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Ambient Drone Interview Premiere

Premiere: Polypores – Secretions Of Memory (Woodford Halse)

Woodford Halse – Release: August 2022

Woodford Halse and Polypores are two musical entities that encompass the term prolific, as label and artist both outputting a shit ton of great music and with impressive regularity. Seeing Polypores’ upcoming return to the label with new album ‘Infinite Interiors’ felt like a good opportunity to give a taste of the sounds, as well as some exclusive insights from the artist himself.

Grab a brew, hit play and read on…

Flatland Frequencies · Premiere: Polypores – Secretions Of Memory (Woodford Halse)

So, this is by no means your first rodeo, how did Infinite Interiors come into being?  

Like most of my albums in recent years, it wasn’t something I thought about too much, it was just sort of spewed out from the mysterious and perhaps mystical source from which all my music comes. I just had to create the environment (and the synth patches) to allow it to happen. It was kind of a dark time for me, there was a somewhat difficult personal situation which had been going on for some time, which I’d sort of dipped my toe into trying to process. And I think that fed into the music a fair bit, there’s a sort of darkness to the album. And a distinct lack of control. I think I perhaps made something that sounded vast and maybe a bit intimidating in places, which reflected the idea that I was processing stuff that I’d perhaps been in denial about. 

So it’s kind of a subconscious exploration where a few internal barriers are broken down. I was reading “Piranesi” by Suzanna Clarke at the time, which I think influenced it to some extent. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone but a lot of the same themes are there. And perhaps the vast halls in that story were an influence on the deep, cavernous sound I was going for too.

Are you using a particular or unique approach to this cassette, compared to whats come before? 

Well obviously it’s a lot more personal than most other Polypores records. Or at least it came from a place that I’m less comfortable sharing with people. Mining a different seam, so to speak. I fought it at first, because I generally like to make music that’s ultimately uplifting, or at least leaves a fairly pleasant taste in the mouth. Whilst this isn’t totally depressing, there are darker elements that I wouldn’t have included in previous albums. But it turned out to be quite cathartic by the end, the process of finishing it. The second half is a bit more uplifting, and eventually there’s a resolution to it. It’s not like obviously so, but I think that sort of confusion works for it. It’s like anything in the subsconscious – it can be both beautiful and frightening.

Technique – wise it was my first use of the Soma Pipe, which is a very weird voice synthesizer (like a psychedelic space kazoo) that ended up on a couple of tracks. So technically it’s the first Polypores album to feature my own voice too. It was also my first album using the Make Noise DPO as a primary oscillator, so it’s got a sort of raw, dirty sound to it. The two albums I’d recorded previously (Hyperincandescent and Crystal Shop) was very clean and bright sounding. Most albums I record tend to be a sort of sonic opposite to the previous one and I think this is no exception. It’s also got a track called The Flux which is 19 minutes long and was recorded on the afternoon of Christmas Day, which was my 40th birthday. I thought I’d give myself a present, and that present was that I got to record a massive big drifty 19 minute track. I didn’t worry about length, I just sat there in a nice wine/food haze and made this massive soundscape, which I think really is the heart of the album.

Does your recent foray into live synth practice, influence your studio work (and visa versa?)

I have been playing synths live for a good 6 years or so now, but it did definitely (and still does continue to) influence my studio work. So when I first started out with Polypores it was purely a studio project. But then Joe from Concréte Tapes (who released my first proper album and is at least 75% responsible for any success I’ve had) kept asking me to play live, so I found a way to make it happen. 

I was never happy with it at first – then i worked out that was because I was trying to replicate my studio tracks in a live environment, and putting too much pressure on myself. So I started writing pieces of music specifically to be performed live. That made the whole thing easier because I wasn’t trying to replicate any kind of multitracked perfection. But then I started to move increasingly towards just recording live, to a point where, for every album I’ve done since Azure, I just record totally live with no overdubs. Sure I have less control over the mixing etc, but it has that magic feel to it that you just can’t replicate with overdubbing, in my opinion. It’s like that excitement and energy that comes from a performance. My background was really always in rock music, playing guitar/drums in bands and stuff. I learned there that it’s better for me to get the energy of a live take, than pore over multtracking and overdubs. I just lose interest and it sounds too forced.I’m not interested in perfection, I’m interested in getting something down that has my heart and soul in it. And multitracking sucks my soul. Because it feels like work rather than play.

I’ve recently done a few gigs with the Lyra 8 synthesizer, which kind of takes that to another level because it’s somewhat unpredictable. But I sort of enjoy that. Even though I’m someone who very much needs certainty and routine in most areas of my life, when it comes to music, I like to be able to escape that a bit. 

What’s Next?

Gig wise I have plenty coming up, all which will be on my modular system rather than the Lyra, as I feel like I was abandoning it a bit. I’ll list them below. I have an album out later in the year for Castles In Space, which has been delayed big time due to all the vinyl manufacture problems, but it’s going to be a really special package and I can’t wait for you to hear it and see the gorgeous cover. I’ve also just recorded an album using the Lyra, which we’re finalising the cover for now. That should be out next year via Frequency Domain. That’s as far as I’m going into the future for now, but if I die or retire after answering this questions then there’s two more out there which are musically finished, and I’m confident that the labels will treat them with respect and donate a portion of the money to a suitable charity.

I’ve also got some more stuff planned for my sample-based side project ZENYA, and as always more niche treats for my subscribers on Bandcamp. I think it’s important to keep busy!

Polypores live:

  • 19/08 – Carnival Brewing Company, Liverpool
  • 23/09 – The Ferret, Preston
  • 01/10 – Just Dropped In, Coventry 
  • 20/11 – The Continental, Preston (supporting Zombie Zombie)

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Ambient Drone Synth

Luke Sanger – Onyx Pyramid (Digital reissue)

Bonus Round – Release: 15/7/22

Previously available as a cassette release, Onyx Pyramid has been reissued digitally everywhere, with fresh new artwork.

The combination of a worldwide shift to GM crops and rising global temperatures led to a series of global disasters, destroying many natural resources and a causing a permanent environmental imbalance. Earth’s leaders make the choice to outsource all food production to off-world corporately owned farm planets, known as ‘flatlands’.

These giant artificial orbs contain vast crop fields and are operated robotically. A handful of human ‘farmers’ are required to oversee operations and perform maintenance tasks. Although the environmental conditions are engineered to mimic 21st century Earth, there is no wildlife. Farmers have been reporting strange experiences of auditory hallucinations, nicknamed ‘flatland frequencies’, these are most likely a byproduct of the chemically engineered atmosphere combined with extreme isolation.

Purchase at bandcamp or stream on spotify etc

Categories
Ambient Jazz Video

Szun Waves – Exploding Upwards

Leaf Records

‘Exploding Upwards’ is taken from the the new Szun Waves album, Earth Patterns (coming 19th August 2022). As well as the unsurprisingly lovely track, the accompanying visuals by Dom Harwood are really something else!

Categories
Ambient Drone Live Synth

Luke Sanger – Live (on the Make Noise Shared System)

This was originally streamed as a live improv on Bandcamp Live. In hindsight, I think it’s an OK set, with range of moods and timbres. My fave sections are the looser unpredictable bits (mostly phonogene-related weirdness) and in the future will try to focus in more on these techniques. Maybe a bit overkill on the pentatonics, but there we go…

Things used:

  • Make Noise Shared System (with older phonogene module)
  • 2hp pluck
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • House plants
Categories
Ambient Drone Minimal

Luke Sanger reissues Traversing Timelines LP

Previously released on cassette via the excellent Frequency Domain label and long since sold out, Traversing Timelines is now available to stream everywhere digitally.

Check it out on Spotify or ask Siri to play it.

Of course, you can still purchase the high quality digital files at bandcamp:

Categories
Ambient Review

Fields We Found – Distance

Seil – May ’22

Layers of noise (that good kind) envelope this new LP from Fields We Found. The delicious Cocoquantus artefacts are scattered all over, but the vibe is as much steered by the operator.

There is a looseness to the compositions which has a certain freeform quality, letting sounds play into the loops and letting them bounce around to do their thing. It’s as much about know when to remove an element, as it is to introduce one and this is something executed successfully across the album.

Out now on cassette and digital via Bandcamp.

Categories
Ambient Electro-Acoustic Experimental Minimal Review

Andrew CS & Glia – Nimi

Cached Media – May ’22

Gorgeous micro looped tones and fuzzy, cascading drones form the sonic landscape of the 12 varied pieces here. From the organ-like tonalities in ‘Wind for Weighted Keys’ sometimes reminiscent of A Rainbow In Curved Air (albeit mangled in a most pleasant way), to the crunchy tape-like twists and turns in ‘Outcrease’, there’s a real positive energy coming from the LP, of which I’ll be returning for repeat listens.

Out now on CD and Digital via Bandcamp

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Ambient Feature Premiere

PREMIERE: Jo Johnson – Track 3 – Less Popular Than Cats

Flatland Frequencies · [PREMIERE] Jo Johnson – Track 3 – Less Popular Than Cats

We’re pleased to share this exclusive premiere of track 3 from ‘Less Popular Than Cats’ compilation, by Jo Johnson – released next week on Verdant Recordings. A beautifully pulsating long-form piece, which gently ebbs and flows in a particularly organic manner, like leaves floating on an expansive loch.

Categories
Ambient Experimental Feature Synth

2021 Flatland Favourites

Ambient / Synth / Experimental:

T. Jervell – (K) En sommerdag i Kroken (Ruter)

Hoavi – Music For Six Rooms (Balmat)

V.A – Anthology of Experimental Music From China (Unexplained Sounds Group)

International Sangman – Death Roads & Spirit Ways (Ish Records)

Never Temple – Throwing Around an Invisible Ball (Golden Ratio Frequencies)

Polypores – Crystal Shop (Waxing Crescent)

The Transcendence Orchestra / Ali Wade – Storming Heaven / Demons (Frequency Domain)

Richard Norris – Hypnotic Response (Inner Mind Records)

Lewis Hunter – Folk Album (Bandcamp)

Hainbach – Schwebungssummer (Misc.)

Categories
Ambient Drone Review Synth

Tomas Nordström – Ingentingskogen

Ingentingskogen or (according to google translate) ‘nothing forest’, is a new collection of drone works from Tomas Nordström, noughties techno survivor and one half of cult heroes Transexual Swedish Rebels (TSR), the greatest live techno act to come out of Sweden and possibly the world. So it’s always a welcome sight to see new material transmitting from his Stockholm base.

Ingentingskogen is solely based around the Sequential Circuits Pro One synth, layered through various effects whilst Tomas was learning to repair the instrument. The general vibe is quite dark, but varied in intensity, from the power drone zones of ‘Natten regnade I cmoll’, to the softer palettes explored in ‘Stampvall’. All of which demonstrates the juicy tonal character of the instrument, without drowning it in effects.

Lets hope this is just the beginning of more pure synth excursions from Mr Nordström!