Lighthouse - image by Kuutana

At Water’s Edge

There is something mystical and powerful about the border between earth and water. Change happens here; sometimes subtle, sometime catastrophic, beautiful, terrifying. When a soul stands on that edge, it is transformed; it yearns for a journey, for movement, for something so completely other than the here and now — and magic happens.

Today’s edition of At Water’s Edge plays at the edge of water with a survey of tracks from the Radio Spiral archives, as well as some newer releases — most notably, a track from the brand new release from Robert Rich and Markus ReuterLift a Feather to the Flood.

Photographs in the video stream are courtesy of our good friend Kuutana, who provided these images for previous watery programs (one of which was abandoned because of connection issues).

Listen:

Watch:

Hour 1

“Waterfall Canyon” – Brother SaturnCaverns and Canyons (B-Sides and Unreleased Songs) (2014)

Drew Miller is a multi instrumentalist and cinematic soundscape producer from Colorado. He blends both ambient and classical music, to form his unique, ethereal, otherworldly sound.

This album comprises tracks that never made it on to any of his “Tales of Space” records for various reasons. We are certainly glad he chose to release them!

“Slow Jam with flute and water” – Bing SatellitesLittle Waves (2010)

Bing Satellites is a prolific ambient shoegaze musician and producer from Manchester, UK. He also makes music under the guises of The Lovely Moon, The Ambient Visitor and Blocker.

“Your Shadow on the Water” – Michael BrücknerOmbra Revisited (Rebekkah’s Second Shadow) (2014)

Born in Heidelberg, Germany, and later settled near Mainz, Michael Brückner is a prolific ambient/electronic music composer. He has been crafting his music since 1992.

Ombra Revisited is a fascinating collection of tracks. The release includes not only the “normal” tracks you would expect; it also includes an additional personalized album, Your Second Shadow, as CD-R, in a hand manufactured cardboard case with full artwork.

What does “personalized” mean…?

Each instance of this album is unique (meaning each individual album is different from any other of its “brethren”, yet is related to them in concept and musical content). This specific track was part of the Rebekkah’s Second Shadow version.

“Bright Waters” – Juta TakahashiAngel (2012)

Based in Sendai, Japan, Juta Takahashi has been creating music since he was quite young. In his teens, he was strongly influenced by progressive rock and synthesizer music that was considered avant-garde at that time. He went to Tokyo to continue school, and his career as a musician started afterward. Though he originally was a guitarist and played rock music such as King Crimson’s that valued improvisation, he gradually devoted himself to electronic music. He now resides in Sendai, Miyagi and independently produces music using synthesizers and computers. His primary influences from electronic/ambient musicians include Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Vangelis, and Pete Namlook, etc. Though his music is basically beautiful, calm, emotional and melodious, occasionally darker and more aggressive suggest catch a glimpse of his original musical background. Preferring analog instruments to digital ones, his works are characterized by that unique approach. His music composition mainly consists of improvisation rather than programming; his first commercial album was released in August, 2007, and he continues to release excellent albums periodically.

Hour 2

“These Storms Cast Shadows on the Ocean” – Robert Rich & Markus ReuterLift a Feather to the Flood (2017)

Only a few days old at the time this edition of At Water’s Edge aired, Lift a Feather to the Flood is a gorgeous new collaboration between two giants of the music world, Robert Rich and Markus Reuter.

Swimming defiantly upriver, slowly through sonic swirls,
Fractal shards and crystalline clouds. Troubled, yet calm.
An incantation to transform the luminous darkness. Markus Reuter has earned acclaim for his work as a composer, guitarist, guitar designer, sound designer, producer and teacher. Long-time collaborator with King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto in TUNER, Markus tours the world in Stick Men with Mastelotto and bassist Tony Levin. His duets with Ian Boddy have led to many respected albums on Boddy’s DiN label, while his group Centrozoon and his epic orchestral work Todmorden 513 show different sides of his maverick nature. Reuter also collaborated with Robert Rich on their previous release “Eleven Questions” (2007.) Robert Rich has helped define ambient and electronic music with dozens of albums across four decades. He began building synthesizers in 1976, and studied computer music at Stanford’s CCRMA while earning a degree in Psychology, researching lucid dreaming. His all-night sleep concerts became legendary. Along with performing and recording, Rich designs sounds for synthesizers and media, teaches and lectures worldwide, and has mastered hundreds of albums.

Composed & Performed by Markus Reuter and Robert Rich
16-17 January 2017 at Soundscape, Mountain View.
Markus Reuter: Touch Guitar, Sequential P6, looping/feedback network.
Robert Rich: Acoustic piano, post-processing and additions.
Edited, Mixed and Mastered by Robert Rich
© 2017 by Markus Reuter (GEMA) and Robert Rich (BMI)

“River and Sea” – Dennis MoserApproaching the Maritime (2006)

Dennis Moser, aka usr/sbin, is based in Washington State, USA, and is a purveyor of non-pop-, non-genre-specific experimental music coming out of a classical background with a heavy dose of Eno & Fripp-influenced/induced sense of ambient music. He is not afraid of using software or hardware to create these things. He’s also a very talented photographer — you can see his portfolio at https://www.flickr.com/photos/aldusm/

“Towards the Bottomless Sea” – Max CorbachoThe Ocean Inside (2012)

Max Corbacho has been creating ambient atmospheric – space music for almost two decades, combining spiraling, synth-driven drifting harmonies with breathing, timeless electronic soundscapes.

The Ocean Inside is a double-album paradise of lush, cascading long chords, as oceanic waves, back and forth, in an eternal flow of shifting tones and spiraling harmonies. This is music aimed at energy, emotional and mind levels, for listeners who love deep, meditative ambient music.

Corbacho portrays a very personal and introspective journey divided in two parts: one in his now classical melodic and cosmic style full of beauty and dreams and the other introducing a deeper and a bit darker scenario surrounded by massive amounts of pads and drones that takes us to the depths of serenity, like lying on the floor of an infinite ocean.

Hour 3

“Raindrops” – Janne HanhisuantoWater Stories (2010)

Janne presents a collection of tone poems inspired by water, and indeed his sound design and use of field recordings present this point of view well. The music of “Water Stories” exists somewhere in the crossover realm between ambient music, space music, and mellow new age, taking the best elements of each and fusing them into something altogether refreshing. Perhaps more introspective and slightly melancholy than his previous work, this music nonetheless possesses an almost aching elegance and wistful emotional appeal.

(Excerpted from the Earth Mantra release notes)

“the scent of water within the rock” – zen rat – a world beneath the world (2016)

One of my first reintroductions to ambient/electronic/experimental music in the first year of the At Water’s Edge radio program, this album holds a special place in my heart. Built around delicious field recordings, this album is one of the finest examples of experimentation with ambient sounds and manipulations, with a great story to boot.

Zen Rat is a collaboration between Darrell Burgan (Palancar) and Mike Metlay (metlay!), founded around long-distance collaboration and telling the story of Smoke and Spark, two laboratory rats who’d been experimented on to the point where they spontaneously reached Nirvana from within their cages.

Interestingly, this album was recorded in real time, but with the artists nearly a thousand miles apart.

So we have the two rats in the darkness taking turns leading one another, or venturing cautiously forth together into the grand and ominous world beneath the world.

The original name for this project, by the way, came from the idea of lab rats turned bodhisattvas: Labrathisattva. Long after the fact, it was discovered that Mike’s proud play on words couldn’t be pronounced or spelled by anybody… not even Darrell (except maybe yours truly). As a result, Darrell and Mike have elected to change the project name to the much more pronounceable and spellable Zen Rat.

“SeaGreen II” – KuutanaDreamScapes Vol. 2 (2015)

Kuutana is another prolific creator of electronic music across multiple forms working under different project names, and ranging from purely blissful ambient to EDM and Berlin school electronica.

Kuutana is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer with over twenty albums released in the ambient, New Age, Chill, and EM genres. Kuutana also founded the Borders Edge Music Label in 2010, focusing on EM, New Age, Chill, and Ambient music genres. Kuutana also teaches music and digital media interest students at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada.

DreamScapes Volume 2 is the second compilation of Ambient tracks by Kuutana in the DreamScapes series. This compilation includes select tracks from The Color of Sleep project’s TwilightBlue, SeaGreen, and the Kuutana “Rebirth” album released in 2015. It also includes a new track “New Horizons”, previously unreleased.

“A Sea of Liquid Helium” – Joe McMahonOcean Music (2009)

One of the finest practitioners of ambient experimentation, Joe McMahon doesn’t release new work very often, but when he does, it’s delicious. From the Earth Mantra program notes:

Built reflecting Joe’s “impressions of oceans ancient and modern”, this release is a collection of gorgeous experimental ambient goodness.

It is not easy to characterize this music, because it is very unlike any we have previously heard. It is undoubtedly ambient, moving at a luxuriously slow pace, but this is very unlike most ambient music we have heard. The music is very clear, with a beautiful, almost crystalline clarity. And there is also a delicious experimental finish to the music that really makes this an exquisite release, a thoroughly unique combination of styles that we find irresistible.

What are we blathering on about? Well, in our minds at least, when we think of ambient music we are usually thinking of mellow, spacey sounds floating in a sea of reverb. Joe’s new album is nothing like that, composed of very electronic, almost glistening sounds in a completely dry but completely clear background. And it rocks. His pacing is utterly exquisite, never moving too slowly or too quickly, and with much delicacy. The music is clearly synthetic and yet it oozes organic like a black smoker at the border of the continental rift. The compositions themselves are masterful.

“Undulant Sea” – Meg BowlesThe Shimmering Land (2013)

Perfectly titled, “Undulant Sea” is one of the tracks from Meg Bowles’ ZMR award-winning (ZMR Best Ambient Album of 2013) The Shimmering Land, wherein shimmering ambient orchestral soundscapes evoke soft layers of shifting light and sound.

Classically trained composer-synthesist Meg Bowles has been well known for her ambient orchestral soundscapes for over 20 years.

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