This week’s edition of At Water’s Edge is inspired by some real-life healing currently happening. We explore strength in many forms: through breath, through stones, through simply standing still.
There is strength in merely standing…
Strength takes many forms. It can be pure brute force, it can be persistence, courage in the face of overwhelming odds, endurance through crushing pain, the courage of love, and much more.
Today’s theme takes its inspiration from the kind of strength needed to heal after trauma of any kind. As a witness to some real-life healing happening before my eyes, this program is dedicated to my mother, and to all those who are healing.
“The Great Breath” – Max Corbacho – BreathStream (2008)
“BreathStream” is a series of seven atmospheric spaces built, as in the previous and highly acclaimed “The Talisman”, with synthetic textures and floating harmonies.
“I have centered again on the composition with my hardware synthesizers. The flow of ideas, sounds and atmospheres is simpler to catch this way, very nearby and intuitive. The greater part of the tracks has arisen from long improvisation sessions, and in some moment there has arisen the spark, this magic moment of connection that makes us “be” simply”.
“Two Breaths of Forever” – Phillip Wilkerson – Highlands (2012)
Originally released as a CC album under the excellent Free Floating Music label, Phillip re-released it himself two years later under his own steam, and included a number of outtakes mastered into a new experience. This expanded edition of Highlands is dedicated to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.
“Slow Breath” – Altus – Komorebi (2015)
a Japanese word describing
sunlight filtering through foliage
In 2001 Thom Brennan began re-releasing a lot of his earlier works. There was one recording that set all of this in motion, and that was the release of his excellently gifted work Mist. Thom Brennan’s Mist is not only one of his finest offerings, but it stands as one of the finest works that the calendar year 2001 yielded as a whole, or at least in the Top Ten of these recordings. This is the most ambient work that Thom Brennan has done. He wholly visits the musical language of many great ambient space music artists, including Steve Roach, Jeff Pearce, Giles Reaves, and William Linton, and craftily blends these consonant ambiences into a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing whole. Thom Brennan’s Mist is wonderfully put together recording and one that is a perfect marriage of excellent pre- and post-production, as well as perfectly chosen timbres and compositional materials. It’s with Mist that Thom Brennan has hit a landmark, a peak in the overall catalog of his incredible work.
– Review by Matt Borghi in AllMusic
“Roots Breathing Down” – Conni St. Pierre – Forest Spirits (2013)
Forest Spirits is the third album in Conni St. Pierre’s “Nature Spirits” series. Blending acoustic, electronic, and natural environmental sounds, this music evokes both the stillness of the deep forest and the lively voices of its winged denizens. This track is, according to Conni, “…probably my most experimental wooden flute ever.“
That particular track was played on a Native American flute made from a huge ash tree that was blown down on our land. Al Solbjor Dream Spirit Flutes made the flute. At the time I was working on a collaboration with artist Nikki Millonzi and dancer Debi Art Moves Irons for a performance at the Celebration Barn in Maine. The overtone sounds are from me singing/humming into the flute like Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Ian Anderson, to get the deep vocal resonance. The live performance video is on YouTube.
It was also inspired by Julia Butterfly Hill and her tree sit, Luna, the redwood she protected. And also the new science that tree roots communicate with each other…
“Where I Stand” – Bing Satellites – Nothing For Miles (2010)
This track is a bit of a surprise from Bing Satellites. It comes from his album Nothing for Miles, a collection of songs based around guitar and fretless bass. Most of the album is “…blissful ambience finishing with the apocalyptic post rock of ‘Where I Stand’.”
These songs were recorded over the last few years, using different techniques and equipment for each song. All that links them is the presence of my trusty, battered, old guitar and fretless bass.
‘Where I Stand’ was recorded in 2007/08 long before it was released. It was an expression of frustration with my life – ill health and going nowhere – but it came at a turning point. I worked from then to turn my life around. It has been a long and hard journey but totally worth it.
“Beatus Breath Prayer” – usr/sbin – (Live in Second Life) (2008)
usr/sbin is Dennis Moser (he uses a few other project names as well), based these days in Washington State. He describes himself thus: “Non-pop-, non-genre-specific experimental music coming out of a classical background and a heavy dose of Eno & Fripp-influenced/induced sense of ambient music…listen closely and make your own conclusions. Not afraid of using software or hardware to create these things…”
“Song of the Standing Stone” – Robert Scott Thompson- ORCHID [eM Compilation 2015] (2015)
The netlabel earthMANTRA was relaunched a couple of years ago, and post-relaunch has maintained its high standard of offerings. Robert Scott Thompson’s track “Song of the Standing Stone” is part of a beautiful compilation that the label put together about a year and a half after its resurrection, from artists featured on both the earlier releases and on the new label.
“Sowelu (Wholeness)”, “Uruz (Strength)” – Giles Reaves – Wunjo (1986)
Notes from Cue Records:
Giles Reaves has been producing solo albums for over three decades, starting with Wunjo in 1986.
He began recording ambient instrumentals because a top Nashville producer, Tony Brown, accidentally overheard him doodling late at night in a recording studio in the mid-1980s. Brown invited Reaves to record synthesized instrumentals for the MCA Master Series. The resulting albums gained some recognition among space music fans (Wunjo is considered a top electronic album of all time by Electronic Musician magazine) but received little record company support or distribution.
In 1992, Steven Hill, producer of the nationally syndicated “Hearts of Space” radio program, contacted Reaves. Hill said he still received mail from fans of his show who were seeking a copy of Wunjo. Since his record deal with MCA had expired, Reaves had a new album of material that interested Hill, and the resulting CD, “Sea of Glass”, released on the Hearts of Space label has been his most successful to date, reaching #11 on the Billboard Magazine New Age Charts when it was released in 1992, and spending four months ranked among the most popular discs on the new age charts.
“Together Standing” – Ben Woods – We Are Silhouettes Now (2010)
This artist just landed on my radar. Ambient piano sounds (what we like to call “pianbient” in the RadioSpiral chat), with sounds originating from the “real thing”, as it were, and then altered and painted with effects, this track represents some truly fine ambient music from this UK artist.
“Stronger” – Bing Satellites – Twilight Sessions volume 18 (2016)
It seemed rather perfect to include two tracks from Bing Satellites today, as they represent the beginning of healing in the first track, and its celebration in the second.
‘Stronger’ was so titled as I felt so much better and happier. My life had turned around. I found love, direction and I once again enjoyed life.
“Root and Stone” – Robert Carty – Ecoroots (2014)
Artist Biography by Jim Brenholts:
Robert Carty is the independent’s independent. He has released 41 solo CD’s on his own Deep Sky label. He also has a collaboration with Brannan Lane that is a joint release with Lane’s label. (That CD — Climatic Infusion — is one of the best CD’s of all time, regardless of genre.)
Carty’s career began in Kansas City, MO, where he founded Deep Sky and began creating his deeply emotional music and releasing CD’s. He relocated to Murray, UT (near Salt Lake City) where he has absolutely flourished as an independent artist. From 97 through 99, he created and released CD’s at the rate of about ¾ per month. His proclivity has waned in the new millennium but his virtuosity has not.
He is a multi-talented multi-instrumentalist. His list of instruments includes analog and digital synths, Native American flute, didgeridoo, guitars, tingsha, gamelan bells, sampler and various percussion instruments, shakers and rattles and, basically, any instrument he tries.
Carty is, indeed, a rare talent and a rising star that burns brighter with each new venture. He is also a class act and a true gentleman. That alone makes him a rare breed.
Image of standing stones in Sweden by BeWareWoman – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42963152