Best of 2014: Part #5 (10-1)

Hope you're all ready to discover the 10 most essential records this year. Because they're here on this page, you just need to keep scrolling down. This was the most difficult part of compiling this list, since numbers and ranks seem to be so irrelevant at this point. Let's just say that all of these records (so do the previous ones) deserve your utmost attention which should be carried on for many more years to come.

Best of 2014: Part #4 (20-11)

We are slowly heading towards the end... Every day, in every way, getting better and better. In the fourth part you will find some gorgeous records by Richard Chartier's Pinkcourtesyphone, Yair Elazar Glotman's KETEV, Jenny Hval & Susanna, Ueno Masaaki, Saåad, Dalhous, Mica Levi's brilliant 'Under The Skin' soundtrack, and one of the most impressive debutants this year, Siavash Amini.

Best of 2014: Part #3 (30-21)

Voilà, it’s time to take a look at the third part of our end-of-the-year best of list including recent works of Vessel, Opitope, Vladislav Delay, Andy Stott, Oren Ambarchi etc. If you missed the first parts, make...

Best of 2014: Part #2 (40-31)

Here comes the second part of our end-of-the-year best of list including recent works of Lee Gamble, Chris Herbert, Robert Curgenven, Olan Mill, Loscil, Otto A. Totland and then some more.

Best of 2014: Part #1 (50-41)

Summarizing facts is not a complicated task, but epitomizing a year in music is a damn difficult one. We loathe to love and love to loathe end of year lists, since everything is so relative, highly personal and subjective, no one can argue with that. Even so, it can be a wondrously inspiring journey to sink into a list full of – supposedly – impressive, powerful releases. If someone manages to discover at least one record they haven't heard before, it was already worth all the effort.

Watch/Read/Travel: Christ.

"I lived on a traveller site with various forms of travellers, hippies, anarchists and oddly, a couple of traditional gypsy traveller families. It was an interesting time… It allowed me to experience life from the point of view of someone for whom most daily activities had tangible, touchable results."

A Winged Victory For The Sullen: Some pieces live better in the memory

Sounds Of A Tired City were lucky enough to sit down with Adam and Dustin in Stockholm. We talked about the birth of 'ATOMOS', the collaboration process, finding the right performers and pushing the individual limits. We were also curious to hear a bit more about Dustin's involvement with film scores and at last but not least you will be able to find out what is happening with the new Stars Of The Lid record – if anything. However, we have failed to find an answer to a substantial question: what happened to 'ATOMOS IV'?

Watch/Read/Travel: Ben Woods

"For a couple of miles you can follow the walk ways and bike trails all the way to the sea. I’ve spent many nights in my teen years cycling along these lit paths listening to my favourite tracks in my headphones. I knew that even at that age that these images would stick in my mind forever."

Sounds Of A Tired City #22: Sundrugs

"To fit the mood of the interview, I collected the most interesting ambient tracks released in 2014 – according to my opinion. Although this year, like the previous one was in many ways quite poor…"

Sundrugs: Making music is mainly a passion. You can always do it for yourself, silently hoping that someone will appreciate it one day.

Sundrugs is the solo ambient/drone project of Patryk Kawalarz, a composer and producer based in Warsaw, Poland. His debut album 'Hidden Scenes' was released last spring on BLWBCK, which was recently followed by 'Low' on the same Toulouse-based label. We talked to Patryk about his early and current influences, the first steps towards becoming a composer, also raising important questions about the Polish music scene and the difficulty of reaching out to the international audience. He also prepared a guest mix featuring some of his favourite tracks of this year.

Sounds Of A Tired City: Last Year’s Finest (Part #2)

As promised previously, here comes the second collection of last year's finest sounds - this time for the lovers of harsher rhythms and stern sounds. Don't be afraid to embrace it as loud as possible.

Watch/Read/Travel: Tor Lundvall

"There was an underlying creepiness to the 1970s, at least that's how I perceived the decade as a child. I was afraid of strangers, apprehensive that my mother wouldn't pick me up after my piano lessons (I walked home alone several evenings whenever she was late). Most of all, I dreaded the dreams and visions I'd have when I was really sick, like seeing faces and patterns in the carpets and wallpaper, or when the bedroom seemed to grow at least ten times its normal size at night."

Sounds Of A Tired City #21: Home Normal

We've talked to Ian to find out as much as possible about this special little world he's created with so much honest enthusiasm and hard work. You can read about the history of Home Normal, the birth and concept of its sublabels, the exclusivity of each release, the importance of supporting each other and some exciting future plans. Ian also did a smashing 2 hours (!) mix featuring some of his favourite releases and plenty as-of-yet-unreleased tracks from the future – exclusively for the readers and listeners of Sounds Of A Tired City. 

Home Normal: Ian Hawgood

Home Normal is a relatively young and small independent 'organic-minimal-electronic-folk' record label based in Nakajuku, Tokyo, Japan and every now and then London. The five-years-old label is curated by Ian Hawgood, co-run with Ben Jones, with design assistance from Jeremy Bible and Christian Roth. However, Home Normal is not just any kind of sound factory. Ian personally takes care of every minuscule detail that might seem invisible to the listeners at first... but once you've held a record done in their magical laboratory, you are going to remain faithful to the end.

Watch/Read/Travel: Aidan Baker

"The primary narrative tells the story of a man who writes pornography and creates an idealized fantasy woman (who may or may not be the embodiment of the 20th century) for Hitler, and in the process alters the course of history, creating an alternative reality wherein the Germans won the second world war…"

Sounds Of A Tired City: Last Year’s Finest (Part #1)

Whether you like it or not, this year is slowly coming to an end. This means that soon there will be a gush of subjective end-of-the-year lists featuring the most essential records. While you are eagerly waiting to find out which were (are and will be) our favourite albums of 2014, you can take a step back and enjoy some of the best ambient pieces of last year with us.

Watch/Read/Travel: Lawrence English

"There was a day where I had one of those properly life changing experiences, something that I guess some people would find incidental, but I found innately powerful. I was standing on the edge of a large chasm, a sloped fall that ran from the edge of a plateau to the ocean. The temperature began to drop incredibly rapidly and the wind died away."

Oren Ambarchi: I think a lot of people are very snobby about music and they don’t appreciate incredible things because of silly hang-ups

Oren Ambarchi's latest album 'Quixotism' was released early October on Editions Mego, and definitely marks a new milestone in his ever-expanding universe. Recorded with a multitude of collaborators in Europe, Japan, Australia and the USA, 'Quixotism' presents the fruit of two years of work in the form of a single, LP-length piece in five parts. We had the pleasure of talking to Oren during his brief stay in Stockholm, so you can find out more about his new techno record and its peculiar cover, his fascination with Thomas Brinkmann, experimentation in pop music and the unbearable lightness of constantly being able to create in various styles.

Watch/Read/Travel: James Ginzburg (Emptyset)

"and he gets paid well up there in norway, so everything is pretty expensive, those norwegian potatoes aren’t cheap. but it's ok. living in a cabin, you can get a lot of food out of a few potatoes. the north atlantic is still uninterrupted, and the islands are there this time, but the edge of the universe is there too, looming. casually. and you are already dead. how fortunate to see it, for a moment."

Sounds Of A Tired City #20: Morr Music

Morr Music is a label that truly has something for everyone. Same goes for Thomas Morr, the founder of the label who has something to tell everyone. In our in-depth interview with Thomas you will able to find out everything you always wanted to know about Morr Music and the secret of running an extremely successful label. Thomas also prepared an exclusive mixtape for Sounds Of A Tired City, full of delicious pieces released on Morr Music.

Morr Music – Thomas Morr: A goodbye kiss from Björk on my right cheek and such memories

Morr Music merges electronic and indie musical disciplines, so that many consider the label to have invented its own genre. With more than 130 albums in their catalogue, Morr Music is a label that truly has something for everyone. In our in-depth interview with label founder Thomas Morr you will able to find out everything you always wanted to know about Morr Music and the secret of running an extremely successful label. Thomas also prepared an exclusive mixtape for Sounds Of A Tired City, full of delicious pieces released on Morr Music.

Page #23. Scissors And Sellotape – For The Tired And Ill At Ease

Scissors And Sellotape is one of those projects which we would love to hear more from. Released in 2011 on Facture, 'For The Tired And Ill At Ease' works with the tristfullness of Stars Of The Lid and the dream-like minimalism of Nils Frahm and Olan Mill. The album reflects an atheist’s fascination with the continuing hold that theology has over people.

Watch/Read/Travel: Jason Corder (offthesky)

"I love all works by this author for their typically surreal, odd ball spiritual, and whimsical nature that often brings the reader into worlds that bridge reality with fantasy. This particular sci-fi number has stayed tirelessly in my mind over the years – the characters are odd and intriguing and the tempo of the book makes it easy to get along with."

BIINDS: Most of the time, the people around me told me to be quiet, so I just stayed quiet.

BIINDS is an audiovisual collaborative project founded by Nicolo Sommer and Christy Taylor based in Germany, the United States, Peru and the United Kingdom. Their self-titled debut album was released last year and involves various guest musicians with instruments such as the violin, percussion, cello, viola and drums. Their atmospheric world is based on soothing vocals soaked in a luxurious trip-hop and light orchestral ambient mixture. We talked to Nicolo and Christy to find out more about the genesis of their exciting project, their influences, and obviously you can check out their music as well.

Page #22. Yasume – Where We’re From The Birds Sing A Pretty Song

Since the gum we like is going to come back in style, it's quite appropriate to celebrate with an album that refers to the cult series Twin Peaks when it comes both to its title and vivid cover. However, that is how far it goes when it comes to the Twin Peaks atmosphere of Yasume – the rest is all about multilayered glitch and playful beats.

Watch/Read/Travel: Sylvain Chauveau

"The jungle where almost everything you see could in fact be a strange animal, is haunted by insect noises that recall the electronic sine waves of Ryoji Ikeda et al. In the evening the volcano became all dark, showing red and yellow lines of falling lava that looked like flashes in the night."

Sounds Of A Tired City #19: Ben Lukas Boysen

Ben Lukas Boysen – you might know him as Hecq, but preferably both – has been busy for more than 10 years with redefining the possibilities within ethereal soundscapes and brisk breaks with genuine love towards music. Whether he is working on his own albums or developing ideas for commercial projects, Ben always tries to find an efficient and direct way to leave a strong emotional impact using his distinctive style. Here you can listen to an extremely special mix featuring bits and pieces by Windy & Carl, Svarte Greiner, Demdike Stare, Morton Feldman, Lustmord, Deathprod & Biosphere and many more.

Hecq / Ben Lukas Boysen: If I had a wish to send to the commercial universe, it‘d be that the world should slow down a bit more – what‘s all the rush for?

We talked to Ben about the special concept of this remix album, the difference between Hecq and Ben Lukas Boysen, and the enormous amount of patience one needs to have when working with commercials. You can also read about his dream collaborations and at last but not least you can listen to an extremely special mix featuring bits and pieces by Windy & Carl, Svarte Greiner, Demdike Stare, Morton Feldman, Lustmord, Deathprod & Biosphere and many more.

Page #21. Deux Filles – Silence & Wisdom

The short, mysterious career of this French female duo is bookended by tragedy. Gemini Forque and Claudine Coule met as teenagers on a holiday pilgrimage to Lourdes, during which Coule's mother died of an incurable lung disease and Forque's mother was killed and her father paralyzed in a grisly auto accident. The two teens bonded over their shared grief and worked through their bereavement with music.

Watch/Read/Travel: Aaron Martin

"At the bottom of the hill where sleds and shadowed bodies would rush on winter nights was a tire swing. On the other side of the property was a large tree with a faded yellow, knotted rope. I would often climb up with a book and sit or look out onto the roofs in the distance."

Sounds Of A Tired City #18: n5MD

We've asked Mike Cadoo to participate in our label Q&A session, since besides curating and supporting quality music, he produces music himself, and let's admit there are not too many labels around who first started to release music on MiniDiscs. Mike explained the story of this extinct format, the emotional vision behind his record label and he also delighted us with a mix composed exclusively of pieces released on n5MD.

n5MD: Mike Cadoo

n5MD is an independent record label based in Oakland, California. The label is run by Mike Cadoo and primarily releases electronic music which focuses more on melody and emotion. We've asked Mike to participate in our label Q&A session, since besides curating and supporting quality music, he produces music himself... and let's admit there are not too many labels around who first started to release music on MiniDiscs. Mike explained the story of this extinct format, the emotional vision behind his record label and he also delighted us with a mix composed exclusively of pieces released on n5MD.

Page #20. Belong – October Language

The fragile yet heavy texture of these guitar sounds, distorted and heavily processed loops feels like it never ends. Ambient and noise music on their honeymoon. It's been three years since we last heard from Turk Dietrich and Michael Jones – we sincerely hope that we don't have to wait much longer.

Watch/Read/Travel: Marc Dall (Dalhous)

"Cronenberg's film based on the novel is equally lurid and provocative, but I find the film a lot funnier, it has a mischievous sense of humour that wasn't as visible in the book. Still, the novel is a haunting vision of the future we're currently living."

Benjamin Finger: I’m trying to combine hip-hop, techno and pop elements in a very conservative genre that I think many tend to think ambient music is

Norway's Benjamin Finger was educated at Oslo Photo Art School before he started to study fiction film to become a director at the Film and TV Academy (NISS) in Oslo. Since then he has done several short films, music videos and participated at various photo exhibitions, besides working for television, NRK. He is now a freelancer director and photographer and have by accident been composing music 'with a healthy disregard for genres'.

Watch/Read/Travel: Vladislav Delay

"I'm totally drawn to that landscape where nothing much grows anymore, it's just rocks and sea. Whatever else is there it really is there for a reason and because of serious resistance and strength. There's very little nonsense there, which I truly appreciate."

Sounds Of A Tired City #17: Ben Vida

We talked to Ben about his unusual rhythmic patterns and his interests in experimental music, which he also illustrates with a rather unconventional mix especially composed for Sounds Of A Tired City. Tracklisting is quite loose: performer + album/collection title, various bits and pieces from here and there.

Ben Vida: My intention was to make an electronic music record that was focused on rhythm but where the rhythms were always failing

Ben Vida is a Brooklyn-based artist and composer who mainly works with electronic compositions that utilize analog and digital synthesizing technologies, with a focus on aural phenomena and sound localization. Just recently released on Shelter Press, his latest LP 'Slipping Control' was originally composed to act as a score, a sound piece and as raw data for electronic control source. We talked to Ben about his unusual rhythmic patterns and his interests in experimental music, which he also illustrates with a rather unconventional mix especially composed for Sounds Of A Tired City.

Page #19. IKEBANA – When You Arrive There

Japanese female duo IKEBANA consists of two very gifted female artists, Maki and En. Technically speaking, there is not much going on on 'When You Arrive There', but at the same time this is what makes it so brilliant – what these women can achieve with the help of two guitars and their own voices is simply mesmerising. Genuinely effortless yet awe-inspiring, emphasizing form and balance.

Watch/Read/Travel: Jessica Bailiff

"The view was gorgeous and surreal: the water and sky were perfect blues, the springtime-green grass was dotted with dandelions, and the cliffs [...] were glowing white. The sun warmed us as the wind cleansed our spirits, after a very trying and somewhat unsuccessful venture on the continent."

Julia Kent: I am working increasingly with electronic sounds and I think that would be where I would turn if the cello suddenly vanished

Julia Kent is a Vancouver-born, New York City-based cellist and composer. She has written music for film, theatre, and dance, has released three solo records, and has toured throughout North America and Europe. Her most recent solo record 'Character' was released by The Leaf Label last year. We've talked to Julia about the beginnings, the long way that eventually lead to finding her own individual voice, influences and inspirations, Paolo Sorrentino, the seductive Italy and her future plans.

Page #18. Ben Woods – Moments

Ben Woods' 'Moments' might (should!) be one of the most memorable ambient albums of the last decade. It's a collection of carefully selected moments, each piece is embodied in the strength of being able to accompany you during various activities like strolling in the meadows when the days begin to chill, reading on the sofa under your favourite blanket with a cup of piping hot chai, or making sweet love in the profound darkness of your eternal space.

Watch/Read/Travel: Félicia Atkinson/Je Suis Le Petit Chevalier Indian Summer Picks

While spending the summer between the French Alps (where she lives now) and on tour in West Canada and the Pacific Northwest, this is what Félicia enjoyed reading, listening and watching the most.

Talent Bazaar: Dragon Turtle

When you listen to a certain band for the very first time – especially when they are practically unknown to the ears around the world – you have no expectations. Once you start listening to Dragon Turtle, you feel it immediately that you're going to be surprised, instantly getting all your hopes and expectations extremely high. And that is how it should be, because they continuously deliver immense quality, post-rock, shoegaze and ambient never went so perfectly hand in hand.

Page #17. Zèbra – The Black And White Album

Zèbra is one of the numerous aliases that Frans de Waard and Roel Meelkop used to produce a the most surprising mixture of IDM, techno and... disco music! The Dutch duo called this refreshing shake 'meltpop'. After releasing such heavy sounds as Goem and Kapotte Muziek, 'The Black And White Album' reveals a heartwarmingly healthy sense of humour. While not exactly taking themselves seriously, Zèbra masterfully poises between dance, disco, funk and noise, techno, glitch – resulting in an organic whole, definitely colourful instead of black and white.

Sounds Of A Tired City #16: Constellation Tatsu

Learn about the history of the Constellation Tatsu and listen to a special mix prepared by the man behind the label – Steven Ramsey – containing some of his favourite tracks from the past and present.

Constellation Tatsu: Steven Ramsey

Constellation Tatsu is an extremely young and relatively small independent label from Oakland, California. The man behind this exquisite collection of quiescent ambience is Steven Ramsey. During these two years, since the birth of Constellation Tatsu he thoughtfully managed to gather Celer, Hakobune, Cankun, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, White Poppy, Motion Sickness Of Time Travel and Jonas Reinhardt under the same roof.

Hauschka: Pianos are obstacles that help me find more answers and new ways of finding new sounds

Volker Bertelmann aka Hauschka's name had become one with the dynamic and playful phenomena of the prepared piano. Once living its life as a classical instrument, Hauschka's plaything is ever rejuvenating, each time resurrecting as a different creature with pristine sounds bursting out from its surprised strings.

Page #16. DOS Tracks – :)

Uwe Schmidt (Atom™) has (at least) 70 different aliases. Even if you try really hard, most probably you won't be able to check them all out. DOS Tracks is one of these obscure aliases, and no matter how irrelevant it might seem in the sumptuous discography, this austere album title leads the way to a time machine, which is going to take you straight back to a tender age.

Sounds Of A Tired City #15: Memory Drawings

Listen to a special compilation of influences made by Joel Hanson and Richard Adams. After all, this might be the perfect place to find out more about Memory Drawings.

Memory Drawings: Being open to abandoning your original idea in favor of the new one is the key to successful collaborative composition

Memory Drawings are not your usual musicians who spend long months together, experimenting with endless possibilities and each other's nerves. Besides some guest musicians every now and then, the Anglo-American group consists of Richard Adams, Joel Hanson and Sarah Kemp. Despite being at least at three different places at the same time, the members of Memory Drawings have a remarkable pace of creativity. Today we are celebrating the release of their second feature album, 'There Is No Perfect Place' – this time on Hibernate Recordings.

36: People see a lot of ambient music as something to help them sleep, but I’m trying my hardest to keep them awake

36 is the experimental (mainly) ambient project of Dennis Huddleston from the United Kingdom. Since 2008, the focus for the project has been to develop warm, hugely emotive loop-based compositions, with particular emphasis on melody and melancholic atmosphere. Dennis has his own label 3six Recordings, which serves as the perfect platform to publish his self-released works. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and talent to manage a project like this all alone, but Dennis seems to be extremely self-conscious and determined enough to overcome any obstacles and just let his music speak for itself.

Sounds Of A Tired City #14: Preservation

90 minutes of lush bliss coming from artists featured on Preservation’s limited edition Circa series – Dusted Lux, Matthew Barlow, Olan Mill, Seaworthy, Panabrite, Mirror To Mirror and much more. Warmly welcome!

Preservation: Andrew Khedoori

For many of us, Australia might seem to be extremely far off, exotic and almost unreachable. Obviously, it has a great deal of specialities to offer, nature and adventure at its best – plus they have Andrew Khedoori as well. Andrew is the founder of Preservation, a record label based in Sydney since 2001, releasing suave melodies from all around the world. While making the whole planet a timeless, little cozy place, where distances don't really matter anymore, he took his time to talk to Sounds Of A Tired City about the importance of design, their vision and concept and he also prepared an extraordinary mix.

Talent Bazaar: KLØP

Among the 1.4 million releases on Bandcamp there is a modest but mighty fine self-released ambient drone debut album, which you most probably have never listened to. Until now. 'To Mould The Deceiver’s Song' by KLØP was released last winter, and it’s time to discover who is hiding behind this rather funny sounding name, producing some seriously heavy psychedelic drones, which resonate like a perfect mixture between Tim Hecker and Windy & Carl.

Page #15. nsi. – Non Standard Institute Plays Non Standards

This non standard project of Tobias Freund and Max Loderbauer – whose name you are already familiar with because of their other music projects –, nsi. might be one of the most underrated projects ever that was featured on the nowadays rather moribund Finnish Sähkö Recordings. Up until this record, both Freund and Loderbauer have been actively involved in the techno scene, so this release is not only a spruce endeavour into something more clean, more minimal, but also a revolutionary yet simple way to sonic catharsis.

Frank Bretschneider: When I started making music, I just wanted to explore and see what I can do. Today I only want to make music.

Between 14-27 July, EMS based in Stockholm, Sweden hosted Frank Bretschneider as a resident artist, who was eager to submerge into the legendary Buchla and Serge modular synthesizers. On this occasion, we've talked to the co-founder of Raster-Noton to find out more about what is so special about these machines, his current plans to shift from digital towards analog directions, why computer sounds made such a big impression on him when he was younger, and strolling down memory lane he also shares his experiences with mono turning to stereo, raising the question what else is out there which could make such an enormous difference within the limits of perceptible sound.

Page #14. Steinbrüchel – Stage

Originally composed for a dance performance, Ralph Steinbrüchel's second album on LINE never got the attention that would have deserved – therefore it's time for reevaluation. Since Steinbrüchel works both as a musician and a graphic designer, not only his sonic structures and textures are carefully composed, but the cover also speaks for itself. Working with electronic compositions, yet going back to our organic nature is an extremely well executed dichotomy.

Peter Broderick: I would love to score a film by Miranda July

Sounds Of A Tired City gives Greg Gives Peter Space space (yes, you read that right) once again. After talking to Greg Haines, now it's time to meet the playful brain and voice of the project: Peter Broderick. We asked Peter about his impressions on their recent tour, returning to the USA after living quite a few years in Europe, film and photography, and last but not least: poetry. He also shares one of his special poems with us, which has not been featured in any of his songs – yet!

Greg Haines: For some reason it’s not “cool” to talk about reggae, but everyone wants to talk about dub

Greg Haines uses a wide range of classical instruments, sometimes focusing more on ambient drones, other times on the piano. His last album, ‘Where We Were’ was different in every way: not only he had done most of the composing and recording alone, but he had also shifted from neo-classical ambient towards beat-driven experimental dub music – which is something that unfolded even more in his latest collaboration project with Peter Broderick: Greg Gives Peter Space.