For listeners who enjoy the patient rewards of longform drones, Larry Johnson (known widely and affectionately in netlabel circles as LAJ) offers up a slowly evolving universe of subtle harmonies for Complex Silence 35.
An opening deep-end thrum provides a gently rocking motion that eventually gives way to an extended stream of stretched out middle harmonies. These tones evoke the sense of a cosmic chorus presiding over some gloriously unfolding celestial event. To add further interest toward the end, a sense of foreboding develops with the introduction of a high-pressure ring that awakens then fades. The ending resolves into the deep-end once more, as if you’d just witnessed the birth of a star or a nebula from a million lightyears out. Yet, all in the course of an evening, or in this case, about 30 minutes.
A well-fitting first foray by an artist new to the Series. Thank you, Larry. And thanks for all you do to promote and inspire ambient music and artists in the ‘net music universe.
Jack Hertz returns to the Complex Silence Series with a deeply meditative and spacious soundscape.
Complex Silence 34 is a study of a slow-moving life form that could be the mascot for everything that exemplifies ambient music. It occupies a patient space all its own in a deep universe without any consideration of time and Hertz captures this essence perfectly.
Jack writes: “…this album was inspired by the starfish that populate the Pacific coast where I live. The beautiful creatures move in a nearly imperceptible way along the ocean floor. Are such peaceful and elegant beings that I wanted to create some music that reflected their solemn place in nature.”
Get comfortable and prepare for a long musical trek through an open expanse you can visit whenever you need to stop, take a deep breath, and focus on the mysteries and gifts of life and being.
Thank you Jack, for these beautiful reminders from the silent, yet richly complex world of the starfish.
Complex Series 33 comes in the guise of a long-form mix created by Phillip Wilkerson, and it’s an interesting coincidence that it features various artists who all have participated in the 3 minutes and 33 seconds Project (curated by Le Berger).
The 3m33s Project is described as an “organically evolving compilation of drones all the same length.” Drone music has a signature sound that we tend to recognize and can even describe in words, but it also has a subjective “feel” –an immediate and emotional impact that goes beyond any verbal description. It’s this subjective, emotional effect that Complex Series 33 especially captures.
While 3m33s is an assorted compilation of various interpretations of drones, Complex Silence 33 takes a more homogeneous approach, featuring a carefully culled selection of 3m33s drones that are especially suited to the Complex Silence aesthetic. There’s still plenty of variation in sounds and moods presented in this mix (just look at the roster of fourteen artists whose music is included), but the signature sound of the Series is always present–exposing the listener to drones that have an “enigmatic and abstract ambience” and never venturing “too far from beauty, mystery, or wonder.”
What you will hear in this mix are ambient drones ranging from gentle to cacophonous and discordant to harmonious with mysterious layers of stretched-out tones and beautiful washes of sound. Careful listening will also reveal gentle melodies, delicate abstract textures, and ever-so-subtle variations in sound carefully tucked in amongst the droning ambience.
Brian Eno wrote that ambient music “must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention…it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” Complex Series 33 meets this criterion. It serves well as background music, but it also makes for some intensely absorbing and rewarding listening.
In his recent post, It’s a Small, Small World in Netlabel Land, he offers an interesting perspective on the camaraderie often found among netlabels and artists, citing examples from Free Floating, Treetrunk, BFW Recordings, and We Are All Ghosts among many others.
Specifically, of Complex Silence he adds:
The most recent Complex Silence release, Complex Silence 32, is a collaboration between Phillip Wilkerson & Mystified, a slightly darker, earthier release in this series that will take the listener on a deep journey through both the lower reaches of seamlessly looping drones and the shimmering peaks of crystalline pads and provides a wonderful introduction for those unfamiliar with these releases. Other outstanding offerings in the series include works by both Bing Satellites and Cousin Silas.
I had created a couple of long form pieces specifically for this release and was letting them incubate. At about the same time, Thomas Park had been mixing my drone artifacts into a couple of his recent (and highly recommended) Luminous Deep releases.
So it occurred to me, why not send my two pieces for Complex Silence 32 to Thomas and invite him to work his Mystified magic on them? Why not indeed.
And so it was. And here it is. A collaboration of two new long form works by the two musicians who bring you the Complex Silence Series: Phillip Wilkerson and Mystified.
While these two tracks do take a somewhat darker turn than usual for a Complex Silence release, they also accurately represent the distinct musical signatures of each musician. You can easily hear the light ambient signature of Phillip and you can equally distinguish the massive, brooding drone signature of Mystified. Phillip soars and sighs through the upper end of the scale while Mystified dwells in the depths, adding an ominous earthiness as counterpoint to Phillip’s optimistic airiness. The two signatures merge well to weave a musical tale of time and intensity, of what was and what is yet to be–pulling the listener into the collaboration as well, to fill in their own personal details.
But enough analysis. Music is for listening. And sharing. And collaborating. Enjoy these two tracks and the voyage through darkness and light they offer to your imagination.
The article focused on ten netlabel ambient albums you should own. The list included Jack Hertz, Astrowind, Lähto, Silvercord, Miles Tilmann, Eluder, EugeneKha, Coldstream, Mystified, and Loscil.
On Complex Silence 25, the article had this say:
Jack Hertz is a musician with an excellent ambient pedigree and a number of fine netlabel recordings under his belt. His contribution to this series is four pieces of nocturnal drones and field recordings that really do make you imagine what’s going on in the night, in the underbrush at ground level.