Planet Boelex – [2013] Exist

Short like an EP, full like a compilation. Uplifting ambient electronica at its best.

A short album, but varied like a compilation: 6 tracks, 3 of which are compilations, and 2 remixes make this a small festival in all things ambient electronica.
It marked the end of a three year hiatus. And what a bombastic, I mean, relaxing, way to do that. If you have not yet Planet Boelex on your mental shortlist for acoustic bubble baths, here is your ticket:

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Spiedkiks – [2013] Take Off Your Make Up

Groovy big beat funk, great for upbeat parties.

Spiedkiks is an electronic duo from Cologne and Stuttgart. For their 10th anniversary this year, they have announced their 7th release together. This review’s album is an excellent appetizer and sampler of their common work, ranging from funky beats to house party. Special: the last track is a 13 minute collage of song production stems, which awaited their completion (at the time). Appetizers…

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Electric Mirrors – [2016] UFO Stories

Slightly dark synth-pop at its best. Stomping beats and almost spoken vocals included.

If Depeche Mode and David Byrne did a collaboration (maybe they did? didn’t check), it might sound like Electric Mirrors.
Densely produced songs, with no second wasted on padding, are filled from start to finish with lyrical puns, glockenspiel interludes or gently sprinkled in ’90s pop music references.

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Saito Koji – [2009] Time / Line

Essential ambient drone music. Literally takes its time.

Take your time. Got it? Then take some more. This album is the slowest of slow music. Even among drone, which is the genre, it is one of the slower entries. Single, long-stretched notes fade in and out for literally minutes. In a sense, this soundscape realises what trance music promises. Low volume and background listening are crucial for enjoyment…

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Scott Altham – [2012] Scott Altham Anthology

Collector-curated compilation of 4 years of electronic music from Scott Altham’s ccMixter profile.

This review is special in that I am the curator of this grandiosely named Anthology. I stumbled upon Scott’s ccMixter profile, where he publishes single tracks, whereas I am a stubborn collector of proper releases. So what to do? His using a Creative Commons license allowed me to create a collection of my favourite tracks from his profiles, uploading it to the Internet Archive. I felt bad about reviewing then, but 7 years later I think I owe it to the artist to publicize his work. It is a bit weird to select my favourites among a pre-selected collection, so I let my usual restriction slip and hit you with not 2, not 3, but whopping 4 tracks:

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Knoxband – [2009] Equinox

Extremely shoe-gazy, ambient progressive or even post rock. Percussion only starts for the finale. Amazement during the intro.

Knoxband is the ambient post rock project by artist Vru Patel, whose albums always incorporate airy, vast, even stellar soundscapes. While this review highlights the start of this musical journey, give the appropriately named Solstice a try to see where his sound landed three years later. But first, have the appetizers:

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Fla Vector – [2013] RED

Industrial synth-wave dubstep from Belarus. Fans of The Prodigy please step closer. And start dancing.

Except for The Prodigy, it took me some tracks to recall the other association my memory was hesitant to draw, but then it clicked: the first instalments of the Command & Conquer realtime strategy games back in the 90’s had a similar, uncompromising metallic sound. Thoroughly danceable and yet highly cinematic, this would make for great party backdrop on a thematic dance night.

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Klangwald – [2012] Tolerance & Courage EP

Calm and deliberate electronica backdrop. Not fighting for your attention, earning it just the more for it.

Not much has been written online about this nice & short EP. All tracks feature their own catchy main theme, which then develops into about five minutes of slightly derivative pleasant background music. There are no excited guitar solos, dramatic bass drops or seductive vocals. Just plain, good, honest electronica straight from the producer.

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Everlasting Dream – [2011] Echoes From the Future

Cinematic downtempo electronica. Could be a sci-fi soundtrack, just lacks a movie.

Movie soundtracks fall into a nice niche between classical and ambient music. This album adds a bit of electronic finesse to this formula. If you want to add a bit of cinematic splash to your musical diet, give this album a try. Emotional string sections meet orchestral and electronic beets. The occasional clicky-bleep sounds add to a slightly futuristic vibe.

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Various Artists – [2006] The Silent Ballet, Volume II: Acquiescence and Oblivion

Essential post rock compilation series. Spans a huge range from almost classical to jazzy territory.

This compilation more than most rewards front-to-back listening. Much care has gone in arranging the tracks “in order”. Thus it hurts me more than usual to only rip two tracks out of context. So if you can find pleasure in those, the 9 other track in between warrant their long duration (over 6 minutes on average).

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