5 Chillout, Drone, Ambient and Modern Classical Podcasts

best-of-2014

In 2015 I had now a rather lengthy commute to work on my hands. For the ride, I found that ambient music served best to play as I rode the bus and the T. Sounds of the train, voices talking, even the squealing of the wheels and the dinging of the stops became a part of the soundscape in my head.

So, rather than blocking out the noise, it sort of accepts it as music. As John Cage famously surmised: “All sound is music.”

Hearing sounds which are just sound immediately sets the theorizing mind to theorizing, and the emotions of human beings are continually aroused by encounters with nature. Does not a mountain unintentionally evoke in us a sense of wonder? Otters along a stream a sense of mirth? Night in the woods a sense of fear? Do not rain falling and mists rising up suggest the love binding heaven and earth?

Here are five quite deep archives of ambient music (and its various strata) I found on Mixcloud.

1: Mixmaster Morris

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Morris Gould is the undisputed king of the chillout room. A long-time veteran of the scene, he drops downtempo hip-hop into an extended edit of Imogen Heap with ease. This is music for positive chill vibes, and not a drone in sight. He is so revered in the UK that at the world-famous Glastonbury festival he plays for 10 hours in an area they simply call “Heaven.”

Here’s the first of the 10 hours:

Mixmaster Morris @ Glastonbury Heaven pt1 by Mixmaster Morris on Mixcloud

(Worth noting that it was only through his re-shares, favorites, and listens that I discovered the remainder of this list.)

2: Optic Echo

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On the other end of the spectrum is Optic Echo. Culled from a three-hour radio show on XRAY FM in Portland, OR. Consisting of no more than ambient, experimental, and modern classical vinyl, their hour-long podcasts can get rather dark.

For example, this mix contains music by a group called Indignant Senility and also a track called “Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night,” but also classics from artists like Fourtet and Fennesz.

Optic Echo Presents 11/1/15 by Optic Echo on Mixcloud

3: Headphone Commute

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As I mentioned above, here’s a podcast specifically designed for the commute. The website gets others to curate guest mixes and does some sonic exploration of their own. Like with their “Residuum Series”:

I am excited to present you with the second volume of my Residuum mix series … the transitions in this collection have been meticulously curated for a deep listening experience … do not operate any machinery while listening, as mild disorientation may occur.

HC – Residuum Vol 2 by Headphone Commute on Mixcloud

4: Akrrrs

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Akrrs, from Northern England, goes as far as creating “Dream Sequences” which can be insanely pretty. The Dream Sequence mixes continually work on the eardrums, flowing in and out of the mix. As their title indicates, the idea is to play it when you dream.

Dream Sequence 32 by Akrrrs on Mixcloud

5: The Slow Drift

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The Slow Drift is probably my favorite one of the five, simply because it is so clinical and precise. Our host, Andrew Hoffman, clearly curates these hour long podcasts with care, featuring artists with names like Marielle v. Jakobsons, Kleefstra Bakker Kleefstra, and Carbon Based Lifeforms. It also comes from “community-supported WRFI radio in Ithaca, NY and Watkins Glen.”

At just 157 listens on some of these, Andrew Hoffman is clearly the underdog (and who doesn’t love a good underdog story).

The Slow Drift is an atmospheric mix of ambient, drone, modern classical, and field recordings. Synesthetic textures may evoke feelings of introspection, romance, or a dream-like state. This is completely normal.

The Slow Drift :: Episode 054 :: 2015-08-21 by The Slow Drift on Mixcloud

Bonus Podcast: Melodica

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I just discovered this one lately (guess who shared it? Yep, Morris). Melodica is another carefully curated show but relies even more on disco, house and summery tunes (what some call “Balearic”). So if the above seems a little too dark or strange, I highly recommend Melodica. Its host, Chris Coco, is also himself a bit of a ray of sunshine.

Melodica 30 November 2015 by Chris Coco on Mixcloud

Don’t forget we are also on MixCloud, SoundCloud, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Connect with us and let’s share our 2016 experience together.

Explore Permeating Soundscapes on Ricardo Donoso’s “Symmetry” Release

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Ricardo Donoso’s music is droning and penetrative; its beauty lies in how each track is composed so as to feature the impressive capabilities of the synths and sequencers he chooses to utilize. In true minimalistic fashion, purchase not a single note or layer is excessive. Instead, buy Donoso exhibits total control as he meticulously crafts ambient soundscapes.

The Boston producer, who studied at Berklee and the New England Conservatory, lets his background in composition shine through on his limited edition “Symmetry” release, available for preorder now on the Denovali label.

Symmetry” is a collection of the producer’s first three albums, previously referred to as the “Digitalis Trilogy.” This trilogy is a breathtaking introduction to Donoso’s larger body of work, as elements of techno, trance, ambient, and other minimalistic genres weave in and out of individual tracks.

“Symmetry” also invites the listener to explore common themes featured in Donoso’s work. While the collection has an ethereal element to its soft, tinkering rhythms, a certain underlying darkness that permeates “Symmetry” keeps listeners on edge.

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This vinyl release of “Symmetry” is strictly limited to 200 pieces, and features exquisite details, from the 180g white vinyl to the strikingly appropriate geometric silver print on the slipcase and sleeves. Rest assured, a free download code is included with every vinyl package purchase so you can take all of “Symmetry” with you on the go.

Slide into the darkness with a rare DJ set from Ricardo:

To stay on top of some of our favorite Boston-based musicians, follow our Agency on Twitter here.

Preorder Ricardo Donoso’s Deterrence and Saravá Exu

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As our most studious and considerable composers, we’re please to share with you the announcement from Berlin-based Denovali of Ricardo Donoso’s two releases available for pre-order now.

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Ricardo Donoso is a composer, percussionist and electronic musician from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil who currently resides in Boston. After having studied composition at Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory he has participated in a slew of projects over the years, most notably playing drums for avant-death metal unit Ehnahre and being one half of the ever morphing electronic duo Perispirit. Ricardo’s musical vocabulary draws as much from contemporary composition, drone, to techno and noise.

A year before exploding onto the electronic music scene in 2011 with the critically acclaimed Progress Chance, Ricardo Donoso’s debut release Deterrence was issued as an extremely limited cassette edition – a through-composed ambient piece, Deterrence is stripped of all the rhythmic flux which he has become known for.

Considered by many in underground circles to be a true masterwork of the Dark Ambient genre, Deterrence is often times compared to works by artists such as Lustmord, Biosphere & Deathprod. Denovali is pleased to finally present this much needed reissue, five years from its inception.

It’s a fitting time for Deterrence to see the light of day, as it lets us explore Donoso’s roots as a composer, both musically & thematically. With the simultaneous release of his new opus Sarava Exu one can’t help but connect the dots from some of the foundations laid out on Deterrence; the glacial drones underpinning melodic flourishes on the surface, the patience and pacing of each movement and the use of space, sound design and texture in equal balance with the harmonic and melodic content. While always pushing forward, Donoso manages to maintain with each release his cinematic grandeur, an elegant narrative arc and a truly singular and dramatic tone.

Deterrence is a small, yet important window into the one of contemporary electronic music’s most unique voices.


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In contrast with the continual pursuit of achievement, that today’s culture teaches us, the theme of descent, found in many myths in the shape of the hero going underground to pass a period of solitude, is no longer represented. A cultural space existed in most traditional societies for such a period in a person’s life and it was seen as necessary in order for the initiate to re-connect with their past and concomitantly with his collective unconscious, or humanity’s primordial existence.

“Sarava Exu” was written throughout such a period – one of deliberate isolation and expressed and channeled through the sacred esoteric rituals of the Brazilian cult of Quimbanda.

The musical suite moves through the Seven Lines & Kingdoms of Quimbanda incorporating traditional Candomblé rhythms, Brazilian percussion, noise as well as classical string instruments, all elements from Donoso’s past, re-examined & re-interpreted. “Sarava Exu” is a symphonic poem of a Quimbanda ritual and the musical accompaniment of Descent into one’s own personal hell.

Certainly Donoso’s most ambitious and challenging undertaking to date, but those who spend the time with it and uncover the layers underneath will be rewarded. If Assimilating The Shadow was the theory, Sarava Exu is the practice – a postscript addendum thats not an aimless or destructive fall into the abyss, but a meaningful restoration.

The way towards wisdom suggested by Exu is one of hellfire and brimstone, one of ruthless honesty and bravery, where the most vicious of all enemies is yourself

Ricardo Donoso "The Bow and The Lyre" from Digitalis Industries on Vimeo.

Deterrence Vinyl
::: thick sleeve + thick printed inner sleeves + 180g vinyl
::: download code
::: limited edition: 150x silver vinyl
::: regular edition: black vinyl
::: price: 17.00 Euro

Sarava Exu Vinyl
::: thick gatefold cover + special 3D print + 180g vinyl
::: download code
::: limited edition: 150x clear vinyl
::: regular edition: black vinyl
::: price: 17.00 Euro

Cd
::: nice digipack sleeves
::: price: 13.00 Euro

Coming Down with Coralcola

As much as we like to celebrate new music and community with a full-on rocking dance party, and as much as our artists like to create four-on-the-floor beat-pounders, there is an entirely different side to music that makes our hearts tick to a different metronome. Whether that is Ricardo Donoso‘s intricate compositions or training Bollywood DJs, music in all shapes and sizes is worth your time and attention.

Enter Coralcola.

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The youngest resident DJ at Make It New has an unquenchable thirst for new music, spending hours online to find the latest and greatest. Still based in Worcester, he makes his way to Cambridge every week just to play for you the newest vault-finds and freshest deep cuts… But his productions are something else entirely:

“Alice Quiet” is classic Coralcola. Completely outside of the box, the 22 minute track looks long and loud until it starts to fade out with about 8 minutes left. It’s there that the drone/synth/ambient piece takes a long, slow, steady fade to an almost imperceptible level.

As consumers of nearly every type of sound over the years, we can honestly say we’ve never heard anything like it.

It comes as no surprise to us that Coralcola uploaded this piece mere hours after playing mainstream tunes to the very large crowd outside in Copley Square on New Year’s Eve:

Like an unusual amount of electronic music composers these days (Donoso included), Coralcola’s roots are in metal/hardcore/emo punk rock and his emotions–right there on his sleeve whether you like it or not–come through in his productions, his sets, his sounds. Catch him at Make It New or contact Alex to have him play your party (live or DJ set).

And surf on over to Bandcamp and pay what you will for “Alice Quiet,” because like all the musicians we know and love, Mikey has to eat.