Ambient Electronic Sampler 37 – Spotted Peccary Music SPM-0037
The album Ambient Electronic Sampler 37 begins with some tracks with imaginative beats, and then heads into increasingly profound, gigantic, and delightful soundscapes. Spotted Peccary Music is celebrating its 37th year with the annual anthology titled 37, containing one track from each of the ten albums which were released in 2023. All are calming peaceful environments that lowers your blood pressure and invites sleep and dreams. These artists all have an innovative vision of the connection between the sound designer and the best possible listener experience. This Ambient Electronic Sampler 37 provides a great insight in what they achieve.
1. The tracks
The sound is cool and austere and prepares the ground for an emerging new spatial vision, anarchic, and highly idiosyncratic. To capture the glorious spirit of the sea one need not depict all of its tiny ripples. A cup is used to hold liquids close, for holding, pouring, or drinking. I hear music for exploration and acceptance, symbolic of fluidity, feelings and emotions, intuition, relationships, healing, and cleansing.
AeTopus – from the album Cup (October 20) “Pure” (4:45).
Imagine wandering in the wilderness at night, with strange lights in the sky, you might sense that danger is out there. We are traveling light, spanning the realms. The tones are cycling, signaling into infinity, into an increasingly complex beautifully cold expanse. I am captured by the sputtering percussion and melodic motion flowing in a dynamic, mixed density, mini-epic sound world, bouncy and complex, clear, and dynamic, “Pure.”
The region between the Earth and Mars seems alight with an unearthly glare, as though the very heart of the sun has burst and hurled part of its flaming mass outward into space, but I should not give away the ending. Forget I said that. Hyperion V (the V is pronounced “five”) is Ben Cox, Thomas Park, and Plexus. To be sure, this is not ordinary dance music, but motion is there, and there are elements of IDM techniques in places.
Hyperion V – from the album Accretion Disc (August 25) “Protoplanet” (4:38).
Imagine a large body of mixed matter in orbit around the sun or a star and thought to be developing into a planet. Now imagine a large planetary embryo, imagine many moon-sized planet embryos, this is the “Protoplanet”
Chronotope refers to the essential unity of space and time, a concept with numerous expressions in literature, physics, and the arts. The music of Chronotope Project explores this time-space confluence and invites the listener on ambient journeys of deep texture infused with gentle pulsing rhythms and soulful melodies.
Chronotope Project – from the album Chronology (September 22) “Arctic Spring” (3:37).
Awaken to a sad lonely landscape with slowly emerging hope, cool winds through glacial cello structures of mercy. The air is below freezing, “Arctic Spring” where the instrumental dialog is graceful and balancing, guitar and cello greet the warming sunshine, joined by koto, flute accents, woodwinds, and the sounds of the northern lights.
On Subtracted Soundscapes, Johan Agebjörn revisits past work with a new compositional mien: a focus on calmness and serenity. The urgent pressure of the dance pulse is gone, leaving the expansive textures and oceanic, continental, and sub-Arctic landscapes. Subtracted means the beats have been removed, for the ambient depth, and I believe that it works.
Johan Agebjörn – from the album Subtracted Soundscapes (July 21) “Sleep In My Arms (Subtracted Version)” (5:40).
This one has a voice speaking for a few moments, whispering, the feeling is very intimate feeling, with rising and falling tones, it rains in the end, all perfectly soothing. “Sleep In My Arms (Subtracted Version)” was originally on the independently released album Sally Shapiro: Disco Romance. Sally Shapiro is mainly a ”neo-Italo disco” project consisting of a female singer (whose real name remains a secret) with Agebjörn acting as a composer and producer.
Entering The Axis Mundi is inspired by the mystical source or center where all things exist at the same time. Electronic music composer and modular synthesist Bart Hawkins’ dedication to inner sonic exploration began in the early ’80s when his practice of Zen Meditation and love of the Berlin School style of electronic music launched him into a world of musical landscapes, sonic textures, and silence, sparking a spiritual awakening into the power of sound.
Bart Hawkins – from the album Entering The Axis Mundi (January 20) “Blessed Under Your Feet” (8:09).
The Axis Mundi is a musical place of connection between heavenly and the earthly realms, from the depths of hell to celestial paradise. Hang on for your dear life… This track, “Blessed Under Your Feet” takes us through and beyond, hail the goer.
Synthesizers pulse and thump on and on forever, enchanting the constant listener, with sparkly maneuvers in the air. They just slowly float away in the rhythm, followed by the next gathering patterns. I am obsessed with the rhythmic machine sound. Instead of hiding in safety, the tribe gathers and jams with the machine, I hear some kind of hypnotic sound machines that just run on and on forever. Time drops away.
Frore – from the album Biome (April 21) “Fern Cluster” (8:10).
“Fern Cluster” is where the lost microbe tribes abide, deep within the forest floor there is a nourishing quiet, somehow the sound is wet and squirms with life. Always the electronic beats sound and drive the spirit, buzzing and humming things come and go.
A walk through a garden is a treat many of us may find mentally and physically restorative. And it does not have to be your own garden – it could just as easily be a public park or a reserve of vegetation growing beside a highway or river. The shading boughs of trees during summer and paths between planted shrubs and flowers are quite different to the surroundings that most of us encounter at work or in our homes.
Rudy Adrian – from the album A Walk in the Shadow Garden (March 24) “Maple Glen” (7:46).
The sound opens wider; night insects resume ownership of the landscape. Now consider the birdscape, this is at the end of the day. The birds are soaring easily in the twilight sky, skimming treetops, and rustling the leaves. “Maple Glen” brings a dark awakening forest atmosphere with more creatures purring somewhere nearby, it is shadowy at all hours in a shadow garden.
Deborah Martin & Jill Haley
Sometimes I want to say that Into the Quiet sounds like a forest spa for your ears, but that sounds hard to prove until you listen for yourself. Fine art goes with nature. What I hear is a unique artistic interpretation of nature, fantastic instrumental Earth inspired themes, sustained intricate woodwinds with synthesizers beautifully expressed and calming to listen to.
Deborah Martin & Jill Haley – from the album Into The Quiet (May 26) “Refuge” (5:08).
Finding “Refuge” and then waking up in a calm but uncertain place, a strange place to explore. Music is a calming medicine that is not pharmaceutical, the feeling evokes a comfortable place that you might seek when you want to hear something subtle and relaxing.
Frore & Shane Morris
Some of the instruments used include analog, digital and modular synthesizers, frame drums, udu, gongs, shakers, and the chromatic flute. An udu is a plosive aerophone, a pear-shaped clay jug with a hole in it, played by slapping the palm onto the udu. A frame drum is a drum that has a drumhead width greater than its depth and is possibly one of the most ancient musical instruments, the drumhead is stretched over a rounded frame. These two instruments, udu and frame drum, with the synthesizers, are some of the key dynamics to this unique sound.
Frore & Shane Morris – from the album Ochre (November 17) “Formations” (5:54).
The slow reverberations hang forever, until the change starts, like a bell under water, stirred by a flute, contrasting dry and raw. Now the hypnotic trance has taken over. We are slowly taken deeper into the cave, following along into the expansive void, marked only by the strange “Formations.”
Craig Padilla & Marvin Allen
The guitar is a strange metallic and spectral wind, a gale force electronic wind that is blowing and pushes everything to the limit, a wide atmospheric sound, utilizing both the beautiful and the awesome. Together with the synthesizer new worlds are meant to be conquered.
Craig Padilla & Marvin Allen – from the album Weathering the Storm (February 17) “Sunflowers in the Wind” (4:37).
The final track “Sunflowers in the Wind” sounds like a bright sunny sky, fine notes ring through the crystal silence, feeding on their echoes and slowly propelling the movement in what becomes a synthesized zephyr.
2. Where to obtain the album Ambient Electronic Sampler 37?
You can download the album Ambient Electronic Sampler 37 for free on Bandcamp.
Written by Robin James, January 9th, 2024