De-Stressing Via The “Ambient Zone”

Following the success of 2013’s The Ambient Zone, (“an excellent compilation from the always interesting Just Music label” The Sunday Times) this is the Just Music’s second beautiful journey into the immersive world of ambient electronica. The atmosphere over the twelve tracks of ‘winter music’ perfectly encapsulates the approaching mood of quiet introspection, comfort in solitude and promise of the new, following the long dark silent nights.

Alongside contribution from Jon Hopkins Marconi Union and Dan Arborise, the album features nine brand new tracks created exclusively for the label in response to a beautiful series of carefully selected photo images, each Artist responding to the atmosphere of the photo, each translating the feelings evoked in them by the image into an exquisite and fascinating piece of musical ambience.

The journey opens with the cinematic elegance of Digitonal’s Sentinel, flowing mesmerically on to Afterhere’s captivating On Wings, from there meandering into the sultry beauty of Chris Coco’s New Age Sunrise. The dreamy piano of Jon Hopkins’ bewitching Autumn Hill then takes its hold, closely followed by the dark mystery of Sam Thomas’s Seeing or Agreeing. A pivotal point in the album is Loner’s My Kingdom, Your Sunset with its enigmatic vocals, after which Echaskech’s deep and emotionally resonant Caeleste and the tranquillity of Xspance’s The Last Sunrise roll hypnotically on into the idiosyncratic keys of Opdot’s Piano Monody, the gentle beauty of Marconi Union’s Transient and finally, the beautiful last two tunes, Laki Mera’s mysterious Talk To Me and the acoustic innocence of Dan Arborise’s Paths. The album is mixed by Chris Coco.

The serene and elegant journey is then at an end, leaving the listener with the desire to listen all over again….

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and love to everything” Plato

Track listing:

  1. Digitonal – Sentinel
  2. Afterhere – On Wings
  3. Chris Coco – New Age Sunrise
  4. Jon Hopkins – Autumn Hill
  5. Sam Thomas – Seeing Or Agreeing
  6. Loner – My Kingdom, Your Sunset
  7. Echaskech – Caeleste
  8. Xspance – The Last Sunrise
  9. Opdot – Piano Monody
  10. Marconi Union – Transient
  11. Laki Mera – Talk To Me
  12. Dan Arborise – Paths

“Music without words means leaving behind the mind. And leaving behind the mind is meditation. Meditation returns you to the source. And the source of all is sound” Kabir

Previous compilations in the series:

  • Just Music Café Vol 4: The Ambient Zone
  • Just Music Café Vol 3: Poolside Beats
  • Just Music Café Vol 2: AM:PM
  • Just Music Café Vol 1: Acoustic & Beats

To coincide with its release, director Richie Johnston (Weightless – Marconi Union, close to 1 million YouTube views) has created a unique and mesmerizing feature-length one hour music video to accompany the album in its entirety from beginning to end. Shot in one continuous take, the video features footage of a ballet dancer performing a live visualization and interpretation of the album, to which Johnston applies a concept he has developed using a digital version of an analogue technique called slit – scan photography to create a totally immersive experience, a fascinating merger of sound and vision, to the most spectacular and enthralling effect.

As you watch, you cannot help but be drawn in with utter wonder and intrigue as the mind tries to make sense of the stunning imagery. At the same time, the video instills in the viewer a beautiful sense of calm and tranquillity, a the perfect accompaniment for an album that produces the same effects within its listeners.

Here is what Johnston had to say about the video:
“I enjoyed producing the Weightless video for Just Music, they had an exceptional amount of trust in me which gave for a rare amount of creative freedom. With Ambient Zone 2 they wanted to replace the static album artwork with a short film. I knew there were very few videos out there that have explored this avenue so I took the commission.”

“I don’t want to give too much away but it’s an important part of the experience to fully understanding how deceptively simple the Ambient Zone 2 video is. Watching from start to finish will help paint the bigger picture. The shoot was an intense 4 hours and a scary two weeks of editing before I finally knew everything had come together correctly.”

Rachel Bodger (Dancer) :
“After a trial run in my living room in Edinburgh and a few pointers from Richie I began to get a feel of what movement and positions would complement the effect. It would have been very difficult to choreograph and memorise an hour long piece of movement, and so the final performance was improvised. Richie was keen for it to be my own interpretation of the music, which lends itself to slow, controlled movement; exactly what suited the stretch effect of the video! While this wasn’t strictly a ballet dance, I feel that my history of ballet training helped create the fluid movement seen in the video.”

Ambient Zone 2 album (TAO059) is set for release 20th January. It is the 5th volume of the Just Music Cafe Compilation Series.

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