Black Heart Music which was released on Eilean Recs. We’re informed that Ben is brining this phase of musical creation which began in 2014 to an end, so this record acts as his penultimate full album release, with the final part due to be released this year if all goes to plan.

Any Given Moment is presented in a limited edition run of 100 copies, including artwork provided by David Gonzalez Fuster, which is a set of vintage and Polaroid photos. The faded images that represent untold memories are placed against a bright orange credits panel, which brings a warmth and splash of colour as these stories are brought to life.”

credits
Written and produced by Ben Rath
Mastered by Tim Diagram
Artwork by David Gonzalez Fuster
Packaging design by Harry Towell

Coming soon…Ben Rath – Any Given Moment

Something warmer just in time for Spring, we welcome back Ben Rath under his own name, after we released This Body Is Not Me under his Slow Heart Music alias. This will be available in a run of 100 copies as a gatefold LP style packaging design, featuring faded polaroid artwork by David Gonzalez Fuster. Any Given Moment is a warm and nostalgic blend of guitar performance and electro acoustic drones and like the artwork/physical packaging, this shades differently when played (held) against sunlight to when it is experienced on a dull or hazy day. We’ll release this on or around the 27th of April 2019. Those who follow artists such as Ben McElroy, Duane Pitre or Seaworthy might enjoy this one!

Whitelabrecs low-run releases will be made available suddenly without official release dates, meaning they’re likely to sell out fast. The best way to keep informed is to join our mailing list which can be located through our website menu or you can click HERE

press release
“Our next release sees the return of Ben Rath, who released ‘This Body Is Not Me’ under his other alias Slow Heart Music back in 2017. The record was well received by many circles and featured in A Closer Listen’s top ten Ambient releases that year. Between this and a project under his own name, Manchester, UK based Rath has released on labels such as Eilean, Unknown Tone and Cathedral Transmissions.

Slow Heart Music focuses on Ben’s acoustic guitar playing whilst work under his own name is typically more Experimental and drone based. In ‘Any Given Moment’ we have an album that shows glimpses of plaintive guitar combined with Ambient drones to represent fleeting moments, memories and nostalgia. The combination is both restful and tinged with warmth, perfect for the Spring and the Summer months ahead.

The music on this album focuses on experimenting with the guitar as a sound source, both for processed and treated instrumental compositions and free improvisations. Ben wanted to take some of the more Folk inspired guitar instrumentals he has created as Slow Heart Music and incorporate them into more ambient soundscapes. He also had in mind a lighter, more uplifting sound after the darker, more meloncholy themes of Black Heart Music which was released on Eilean Recs. We’re informed that Ben is brining this phase of musical creation which began in 2014 to an end, so this record acts as his penultimate full album release, with the final part due to be released this year if all goes to plan.

Any Given Moment is presented in a limited edition run of 100 copies, including artwork provided by David Gonzalez Fuster, which is a set of vintage and Polaroid photos. The faded images that represent untold memories are placed against a bright orange credits panel, which brings a warmth and splash of colour as these stories are brought to life.”

credits
Written and produced by Ben Rath
Mastered by Tim Diagram
Artwork by David Gonzalez Fuster
Packaging design by Harry Towell

Out Now! Slow Heart Music – This Body Is Not Me

Next up on Whitelabrecs, we welcome Ben Rath under his Slow Heart Music moniker. Ben has released with labels such as Sound In Silence and Cathedral Transmissions and we’re pleased to present a debut under this new project, which sees an emphasis on his guitar in which limited electronic interference is applied. If you bought our releases by Finglebone or Ben McElroy then you’ll likely enjoy this, with a raw folk charm being a perfect way to end the summer. Also recommended if you like Francesco Morittu, Pullman or John Fahey. You can listen to a preview of the album by using the Soundcloud player below or keep a check on our Facebook or Instagram pages to preview the packaging when we share it.

This went to out to our mailing list last weekend and at time of writing, we’ve got copies still available – to find out more or grab a copy, you can click the link below or on the image above to listen. To avoid missing out on future releases, you can join our mailing list HERE

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/this-body-is-not-me

press release
“Slow Heart Music is the acoustic side project of ambient music artist Ben Rath. Based in Manchester, UK, Ben has released music under his own name via labels such as Sound In Silence, Cathedral Transmissions, and Unkown Tone Records. As Slow Heart Music, Ben has released a short EP on Cape Town netlabel MoonSwing at the beginning of 2016 entitled ‘A Place To Forget’. ‘This Body Is Not Me’ is Ben’s full-legth debut as Slow Heart Music.

The ambient music Ben has released under his own name typically involves a lot of digital manipulation and arrangement of sound samples on a computer, and Slow Heart Music was conceived as a way to create music in a more spontaneous and live way, with minimal electronic interference and using a basic, lo-fi set-up.
The tracks on ‘This Body Is Not Me’ were recorded on a small classical guitar Ben purchased for £5 from a bring-and-buy sale in the basement of a cafe. Ben would improvise on this guitar in a relatively free and unstructured way until a theme or melody organically developed. He’d then press record on a digital audio recorder and create a spontaneous composition out of that theme. Most of the tracks that make up ‘This Body Is Not Me’ are first take recordings, with minimal post-editing. There are some subtle ambient elements in some sections where it seemed appropriate to add an extra dimension to the track.
Whilst the album does not have a clear, cohesive concept, the title and track names make loose reference to Ben’s interest in spirituality, which also informed the emphasis on flow, spontaneity, and improvisation in the writing and recording process. The sweet and delicate tones of Ben’s guitar playing provide a warm and pleasant soundtrack to the end of Summer and the fade into Autumn, capturing an abundance of warmth and sunshine with each note of this beautifully light set of recordings.”

Catalog number WLR027
Written and produced by Ben Rath
Mastered by Tim Diagram

Coming soon…Slow Heart Music – This Body Is Not Me

Next up on Whitelabrecs, we welcome Ben Rath under his Slow Heart Music moniker. Ben has released with labels such as Sound In Silence and Cathedral Transmissions and we’re pleased to present a debut under this new project, which sees an emphasis on his guitar in which limited electronic interference is applied. If you bought our releases by Finglebone or Ben McElroy then you’ll likely enjoy this, with a raw folk charm being a perfect way to end the summer. Also recommended if you like Francesco Morittu, Pullman or John Fahey. You can listen to a preview of the album by using the Soundcloud player below or keep a check on our Facebook or Instagram pages to preview the packaging when we share it.

Whitelabrecs low-run releases will be made available suddenly without official release dates, meaning they’re likely to sell out fast. The best way to keep informed is to join our mailing list which can be located through our website menu.

press release
“Slow Heart Music is the acoustic side project of ambient music artist Ben Rath. Based in Manchester, UK, Ben has released music under his own name via labels such as Sound In Silence, Cathedral Transmissions, and Unkown Tone Records. As Slow Heart Music, Ben has released a short EP on Cape Town netlabel MoonSwing at the beginning of 2016 entitled ‘A Place To Forget’. ‘This Body Is Not Me’ is Ben’s full-legth debut as Slow Heart Music.

The ambient music Ben has released under his own name typically involves a lot of digital manipulation and arrangement of sound samples on a computer, and Slow Heart Music was conceived as a way to create music in a more spontaneous and live way, with minimal electronic interference and using a basic, lo-fi set-up.
The tracks on ‘This Body Is Not Me’ were recorded on a small classical guitar Ben purchased for £5 from a bring-and-buy sale in the basement of a cafe. Ben would improvise on this guitar in a relatively free and unstructured way until a theme or melody organically developed. He’d then press record on a digital audio recorder and create a spontaneous composition out of that theme. Most of the tracks that make up ‘This Body Is Not Me’ are first take recordings, with minimal post-editing. There are some subtle ambient elements in some sections where it seemed appropriate to add an extra dimension to the track.
Whilst the album does not have a clear, cohesive concept, the title and track names make loose reference to Ben’s interest in spirituality, which also informed the emphasis on flow, spontaneity, and improvisation in the writing and recording process. The sweet and delicate tones of Ben’s guitar playing provide a warm and pleasant soundtrack to the end of Summer and the fade into Autumn, capturing an abundance of warmth and sunshine with each note of this beautifully light set of recordings.”

Catalog number WLR027
Written and produced by Ben Rath
Mastered by Tim Diagram

Coming soon…Spheruleus | Obsolarium

Full steam ahead as usual and next on the Whitelabrecs discography we welcome Spheruleus to the catalog. Some of our followers/fans will know that the man behind the label is Harry Towell who also records Ambient music as Spheruleus and we’re sure they’ll have anticipated a highly limited Whitelabrecs release from Harry at some point. ‘Obsolarium‘ moves us back to Ambient territory with the label but with the acoustic sound sources typical of the Spheruleus sound taking centre stage. Harry’s work here sees piano, classical guitar, violin, voice zither and harmonica recordings woven into a crumbling ten track tapestry inspired by an abandoned brewery complex near to his home town. You can listen to a preview of the album by using the Soundcloud player below or keep a check on our Facebook page to preview the packaging when we share it.

Whitelabrecs low-run releases will be made available suddenly without official release dates, meaning they’re likely to sell out fast. The best way to keep informed is to join our mailing list which can be located through our website menu.

press release
“Spheruleus is Lincolnshire, UK based sound artist Harry Towell who has previously released work through labels such as Eilean, Home Normal, Hibernate and Under The Spire. Harry has been active as Spheruleus since 2009 with his discography starting on netlabels before progressing to limited edition physical records. Over the years Harry’s musical projects have included blogging, DJing and more recently, running record labels. He is responsible for netlabel Audio Gourmet, occasional physical label Tessellate Recordings and House/Techno label Warehouse Decay.

Harry has been making music one way or another for over 15 years, with early work being more in the Deep House field when he also used to DJ. In his DJing days, Harry’s chosen format was always vinyl which is where the inspiration for his new label for 2016 came from; Whitelabrecs specialises in highly limited edition runs of vinyl-effect CDrs, inspired by some of the white label bootlegs he purchased during the early 2000s. So far we’ve amassed a discography of ten albums varying in style and next, Harry presents an album as Spheruleus entitled ‘Obsolarium’. The record is inspired by the abandoned Bass Maltings complex which is located in Sleaford, Lincolnshire and was formerly used to brew beer up until the late 1950s. The buildings have been pretty much abandoned ever since and due to their impressive stature and Grade II listed status, they have remained an ever present fixture of the landscape surrounding Sleaford, as development or demolition continues to stall.

Harry was simply fascinated by this towering set of buildings and also, its abandoned state of decay which has been a feature in his work for many years. It is not possible to legally enter the premises, so Harry took a series of photos and field recordings standing at the gates and Obsolarium was born. Harry set about weaving decaying sounds of acoustic instruments, samples, drone loops and various lo-fi VST effects. Instruments and sounds used include an out of tune piano at his local village pub, recorded after everyone had left, a detuned piano at a friend’s house, a violin, classical guitar, voice, harmonica, zither, a warped music box, a cello iPad app and vinyl samples.

Obsolarium tells a story starting with the commercial success of a powerful brewery, the rail links used to distribute the produce before descending into a melancholy reflection of what once was accompanied all the while with a crumbling disintegration. Whilst everything unravels and fragments, the series of structures remain.