The Books’ music is simultaneously funny, innovative, catchy and enlightening. They use found sound and spoken word mixed with innovative recording techniques and acoustic instruments to create beautiful sound-collages that somehow create unity between all these disparate sources, as if they were all meant to be together. Everything these guys do, solo or together, is absolute genius.
Progressive Cool Jazz with thematic structural development, and ECM-Style reverbed production. Recommended track: Ark La Tex
These transcendent drone meditations will envelop you in a dark blanket of fuzzy guitars and blooming synthesizers.
Released in 2009 on Drag City Format: LP Recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, Chicago, March 2009
Released in 2014 on Drag City Format: LPx2, 45rpm
Released in 2011 on Blackest Rainbow Format: LPx2, 180g Ltd. to 750 copies
Originally released in 2008 on Southern Lord 2014 Pressing Format: LPx2, Red Vinyl
A far cry from the sparse folk usually recorded by Will Oldham, “Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties” finds his intimate voice and warbly acoustic guitar enveloped by the cosmic drones, blooming synths, airy flutes, and hypnotic tape loops of Chicago new age trio, Bitchin Bajas. The lyrics are essentially fortune cookie mantras and, while there’s a chance they’re tongue-in-cheek, it’s difficult not to smile and feel a brightening of the spirit when hearing uplifting phrases like “Your hard work is about to pay off, keep on keepin’ on” or “you and your whole family are well” get repeated over and over. This collaboration is a soothing, heartwarming listen and a refreshing change-of-pace from Oldham’s tendency towards melancholy and solemn lyrical content.
“Recorded during the same session as last year’s sublime Angels of Darkness I, the followup sees Dylan Carlson’s Earth take their panoramic instrumentals, heavy on improvisation this time, into uncharted territories. As with so much of Carlson’s work, these five songs suggest a mournful last dance in the decrepit roadhouse of some faded midwest mining town. But its the little flourishes that make them truly majestic: the droning psyche-folk thrum of His Teeth Did Brightly Shine; the country twang and graceful melodies of A Multiplicity of Doors”…”
On Towards Language, Norweigan trumpeter Arve Henriksen creates a blend of meditative and suspenseful ambient-jazz, demonstrating a more soothing side to his playing than his noisier output with electro-acoustic improvisers Supersilent.
Released in 1966 on World Pacific Records Recorded in 1956
There is a fathomless void within each of us. And while many choose to run from it, clinging to anything to keep from falling in, Deradoorian dove right in on her meditative release, Eternal Reccurrence. Here she provides somewhat of a sonic roadmap for diving deep within yourself, guided by the blooming drones of harmonium, Juno synthesizers, and flutes. Arising from the ether, layers of otherworldly voices sing mantras of facing our Shadow (“Mirrorman”), finding the love that resides in the core of our being, and bringing it back with us into this material dimension.
On Automaginary, the Gnawa-inspired cosmic jazz of Natural Information Society is augmented by the flowing textures of Chicago new age trio Bitchin Bajas to create an album of enveloping drones and trance-inducing rhythms. (Follow link for full Review)
A hypnotic, meditative minimalist classic whose influence can be traced throughout several threads of modern music.
Information: Released in 1978 on PVC Records Format: LP
A psychedelic synth odyssey created with only an expanded Series III Moog by Robert Margouleff and synth-guru Malcolm Cecil (who programmer synths on legendary albums by Stevie Wonder and Gil-Scott Heron in addition to his ambient solo work). The intricately layered results here feel like a synthetic wilderness, with a wide variety of colors and textures that sound warm, organic, and natural despite their electronic origins.
On his debut album, the guitar and banjo virtuoso starts off with a 22-minute droning epic fusing American and Arabic Folk music with Indian Raga on his acoustic guitar (often trying to imitate the feeling of the oud). Here, he is accompanied by the fluid, driving drums of Billy Higgins. Side 2 is made up of 4 shorter solo pieces, mostly for the banjo, including an impressive rendition of “Carmina Burana” by German composer Carl Orff and a folky mountain song.
Peaceful drone meditations and mantras for bass clarinet and sitar. The improvisatory melodies are beautifully expressive, exploratory, and blanketed in a soft, soothing reverb.
Album Information: Released in 1969 on Impulse Records 1972 pressing
Pastoral psychfolk from guitar master Ben Chasney. Here his serene acoustic fingerpicking is occasionally accompanied by harmonium drones and trippy guitar overdubs, but overall the album is extremely sparse and meditative.
Saxophonist Colin Stetson and violinist Sarah Neufeld employ innovative performance techniques, mutating ostinatos and an atmospheric sense of texture to compose minimalist compositions that are as brooding and haunting they are hypnotically beautiful.
Album Information: Originally released in 1971 on Impulse Records This pressing was released in 1997 on Impulse/MCA Records Recorded November … More
Album Information: Released in 2007 on Southern Lord Records Produced by Steve Albini and Om Recorded and mixed by Steve … More
Performed on acoustic guitar and an early delay pedal, Christopher Idylls is a soothing, reflective way to ease into the morning. It fits somewhere between ambient, new age, and American primitive guitar.
Album Information: Released in 2017 on Blue Chopsticks Records (Imprint of Drag City Records) Eli Keszler – Drums, Percussion (Tracks … More
Album Information: Released in 1967 on Takoma Records Includes 15-page book of stories and song notes
Meditative jazz explorations of space, rhythm and textures inspired by Miles Davis’ ambient jazz pieces, Gnawa ceremonial music of North Africa, the spiritual jazz of Pharoah Sanders and Don Cherry, and the mutating minimalism of Steve Reich.
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Album Information: Released in 1967 on Takoma Records This album was originally released on 100 copies in 1959, but was … More
Shakti means “Creative Intelligence, Beauty & Power” and trust me, these are all in abundance on these devotional jazz ragas. Featuring John McLaughlin joined by a quartet of Indian master musicians, this album is a blissfully uplifting and meditative release.
Guitar-genius Mdou Moctar visits Portland, Oregon from his home country of Niger to record a hypnotic solo album of desert folk sung in Tamasheq. Most songs consist of intricate fingerstyle acoustic guitar with occasional electric guitar overdubs to accent the melodies.
A fingerpicking folk odyssey that traverses through passages of delicate piano motifs, tribal drum circles, meditative ambience, celebratory horn arrangements, reverent organ drones, and even a cathartic drum solo, all within a single 40 minute track.
An introspective, instrumental journey of pastoral fingerstyle guitar, occasionally joined by piano, synth and horn arrangements
Soothing, cosmic drones constructed with with tape loops, synths, organs, guitars and flute.
Album Information: Released in 1967 on Takoma Records Original album recorded and released in 1964, but was re-recorded in 1967 … More
Primitivist acoustic guitar instrumentals in the form of droney ragas, jovial ragtime, and pastoral fingerpicking
organic washes of piano and zither, analog synthesizers, wood flutes, saxophone, and the occasional free jazz drums recorded, looped, and manipulated through cassette and reel tape recorders and then masterfully woven into a cosmic tapestry of blissful, meditative drones