Slow Music for Fast Times

This morning saw the conclusion of our latest archival project.  The world’s longest-running ambient radio program, Hearts of Space began broadcasting slow music for fast times back in 1973.  The original program was a 3-hour set, shortened to its present 1-hour format when the show began public radio syndication in 1983.

Hearts of Space

Since syndication Heats of Space has aired 1080 hour-long episodes showcasing quality ambient music each week for over 30 years.  Innerspace has successfully compiled a complete archive of the show’s broadcasts and will continue to add new episodes as they are aired.

We’ve made sure to uniformly name and tag each program and to include the original broadcast date and a companion track listing with the metadata for each episode.

Beginning next week I’ll be moving into a larger office and wanted to create a downtempo chill-out library as a relaxing ambient soundscape for my work day.  The Hearts of Space broadcasts will be added to a rotation along with other complete label archives, such as:

– the six phases from the late Pete Namlook’s ambient FAX +49-69/450464 label

Fax-tribute-poster-web

– the intelligent d’n’b sounds of LTJ Bukem’s Good Looking Records and its companion projects

LTJ Bukem

– the first ~150 records on the Ninja Tune label for some jazzy, downtempo electronic music

Ninja Tune Beats & Pieces

– a wonderful 330-hour audio archive of psybient albums from Simon Posford and other prominent figures of the scene

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– and an additional 72-hour collection of quality psybient mixes by Spacemind

Spacemind - Light Reactions (Remastered Edition)

The majority of these selections are not offered by any of the major streaming networks or from current commercial markets, but Innerspace Labs has got it covered.

And you can check out Spacemind’s mixes on Youtube.  Here’s Light Reactions (Remastered)

An Incredible Grail, and Outstanding Good Fortune

Once in a while, for no particular reason, the stars in your world align and an outstanding bit of good fortune befalls you.   I was the recipient of just such a fortune this afternoon.

Every day I try to take a few minutes to explore potentially rewarding sounds that had somehow previously avoided my radar.  Often I’ll review the universally-acclaimed album charts for a given genre as an interest-of-the-week on rateyourmusic.com.   Sunday morning’s theme was the peak of the downtempo scene – late 1990s utlra-chilled choons filled with trip-hop rhythms, mellow minimal melodies,  jazz-infused horn riffs and the sparse and fragmented fills from a Fender Rhodes.

This was music generally associated with hip, urban cafes in the 90s and found widespread mainstream popularity through Ministry of Sound’s chillout compilations of the cool sounds of Ibiza.

Ministry-Of-Sound-Chillout-Sessions-Classics-rip_it_up1

These compilations are fine if you just want an atmospheric bed of sound for your late night laptop adventures or for small gatherings, but none of these are particularly memorable.  I was on the hunt for an ultra-chilled tour de force – an anthemic masterpiece of critical acclaim.  That album, as I quickly learned, is Kruder & Dorfmeister’s K&D Sessions.

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Originally released in 1998, both the 4LP set and the double-CD versions of the album were issued exclusively in Germany.  The album has since become a holy grail for lovers of dub and downtempo classics.  I was disappointed to find that, bootlegs aside, the album only had one proper release 17 years ago.

But that’s when I stumbled upon wonderful news – it just so happened that the album was newly-remastered by Bernie Grundman for a special 5LP audiophile edition released in March of this year!

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Most of the major distribution channels were sold out, with sellers in the USA asking $110-$169 for copies of the album.  Thankfully, I was able to get my hands on a copy locally this afternoon for $15 and I couldn’t be happier.

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The audiophile edition also comes with a download code for a 24-bit digital archive of the remastered set.  What an incredible addition to my electronic music library!

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Dial the lights down low and let this do its thing.

The History of Modern Ambient Music: Part 1 – 1973-1993

Hello friends!  My second video is now up on The Innerspace Connection’s Youtube channel – this is the first of a 2-part series showcasing milestone recordings of modern ambient music.

Here are the highlights of albums recorded between 1973 and 1993, presented in the order of their release.

Or click here for the HD version.

KLF Rairities from Santa – the Albums That Spawned a Genre!

I got two more rarities for my KLF collection this Christmas, and an amazing story behind it!

KLF - Space and Chill Out 12-25-11
Copies of the legendary Chill Out LP are impossible to come by in the states, so my girlfriend’s mother ordered me a copy from Belgium for Christmas.  She later received the email in the above picture stating that the disc was destroyed at customs!  But the Christmas spirit was with this generous seller – he remedied the situation and made my holiday by shipping his own personal copy (in DEAD MINT condition) at no additional charge.  THANK YOU Sebastien!

About the albums –

These two recordings, released in 1990 are the first ever examples of ambient house.

Space was recorded by Jimi Cauty and Alex Paterson just after the release of The Orb’s single, “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld.”  It was intended to be The Orb’s debut album, but the duo split and Cauty released it under the name “Space.”  A large percentage of the copies that surface are bootlegs, but I was fortunate enough to pick up an original pressing.  Cauty simply describes Space as, “a record for 14 year old space cadets to go and take acid to for the first time.”

Chill Out is a milestone in the history of ambient music – the sound of a post-rave late night road trip from Texas to Louisiana recorded in one live take at Trancentral.  Like Space, it was in part a collaboration between the KLF and Alex Paterson, and was recorded in February of the same year.

Check out my favorite track from Chill Out – “Elvis On The Radio, Steel Guitar In My Soul.”

Classic House at My Doorstep

Three classic singles just arrived at my door.  For only a few dollars I could have ordered these at any time during the last several years.  However, it would have meant shelling out $12 for each single to ship them overseas.  I lucked out this week when I found all three from the same seller – and in the USA!

The first single needs no introduction.  It’s “Dark and Long (Dark Train)” from Underworld’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman era.  After over 15 years they still play this song at many of their live shows.

Underworld - Dark & Long (Dark Train)
The second single is only familiar to real Underworld fans, which is sad because it’s such a fantastic disc.  “Spikee” / “Dogman Go Woof ” was released on Junior Boys Own records in ’93.  If you don’t want the hassle of tracking down the original single, the track was released on the 1992-2002 compilation double disc – an album which also features other rarities like “Bigmouth” and “8 Ball.”

Underworld - Spikee / Dogman Go Woof
The “Spikee” video below is from the rare Footwear Repairs By Craftsmen at Competitive Prices VHS, a compilation of early Underworld videos produced by Tomato.  Anyone who owns a copy of Karl’s mmm… Skyscraper: A Typographical Journal of New York will recognize the fractured type which eventually ended up as artwork for the Dubnobass LP.

The vocal samples come in at around 3:10 and play throughout.

The song is structurally similar to Darren Price’s “Everybody Jack” in its use of fragmented vocal loops.  “Jack” was previously known as “Javelin Boy,” a misinterpretation of the lyric.  The song has yet to be released by the band.

The earliest versions of “Everybody Jack” that I have in my collection are from 2007 – the Central Park, NYC show from 09-14, the Glasgow Academy, Scotland set from 10-13 and the London Roundhouse England performance from 10-18.  But the version aired during the 30 minute Exclusive Mix for the We Are One Festival blows all the others away.   Here it is, from that very mix.

And this is a promo vid Darren Price recorded for Maschine 1.6 a few weeks before the Miami Music Conference where he plays around with the “Everybody Jack” sample live in studio.  Jump to 1:37 to watch him at work.

The third and final single is the KLF’s Justified and Ancient.  I already have”3 A.M. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.),” “Doctorin’ the Tardis,” and “Chill Out” is on its way.

KLF - Justified and Ancient (front)
KLF - Justified and Ancient (back)

In addition to the songs themselves, an added bonus of ordering the singles was that they provided me with clean copies of the older JBO logo and the KLF pyramid, which I scanned and recreated to work on dark t-shirts.  I’ll be printing them up soon, along with a White Room icon tee and one of the “Why Sheep?” graphic from the White Room liner notes.

I also stumbled across an Underworld unreleased treasure that I had somehow missed when it first surfaced on the Web.   It is the DAT prototype tape for Dubnobasswithmyheadman which the band used when trying to secure a record deal in the U.S in 1993.  You can definitely hear them finding their sound on this tape.  Check out “Organ.”

The Sound of a Barking Dog on a Loop

I took a few days off this week and dove deep into a pool of ambient exploration.

The ambient kick was jump-started by my discovery of several William Basinski releases I found which were missing from my collection.  After tracking down copies of these albums and split seven inch records, I now have the following in my library: (please let me know if I’m missing anything)

1998 & 2007 – Shortwavemusic
2001 – Watermusic I
2002 – The Disintegration Loops I
2002 – The River
2003 – The Disintegration Loops II
2003 – The Disintegration Loops III
2003 – Untitled 7inch [w Andreas Martin & Christoph Heemann]
2003 – Watermusic II
2004 – Silent Night
2004 – The Disintegration Loops IV
2004 – Variations – A Movement In Chrome Primitive (Die Stadt)
2005 – Melancholia
2005 – The Garden of Brokenness
2006 – Variations For Piano and Tape
2007 – El Camino Real
2008 – The River (Alternative Mix)
2008 – The River [Alternative Mix]
2008 – Untitled 1-3 [with Richard Chartier]
2009 – 92982
2010 – Vivian and Ondine
2011 – A Red Score In Tile

There is also a new album pending release, titled Hymns of Oblivion.  You can preview a full track on the label’s website, but I implore you – do not look it up.  Basinski has changed his sound significantly and sometimes… change isn’t a good thing.  I’ll sum up his new project in a few short words which should effectively dissuade you from pursuing it any further.  Dreadlocks.  Leather pants.  Shirtless.  And High-Pitched Wailing.  He had a solid 10 year run, and we’ll leave it at that.

William Basinski - Hymns of Oblivion
Fortunately a newer artist was there to pick up the torch with some impressive drone work I discovered from an ambient blogger.  Black Swan has recorded two full length LPs to date.  Black Swan (in 8 Movements) in 2010 and The Quiet Divide in April of 2011.

Black Swan (in 8 Movements)

Black Swan - The Quiet Divide
Both were released by Experimedia and make for a most satisfying listen.  A word of caution, however – this is not blissful easy-listening ambience.  Black Swan is dark and melancholy, but hauntingly beautiful.

Another collection I’d been meaning to acquire for a few years now is the Dark Side of the Moog series.  Pete Namlook, Klaus Schulze (and Bill Laswell on select albums) collaborated to produce 10 albums between 1994 and 2005, each with a title playing off the recordings of Pink Floyd.

After securing the 10 album set, along with The Evolution of The Dark Side of The Moog (a “best-of” disc) I discovered that in 2008 Namlook released an 11th volume of the series.  It is available in both stereo and 5.1 surround formats.  I picked it up immediately.

Pete Namlook & Klaus Schulze
I also watched three of the KLF’s films – Waiting, The Rites of Mu and The Stadium House Trilogy.  I’ve watched The White Room before and will get to Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid in the coming weeks.

Waiting was a 42 minute ambient recording venture on the Isle of Jura.  It was filmed in 1990 and was available via mail order from the K Foundation.  Elements of Chill Out and their other recordings are clearly audible all throughout the film.  A ltd. ed. soundtrack was available (mis-labeled as Waiting For The “Rights” of Mu) which features the audio from both films.  After watching the movie I dug through my KLF archive and was surprised to find I already had a copy.

If you dig minimal ambient electronic music you should definitely pick up a copy of this last album.  The minimal cover art intrigued me so I queued it up and instantly fell in love.  The LP is available from Discogs for under $15 so I’ll have it soon enough.  Listen to Pantha du Prince’s album, This Bliss.

Elvis On The Radio, Steel Guitar In My Soul

As a massive fan of ambient music, there are few classic albums that stand out above all others.  Brian Eno’s seminal masterpiece, Music For Airports will forever hold my number one position, both for jump starting the genre of contemporary ambient music and for initiating me into ambient culture many years ago.  Harold Budd’s collaborations with Eno – The Pearl and The Plateaux of Mirror are also both highly recommended.

This evening I was going through my library looking for ambient house albums I hadn’t listened to since college.  I was re-exploring the KLF discography when I came upon Chill Out and Space.

KLF - Chill OutThe KLF – Chill Out

Chill Out is essentially a post-rave ride home from Texas into Louisiana.

The Orb’s hit single, “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld,” and the KLF albums Chill Out and Space are actually quite closely related.  Each of the three contain material recorded from Trancentral, (the KLF basement studio), and from the monthly “Land Of Oz” nights at Heaven, the London nightclub.  These sessions were a collaboration with Alex Paterson of The Orb.  “Ultraworld,” Space, and Chill Out were the result of those sessions.

KLF - SpaceThe KLF – Space

If you’re a fan of these albums, there is an incredible amount of information available from the Chill Out Facebook fanpage.

Chill Out and Space will be my next ambient vinyl purchases.

Brian Eno – Music For Airports – 1-1

Eno and Budd – The Pearl

KLF – Elvis On The Radio, Steel Guitar In My Soul, 3 AM