Djinnestan – [2004] Rain 1

Dreamy soundscape. Fairytale forest ambiance, masterfully crafted.

When I first encountered this release over ten years ago, I did not like it right away. I just was not yet prepared to accept something this non-musical as background ambience. But if you accept that good background “music” does not have to follow a traditional song structure, you’re in for a hell of a ride. So, darken your room, lower the volume and do something else while this 74 minute track teleports you into an enchanted forest… Continue reading “Djinnestan – [2004] Rain 1”

Zifhang – [2017] Two Worlds

Vintage trip hop. Old music samples, forming auditory dioramas above contemporary beats.

Netlabel Dusted Way Kingdom is a reliable supplier of (instrumental) hip hop music. This release even leans towards trip hop sound (think: early Massive Attack), while not forgetting to sport slow, fat beets. Continue reading “Zifhang – [2017] Two Worlds”

Herr Doktor – [2017] Time for Love

Nostalgic 80s synth pop. Tightly produced retrowave, focused on beats and synth pads.

This is a special free music release, in that it appears simultaneously in three labels’ catalogues: Enough Records, Illuminated Paths, and Future City Records. That in itself tells you that Herr Doktor’s music is in high demand from curators. Continue reading “Herr Doktor – [2017] Time for Love”

Bluevet – [2014] Believers

Recreational electronic beats. Unobtrusive chord patterns and subdued melodies.

Netlabel Discos Confort specialises in House music styles, featuring multiple artists and DJs. This release by Mexican DJ Bluevet is one of the more silent pieces. I wouldn’t call it ambient, but it does for some indie flavoured background music. Continue reading “Bluevet – [2014] Believers”

Cutside – [2016] Paramnesia

Powerful big beat trip hop. High-concept sounds meet instrumental hip hop.

This is an instrumental EP by a Russian ex-graffiti artist music producer, featuring six quite diverse tracks. The last track features spoken lyrics, but the rest of the release is instrumental (except for mixed-in vocal samples). Continue reading “Cutside – [2016] Paramnesia”

Floating Machine – [2017] Convergence EP

Monotonic, minimal trance. Evokes unconscious head nodding; its creator calls it “hypnotic”. No experiments.

I usually only listen to trance music when doing something else, like programming or reading. There are no lyrics, no fast changes, nothing which would distract me. Yet I can notice the rhythm, the pace, which I find somehow relaxing. This release is a prime example of that type of music, released on Digital Diamonds. Continue reading “Floating Machine – [2017] Convergence EP”

Geotic – [2009] Hearth

Minimal guitar drone ambience. Soothing instrumental music based almost completely on subdued, soft, echoing guitar melodies.

It is surprising how much can be accomplished with only long, soft chords, without any percussion, in terms of structure and rhythm. While most artists that employ these drone tones work without a discernable short-term rhythm, Geotic succeeds in giving his bars a certain punch. Interesting! Continue reading “Geotic – [2009] Hearth”

Triplexity – [2008] Live in Triplex City

Non-cheesy world lounge. A striking balance between combining multiple music and ethnic styles, and producing a coherent musical release.

I am usually sceptical of loungy world music attempts for being shallow, flat listen-and-forget experiences. This album defeated that suspicion thoroughly: not only do all tracks have more than enough depth, they all seem to have their own inspiration. Continue reading “Triplexity – [2008] Live in Triplex City”

Timezone LaFontaine – [2017] Soul Night

Very musical vocal hip hop. Serious musical loops and very rhythmic lyrics give this rap release a very distinct feel.

In contrast to instrumental hip hop, which skips vocals completely to celebrate the loopy nature of its groovy background tracks, this release puts lyrics in the center. While I usually don’t enjoy rap that much, this release can bridge the gap by offering me almost sung lyrics, bundled with carefully produced instrumental tracks. The combination is striking! Continue reading “Timezone LaFontaine – [2017] Soul Night”

The Nuri – [2009] Masquerade

Excellent progressive hard rock with strong female vocals. This is one of the early prominent examples of professionally produced, Creative Commons licensed albums out there.

Early listeners on Jamendo equivocally praised it to be one of the best submissions on the platform. While the free music scene has exploded with thousands of artists, this release for me has stood the test of time. The title track made into one of the early Free Music Contest 2010 compilation conducted by Musikpiraten, an association dedicated to making known high quality Creative Commons music. But back to this album: Continue reading “The Nuri – [2009] Masquerade”