Posts Tagged ‘minimal’

The Green Kingdom – Prismatic

November 28, 2010

Michael Cottone has been quietly making music under The Green Kingdom moniker since 2006, and with each release he further refines his brand of introspective ambient bliss. His latest album Prismatic was released in September by Home Assembly Music and was mastered by Taylor Deupree. Cottone skillfully uses digitally enhanced acoustic guitar, strings, bells, and a myriad of samples and field recordings to create his compositions.

Within his arrangements, melody and space work in tandem in an attempt to manifest what Cottone has called an “optimistic nostalgia” for the listener — an aural experience that can provide a momentary reprieve from the frenetic, fast-paced world that surrounds us. And indeed his music is perfect for contemplative mornings and quiet evenings, where the vibe is to “slow down” and to “reflect”, and while listening this comes about quite naturally, as the familiarity of his work launches you back into memories of warm summer evenings past and gone, while at the same time, makes your heart beat ever faster for the future.

There’s a strong sense of optimism in Cottone’s music that is useless to attempt to describe in words, the expressive rhythms and melodies he creates speak for themselves. With tracks like “Wetlands” and “The Largest Creature That Has Ever Existed”, Cottone works with guitar, piano, and bells and establishes incredible mood and subjective wonder, while with “Radiance Reflected” and “Bonfire (tec)”, he adds a subtle 4/4 beat underneath it all, simulating your heart beating buoyantly for the future you envision for yourself. There is also a strong underlying sense of being connected to nature — to the woods that border our cities and towns, to the birds that fly unseen above our heads, and to the sun-drenched afternoons we take for granted until the bleak days of winter have surrounded us.

Prismatic is one of the finest ambient albums of 2010, and a prime example of electronic and organic sounds working together so effortlessly. Fans of Helios, Nest, The Boats, Kiln, and Susumu Yokota should check out The Green Kingdom immediately. The album also comes with a bonus disc of remixes from the likes of Insecto, Fieldhead, The Declining Winter, The Boats, and bvdub, and is an excellent addendum to the subtle beauty of Prismatic.

Check it.

Morgan Packard – Moment Again Elsewhere

October 18, 2010

For Juno Records

Morgan Packard returns with the follow up to his acclaimed Airships Fill The Sky with Moment Again Elsewhere, an album of rich home-listening electronica. Mixing his adeptness for rhythm and gently churning basslines, with the use of saxophone, piano, and accordion, Packard has crafted another album of quiet yet beat-driven music that one can put on and get lost in.

Using a software program of his own design called Ripple, Packard creates a wash of subtle ambient moodscapes that sound just as organic as they do digital and the effect is captivating. Tracks like “Insist”, “Window”, and “Although” pulsate slowly and steadily and are accented with clicks, cuts, and sonic whirrs. The longest track on the album, “Moment” sits comfortably in between the work of Andreas Tilliander and Shuttle358 — it hints at dub and jazz-inflected rhythms and is arguably the album’s best track.

Moment Again Elsewhere is really an album that needs to be listened to in its entirety. There is no stand out track per se, but Packard is skilled at establishing mood, and as the album plays out, one feels a sense of digitized calm wash over them and swirl about the room. Fans of Taylor Deupree, Ezekiel Honig, Shuttle358, and Andreas Tilliander should check this out. It is one worthy of repeat listens and an excellent addition into the ever growing canon of electronic music for the home listener. Peace.

Luke Hess – Light in the Dark

June 12, 2009

luke hess

Luke Hess has just released his proper debut “Light in the Dark” on the fantastic Echochord imprint. Having cut his teeth in Detroit and refined his sound over the last few years working with the likes of Omar-S and other emerging dub techno producers, Hess’ debut pays homage to the Detroit minimalism of Theorem and Plastikman and Basic Channel’s deep techno of the late 90’s. And although at times some tracks sound eerily close to the artists he’s paying respect to, overall I think the album totally works.

This is 4/4 techno that is dance-floor oriented, but it’s also heady and reflective. It almost feels as if Hess is trying to recreate the glory days of Detroit techno, before DEMF, when sketchy warehouse parties and the City Club were the places to go to drop pills and sweat and dance and just lose it to the craziest, darkest, bass-heavy, four on the floor techno you ever heard. And unfortunately, I think this is where the album falters. It doesn’t go far enough. Yes, the production is crisp and technically some of the finest dub techno I’ve heard since “The Coldest Season”, but by looking so deeply into the past, Hess never really moves his sound forward. If anything “Light in the Dark” reveals his potential, an artist with skill and style, but one who still needs to carve out his own niche, and continue to refine his own sound.

Luke Hess is one to watch out for in the coming years, and his debut album is definitely worth checking out. Peace.

Edit: Also check out the Ignite the Dark Remixes (Mikkel Metal, cv313, and Marko Furstenberg). Dynomite!