Reviewing micro ambient, minimalist and contemporary sound design releases from around the world




This excellent five track set marks an interesting new angle on the field of contemporary drone for Home normal. Not in texture,dynamics or artwork but, in instrumentation. Taishi Kamiya use's mostly just soprano saxophone and laptop to create this album. The inherent nature of the soprano sax doesn't lend itself to drone music well in its raw state, its tone and attack often have the listener thinking of free jazz and experimental world music themes, but in a altered processed setting and in the hands of a talented musician, the instrument really is able to give something new to the contemporary drone and micro sound worlds. Why?

The album begins with the track 'Calm'. Faint high frequency single note threads shimmer into life. Glitch based fragments and recorded sounds of what seems to be fast moving air , maybe created by the sax carefully fade in. This bed of revolving micro sounds creates a nice theme for the actual instrumentation to sit over, as the listener can contemplate the sax in a new setting and context.

Its clear on the next two tracks 'Northern nature' and 'Misty mornings' that the instrument takes center stage. Rounded bleep's and minimal drone figures lock together, creating mostly contemplative melodic structures . Recognizable sax lines present a rewarding listen, while the challenging harmonic figures give the album subtle twists and turns . Obviously similar textures to these sounds could be made with a guitar and laptop. But where as the harmonic structures are often found with guitar based drone music tend tobe quick changing and 'post-rock' in design. The sax with its single note choice and varied selection of scalar and arpeggio templates , allows the body of this album to focus on the 'note-interplay' of the songs , instead of being washed over by swathes of E-bowed guitar chords.

The album end's with a clever interplay of field recordings, processed rhythmic figures and restrained drone work. These field recordings balance the album well and show Taishi's deft use of recorded material and 'album length' concepts.

a thoughtful album with lots of interesting ideas and themes,a real headphone listen that will prove rewarding listen for the drone and micro sound fan





We have been following the work of these artist's for quite some now, both known for their deft instrumental use and modern textural considerations. This album on the excellent Tench label finds both artist's using their favored instruments: piano, Kyoto and laptop. And at the same time maybe due to the constraints of dual compositional roles both artists approach sound and texture design from an interesting new angle.

The first two tracks meld together effortlessly as restrained piano and micro sounds seep into the empty space allowing both the silence and notes to speak in equal measure , adding conceptual weight and momentum to the album. As the third track enters with static and graceful repeating notes the album offers alternative angles on this concept of using silence in equal measure to say just as much as the notes themselves. The piece hold back harmonically in the first few minutes letting texture's and elusive melody take center stage . Although track 3 is different in attack and clarity ,its hold's the listeners attention well while subtly hinting at future sonic events to be explored in the continuing tracks.

The middle section of the album is a real treat for fans of ambient and sound design music as a vast array of melodic textures and looped fragments fill the full frequency range balancing the more instrumental area's of the album, with introspective analysis and harmonic melancholy.

As Prosa ends with the short ' Vi ' the memories of the opening piano fragments of the album come back to mind, reminding us of the real beauty of this work, and also the journey through all the various textures and elegant instrumental use .A masterful use of simplicity of design and a thoughtful selection of found sounds and note choice.

This work would suit both headphone and quiet room setting's to grasp the real depth of this album. A real rich piece of clever contemporary music.



(3-inch cd-r)

Machinefabriek's style is instantly identifiable.
And one which due to its nature allows for a vast array of different tones and textures to be used but still remarkably remain within an area of modern minimalist sound design.This 21+ minute sonic journey is an alternate edit of a soundtrack recorded for 'In Your Star', the latest film by Japanese experimental film maker Makino Takashi.

The track opens with fragment's of a N.A.S.A operative describing the procedure for a moon landing As this sample grabs the listener attention an elusive drone minor key in design secretly fades in.With the spoken word ending, crunching static debris crumble in the stereo field while reflective drones expand and resonate thought the open ambiance.Bass frequencies hum and oscillate and higher frequencies shimmer and collide, like asteroids smashing into each sending shards of rock across the open expanse. Soon the ornamental textures fade away, leaving calm submerged threads of analogue drone.
During this period in the track the mood shifts in emotion suggesting a change. Field recordings of people talking,birds singing and the waves of the sea crashing over shore usher's in the half way mark, suggesting a second narrative. Machinefabriek could be using these new 'earth recording's ' as a way for us to grasp in a sonic sense the beginning and end point of the Apollo mission?

The clever use of the stereo field and harmonic design, along with subtle audio suggestions of narrative, theme and context make this composition a real treat for the discerning ear. Fans of minimalist and drone music will appreciate the mix of lo-fi and hi-fi textures, along with the mastering which is rich and warm. Complementary to both headphone and 'quiet room' listening. 'Apollo' is a must have for both the sound design fan, and the edition collector.

It is released in an edition of 200 numbered copies and comes in an over sized heavy paper sleeve. It costs 7 euro including world-wide shipping .

Great work!




Using solo electric guitar, effects pedals, e-bow and a trusty laptop Steiner creates a warm textured 26minute composition.The track was made in August 2010 during a 'sleepless night' the artist recalls. And with this in mind a definite feeling of calm, reflective introspection comes through on the opening moment's of untitled.

The piece opens with measured picked notes, slow looping and hushed in nature and attack. Additional notes and phrases fade in and augment the rote note's as the whole composition subtly ebbs and flows.This recording certainly projects the time of day it was recorded in, as the artist makes good use of light processing and deft use of delay and reverb, capturing the relaxed and nocturnal mood of the night time.

As the remaining shards of harmonics and carefully picked notes tie the composition to a close 'Untitled' leaves with you with a quiet atmosphere conveying tranquility, and wanting to listen to the whole process again. A great headphone listen for the quieter moments of the day.

On the strength of this track were looking forward to Steiner's future releases,
an excellent piece of work.




It's always a pleasure to hear new sonic work from Mathieu, and this CD release begins 2011 for the artist and label in fine form. A single 60minute track of thoughtful sound design. Using three advanced techniques (entropic setup,spectral analysis and convolution processes) Mathieu re-imagine's Janeck Shaefer's 'Extended Play' release with fascinating results.

The composition begins with a 'slow to form' arc of subdued vinyl crackle and mid to high register drones, shortly after lower base tones fade in, underpinning the emerging sounds. Mathieu's placement of the individual textures in the sonic landscape allow the whole composition to breathe throughout, and this creates a wonderful backdrop for contemplation. This piece works very well both on headphones, and in a room setting played at a relaxing volume.

As tiny flecks of sound enter during the halfway mark, it becomes clear that the processes Mathieu employs allow the original harmonic colouration of "Extended Play" to shine through, while at the same time providing a fresh perspective with which to view this work.

As the piece fades out, Mathieu's skill in thoughtful sound design is clearly evident. The familiarity of the original paralleled against Mathieu's skillful reworking and application of processes cements a feeling of nostalgia and yet still provides a piece that will reveal fresh new textures and narrative's with each listen.

An excellent release.