Coming soon… Andrew Heath – Quiet Noise

 

The second of our two new artist albums due for release on the 12th of February, is the next solo album by UK based composer Andrew Heath. ‘Quiet Noise‘ will be out for for pre-order this coming Bandcamp Friday, the 4th of February and the audio, clocking in at almost an hour, is a melting pot of serene electro-acoustic details.

Quiet Noise‘ will be available in one of our typically low runs of 100 gatefold vinyl-effect CDrs, complete with collage artwork by Zoe Heath.

It will be released officially on Saturday the 12th of February. If you join our mailing list using the link below, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear.

press release
“Andrew Heath is a UK-based soundscape artist and composer, who creates lower case ambient music based around piano, electronics and field recordings. His discography includes regular output on Toby Marks’ (Banco de Gaia’s) Disco Gecko label, along with contributions for White Paddy Mountain, Rusted Tone and Elm. He has collaborated with many artists, including Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Simon McCorry, Seigo Aoyama, Anne Chris Bakker and Mi Cosa de Resistance. With the latter two, the music has been released by Whitelabrecs, with How To Breathe Like a Stone and A Speechless Body respectively.

Andrew’s latest solo album, Quiet Noise, continues his obsession with small fragments of sound that we are continually surrounded by and exposed to in our everyday lives. Balancing these ‘lower case’ recordings with his fascination of texture and tone through extensive treatments and instruments such as piano and guitar, he explores this quiet and dreamlike world. Quiet Noise also develops a more recent trait in his work towards a warmer and more tonal sound. Andrew’s work is not static and is constantly changing, building and evolving as each piece in this stunning album unfolds.

Quiet Noise presented a perfect opportunity to work with his fellow collaborators within the side project, Konstruct and so thanks must go to cellist, Simon McCorry who adds a soulful elegance to the track Embers which opens this album and to Alexander Caminada (aka Phonsonic) for stunning and majestic, half-speed flute on the concluding piece, Building Mountains. The release is rounded off with packaging designed by Andrew himself, making use of the beautiful collage artwork produced by his wife Zoë.

credits
Written, produced and mastered by Andrew Heath
Collage by Zoë Heath
Image manipulation and artwork by Andrew Heath

Coming soon… Grotta Veterano & Francis Gri – Soolo

 

Our artist albums for 2022 are underway as of the 12th of February, with two new editions. But first, they’ll both be up for pre-order this coming Bandcamp Friday, the 4th of February. The first of these two new albums is a collaboration between two north-Italians, Grotta Veterano and Francis Gri. It’s free from a clear concept and instead concentrates on the minimal, sensitively electro-acoustic developed sounds that the pair arrived at.

Soolo‘ will be available in one of our typically low runs of 100 gatefold vinyl-effect CDrs, complete with photography by Harry Towell.

It will be released officially on Saturday the 12th of February. If you join our mailing list using the link below, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear.

press release
“Soolo is a collaboration between Grotta Veterano and Francis Gri, who are both artists residing in Northern Italy. Between these artists, their solo work has appeared on the likes of Slowcraft, Fluid Audio, Shimmering Moods, Time Released Sound, Fluid Audio, Elm and Dewtone. Not to mention appearances on Francis’ own Krysalisound label, and some of our early followers may recall Francis’ album ‘Apart’ which we released back in 2018.

The Grotta Veterano project has been active for just a couple of years, working creatively within a limited space, to apply recorded instruments, effects and field recordings through digital processing. Francis Gri has been active under his own name since 2011, exploring his improvised style, typically using guitar or piano as the focal point. This collaboration began as a collection of small sketches by Grotta Veterano, built around substantially long and controlled improvisations, using a piano. The same first melodic and rhythmic line of the piano was twisted out of phase and subsequently superimposed onto the original one, allowing chords, melodies and timbres to be created. Sensing that the work was not yet complete, he invited Francis to develop the work, knowing that he would add just the right amount of magic, to develop the work into soundscapes. Francis added guitar and electric piano as his chosen instruments to embellish these sounds but he allowed the sparse, cascading minimalism between the notes to breathe. You can hear all kinds of details in between the keys, as field recordings, fading notes, light noise and blurred electronics interact with the compositions.

The final collection, Soolo is free from a clear concept as the artists decided to focus less on themes to work to, for fear of falling into a cliché all too common within the ambient genre. Instead, the collaboration and sounds itself becomes its own path, as the artists worked remotely, with little communication. The music became a form of communication in its own right, as each artist reacted to what they heard as sonic interpretations developed. The cover photography provides a feint visual backdrop to accompany the music, with the misty landscape giving an ambiguous stimuli for the listener, as they decode this body of spacious sound.

credits
Written and produced by Grotta Veterano and Francis Gri
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Photography by Harry Towell
Art and design by Andrew Heath

Coming soon… Various Artists – A Speechless Body

We have another compilation album of sorts lined-up to begin this new year. This one is a concept album called A Speechless Body an idea originally conceived by Argentinian artist Mi Cosa de Resistance who then invited Andrew Heath, Ciro Berenguer, Hymns57 and Pepo Galan to create 2 tracks each, relating back to the previous track. The idea is that the album plays as a series of ‘chapters’, as if it were a book and this compilation album will be available for pre-order on Friday the 7th of January.

A Speechless Body‘ will be available in one of our typically low runs of 100 gatefold vinyl-effect CDrs, complete with art and design by Andrew Heath.

It will be released officially on Saturday the 15th of January. If you join our mailing list using the link below, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear.

press release
“Take five ambient composers from around the world. Ask them to create two pieces or chapters each which in turn relate, just as in a book, to the previous chapter but all constructed in two halves as a palindrome and you have an amazing and intriguing ambient work – A Speechless Body.

Originally conceived by the Argentinian experimental musician, Mi Cosa de Resistance, it quickly grew to include Ciro Berenguer, Pepo Galán, Hymns 57 and Andrew Heath and became an incredible journey from one place to another and then back again, taking in some beautiful ambient scenes along the way.

Diverse? Yes but delightfully so and it’s testament to these artist’s wonderful craft that everything works seamlessly. It guides you along this stunning ambient journey and is finally set into its own cohesive world by the mastering skills of James Edward Armstrong who frames the work perfectly. The stories and narrative within these ‘chapters’ is told through track titles, sound and the album artwork only. The rest, is to your own imagination.

credits
Written and produced by Mi Cosa de Resistance, Andrew Heath, Ciro Berenguer, Hymns 57, Pepo Galán
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Art and design by Andrew Heath

Coming soon… various artists – sleeplaboratory3.0

 

We kick off what is sure to be another exciting year of releases, with the long-awaited return of our Sleeplaboratory compilation series. We’ve had a two year break since the last edition, and we welcome 3.0 to the series, and a line-up including label artists such as Andrew Heath, Tapes and Topographies, Lauge and Simon McCorry as well as artists that are new to the label, such as Ian Hawgood, The Lifted Index, Federico Mosconi and Stijn Hüwels. This compilation album will be available for pre-order on Friday the 7th of January and if the previous two releases are anything to go by, this will be quick to sell-out.

sleeplaboratory3.0‘ will be available in one of our typically low runs of 100 gatefold vinyl-effect CDrs, complete with art and design by Tom Tebby.

It will be released officially on Saturday the 15th of January. If you join our mailing list using the link below, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear.

press release
“Sleeplaboratory3.0 is the third edition of Whitelabrecs’ long-standing concept compilation, a series that aims to induce the listener into a peaceful sleep. The series began in 2019 to mark the 50th release in the label’s catalog and was followed up with a second edition in 2020. It has seen contributions from the likes of Offthesky, Janek Schaefer, M.grig, The Green Kingdom, Warmth and Halftribe as well as artists from the label, including Mikael Lind, Gray Acres, Sven Laux, Glåsbird and Valotihkuu.

Sleeplaboratory compilations are typically released in January and after a two year break, 3.0 continues the themes established in the previous two records. Each artist in the line-up takes the brief of creating ‘sleep music’ and paints the sonic field with their own ideas. Some artists develop restful electro-acoustic compositions, whilst others sketch out soothing drones or vacant ambient textures. With a varied spectrum of warmth and cold, light and floaty, weighted and deep, this new collection features label-regulars such as Andrew Heath, blochemy and Pruski alongside the likes of Ian Hawgood, The Lifted Index, Federico Mosconi and Stijn Huwels. The track titles tend to tie back to the central album theme with words synonymous with rest, phases of sleep or calm places. This album can be experienced in many ways, such as at low volume with headphones, or streamed through hi-fi in a dimly lit room, consciously, or subconsciously.

credits
All rights reserved with the artists
Mastered by Ian Hawgood
Curated by Harry Towell
Art and design by Tom Tebby

Coming soon… Darkroom – The Last Sense To Fade

 

Our final release of a busy 2021 will be available for pre-order on Friday the 3rd of December, a special double album from UK artists Darkroom. We have been planning this one for quite a while now and during the height of the pandemic, Andrew Ostler and Michael Bearpark, the duo behind this project, created the 29th edition of our Home Diaries series.

The Last Sense To Fade‘ will be available in one of our typically low runs of 100 gatefold vinyl-effect CDrs, complete with art and design by Andrew Heath.

It will be released officially on Saturday the 11th of December. If you join our mailing list using the link below, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear.

press release
“Darkroom is a duo, each hailing from a UK capital city, with Andrew Ostler based in Edinburgh and Michael Bearpark from London. They have been active since the late nineties with music released through labels such as 3rd Stone, Champion Version and Burning Shed as well as their own Bandcamp. Their evolving live performances have been a particular feature for Darkroom, and much of their studio work begins with live performances. Those live performances had to cease in 2020 as a result of the pandemic and this prompted them to join our Home Diaries, in which they provided the penultimate edition of the series.

We had been in discussion with Darkroom prior to this point for some time, with the intention to release an album of their work and this also had to be paused as a result of the pandemic. This period of time provided an opportunity for all of us to reflect and prepare for something special, against a backdrop of uncertainty and disappointment. It is therefore fitting that this double album includes guitar extracts from the last live Darkroom duo performance to date, re-set into a new context in which remote performance and distant communication became not just workarounds but offer new ways of working for the future. Further live takes have been repurposed or adapted, alongside guest musicians and new material. The old and the new burn together alongside one another, like memories.

The seed for this album was Billy Connolly’s ‘Made In Scotland’ documentary, and these are the thoughts he shared about his neurodegenerative illness:

My life is slipping away. But it doesn’t frighten me. It’s as if I’m being prepared for something, some other adventure, which is over the hill. I’ve got all this stuff to lose first, and then I’ll be at the shadowy side of the hill doing the next step or summat in the spirit world.

After watching this deeply affecting meditation, Mike created the extended guitar improvisation that initiated this album. As part of a performance by Andrew, this became ‘The Shadowy Side Of The Hill’ as the first album piece completed. Additional guitars were recorded by Jon Durant when he visited the UK and by Bill Walker remotely from Santa Cruz in California. By chance, the album’s title was identified; it’s left deliberately ambiguous as to whether ‘The Last Sense To Fade’ is about dying, or sleeping. By late 2019, the first of what became two discs had been completed and the mood felt dark, both in the recordings themselves and the world around.

A balancing light slowly emerged as Darkroom began to explore their ideas for the second disc. A key part of concluding this double album was coming to terms with the loss of deep connections, and of damage catching up after a long time – when, for a time, it became difficult to think at all, compounded by pandemic lockdown restrictions. The decisive creative moment came in realising that the album was somehow about all of this, such that completing it took on a new and urgent significance. The closing thoughts of Connolly’s documentary seemed an apt spearhead with which to move on:

You can volunteer to take life seriously, but it’s going to get you. You know they’re going to win over you. It’s harsh. You can either break down and complain about how miserable your life is, or have a go at it and survive. I think that’s the basis of it all.

‘The Last Sense To Fade’ in its completed form is more positive than almost anything Darkroom has ever recorded. It is very much of its time, and a reaction to it, while also managing to stand outside of being defined by any particular time. The cover photography was taken less than two years before the album’s release and the world looked so different. Now, in retrospect, this image captures something of that difference; of foundations about to give way. The warm and beautiful evening light anticipates the next day’s sunrise, but also suggests destruction, both personal and global; a familiar landscape being transformed before our eyes. This album came from a new determination that it’s nevertheless worth creating in response to this, that loss is an open door but also an invitation, and that there will be new ways of seeing the world even if they won’t last forever.”

credits
Recorded by Andrew Ostler
Additional guitars recorded by Michael Bearpark
and Bill Walker
Edited, mixed, and produced by Darkroom
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong

Music:
Andrew Ostler – bass clarinet, tenor saxophone,
modular synths, laptop
Michael Bearpark – guitar, field recordings
Jon Durant – fretless guitar
Bill Walker – slide guitar

Cover photograph – Michael Bearpark
51°36’56.8″N 0°17’11.7″E
Photo restoration – Arber
Darkroom portrait – Rob Blackham
Art and Design – Andrew Heath

Special thanks: Elif, Jon, Bill, Kamil Kowalczyk
(Soundscapism), Ian Faragher (Sonic Imperfections,
Telegraph Hill), Anil Prasad, Arber / Curated Doom, Rob,
Mike Whitfield, Billy Connolly, Neil the Professor, Looper’s Delight, H&K Red Box, SG8’s Jubilee
Wood and Long Barrow, EB / JB / ZB. And dearest LB:
after ten thousand days, we lost our way… this is dedicated
to what we could share, before our damage caught up.

Out Now! Soft Generator – A Carefully Controlled Space

In this second collaborative album for July, we welcome David Newman (Autistici, Volume Objects) and Erik Schoster (He Can Jog) under their new project Soft Generator. Between them, their individual discographies have seen records come out on the likes of 12k, KESH and Hibernate, as well as David’s own Audiobulb Records.

Their album ‘A Carefully Controlled Space‘ will be available in our usual low run of 50 gatefold vinyl-effect CDrs and its concept looks at the idea of hypnotic rest, reflecting back on Asclepeion sleep temples from the ancient Greek civilisation. The sound is a contemporary view, using the Pippi Computer System as part of the sound design. The packaging ties this all together, with art and design by collage artist Tom Tebby

Whitelabrecs low-run releases are 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
“In this new release, we welcome a collaboration between David Newman (Autistici) and Erik Schoster (He Can Jog). These artists have released music individually across a range of labels including 12k, KESH, Hibernate, Home Recordings, Audiobulb Records and Distance Recordings. This duo have worked together to form Soft Generator, with their inaugural release featuring artwork by collage artist Tom Tebby.

‘A Carefully Controlled Space’ was crafted with orchestral sounds, analogue and modular synthesisers, computer generated routines, the Pippi Computer System pippi.world and field recordings.
The work centres on the idea of hypnotic rest as a portal to recovery. Referencing the process of Asclepeion ‘sleep temples’, visited by the citizens of ancient Greece, the album wonders what it would be like to go through the ritual and process in modern times. A Carefully Controlled Space imagines a remedy as it reaches out and offers each listener a chance to reset, heal and escape.

credits
Soft Generator are:
David Newman (Autistici/Volume Objects) – volume-objects.com
Erik Schoster (He Can Jog) – hecanjog.com

Mastered by Volume Objects

Art and design by Tom Tebby

Coming soon… Soft Generator – A Carefully Controlled Space

In this second collaborative album for July, we welcome David Newman (Autistici, Volume Objects) and Erik Schoster (He Can Jog) under their new project Soft Generator. Between them, their individual discographies have seen records come out on the likes of 12k, KESH and Hibernate, as well as David’s own Audiobulb Records.

Their album ‘
A Carefully Controlled Space‘ will be available in our usual low run of 50 gatefold vinyl-effect CDrs and its concept looks at the idea of hypnotic rest, reflecting back on Asclepeion sleep temples from the ancient Greek civilisation. The sound is a contemporary view, using the Pippi Computer System as part of the sound design. The packaging ties this all together, with art and design by collage artist Tom Tebby

A Carefully Controlled Space will be released on Saturday the 24th of July with no pre-order. If you join our mailing list using the link below, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear.

press release
“In this new release, we welcome a collaboration between David Newman (Autistici) and Erik Schoster (He Can Jog). These artists have released music individually across a range of labels including 12k, KESH, Hibernate, Home Recordings, Audiobulb Records and Distance Recordings. This duo have worked together to form Soft Generator, with their inaugural release featuring artwork by collage artist Tom Tebby.

‘A Carefully Controlled Space’ was crafted with orchestral sounds, analogue and modular synthesisers, computer generated routines, the Pippi Computer System pippi.world and field recordings.
The work centres on the idea of hypnotic rest as a portal to recovery. Referencing the process of Asclepeion ‘sleep temples’, visited by the citizens of ancient Greece, the album wonders what it would be like to go through the ritual and process in modern times. A Carefully Controlled Space imagines a remedy as it reaches out and offers each listener a chance to reset, heal and escape.

credits
Soft Generator are:
David Newman (Autistici/Volume Objects) – volume-objects.com
Erik Schoster (He Can Jog) – hecanjog.com

Mastered by Volume Objects

Art and design by Tom Tebby

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

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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

Home Diaries 001: Mi Cosa de Resistance

Two days after we released our most recent album ‘Disconnect‘ by S.hel, we were hit with the news from our local post office that they were closing until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak with fears for staff and customer safety alike. We had already announced that we planned a short break from releasing CDs anyway, as we do not wish to make regular visits to the post office to put people at risks.

So now, we have to diversify a little in these times to help keep our bills paid until the point where we can hopefully release some of the wonderful albums we had lined up!

So we had the idea to launch ‘Home Diaries‘, an invitation to artists and musicians to create an album or EP to document their personal experience during the lockdown or social distancing conditions that are upon us, due to the outbreak of the virus. The series reflects a range of sounds, styles and ideas, as each artist portrays their own reflections uniquely. Each release is digital only for now, as we hope to raise what we can to help keep our label ticking over at this time. The releases feature a recurring polaroid image of a small lonely house, with a coloured filter chosen by the artist for each respective release.

Our first album is from Buenos Aires, Argentina based artist Fernando Perales, under his Mi Cosa de Resistance alias. His record is a fuzzy haze of melancholic drones, carved out on the morning of Sunday 29th of March from 8am. All of the pieces were created on that day, 12 days into the lockdown conditions imposed by the Argentinian government. Usually recording multiple tracks in a day can feel like a pressure to achieve something, with distractions often preventing success. But currently, time stands on end and this transcendence finds its way into these restful, labyrinthine recordings.

We have an exciting line-up to follow and each release will include bonus PDF liner notes, which has an interview with the artist on how they made the album, what their situation is like, what they have planned, their influences and what equipment/techniques they used.  There are also studio and artist profile images as part of the PDF too. Click on the link below to check it out:

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/home-diaries-001

press release
“Home Diaries is an invitation to artists and musicians to create an album or EP to document their personal experience during the lockdown or social distancing conditions that are upon us, due to the coronavirus outbreak. The series reflects a range of sounds, styles and ideas, as each artist portrays their own reflections uniquely. Each release is digital only for now, as we hope to raise what we can to help keep our label ticking over at this time. The releases feature a recurring polaroid image of a small lonely house, with a coloured filter chosen by the artist for each respective release. We also interview each artist and this is included as a bonus PDF with the download. You can also check out the Home Diaries series direct from the artist themselves or on Spotify if you prefer.

For our inaugural album in this collection, we begin in Buenos Aires, Argentina as we welcome Fernando Perales who records as Mi Cosa de Resistance. Fernando was a member of Argentinian experimental band Reynols during the 1990s but in recent years, he has released with labels such as Aural Tethers, Elm Records and Left Tapes.
His sound is achieved through sampling, reel to reel recording and other experimental techniques.

The Mi Cosa de Resistance Home Diary is a fuzzy haze of melancholic drones, carved out on the morning of Sunday 29th of March from 8am. All of the pieces were created on that day, 12 days into the lockdown conditions imposed by the Argentinian government. Usually recording multiple tracks in a day can feel like a pressure to achieve something, with distractions often preventing success. But currently, time stands on end and this transcendence finds its way into these restful, labyrinthine recordings.”

credits
Recorded in Le Silence Studios, Buenos Aires
Written and produced by Fernando Perales
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Artwork by Harry Towell