Soundlab: Sonic background for the change of seasons SE01EP04: Precarious hopefulness of spring

The theme I came up with for this episode of my recommendations is precarious hopefulness. The records I’ve chosen are rather slower-paced, calming, but not drowsy by any means – hope they’ll manage to bring some sunshine into your listening sessions! We’ll listen to an ode to a historical piece of musical hardware; some Californian indie-rock; soft ambient from the heart of Denmark; minimal industrial techno and last but not least a sonic representation of visual and historical qualities of Iceland.  

Maciek Polak – 1972 

EMS Synthi AKS is a name that is not very likely to ring many bells even among people interested in music production. Why is that? The instrument in question is a cornerstone of much of modern electronic synthesizers, but due to its size, complexity of use and scarce availability it’s rarely seen in contemporary studios. Most known examples of records made with it would be Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon, Jean Michel-Jarre Oxygène and early Kraftwerk’s output. 

Maciek Polak recorded an album using only the Synthi as way of celebrating the 40 years anniversary of the first unit of this extraordinary piece of hardware being produced. This resulted in a short collection of sonic-vignettes that might remind you of early Boards of Canada records, combined with a personal touch of someone who definitely knows their way around these mysterious boxes
It’s also worth mentioning, that if you buy this album through artist’s Bandcamp page, all the profits go to Ukrainian kids learning in a school near his home in Sopot.

Warpaint – Radiate Like This 

The Californian quartet comes back after 6 years from their previous release. According to the band, Radiate Like This consists of material that they started working on right before the pandemic. Two years in works, and it shows! You can definitely hear that the songs are well thought-out, substantial and focused. 

Usual combination of delicate guitar riffs backed by Stella Mozgawa’s unique drumming style create a backbone for angelic vocals and (at times) psychedelic production. The music seems to capture a feeling of a warm summer evening, and will serve well as a soundtrack on that kind of occasions. 

Vanity Productions – The Last Picture Show 

Christian Stadsgaard made his name in the modern Nordic electronics scene not only as co-head of Copenhagen’s Posh Isolation, but also as a prolific producer himself. As Vanity Productions, his output is stylistically consistent: loop manipulation, long-form ambient, somber and ephemeric melodies that evoke chilling Scandinavian calmness. 
The Last Picture Show consists of four medium-length tracks, that embrace Stadsgaard’s tried and tested formula of painting with sound. Each of them gradually evolves into a wall of sound that brings to mind the best moments of the likes of William Basinski or Tim Hecker, while at the same time maintaining a unique, authentic sense of nostalgia that make it stand out from the overflow of “easy-listening”. ambient produced nowadays.

SHXCXCHCXSH – Linear S Decoded 

On this record, enigmatic duo from Göteborg shifts they’re sound from predominantly industrial to somewhat more organic vibe. Of course, it’s still a techno record, but one that would be much more fitting at a forest rave, rather than in an abandoned factory, which was the tone they aimed for before. 
I might be biased by the sun on the album cover, but Linear S Decoded seems to possess an unusual amount of cheerfulness and pure rhythmical joy for an electronic production from Sweden. Even if you usually save techno for night-time listening, I highly recommend giving this one a try during a sunny spring walk. 

Anthony Linell – Winter Ashes 

The mastermind behind Stockholm’s Northern Electronics label, Anthony Linell, comes up with an album that aims to capture the unique feeling of Icelandic folklore and scenery. Linell originally started working on the sounds that made their way to this album during an audio-visual collaboration with Ali M. Demirel, but the tracks we can here on the album are not merely the soundtrack to that film; they’re reworked, focused, and work great a standalone piece of art. 

Simplistic nature of those compositions requires some patience from the listener, but that patience is greatly rewarded once you manage to catch the wavelength Linell operates on. Minimalistic sound palate seems to perfectly capture the eerie otherworldliness of Icelandic landscapes, and repetitive rhythms make it easier to lose yourself in your own imaginary vision of the secluded island. 

Listen to the full Spotify playlist below:

Piotr Wojnar, a music aficionado, producer and aspiring philosopher presents a series about sonic art, and the way sounds in general combine with other aspects of human creativity. Subsequent monthly entries include album recommendations, descriptions of their tonalities, cultural context and overall vibe.

About The Author


Aspiring philosopher, musician and music aficionado, speciality coffee enthusiast. He holds bachelor degrees in Swedish Linguistics and Philosophy. Interested in all kinds of sonic arts both as a producer and listener. Currently working on the topic of social ontology.

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