This is a second installment of our Sound Bytes’ Missed Gems column, featuring a few quick roundups of the last year’s overseen favorites, as selected by Stationary Travels. I am definitely enjoying these discoveries, and hope that you will find a little treasure too…
Chamomile Vol. 01
I had my first exposure to the music of Siavash Amini when he was featured as a Soundclouder of the day and immediately recognized that this was an artist that I was going to hear much more from. Chamomile Vol. 01 is his contribution to the Botica Música Electrónica series from Oído Records. The motif and phraseology of the label’s description comes across a bit New Age, but the music is richly atmospheric ambient guitar rendered with graceful beauty and deep pathos. This was one of my most often played records during the year. Also note that Siavash has an outstanding track in the Futureseqence Sequence 7 compilation called ‘A Mist of Grey Light’ and a new album expected early next year on Umor Rex records.
Visiting Tides is the work of British musician Simon Bainton. As intimated by the evocative title, the seven tracks are each named after different coastal areas that have inspired the artist. The description tells us that “the album draws from an entirely acoustic palette of instruments including piano, acoustic guitar, voice, harmonica, flute, wind chimes and also features the unmistakable cello of Danny Norbury“. On tracks such as ‘Porlock’, Bainton applies very minimal treatment, whereas others are heavily processed into mesmerizing drones, such as ‘Tankah’. The striking cover art is an image of Newborough Dunes, overlooking the Snowdonia mountain range taken by photographer Richard Outram.
Those Who Remain
Already Dead Tapes and Records
Born in Australia and based in New Zealand, Micah Templeton-Wolfe produces beautiful ambient music as Stray Theories. Released over the summer, Those Who Remain is no doubt his best work so far. “A growing-up of dark malignities can at times turn into something bright. […] Capturing a deep yet delicate shade of color and tone, Stray Theories finds contrast from beginning to end with light and dark feelings.” There is a glassy smooth purity throughout the album, yet it never feels detached thanks to a well-constructed melodic framework and the depth of emotion that permeates each song. Add the mastering of Taylor Deupree to all of this musical craft and you have one very complete and satisfying album.
Movements of Night
Students of Decay
Secret Pyramid is the solo project of Vancouver-based musician Amir Abbey and this album was perhaps my favorite drone-oriented recording of the year. I almost passed it over, as some of the descriptions of it I read lead me to expect something dark and forbidding. “Abbey deftly navigates the properties of sleep and unconsciousness, charting a course that is equal parts harrowing and funereal, tranquil and sublime.” A deep melancholy bordering on a sense of loss does indeed haunt all the tracks, but they are also imbued with a transcendent grace so that the album never becomes maudlin or brooding. Instead, I consider it an enthralling, moving, and beautiful record which I can recommend unreservedly.
Words by Brian Housman of Stationary Travels.