Out Now! Spheruleus – Absent Frames

Absent Frames by Spheruleus is released today for Bandcamp Friday in digital only formats. The best way to keep informed about our releases is to join our mailing list which can be located through our website menu or you can click HERE

press release
“Spheruleus is the long-standing artist name of Whitelabrecs owner Harry Towell, with releases outside of his own label appearing on the likes of Fluid Audio, Home Normal, Hibernate and Lost Tribe Sound. The project has been active since the netlabel days of 2009 and he has also collaborated with artists such as Sven Laux, Pleq and Ekca Liena. This new EP called Absent Frames is a short, conceptual work that delves back to his early work as a sound artist.

Harry had discovered some old field recordings he captured onto an Olympus digital recorder between 2007 and 2009. On listening to the collection, there were very few sounds that he could relate to; most were rain, birdsong or poorly recorded out-takes. In some cases, forgotten memories were recalled and overlapping events became a little clearer. But a clear and complete picture could not be recalled, due to the time that had elapsed and the lack of information to jog his memory.

The medium used to capture a moment in time does not record every tiny detail. A field recording doesn’t capture the visual experiences or tell you the location. For example, the rain droplets you hear could be from anywhere on the planet. A photograph does not always tell the story, the scent, the mood, the location. We use memory to recall the detail if we were present, but some of the detail may be stored in our subconscious or perhaps lost completely. We may easily recall some or most of the experience, but parts may be missing from even the most vivid of memories.

Recently, Harry took a photo of a swan swimming one evening in a local lake called Rutland Water. He can still recall the events earlier that day, the time of night, the section of the lake that his family were stood by, the time that they left the car park. The original photograph gave plenty of detail that would help him recall the memories from when it was taken. To match the theme of Absent Frames, Harry edited the image by replacing the horizon along the water surface, with the cloudy sky of a completely different image, from which memories will be much harder to recall.

Absent Frames is an EP consisting of two mid-length drone pieces, placing multiple field recordings at different volumes, along with drones to which he added multiple effects chains. The intent was to further blur the recordings, to make the content even harder to distinguish. So that in years to become, this theme becomes even more poignant.”

credits
Written and produced by Harry Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Photography and artwork by Harry Towell

Out Now! Spheruleus – Canvas Homes + Supplémentaires

The second of our new releases for March out today, sees the return of our label owner Harry Towell as Spheruleus. Harry has not released a CD on his label since 2016’s Obsolarium and with Canvas Homes + Supplémentaires he presents a double album of lockdown sound diaries. Some may recall Canvas Homes from Harry’s Home Diaries edition but 2nd Disc Supplémentaires is a new album, created during November’s lockdown mark II.

This limited edition double CDr edition uses photographs Harry captured during family walks as cover artwork and the sounds within these records cover field recordings, acoustic instrument sketches, household sounds and orchestral tones.

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
“Spheruleus is Lincolnshire, UK based artist Harry Towell, who also runs Whitelabrecs and records alongside his brother Stuart as Paper Relics. Harry has been active in the modern Ambient music scene for over a decade and has released works with labels such as Eilean, Hibernate, Home Normal and Time Released Sound. His output on his own imprint has been scarce however, limited to one CD edition ‘Obsolarium’, released back in 2016.

We launched last year’s digital Home Diaries series off the back of ‘Canvas Homes’ which was a sonic diary of life at home during lockdown. The recording for this album began around 1 year ago with three key sound elements: field recordings, sketches made using acoustic instruments and MIDI keyboard arrangements. The sketches were all captured during brief 1-2 minute recordings to an iPhone whilst in his daughter Isla’s playroom. She unwittingly became part of the album and a positive constant during the strange events that were unfolding across the spring and summer. Walks out into local parks and woodlands became a source of field recordings and a connection to the natural world. Then evenings were a time of reflection and processing, as the sounds captured were orchestrated into tracks.

In November another lockdown was announced and Harry decided to repeat the process as a compare and contrast from his original process. The idea to create a second album began with the assembly of a new item of furniture for Isla’s room which arrived from France. A bag of spare fixings was labelled ‘Supplémentaires’ and Harry decided to set about a series of additional recordings with a view to release it as part of a double album. This time, the weather had turned cold resulting in a different lockdown altogether, with more time spent indoors. Isla had grown considerably in the space of just 6 months and her speech was much clearer. A familiarity with the ‘new normal’ also seems to have translated into the music, with longer, cosier tracks drawing out the winter months. There are more moments of calm and warmth; ‘les dormeurs’ was created at low volume one afternoon, as the household napped. ‘notre cocon’ establishes a sleepy comfort in the descent towards the festive period before ‘le résumé’ plays out a recollection of the year 2020, with Harry using every field recording he’d captured during this most eventful of years. The cover photograph was captured during a family walk in the summer; a reflective gaze into the local ‘Bourne Eau’.

credits
Written and produced by Harry Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Artwork and design by Harry Towell

Coming soon…Spheruleus – Canvas Homes + Supplémentaires

The second of our new releases for March sees the return of our label owner Harry Towell as Spheruleus. Harry has not released a CD on his label since 2016’s Obsolarium and with Canvas Homes + Supplémentaires he presents a double album of lockdown sound diaries. Some may recall Canvas Homes from Harry’s Home Diaries edition but 2nd Disc Supplémentaires is a new album, created during November’s lockdown mark II.

This limited edition double CDr edition uses photographs Harry captured during family walks as cover artwork and the sounds within these records cover field recordings, acoustic instrument sketches, household sounds and orchestral tones.

The album will be released on Saturday the 20th of March with no pre-order. If you join our mailing list using the link below, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear.

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
“Spheruleus is Lincolnshire, UK based artist Harry Towell, who also runs Whitelabrecs and records alongside his brother Stuart as Paper Relics. Harry has been active in the modern Ambient music scene for over a decade and has released works with labels such as Eilean, Hibernate, Home Normal and Time Released Sound. His output on his own imprint has been scarce however, limited to one CD edition ‘Obsolarium’, released back in 2016.

We launched last year’s digital Home Diaries series off the back of ‘Canvas Homes’ which was a sonic diary of life at home during lockdown. The recording for this album began around 1 year ago with three key sound elements: field recordings, sketches made using acoustic instruments and MIDI keyboard arrangements. The sketches were all captured during brief 1-2 minute recordings to an iPhone whilst in his daughter Isla’s playroom. She unwittingly became part of the album and a positive constant during the strange events that were unfolding across the spring and summer. Walks out into local parks and woodlands became a source of field recordings and a connection to the natural world. Then evenings were a time of reflection and processing, as the sounds captured were orchestrated into tracks.

In November another lockdown was announced and Harry decided to repeat the process as a compare and contrast from his original process. The idea to create a second album began with the assembly of a new item of furniture for Isla’s room which arrived from France. A bag of spare fixings was labelled ‘Supplémentaires’ and Harry decided to set about a series of additional recordings with a view to release it as part of a double album. This time, the weather had turned cold resulting in a different lockdown altogether, with more time spent indoors. Isla had grown considerably in the space of just 6 months and her speech was much clearer. A familiarity with the ‘new normal’ also seems to have translated into the music, with longer, cosier tracks drawing out the winter months. There are more moments of calm and warmth; ‘les dormeurs’ was created at low volume one afternoon, as the household napped. ‘notre cocon’ establishes a sleepy comfort in the descent towards the festive period before ‘le résumé’ plays out a recollection of the year 2020, with Harry using every field recording he’d captured during this most eventful of years. The cover photograph was captured during a family walk in the summer; a reflective gaze into the local ‘Bourne Eau’.

credits
Written and produced by Harry Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Artwork and design by Harry Towell

Out Now! Various Artists – The Home Diaries

We’re delighted to get back to making CDs again after our break over December. It was good to have some down time and to do some planning too but it’s wonderful to be back, with our exciting schedule for 2021.
We’d like to thank all of those who supported us over this period, getting involved with our winter sale. Our stock cupboard is looking lighter and at last there is some space in the drawer for this year’s release schedule!

First up is the double-album Home Diaries compilation, which includes a track from each of the 30 Home Diaries releases from last year. For those unfamiliar, Home Diaries was an invitation to artists to write a record about their situation in lockdown. It was a digital only series, put together to keep our label going after we had to stop releasing CDs.

We know that many prefer a physical edition and so we wanted to create something so that those who do are able to experience this series in some way. So we decided to go all out on the packaging for this one. There is a standard double gatefold edition as well as an ultra deluxe edition, in which the double gatefold CD is contained within a gold foil-printed matchbox, which also includes a booklet which contains a photo of each artist’s home.

There were only around 65 copies of the ultra deluxe to sell after artist allocations, and these have sold out already having been snapped up quickly by our subscribers. However, at the time of writing we have around 50 copies of the standard double album edition, which we feel is still quite a spectacle in itself. It’s complete with the cover artwork, which is an oil painting by Adrian Lane who re-imagined the original series cover.

Our 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
“It’s fair to say that the events of the year 2020 will go down as quite a year and may form a large part of the history curriculum for the children of tomorrow. The pandemic is of course just part of the story, against a backdrop of political unrest, climate change and injustice too.

Whitelabrecs was affected with the closure of our local post office, meaning we were unable to ship our CDs. We also felt we had a duty not to hold up a queue of people and decided to stop production of our catalog. During that time, to make sure we still had a label left to return to, we launched the ambitious Home Diaries series. It ran for 3 months and in that relatively short space of time, the series reached 30 releases!

Home Diaries was an invitation to artists and musicians to create an album or EP to document their personal experience during the lockdown or social distancing conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The series reflects a range of sounds, styles and ideas, as each artist portrayed their own reflections uniquely, available as a digital only edition including a bonus interview and photos.
Each of the 30 digital editions in the Home Diaries series is an individual work of art, created to share the varying experiences felt by each artist.

This compilation album pulls together a track from each record, sequenced in a way that flows as a specially curated environment, over the course of two CDs. We have two versions available as follows:

A standard edition, which is a double-disc gatefold vinyl-effect CDr album, featuring a re-interpretation of the original cover artwork, painted by Adrian Lane.

A deluxe matchbox edition, in which the double-disc gatefold vinyl-effect CDr is housed inside a gold foil-etched box, which also contains a booklet which includes a photo from each artist’s home during lockdown. This version serves as a time capsule into the original series; a keepsake which is limited to just 70 copies.

If you opt for the digital version, this also includes the photo booklet as a bonus PDF item.

credits
Released January 23, 2021

Painting and artwork by Adrian Lane
Booklet images provided by each respective artist
Packaging layout by Harry Towell
Compilation curated by Harry Towell

All tracks mastered by James Edward Armstrong, except:
12 ‘Out In The Open’ Mastered by John Hannon
17 ‘Distance Learning’ Mastered by Michael Southard
29 -‘Stanze e Distanze (part 2)’ Mastered by Francis M. Gri

Home Diaries 006: Spheruleus

We’ve taken a pause from our schedule of CD albums due to our local post office closing, following the outbreak of Covid19. We launched a digital series called Home Diaries, in which we’ll release EPs and albums by an international line-up of artists, with the music created during lockdown and social distancing conditions.

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 overat 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.

Next we welcome our label owner Harry, who records as Spheruleus. He hasn’t released with Whitelabrecs since the year we launched back in 2016 and his Home Diaries submission follows last year’s Light Through Open Blinds on Lost Tribe Sound. Canvas Homes is the working title and it makes use of guitar and ukulele sketches made whilst working from home and then when furloughed from work, whilst his daughter Isla played around the house. In the evenings, Harry expanded these sketches into electro-acoustic compositions, adding field recordings and orchestral textures using a MIDI keyboard.

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 additional photos provided by the artist as part of the PDF too. Click on the link below to check it out:

-LABEL LINK-
https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/home-diaries-006

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 interview each artist and this is included as a bonus PDF with the download. You can also check out the Home Diaries series on Spotify if you prefer, which will be available to stream in due course.

For our sixth release, our label owner Harry Towell returns to the catalog for the first time since 2016’s Obsolarium. Harry records as Spheruleus and has released with labels such as Hibernate, Home Normal and most recently, Lost Tribe Sound with vinyl edition Light Through Open Blinds. This was an album about Harry’s first year or so as a home owner, when he recorded acoustic instruments and set it against various household recordings to preserve the experience.

This new Spheruleus album effectively became the spark to create the Home Diaries series. Harry recorded short guitar or ukulele sketches during the day as his daughter Isla played, before adapting these into tracks at night. Canvas Homes is a sonic diary of the events that unfolded, telling tales of Harry’s experience of lockdown, as he spent the time at home with his family. The work takes on the raw and unplanned nature of the acoustic sketches, adorned with documentary field recordings and orchestral MIDI textures.”

credits
Written and produced by Harry Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Artwork by Harry Towell

Out Now! Various Artists – Sleeplaboratory2.0

2019 was a truly landmark year for us, with our new gatefold-LP packaging style being so well received, not to mention all of the support and great feedback we received from fans and the press alike. We started the year with a special compilation album themed on sleep; Sleeplaboratory1.0. We’re delighted to launch a new decade and exciting times ahead with the follow-up to this series, Sleeplaboratory2.0. We’ve been working behind the scenes on this one since last summer and we’re proud of the results in an album which features established artists within the scene, alongside label familiar favourites.

Sleeplaboratory2.0 was released to subscribers of our mailing list last weekend and unfortunately these have now sold out already! You can still stream the album on Bandcamp and of course, grab a digital version 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/sleeplaboratory20

press release
“Sleeplaboratory is a compilation series that we launched in 2019 and the success of this effectively launched our printed gatefold-LP style CDrs which featured all of last year. The Sleeplaboratory1/.0 compilation was created as a special celebration for our fiftieth release and we enjoyed the concept so much, that we decided to run another one. Sleeplaboratory2.0 continues the themes of sleep, rest and personal reflection, not necessarily aiming to meet the current trend of mindfulness and well-being but instead, it intends to rest the listener in a way that is appropriate to them.

The idea was originally came about after our label owner Harry and his wife had a baby daughter, Isla. Harry curated a full-length compilation to help soothe his daughter to sleep and whilst Isla hasn’t needed much of a helping hand where sleep is concerned, he was keen to continue this project as a series. Throughout much of last year, we have been working on a follow-up, inviting artists to meet this sleepy brief of minimalist Ambient tones. We’ve invited familiar label artists back as well as established names and perhaps you’ll see that the odd one or two go on to have releases with us later this year.

Over the 16 tracks, a serene and enveloping environment is established. The physical product is as usual presented across four printed panels and this time, artwork is provided by Harry’s wife Beth in an image taken on a family day out. As usual, we will not make any recommendation on how our listeners might best enjoy this record and so it’s down to you to choose the best environment to listen, whether this be late at night with headphones, on a loud system or perhaps played through Bluetooth speakers in and around your home.”

credits
Curated by Harry Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Cover Photography by Bethany Towell
Packaging design by Harry Towell

Coming soon…Various Artists – Sleeplaboratory2.0


2019 was a truly landmark year for us, with our new gatefold-LP packaging style being so well received, not to mention all of the support and great feedback we received from fans and the press alike. We started the year with a special compilation album themed on sleep; Sleeplaboratory1.0. We’re delighted to launch a new decade and exciting times ahead with the follow-up to this series, Sleeplaboratory2.0. We’ve been working behind the scenes on this one since last summer and we’re proud of the results in an album which features established artists within the scene, alongside label familiar favourites. The album will be released officially on Saturday the 25th of January but if you join our mailing list using the link below, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear.

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
“Sleeplaboratory is a compilation series that we launched in 2019 and the success of this effectively launched our printed gatefold-LP style CDrs which featured all of last year. The Sleeplaboratory1/.0 compilation was created as a special celebration for our fiftieth release and we enjoyed the concept so much, that we decided to run another one. Sleeplaboratory2.0 continues the themes of sleep, rest and personal reflection, not necessarily aiming to meet the current trend of mindfulness and well-being but instead, it intends to rest the listener in a way that is appropriate to them.

The idea was originally came about after our label owner Harry and his wife had a baby daughter, Isla. Harry curated a full-length compilation to help soothe his daughter to sleep and whilst Isla hasn’t needed much of a helping hand where sleep is concerned, he was keen to continue this project as a series. Throughout much of last year, we have been working on a follow-up, inviting artists to meet this sleepy brief of minimalist Ambient tones. We’ve invited familiar label artists back as well as established names and perhaps you’ll see that the odd one or two go on to have releases with us later this year.

Over the 16 tracks, a serene and enveloping environment is established. The physical product is as usual presented across four printed panels and this time, artwork is provided by Harry’s wife Beth in an image taken on a family day out. As usual, we will not make any recommendation on how our listeners might best enjoy this record and so it’s down to you to choose the best environment to listen, whether this be late at night with headphones, on a loud system or perhaps played through Bluetooth speakers in and around your home.”

credits
Curated by Harry Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Cover Photography by Bethany Towell
Packaging design by Harry Towell

Favourite Records of 2019

Our label owner Harry Towell has put together a post for the Irregular Crates blog of his favourite albums of the year, complete with a mix. Read below for Harry’s summary of the year followed by the top 20, with links and a brief commentary for each record. Click the image above to listen to the mix Harry has created, which counts down with a track from each of his favourite albums. Alternatively, there’s a player below and you can click play whilst you read…


“2019 has been very much the year of Ambient and Modern Classical for me in terms of my listening habits. I didn’t have as much time to devote to scouring weird and wonderful music across all genres as I usually do and tended to stick to ‘my scene’. I’ve been very busy running Whitelabrecs and so much of my spare time from work and family life has been set aside for working on the 18 album releases we managed this year and I tended to listen to upcoming label releases over and over as I prepared to release them. So my year has very much been soundtracked by my own label but I can hardly announce a best of list of work I’ve been directly involved with!

That’s not to say however, that I didn’t discover some truly breathtaking works from other labels and artists that I admire. I was sent quite a lot of the albums I have charted for a potential review on Irregular Crates and I regret not having the time to put pen to paper and support these albums. I always knew that whatever time constraints I was under, I wanted to give something back and keep these end of lists going, as a recommendation to others to hopefully introduce some wonderful music. I’ve always done it expressly to support labels and artists at the end of the year and I know how special it makes an artist feel, when a music-loving person enjoys their work enough to listen over and over again to the point of labelling it their favourite.

It’s now been 10 years since I got into the modern ambient/home listening scene and throughout the years on my old Audio Gourmet blog and Irregular Crates, I’ve done a ‘Best of’ list every time. After I wrote this article and before I made this year’s mix, I decided to glance back at these lists and skim through some mixes… The nostalgia it brought me is indescribable to the point where I realised that as well as giving something back to music by sharing my thoughts with friends and potential listeners, I am also documenting my life in music. The thought struck me to create a best of decade post or mix, but then I wondered if that might just be too big a task! Perhaps I’ll write a post and link to each of the charts and mixes, where applicable sometime before the year’s out?

Aside from my work on the label and my own production work, I’ve of course got a daughter who is almost 15 months old but also, I started a new job recently and gave up my other two. This has given a work/life balance that I can scarcely remember ever having and it’s given more time and space for music, where I’m now feeling less pressed for time. My work is an hour long commute each way, so five days a week, two hours a day I have a chance to listen to music and I’ve found that Spotify has become a more common platform for me since and I’ve created a few playlists across various genres which I’ve been adding to. I like many musicians never planned to use the service but it struck me that I actually own nearly all of what I listen to physically or at the very least as an mp3. The way I see it, there is actually a place for streaming as a tool of convenience when on the move and it gives artists and labels a chance to effectively keep on earning for every play even after a listener has purchased something. I know not everyone listens in this way, but it’s certainly the case for me. I did a survey of Ambient music listeners earlier this year and now have over 1000 people fill it in, so I look forward to sharing the results early next year!

This year I’ve followed a very similar format to last year’s post – my top 20 albums of the year are listed below along with a few words and the relevant links to check the album out for yourself. Then there”s a one and a half hour mix show too in which I’ve used some countdown vox pops that my wife Beth recorded for me a few years back. The cover artwork this year was taken on our first family holiday in Tenby, Wales as we looked out to St. Catherine’s Island one chilly September evening with the moon sat in the distance just above the sea. The holiday also formed a relaxing bridge between two jobs as I left my previous role of five years for pastures new. A wonderful week of reflection, looking forward to the future and making family memories.


1st:
A Winged Victory For The Sullen
The Undivided Five
Ninja Tunes

This album took me by surprise a little, not that it emerged suddenly as I’d been following the social media developments of the production for this record. But instead, it was the label which surprised me – it’s fascinating to see how Ninja Tunes has evolved; a label I’d explored in my teens for Trip Hop music is still around and still relevant, now working with powerhouses of Modern Classical music. It received considerable hype and I have to say deservedly so. I’ve known people who tend to swerve hyped records doubt it…and then listen and immediately get drawn in. It’s interesting for the Spotify or digital age, who build playlists – tell me how you can listen to a single track on this album? For me, it plays as a whole unit and I’ve simply not been able to put it down once a few notes from ‘Our Lord Debussy’ start. It commands a full listen, to be heard in all its glory. I loved O’Halloran and Wiltzie’s debut but this is their masterpiece and something that’s up there with some of the best music I’ve ever heard.

https://awvfts.bandcamp.com/album/the-undivided-five


2nd:
M. Grig
Mount Carmel
12k

I’ve been in touch with Mike (M. Grig) for a while after he’d contributed a track to the sleeplaboratory1.0 compilation on my label, Whitelabrecs. He announced that he’d be releasing an album with 12k, one of my favourite labels. I was so excited to hear it and when the album came out in May, it truly set me up for the summer. The warm guitars shine in the sun on an album steeped in nostalgia. The liner notes on the release page give further insight into the childhood memories which are woven into this beautiful record which is rounded off perfectly with the evocative painted cover art.

https://12kmusic.bandcamp.com/album/mount-carmel


3rd:
Mikael Lind
Contingencies
Archives

Archives, as they do so regularly, were responsible this year for introducing me to another artist. This time, enter Mikael Lind, whose album is set to a backdrop of the deepest, darkest forest. The artwork grabbed me first and I ordered the CD which has become the most played album in my car this year. There isn’t much written in regards to a concept but the artwork and sound are striking enough for this to still feel complete. Different pianos are played, with careful detail and minutiae embedded into the composition. Every track is a winner but Ideas Fade Away blows my mind.

https://archivesdubmusic.bandcamp.com/album/contingencies


4th:
Hoshiko Yamane and Mikael Lind
Spaces In Between
Time Released Sound

This one’s only recently dropped so I’ve not had long to listen to it. But then, I didn’t need long. It’s not difficult to be bowled over by an album when it’s of this quality. This album navigates the distance between Berlin and Reykjavik, the places in which these two respective artists live. Yamane was a violinist as part of Tangerine Dream and Mikael Lind has been forging his career as a modern composer to great effect. This record is utterly incredible and I wonder whether with a bit of time and space, it might have given A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s record a run for its money in first place….

https://timereleasedsound.bandcamp.com/album/spaces-in-between


5th:
Penguin Cafe
Handfuls of Night
Erased Tapes

Quality output on Erased Tapes is expected and there was no disappointment in their release of the Penguin Cafe’s ‘Handfuls of Night’. It’s a record in which Arthur Jeffes attempted translate his experiences travelling to Antarctica, a land which of course is inhabited by the penguin, and not much else! The album uses modern classical composition inclusive of piano, viola, double bass, violin, cello and percussion to name but a few ingredients, to tell the story of endless space. There is not just the vast open white blank canvas that one might imagine, cold and stark nothingness. Instead, this record is brimming with life and wonderment somehow and, it sounds particularly magnificent on vinyl, through a decent sound system and a bit of volume!

https://penguincafe.bandcamp.com/album/handfuls-of-night


6th:
The Humble Bee and Offthesky
All Other Voices Gone, Only Yours Remains
IIKKI

How do two such revered artists from the same scene combine? Craig Tattersall’s defined a generation through his work as The Boats, his label Moteer and of course, The Humble Bee whilst Jason Corder has been refining his work as Offthesky for the same duration. In a word, the combination blends together effortlessly. Whether that was the case in the studio/in production we may never know but this album is a work of art in every sense of the word. You’re left with half a photograph, evocative track titles and a careful unfurling of fuzzy, warm ambience and electro acoustics. Not to mention, a truly special physical edition by the fine art label IIKKI.

https://iikki.bandcamp.com/album/all-other-voices-gone-only-yours-remains


7th:
Justin Wright
Music For Staying Warm
First Terrace

This record was clearly instantly impressive but I found it move further and further up my ‘chart’ as the year went on. I wonder if it could be the weather? We’ve had quite a bit of wind and rain here in the UK so the title of this one helps it feel like a comfort blanket. Justin Wright has composed a suite of modern classical music, with cello at the centre of the production given that this is his chosen instrument. It is not deep, dark cello – rather, it is warm and uplifting in a strange, melancholy way.

https://firstterracerecords.bandcamp.com/album/music-for-staying-warm


8th:
Vieo Abiungo
The Dregs
Lost Tribe Sound

William Ryan Fritch has very much become the signature artist for Lost Tribe Sound but his other moniker Vieo Abiungo deserves every attention too. This year LTS put out an album with a title which doesn’t exactly have positive connotations. However, this record is everything but – there’s far too much detail and careful attention paid to the production of this percussion and instrument laden album. Across 14 short tracks, Fritch builds an exotic tale of a far away land, perhaps one that doesn’t even exist. It will literally suck you in with tribal tunes and its subtle moments of suspense. I’ve had this one playing in my headphones everywhere from the car to the supermarket. A must listen.

https://williamryanfritch.bandcamp.com/album/the-dregs


9th:
Offthesky
Illuminate
Eilean

With Eilean Recs set to bow out this year, it was exciting to see what records they’d put out to conclude this wonderful series. I was delighted to see the return of Offthesky! Anyone who has read pretty much any of my end of year lists, will have seen this artist’s name crop up time and time again. Indeed, Jason Corder’s work is something I’ve tracked ever since I got into the Ambient side of my musical taste a decade ago. This one’s a beautiful electro-acoustic album, which leans more on the Ambient side, also featuring guest vocals, viola, violin, cello, oboe and sax. Corder manages to concoct this into a liquid mix which flows effortlessly.

https://eileanrec.bandcamp.com/album/illuminate


10th:
Skyphone
Marsh Drones
Lost Tribe Sound

Lost Tribe Sound have had a phenomenal year and an artist they provided two superb vinyl editions for was Danish duo Skyphone. I must admit, I hadn’t heard of them but as soon as I caught a glimpse of the artwork, which for me would have to be the cover artwork of the year, I was always going to listen. Then the press videos of a room full of instruments was enough to get me excited enough to want to like their work… then the vinyl arrived! A superb selection of tracks, which traverse synth, guitar, vocal lines in a post rock meets ambient style. This one isn’t bogged down dreary drone, maudlin classical or grizzly grunge – it’s actually really uplifting and one I reach for time and time again.

https://skyphone.bandcamp.com/album/marsh-drones


11th:
Marek Kamiński
Not Here
Self Released

“Marek Kamiński sent me his self-released album early on in 2019 and I subsequently ordered it on vinyl. I was drawn to the cover artwork to begin with in that it is a good reference point to consider when listening: the tree is clearly no longer there, but there is plenty of evidence that it existed and something so colossal has left its mark. The music in Not Here is a selection of modern classical piano-led melodies, riddled in static and field recordings, reminiscent perhaps of Library Tapes which is no bad thing!

https://marekkaminski.bandcamp.com/album/not-here


12th:
Silmus
Laaksum
Volkoren

I reviewed Silmus’ ‘Shelter’ back in 2014 and it was to become one of my favourite albums for that year and beyond. So I was thrilled when Gert sent me ‘Laaksum’ at the beginning of the year. I regret not being able to review this one, especially given how impressive this album is, which features the cello talent of Guy Gelem. However, it’s a record that again features in my ‘best of’ list and something I’ve listened to over and over this year. If Shelter was one for indoors, Laaksum is an album for cold, wide-open spaces. The title ‘Dancing on the Pier, Discovering the Sea’ is a wonderfully evocative title for a track which fittingly, begins from hushed, slow tones before evolving into something more alive and vibrant against the backdrop of a darkened sky.

https://silmus.bandcamp.com/album/laaksum


13th:
Kira Kira and Hermigervill
Sumarbörn
Time Released Sound

Fine art imprint Time Released Sound continues to share superb material with the world, combining lavish packaging ideas with high quality modern composition, ambient and electronic music. I was taken aback by Sumarbörn by Kira Kira and Hermigervill, which combines glacial ambient and classical music with choral vocals. Doesn’t sound much on paper but it’s difficult to describe, so I strongly recommend you click on the link and sink into this one:

https://timereleasedsound.bandcamp.com/album/sumarb-rn


14th:
anthéne
Lost Channel
Archives

I was lucky this year to work with Brad Deschamps who records as anthéne, as part of a pretty special year for him: three album releases! My pick of the bunch would be ‘Lost Channel’ on Archives, with its warm drones which swell and soar, with the saturated sounds of tired tapes. The whole thing feels like a time lapse low drone-helicopter flight across the globe, with stormy choppy shores giving way to the gaping wide ocean.

https://anthene.bandcamp.com/album/lost-channel


15th:
Sven Laux and Daniela Orvin
The Writings
Dronarivm

Another entry for Dronarivm and a record collaboration between my good friend and collaborator Sven Laux alongside Daniela Orvin. The duo met over several studio sessions and this is their output, a cinematic epic that includes icy cold dramatics, slow and brooding soundscapes, warm and charming ambience and fuzzy orchestration. Check out ‘A Moment Of Silence’ in particular and be prepared to be amazed. What’s particularly impressive here, is just how effortlessly the two styles of these artists combine.

https://dronarivm.bandcamp.com/album/the-writings


16th:
Santilli
Surface
Into The Light

I discovered this one when prowling the feed of new releases on Boomkat and was drawn to the immediacy of this melancholy sound. It was hard to believe that this one’s a debut as it feels like years of honing a craft although, perhaps it is of sorts, since multi-instrumentalist Max Santilli has worked with many acts and artists over the years. I ordered this one on vinyl and have enjoyed the spacey chords, guitar and exotic percussive sounds ever since.

https://into-the-light.bandcamp.com/album/surface


17th:
Aries Mond
Cut Off
IIKKI

“I get sent most IIKKI albums for Irregular Crates and it pains me that I can’t find the time to write more about these works on the blog, as absolutely everything is pristine quality in terms of artwork and curation. This one by Aries Mond floored me the first time I heard it and has the same effect every time – it begins with rustling, prepared-piano style sounds – gentle and unfolding. The live sounding notes blur through reversing and subtle electronic looping and sampling, a truly clever record that never fails to immerse and pull you in, so long as you give it your time.”

https://iikki.bandcamp.com/album/cut-off


18th:
Halftribe
Backwater Revisited
Dronarivm

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://halftribe.bandcamp.com/album/backwater-revisited


19th:
Hampshire and Foat
Saint Lawrence
Athens of the North

I discovered Hampshire and Foat for the first time when I stumbled across their album ‘Saint Lawrence’ which came out on Edinburgh’s Athens of the North label. It was released in March and I grabbed it in the summer, in time to enjoy it in the sun which feels the best setting, particularly whilst driving or walking through the British countryside. The album itself was recorded live during a couple of sunny afternoons spent in churches on the Isle of Wight and whilst this album is truly masterful in its presentation, its recurring themes and acoustic presentation give it a beautifully intimate feel.

https://aotns.bandcamp.com/album/saint-lawrence


20th:
Leo Svirsky
River Without Banks
Unseen Worlds

“US based Russian pianist and composer Leo Svirsky first grabbed my attention via the cover artwork to his album ‘River Without Banks’ which appeared on the Unseen World label. It retains an organic feel to it despite the fact that it’ll probably be filed under Modern Classical; yes the piano pans across the stereo field from time to time, accent notes feel extended into drones and crystalline piano notes hover over one another. But, the piano is undoubtedly the focus throughout, making this one have that live feel. The sound is just magical and I recall many mornings sipping espresso in a coffee shop before work.”

https://unseenworlds.bandcamp.com/album/river-without-banks

Out Now! dziadosz/mreńca – mirage (reworks)

Next we welcome Polish artists Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca with Mirage, which is a reissue and adaptation from a release on Taalem last year. The album includes artwork by Peter Nejedly and the album opens with interpretations of the original Modern Classical composition by SpheruleusSven Laux and Giulio Aldinucci. The remastered version of Mirage then closes out this record, with the dark and mysterious listening experience recalling the work of The Frozen Vaults, Erik Skodvin or Max Richter.

This album was announced to our mailing list last weekend and there are but a few copies left at the time of writing. You can listen to the album in full by hitting play above or clicking the link below, where you can purchase a physical or digital version. To avoid missing out on our future releases, you can join our mailing list HERE

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/mirage-reworks

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
Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca are friends and artists from Poland. They started collaborating on musical projects a few years ago, most notably as part of modern classical group The Frozen Vaults which also include Harry Towell, Yuki Murata and Dave Dhonau. This group saw a far flung collaboration with locations including the United Kingdom, Japan as well as Poland and recordings shared over great distance as the project developed.

In ‘Mirage’ and also the recent ‘Black Lake’, the project sees Bartosz and Tomasz collaborate closer to home. Bartosz records solo material as Pleq and works with sound as part of the theatre whereas Tomasz generates sounds on analog synthesisers and violin. Mirage was originally released as a 3 inch CDr via Belgian label Taâlem last year and we’re pleased to present this piece in its remastered state, alongside reworks and interpretations from Spheruleus, Sven Laux and Giulio Aldinucci. Each of these renowned composers were invited to portray the dark, mysterious passages of Mirage in a different light, making for an album experience rather than a simple reissue with ‘remixes’.

Spheruleus selected a looping section of the original strings in a brooding, dramatic piece steeped in tape decay, Sven Laux has focused more on the timbral quality of the strings whereas Giulio Aldinucci sculpts the piece into a dynamic drone which reaches a subtly noise shrouded crescendo. The reworks are followed by the original, in all its glory.

We’re informed that Mirage was inspired by Witold Lutosławski as Bartosz and Tomasz had listened to his work together.
When they set about composing Mirage, they wanted to create this in their image and since they are so used to each other’s company, they did not need to labour into plans and concepts. Instead, the music flowed freely. The concept became the action of creating itself, in a way which etches a description of the artists themselves, for the listener to decode.

credits
Written and produced Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca
Mastered by Tim Diagram
Artwork by Peter Nejedly

Coming soon…dziadosz/mreńca – mirage (reworks)

Next we welcome Polish artists Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca with Mirage, which is a reissue and adaptation from a release on Taalem last year. The album includes artwork by Peter Nejedly and the album opens with interpretations of the original Modern Classical composition by SpheruleusSven Laux and Giulio Aldinucci. The remastered version of Mirage then closes out this record, with the dark and mysterious listening experience recalling the work of The Frozen Vaults, Erik Skodvin or Max Richter.

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
Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca are friends and artists from Poland. They started collaborating on musical projects a few years ago, most notably as part of modern classical group The Frozen Vaults which also include Harry Towell, Yuki Murata and Dave Dhonau. This group saw a far flung collaboration with locations including the United Kingdom, Japan as well as Poland and recordings shared over great distance as the project developed.

In ‘Mirage’ and also the recent ‘Black Lake’, the project sees Bartosz and Tomasz collaborate closer to home. Bartosz records solo material as Pleq and works with sound as part of the theatre whereas Tomasz generates sounds on analog synthesisers and violin. Mirage was originally released as a 3 inch CDr via Belgian label Taâlem last year and we’re pleased to present this piece in its remastered state, alongside reworks and interpretations from Spheruleus, Sven Laux and Giulio Aldinucci. Each of these renowned composers were invited to portray the dark, mysterious passages of Mirage in a different light, making for an album experience rather than a simple reissue with ‘remixes’.

Spheruleus selected a looping section of the original strings in a brooding, dramatic piece steeped in tape decay, Sven Laux has focused more on the timbral quality of the strings whereas Giulio Aldinucci sculpts the piece into a dynamic drone which reaches a subtly noise shrouded crescendo. The reworks are followed by the original, in all its glory.

We’re informed that Mirage was inspired by Witold Lutosławski as Bartosz and Tomasz had listened to his work together.
When they set about composing Mirage, they wanted to create this in their image and since they are so used to each other’s company, they did not need to labour into plans and concepts. Instead, the music flowed freely. The concept became the action of creating itself, in a way which etches a description of the artists themselves, for the listener to decode.

credits
Written and produced Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca
Mastered by Tim Diagram
Artwork by Peter Nejedly