Historically, experimental electronic music has been a field in which the work of men has taken precedence over that of women. Among the big names of those men who pioneered the artistic use of new technology, women such as Elaine Radigue, Wendy Carlos, or Laurie Spiegel may be mentioned less– though they had an equally important role in the development and proliferation of experimental techniques in music.
Radigue was one of the first women to experiment with the use of analogue synthesizers in the early 70s. She created minimalistic long-form pieces comprised of a series of hypnotic, sustained tones. Despite the noisier, drone-like quality of her work, Radigue could arguably be considered one of the fore founders of ambient music; in her compositions there exists a sublime quality that so much of today’s ambient still embodies. Listening to her 1998 release, Trilogie De La Mort, one could easily slip into a deeply meditative state.
Today, though women and non-male artists are slowly making progress in the world of experimental music– ambient is a genre in which female artists are still often seemingly forgotten. There are, however, numerous women who are currently producing note-worthy work in ambient.
Some of the most well-known women in the genre are artists Liz Harris, who produces under the moniker Grouper, and Julianna Barwick. These two have often been grouped together as the “token” women of ambient, although their work is highly distinct.
On many of her tracks, Harris makes use of airy vocals and drifting, melancholic melodies to carry listeners through visions of ever distant memories. And though her more recent releases are more lyric-based, in her early albums, such as 2005’s Way Their Crept or 2006’s Wide, the voice serves as nothing but a haunting reflection of the underlying hum of synths. In addition to releasing 10 albums and collaborating with other notable ambient artists such as Lawrence English and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, she also creates stunning, optically complex visual art, and her drawings and wall-paintings have been displayed in numerous solo and group exhibitions.
Like Harris, Barwick also places an important emphasis on vocals, incorporating her classically trained voice into a heavenly cascade of gorgeous, layered loops. However, many of her tracks have a lighter and more atmospheric feeling, as exemplified in her highly praised 2011 release, The Magic Place. Tracks such as “Vow” or “Flown” evoke a sensation of rapturous clarity. Barwick often cites her time spent singing in church choirs as inspiration for her looping reverberations; this becomes even more evident in her enveloping live performances, where listeners may feel as though they are standing in an infinitely expansive cathedral echoing with sound.
Other notable women in ambient are Emily A. Sprague, Angela Klimek, and Christina Vantzou.
Sprague is a synthesist based out of Los Angeles who uses her modular synthesizers to create precise, yet natural pieces. Her debut album, Water Memory and most recent release Mount Vision are equally impressive in their technicality and charm. The gentle, looping synths and piano melodies on Mount Vision have a graceful delicacy that opens up space for quiet reflection. The album was featured on Bandcamp’s “Best Ambient Albums of 2018” list. Sprague also has a Youtube channel where she demonstrates the use of her synths in a variety of short, mesmerizing clips.
Angela Klimek, otherwise known as poemme, creates angelic soundscapes that have an especially feminine quality in their encircling comfort. Moments in Golden Light is a healing embodiment of the magical “golden hour” of light at sunset. Klimek’s work has a particular optimism that sets it apart from much of the more melancholic ambient being produced today. In Cleveland, she and her husband Andrew run ambient label, Stereoscenic as well as an online radio stream called Ambient Sleeping Pill.
Composer and experimental filmmaker Christina Vantzou was first recognized for co-founding The Dead Texan alongside Stars of the Lid’s Adam Wiltzie. The pair released a self-titled audio-visual CD/DVD on Kranky in 2004. Since then, Vantzou has produced four solo ambient-classical albums, accompanied by short abstract films. Her most recent 2018 release, No. 4 feels like surrendering to the current of a dark, slow-churning river. There is a comfortable heaviness to each track that pulls the listener forward through a seemingly unending sleepwalk. Similar themes are explored in her films– in videos such as Shadow Sun, a hazy unreality is present, calling to mind the dream-like work of experimental filmmaker Maya Deren. Vantzou has made other abstract videos for various musical artists as well.
Giving more exposure to female artists working in the ambient and experimental genre is vital in order to promote inclusivity and encourage other women to create.
This push for representation is exemplified in vocalist and field-recordist Megan Mitchell, who currently runs Many Many Women, an online music index for female and non-male experimental composers, improvisors, and sonic artists. Mitchell also produces under the alias, Cruel Diagonals. Her latest album, aptly titled Pulse of Indignation, is a powerfully dark and heavy expression of the exploitative experiences that many women and non-men have faced in a male-dominated music industry.
There is something unique and dynamic about the female perspective that should be more regularly acknowledged in the world of ambient music. Whether it be modular synth loops, grandeouis orchestral compositions, heavily manipulated found-sound, or ethereal vocals, women have a lot to contribute to this genre, and deserve not only to be recognized for their phenomenal work, but to also have their own space beside men to continue creating outstanding music and art.
More need-to-know artists such as Sarah Davachi, Felicia Atkinson, Vanessa Amara, Cecile Schott (Colleen), Wild Adoration, and Leila Abdul-Rauf, are featured on PITP’s Essential Listening playlist, Women of Ambient.
Written by contributing PITP writer, Giovanna Lenski. Giovanna is an ambient artist based out of Chicago, under the alias, 'Phoebe'. You can listen to her latest release 'Reminder | Lucent' HERE.
A lovely article from Self-Titled magazine, “Kyle Bobby Dunn Recruits Loscil, Benoît Pioulard, Pan•American and More For Epic New Record”.
“It’s hard to expect anything less from Dunn, a mood-altering musician who could have dropped his proverbial mic after 2014’s sprawling Kyle Bobby Dunn and the Infinite Sadness. Lucky for us, he’s raised the bar even further with three CDs worth of new material and the help of such close friends and contemporaries as Benoît Pioulard, Loscil, Pan•American, and Wayne Robert Thomas. In the following exclusive, Dunn explains the effort in great detail alongside a newly uploaded track and previously shared lead single. Look out for the rest of From Here to Eternity in its myriad limited pressings on May 31st through the Indianapolis."
Resident Advisor: "Ambient composer Kyle Bobby Dunn announces From Here To Eternity, his first album in five years"
"Kyle Bobby Dunn has a new album called From Here to Eternity on the way. It's the Canadian sound artist's first LP since 2014's well-received And The Infinite Sadness, and sees Dunn working with a raft of collaborators, including Kranky affiliates Benoît Pioulard, Loscil, Pan•American (Mark Nelson) and Robert Donne (Labradford, Anjou). Slowdive drummer and solo artist Simon Scott, Isaac Helson, Maryam Sirvan and Wayne Robert Thomas (with whom Dunn split a 2018 release) also contributed to the album. "
"Canadian ambient/drone maverick Kyle Bobby Dunn doesn’t adhere to the notion that listeners’ attention spans are getting shorter, thus rendering the full-length album as we know it obsolete. No, Kyle Dunn doubles down on this notion of an “album” and drops double, triple, and — with his latest — even quadruple LPs. "
‘From Here to Eternity’ is the first full length album from Canadian composer Kyle Bobby Dunn since his 2014 long play, ‘Infinite Sadness’.
The use of processed guitar and his passion for cinematic swells reaches new realms that are markedly more ominous and dense than his previous long play. Kyle Bobby Dunn also recruited prominent ambient composers and a handful of his favorite musicians to arrange their own instrumentation for several works on this release that add multiple layers of mystery and intrigue of the human mind and heart. Artists that contributed to this effort are: Benoît Pioulard, Loscil, Pan-American, Wayne Robert Thomas, Isaac Helsen, Mark Nelson, Robert Donne, Maryam Sirvan, and Michael Vincent Waller.
Kyle Bobby Dunn wanted this album to be very much about the eternal conflict with all human emotions and life circumstances and to somehow go even further than the concepts left behind on ‘Infinite Sadness'. The moods and sounds range from angelic choral elements to motion picture soundtrack epics; permeating the skeletal system of the listener with a sense of boundaries and mortality. There are also moments that capture the dynamics of the artist performing in the live setting perfectly and were engineered meticulously by Matt Rogalsky and Kyle Bobby Dunn himself. Truly a difficult album of unending loss, confusion, pain, identity, disease and even death, but also include the most reflective and warm moments of his career to date.
Writing, arrangement, guitars, organs, sampling, sequencing, computer processing, performance: Kyle Bobby Dunn
Package & layout: 扎克
Art & photographic editing: Adam Brooks
Additional mixing engineers: Milad Bagheri avec Maryam Sirvan
Additional studio engineers: Jack Rys, N. Schofield
Continuity: Maryam Sirvan, Conor C. Ellis, Kyle Bobby Dunn
Mastering: Jeremy Bible
Studios: L'auberge de France, Le End, Schofield Septic Tank, JBSTO, Sonic Arts Studio,
NUM space (Tbilisi), Stonestreet Studios, Wayne's World of Fairland.
Piano on 1 & 3 by Isaac Helsen(1) & Michael Vincent Waller(3)
Additional processing and treatment on 2 by Thomas Meluch
Texture generating guitars on 5 by Mark Nelson
Organs and synth treatment on 6 by Josh H. Barsky
Additional processing on 7 & 8 by N. Schofield
Additional guitars on 9 by Wayne Robert Thomas
Additional processing on 12 by Scott Morgan
Additional sampling & sound design on 18 by Maryam Sirvan
Merci: Adam Brooks, Zach Frizzell, Wayne Thomas, Scott Morgan, Maryam Sirvan, Thomas Meluch, Devin Friesen, Milad Bagheri, Levon & Joseph, Greg Euclide, Eric Devin, Ed Horrox, Ryan Hall, Jeremy Bible, Michael Vincent Waller, Jack Rys, Jeannine Dunn, Matthew Rogalsky, Daniel Darch, Robert Pomerleau, Lisa & Poe, Robert & Mark, Dave & Nick, Josh Barsky, Adam Zendel, Erica Dicker, Isaac Helsen, Frederic Aellen, Kyle McEvoy & Conor C. Ellis.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Past Inside the Present
January 23, 2019
Kyle Bobby Dunn ‘From Here to Eternity’ 4xLP Boxset | Digital release
INDIANAPOLIS, US- ‘From Here to Eternity’ is the first full length album from Canadian composer Kyle Bobby Dunn since his 2014 long play, ‘Infinite Sadness’.
The use of processed guitar and his passion for cinematic swells reaches new realms that are markedly more ominous and dense than his previous long play. Kyle Bobby Dunn also recruited prominent ambient composers and a handful of his favorite musicians to arrange their own instrumentation for several works on this release that add multiple layers of mystery and intrigue of the human mind and heart.
Kyle Bobby Dunn wanted this album to be very much about the eternal conflict with all human emotions and life circumstances and to somehow go even further than the concepts left behind on 'Infinite Sadness'.
The moods and sounds range from angelic choral elements to motion picture soundtrack epics; permeating the skeletal system of the listener with a sense of boundaries and mortality. There are also moments that capture the dynamics of the artist performing in the live setting perfectly and were engineered meticulously by Matt Rogalsky and Kyle Bobby Dunn himself. Truly a difficult album of unending loss, confusion, pain, identity, disease and even death, but also include the most reflective and warm moments of his career to date.
US ambient label, Past Inside the Present will be releasing this mammoth collection of arrangements both digitally and physically. It will feature some of Kyle Bobby Dunn's favorite artists & composers (which include four PITP artists): Benoît Pioulard, Simon Scott, Wayne Robert Thomas, Isaac Helsen, Loscil, Mark Nelson, Steve Hess, Robert Donne, Maryam Sirvan, and Michael Vincent Waller.
As true to form with Kyle Bobby Dunn’s previous physical releases, these copies will sell out quickly. Please sign up for PITP's newsletter to be the first to know about pre-order and release details, along with information regarding the progress of this pressing and information pertaining to the release.
RIYL: Stars of the Lid / 36 / William Basinski / Benoît Pioulard / Hotel Neon / Chihei Hatakeyama / Hakobune
About Past Inside the Present
Past Inside the Present (PITP) is an American, ambient label with a focus on offering up some of the very best ambient, ethereal, soundscape, and minimal music through exclusive & previously unreleased material by prominent ambient artists from across the globe.
The current PITP artist roster is listed below. These artists will be releasing material, via digital, cassette, and/or vinyl on PITP label in 2019:
36 / Black Swan / Amulets / Benoît Pioulard / Celer / Dawn Chorus and the Infallible Sea / Endless Melancholy / Erinome / Forest Management / Gallery Six / Hakobune / Hilyard / Hotel Neon / Ian Hawgood / Isaac Helsen / Jack Hyde / Kyle Bobby Dunn / Lauver / Matthew Prokop / NAAL / Phillip Wilkerson / Rafael Anton Irisarri / Simon Scott / Wayne Robert Thomas /扎克
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For distribution/wholesale inquiries, please email us at:
Kyle Bobby Dunn - ‘From Here to Eternity’
PITP MMXIX LP Series
Past Inside the Present is very excited to announce that we will be releasing Kyle Bobby Dunn's, 'From Here to Eternity' on multiple formats in late spring 2019. This mammoth collection of arrangements will feature some of KBD's favorite music artists & composers (which includes four PITP artists): Benoit Pioulard, Wayne Robert Thomas, Isaac Helsen, Scott Morgan, Mark Nelson, Steve Hess, Robert Donne, Maryam Sirvan, and Michael Vincent Waller. Please sign up for PITP's newsletter to receive updates on the progress of this pressing and information pertaining to the release.
Our friends at Home Normal have 4 releases in the pipeline for 2019 already! Please take a moment to listen and pre-order!
Home Normal is a small 東京 founded record label.