ASIP – Reflection on 2021
As with all past ‘Reflection’ year-end mixes, I start with a collection of albums I have enjoyed over the year. Through the process of compiling a mix that flows well, songs are whittled down and selected from this collection. This means many of my favorite tracks and albums are often omitted in the process, due to the need for them to fit in a mix that comes together as organically as possible. As I say every year, this isn’t a definitive ‘best-of’ list, but a selection of just some of my favorite music from the year in one easily listenable format. It’s the most enjoyable way for me to boil down the music I’ve loved from the year using these self-imposed restrictions, for you to then enjoy and discover more. I encourage you to use the mix to jump off and explore each artist, listen to the album in full and see what else is on the label (and check the Buy Music Club list). Of course, releases or aliases a part of our own label/s are not considered (head over here for our label-specific 2021 showcase).
Another crazy year in the books (or is this the new normal?). Looking back, it’s been a tough year personally and one that in theory should have left me with more time to listen and absorb music but somehow did the opposite. This mix, as it does every year, serves as a great way for me to dedicate time listening to albums again, and I’m realizing this has become a yearly sort of musical therapy for me. The fact that people actually listen and await the mix, is a lovely bonus.
It’s been interesting to see the pendulum of music move across various online listening platforms during strict lockdowns this past year, and what seemed like an onslaught of output as artists buckled down inside. At one point, I am sure we were all left feeling truly spoiled with music choices and online events, despite not being able to attend physical events until the past few months. I know from my own experience, that many artists have albums in the locker and the labels are now struggling to keep up with the present vinyl production bottle-neck.
On the ASIP label front, we finally managed to launch our 9128.live sister label, producing physical and digital editions from notable live performances, with many more planned for 2022. Despite ACL recently commenting that ASIP seemingly “so far has seemed immune to the vinyl shortage”, we have been massively impacted and have only been able to keep somewhat of a cadence this year because we had so much in the pipeline. Next year, we may see bigger gaps between releases and different formats as we look to work with new plants and basically turn our production flow on its head. Numerous times this year I have questioned whether to continue with our current approach, and I am sure many other labels have felt the same.
On the listening front, and upon reflection, I have definitely been drawn to the more electronic-driven side of ambient music this year. Slightly darker and edgier perhaps for obvious reasons, with less instrumental, gentle, or orchestral sounds in my library overall it seems. The Reflection mix, as it does every year, ends up moving through several different stages and captures many of the different styles of music that have been on high rotation.
This year’s mix, begins with some more tranquil pieces (Hopkins, KMRU, Arian Shafiee), then takes a dive into the deep, dynamic elements (ASC, Inhmost, Sciama, AES DANA, Ulla, Bana Haffar), to then slowly emerge into melody just before the hour with Christina Chatfield. Things become more storied, as pieces are overlapped and looped, presenting the powerful drones of Christina Giannone, and more fluid, energetic beat-driven pieces from Ground Tactics, Whylie, nthng and Skee Mask – most of which made me crave the (out of bounds) dance floor. Beats then become crunched, textured and irregular, with the likes of new discoveries in, Hoavi, Vivan Koch, and Amandra X Matthies. The mix then begins to draw in, as more melodic moments take over from some (old but new) music from Niko Tzoukmanis and CiM, before the final chapter draws in with more organic and spiritual elements from Saphileaum, Alex Albrecht, ending on a positive curtain closer from Wau Wau Collectif. Ending the mix on something more optimistic seems to be a requirement after the journey of this past year.
Thank you to everyone listening and supporting what we do, and I hope you can find a new artist or album to support on Bandcamp with this mix – all this year’s inclusions are below in the Buy Music Club list. For a more extensive list of what I have supported and listened to this year, head over to my Bandcamp collection.
000.00. Jon Hopkins – Tayos Caves, Ecuador I (Domino)
006.20. KMRU & Echium – Unending (Self-released)
009.10. Bolivian Fireships – Quiet Room, Locked Door (Hream)
012.50. Arian Shafiee – Wembley (Constellation Tatsu)
018.00. Ab uno – Adonai (Mahorka)
019.30. ASC & Inhmost – Sunrise on Titan (Auxiliary)
026.10. Sciama – Periphery (Auxiliary)
029.00. AES DANA – Foreword (Ultimae)
031.40. Ulla – Shelter (Motion Ward)
033.30. Bana Haffar – Totally Alive and Totally Invisible (Self-released)
039.50. Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement – Flying Fish Ambience (Hospital)
043.20. Nadia Struiwigh – Organic (Nous’klaer)
047.15. Op Zee – Muziekkamer (Stroom.tv)
050.00. Christina Chatfield – Concatenate II (Mysteries of the Deep)
057.10. Nigel Mullaney – The Well Of Sleeping (Behind The Sky Music)
059.00. Avsluta – Meditation 16 [Notes on Iridescence] (e2-e8)
1.00.30 Marine Eyes – On this Fresh Morning (Stereoscenic)
1.03.30. Christina Giannone – Realms II (Past Inside The Present)
1.09.00. Milieu – Terpentine Xylophone (Milieu Music)
1.10.05. Ground Tactics – New Earth (Self-released)
1.16.10. Whylie – JGL24-04 (Lith Dolina)
1.19.40. nthng – Energy Reloading (Lobster Sleep Sequence)
1.25.58. Skee Mask – LFO (Ilian Tape)
1.29.15. Ocoeur – Breaking The Circle (n5MD)
1.32.57. Hoavi – Tessera (Peak Oil)
1.36.17. Vivian Koch – Closed (AD93)
1.39.20. Amandra X Matthies – Cornemuse (Nous’klaer)
1.43.30. Warrington-Runcorn Newtown Development Plan – Part of the Union (CIS)
1.47.35. Akira Sileas – Cliff Cooling (Rusted Tone)
1.52.10. Niko Tzoukmanis – Raindrops (Libreville)
1.57.15. Uf0 – Yeh Premoh (Self-released)
1.59.50. CiM – Metric (Delsin)
2.02.10. Sofie Birch & Johan Carøe – Portal of (Stroom.tv)
2.03.10. Saphileaum – Savar (Good Morning Tapes)
2.07.50. Alex Albrecht – Forest from the Trees, w. Sean La’Brooy (Analogue Attic)
2.12.00. Wau Wau Collectif – Yaral Sal Doom (Sahel Sounds)