Tag Archives: Projekt Records

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 ambien 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.

For The Holidays: Projekt’s CDs of Holiday Music Are Ethereal Delights

As Christmas begins to round the corner, it’s likely that some of you have already begun to spin holiday music choices. I know I have. And like many of you, I have favorites. Several of my all-time favorites are actually from the same label.

Between 1995 and 2001, Projekt Records released three richly curated Holiday sets, all known as Excelsis. The three volumes were sub-headed to distinguish themselves. Between the three sets are 38 songs, none of which can be properly classified. Many of the tracks found on these three volumes are re-imagined traditional classics, and some are  new compositions.

All the contributing artists are from the Dark Wave genre, moved along with great supportive effort from the Projekt label owner, Sam Rosenthal. And while the music is gothic in nature (as were many of the original old traditionals), they are surprisingly beautiful and completely memorable.

Volume One is sub-titled A Dark Noel. But do not be deterred by the title (if it would threaten to deter you), the music transcends all expectations of sound. On the first volume (issued in 1995), you’ll be treated to a stunning version of “Welcome Christmas” by Love Spirals Downward, which features the beautiful vocals of Suzanne Perry , This Ascension’s haunting “Carol Of The Bells”, the unmatched sounds of Lycia, with their unique rendition of “We Three Kings”,  Area’s incredible version of “O Come Emmanuel”, and a fantastic bar period piece by Faith and the Muse of “A Winter Wassail”.

Volume Two, sub-headed as A Winter’s Song, is filled with equally captivating music. Of the album’s fifteen tracks, my favorite stand-out is “In The Bleak Midwinter”. But the album is generously populated with other songs like Julia Kent’s string instrumental of “What Child Is This?”, Lycia’s “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, The Crüxshadows’ version of the Lennon classic, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”, and Thanatos’ version of “Silent Night”.

Volume Three – a prelude – was a response to the popularity of the previous two releases, but only issued as a nine-track Maxi-CD. Nevertheless, it beautifully caps off a rare and memorable trilogy of sets that you may not have heard the contents of. It displays Lynn Canfield’s lovely “Edelweiss”, “Aspen Glow” by Lovespirals, Frolic’s enchanting “Angels We Have Heard On High”, and an alternate version of “Silver and Gold” (first heard on the second volume) by  Faith & Disease.

Of the three CDs, the first one is completely sold out in physical form. However, it can still be purchased digitally here in a ‘name your price’ offering (here). The others are still available (here, and here).

Please understand that you WILL be surprised by what you hear. I highly recommend all three volumes!

 

Review: Spiral Revelation – Steve Roach

It’s sometimes hard to find the words that accurately bring justice to an ambient work. With a band like Tangerine Dream, you almost only have to mention their name for fans to understand the potential for a good to great album of music. Ambient artist, Steve Roach, should be at that level for many fans of the genre. With more than 60 creations within his catalogue, not to mention his many collaborations, Steve Roach is (or should be) an instantly recognizable name within the ambient world of sound. His latest album, Spiral Revelation, is a classic album in the making. And I do not say this lightly.

Spiral Revelation is a newly released set with six lengthy tracks (yes, you want these tracks lengthy). Beginning with the eleven minute first track, “We Continue”, there is a beautiful and repetitive piece that is bathed in a wash of sound. Occasionally filled in with other sounds, this opening track easily sets the quality of music tone for the rest of Spiral Revelation. As the first track glides into the second, you barely notice a transition has occurred, it’s that well orchestrated. Your mind is completely in tune it simply does not recognize a change.

There are two tracks over the ten minute mark, and deservedly so. The rest ease between six and ten minutes with two of them quite near ten minutes in length. All in all, this ambient work is an otherworldly masterpiece, beautifully composed by one of our ambient masters. With just over a full hour of transitional tunes, Spiral Revelation should be heard by all fans of ambient music.

The album itself is noted as being “The Sound of Life, Interconnected and Unfurling”. Under the disc, within the plastic well that holds the CD, the four (North, East, South West) corners have -appropriately – the words ‘Feeling’, Sensation’, ‘Thought’, ‘Intuition’.

I’m infatuated with Spiral Revelation. And I wanted you to know about it. As a note for hi-resolution fans, Spotted Peccary Music will be releasing Spiral Revelation in 96kHz/24-bit downloadable files (here). Projekt Records handles the CD and standard digital downloads via Bandcamp. You can hear streams at both locations.

 

New Black Tape For A Blue Girl Album, These Fleeting Moments, In August

Black Tape For A Blue Girl These Fleeting MomentsBack in 1986, a band by the name of Black Tape For A Blue Girl graced the music sphere with a lush, ethereal blend of Neo-classicism within the realm of Rock. Fused with violin, and the brooding keyboard work of Sam Rosenthal, and voiced by several melancholy vocalists in various incarnations, Black Tape for A Blue Girl gained steadily in notoriety. To distribute their recordings, Sam Rosenthal began the now world famous Projekt Records, home to many artists of the gothic/darkwave genres.

Black Tape for A Blue Girl has released ten titles beginning with The Rope (1986). The last recorded music of the band was 10 Neurotics, released in 2009. The band has experimented with a number of styles including Dark Cabaret, a style that emerged more than a decade ago. If you were to ask me, I’d say that their masterpiece, thus far, is Remnants Of A Deeper Purity, issued in 1996, and reissued twice in 2CD Anniversary Editions (2006, 2016).

On August 12, Black Tape For A Blue Girl returns with a brand new album. Called These Fleeting Moments, the title is a fitting one for the band’s 30 years of existence. For this album, the band will have Oscar Herrera, their original vocalist, at the front bringing life to the band’s customary introspective lyrics. Brian Viglione (The Dresden Dolls) adds drums and percussion, while Sam Rosenthal helms the electronic keys, and supplies the moving lyrics that Black Tape is heavily appreciated for. Newcomers include Dani Herrera on vocals, and Nick Shadow on viola.

These Fleeting Moments is said to be cut from the same artistic cloth that formed Remnants Of A Deeper Purity, and 1991’s beautiful A Chaos Of Desire. With thirteen new tracks covering all of 70 minutes, These Fleeting Moments will be a welcome new album.

These Fleeting Moments will be released on CD and DD with a vinyl LP version in the near future. If you’re aware of Black Tape For A Blue Girl, then you’re just as excited. If not, then now is a good time to make your acquaintance.

 

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!

 

The Ambient Series: Monolith To Be Released To Follow-up As Lonely As Dave Bowman’s POD

As Lonely As Dave Bowman Monolith CoverSam Rosenthal has announced the launch of the follow-up to his compelling 2007 ambient work, POD, under the artist name of As Lonely As Dave Bowman. The new album, Monolith, continues the ride to Jupiter with 2001-themed astronaut Dave Bowman. Currently, the album is available as a free digital download (via Bandcamp), with a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to create an artistically presented physical version in a specialized DVD-sized, plexi-glass box. The initial limited edition version of POD was presented in the same plexi-glass casing.

If you are familiar with POD, and want to continue that experience with Monolith, you can do so by supporting the Kickstarter project linked above. Contributors will not only help bring the distribution of the project to fruition but will also receive a unique and futuristic design of the physical album. As a bonus, backers are rewarded with an additional 37 minutes of music from the Monolith sessions entitled Monolith (Addendum).

In 2007, Projekt Records’ Rosenthal, who is also the chief component of Black Tape For A Blue Girl, formed the As Lonely As Dave Bowman side project.  POD was a collection of five tracks, all named “POD” (POD 01, Pod 02, etc.). The compositions were a successfully chilling experiment in ambient mood setting. Using the loneliness of space as a backdrop, POD was a merge of a drone style with a minimalist approach. After all, space is a drift, a long drift into forever. When used as a direct plug-in to the emotional devastation and void of loneliness, this employed style of drone ambient music effectively captures the eerie uselessness of a fight to regain any sense of control.  That’s the tale of POD as it follows Dave Bowman through his lonely voyage toward Jupiter (as experienced in 2001: A Space Odyssey).

Recently, Sam Rosenthal has decided to revisit As Lonely As Dave Bowman. Musically, Monolith is a much darker exploration. Using the continued theme of Dave Bowman’s trek across space in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Monolith soundtracks the last four months of Bowman’s voyage to Jupiter, The music follows the period beginning with the failure of the AK-35 radio antenna and pushing through to the POD above the monolith, and ending inside the hotel suite. The four tracks impressively captures the isolation of Dave Bowman as a new reality is revealed to him. Monolith is an effective ambient continuation of Rosenthal’s first exploratory ambient work.

Sam has this to say about As Lonely As Dave Bowman, and the newest musical trip to Jupiter with Monolith:

TAP: What prompted the return to As Lonely As Dave Bowman?

Sam: I’ve been slowly working on the new Black Tape For A Blue Girl album. Sometimes a piece will evolve that doesn’t fit the concept, and with some of those pieces I realize, “Hey, this is a Dave Bowman track!” The first piece on MONOLITH, and the first third of the second track, evolved like that back in 2010/11. They were kept in mind for the time when similar music came along. In a two week period last month, the rest of the album came together. Dave Bowman albums are recorded really quickly; all in one mood. Unlike Blacktape albums which often take many years, many studio sessions, and the involvement of many musicians. I think the speed with which POD and MONOLITH came together gives them a very unified sound.

TAP: Is As Lonely As Dave Bowman a project relegated only to the influenced sound-tracking of 2001: A Space Odyssey? Or do you plan to use the moniker to move beyond the Dave Bowman legacy?

Sam: I’ve asked myself that same question, Matt. It seems to me that sticking with the 2001 theme is the way to go, at least for now. The idea of space travel and isolation, is a very rich source of inspiration.

TAP: Through the years, you have changed your musical interests and styles dramatically. With many of Projekt’s releases centering more and more around ambient artists and their unique musical textures, have you decided to use MONOLITH as a springboard (more than POD) in order to concentrate more heavily on your own ambient creations and explorations?

Sam: In a sense, yes. For many many years, I made running Projekt Records my priority. Spending most of my time on the label and very little on my music. But I’ve been changing that and trying to give my music (and promotion of my music) equal time. I created a Patreon page — https://www.patreon.com/blacktapeforabluegirl — so fans could get behind my creativity. Quite honestly, I also created it so I would feel obligated to get out of the Projekt Records chair and into the studio chair. And its been working, because there’s lots of new music evolving out of this, with the MONOLITH album being the first one to see the light.

But to your question, I am still doing Black Tape For A Blue Girl, which is in the ethereal / goth / darkwave vein. I was recording a new track with the band’s violist, Grace Young, yesterday https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aE4G5-10_-4 . My hope is that I can release a Blacktape album every 15 to 18 months, and a new electronic ambient album every 6 to 8 months. In otherwords, I’m aiming for 2 albums of my music a year. This will be a big change from the last 10 years, where I released only 3 albums (one Blacktape, and two electronic: The Passage and POD).

TAP: Do you believe strongly in the crowd-sourcing approach to allow for the ability to present a complete work of art that might be approached differently otherwise?

Sam: I think that the old way of bands spending all their energy on one album that appeared every year or three was a brilliant concept in the era when that worked. But times have changed and all those eggs in one basket only work for some artists. For a musician like me, I don’t have the 16,000 fans who bought Remnants at the peak in the 90s. However, I do have a small and loyal group of people who really like what I do. To me, it makes sense to create more music for a smaller following.

Atists don’t have to be the isolated King in their fortress on the hill. We’re now one of the people; and that’s really great because I know the names of many listeners who love and support what I do. We email each other. We go out for coffee when they’re in town. And that’s a great new approach.

As far as a complete work of art. Yes, I still love the finished album, like MONOLITH. It’s helpful having that goal when I create. But I’m not being precious about the music, anymore. I enjoy sharing songs on Patreon while they are still unfinished, so people can check them out as they are born and evolving. Sometimes, I hear from somebody who really likes an early mix, that ten years ago I never would have shared, because I would have been insecure and though, “this song is unfinished.” I’m more relaxed about that now. Why not share it even if it isn’t finished? Or even if it’s a track that’s not quite good enough to go on an album? That way, there’s more music to enjoy.

TAP: Do you think that if people are involved more intimately in the production of the album, that they will desire the finished work more strongly?

Sam: Yes. I think the old idea of a long, secretive gestation period and then WHAM! you have the one week of street date to be a success or failure… that’s not a healthy paradigm for creativity. It’s so much about trying to write a “hit” (even if that’s a hit within an obscure genre). Now, listeners are involved, and they’re along for the experience. And they are part of the experience of making an album. That’s cool. I spend hundreds of hours in the studio on a Blacktape album. I only do that because there’s some enjoyment in hearing the music so intimately. Otherwise, it would just make me nuts to spend that much focused time on something (laughs). Bringing in those who enjoy my work seems like a great process, to share what goes into making an album.

 

As Lonely As Dave Bowman Monolith

 

 

The Ambient Series: Letters To The Farthest Star – Forrest Fang

Forrest Fang Letters To The Farthest StarForrest Fang is a multi-instrumentalist who has experimented with applications of traditional instruments like the violin, piano, guitars, and other, more exotic and classical instruments against backdrops of electronics to create waves of ambient textures. With over 30 years of music, found on over ten stunning albums that complete his solo efforts (thus far), and a multitude of appearances on other artists’ works, Forrest Fang has created a rich body of intriguing sound.

On March 3, Forrest Fang released a new richly-textured album in his latest offering, Letters To The Farthest Star. The new album is a variety of ambient explorations that are immediately respectful of cultural musical diversity. The songs on this beautiful set travel through a brilliant spheres of places, some filled with familiar influence (“Water Village”, part III from the opening suite, “The Unreachable Lands”), and beauty (“Seven Coronas”). But there is no light without darkness. Forrest Fang has equally stepped out into the furious frights of our being with pieces like “Fossils”, and “Lorenz”.

The music heard here is both fearless and compelling. Forrest Fang is an artist in the highest sense that is able to merge his classical skills with the swirling textures of electronic music to produce a classic.

Letters To The Farthest Star is a brilliant collection of nearly 70 minutes of music with which to stir our souls with.

Review: Holographic Codex – Alio Die & Lorenzo Montaná

Alio Montana Holographic CodexAlio Die, an Italian ambient composer has more than a few excellent ambient albums in release including the stunning Echo Passage, released in 1999. That album was released with Vidna Obmana, the ambient name of Dirk Serries. With a new ambient set by Alio Die, called Holographic Codex (announced in December), the classic composer finds his work being shared with Lorenzo Montaná. Montaná is no stranger to the qualified and explored ethereal tones. His music is created with as broad a palette of sound as many of the classic ambient artists that we know today. both current and historically.

With Holographic Codex, Alio Die and Lorenzo Montaná have quite effectively blended their talents to produce seven tracks of eerie, dream-infused music that can easily travel the synapses of the mind, firing imagination along the way to deliver an experience.

Holographic Codex begins with the entry gate of “Muns de Etrah” to get you on the road. By the time you hit the second track, you have been whisked into the frightening disruptions of a horrifying reality complete with mutterings. Eventually, after running through several long pieces, you find yourself in a perturbation of space and time, completely agitated and stirred by the mechanized echos of “Silent Rumon”, a fifteen-minute walkway of fevered thought and visualizations.

The other fifteen-minute plus composition, “Cinta della Breccia Divina” delivers you into the hands of the album’s closer, “Eternal Wisdom”, a spacey work that feels like a float into the loneliness of the galaxy.

Ambient music is a genre that speaks to many by way of its story craft created by the use of sound, and fed directly into the brain, accessing the regions that have its own stored interpretations. This makes ambient a unique experience. Holographic Codex has its collection of stories waiting for you.

Release Date: January 20, 2015
Label: Projekt Records
Availability: (CD, DD)

–Matt Rowe

New Projekt Release Feature Collaboration Ambient Effort With Alio Die & Lorenzo Montanà, Holographic Codex

Alio Montana Holographic CodexAlio Die, the recording moniker of Italian Ambient composer, Stefano Musso, and Lorenzo Montanà, an Italian soundtrack composer, have joined together to create a new sound painting of ambient textures, to be called Holographic Codex. Neither artist have been lax in their creative spheres. Montanà has recorded well over 40 albums since the ’90s, while Alio Die has recorded over 60 sets, some with important ambient artists like Vidna Obmana, Robert Rich, and many others.

Holographic Codex is a set that blends the two artists’ unique styles into compositions that challenge and refresh. With ambient music growing in popularity in certain circles, particularly dark ambient and drone styles, Holographic Codex fits in appropriately with its cosmic flow and mysterious sounds and atmospheric impressions.

The new album is being released by premier ambient label, Projekt Records, and will be an extremely limited edition as far as physical CDs are concerned. There will only be 500 issued.

Holographic Codex is expected on January 20.

 

The Ambient Series: Dirk Serries To Release New Album On Projekt In September

Dirk Serries The Origin ReversalDirk Serries is a phenomenal ambient artist who, for a number of years (1984-2007), mostly under the vidnaObmana moniker, created a dream-like atmosphere musically. His music is often of the experimental industrial drone style, although he did experiment successfully using an isolationist ambient style. But, no matter his style, his is a type of thoughtful, walk through the human psyche. In his music, he expands time with a slowed down effect, exploring the emotional sides that we keep tamped down into the cracks of our humanity.

Serries had left the vidnaObmana name behind, choosing to use Fear Falls Burning to represent his unique grind of intensity. Here at MusicTAP, I’ve been a fan of Serries since his Projekt issues that featured his melodic and calmer ambient style as vidnaObmana. As he transitioned to Fear Falls Burning, I have marveled at his thumb-pinning musical craft that unveils the screech and noise of mankind.

It can easily be said that Dirk Serries loves sound. His fascination with it, his experimentation of it, and his large-scale compositions that express it are part and parcel of his wide-spanning abilities as an ambient artist.

Serries has worked with many of today’s innovative ambient artists that include Steve Roach among an impressive slate of collaboration.

On September 19, Dirk Serries returns to the style of his past Projekt-released ambience with the issue of The Origin Reversal (actually titled as ‘the origin reversal’). This return is welcomed by many as his multi-layering of peaceful soundwaves are as potent as his more intense drone series of music are. The music found on The Origin Reversal (streamed and purchasable at the  Projekt-based Bandcamp stream here) was created using only a Gibson Les Paul, and pedals. On listening to this, you’re immediately in awe of the kind of music a single guitar can produce. Of course, it takes a brilliant artist to create those sounds, and Dirk Serries is one of those.

While it is true that not everybody loves the beautifully expressive ambient style, in the hands of Dirk Serries, the soul of The Origin Reversal (or any of his works) becomes an immersion in tranquility. Like a warm, comforting bath.

Serries