Category Archives: The Ambient Series

The Ambient Series: Steve Roach’s Spiral Revelation Up For Grammy Award

Sometimes, the music you love, even the most obscure, are classics that get recognized for their brilliance. Back in January of 2017, I posted a review of an album – something I rarely do these days. The artist is Steve Roach, an ambient magician of note that has created 125 albums thus far! The album, Spiral Revelation, has just been announced for a Grammy Award nomination. Stunning!

Spiral Revelation is nominated for Best New Age Album alongside of Reflection (Brian Eno), Songversation: Medicine (India Arie), Dancing On Water (Peter Kater), and Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai (Kitaro). Not only is this heady company and competition, it also speaks to the fact that Steve Roach is a world-class talent, something that is not lost on MusicTAP readers and fans of ambient music worldwide.

MusicTAP wishes Steve Roach (and by association, Projekt Records, and Spotted Peccary, both which released Spiral Revelation) all the best in this magnificent honor.

You can read my 2017 review of Spiral Revelation here.

The Ambient Series: New Collaborative Work With Tom Rogerson and Brian Eno, Finding Shore

Brian Eno never really seems too far away from our musical consciousness. He may not sell music into the hundreds of thousands like his work as a producer typically did. But he has a solid fan-base that enjoys his varied methods of music creations, some as different from the last as is humanly possible.  Another thing that Brian Eno is well known for is his collaborations, of which are many. His most popular collaborative effort was with David Byrne of Talking Heads, My Life In The Bush of Ghosts. That album explored quite a display of music that could not be effectively replicated or influential.

On December 8, Dead Oceans (a strong and influential label) will release a collaboration between Tom Rogerson and Brian Eno. Tom Rogerson is considered a classically trained improviser with the piano.  His musical history includes time spent with Three Trapped Tigers, a UK experimental Rock band, and some recording with The Bad Plus.  The album is being called Finding Shore and will contain thirteen tracks. It will be released on CD, DD, and as an initial limited edition run of 1500 blue opaque vinyl LP. After the clear blue vinyl sell out, the represses will be black vinyl.

Finding ShoreTom Rogerson with Brian Eno

01. Idea of Order at Kyson Point
02. Motion in Field
03. On-ness
04. March Awa
05. Eastern Stack
06. Minor Rift
07. The Gabbard
08. Red Slip
09. Quoit Blue
10. Marsh Chorus
11.An Iken Loop
12. Chain Home
13. Rest

The Ambient Series: New Tangerine Dream Album Scheduled For September

Before Edgar Froese passed on to the ‘great gig in the sky’, he began to work on a new iteration of his lifelong band, Tangerine Dream. He refused to let the band that he headed grow stagnant. As a result, the band went though several classic phases that are easily divided up into specific periods. Edgar Froese was at the early but productive stages of a new project called The Quantum Years, so named because of our growing advancement into Quantum physics, a science that will dramatically change our perception of the universe. This firstfruit of that phase is being called Quantum Gate, representing an entrance.

The intent of The Quantum Years was to take the band’s ’70s style, update the sound, and sprinkle in their sequencer sounds of the ’80s to produce a worthy hybrid of music for the already aging millennium.

The band members, headed by the management of Edgar Froese’s wife, have used the fan-funding power of PledgeMusic to help make this vision a reality. On September 29, coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the birth of the band, Tangerine Dream will release Quantum Gate. It will be made available in a number of ways including several poster and tee bundles. Some of those will also bundle in the EP of Quantum Key, a previously released 4-track introductory set issued back in September of 2016.

Quantum Gate will be released on CD, DD, and vinyl 2LP. Investigate further here!


New Tomita Album Features Live Symphony Of Final Work, Dr. Coppelius

Isao Tomita has been gone from us since May of 2016. I’m actually surprised that we’ve not seen any remasters or expansions by RCA. A BOX even. I think that his works contributed heavily to the beautiful ’70s, before sound and style upended (not unappealingly, mind you). But we didn’t get a representative set of refreshed Tomita music. But, we are getting something, Tomita fans.

On March 22, via Nippon Columbia, the first Tomita set since his death is being released. The new album is being called Dr. Coppelius, and is a live presentation of his composed symphony. It is the premiere of the symphony, played live at the 12th Bunkamura Orchard Hall by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. This symphony played live on November 11/12 in 2016. The symphony was conducted by Kazumasa Watanabe, with electronic parts performed by Aiko Hikari.

Dr Coppelius, of course, while an original work, is not a studio work. I have hope that it will be eventually done, and released as a studio work attributed to Tomita, for the enjoyment of his fans. You can see more here.

Dr Coppelius – Tomita

01 – The 0th movement Move the living body Ascending Life Form
02 – 3rd movement Into the universe Into The Outer Space Based on Villa-Lobos’ No. 7 “Brazilian Bach”
03 – 4th movement Landing on The Asteroid 25143 Itokawa at Planet Itokawa Based on Leo · dolbe composition “Coppelia” waltz
04 – The 5th movement Mourning Song Song of Grief Based on Villa-Lobos’ No. 4 “Brazilian Bach”
05 – End of the 6th movement End of The Time Richard Wagner’s composition “Tristan and Isolde” based on the death of love
06 – 7 th movement, Sunrise Rise of The Planet 9


New Brian Eno Album, Reflection, Arrives In January

reflection-brian-enoThe last album from Brian Eno was The Ship, released earlier in 2016. It featured vocals and was an extraordinary album that many of us fans knew he was capable of. However, vocalized albums, or musically ambient, Brian Eno’s body of work is always mesmerizing. To date, we have over 25 solo sets that include Here Come The Warm Jets (1974), Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (1974), Discreet Music (1975), Music For Airports (Ambient 1) (1978), Thursday Afternoon(1985), and the previously mentioned The Ship (2016). That doesn’t even incllude his list of brilliant collaborative sets that add in classics like No Pussyfooting (with Robert Fripp – 1973), High Life (with Karl Hyde – 2014, and not to ever forget My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (with David Byrne – 1981) and their follow-up in Everything That Will Happen Will Happen Today (2008). But Brian Eno is never done.

On January 1, via Warp Records, Brian Eno will release a single track ambient album called Reflection. Eno equates it to his decades ago album, Thursday Afternoon, which also contained a single ambient track. To date, there are no snippets to get a feel of what’s going through his musical mind.

I just feel lucky to to soon be able to immerse within the confines of his imaginative music palate. In this case, Eno says that the sounds are making themselves, after which he becomes the proprietor of their mix. He refers to this next step in his musical evolution as “generative”. He has also hinted that the captured by recording sounds were mixed in various ways, or generations of mixes, one making way for a better one until he arrived at the most satisfying mix to be presented in Reflection.

Reflection will be delivered on CD, and vinyl LP.


The Ambient Series: Oxygéne 3 To Complete Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygéne Trilogy

jean-michel-jarre-oxygene-3Jean-Michel Jarre released his Oxygéne classic back in 1976. What set it apart from his previous two (both that I was completely unaware of until I heard his original Oxygéne) was his new involvement in the emerging minimalist style of the time (a style still in full swing). Over time, Oxygéne helped to establish Jean-Michel Jarre as a composer of note, and not to be ignored. Since Oxygéne, Jarre has released well over fifteen albums, including an Oxygéne II (titled Oxygéne 7-13). That 1997 set was meant as a true sequel to the original.

On December 2, Jean-Michel Jarre, completely inspired, will release the next step in the Oxygéne movement, Oxygéne 3. It was created while Jarre created his two Electronica albums between the period of 2015 and 2016. An idea led to the recording of what has since been titled “Oxygéne 19”. With that inspiration leading the charge, Jean-Michel Jarre recorded the other six tracks that provide a bridge to the previous two. With seven musical pieces (“Oxygéne 14 – Oxygéne 20), we will have access to what is considered the conclusion of the imagined Oxygéne trilogy (I hope for more even before I hear these tracks). A coffee table book featuring Oxygéne is also planned.

Oxygéne will celebrate its 40th Anniversary on December 12.

Oxygéne 3 will be issued on CD, DD, and vinyl LP. The three titles will also be offered as a complete boxed set with all three works on CD and vinyl LP.

(Thanks to Pat for the heads up!)


The Ambient Series: New Dirk Serries Microphonics Release, Resolution Heart

dirk-serries-microphinics-xxvi-xxx-resolution-heartNoted ambient artist, Dirk Serries, whose music is best described as dark and experimental. The music is a minimalist drone that bypasses the safer rush of skin-pop ambient by mainlining into the psyche with maximum musical potency. Drone and mininalistic ambient is defintiely not for everyone, but for those that thrive on a mind’s journey into the universe, then music by Dirk Serries is the way to experience that explosion.

Formerly, Serries has recorded under the name of vidnaObmana, under which he has released a wealth of more traditional solo and collaborative ambient pieces on various labels. But his stronger pieces come under his own name. He has also recorded under the Fear Falls Burning moniker.

On November 18, Tonefloat Music will release the next and final album in the Microphonics series for Dirk Serries. The new album is being called Microphonics XXVI-XXX: Resolution Heart. Resolution Heart will be issued on DD, and vinyl LP.

Ordering can be done here (somehow).

For a time yet to be announced, Dirk Serries will release a two-part CD of new songs performed in a live setting. That album is being called Smothered Hope, Infinite Daze, and will be released by Substrata, a Mexican label.



The Ambient Series: New Enigma Album, The Fall Of A Rebel Angel

Enigma the Fall Of A Rebel AngelIn the ’90s, Michael Cretu led a project notably called Enigma. During that period, there were three multi-platinum albums released (MCMXC a.D. -1990, The Cross Of Changes – 1993, Le Roi Est Mort, Viva Le Roi! -1996), followed by a string of follow-ups that included The Screen Behind The Mirror (2000), Voyageur (2003), A Posteriori (2006), Seven Lives Many Faces (2008).

In all Enigma releases, the music was challenging and innovative, never a dull moment. And so it’s a notable entry to recognize the upcoming addition to the Enigma library with the upcoming The Fall Of A Rebel Angel album planned for November 11.

This new album will be made available over several variations that include a jewel-cased CD (with a 28-page booklet and 12 painting  replicas), a Limited Edition 2CD Deluxe in high quality digipak (with a 40-page booklet) that includes a CD of the story and inspiration behind the album recounted in three languages along with original music, a Limited Edition Super Deluxe Edition presented in a signed picture frame and supplying access to exclusive online content, and a vinyl LP with gatefold jacket, and a 16-page booklet, with 12 painting replicas).


New Vangelis Album, Rosetta, Arrives In September

A new Vangelis album is always a good reason to get excited. The new announcement that Vangelis would be releasing a new album based on the European Space Agency’s space probe, Rosetta is high energy anticipation for those that are fans of his music. Vangelis’ last studio release, Mythodea, was released in 2001 and celebrated the NASA 2001 Mars Odyssey craft that had entered the orbit of Mars. Rosetta is a probe that is on the comet 67P.

Vangelis Rosetta

Rosetta is being planned for release via Decca Classics on September 23. It is scheduled for issue on CD, DD, and vinyl LP.

Review: Earth Luminous – Erik Wøllo and Byron Metcalf

Erik Wollo and Byron MetcalfThe latest album by Erik Wøllo, as a collaboration with ambient artist, Byron Metcalf, is a tribal rhythm grandeur. It is an unrelenting set of tracks, eight in all, that move effortlessly down a corridor of streaming music. Each piece feels strongly related to the one before and after it. As it goes from track to track, the album highlights an extreme concentration of intent. Earth Luminous effortlessly showcases Wøllo’s guitars and synth work, recordings that merges perfectly into the rhythmic percussion of Metcalf’s intended contributions.

Earth Luminous is hypnotic in every way. The periodic distortions in the streams of music lend an eerie feeling over the entire flow of the album. I want to stay away from mentioning any spacey elements, which would detract from the definite earthy audio flow of these sound pieces. And they move fast, like meteors through your neural system. I actually felt the music flow through me.

Trust me, with ambient, that’s a pretty  awesome thing. It makes you feel one with the music. I’m betting that the artists like that!