We’ve all heard the mantra ‘never judge a book by its cover,’ and yet the same rule of thumb could hardly be said to apply to the world of vinyl, where off-kilter, intriguing artwork oftentimes speaks directly about the music contained within. Case in point – Cool Maritime’s glorious 2022 LP ‘Big Earth Energy,’ which I picked up the other day solely because of the wonderful Lisa Frank-esque neon tree frog gracing the front cover, as well as the promotional sticker which promised an experience inspired by ‘Myst and Studio Ghibli.’
The music almost lives up to this high bar, with seven tracks of instrumental electronic goodness that will bring to mind the cushy, muzak-adjacent environments of pre-2000 personal computer game soundtracks like SimCity or, indeed, Myst. Pleasing sin waves, pitched to replicate electronic tom drums, bounce and squiggle around synth pads and buoyant synthesizer melodies. Drum machines are notably absent, and the resulting music works equally well as background tones to do yoga to, or as an active listening experience. It will most certainly pair well with your next session of whatever intense simulation or strategy video game you’re currently obsessed with. Excellent find.
Thomas Jacob Jr is a Producer, Composer, Singer-Songwriter, Music Educator and Digital Artist currently based in Arizona – Bringing us rare and interesting selections from his extensive Vinyl collection! For more content follow his vinyl-dedicated Instagram account
Cartoon Forest II is the second full-length project from experimental trio Cartoon Forest – released on Crash Symbols in May, 2022.
Recorded live in 2018 – the tape basks in a raw beauty that is both refreshing and intriguing. Cartoon Forest II is a wonderful blend of experimental ambience and psychedelic drone with a touch of post-rock. It’s quite easy to become lost in the hazy, distorted soundscapes – laying back on the gritty foundation before letting luscious, morbid riffs wash over you.
I adore the sounds used in this project – often morphing between semi-acoustic to ethereally ambiguous. By track 4-5 you will start to peel back and realize the true experimental and progressive nature of the album. There’s no holding back from the trio as the dive deeply into incredibly unstable and emotional territories – embracing soft distortion and semi-dissonant waves amidst the already established landscape.
Cartoon Forest truly exemplifies the experimental group format – demonstrating the benefit of weaving together the threads of several avant-garde minds. This tape is a blissful journey dense with ideas and riffs that you don’t want to miss. I’ve only heard the digital version myself but I can already tell these tracks will benefit from being heard with the warm process of cassette ribbon passing through a tapedeck.
Flotsam & Jetsam is a new Ambient/Modern Classical album from prolific UK producer Bing Satellites.
Consisting of seven piano “sketches” – Flotsam & Jetsam sees a more delicate and intimate side of Bing Satellites that is most welcome. Known best for their shoegaze-infused-ambient, opting instead for the use of Acoustic Piano which lends a feeling of emotion and closeness to the project. Even with the introduction of pads/synths within the tracks always leaves ample room for improvisation on the keys.
The album itself is incredibly relaxing, almost immediately I was instilled with a sense of calmness and introspection. Wistfully meandering between optimism and melancholy, the sounds are perfect for a moody-rainy day. There is a deep satisfaction I derive from these sounds – perhaps nested in the electro-acoustic nature, or years of emotion carefully folded into the songs.
You can pick the digital edition of the album up now via Bing Satellites bandcamp page – along with a very attractive CD package available! For those of you who are true ambient lovers, consider supporting the artist via their monthly subscription, or consider picking up the extended discography of over 200 releases for less than $50 – the amount of music you get in return is borderline overwhelming but it’s highly encouraged. Don’t sleep on this amazing producer, and if you do, be sure to throw on Flotsam & Jetsam before you shut your eyes…
Watershed by Dao De Noize is a contemplative and brooding ambient project presented by Wormhole World Records.
The 5 tracks are lengthy and expansive, conveying potent feelings and visuals throughout the playtime. Amidst the avant-garde synth work lurks an ominous energy that is sprawling yet not rushed. Stylistically speaking, the album occupies a space in between atmospheric ambient and soft industrial. Mellow enough to be relaxing but imbued with deep emotions that lend to the darkness and a sense of urgency.
Watershed explores some longform concepts as well, including the 5th and final track which clocks in at a whopping 32 minutes. These longer tracks allow Dao De Noize to really find foothold in the sounds, slowly churning and evolving as time ticks on. Macrostudies in ambient-techno and fuzzy radio waves gliding across the landscape.
For fans of Dark Ambient and Industrial, Watershed will be a deeply satisfying experience and likely will be on rotation for several years thanks to both its listenability and ability to challenge the listener. Watershed was created by Ukrainian artist Artem Pismenetskii aka Dao De Noize – all proceeds will be donated to Ukrainian support charities. While the CD is sold out already, we can still enjoy the digital edition via Wormhole Worlds Bandcamp Page.
18 Producers and Artists gathered together to create and experiment for this project. We encouraged all participants to not worry about genre but to focus on exploring their own creative essence. The result is broad, bold and impressive to say the least.
The track list explores the more gritty and eclectic side of underground electronic music – pinballing between floating ambience to distorted groove in a most satisfying way.
We hope this collection of songs is inspiring, perhaps a little challenging, because that’s how the underground flourishes. Please explore and support all the participating artists directly!
Whimsical yet melancholy ambient explorations from Canadian producer krzyzis – dusk eater is a pleasant long-form 7 track album of nostalgic soundscapes.
The central element of this release is pressure and tension. Each track forms around a drone backbone, eventually spurring into more abstract and avant-garde directions. Sudden harmonic dissonance, the occasional plucking of strings, a distant siren crying – all swirling together to create a sound that is somehow both relaxing and exciting.
There is something very grounded about this project as well. I am not sure what it is, but it harkens back to the days of Windham Hill albums – ambient with a purpose and a deep emotion associated with it. Perhaps its the ‘movement’ within each piece – krzyzis does a wonderful job not allowing drone/ambient to become stale or stagnant.
This one is good for mellow late nights or as the perfect soundtrack for whatever book you are currently reading! The album is available now digitally via the artists Bandcamp page.
Synergy is a 4 track EP of radically luscious soundscapes and gritty experimental techno created by Isamesu and presented by Illegal Alien Records.
This release really drew me in – gripping my attention with fierce determination. This is psychedelic ambient music that has been soaked in absinthe and distortion for a fortnight. Fusing together ambient mentality with techno urgency, Isamesu communicates a feeling of futuristic antiquity with their layers of frothing percussion and otherworldly synths. The sounds provoke you to contemplate – encouraging the listener to stand on their toes and scan the horizon, hunted and haunted.
Truly energetic and unique, throw this one on for big cyberpunk vibes and archaic inspiration. Available now digitally or on cassette via the label’s Bandcamp page.
World Carousel by Orvang Halmer is a collection of lovely and playful psychedelic noise tracks.
I found myself drifting deeply into a new world while listening to this one. I felt like perhaps I had become an NPC in some abandoned massively multiplayer realm, left to my own devices long after the player had wandered off. Tones, riffs, moods, energies and flavors all drift in and out of view as I stand firmly in my designated spot.
The sounds themselves are a healthy balance of humble nostalgia and brave experimentation. Synthesized melodies bend and warp around each other, briskly dissolving into the hazy atmosphere.
Lucky for us, the album is available on tape from the family at Ingrown Records! Order yourself a copy or stream the digital version now via Bandcamp.