This is the music that dominated my 2017. More than Soul. More than Balearic Beat. Kinda hard to define. Not strictly Ambient. But a mix of Classical, Jazz, New Age, Film Soundtracks, and World / Folk Music. Selections inspired by Jose Padilla`s late `80s / early `90s tapes. Music that might have accompanied a White Isle Summer Sunset at the Cafe Del Mar. Not Chill Out or BGM. But music that has let my thoughts and imagination run.
Demon`s boxed set re-issue of Harold Budd, John Foxx, & Ruben Garcia`s Translucence / Drift Music / Nighthawks did just that. Catching me unawares while driving late at night. Encouraging / daring my memory to wander. A score for the movie inside my head.
Harold Budd, John Foxx, Ruben Garcia – Translucence – Demon
As far as actual soundtracks were concerned, Clint Mansell produced two classics. One for the amazing oil-animation, Loving Vincent. The other for Black Mirror`s only moment of compassion. San Junipero`s vision of (virtual) eternal love. Clint Mansell also helped score the live action remake of legendary anime, Ghost In The Shell. While fans petitioned for a physical release – which for reasons unclear is being withheld – his partner on the work, Lorne Balfe, posted Youtube clips and files (thank you Lorne). At the same time WRWTFWW reissued Kenji Kawai`s music from the original. Another seminal soundtrack that saw a repress was Angelo Badalamenti`s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Death Waltz doing the honours across four sides of vinyl, great sleeve notes and art. Johnny Jewel`s noir echoing of the Bad Angel for Twin Peaks: Season 3 also didn`t disappoint.
Clint Mansell – San Junipero – Invada
Johnny Jewel – Windswept – Italians Do It Better
Sticking with a sort of Noir. Affordable Inner Space launched Massimo Amato`s sophomore LP, In The Mood. A post-midnight hallucination, perhaps inspired by Bill Laswell`s Dub reworks of the electric Miles Davis.
Massimo Amato – In The Mood – Affordable Inner Space
More Jazz came from Hampshire & Foat. Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand mixed in Folk textures but it was the straighter Jazz pieces that appealed to me most.
Hampshire & Foat – How the Nights Can Fly – Athens Of The North
On the Folk side of things, Wales` Bendith (on Aficionado) were heavenly. Across the globe, Auntie Flo produced a different Folk, from Uganda, for Sofrito. Real World finally put Kenyan Ayub Ogada`s sublime En Mana Kuoyo on vinyl. Camisole reissued Serge Bulot`s lost French Folk / Progressive Rock gem, Les Legendes De Brocelinade.
Auntie Flo – The Soniferous Garden – Sofrito
Ayub Ogada – Kothbiro – Real World
Serge Bulot – Les legendes des Broceliande
The electronic edges of Prog morphed into New Age with collections from Pauline Anna Strom, Franco Nanni, Trance`s Tapes and Roberto Agleiri`s archives. Maybe squeezing the reissue of Software`s Digital-Dance into the same generalised category. Also on the periphery of New Age – but as if it had been tailor-made for Jose`s halcyon days – was Nordso & Theill`s near perfect mix of virtuoso tabla patterns and guitar.
New Age extended into the healing musics of Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (on Luaka Bop) and Laraaji`s Bring On The Sun (All Saints). The second LP of Roberto Aglieri`s expanded Ragapadani moved away from typically New Age material (flute, drones and monastic harmonies) to pieces more like the modern chamber orchestra work, of say, Seigen Ono. Full of light, Tango-esque tempos, and harmonica accompaniment.
Roberto Aglieri – Sogno Di Mezzogiorno – Archeo Recordings
Trance – Tapes – Growing Bin
Beverly Glenn-Copeland – Keyboard Fantasies – Seance Centre
Nordso & Theill – Music For Dreams
In 2017, outstanding Modern / Post-Classical came from Penguin Cafe (now signed to Erased Tapes), Dmitry Evgrafov (on 130701), and James Heather`s news-story-inspired solo piano works for Ninja Tune / Ahead Of Our Time.
Penguin Cafe – Imperfect Sea – Erased Tapes
James Heather – Stories From Far Away On Piano – Ahead Of Our Time
Unashamed and unabashed Ambient took the shape of those Hiroshi Yoshimura reissues (on Empire Of Signs and 17853 Records), and Pan`s Mono No Aware compilation / label sampler. Which contained music both beautiful, and challenging. Malibu`s Held and Kareem Lotfy`s Fr3sh were essentials. While Yves Tumor`s Limerence is extremely effecting. Like watching a loop of an old home movie. Eavesdropping on love`s first rush.
But for me “Player Of The Year” in this “category” has been Jonny Nash. For his solo Eden, everything on his Melody As Truth label (particularly the collaboration between DK & SK), his remix of Tommy Awards Prometheus (for Origin Peoples) and his role in Gaussian Curve`s The Distance.
Gaussian Curve – The Distance – Music From Memory
DK / SK – Melody As Truth
Jonny Nash – Eden – Melody As Truth