“April showers bring May flowers…”
This time of year, rain in the northern hemisphere is the harbinger of new life, of joy, of color and abundance.
Rain also symbolizes sorrow and loss (can you count how many TV or movie scenes you’ve seen where a funeral is held in the rain?).
And yet, with loss comes growth as well: our tears mix with the rain and give a new sort of life as we sow new greenery in the gaps in our soul.
Today we explore both aspects of the rain; sweetness and sorrow, loss and life.
“Magic Rain” – Ancient Future – Natural Rhythms (2005)
This short track is a dialog between zither and Pacific tree frogs, recorded at the pond in the Valley of the Moon, California, with no overdubs. It features Matthew Montfort (zither), and Pacific tree frogs.
“The Advent of Spring” – Darkened Soul – Seasons of Dark and Light (2009)
Darkened Soul was formed in April of 2002 as a creative outlet for talented graphic and music artist Michael Soucy. He had wanted an outlet for his unique blend of music for some time, and one day decided to take a shot at it. The artist has no desire for notoriety; he provides this music purely for his own enjoyment and hopes others enjoy it as well.
From the liner notes:
“Winter’s cold stare returns its gaze from my window… slowly draining my energy.
Soon the advent of spring will appear to ease my stirring depression.
After the blooming of spring I fall into a sublime summer daze which seems to go on forever.
Then soon it is replaced by an ominous fall.
And so the cycle begins to repeat itself once again upon my senses.”
“Genuine Nature” – Steve Brand – Our True Nature (2012)
Our True Nature was released in December of 2012 by Steve Brand, and consists of two drifting, atmospheric ambient soundscapes, titled “True Nature” and “Genuine Nature.” Inspired by his mentor, Nadja, and by events in his life that, as he says, “…continue to demonstrate to me that our lives are always about the process of unfolding, gradually revealing our true nature,” this release was originally conceived as a companion piece to the 2012 rerelease of Sunprints, and is constructed primarily with keyboards, bells, flutes, zither, whistles, rattles, rainstick, field recordings and voice.
My initial aim was to create aural representations of natural processes—growth, decay/transmutation, photosynthesis, etc.—even the voices and awarenesses within nature, by melding together natural and acoustic sounds, with more electronic sounds. For me, one of the most fundamental and immediate ways we can connect with our essential selves, our core being, is through our connection with nature, it’s processes and metaphors. Basically, I wanted to create a garden of sound, where new possibilities, new ideas, new ways of being could come into fruition.
On every front, we’re assailed with perspectives of fear about these times, about the meaning of the year 2012, the environment, our safety, our sovereignty as beings, etc. For me, this salesmanship of fear and scarcity is simply an attempt to distract us from the real events and facts—that we are powerful, sovereign creative beings, who are in the process of realizing this fact. So, I created soundtrack for hope, growth and expanded ways of being, and chose the release date of the solstice, because it is the literal turning point, out of darkness and into light.
“Evening Descent” – Stephen Briggs – (unreleased, 2013)
When in spring-time all the world awake
From slumber heavy, shedding winter’s cloak,
And new-bloom’d finery all the flowers make,
With faerie-dust the fiery sunsets stroke,
Breathless, restless, wander I the hills,
As melts my once-cold heart in sudden thaw,
Laughing with the sparrow’s frantic trills,
Flooding senses with each breath I draw.
I find myself alone upon a rise
Watching west as darkness inward press,
The evening cool’d as lightning part the skies,
The heart of nature thund’ring heaven bless.
Then comes the rain, its tears upon my face
Of joy and sorrow mingling in this place.
“Evening Descent” is another live ambient guitar performance from New Zealand artist Stephen Briggs,
“Strings and Rain” – Jacob Newman – Reflections and Diffusions (2010)
Jacob Newman is an ambient artist hailing from Colorado in the USA. He has always been drawn to electronic sounds for as long as he can remember. Despite growing up in a small city in northwest Arkansas (not really known for its electronic music scene!), at an early age he became immersed in ambient and electronic music. He finds most forms of music to be inspirational, as well as sounds of nature, sounds of weather, and the “sound of infinity”. He considers ambient music to be an integral part of his life.
Where his previous efforts tended toward the textural and the atonal, in his 2010 release Reflections and Diffusions Jacob has created works that are both effortless to listen to and deep enough to be satisfying for many hearings.
While he does adorn his soundscapes with a trademark textural richness, he also skirts the realm of light ambience, the place where the sound is lush and bright. He somehow manages to keep one foot in the area of abstract texture and the other in the area of tonality. His music is simultaneously soothing and challenging, a balance that is remarkably difficult to strike, but somehow Jacob makes it look easy.
Based in the UK, Rapoon is Robin Storey. While studying fine arts at Sunderland University, he began pursuing a long-held interest in sound manipulation by taking classes in electronic and experimental composition, additionally joining with friends to perform the works of Karlheinz Stockhausen (a key influence, as were the Krautrock bands of the early 1970s). In 1979 Storey formed the pioneering industrial group :zoviet*france:, remaining a member until 1992: The same year he issued the first Rapoon album, Dream Circle, an “…entrancing fusion of Indian ragas, African rhythms and experimental textures anticipating the evocative soundscapes of the many releases to follow”.
Also a noted visual artist and animator, Storey’s work has been exhibited throughout the world and is in the collections of many major galleries.
Altus is a Stillstream favorite, also known as Mike Carss, a prolific ambient artist based in Ottawa, Canada. The Hundredth Mantra was Earth Mantra Netlabel’s one hundredth release. To celebrate this milestone, the label released a compilation of the artists who made up the previous ninety-nine releases, and Altus was of course among them.
“Raindrops” – Janne Hannhisuanto – Water Stories (2010)