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Listen to some gorgeous ambient music coming out on tapes

Okay, let’s try to put aside any hipster jokes for a moment. Maybe it’s a sign of the times that cassette tapes are becoming a scene for beautiful ambient and experimental music. It’s gotten to the point that you might find yourself paying to have a tape shipped to you, even if only to thank an artist for a download code. Here are a couple of mixes that might just hook you on the medium all over again. First , there’s Hainbach, whose YouTube channel full of live experiments and mixes is one of my favorite video subscriptions at the …

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Remembering experimental idol and Pan Sonic founder Mika Vainio

Finnish musician Mika Vainio is likely an inspiration to anyone who loves the sensation of electrified sound in its raw form – bare, exposed, vibrating, voltaic. Mika Vainio is a thread running through so much of experimentalism in the past three decades of electronic music – noise to industrial to techno. News reaches us today that he died at the age of 53. If now electronic music’s dark underground vein has become popular, then his fingerprints are all over that transformation. I can see just how many people he’s touched and how deeply moved they’ve been by his work just …

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Photo: Bobby Collins.

Step inside the mystical sound world of Circular Ruins

Circular Ruins’ auditory landscapes are rich and strange, hypnotic rituals of loops and layers. They’re dark, but somehow un-menacing – safely resonating with whatever dangers live there. The artist speaks to us here about process, and zeitgeist, and cassette tapes. And we get to premiere the full release. We have a look round his studio and rig along the way. Circular Ruins happens to be Marijn Degenaar, who also happens to be on the design team at CDM. Oddly, friends and I have each done a double-take there, discovering his music through some other channel only to find out later …

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Inside Zeno van den Broek’s raw immersive AV architectures

Strap on headphones, and the sixteen minutes of Shift Symm is a brain-tickling assault. Even just within the stereo field, raw textures rumble and dance until you feel the sound’s structures inside your head. I was attracted to Zeno van den Broek’s work partly because that sense of patterning in sound and visual formed a work I thought deserved special integrity as a release. This is to me an encouraging sign that there are new frontiers for archaic, exposed AV minimalism in the post raster-noton age. Shift Symm by Zeno van den Broek Shift Symm therefore saw a digital release …

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Avalon Emerson's name keeps coming up - top tip. Photo by Tonje Thilesen.

Musical resolutions – hand-picked music to start 2017

Just as mixes need transitions, humans need pauses. So while some of the divisions of time are arbitrary, we need moments to step back and recollect. So CDM asked a cross-selection of producers and DJs to choose music from 2016 to begin our year. Maybe now – as the vacation spirit is wearing off and task lists are looming – maybe now is the time we need those most. This particular group of humans generally resisted the idea of making charts, as an empty exercise. But I suppose some of those individuals are the very people whose music selections I …

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AMULETS shows how to make a tape loop out of a cassette

AMULETS is Randall Taylor, a one-man experimental looping ambient artist out of Austin, Texas who works with tape loops and guitar. And to start off the year, Randall wants to show you a key element of his technique – making tape loops from cassette tapes. Tape loops, as associated with the likes of Steve Reich, began mainly on reel-to-reel decks. Using a cassette means some more precise surgery. There’s the cassette housing to contend with, mainly – which means disassembling and then (importantly) re-assembling a delicate plastic case. And the tape itself is smaller, too – 0.15 inches rather than …

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Dasha Rush at Futurum.

Voyage into Dasha Rush’s inspiring ambient sonic worlds

Assemble, cosmonauts: Dasha Rush is an artist whose musical worlds merit repeat visits. She represents the best of what an artist straddling techno and ambient can be – with ambient sets that pulse and live, with timbral and structural freedom rather than resorting to dreary droning grays. So let’s take a break from her better-known techno side and get to experience some of her ambient personality. Now, just in the past months, I’ve watched her hold down the cavernous abandoned Kraftwerk power plant for Tresor’s birthday with a techno set, but also explore imaginative techno on Boiler Room alongside Dino …

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Find tranquility in this film with Alva Noto, Ryuichi Sakamoto

Meditative sonic architecture meets a great work of modern architecture, as Alva Noto and Ryuchi Sakamoto invade Philip Johnson’s iconic Glass House.

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The making of a fanciful album imagining a post-apocalyptic future

What would your future clone think of you now, looking back across an apocalyptic reshaping of humanity? That’s the question posed by the 2005 novel The Possibility of an Island, and it resonates in Franz Kirmann’s new album Elysian Park. This might sound bleak, but it isn’t. Kirmann’s new record paints a science fiction sound portrait in dense textures and hyperreal washes of color. There are stuttering and spectacular rhythms making bold shuffles across the music. It’s headphone stuff for sonic dreaming, relentlessly futuristic and endlessly engaging. It’s a world you’ll want to enter and reenter, an addictive time warp. …

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The view from Tresor.

Come on an entrancing ambient techno journey with Milena Kriegs

Somewhere in the shadowy forest between ambient and techno sounds, you’ll find the inventive world of Warsaw’s Milena Kriegs. It’s the sort of music you can get lost in, but it manages to be teeming with life rather than bleakly gloomy. And I think there’s a strong analog between Milena’s live PA sets and her recorded music – somehow, she’s working out a sense of free flow in each, a feeling that you can float along with the music.

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