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Ethno Fusion - music that's different, cool and trendy
December 12/13/21, 2021
Dark Measures is an exploration of tenebrosity and mystery. Gently floating and drifting abstract dark ambient music, contemplative and relaxing, well suited for neural calming atmospheres. "From the Void came the sound. When I create music I feel like I'm bringing light into the darkness," said co-composer Chris Russell. "My intention since day one has always been to open minds and have a calming or healing effect on the listener."

An ambient music artist who has been recording since 2000, Chris finds inspiration from both the simplicity of nature and the vast infinity of the universe. Using the studio as his instrument, he plays software and hardware synthesizers, bass guitar, and various indigenous instruments to produce textures and abstract paintings of sound. In addition to his musical activities, Chris is also a photographer, and each one of his works contains an original cover, allowing him to visually “sign” his work and give the listener a preview of his state of mind going into the album. On bandcamp there are currently 40 albums that he has created himself, or created in collaboration with other artists, or in some way contributed to compilations, all in the deep listening / atmospheric / cinematic and ambient electronic music genres. He has been doing this for well over ten years.

Imagine a dream where you are travelling with some new friends in a UFO and you are showing them around your planet. On his album, Echo, sometimes there are melodic accents, usually there are strange buzzings, whistling things swirling about in the air above, all sorts of unusual but pleasant noises, and always nothing shocking or difficult to listen to or otherwise upset this peaceful sleepy neighborhood. There are no beats and no drums, just wide open magic ear adventures. His next release after Echo on Spotted Peccary, titled Destiny, sounds like the culmination of all the ambient albums he has done so far, going all the way back to Aralu, his debut release. Destiny is a celebration of a decade of releasing ambient creative soundscapes. "I have felt since a young age this was my destiny or life's calling to create this music." This music is also about taking the path less traveled.

Phillip Wilkerson was raised in a musical family and taught to appreciate and create music from a young age. He plays piano, guitar, and drums, and in his mid-twenties began experimenting with synthesizers. He has been recording and releasing ambient music since 2005 on a number of net labels, including Earth Mantra. He creates soundscapes for your universe: contemplative atmospheres, spacious drifts, and electronic drones. His music plays worldwide on BrainVoyager, Hearts of Space, Star's End, Hypnagogue Podcast, Night Tides, Ultima Thule, SomaFM, Ambient Sleeping Pill, and StillStream. Phillip also creates meditation, yoga, and sleep music content for the Insight Timer meditation app.

Wilkerson and Jourdan Laik, who collaborate using the moniker Time Being, inspire a deep fascination about time and how we experience it, the present as being between the past and the future is further complicated by enlarging the scope from an hourglass to a sandy beach by an ocean. And that ocean is in itself captured within the sky. What you will hear when listening to Time Being is electronica created by hands trained for classical music, employing a variety of synthesized instrumentation, such as sometimes just a hint of strings ranging from violin to zither, or perhaps a koto, always light, not dense, yet with complexity. Always slow and interesting, consistently relaxing and engaging without requiring your constantly focused attention, the music both rewards focused listening and at the same time allows the listener to float in their own thoughts, without external drama.

"All my music comes from a meditative and contemplative place within awareness and presence.” Phillip reflects. “I don’t necessarily feel like I create music, but rather music is created through me by releasing my consciousness and willful direction of the music and just letting it flow through the channel of open awareness. Attempting to put the process into words feels like a disservice to how it actually happens."

He continues, "I’m very excited for fans of our first album (Vague Traces, also on Spotted Peccary) to hear this next musical chapter,” Chris explains. “Thank you for being patient. It was well worth the wait! Also I’m excited to announce that a third collaboration took place last year called Imaginary Realities. And working on that album was one of the main reasons I kept my sanity during the Pandemic of 2020. It was a beautiful place to escape to and became a godsend of sorts."

These composers have captured the presence of the moment using their ample imaginations, with audio tools and soundcraft, to create a listening experience suitable for relaxing, dreaming, thinking deeply and being in the present moment of time, as well as for enhancing the practice of yoga and meditation. In their distant studios, Russell (in Illinois) and Wilkerson (in Florida) have created together a seamless audio laboratory optimized for modular experimentation, employing additive, subtractive, frequency modulation, amplitude modulation and good magic. Listen as they disappear down the rabbit hole for days so that you can experience sounds you've never heard, they have mastered the possibility for creating alien-sounding synths and sounds, exquisite strings, huge ranges of samples from a wide range of categories and many have a distinctly ‘classic’ flavor, a serious bridge between the digital world, electronic music and analog/acoustic sound.

"Wilkerson and Russell drive this highway masterfully," states Peter Thelen of Exposé Online in a review of Vague Traces, "...Maintaining the balance between depth and light, darkness and coloration, never dropping too deep into droney depths, yet eschewing any of the sweetness that tends to subtract from the warmth that textural ambient sounds generate…"

"It might be harder for listeners to discern who is who on this release," speculates Wilkerson. "I think Vague Traces had passages where listeners could identify Phillip’s contribution versus Chris’s and vice-versa. On Dark Measures, I think the music is artistically blended better and the collaboration is more of a solid co-creation of two artists finding a unique sound that is somewhat different than either artist might’ve created on their own. A 'greater than the sum of its parts' achievement."

Chris explains that there is less piano on this album with the exception of the opening track. "I didn't play on reverbed pianos as much as I did with Vague Traces. I focused more on drones and textures and working around Phillips' wonderful drifting sounds." Dark Measures will definitely take listeners in unexpected directions and provide them an opportunity to experience this art form collaboratively with the composers.

Without visual stimulation, the eye tends to assume an individually-determined intermediate state of accommodation (the "dark focus") and in this state, journey along, coupled with generative sound machines and classic subtractive synths -- experimental devices only possible on a modular system, creating sensations ranging from close in-your-face to deep inside a cave, and then back again, strings and piano buried in granular synthesizer floating-points, chains of virtual instruments and effects that will amaze and delight.

"This outing is slightly darker and moodier than before." Chris said. "I look at our previous work being a sunset album during the golden light hour and this album being a night time adventure contemplating life and other things under the stars."

Phil continues this train of thought, "Working with Chris on this project gave me an opportunity to be creative with ambient music in a way that has always fascinated me--exploring the edges of the so-called “dark ambient” genre and the somewhat more abstract ambient music which Chris has really mastered in his solo releases. So this release has more abstract moods and covers some different psychological ground that plays deeper and somewhat farther along the edges and boundaries of what traditional and light ambient music tends to focus on."

"Some of my solo music has explored the abstract realms of ambient music, but my artistic tendency, I’d say, is inherently toward the lighter side," confides Phil. "Working with Chris was an opportunity to create some germinal, seed tracks that I sent to Chris, tracks that I felt had a beauty that didn’t necessarily follow the formulas and patterns I usually tend to pursue. Even on Vague Traces, the music was a solid release of pure ambient music that perhaps sounded a bit more like a typical Phillip Wilkerson release. Dark Measures is definitively different in mood and, I think, sounds much more like a Chris Russell release--which is a very good thing!"

Chris sheds some more light on their compositional process, "Previously, on Vague Traces, Phillip sent me the tracks almost finished along with titles for me to add my parts to. But on this album I was sent a folder of sounds to pick from and assemble these 7 beautiful tracks. At first I tried some different approaches like using rhythms or more distorted sounds but I quickly realized it didn't work. I went back to listen to Vague Traces and remembered what made that collaboration so special. I decided not to add anything extra to our secret sauce."

The first track on Dark Measures, "Unopened Doors" (10:34) brings shimmering darkness and strange glowing sounds, eventually revealing odd sounds bumping about, creaking and shutting. Romantic notions attached to it could be mysterious enough to leave you bewildered, what lies inside is a mystery and will remain so. These doors are mysterious and scary at the same time, some rooms are hidden from everyone. Their locked doors made us wonder what is in there. It is the most mysterious of all and somewhere inside is the door to a dark place that contains palaces and towers along with treasures.

Reflection is good for the soul, a good practice every evening is to reflect on the day's events, perhaps inspired by the natural world, the contours of the land and hills, the atmosphere and cloud formations, the flow of the sea and rivers. These shapes and forms are abstracted to their energetic essence and combined with deeply glowing vibrant colors and that magical feeling of twilight, where the light softens and warms at the end of the day and illuminates the sky in rich glowing colors. "Evenings Embrace" (11:10) captures the lush possibilities of regeneration.

Sometimes along our path, there are obstacles in the way, some from our own creation and some from out of nowhere. Either way, I am often in the moment looking for a solution. The work is to exercise a cycle of design, change, then adapt. Mark Twain once said, "Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is." We should use all our creative resources to reach this goal. "Myriad Visions" (8:43) provides beautifully crafted rendered sonic images from ideas and visions, changing moods and vistas, dreaming of a life spent living, traveling, and studying, learning to create something previously always imagined where it can one day become a reality.

Being highly aware of our own mortality as we continue to age and experience loss, a sense of active innocence persists weaving us around death as a way of carrying on despite the inevitable possibilities that sustain the listener above ground: art and ardor, animals and gardens, the pleasure of seeing, the world tuned by the word, beautifully articulated meditations and penetrating observations about the way our lives are guided by unruly desires, part of the ecstasy of living. "Deep Lane" (9:21) contains slower sustained atmospheres, descents into the earth beneath the garden, into the dark substrata of a life. Burrow into the personal and particular to discover revelations that feel universal, letting ideas float out too far into detached realms hampered by nostalgia for what is past, experience can never be fully recreated and so we want all the harder and strengthen an emotional connection with another. Nourishment in life is inextricably mixed with the toxic, a necessarily dangerous path to a more profound sense of knowing and developing, speaking about this life, relationships and thoughts about existence, a personal landscape which the listener can recline in to hear.

As we come out on the top of the mountain, a vista of hills and valleys lies before us as far as the eye can see. A comprehensive mental view of a series of remembered or anticipated events, star systems, spacecraft, alien species, weapons and history of a distant sector far from Earth, "Distant Vistas" (8:14). A vision, a view presented to the mind in prospect or in retrospect by the imagination, hear tiny details which create a panoramic immersion, behold a distant view or prospect, especially one seen through some opening, avenue or a passage. An endless vista stretched before me, and I wanted to start upon my way. An awareness of a range of time, events, or subjects; a broad mental view. A vista of pleasure to come. A world unbroken, actively engaging opportunities to dream and then act upon those very dreams. The pillars of cloud and fire, a broken and shattered world, reverberations uplifting and calming. Discover the world, not as it is, but how it could be - "Unbroken Devotion" (7:28).

And on the last track, "Faring Forward" (4:50), I hear field recordings of a crowd situation blend into high altitude presences, the best is yet to come. Fare forward! Not fare well, but fare forward, voyageurs.

"I believe that everything I’ve ever created is an amalgamation and outpouring of all my experiences," Phil reveals. "Just being alive and having an opportunity to experience life and the world and the senses is an incredible, precious journey. The heart and the soul find a way to express it, both individually and collectively. Collaborating with Chris and adding his experiences and musical expertise in a combined way was a wonderful opportunity. I’m happy that our listeners will have the opportunity to hear it presented through the visual artistry and production of a Spotted Peccary release."

"Traveling to Point Pleasant, West Virginia and learning about The Mothman and the high strangeness from that incident definitely made it into the music on this release." Chris expands, "Also I was into Urban Exploring and talking and looking at Urbex photography at that time. Some of the strange textures were reminding me of the slow decay of time and how nature reclaims these places that are abandoned and forgotten. The natural beauty of urban decay."

Some moments are together clear and quiet, gritty and dark, bombastic, prim, anything in between, and all of the above at the same time, inspiring interactivity and deep expression, displaying compelling self-portraits, landscapes in representational, modernist, and abstract expressionist styles, and compositions of strong soundscape design.

These dark tracks follow successive stages of two artistic careers and exploratory spirits. When it comes to soundscape design, there are a myriad of possibilities. With this, there is no limit in scale or in complexity. Every piece is a journey. On their previous collaboration, Wilkerson sent near-finished tracks to Russell, but on Dark Measures, they built each piece together from the ground up, utilizing a carefully selected palette of digital synthesizers and computer software sound sources, including such venerable instruments as the Yamaha Montage 6, Access Virus digital synth, Native Instruments’ Reaktor and Kontakt, and Spectrasonics Omnisphere. The result is an album that weaves their talents into a new, unified sound—an album that traverses the calm and menace of night, and captures the tension and wonder of exploring uncharted spaces.

Mastered by Ben Cox, Dark Measures is available for physical purchase in CD format and in 24-BIT AUDIOPHILE, CD QUALITY LOSSLESS, MP3 and streaming formats. The CD version of Dark Measures arrives in a factory sealed 6-panel gatefold package that includes vibrant artwork, liner notes, and artful package design by Daniel Pipitone.

Spotted Peccary's annual Holiday Sale includes Dark Measures, and runs throughout December, offering the independent record label's lowest prices ever on CDs, vinyl and merch. Go directly to: https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/product-category/record-labels/spotted-peccary/

Tracklist:
1. Unopened Doors 10:34
2. Evening’s Embrace 11:10
3. Myriad Visions 8:43
4. Deep Lane 9:21
5. Distant Vistas 8:14
6. Unbroken Devotion 7:28
7. Faring Forward 4:50

About Phillip Wilkerson:
Phillip Wilkerson was raised in a musical family and taught to appreciate and create music from a young age. He plays piano, guitar, and drums, and in his mid-twenties began experimenting with synthesizers. He has been recording and releasing contemplative soundscapes, spacious atmospheres, and electronic drones and drifts since 2005 on a number of net labels, including Earth Mantra.

About Chris Russell:
An ambient music artist who has been releasing albums since 2009, Chris Russell finds inspiration from both the simplicity of nature and the vast infinity of the universe. Using the studio as his instrument, he plays software and hardware synthesizers, bass guitar, and various indigenous instruments to produce textures.

About Spotted Peccary Music:
Portland-based Spotted Peccary Music is North America’s finest independent record label with a focus on deep, vast and introspective soundscapes. For over three decades, the artists of Spotted Peccary have been on a mission to develop, produce, publish and release ultra-high-quality, deep-listening experiences that engage the listener and exceed expectations. Every release is carefully prepared in a variety of high quality formats from MP3 to high-res studio masters. Explore more than 165 titles and 45 artists at www.SpottedPeccary.com and www.AmbientElectronic.com.

Links:
Spotted Peccary Album Page: https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/dark-measures/
Smart Link: https://orcd.co/dark-measures
CD unboxing video: https://youtu.be/dZ7puojYcPI
Bandcamp: https://ambientelectronic.bandcamp.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spottedpeccary/
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/spottedpeccary