Wednesday, April 23, 2008

We Were Never Mnml (Inpress Column, April ’08)

Well, it never rains, it pours (and pitches, smokes, and tangoes). This coming weekend’s a doozy as far as international acts are concerned, with Alex Smoke, Michael Mayer & Superpitcher as well as Pilooski and Todd Terje all adding their spin to the rotating assembly that is Melbourne’s nightlife. One of the more interesting unintended consequences of the arse falling out of CD & record sales may well be that you have more internationals travelling to play more gigs, more often. If you want to see your favourite artist play in Melbourne, keep torrenting their music…

On the torrent tip, the consistent responses from recent interviews in Inpress over the past few weeks are painting a picture of the new musicscape, and it's a pretty bleak one. Depending on who you ask, sales of vinyl are down between 30-70% in the past twelve months, and this decline has not been offset by an increase in digital sales. More people are buying digital, but a helluva lot of people are sharing music through Soulseek, BitTorrent and the like, and (again, depending on who you ask), this means a lot of small labels and independent record stores are going to the wall. A small but perhaps very telling anecdote from a writer friend of mine who works for a music magazine: he reckons that no-one can be bothered coming in to pick up promo CDs any more. Free CDs, and no-one’s interested in them (even people working in the office). What does this say?

Who knows what the future holds for electronic music? This little vignette from the WMC paints one kind of picture. A journalist friend of mine in attendance asked Richie Hawtin (and his ‘I wanna be Sven’ beard) what had been his favourite track of the Conference, to which he replied: ‘I don’t remember any of the tracks I’ve played.’ To which he quickly added, ‘Heartthrob, Heartthrob.’ High five, Richie! Rack ‘em up!

This also lends credence (and more than a little unwitting irony) to Michael Mayer’s opinion – published in my interview with him in this edition – that the use of digital is actually affecting people’s musical selection, that it’s ‘impairing their judgement’. He said: “There might be some DJs who really know what they’re doing there, like Richie, but I know so many DJs who switched to Serato and totally lost it. They play generic music. The dramatic side of the set got lost, ‘cos they’re scrolling through menus. It’s not the same thing. It’s code. So I’m totally pro-vinyl, and I’m not going to give that up.”

To some vinyl of the moment, beginning with one thing I’m fairly non-plussed by. It’s the new Dial EP. And it’s BLAND. Terrifyingly bland. Prog for architecture grad students. The only interesting track on the whole thing is the appallingly kitsch (in a good and bad way) Phantom/Ghost cover of… the Right Said Fred song ‘You Are My Mate’. While it’s too early to declare that the Dial shark has been jumped (especially with the Sten LP due), this is a pretty dire release. The bit that sums this up for me is the use of the vocal sample 'Detroit' on the Jost and Klemman track. Like, 'Detroit?' WTF? It's a totally empty referent – all it means is 'we are referencing Detroit'. Ooh, the echoes in the carapace, ahhh, the insults from the parapet.

The Dial EP also got me thinking abou three strands at work in the music at the moment. The first is a repudiation of ‘mnml’, which is music that emphasises spaceform, waveform, plugin, mixbuild. Frank Zappa might have said that ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture’, but in a very real way, mnml is all about dancing about architecture, or dance music about architecture – the titles of Monolake’s recent works ‘Momentum’, 'Polygon Cities’ and so forth, are a dead give away in this regard.

So mnml (and its architectonics) is being repudiated, in favour of an avowal and appropriation of the blackness, deepness, ‘funk’, ‘soul’ or whatever. This is music that emphasises history, influence, innovator, and ‘respect to deepness’ and so on. The danger in some appropriations of this is ‘standardised magic’, a bland, closed world of boring, functional, interchangeable, indifferent interpretations of ‘funky’ and ‘soulful’ music that are neither funky nor soulful. ‘Tiefschwarz’ as both word and concept sums it up. Tiefschwarz means ‘deep black’, even though ‘Tiefschwarz’ is actually pair of slightly creepy brothers who are neither ‘deep’ nor ‘black’. And while the best of the vibrant tropes of the moment (‘dub techno’, ‘deep house’ and ‘minimal techno’) continue to produce, mix, and interpret in an interesting (if not innovative) ways, there’s a deathforce in the ‘Detroit’ sample. Just say ‘deep’ enough, and depth will appear. Say ‘Detroit’ (or have a sample of a black man do it for you) and the 313 will manifest – and you will have soul. Paul van Dyk’s appropration of Audi’s motto (Vorsprung Dyk Technik) was much more honest.

The third strand is the ambivalent embrace of kitsch, sentimentality and nostalgia, an indirect nod to the ACDC lyric: ‘The white man had the schmaltz/ the black man had the blues.’ This is a social emphasis (unlike mnmls architectonic and house/techno's historical), and you can see this at work with the Phantom/Ghost track, but it’s also highly apparent at Kompakt’s HQ, right down to Burger and Voigt calling their last EP ‘Bring Back Trance’. Again, maybe PvD had his finger on the pulse. This one might take off... be afraid.

Monday, April 21, 2008

my dear friend vladislav

it is now late at night after a rough day, which has come on the back of an overly busy and stressful period of constant over-work (any people out there thinking about doing a PhD, i would suggest thinking carefully), and my instinctive response was to turn the lights down, put some vladislav delay on the stereo and then turn the volume up loud. for those of you who know his work, chances are you will join in this little love letter to my favourite producer, and for those who have not yet discovered the sounds of vladislav delay, please read closely and pay attention.

i first discovered the music of vladislav (his real name may be sasu ripatti, but he will always be vlad to me) back in 2000 with his release on chain reaction, 'multila'. while i appreciated its deep rumbling techno dub, it was his next album shortly after on mille plateaux, 'entain', that fully converted me to vlad. since then, he has never left my side, with his sounds providing me with warmth, comfort, solace, escape when needed.

early in 2001 i was feeling rather disenchanted with electronic music. at the same time i purchased two cds, which removed this feeling and reminded me how special this music can be. the first was herbert's wonderful 'letsallmakemistakes' globius mix, the other was vlad (or sasu) under the guise of uusitalo and his 'vapaa muurari live'. both of these cds still sound amazing today, and the warmth and feeling conveyed in 'vapaa muurari' - especially in the final section of the piece 'lunni' - is something i can personally find and connect with in few artists.

it was vlad's next piece of work, 'anima', which has been since i first heard it - and remains - my favourite piece of music. the cd consists of one 62 minute track that flows and ebbs, constantly exploring a similar territory of sound, without ever quite returning to where it had been previously. it kind of feels like being afloat at sea - constantly in the water, but never in quite the same place and each wave being different. i am probably getting a bit lyrical now, but the point is this is a very special album for me that has been with me constantly since i bought it as soon as it was released.

to be honest, following this highpoint, i went through an inevitable period of disappointment. vlad became luomo, and while he did do some really good stuff, he wasn't doing what i wanted him to do. when he did come back to being vlad, the magic wasn't quite there - at least not to the same extent. demo(n) tracks in 2004 and the four quarters the following year were both good and definitely had their moments, but neither were quite able to evoke the same feelings his earlier releases had.

this changed with his release last year, whistleblower. i am listening to this album as i write up this post and i really feel this is vlad's (and probably sasu's) strongest outing in many years. for me - with my biases - this was the best album i heard in 2007. like his best material, it replicates the very unique and distinct sound signature one associates with vladislav delay, without it ever getting boring or repetitive. vlad's sound operates in its own separate world, and while the basic features of this world stay the same, the details shift, alter and reshape (fellow ssg pete wrote an excellent review on 'whistleblower' at RA which inspired some of these thoughts). one of the real highlights of last year was to discover that vlad was still alive and travelling along with me.

i could keep going, but i shall wind up this post. vladislav delay's music has been very close to my heart for around 8 years now. i have never grown tired of his sounds, nor looked for another friend to help me along during those times when i am tired, unhappy, quiet, meloncholic, ambivalent, or contemplative and reflective. vlad has provided company and a soundtrack for me in these moments of my life and i feel lucky to have such a good musical friend.

if you haven't listened to any or much of his work, i strongly suggest changing this asap. here is a live recording of vladislav delay at DEMF, 28.05.2007. also if you go to the media page on his website, there are a number of tracks you can download. these should give you a good introduction to his distinctive sound palette. finally, it happens (and this is coincidental - i just discovered when writing this post) that vladislav is releasing 'anima' with a brand new track. my original version is starting to get a bit worse for wear, so i am looking forward to getting the re-release. anyway, more info about the re-release here. in my opinion, pretty much his whole back catalogue is worth getting your hands on...

ok, i shall leave it there. thanks vlad. you've been a great source of comfort and strength over the years. you're a good friend.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

mnml ssgs mix01: bvdub

mnml ssgs are very happy to announce the start of our ssg mix series, which will soon be a ssgcast (as soon as i find the time to figure out how exactly podcasts work). before introducing the first mix, i just want to explain a bit about the concept behind this series.

what we are trying to do is to showcase artists that are really exciting and interesting us. the point is not just to slap a mix up, but for this series (like the blog as a whole) to be a medium for promoting djs and producers that we feel people should be listening to. the mandate we've given to those that have agreed to do mix is simply to express themselves and their music: to use the mix to tell us who they are and what they are about.

in many ways, the template for this has been the wonderful betalounge. there are two dimensions that really separate many of the mixes there from all the disposable mixes and podcasts floating about. first, along with plenty of recognised names, the betalounge does a tremendous job of introducing us to new sounds (to take one example, go back through their archives and check how long they've been championing efdemin for). second, many of the betalounge mixes have a real timeless quality to them. even after hundreds of listens, the old michael mayer betalounge set (from 2002?) sounds as fresh as ever.

anyway, that is basically what we are trying to do with the mixes. this is something the ssgs are very enthusiastic about, and we are hoping the series will continue on an irregular basis. in the coming weeks, we should have mixes from ana (harry klein) and pawel (orphanear/dial),
and a few other people we really like have also agreed to contribute. unfortunately, we dont have our own server (yet), but we've given quite a few different download options, including a streaming version. as i said, we'll try and get the podcast up and running in the next week. this should give everyone a good enough option to get the mixes.

enough talking, onto the first installment. since cam posted about bvdub's lovely sounds, we've been in touch with him and the result is this one hour slice of beauty. bvdub's dedication to his craft, his sincerity and good will have really been a great source of inspiration for us ssgs. as well as our love for his music, over the last couple of months we've developed a real respect for brock (bvdub) the individual. this artist and the mix he has made represents exactly what we are hoping this series will be about. respect.

Tell us about the mix: what was the intent/purpose behind it?

Bvdub: First of all, I just want to say thanks for the opportunity to do the mix in the first place. If you wouldn't have asked, it surely never would have happened. It is one I've wished I could have seen materialize for quite some time… and now that it has, I'm not sure it will ever happen again. So I'm grateful for the motivation to see it happen for what will likely be the last time.

"Waiting For The World To Go By" will hopefully paint the picture in my head that I had while making it… I have always had this obsession with music that exemplifies sitting at the window, staring off into an overcast, rainy day, when the world seems to exist on a totally separate plane, far away… and when your life almost seems to be on hold, but in a good, peaceful way, even though it's tinged with a sort of beautiful sadness. I don't know if that makes any sense. The mix is basically a soundtrack to that moment.

Times such as that are always the times of deepest reflection for me, about what has been, what should have been, and what I wish would be, but which I know deep down will never happen. To me, that's the pinnacle of what music is to me, and, quite frankly what my life is about.

These are all tracks that have long held this meaning for me, and have provided a loyal companion for me countless times on those reflective days, and those moments that sometimes I wished would never end. They are tracks I will never forget… and hopefully they will tell the story I can't put into words.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

Bvdub: I'm working on a ton of stuff… though much of it I couldn't really tell you what's going to happen with it in days to come, because I don't know yet. I am happy to announce that I will have upcoming vinyl releases this year on Styrax, Millions of Moments, and Pronounce, later this year will see the release of my first full-length ambient CD on Shoreless, and a special audio cassette / vinyl project will be out very soon on Southern Outpost, which I'm very excited about.

I also have some other special projects in the works, but for now, mum's the word… mostly because I don't even know if they are going to see the light of day, not because I'm trying to be obnoxiously mysterious.

Thanks again for the great opportunity to make the mix… thanks to the artists who made the beautiful music… and thanks to anyone who takes the time to listen. I hope the music contained within can mean as much to you as it has to me…

More info:
bvdub homepage
bvdub myspace
bvdub @ discogs

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

playing favourites

ssg series

first up, we are very happy to announce that our ssgcast should be appearing within the next week or so. we've been working hard on putting together a unique series of mixes from artists that we think are really special and should be listened to very carefully. we'll give more info about the concept when the first installment appears, but for now we'll just say that we are very excited about it, as we've got some amazing people involved with this. the first couple of mixes are going to be from ana (harry klein, munich), pawel (orphanear/dial) and bvdub (styrax/quietus). in the meantime, here are some really great sets to listen to and enjoy from some of mnml ssg's favourites.

prosumer: consumer

to avoid complaints about being contradictory, i should make it clear that while i am growing increasingly sceptical about the current deep house fad/revival, this doesn't mean there isn't great music of this genre floating about at the moment. case in point is prosumer, who has been spinning and producing some really amazing stuff. this new mix of his is quite sublime. definitely worth checking for those who like it deep.

prosumer beats in space guest mix 1.4.2008

01. Prosumer And Murat Tepeli - Cathedral /Ostgut Tonträger/
02. Romanthony - The Wanderer (Intro) /Prescription/
03. Nick Holder - Love Is Blind /DNH Recordings/
04. Moodymann - Backagainforthefirsttime? /Peacefrog Records/
05. Nick Holder - Love Is Blind /DNH Recordings/
06. Ron Trent And Chez Damier - Morning Factory /Prescription/
07. Larry Heard - Free /Track Mode/
08. Larry Heard - Tell Me What It Is /Track Mode/
09. Fingers Inc. - Never No More Lonely /Jack Trax/
10. Raze - Break 4 Love /Champion/
11. Andthoney And M. Kinchen - The Feeling /Prescription/
12. Colonel Abrams - Trapped /MCA Records/
13. Noni - Be My (Friend) /Prescription/
14. Walt J - 'Untiteled' /Dow Records/
15. Ralphi Rosario feat. Xavier Gold - You Used To Hold Me /Hot Mix 5/
16. Paul Johnson - Something Strange /Dance Mania/
17. The Sanctuary Project - Running It /House Jam Records/
18. Paul Johnson - Don't Stop Movin That Ass /Dance Mania/
19. Instinct - Just A Feeling /Decisive Records/

house music all night long

one more on the deep tip, this is a mammoth recording (almost 8 hours in length, sound quality is still pretty good, though) taken from a night somewhere in southern suisse featuring mountain person serafin, mr dependable dan bell and resident dj seranthony. i still haven't finished digesting all of it, but so far so good, and i figured there would be plenty out there who'd be keen.

seranthony, dan bell and serafin @ hidden, suisse 15.3.2008


i discovered kate simko's smooth sounds last year and have been enjoying them ever since. i am yet to hear her new 'she said' ep on spectral, but am keen to after reading philip sherburne's recent praise of it. for those of you haven't heard any of simko's work yet, i strongly suggest giving this livepa a listen as it gives a great representation of her music. kate is also really developing a sound signature of her own, which is all the more impressive at a time when people are sounding very 'same-y'. and what really impresses me about this set is how well it is put together and coheres. it has an excellent tempo and flow throughout. definitely worth checking (as are all of the sets posted here for that matter -only the best for our readers!).

kate simko livepa @ spectral wmc party 29.03.2008


couldn't resist when i saw this mix appeared: a lost acid house mix from peter grummich recorded in 1992, found and mastered in 2008. i downloaded this and put it straight on cd. since then, i've been rocking around in my car to old school acid house. aciiiiiiid! this mix is exactly what you'd expect: plenty of acid, one or two cringe-worthy moments and lots of fun. a really guilty pleasure. enjoy.

peter grummich - the lost acid house mix tape

more gold

we recently posted an excellent mix from cio d'or. and now, another new set from her. and again, this mix is gold. there are two things which really attract me to cio d'or sounds. first, her mixes have a very clear intent and concept behind them. these are well thought and constructed. second, she has a very distinct sound. like simko, this is something i really look for and appreciate.

cio d'or presents polar 22 alpha mix 04.2008

Kassem Mosse and Boys "r us" - Message from Haifa (Mikrodisko)
Jens Zimmermann - Reduction Seduction (Harthouse)
Planetary Assault System - The Electric Funk Machine (Peacefrog)
Alka Rex - Shapes to Phases (Supraliner)
Cio D'Or - Kimono (Motoguzzi)
Rasmus Hedland - Hidden Structure (Resopal)
Non Standard Institute - Reference (NSI)
Function Isolation - Isotope (Sandwell District)
M.Parker/D.Dozzy - Excavations (Dozzy Records)
Tim Xavier - Astral Plane (Podium - Repress)
Sightdraft (Paul Brtschitsch) - X Rated (Crash Records)
Johannes Heil - The Coming EP (Metatron)
Planetary Assault System - Deep Heet Vol.1 (Mute Evolver)
Mathew Jonson - Gemini EP (Itiswhatitis)
Mike Parker - Light&Dark Part 4 (ID004)
Byetone (Sleeparchive Rmx) - Plastic Star (Raster)
Mike Parker - Light&Dark Part 4 (ID004)
Kassem Mosse and Boys "r us" - Message from Haifa (Mikrodisko)

new sounds

last, but not least, a livepa from an artist that is new to me, marko fürstenberg. this is the first thing i've heard from him and i dig it. it is dub techno all the way. like everyone in this genre, the basic channel shadow is always looming over his sounds, but that doesn't mean that there is no point listening to marko and the rest of this new generation of techno dub artists (as some people seem to think). it is also nice to hear techno dub in the format of a livepa, as the vast majority of stuff available on the net is dj mixes. anyway, give it a listen if you like this brand of music.

marko fürstenberg @ paysages electroniques 4.4.2008

ok, there you go. plenty of new music filtered and given the 'mnml ssg stamp of approval'. if there are problems with any of the links, leave a message and i'll try to sort something out. and get ready for the ssg mixes!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Heart goes Boompty-Boomp: How to Play House (Sneaky Carter style)

And now for something completely different... as we know, it takes a few years for a good vintage to mature. I’ve been listening to this mix since the end of 2004 or thereabouts. I dug it out the other day at the insistence of my lady, and I was freshly amazed by how well it flows, despite having the aleatory looseness of a live set where the DJs have been on the sauce. And the mixing is so exciting: cuts, loops, layers, some FX, even the occasional flam – I love hearing mixing like this, and it’s getting to be a rarity. By comparison, the mixing of a lot of popular DJs seems stiff and timid. This is house at its most hedonistic and brazen, letting it all hang out (see pic). There’s also good reason to listen this given the resurgence of funk basslines and swinging percussion loops we’ve been witnessing recently at the moment – I think that everyone who was bored by Mara Trax’ RA podcast should listen to this: it’s the antidote to their dote. And the sax track around 24:00 is just fucking ridiculous. There’s a dodgy Brazilian track around the 42-45:00 mark, but the way they disrespectfully mix it out seems to be some kind of ‘speaking through the hands’ admission of this – but they follow it with this killer batteria track which is great… anyway, listen to this mix and judge for yourself. I think it’s a classic, especially the first half. I should also add as a postscript that this is also the 'unshaven' form of the hype sound at the moment, with all the things that some people find objectionable (screaming divas, wailing saxes, gospel-influenced melodies, camp, cheesy vibe) about house left there... I wonder who of you will hate it, and why. Constructive invective is, of course, welcome...

(thanks to Malingering on flickr for the pic)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

musing and abusing

warm up the backlash bus.

isn't one of the reasons the current deep house fad emerged is because mnml had gotten so stale, repetitive and formulaic? well, it might be time to move on again pretty soon. listening to the new sascha dive RA podcast today was the final straw. the set is bland, flat and lifeless. and worst of all, it completely lacked personality. much of the sounds that emerged to combat the locked groove mnml got stuck into are now suffering a very similar fate. it seems almost every set i listen to these days has the requisite inclusions from oslo (johnny d or mara trax anyone?), sascha dive's 'annihilating rhythm', plus throw in some old school moodymann and dan bell to show off your old school chops. it all sounds good and the records they are playing are fine, but it is quickly getting very, very tiresome. my fellow ssg pete put this really well, "it really is the track selection. and, ironically, it's 'cos they don't have a deep understanding of house.' time to go warm up the engine. come get on board the 'house backlash bandwagon'. departing soon.

some of who and what i've been listening to lately:
  • troy boy @ bar25 31.7.07: this set may be messy as hell, but troy pierce is a man who knows good music. so many great records in the hours and hours that he plays for (it is somewhat worrying how long the set is...).
  • lots of marcel dettmann: i won't start repeating myself (again), but him and troy are definitely most the interesting djs for me right now.
  • vladislav delay 'recovery idea (andy stott remix)': whoever thought of combining vlad and stott deserves a medal. what a match made in heaven. the ethereal bleeps and glitches of delay mould perfectly with the metallic chords of stott. this is a really amazing track. definitely one of the best things i've heard this year.
  • métisse 03: one of the strongest records about at the moment. on the A you've got zander vt remixing mark august. i haven't heard much from zander vt yet, but i think i should start investigating as this is a great mix. warm, lush and builds nicely. in many cases, it'd be the standout tune, but here unfortunately the newcomers have to compete with the old hand tobias. his remix of tampopo 'helicopters got cameras' is absolutely brilliant. it just builds builds and builds. it kind of feels like the musical representation of a helicopter's blades swirling round and round as it lifts off.
  • aaron carl 'crucified (rod modell like a river remix)': you may have heard this on anders ilar's recent RA podcast. given how much modell produces and that the majority of it exists within a reasonably defined sound palette, it is all the more impressive he can come up with a gem like this.
  • radio slave 'no sleep part 5': it has taken me a long time to come round to mr slave, but i've finally overcome my unexplained prejudices. the preceding release, part 4, didn't work for me, but i do like this one. while the B works well and has that typical elongated feel to it, i haven't listened to it much because it the A side that i find myself playing. there is nothing particularly special about it, 'k-maze' just has a really nice warm, groove and build. it has nice light release and the female vocal sample reminds me of an old jeff mills record i can't remember the name of right now ('pacific state of mind' maybe?).

the bros are back? or is it me that left?

the new mix cd by the wighnomy brothers has been a bit of an enigma for me. it has taken me a while to reach a judgment, but i think i am there now. having been a former wighnomer and now jaded with their repetition, i was intrigued to hear what this would be like. after my first listen, i thought, 'wow. the bros are back!' what immediately excited me about it was that it sounded really unique. the mixing was different, as were the sounds and the composition. then i listened to it some more. and some more. and as i quickly tired of the mix it dawned on me, the bros aren't back, they've always been there. what changed was that i left. this mix isn't actually removed from what the wighnomy brothers have been doing, it is just different to what i've been listening to lately. indeed, it is pretty much the same thing the bros were doing when i got bored of them. the cd has its moments - especially in the opening 15-20 minutes, but for the most part it loses its shine and interest quickly. i guess they only have one trick. and again, i am tired of it.

too much intellecto?

another new release i've given a lot of listening and thought to is the new claro intellecto album. what struck me - and at least some other listeners - is precisely how underwhelming it is, in terms of both length and content. considering the extremely high quality of claro's past output and modern love's releases, i think most of us were working on the presumption that this would be excellent. in this regard, while i find myself normally agreeing with the excellent test industries blog, i think he is giving claro too much benefit of the doubt. i doubt listening to this on repeat will allow for the 'intelligent design' of this album to make itself apparent, as my gut says it just isn't there. rather than over intellectualising and trying to discover the hidden brilliance or supposed 'meta narrative', it'd be more worthwhile just accepting that unfortunately someone who is capable of producing amazing music happened to come up a bit short this time.

that's it. thoughts and retorts welcome...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Can somebody please direct me to the chill out room?

I’ve recently found myself listening to a lot of ambient music. It’s something I’ve long had a soft spot for; now that I think about it, it actually predates my interest in dance music.

When I’m in the mood for ambient music, I’m usually not in the mood to play DJ. I don’t want to dig through CDs, vinyl, and MP3 files; I’d much rather someone else do that for me (preferably while I lounge about in a beanbag). As a consequence I’ve been searching about online for mixes of ambient material, but I’ve come up almost empty-handed.

As well as making me a little annoyed, this has gotten me thinking about the relationship between ambient and dance music. Once upon a time they held hands quite comfortably. Remember the days of the chill out room? It used to be de rigueur for parties to have a side room dedicated to relaxing soundscapes. Now they’re gone.

In a recent interview over at the Mutek site, Stefan Betke (better known to you and I as Pole) said something very similar as he lamented the lack of diversity in electronic music.

“For me, the electronic music scene and how it was ten years ago there was a lot of diverse places and different things. Even in the same club you had a main room and an ambient floor where you heard something totally weird, and I have no idea why this isn’t existing anymore.”

The man has a point. Remember when dance labels and producers released ambient records? Remember Mille Plateaux releasing ambient albums by Wolfgang Voigt (the sublime Gas releases, which set the blueprint for the Kompakt Pop Ambient sound), Robert Babicz, Donnacha Costello? (“Together Is The New Alone” still ranks as one of my favourite albums … I could listen to “Dry Retch” on repeat endlessly.) Remember Richie Hawtin teaming up with Pete Namlook for the From Within albums?

Looking back, it appears that the relationship between ambient and dance music was largely a 90s thing, with a slight carry-over into the early 2000s. Today, Kompakt is one of the few dance labels that still flies an ambient flag. For the most part, ambient has become somewhat distanced from dance music, with such music mostly appearing on ambient-only labels, or on "home listening electronica" labels such as Type, Leaf, and City Centre Offices.

Why did ambient and dance music fall out of love with each other? Why are there so few ambient mixes to be found online? What happened to the chill out rooms?

In honour of the chill out rooms of yesteryear, and the first step in creating a virtual chill out room of our own, I’d like to present two ambient mixes that have caught my attention.

A little while ago I mentioned how much I was enjoying Bvdub’s productions. When I wrote that I had only just stumbled across the mixes on his site. I still haven’t listened to them all, but one that I’ve been listening to repeatedly is the final mix, “A Willing End.” A little over an hour long, it’s a gorgeous mix that starts with warm static (bringing to mind Tim Hecker), moves into some lovely sombre strings, and finishes off with some delicate piano. Overall a very warm, comforting mix.

The second is a 2006 mix by microsound artist Richard Chartier, which you can stream from the WPS1 website. Where the Bvdub mix is warm, this mix is a little colder, mostly using artists from the 12K and Raster-Noton labels, such as Fourcolor, Motion, Sogar, Taylor Deupree, and William Basinski (although he also uses artist such as Laurie Anderson, Chris Carter, Nurse With Wound, and Zoviet France). Some may find this mix a touch too eerie at times, but it’s sublime listening for those who want a hint of darkness to their ambience.

Consider this post an open call. If you know of any ambient mixes floating around that you think are particularly good, please let us know. Let’s carve out a virtual chill out room together.