Guitarist Todd Tobias is best known for his work with alternative rock bands, Guided by Voices and Circus Devils. But on his own, he creates a more ambient, exotic sound, mixing his many guitar voices with manipulated samples. He's appeared on dozens of albums as a guitarist and producer and released six solo recordings including Tristes Tropiques and Moorea.
Imagine yourself in a smoke-filled bar, hazy saxophone billowing from the stage, surf guitars twang, and a drop-dead gorgeous singer seduces you into doing something bad. Could be a Raymond Chandler novel or in this case, a David Lynch film. With the revival of TV's Twin Peaks in the air, there couldn't be a better time for a band like Silencio. Named for a theater in David Lynch's film, "Mulholland Drive", the Pittsburgh-based band plays music from Lynch films and Angelo Badalamenti's scores for them. In fact, their two albums are called Music Inspired by the Works of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti and She's Bad: More Music Inspired by the Works of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti. The band creates a film noir soundtrack that traverses atmospheric instrumentals, surf guitar grooves and sultry torch songs. We talk to founding members, Kirk Salopek and David Jamison and singer Dessa Poljak about their evocative and haunting sound.
Twilight Archive is a trio of musicians from Southern California exploring an ambient jazz sound. The group includes drummer Chris Mancinelli who has played with Nels Cline and Osamu Kitajima and electronic artist Tom Vedvik who has recorded as a solo artist and with cellist Martin Tillman. They're joined by trumpeter John Fumo, a musician steeped in jazz who has played with Mel Torme, Crosby Stills and Nash, Smokey Robinson and Celine Dion while also playing outside jazz with Vinny Golia and his own group, Fumosonic. They get together to make a dark, swampy ambient jazz channeling Miles Davis through Jon Hassell third world grooves and electronica modes. They talk about their evolution and new album, Mood Chain.
Legendary French electronic musician Jean-Michel Jarre has his first album in 8 years and perhaps his best since 1984’s Zoolook. Jarre is renowned for his best-selling debut Oxygene in 1976. The son of famed film composer Maurice Jarre and a student of French musique concrete pioneer Pierre Schaeffer, Jarre is steeped in the lineage of electronic music. So on his new album, Electronica 1: The Time Machine, he creates his own trip through electronic history, collaborating with contemporaries like Tangerine Dream; electronica artists M83, Moby, Massive Attack and Air; and techno artist Armin Van Buren. In an exclusive interview, Jean-Michel Jarre plugs us in to an electronic history lesson.
The English duo Anima is a band steeped in shamanic mysticism, psychedelic plants and electronic music. They have released several albums over the last 13 years, their latest is called Sacred Alliance. The band is singer Daniela Broder and multi-instrumentalist Ali Calderwood. They have made their serene, sweeping albums in the northern climes of Scotland and on a laptop in a thatched hut in the Amazon jungle. They talk about living with a South American shaman, and making music inspired by Ayahuasca as much as Atlantis.
Steven Halpern has been called the Godfather of New Age music and there's a lot of evidence to validate that claim. He released his first album of electric piano modalities, called Spectrum Suite, in 1975. That makes 2015 his 40th anniversary as a recording artist. He recently released the album Among Friends: 1975-2015, a 40 year retrospective of works with collaborators, including the late flutist Paul Horn and reed player Paul McCandless, and a new recording called Ambient Alchemy with guitarist Michael Diamond and bassist Michael Manring. We talk to Halpern about the evolution of his music from the "anti-frantic alternative" to his concepts of sound healing.
Slow Meadow is the performance name of Matt Kidd. He started out as a guitarist playing in church and Christian music bands before venturing out on his own ambient journey. He recorded a couple of albums as Aural Method before falling in with the ambient guitar band Hammock. He emerged from that with his own approach to ambient chamber music, mixing effects-laden guitar with strings and piano to create a sound like Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings sent into deep space. He just released his debut album under the name Slow Meadow, which includes a collaboration with Hammock. We walk through the fields of Matt Kidd's Slow Meadow.
It's not all country picking in Nashville. Michael Spriggs is an A-list session guitarist in Music City who has played on, and written, dozens of country hits. But when he goes home, he plugs in to a different sound, turning country into Ambient Americana, with touches of Celtic music. He'll talk as passionately about Sigur Ros as about Chet Atkins. Spriggs has just released a new CD called Back to 1 that continues his instrumental explorations, including a bonus CD of a long composition in the style of Steve Roach’s Structures from Silence. Michael Spriggs talks about his ambient country roads.
Chad Kettering started out as a classical trumpet player, but something happened on the way to the concert hall. He discovered synthesizers and started creating an orchestral electronic sound that’s part progressive rock and part New Age. His latest album is an epic journey of self-discovery called Pathways that is full of symphonic orchestrations and propulsive rhythms that recall Vangelis. Chad Kettering talks about the path he’s taken.
Arstidir is a band from Iceland with an organic, acoustic sound that has roots in the harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Playing guitars, violin, piano and cello, these musicians create introspective songs on their latest album, Hvel, along with vocal harmonies that will leave you breathless. At times they sound like they could have come right out of the 1960s folk revival, but this is a modern band whose influences include Philip Glass and Olafur Arnalds. In fact, Arnalds produced their second album, and their cellist played with Arnalds on his Echoes session 5 years ago. They talk about their evolution, and we get a tour of their psychedelic tour bus.