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Music Review: Various Artists – Favourite Places Volumes One & Two

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The Audiobulb label was founded by musician David Newman in 2003. Newman describes his label as a home for “exploratory electronic music,” which covers a lot of bases. In fact, it may be too broad a term – which is one reason why the Favourite Places samplers are such a great place to start in getting to know some of the label’s artists.

The first Favourite Places collection was released in 2008, and the second came out in 2009. With music as intriguing as this though, there is certainly no “sell by” date code. The artists Newman chose to spotlight on these collections represent a wide variety of music, from literally all over the world.

Each collection contains ten tracks, with no overlapping of artists. So the two Favourite Places sets offer an excellent opportunity to discover twenty artists which one would probably not generally come into contact with. One of the reasons I have become such a fan of the label is the wide variety of music David Newman releases. Just about anything that falls under the rubric of electronic music is represented.

The high-quality of musical experimentation that makes Audiobulb such an intriguing record label is apparent from the very first track on Favourite Places Volume One. The artist is Taylor Deupree, and the cut is titled simply “6 a.m.” Over the course of 6:06, we are taken on a beautiful journey. With music such as this, one can interpret it anyway they wish, but I like to think of it as a peaceful walk through the woods. There is a gentle percussive beat, with a melody that slowly builds throughout the piece.

A great illustration of the truly experimental nature of some of the artists follows, with “Shower Time & Glockenspiel,” by Dot Tape Dot. The liner notes amplify the concept of Favourite Places by listing the exact “place” each track was recorded at, in two ways. The place “Shower Time & Glockenspiel” was created at is kind of funny – “My Bathroom.” Newman also provides us with the exact global longitude and latitude of the place as well.

All ten tracks on Volume One have their merits, but I was particularly drawn to “Tranoy Lighthouse” by Biosphere, and “A Place For Saving” by RF (featuring Midori Hirano). Both of these pieces evoke a quiet, peaceful mood – yet also show quite a bit of inventiveness as well. With a sampler such as this, they work perfectly, making me want to hear more from each artist.

Favourite Places Volume Two is identical in structure to the first edition, with ten individual artists and tracks. Oddly enough, David Newman himself waited until this second collection to include any of his own music. He records under the rubric of Autistici. I recently reviewed two discs of his early works, plus a various artists set of Autistici music remixed here.

The earlier Autistici music was quite different from “Winter Heather, Frozen Breath,” which is the Favourite Places track. His “Music has been a growth process for me,” quote is very evident when comparing the older Autistici tracks with “Winter Heather, Frozen Heather.” With this cut, we are presented with a very soothing, and quite beautiful piece of music.

Jeremy Bible’s “Behind The Concrete Factory,” is another gorgeous tune, and is quite literal, as the place it was recorded at is listed as “Behind The Concrete Factory, Canton, Ohio USA.” The mental image that place summons up (for me at least) is nothing at all like what this song sounds like. With what sounds like birdsong opening up the composition, followed by a slowly evolving melodic line – you get no impression whatsoever of a concrete factory in Ohio. Rather what I thought of was a very interesting spot overlooking a vast space.

Again, one of the great things about music such as this is that it is so wide open to interpretation. “Partridge Green” by Calika tends more toward the experimental side of things, with a variety of musical moods evoked throughout. He Can Jog ends the set with arguably the most “experimental” piece of the entire collection. I will be reviewing the full Middlemarch disc by He Can Jog shortly, but for now let me just say that they have a very intriguing sound.

The title of the He Can Jog cut is “Woodbine Entwist,” and it does a wonderful job of contrasting both the disconcerting, and the familiar. For this track, He Can Jog is joined by Sebastian Krueger on vocals – and the results are exactly what I have come to enjoy about Audiobulb’s music in general. The old adage, “expect the unexpected” is quite appropriate for not only He Can Jog, but for the label in general.

Both Favourite Places sets work quite well on their own, and are excellent introductions to the various artists artists on the label. The Audiobulb website itself is well worth checking out, as it is filled with information about these and all of the other releases on the label. For music fans looking for something a little outside of the ordinary, this is a label that is well worth looking into.

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