Fall Music Preview: Ambient & Drone

And now we come to the last of our five fall previews, introducing the relaxing sounds that can soothe away a hard day, paired with the hums and extended tones that operate as harbingers of night.  Lodged in the middle we find dark ambient, a blend of the two that reminds us Halloween is only a month away!

We’re particularly pleased to see the resurgence of drone releases following a fallow summer.  While darker hues are best suited for darker days, we’ve missed hearing them ~ and we’ve chosen one as our top pick.

Our cover image is taken from Carin Berger’s children’s book The Little Yellow Leaf ~ a perfect book for the season!  Visit Berger’s website here to learn more!

Rich’s Pick:  bvdub, Heartless (n5MD, 15 September)
A worthy fit for the current climate, Heartless represents a struggle between outlooks: despair on one side, hope on the other.  These beautiful, often fragile pieces speak to the difficulty of settling on a single emotion when all around the world is in chaos.  By the end, a tentative peace washes over the listener, hard won through temptations and dark imaginings.

Serein has a neat one on the docket, a brand new score to accompany W.W. Young’s 1915 silent film Alice in Wonderland.  Kryshe‘s March of the Mysterious offers a sense of the fantastic, and matches well with the visuals, as seen in the video below.  Extra props for the tasteful integration of the announcement!

An easy pick for packaging of the season goes to Fluid Audio, who seems to have put every possible present into øjeRum‘s Needleshaped Silence (pictured right).  Aaron Martin’s cello adds extra grace to this “space ambience”, coloring it with a modern composition marker.  But if you can procure one of these sets, we guarantee you’ll be happy just to own it (4 September).  Tape Loop Orchestra is offering a beautiful 4-LP foil-stamped boxed set, including new and reworked material; Solar Light Emissions is out 8 September.  And Front & Follow celebrates its tenth anniversary with its 50th release, a 25-track compilation featuring new material across multiple genres.  Lessons is out 20 October, along with the £10,000 10-inch Stannum by Kemper Norton.  Digital copies are £1.


Home Normal has picked up Jason Van Wyk‘s lovely Attachment for re-release on 15 September, a prelude to the brand new Opacity (pictured left, 30 September).  ghost and tape‘s Vár (Spring) follows on 29 October, with a 7″ collaboration between Sontag Shogun and MoskitooThe Things We Let Fall Apart / Thunderswan, arriving on 15 November.

New age legend Laraaji will release two albums this fall on All Saints: the autoharp happy Bring on the Sun and the dronelike Sun Gong.  Be prepared to meditate!  Also in the new age department we find Matthewdavid’s Mindflight, offering two side-long synth tracks that ebb and flow in gentle fashion.  Ophiuchus is released 22 September on NNA Tapes.  Ancient Ocean‘s Titan’s Island is similarly chilled, creating a trance through sci-fi synths (Beyond Is Beyond Is Beyond, 22 September).  spaceship‘s fields 2: from the sea to the moor via the forest and the stones was recorded in churches, bays and other surroundings, blending soft synth with field recordings (Forged River, 25 September).  Calm electronic textures dominate Små Vågor‘s 3, reflecting the artist’s name, which means “small waves” (Flora & Fauna/Zeon Light, 22 September).  Scattered Purgatory enters the Buddhist temple with Sua-Hiam-Zun, which features chanting, bells and birds (Utech CD 22 September, Guruguru LP 11 October).  The light electronic vibe of Birch‘s Doldreams comes across like early morning; we’re especially enamored with the track “I Sleep, You Make Coffee” (Infinite Waves, 14 September).  Eilean Records turns the page to fall and the colors to orange/brown/yellow with the debut album from Cicely Irvine.  On Excavation, her wordless voice and varied instrumentation creates an autumnal vibe (9 September).  Happy 10th anniversary to Affin, whose Serenity retrospective includes tracks from Zann and Markus Guentner (11 September).


Monty Adkins follows up his recent album on Eilean with another on Cronica; Shadows and Reflections is far more restrained and sustained (5 September).  On the same label we find Superpositions, on which David Lee Myers collects filaments of feedback and warps them into new shapes (3 October).  David Toop is a big fan of Haco‘s Qoosui, which features whispered vocals and a sense of drift (Room40, 1 September).  Valiska offers welcome echoes of Ian William Craig on “Softness” (heard below), from his upcoming album On Pause.  The album reflects the artist’s personal journey via crackle and yearning intonation (Trouble in Utopia, 13 October).  kj‘s Spells may be one of the quieter offerings of the Lost Tribe Sound subscription series, but it’s no less effective; like its predecessors, it’s also available in a handcrafted package (13 October).  Rural Colours returns with an album inspired by the email tag, “Peace,” which is of particular interest to our site as this is how we end our emails!  We can all use some more peace, and the feeling permeates Gunter Schlienz‘ album of the same name (early September).  Hidden Vibes extends the art consistency of Endless Melancholy’s last album with the new offering from Wil BoltonNight Paths is another soothing release from the dependable artist (1 September).


12k‘s first fall offering comes from Marcus Fisher.  Loss is as bleak as its title, awash in tape loops and static (1 September, pictured to the right).  Meanwhile, LINE is offering Cygni‘s Gesto and Steve Roden‘s walking from savoonga to gambell on 8 September.  The first is a work of sedate textures featuring Fabio Perletta, while the second is a modular synth suite designed to reflect the landscape of Alaska.  Scanner addresses an even colder climate on The Great Crater, inspired by “mysterious circles” observed in Antarctica (Glacial Movements, 29 September).  And Rui P. Andrade‘s “breakup album” All Lovers Go to Heaven is introverted and morose; the 9/11 release date only amplifies the pain (ACR).

A Year in the Country continues its “Quietened” mini-series with The Quietened Cosmologists, tracing deep space exploration with artists including Vic Mars, Time Attendant and David Colohan (3 October with pre-orders 12 September).  Elodie‘s Vieux Silence veers toward abstraction, but with a soft sheen.  The album is available 20 October on Ideologic Organ.  Parent label Editions Mego is offering a new double album from composer (and now famous musical author!) Kassel Jaeger; the mysterious Aster drops 8 September.  The Ondes Martenot features strongly on Two Shadows Collide, the new set from Secret Pyramid (22 September), while voiceovers and unusual techniques decorate the latest from London duo Project MyceliumMundane Behavior is due 7 September on TVEI.


Dark Ambient
We congratulate Cyclic Law on its 100th release, due later this year.  We eagerly await the unveiling of Hesychia‘s Metanoia, Sum of R‘s OrgaSvartsinn‘s Mørkets Variabler, Altarmang‘s Void and lucky #100, Visions & Phurpa‘s Monad.  Meanwhile, The Corrupting Sea concludes this year’s dark trilogy with the sparse and lonely Symphony of a Radical (1 September), while the consistently reliable Cryo Chamber label continues its string of moody, atmospheric releases with a team-up between Atrium Carceri & Cities Last Broadcast.  Black Corner Den is out 5 September.

Two old favorites return on Debacle Records this fall: Aquarelle ends a long hiatus with Leave Corners (22 September), while High Aura’d offers dark guitar timbres on No River Long Enough Doesn’t Contain a Bend (27 October).  Like bvdub’s Heartless above, Giulio Aldinucci‘s Borders and Ruins offers a commentary on current events, albeit more overt in statement.  The presence of choir lifts this album above its contemporaries, and we suspect it will have a lasting impact (Karlrecords, 29 September).  Philip Jeck‘s Iklectik is a single-track live document of a performance at the club of the same name (Touch, 22 September).  Scissor & Thread’s Kingdoms imprint makes its physical debut with Aris Kindt‘s Swann and Odette; shoegaze fans should investigate immediately (20 October).


On the quieter side of drone we find Tim Mislock‘s Now Is The Last Best Time, an ode to a mother taking care of her husband as he succumbs to Alzheimer’s (Eraclea, 8 September, pictured right).  Patkus‘ Alyosha unfolds in eight patient parts, telling a literary tale through guitar and reverb (1 September).  Richard Youngs works with numerous collaborators on This Is Not a Lament, which falls between genres but includes a generous amount of drone, and even bagpipes!  The double CD is released 1 September by Fourth Dimension.  Unifactor Tapes will have a triple release ready for public consumption on 8 September, including tapes from Luminous (“Diamond Ben”) Kudler, Max Eilbacher and Skin Graft, chased later in the season by a follow-up round from Forest Management, Brett Naucke and Domnic Coppola.

Richard Allen


  1. Pingback: A Closer Listen’s Fall Music Preview: Ambient & Drone  – Avant Music News

  2. Pingback: Artifact Report #38/52a: The Quietened Cosmologists Writing, Posts and Broadcasts | A Year In The Country

  3. Pingback: The Quietened Cosmologists Writing, Posts and Broadcasts: Artifact Report #38/52a | A Year In The Country

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