Ambient and drone from the Echospace label

George Palladev 28.07.2018

Ambient and drone from the Echospace label

Today we have a 19-hour ambient and drone playlist from the Detroit label Echospace. Someone might raise an eyebrow: Do you call this noise music? Yes, madam, this too. “If by noise you mean uncomfortable sound, then pop music is noise to me”—these words are attributed to the great noise terrorist Masami Akita aka Merzbow. Yes, the very one who was crazy about acoustic feedback, when the hum and rasp oozed out of the speaker, the listeners plugged their ears, and Masami only made it louder. Stephen Hitchell is quieter. Although he likes to listen to a lot of things, he himself can’t get away from music based on special effects.

“I think one of my personal greatest past-times was playing keys in a local ska/dub band in which another band member opened my eyes to older tape and hand-crafted echo units; he taught me that the dirtier and grainier the effect, the better the sound. It was also my first introduction to home-made spring tanks and Orban ‘60s-era EQs and reverbs; he was my link to the dub information highway. I was more drawn into the effects than the actual music, to me the effects were the music.

Rod ‘Deepchord’ Modell & Stephen ‘Variant’ Hitchell

I could just solo out the Aux Send Bus and have a whole recording of 8-bit modulated returns and tweak an EQ for three hours; it was warm, always changing, and ever-evolving music which was probably discovered by accident. The ambience and magic is stored in the effects, for one sound can evoke a multitude of emotion, an ever-evolving mood that drowns you in atmosphere and spatial dimensions.”

Hitchell played ambient at underground parties in the early nineties, assembled and welded his own equipment, and recorded an ear-pleasing crackling drone on reels. At the same time, he didn’t expect to be heard: “I never viewed making music as more than self-therapy; it’s something I do to express myself, to let my heart and soul speak. There’s a long history of loving music without beginning or end, something you could hear loop eternally and never get tired of.” When the members of the Echospace label were asked how they determine how long their track should last, Rod ‘Deepchord’ Modell, an associate of Hitchell and the one who boosted his confidence in the initial stages, replied:

Rob Modell

“If it were up to me, every track would be six hours long. I’m a big fan of long players. I like to sleep to my music. With many Deepchord tracks (Deepchord 10 comes to mind), I would drop out the percussion, and let the loop go for days around the house. I love this. I need sonic ambience around me all the ime. I have Marpac white noise generators throughout my house, and constantly play stuff like Brian Eno’s Neroli or Distant Rituals by Chris Meloche. Steve is the sensible one who will let me know when a track has gone on long enough.”

Today we have the best ambient things from the Echospace label. They have dub, a straight rhythm, and sound, but no fury. For some it’s just white noise, for others it’s a state of mind. Hitchell himself calls his ambient releases sound journeys. As one of the commentators correctly wrote: “It takes some time to get this music. First you hear noise, then you notice movement. Then you notice patterns and finally you’re making up little parts in your imagination to go along with it.” Night music. Sweet dreams.