I bet you thought that I was totally 100% on top of all the latest Mick Pedaja news. Well, here’s some that I missed. He has this new project, SUMRA, which takes the electronic side of his work to the next level. Laniakea is a seven track ambient album which incorporates samples of vocal techniques from around the world into gorgeously floaty dreamscapes. Enjoy!
What do I like more than ambient music? I like proggy analog synth ambient music. What do I like more than proggy analog synth ambient music? Vintage Estonian proggy analog synth ambient music.
I wouldn’t normally go to the same country twice in a week (ED: this is a lie, especially as far as Estonia is concerned) but if Procrastination Queen was spiky, energetic and up to to minute, then Hingus is a smooth classic – dreamlike, spacious, airy, celestial. Pour yourself whatever it is you enjoy, and relax.
Sven Grünberg was a prog rocker in the Soviet era, which was logistically and ideologically difficult, but he’s survived musically to produce a great body of ambient and film music work and to chair the Estonian Institute of Buddhism. Nice one, Sven.
Well. One of the few nice things that happened this week was that ERR released the details of the 20 contenders for Eesti Laul 2017. The Listen Outsiders are going to be covering the alternative end of the Eurovision beat for the 2017 season, and as part of that we’re heading to the final of Eesti Laul next March.
So who might we see there? Angeelia is one of the artists who are new to the contest – she’s a singer songwriter from Tallinn and she’s going to be entering a song called We Ride With Our Flow. We haven’t heard the actual song yet, but embedded above is her collaboration with NOËP (another exciting electropop act from Tallinn!) which was initially drawn to my attention by none other than official Listen Outside Genius Mick Pedaja.
This song has a sense of beautiful geometric calm that showcases two gorgeous voices. Can’t wait to hear your song, Angeelia.
A sudden outbreak of wanderlust has occurred at Listen Outside – we wish we were packing our bags for a trip to Helsinki and all points North. Let’s listen to something dreamy from Finland.
Lapsihymy (literally ‘child smile’ and definitely not lapsimyhy or ‘child selling’) make beautifully expansive and free-flowing electronic music, that is somehow simultaneously emotionally warm but sonically chilly. It’s as suitable for dancing as it is for sitting down and thinking about the vast unknowableness of the universe and having a cup of tea. Enjoy the whole album, and melt into your weekend.
Because we’ve already posted Mey twice (do go and have a listen if you haven’t yet!) it’s time to recommend something else from Turkey with huge emotional vocals and a sort of 90’s vibe…
Glasxs are an indie-electronica project with a big element of trip-hop. They have an album of English-language songs out soon, but also work in Turkish. The video for their most recent single Hayaletler is part of an ongoing relationship with visual artist A Orçun Can. I like Glasxs, I wonder what’s coming next?
I’m continuing to make good on my threat to always keep you up to date with the latest Mick Pedaja news. There’s a new single! Here it is!
Valgeks is slow and thoughtful, like the rest of his work, but as his vocals ebb and flow through mysterious lyrics about transcendence and the music moves through an expanded range of sonic textures (there’s a gently squalling electric guitar, and a beat almost threatens to kick in at one point) I feel like we’re seeing something new take shape.
Valgeks is the first single from Mick Pedaja’s upcoming album Hingake/Breathe
(A linguistic aside: If you’ve been following along, his first album was ‘Ärgake/Awaken’ – as far as I can work out, the -ake suffix on some verbs makes the plural imperative case so we might be looking at future records called things like Hakake/Start!, or Kuulake/Listen! if the pattern continues)
This is something very different. If you’re familiar with the concept of ASMR, then you’ll be overjoyed when I tell you that I’m recommending a whole album of ambient music mixed with triggers like tapping, crinkles, weather sounds, electronic glitches and dusty vinyl records.
Porya Hatami is an Iranian sound artist who mixes electronic ambient music with superbly captured minimal field recordings to produce really delicate soundscapes of beauty, texture and emotional depth. Also, this music may make your head tingle.
If you’re new to the concept of ASMR – it’s a little bit hard to explain. You know how sometimes a particular moment in a song will give you goosebumps? Well, it’s like that but with some really specific sounds and spoken word recordings that give you a kind of audio massage. It’s nice, it’s relaxing and it is definitely weird.
If you’re curious, I recommend the work if top ASMR video creator, Allie ASMRequests. Try starting with this video for a sort-of explanation of how the ASMR recording process works and this video for the sci-fi plot and great visuals.
But back to Porya Hatami – the thing I’m recommending for you in this post is Land, his 2012 debut album. Each track evokes an almost elemental sonic palette – Winter, Sea, River, Rain – and develops these themes in an unhurried but precise way. Give this a listen. I recommend using your best headphones. If you like this, he’s got tonnes more to go at, including a brand new collaboration released just this week.
We’re nearly there! Keep going!
Time for a bit of mind-altering stuff from Hungary and Portugal. The band from Hungary are iamyank, and this is the lead single off an album that I’ll be banging on about for ages. It’s not quite Mick Pedaja but it’ll do. From Portugal we have some decidedly old-fashioned psychedelia from The Lemon Lovers, which I enjoy and hope you do too.
Silence – iamyank [A gorgeous slice of galactic ambient techno stuff]
Cosmic Lovers – The Lemon Lovers [Dreamy psychedelia]
Look guys, I’ve got to let you in on something. I’m having terrible trouble finding interesting new Russian bands that aren’t aligned with various strains of far right politics. So even though you’ve all heard of Pussy Riot already, tonight Russia will be represented by their confrontational, gloriously sarcastic and grimly funny song Chaika, which always deserves another spin! Slovakia are less of a problem and so I have for you some beautiful, delicate ambient pop which by Fallgrapp.
Chaika – Pussy Riot [Audio revolution with dance routines and jokes. Please remember to turn on your subtitles]
Vlasy – Fallgrapp [Slightly dancey, delicate ambient pop that is something to do with hair]
Seriously. Let’s talk about Mick Pedaja.
It’s January. There was I, doing my musical research for what was shaping up to be a particularly gruelling Eurovision National Final season when suddenly I was transported to a parallel dimension by a song called Seis. It was unlike anything I’d heard. It was weird even for the Estonian song competition, Eesti Laul, which let mind-melting art-thrash weirdoes Winny Puuh compete alongside winsome ballad girls and credible indie.
Seis is a breathtaking moment of stillness – it forces you to slow down and concentrate on the sparse, beautiful arrangement and Mick’s otherworldly voice. After my initial exposure, I was so certain that the people of Estonia would rally behind Mick and send the slowest song of the modern era to Stockholm. Alas, it was not to be and so I resolved to find out more about this mysterious guy.
This is what I know: He’s got an EP/album Ärgake that’s available on UK Spotify which is also beautiful, but in a pastoral and leafy way as opposed to the big blast of cosmic knowledge you get from Seis. He’s also on Soundcloud where he posts the occasional track, makes older work available and has a very exciting stream of recommendations of his own. I haven’t found a way of giving him serious money other than iTunes. Come on Mr Pedaja, let us buy some sort of limited edition triple disc heavy vinyl boxset.