Love and Loss

"Love and Loss", photograph by Rebekkah Hilgraves
“Love and Loss”, photograph by Rebekkah Hilgraves

For this week’s edition of At Water’s Edge, we’re delighted to announce a very special live guest: Darrell Burgan joins us for a rare “ambient train wreck”.

The program is “Love and Loss”, and will feature Darrell’s ambient train wreck in the first hour, and then we’ll hear from such artists as Doc and Lena Selyanina, Robert Rich and Steve Roach, Silvercord and Altus (Mike Carss), Har and more.


Is it better to have loved and lost, or never to have loved at all? Most people agree that the first option is the better one, and it’s difficult to argue with it. Love is an essential part of the human experience and without ever experiencing it we are less complete. Today’s program is dedicated to love in many forms, and loss in many forms.

She and I (Ambient Train Wreck)” – Darrell Burgan – recorded live for this program (2013)

Darrell Burgan is an important person in the world of and ambient music for many reasons. He is the creator of the Stillstream internet radio station, now part of Electro-Music, and is also the creator of the Earth Mantra netlabel, the home of some of the best ambient music available.

After he started, he started performing what he called “ambient train wrecks” on his show “Blue Water Drift Dive” and recording them, as well as performing them live off and on the radio in 2004 on the now-defunct He released five volumes of train wreck recordings commercially on the old Blue Water Records. They’re now available via Creative Commons at Ethereal Live netlabel, as well as on under Community Audio. He also released twelve collections of train wreck “back catalog” releases on Earth Mantra, which are always available under Creative Commons; all in all the various recordings comprise several dozen hours of music.

He stopped releasing recordings in 2008, although he kept performing live on StillStream off and on for a few years after that.

The name “ambient train wreck” comes from an old live rave DJ term, to “train wreck”, which is when the beat comes to a screeching halt due to equipment malfunction and everyone on the dance floor groans in unison. Darrell figured ambient music is like what you hear after such a train wreck. But, he says, “truthfully I called them ‘ambient train wrecks’ to set expectations.”

His last live performance anywhere was in 2010 at the Kansas City Electro-Music festival, until last weekend when he decided to jam after John Tocher’s Sadayatana. Real life unfortunately kept him away from music in the interim.

His web site,, includes the ambient train wreck releases, links to the various places where they can be found, and images of the gear he has used over the years.

Here is the release of this set, as separate tracks:

“Lovers in the Deep” – Alex TiuniaevThe Hundredth Mantra (2009)

Alex Tiuniaev is a composer, producer, and performer from Moscow, Russia. Having released the highly-acclaimed album I Knew Her on the famous independent UK label Cold Spring Records at the ripe old age of 22, Alex continues to work on many different projects, producing electronic and mood music, composing and arranging as well as collaborating with other electronic and rock musicians from around the globe. Read more about him here.

“Ends” – Slow – Love (2008)

At day’s end

As sleep doth steal o’er thy beloved brow,
As Vespers chime across the steeple tower,
And peaceful rests the restless city now,
I lie awake and, watchful for this hour,
Do gently measure breath for breath and gaze
Through shadow’d dusk upon more shadows there,
And though full dark, the peaceful night ablaze
With silent shout, impassion’d tender care.
Then breathes the shadow with the merest sigh,
And slowly opens sleepy single eye,
“goodnight, my love,” it whispers with a kiss,
To close again, but leaving quiet bliss,
And shadowed hand with shadowed hand now blest,
Two loving hearts sink into loving rest.

“We Are Heaven” – Paul Avgerinos – Lovers (2012)

Paul Avgerinos graduated from The Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in 1981 as a full scholarship honors student in Bass Violin. He served as Principal Bass in the orchestras of Italy, Hong Kong and Venezuela and toured with Charles Aznavour and Buddy Rich before opening his own recording studio in 1985, Studio Unicorn.

Most of his albums are careful blends of acoustic and electronic instruments, both well known and obscure, from around the world. Known for his sound design and layering talent, Avgerinos also plays Bass Violin, Cello, Guitars, Keyboards and Sings on his recordings. Inspired by Enya, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and his own orchestral background, he often uses Romantic and Impressionistic techniques as he composes and arranges his New Age productions.

“Love Magick” – Robert Rich and Steve RoachSoma (1992)

Robert Rich. Steve Roach. Amazing performers individually. Together? Out of this world.

“For My Beloved Dreaming” – Silvercord and AltusLullaby (2010)

Another amazing collaboration between two artists, phenomenal in their own right.

An ambient and electronic artist hailing from Ottawa Canada, Mike Carss has been releasing ambient music under the Altus name since 2004. His ambient music covers a tremendous amount of ground, ranging from pure light ambient to symphonic ambient to some very powerful dark and experimental ambient music as well.

Geoff Nostrant is an ambient musician originally from Michigan who currently hails from Korea, who has released ambient music as Silvercord since 1999. The name of the project has ancient origins. The “silver cord” has been believed to be the supposed shiny umbilical-like connection between the physical body and the ethereal body by those claiming they have had out of the body/near death experiences. Geoff believes there could not have been a more appropriate name for the ambient music that he creates.

“Through the Lens of Love” – Steve BrandBridge to Nowhere (2008)

In the last few years, Steve Brand started releasing music under his own name after more than 20 releases in the experimental realm under the name “Augur.” Already, his recordings on the Atmoworks, Hypnos and Relaxed Machinery labels (both solo and in collaboration with such artists as Ishq and Disturbed Earth) have found an eager audience.

“Farewell and Forgiveness” – Divine SoundOrder of Love (2007)

Divine Sound is the artist project name of Branko Isakovic, based in Yugoslavia. In April 2005, as part of the Divine Sound project, Branko published his debut ambient CD “Order of Love”, focusing on music for meditation.

His music influences are Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Vangelis, Dead Can Dance, and others.

Today, Branko spends his time playing, programming, composing, arranging and recording ethno, spiritual, ambient and meditative music.

He plays acoustic, electric and bass guitar.

He lives in Belgrade and works in his own home recording studio.

“And if I Have No Love I Will Be Nothing” – Doc and Lena Selyanina – Noble, Sentimental and Ambient Waltzes (2006)

“Sorrow and Love” – Resonant Drift – Flow Mingled Down (2006)

Love is breath (Rebekkah Hilgraves)

Love it is makes heroes out of men,
And love return’d becomes its own reward,
From heart to treasur’d heart its treasure lend
Such gold a thousand times from trove unbarr’d.
Fie, gold!, such love is like the very air:
To love is to inspire, and thus to live;
And yet, breathe out too much and nothing there,
Expire, for no air life cannot long forgive.
Thus, my dear, did I my love breathe out,
In one unguarded moment share with you
And passion’s flame too soon, too soon blow out,
And wait for love to breathe on me anew.
For loving air my failing breath doth yearn,
For of restraint my heart will never learn.

“The Forever Sleep (Teddy’s Song)” – Har – Obscura (2010)

Har writes of this track,

Of all the songs on “Obscura”, this one is perhaps the most personal and nearest to my heart…

Both my previous album “Dream Tower Blueprints” and this one end with songs about, to be frank, death and the passing of a loved one: “Surcease” (from “Dream Tower…”) concerned the passing of my Mother, and The Forever Sleep (Teddy’s Song) is about the final moments on Earth of our dear, sweet little cat Teddy – whose suffering from cancer we mercifully brought to an end on January 30, 2008.

In both cases, it was never my intention to write a song about the subject – but instead, the song seemed to write itself and make its own purpose known after I had recorded it. In the case of The Forever Sleep (Teddy’s Song), its gentle, wistful nature made itself clear to me as I was recording it – and I felt compelled to try to make it as perfect as I could as I was playing. I wasn’t quite sure what or who the song was about at that point, but I knew it was about something/someone very important to me. Only after listening to the final results did it become clear to me that this song must be about our Teddy.

His passing was an emotionally traumatic experience for me, and I still tear up every time I replay his gentle, painless passing in my mind: his loud, happy robust purr slowly fading away as his eyes closed for the last time. It was very important to me that The Forever Sleep (Teddy’s Song) be the perfect tribute to his loving memory, and I still tear up every time I hear it – so hopefully I succeeded.

Instrumentation Notes…
Performed on a combination of looped and non-looped tracks, on my Schecter Tempest Blackjack. The nature sounds also featured in this piece were recorded in my back yard.”

“Surcease” – Har – Dream Tower Blueprints (2007)

“Surcease” was one of the last songs I recorded for my first album, “Dream tower Blueprints”, but originally didn’t get that title until later. It was performed in a single pass on my guitar using an eBow and processing, with no overdubbing. I made seven attempts at it, trying to get the best performance I could…one particular take was almost perfect, but at one point near the end my hand slipped, and the resulting notes was like an accordian falling off a table. Unhappy with everything at the time, I put it away and didn’t think about it.

Several months later, my Mother passed away from congestive heart failure, after a week in a coma.

A short time later, I re-listened to these tracks…but this time, that one part that I originally found flawed instead now evoked an immediate sense of pathos and triggered a replaying of my Mother’s final moments in my mind. The “falling accordian” notes suddenly were now heartbreakingly sad. And the fluttering ending that it built up and led into now brought about a mental image of birds taking off through beams of sunlight in a forest, like a soul escaping. I knew now that this take was now flawed, but perfect.

The title “Surcease” came from something my Mother always said she wanted, as she was not happy with her life. She finally got her wish, and I can only hope it gave her the peace she so desired.

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