Crypt Corp., "Greenpoint"
Sequential, "Die Sonne"
Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, but we have been experiencing technical difficulties ever since that hacker attack on Friday. Am I saying that these hackers were enemies of ambient music and the chill-out room, dedicated to maintaining a world of anxiety and crappy EDM drops? I mean, I'm not not saying that, at least until further evidence emerges to disprove the theory that we were the main target. But, to quote my man Woody Guthrie, all of you fascists bound to lose. In response, we will continue Operation: Recover Commenter Star's Collection with another Rising High Records classic, Pete Namlook's The Definitive Ambient Collection. Namlook is a name that we haven't mentioned here yet, but his shadow looms large over a lot of the music we discuss. I'm going to hold off on a biography for now, as we plan to share much more of his work, both as an artist and label head, but know that he is one of, if not the key figure, in the ambient turn of the 1990s.
While I chose this one mostly because of Star's comment, it also happens to be a good way to jump into Namlook's vast discography as the release was designed as a sort of greatest hits compilation. This 2LP/1 CD, released in 1993, was the first of two volumes collecting the German producer's early (mostly) beatless work across its many aliases. It's 11 tracks that cover everything from dark ambient to nautical dub to slow trance to ethereal spacemusic to a sort of Middle Eastern house, offering a great opportunity to hear the breadth of Namlook's talent and grab some insanely rare B-sides. The CD is arranged as a continuous mix, which gives it a more seamless feel than that sort of diversity would lead one to expect.
I've tried to capture that range in the samples above, with an emphasis on Namlook projects that aren't as well-known these days like Silence and Air. Crypt Corp. was Namlook's hard trance project with Peter Prochir, which released 3 EPs in 1993. This 6 and a half minute song begins with a mournful, violin-like drone; as the song unfolds, deep bass and twinkling percussion accent it beautifully. About halfway through, a rush of distorted bass notes up the pace and intensity; the drums get harder, synth notes bubble up and evaporate quickly. It feels like you are being sonically sucked into the whorling drone vortex. With about a minute left, you find yourself on the other side, alone with the melancholic drone. It's especially interesting to listen to this with the other two songs featured on its initial release, "It's Getting Strength" and "It's All Around Us." Those are rave-ready, a good reminder that Namlook came to ambient through the dancefloor and warehouse.
Two tracks from his Sequential project with Christian Thier give the compilation a dark center. "Lost At Sea" uses water field recordings, whispered vocals and dub effects to get you on edge. "Die Sonne" lets you emerge out of the water, but the deep, rumbling drone underneath alerts you to the fact that you are now in a different type of abyss. Singing synths seem to be calling out, nearly shrieking, for help. Superb. Finally, Hearts Of Space's "Drawn" closes the record out with something completely different; while the shortest track at a little over 4 minutes, it might have the biggest impact. I can't think of a better way to describe this than as skymusic, the sound of the clouds and birds lift you up and let you drift off. It covers ground (air?) we've already covered, with waves of swelling synths, but it does so so beautifully that you need to hear this right now.
Ok, more Namlook to come, as well as new jawns and other exciting stuff is on the way.