Echoes Top 25 for October: Ambient continues to roll

This month’s Echoes Top 25 continues the roll of ambient music, especially in the Top 10.   Sumner McKane‘s What A Great Place to Be is number one by dint of being the Echoes CD of the Month for October, but even without that honor and extra airplay it entails, it was already #4 the previous month. (Read and hear a review) Right behind Sumner is Mogwai’s roiling The Hawk is Howling, a CD that pins the Echoes needles in the red for most tracks, but manages to provide 3 introspective moments. General Fuzz with Soulful Filling shifts the focus away from guitars It’s an album I profiled two months ago (Read about General Fuzz).  Each of these albums explores different aspects of ambience. Sumner has the Ambient Americana thing going full tilt with heavy doses of psychedelia, while Mogwai also does the guitar band thing to totally different effect, mixing metal and shoegaze modalities. General Fuzz slips in some pedal steel on one track, but Soulful Filling is a keyboard driven ambient lounge affair that continues to seduce. Digitonal keeps on riding high with Save Your Light for Darker Days, the definitive ambient chamber music album of 2008 (Read and Hear Review), while Anja Lechner & Vasillis Tsabropoulos hold up the acoustic side of ambient chamber music with their searing duets for cello and piano on Melos. Veteran ambient artists Tim Story and Hans-Joachim Roedelius tackle the avant-edge of ambient music with Roedelius, at 74 years old, being the eldest musician in the Echoes Top 25. Saul Stokes is the most underrated ambient composer on the list. His carefully articulated sound design and deceptively haunting melodies always move, as they do on his latest, Villa Galaxia. And finally, Darshan Ambient, who’s From Pale Hands to Weary Eyes shows him putting more distance between his early, Patrick O’Hearn-inspired music, is slowly maturing as a musician. All in all, it was another great month for music on Echoes in 2008.


1.< d> Sumner McKane < d> What A Great Place to Be< d> Don’t Hit Your Sister Records< d>
2. Mogwai The Hawk is Howling Matador Records
3. General Fuzz Soulful Filling Self Released
4. Sacred Earth Wind of the East Red Feather Music
5. Digitonal Save Your Light for Darker Days Just Music
6. Anja Lechner and Vasillis Tsabropoulos Melos ECM Records
7. Hans-Joachim Roedelius & Tim Story Inlandish High Wire Records
8. Saul Stokes Villa Galaxia Binary/Stokesmusic
9. Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning King Raven Vol. 1-3 Ark Records
10. Darshan Ambient From Pale Hands to Weary Eyes Lotuspike
11. Peter Kater & Dominic Miller In a Dream Point of Light Records
12. Fernwood Almeria Self Released
13. Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter Two Worlds One Lavendar Sky Music
14. David Pritchard Vertical Eden Morphic Resonance Music
15. Alu Lobotomy Sessions Alu Music
16. Ottmar Liebert The Scent of Light Spiral Subwave Records Int’l
17. Thomas Newman Towelhead Lakeshore Records
18. Vic Hennegan Aqua Vista Alien Tribe Records
19. Michael Brook & Djivan Gasparyan Penumbra Canadian Rational
20. Harold Budd & Clive Wright A Song for Lost Blossoms Darla Records
21. John Gregorius Heaven and Earth Spotted Peccary
22. Solas For Love and Laughter Compass Records
23. Jeff Pearce Rainshadow Sky Jeff Pearce Music
24. V/A Made in Iceland Iceland Music Export
25. Kevin Kendle Light from the Pleiades Eventide Music Ltd.

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