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Indie Music: Praguedren, Steve Rose, Middle Pillar Sampler, Mark Wingfield & Kevin Kastning

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PRAGUEDREN: Head Cleaner (CD EP on Dank Disk)

This release from 2011 offers 18 minutes of smooth ambience.

Inspired by a trip to the old Eastern section of Berlin, with its roofless buildings, this music explores a beat-infused flavor of electronic ambience.

Airy texturals generate an atmospheric backdrop for additional drones which evoke a realm unfettered by conventional limitations (evidenced by the band's introduction of electronic beats to their flowing ambient sound).

The electronics are soft and fluid, harmonic structures that establish a vaporous milieu of alluring definition. This gaseous environment pulsates with rich depth as the oscillations ebb and surge in a fragile manner. Auxiliary electronics lend peripheral activity.

The rhythms are gentle and excellently suited to enhance the dreamy electronics.

The compositions serve as a perfect soundtrack to escape the real world and retreat into the subconscious void where introspection makes anything possible.

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STEVE ROSE: The Diminishing Day (CD on Steve Rose Music)

This release from 2011 offers 52 minutes of pensive electronic music.

Delicate electronics generate pleasant soundscapes designed for universal relaxation.

Atmospheric tones unfurl in the first track, providing vaporous foundation for auxiliary electronics which enter the mix as waves washing onto an invisible beach. The interplay of these waves creates a congenial pastiche of soothing character.

The second piece offers livelier tuneage with a looping sequence of a particularly spry quality. Additional electronics sweep in from the sides, lending depth and melodic enhancement. A pinnacle of pleasant intensity is achieved, and then the tune winds down in a deconstruction of itself.

The next song adopts a more pensive attitude with plodding tones, which are swiftly embellished by lighter electronics that bestow an alluring flavor to the flow.

The title track takes a melancholic look at a significant sunset, capturing the physical decay of light with an emotional verve of introspective mien. At some point, though, the musician steps in to change the mood from winsome to potentially uplifting, as the tones spiral from depths to vanish into the high altitude.

The next piece employs guitar in place of electronics as the main instrument, although a fair amount of processing is involved, twisting the strings into vibrations of a spectral character. A background drone provides an escalating mood of expectation.

The last track (the longest at 18 minutes) explores the generation of a harmonic in parallel with civilization, following the concept through to a point of flourish, then ultimately observing its collapse into decay. Bubbling diodes are accompanied by sighing tonalities during the opening stage. As maturity is reached, melodic aspects seep into the flow with the introduction of slushy electronics mixed with a mechanical edge. Eventually, an escalated pace reaches a point of muddled intensity, followed by a desolate appraisal of the barren aftermath with airy but sad textures.

This album was mastered by ambient pioneer Robert Rich.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: Eclectica, Volume 2 (CD on Middle Pillar)

This release from 2003 offers 66 minutes of diverse ambience.

This collection of tracks (many of which are exclusive to this release) offers a wide variety of darkwave, from drone excursions to vocal-enhanced tuneage.

Included are pieces by:

Aenima, whose track features female vocals and powerful drums accompanying the flowing electronics.

Zoar, another band flavoring their electronic milieu with strong beats and vocals, resulting in a rather peppy remix.

Loretta's Doll, whose contribution combines glitchy surges with deep vocals.

The Unquiet Void--this piece is actually a real ambient example, comprised of airy tonalities seasoned by tenuous rhythms and a tastily ascending mood.

Mirabilis, whose track is a densely mixed darkwave journey into murky depths where sweet vocals offer an appealing contrast to the track's ponderous beats and haunting electronics.

The Mirror Reveals, whose contribution adds twangy guitar to flowing textures. Again, vocals are an integral element.

A Murder of Angels, whose heavenly atmospherics are tinged by more ominous electronic aspects.

Thread, whose track introduces a playful quirkiness to the vocals and keyboards.

The Changelings, who add dub influences to a dreamy pastiche of beats, piano, grinding effects, and female vocals.

The Machine in the Garden, whose contribution flavors the tinkling electronics and vocals with a sense of pastoral giving way to eclectic roots.

Sumerland, whose masculine vocals are accompanied by drums and clanging keyboards and subtle guitar stylings.

4th Sign of the Apocalypse--here things turn dire with a descent into portentous regions populated by eerie effects of a slushy character.

Kobe, whose contribution features a powerful e-perc backdrop for dark electronics and vocal effects that lurk at the periphery of detection.

An interesting glimpse into bands whose music explores ambient applications of darkwave tuneage.

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MARK WINGFIELD & KEVIN KASTNING: I Walked into the Silver Darkness (CD on Greydisc)

This release from 2011 offers 69 minutes of novel instrumental guitar music.

Two guitarists combine conventional and technologically enhanced guitar performances to produce tuneage with cerebral luster.

Mixing acoustic and electric guitars offers an engaging range of sound, from sensitive strumming to piercing chords, fused together into instrumental songs of serious demeanor. The interplay of the two types of guitars provides a blend of tradition and modern, resulting in a strong dose of attractive character. Twinkling notes cascade with leisure, supported by layers of congenial acoustics.

No percussion accompanies this music.

These compositions are improvised, yet exhibit a fluid cohesion as the two instruments establish streams that intermingle with grace. The melodies are often quirky, yet rooted in a common desire to captivate the audience and transport them to alternate views of the world around them. While the music is pleasant, its tendency to fuse flowing chords with jarring notes generates a certain edginess.

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