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Ambient Hidden Gems #3 Darren McClure & Joseph Valentino, Bålsam, Strange Mountain

In this section, we introduce little-known, but remarkable finds from the world of ambient. Many of the releases we're exploring here aren't even available on most streaming platforms. We intentionally don’t limit ourselves to any specific genre or time. Our goal is to help ambient fans and music lovers find unique underrated records for their collection or just to have a good time.

Darren McClure & Joseph Valentino – Whatever It Is Out There

Label: Neglectsound (USA), 2022

Genre, style: #ambient #noise #drone

Format: digital

This release is an artifact of the digital age, not only because artists used many of the last decade's inventions such as granular synthesis and shimmering wavetables, but also because of how they worked. Darren McClure lives and works in Matsumoto, Japan, and Joseph Valentino resides in Arizona, USA, so all sounds got transferred via email links between August and November 2022.

Back in the middle of the last century, legendary composers John Cage and Pierre Boulez predicted that in the near future, noises without a particular pitch would become as significant elements of musical composition as sounds with a particular pitch; and Whatever It Is Out There is a great example of music in which noise plays a primary role and becomes the basis of most of the compositions.

Bålsam – Monte Niebla

Label: Atlantea Records (Belgium), 2022

Genre, style: #ambient #drone #newage

Format: digital, CD

Anthony Asher-Yates aka Bålsam is a visual and sound artist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. His journeys have brought him all over South America, where he began listening and recording the voice of nature through walks in the mountains. Now he lives in the mountains of Colombia, and works with ceremonies, therapy, rituals, and plant medicines. His music is full of a healing vibrations.

Monte Niebla is filled with soothing field recordings of nature from the West Andean Mountains of Colombia combined with deep synth pads and drones. The New Age aesthetic is evident here. It is a simple yet harmonious, filled with a positive elevated mood, healing music.

Strange Mountain – Ghost Rails

Label: Carpi Records(France), 2013

Genre, style: #lofi #ambient

Format: digital, cassette

Strange Mountain is Marcel Thee from Jakarta, Indonesia. Ghost Rails is not his typical work. Comparing to his other albums, this one seems to be the most textured and alive due to the use of the trembling effect of the old tape, which creates the feeling that the music comes from somewhere deep in memory. The cover of the album drawn by Timothy Henry helps us understand the mood of the album: it features a railroad, and you can also see the silhouette of a child's face. All this is drawn in such a manner as if it is something old, abandoned, and faded over time.

“Ghost Rails gives the listener a pause, both stopping and blanketing time across the sentimental landscapes of remembrance, history, and daydreams”, says Marcel.

Please share your impressions of these releases in the comments down below and feel free to suggest albums for our next reviews. Reviewed by Dionis Afonichev (Dionisaf)

Edited by Iuliia Rychkova

Listen to noise ambient music in our Spotify playlist


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