Austere | Remittance

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Electronic: Ambient Rock: Slowcore Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Remittance

by Austere

Guitar-based ambient music, blissful, beautiful, melodic, droning and melancholy, with many atmospheric samples and some lyrics. No synths or sequencers were used in making this album, just guitars and many pedals and effects.
Genre: Electronic: Ambient
Release Date: 

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1. Shokai
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5:58 $0.99
2. Crimson
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8:13 $0.99
3. Shiv
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8:01 $1.99
4. La Capella Reservado
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7:34 $1.99
5. Prana
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8:40 $0.99
6. Bloombalm
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4:42 $0.99
7. Morninglory
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6:30 $0.99
8. Sunset
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5:12 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Austere - Remittance
Reviewed by Dodds Wiley for Ambient.us Webzine

The shadowy duo from Portland, Oregon known as Austere have released a fantastic new album. Known for very high quality abstract ambient music, this is one of their best. The fact that it is based on guitar generated sounds, which is unusual for them, makes it all the more exciting.

Beautifully done, the textures and moods range from shimmering, droning beauty to forlorn, moody melancholy.

The overall impression of this album is that of a fever dream or hallucination. There is a feeling of remembrance, of an individual examining past memories. It's very moving, and the occasional use of brief vocal samples imparts just the right touch. There are moments of great emotion and intensity in these well crafted beatless soundscapes.

Austere has constructed a magnificent work that is rich and vibrant. Get your hands on this cd right away, it's destined to become a classic! Check out the many fine works of Austere at http://www.austere.org.

================

Austere
A Biography
By Bill Binkleman
Wind & Wire magazine
http://www.windandwire.com

Austere is an enigmatic duo who record some of the more interesting ambient music I've heard in my six plus years of reviewing. From the swirling drones (I was gonna say "dark" drones, but...) and eerie melancholy of Monodia to the warmth and beauty amidst minimalism of Fade to the cool glitch beats and samples of one of Austere's side project's The Mystifying Oracle's Quintessence (see my review here: http://www.windandwire.com/may/quintessence.htm)

Austere are less concerned with following the path and more concerned with breaking new ground. However, they are undoubtedly enigmatic, as one would glean from the above, and shun the spotlights of media and personality. However, in my many communiques with them, I have found few artists in this industry who are more polite, engaging, genuine or friendly. If only some of the more "exposed" artists in ambient music were as humble and humane.

Check them out at http://www.austere.org and read more reviews of their work by yours truly here at http://www.windandwire.com.

There, now you and others know as much about Austere as anyone!

Bill


Reviews


to write a review

Wink Jr.

Artwork on Every Level: Music, Packaging, All Beauty
This is really their best album - this or "Curio", I can never decide, but they are both such different albums that it's probably best not to compare the two. Ambient music with guitars, very pretty and atmospheric, a very relaxing, peaceful album that shows you can do some very different things with guitar than the standard "rawk!" stuff that's common on the radio. For a band that's known for very purely ambient releases, this one has some samples and two tracks with vocals, but they're all very minimal and kept to a limit (the samples never repeat) and are used to great effect.

The album artwork is worth mentioning - in this era where 35? some years after the CD was invented and aside from a few bands like Tool every single CD looks the same, this one is a piece of art in itself! The packaging is completely unique, it looks nothing like any other CD I've ever seen, and even has a "pinwheel" inside to look up song titles and things like colors that go with each track. And the CD looks like an old 78 RPM record, it's black and even has grooves (on the side you don't play!) About half of their releases have really different and cool packaging but this one I show off to people and keep out like it's a piece of art.

A great album, great packaging, everything - it's too bad that bands like this who eschew interviews, media, etc. and would never make it to a major label are never seen... better than 99% of the mainstream stuff on major labels in every way!

Jinsai

Truly Independent & A Wonderful, Fresh Masterpiece
When I get excited about truly independent music and want to show people how it's done, I pull out my copy of Remittance. Originally released as Remission and featuring a slightly different track line-up, Remittance is a wonderful, fresh instrumental masterpiece.

Released in 2004, Remittance consists of eight tracks. Each one drones, pulses, and reveals itself slowly, like a gem turning in the light. A very small number of samples from sources both obvious (Kate Bush's Hounds of Love album contributes some dialog) and obscure, but as with previous Austere releases, this is just careful seasoning, not the main dish.

While the tracks are generally consistent in style and sound, there are enough differences in shading and approach to keep the record interesting from start to finish.

Like some guitar bands used to do, Austere proudly announces "No synthesizers nor sequencers were used in the making of this album". Apparently it's mostly guitar, though most listeners will swear it is synthesizers or samplers - the extensive processing and sound sculpting leave only the barest hint of strums, plucks, and other standard guitar tones. Instead, the guitars groan like trees bending in a heavy wind. They feedback and drone. They are magnified, distorted, stretched, and pulled.

Austere's packaging compliments the album perfectly. The cover is a transparency of a smashed clock, the back a textural art piece. Inside the cover is a "decoder wheel", which supposedly provides "understanding" for each piece by providing the piece's matter, anti-matter, element, scent, and color. Of course, it only deepens the mystery and allure of the record - you'll listen again, trying to figure out why "Shokai" has nitrous oxide as anti-matter.

Austere's interpretation of Erik Satie's 3rd "Gymnopedie" is also included as a bonus track. The interpretation as such stretches and distorts the original, rendering it almost unrecognizable. The sudden stabs of piano seem almost painfully percussive and violent after the previous tracks, but it has a stark beauty all its own.

Why Austere chose to "upgrade" Remission to Remittance is hard to understand - the removed tracks weren't bad, and the ones replacing them aren't so much better the album changes substantially. The upgrade kit (consisting of a new CD and replacement components for the inside cover) must have been expensive to produce and ship. However, Austere clearly cares a lot about subtleties and details that most folks normally miss, and it's likely this same impulse (or compulsion) that drove them to change the record.

The final product stands as Austere's finest release to date, and is highly recommended to fans of ambient music or those looking for something new and unique.

rik - ping things

A revision, a redo, a reimagining, a renewal, but still a fresh and new work.
"Remittance" by Austere is a release that immerses the listener in a new world of Austere's creation. Proudly noting that all of the sounds and instruments were played live by the band without the help of synths or sequencers, "Remittance" is a beautiful collection of music that captures both the wonder and mystery that Austere have become so well known for.

The disc opens with the track "Shokai", a pulsing track that blends a series of drones together into a latticework of sound. Beautiful and intricate, "Shokai" has a very dense and complete sound that easily draws you in.

"Shiv" starts out much more subtly, the sounds of fog and mist rolling across the land. From the title I expected a short sharp shock, but instead "Shiv" is a thick and dense drifting piece where tones rise and fall, and the sounds of sustained guitar and more play in the distance.

Track three, "Crimson", uses a repeated phrase overtop an evolving backdrop, a sense of almost oblique movement playing along. Voices and samples drift out of the darkness, a snatch here, a whisper there, something I recognize or maybe not...

"La Capella Reservado" follows with a very sparse opening, utilizing spaces and silence as effectively as the notes themselves. It's a testimony to the beauty of the notes in question, the slight variation in them that the track sustains one's interest so well and so long despite it's minimal variation.

"Prana" has more sounds, a lush, almost orchestral swell to it. It drifts and flows in lovely ways that wrap around my heart and make me feel warm and tingly. It's a beautiful thing.

"Bloombalm" has a certain jangly found sound nature to it, a jumble of tones and themes, a drone in the background and a repeated phrase, a rising and falling siren drone. Very interesting.

In contrast to it's name, "Morninglory" is a dark and hypnotic piece, melancholy vocal lines twisted and drawn out into evil and menacing pieces of fear. A simple guitar line plays overtop, looped and repeated.

"Sunset" incorporates a sample from Kate Bush's Hounds of Love disc to great effect, a sense of new beginnings and new adventures ahead, played overtop a steady drone.

I don't want to spoil the surprise, but there's also a hidden track here, a simple piece where notes sustain and flow, perhaps the most beautiful thing on the disc. I'm not sure of the track's name, but in certain ways that makes it almost better for not knowing. And given Austere's enigmatic nature, I should think that that's more than appropriate.

Needless to say I've long enjoyed the work of Austere, and in that time I've come to know a fair bit of their work. Certainly "Remittance" is one of their best, a great introduction for new fans and a welcome reminder for those of us in the know just how wonderful they really are. You owe it to yourself to investigate this disc further.

Gordon Danis

Amazing Guitar Ambient with Wonderful Samples
"The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long." To
me, the most pleasurable of the Austere CDs with "verbal inserts" (samples.) The last track, however, I call "Satie On Valium," requires a bit of patience for me, but others might like it. Hard to believe this was done only with guitars.