The heatwave has broken in New York (for now), but the slowed-down melodies released in July are pure, artistic fire. From the darker, industrial explorations of Korean artist Heejin Jang, to the wandering experimentations of Pontiac Streator and Ulla Strauss, July has seen a wide variety of styles expressed under the ambient and downtempo umbrella. May these selections put your mind at ease and take you on a wondrous journey through sound.
See past charts here.
1. "VIVID MEMORY IN TINNITUS #DB49FF” – HEEJIN JANG [MUZAN EDITIONS]
The noisy atmosphere made me feel like I was trapped inside a television at first. The sound builds into tumbling transmissions that soon blow in circles like a tornado. Static pierces through quaking reverb, making these machines feel almost human. Be sure to give the rest of Heejin Jang’s album, #Stigmata, a listen.
2. “WISDOM & HEALING” – JUNE AND VAYU [KIZEN]
A mysterious, deep atmosphere perfect for a moment of escape. The spacey and nature sounds make this track feel like being in a jungle on some undiscovered planet...or maybe I’ve been watching too much of Stranger Things.
3. “B1RDS” – RACCO [HUINALI]
Huinali Recordings, a sister label of Seoul-based Oslated, makes their first release. This dub techno rhythm is very hypnotizing. Slow enough to relax to, but groovy enough to get you moving with enough interesting textures to keep your curiosity flowing.
4. “FALSE AWAKENING” – SAM KDC [HORO]
There’s nothing like some eerie ambient to get you in the mood. With an ominous backdrop and steady, rolling drums, this might just be what your dark soul has been craving.
5. “HALF REMEMBERED” – JQ [LO]
Musician JQ twists different textures around in a bowl, whipping up a filling ambient meal. Flittering chimes and beeps, reverberating static and brief words from an unknown speaker are some of the rare ingredients in this enchanting track.
6. “INDUSTRY WAVES” – VINUELA AND ROSENBERG [SEIL]
Gabriel Vinuela and Nico Rosenberg create a dreamy soundscape here, opening with a calming piano rhythm that melts into a warm lofi backdrop of whispering drones. A lovely combination of electric and acoustic instruments. Catch their album, Borderless, out now on Frankfurt-based Seil Records.
7. “WOODED” – DARREN HARPER [SHIMMERNG MOODS]
Darren Harper creates a rich mixture of chimes and hums that seem to roll on endlessly. Beeping through some other parallel universe, this track has over 10 minutes of blissful mystery. More playful electronic textures can be found on Harper’s album, Paths, which releases next month via Amsterdam label, Shimmering Moods.
8. “PSYMA” – ZAHN, HATAMI AND MCCLURE [N5MD]
For the second time, these three artists have come together for their explorative ambient release, Ypsilon. This track includes soft clicks and other far off sounds with vibrating drones, gradually evolving into outer space territory. The backdrop is completely wondrous and consuming, leaving you guessing the entire time.
9. “SLOW BUCHLA SUNSHINE” – ABOVE & BEYOND [ANJUNABEATS]
Above & Beyond released their album, Flow State, this month and it’s made especially for yoga and awareness. “Slow Buchla Sunshine” is one of the darker additions, which is why I chose it. With heavy drone guidance, airy inflections and an emotive piano melody, this track will uplift you while piquing your curiosity.
10. “WORDS” – ED CARLSEN [MODERNA]
A smooth, beeping beat rolls in so effortlessly in this melodic dream. Piano keys and guitar strings dance out of control, making for a really feel-good track. Ed Carlsen’s forthcoming LP, Morning Hour, is not to be missed.
11. “VV” – BORA [FIRST TERRACE]
Welcome to the dark dreams of French artist, Pauline Canavesio aka Bora. As an artist creating under different mediums, both visual and audio, Bora uses her voice as an instrument for “VV” and it becomes a part of the whispering, sharp sounds. A deep, undulating bass warps us into some other part of the mind, the part that doesn’t see limitations.
12. “ITEM 8” – PONTIAC STREATOR AND ULLA STRAUSS [WEST MINERAL]
These two are no strangers to this list and their experimental styles are fused once more for an album that is robotic and crunchy at times, but also delicate and mystifying. Below are snippets of 11 Items, but you can preview my favorite at 5:08. You can also listen to everything here and check out West Mineral, a label that takes its time between each release and never disappoints.
13. “SOME LIMITED AND WANING MEMORY (MILAN W REMIX)” – CHRISTINA VANTZOU
An intense orchestra of sound that unfolds into whispering echoes. This is a haunting piece to help spiral you into limbo. Christina Vantzou’s 4.5 Remixes features seven different artists.
14. “SENTINELS” – PYE CORNER AUDIO [MODERN OBSCURE MUSIC]
The hypnotic chime inflections are very seductive here, with a steady pattern that doesn't get boring, but subtly develops until all is suspended in time and space. Fittingly, the album is called Ritual Rhythms (of the Obscure Mediterranean Souls), a VA compilation from Spanish label, Modern Obscure Music.
15. "POWER" – CHAROLASTRA [HARSH RIDDIMS]
This minimal, quirky track starts to open up into a vivid dream around the 2-minute mark. A smooth rhythm is created out of tapping drum pads and light symbols, as if someone is in their room is using everyday objects as musical instruments. Then around 4 minutes in, blissful harmonics take over and reverberate into the atmosphere.