Hol Baumann – [Human]

On high rotation over the last couple of weeks has been Hol Baumann’s [Human] from ultimae records. As I’ve written before, ultimae’s catalog is a little more beat-driven than I would usually listen to, and [Human] is probably at the upper end of beats in my collection. That said, why I’m enjoying it, and enjoying writing to it, is that the album is still very atmospheric – the beats fade off into the background and quiet melodies shuffle forwards. At times it’s edging into world music – a woman singing in a language I don’t recognise (on the song called “Radio Bombay”, so perhaps it is Hindi). I guess that part of writing to music is avoiding music with lyrics I can understand – those words would distract from the words I want to put on the page: I’m seeking atmosphere, and the human voice can create haunting senses … this is an album filled with atmosphere and drive.

I plugged the album in at work for a while and a colleague thought for a moment that it was Massive Attack – so perhaps that’s an indication of the style and tone of Baumann’s album. Again, as with other ultimae releases, this is in a beautiful package – a three-fold digipack, with a 16 page booklet filled with stunning photographs. And a mini “hidden track” too, after a few minutes of silence in the final track.

If you want to sample Baumann’s music, this is his last.fm stream.

[The Core] by I Awake

I Awake – [The Core] is a 60 minute-plus album (it has a “hidden” track at the end) that’s probably more chill than strictly ambient. There are a lot of beats compared to some of what I listen to. Nothing too fast or imposing and much of the record is made up of atmospheres and gentle drifty melodies, supported by some deep bass, choir sounds and a little singing. [The Core] is made up of shorter tracks – mostly between four and five minutes, unlike many ambient albums around which often have tracks which clock in at 15 minutes and upwards. I like to write to this album when I’m wanting to be fast and punchy – the music is an hour with energy and drive, ebbs and flows and this gets reflected, I think, in slightly more upbeat writing.

Like other releases on the exquisite Ultimae label, this comes with a gorgeous 16 page booklet of photographs.