While searching for recipes to make chow chow, I discovered the Celebrating Appalachia channel. Browsing through all of the videos Mrs. Tipper Pressley has made over the years, I found a heartwarming and nostalgic quality to her and her family’s way of life, not just for food but how they live. Before starting her YouTube channel, Tipper started with her blog, with the best name in the world: Blind Pig and the Acorn.
While my immediate and most of the extended family grew up in Texas, I did have an aunt that married and settled in Arkansas. I can still remember the visits we’d take there, out in the middle of so many trees, creeks and rivers, and the hints of the Ozark mountains. What I also keenly remember was their way of living, which compared to my urban upbringing seemed so simple. Meals weren’t complicated, time was spent outdoors, reading, or playing a board or card game, and time was savored, not worrying about so many trivial and ultimately unimportant things. An odd way to put it perhaps, but it’s something I’ve noticed even more these days with more of technology’s promises and time spent more on work related things.
While looking through dungeon synth albums on Bandcamp, I came across Elminster’s Mountain Specters and was immediately taken by the album artwork. This was the first time I’d ever seen the work of Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, a German painter from the mid-to-late 1800s. Besides the surreal landscapes and coastlines in many of his works, I was immediately impressed by his use of lighting.
Ben Lovett – Hellraiser 2022 OST
While there’s been plenty of mixed reviews of the new Hellraiser movie on Hulu (personally I love it!), the soundtrack has received pretty much universal acclaim. Hints of music from the original movie permeate this ethereal and at times suffocating soundtrack. One of the best horror soundtracks in years! Ben also scored The Night House, another great movie with an equally-amazing soundtrack.
Landsraad – Fate; The Inevitability Thereof
Following up on the excellent The Golden Path, Landsraad has returned with a new album! I was low-key worried The Golden Path would be the only release from them, but I’m very happy to be wrong. This second album is far deeper and varied than the first, and I’ll admit it took me several listens to begin to appreciate it. This is a very strong follow-up, and I certainly hope there is more in the future for Landsraad.
spiritbox – Eternal Blue
I’m still fairly new to metalcore, but one band that kept coming up in my initial searches is spiritbox. Strong music and incredible vocals from a female singer? Yes please!
State Azure – Pale Light of a Hollow Moon
State Azure’s continued work ethic and output is putting everyone, whether you work in music or not, to shame. The number of emails I keep getting from Bandcamp about a new SA release is almost comical, but every time I listen it’s not only something very interesting but also very different, even in very small ways that may take multiple listens. Even for ambient, I do tend to find SA tracks to be really “slow”, and takes even more time for me to process and appreciate them. On this album, inspired by Blade Runner, I’m immediately grabbed and inspired.
Ambient has become my absolute favorite genre of music, and on YouTube I really like seeing people create and play it. Like general synthesizer overview videos, I prefer those that have very little if any talking. One of the first pages I discovered, and keep coming back to, is RemixSample. One of the main “selling points” I think is that he doesn’t use any extravagant expensive gear. In fact, some of his music is only done with software instruments, and yet it sounds just as good (if not better). He also has a good balance of effects (namely delay and reverb) to sounds. In ambient this is not just important but critical.
In addition to his YouTube channel, there is a Patreon page you can join. Along with music, he offers sample packs along with answering questions on music gear, production, etc.
While I’ve been listening to Cryo Chamber for a number of years now, there are a few key artists that have come to the forefront as my favorites. Among those select few, the very best is Cesar Alexandre, aka Mount Shrine. His work is a unique mix of pads, drones, and static radio. That’s simplifying it greatly, and like any ambient music you really need to just sit down, close your eyes, and pop those headphones on.
Unfortunately, Cesar passed away due to COVID-19, but he left behind enough work for Simon Heath (head of Cryo Chamber) to complete and release his posthumous album: All Roads Lead Home. I don’t know if that was the intended name of the album Cesar was going to use (it’s also the name of the final track), but it’s certainly fitting for his final work. It was indeed a pleasant surprise to be able to hear more of Mount Shrine’s fantastic work. I hope Simon, along with Cesar’s family and friends, are proud of all the music he created and the lasting effect it has had for fans around the world to help cope and/or escape.