Soundtracks For Winter Departures – ILUITEQ

 Soundtracks For Winter Departures
Soundtracks For Winter Departures

Soundtracks For Winter Departures is a new release on English label TXT Recordings, from Italian experimental musicians Sergio Calzoni and Andrea Bellucci.

It begins ominously, in the low hum of ‘The Arrival’, then slides into ‘Burian’, a subtle building up of tension.  ‘A Prayer for the Departed’ continues the theme, and it’s beginning to sound as though this Soundtrack is one for consoling the listener on grey, misty winter days.

But that’s clearly too quick a judgement.  ‘In Every Place’ begins to gently throw some warmth into proceedings, adding gentle, delicate synth sounds to the mix.  Perhaps this is not so much intended to support the listener through the winter months as to hint at moving through cold, dull days towards somewhere better.  There is – slightly perversely – a warmth about  this album which coddles the senses.

Standout track ‘Returning after leaving’ is a case in point.  Heavy, blanketing layered string sounds are washed by a wave of soft static, running just ahead of a gradually introduced steady pulse and droplets of tinkling ice (and is that a tiny fragment of broken sax I hear in the background?).  This is cold and heat combined, like an Icelandic hot spring on a spring morning.

Later, ‘Lux Ephemeral’ begins in darkness, with heavy clouds of sound, but ends up soaring and leads into the final three tracks, each lighter than the last, and concluding with a sweet piano riff on ‘Springtime Returns’.

If you only listen to one track, listen to this:

Available on cd and download from

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Version & Delineation – glacis and Caught in the Wake Forever







It’s an interesting idea – record unrehearsed piano pieces direct to the Voice Memo software that comes with an iPhone, then allow a second artist to make such additions as they see fit afterwards. It’s also an approach which leaves itself open to claims of ‘flippancy’, a notion rightly rejected by label Crow Versus Crow, who say the recordings are “considered, concentrated distillations of reflected emotional experience, precise and lyrical.”

Which they are.  Short, one and two minute pieces by Euan Alexander Millar-McMeeken aka glacis, contemplative but never slow, introspective but completely accessible, across which Fraser McGowan of Caught in the Wake Forever pastes and interweaves snippets of sound, abrading the edges of the piano with domestic backgrounds and the muted refrain of repetitive mechanics and misfiring electronics.  The additions range from mere hints of rough interference to distinct instrumentation given equal weight to  Euan’s piano, but in every case the collaboration works to create something greater than the individual elements.

If you only listen to one track, listen to this:

Available on digital download and as a limited edition cassette.

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Installed Teleportation Machine by Summons Of Shining Ruins

Summons of Shining Ruin is Shinobu Nemotu, an ambient composer for whom the word ‘prolific’ was almost certainly coined.  With hundreds of pieces released on a multitude of labels, it’s tricky to pick a favourite, but this was the very first work of his I heard, and I still play it a lot.

It’s called ‘Installed Teleportation Machine’ but for me its combination of tape loops and found sounds should be the soundtrack to a video tour round one of those abandoned cities you read about on the internet – empty tower blocks with trees growing out the windows and car show rooms full of orange and brown 1970s cars.

Sonically, it’s like a more accessible William Basinski, or the contemplative parts of the last Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, but with a gentle, melancholy feel to it which I hear in all of Nemotu’s work.

If you only listen to one track, listen to this one:

Well it’s all one track, but you can download a copy for free from Brian Grainger’s Install Digital Archive here:

or you can support the artists by buying a slightly different version here:

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Under Blankets – Caught In The Wake Forever

I drive along a winding country road every weekday, going to and from work.  Last December, I ended up stuck in traffic on that road in the dark, inching painfully slowly forward, with snow falling and thick flakes being caught in the headlights.  ‘Under Blankets’ was playing. It was a perfect moment.

It’s a 40 minute long ambient piece of gentle swells and lulls, slow and soft, all rounded edges and muffled tones, and perfectly suited to a certain mood.  Fraser McGowan, who is Caught in the Wake Forever (and also Small Town Boredom whose wonderful  ‘Autumn Might Have Hope’ I have bought twice on vinyl)) is the finest crafter of melancholy (in its most positive sense) music working today.  All of his releases are worth a listen, but this is a lovely, tranquil place to start.

(digital only – cd sold out long ago)

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Five Best Ambient Tracks on Bandcamp

It’s actually not all that tempting to write something about each of these ambient masterpieces, because ambient (or drone or classical or experimental or however else you personally choose to label such music) as a positive listening experience depends on the listener’s mood and what they hope to get out of it, as much as on the artist’s intentions, and so it all tends to get a bit pretentious really quickly.  I’d be talking about ‘washes of sound like warm water on your hands after a walk on a winter’s day’and ‘the echo of distant galaxies sliding across one another to dissolution’ before you could click Play on the first track.

So, instead, here they are – my current favourite five ambient/drone/call it what you will tracks on bandcamp.

Stars of the Lid – Dopamine Clouds over Craven Cottage

Rameses III – When the Phone goes Dead

Tim Hecker – Obsidian Counterpoint

David Colohan – Arc of a Snowfall III

Caught in the Wake Forever – To Wild Flowers Forgotten

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