Fortresses presents Near Inspirations [mix]

Fortresses is Sam Ashton, a London-based ambient artist who brought us last year’s Eve Inspirations, a delicate mix blending some of the influences that went into Eve, his debut EP for Yann Novak’s Dragon’s Eye Recordings. Fortresses returns to Dragon’s Eye with Near, a ten-minute composition drawing on field recordings Ashton made in Oregon’s marvelous forests during a transformative visit. The Londoner was inspired by the climate and natural landscape of the Pacific Northwest, and the slow undulating rhythms that anchor Near draw on his own explorations with the unfamiliar majestic forests. Near Inspirations presents music from some of our very favorite artists that also play with the listener’s sense of time in a similar manner. In our short interview below, Ashton talks a bit about his personal relationship with each of these tracks. So press play, take a walk, and get inspired. Enjoy!


What have you been up to since last we spoke?

Since the previous mix I have slowly been chipping away at a number of projects, including a batch of new Fortresses material. The first glimpse of that material is my new one-track single for Dragon’s Eye Recordings, titled Near.

Tell us about your new record.

Near is a ten-minute piece inspired by the climate and natural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. I spent some time in Portland, Oregon at the start of 2022, and had the opportunity to explore some of the forested and coastal areas of the state where I encountered the most amazing natural scenery I have ever seen. The life-affirming inspiration I found in the forested regions of Oregon shaped the piece.

Set up the mix for us.

This mix is a set of tracks by artists whose work I admire. Some are relatively new discoveries, others are artists who sparked my interest in Ambient to begin with. All of these tracks have inspired Near in some capacity, either compositionally or thematically.

Richard Skelton – “Grange” (Marking Time, Type, 2007)
The English artist Richard Skelton is one of my very biggest inspirations. Much of his vast catalogue of music is defined by layered, repeated phrases of bowed strings, inspired by ecology, folklore and places of personal significance in the English natural landscape. This music defies many conventions associated with the tag ‘ambient’, but, genres aside, it’s one of my very favourite records of all time.

Tim Hecker – “Currents Of Electrostasy” (An Imaginary Country, Kranky, 2009)
Tim Hecker is a long-time inspiration whose music blends euphoric and harsh sounds in a way that is constantly intense, unpredictable and inimitable.

Thom Brennan – “Stories from the Forest Part 7″(Stories from the Forest, self-released, 2008)
The American artist Thom Brennan’s prolific and beautifully consistent catalog of nature-influenced New Age music stretches back to the Eighties. Of what I’ve heard, Stories from the Forest is a personal standout.

Mount Shrine – “Forbidden Temple pt.2” (Forbidden Temple, self-released, 2018)
Cesar Alexandre, AKA Mount Shrine, tragically passed away from COVID-19 in 2021. His music, to me, is a benchmark of quality in terms of arrangement and production. There is a certain richness and poise in the amazing body of work he has left behind that I have been seeking to implement in my own music.

William Basinski – “Vivian and Ondine”(Vivian and Ondine, 2062 Records, 2008)
William Basinski’s music tends to be minimalist in delivery, but elaborate in concept. Of all the names on this list, his style has the most apparent influence on my own music.

Thomas Koner – “Teimo”(Teimo, originally released in 1992, reissued by Type, 2010)
This record is based on the artist’s travels in the Arctic. The indiscernible low-frequency sounds on this record (which appear synthetic, but were actually all made with gongs) create a sense of bleakness and infinitude that, when played at high volumes, feels all-consuming.

And anything else going on you want to plug?

I have a few projects in the works, and the best way to keep up to date with what i’m up to is to follow me on Instagram –  / @fortressesmusic.

Thanks for sharing!



Richard Skelton – “Grange”
Tim Hecker – “Currents Of Electrostasy”
Thom Brennan – “Stories from the Forest Part 7”
Mount Shrine – “Forbidden Temple pt.2” (excerpt)
William Basinski – Vivian and Ondine (excerpt)
Thomas Koner – “Teimo”

About Joseph Sannicandro

writer | traveler | sound organizer | contrarian | concerned citizen

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