Austere vs. Stephen Philips | faded

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Electronic: Ambient Electronic: Soundscapes Moods: Type: Background Music
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by Austere vs. Stephen Philips

Slowly evolving & quiet ambient, droning at times, gentle washes at others, one long peaceful piece in three continuous sections.
Genre: Electronic: Ambient
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. faded
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20:00 album only
2. faded part 2
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20:00 album only
3. faded part 3
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31:08 album only
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
More mood musick for the space generation.

A collaboration between the ever brilliant Stephen Philips of his own label Dark Duck Records and Portland, Oregon's Austere, based on the Austere release "fade" from 2000.

Philips' use of the final recording, not the original sources, makes this single, long "demix" (a complete reworking, not a remix) even all the more amazing in how different and interesting it is compared to the original. A quiet, slowly evolving single, long piece, it is broken into three parts where it changes "direction" from gentle washes and ambient breezes to more droning, moving sounds.

Stephen has been creating and producing musick for over 27 years (see and we are greatly honoured and pleased to have been able to work with him on this new release. Our thanks and gratitude go out to him for his kindess and support.

This album is best enjoyed as one long, continuous piece of slowly-evolving, gently moving, trance-inducing beauty. Mixed entirely as one piece, it it an even more peaceful and ambient work than the original from which it is derived.

Perfect mood musick for fans of ambient and drone.


A Biography
By Bill Binkleman
Wind & Wire magazine

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:

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 and read more reviews of their work by yours truly here at

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



to write a review

Joe R. (painter)

faded: too dense to be atmosphere, too thin to be liquid
I've heard faded a few times, and I must say: It sounds nothing like fade. By that, I mean you won't recognize the song structure that made up fade. — it seems to be a complete deconstruction and reassemblage of sound at work here.
It's far more diffuse and shapeless than the original, if that's possible... like being suspended in the world's thickest fogbank, with no familiar signpost, no human voice, no birdcall, no traffic-noise to orient you to your surroundings... In the atmosphere surrounding Jupiter, there's a layer of hydrogen too dense to be considered atmosphere, yet too thin to qualify as a true liquid-- matter that exists forever in this in-between state. That's kinda what faded is like

Forrest (SunDummy)

Wonderful Collaboration with Stephen Philips
Lost on a wet, barren coastline, where the sea has receded, a nd
all that's left is the hum of millions of dying crabs. Cool stuff, thick
as pea soup. Like wearing a thick, wet wool

Wayne Dolman / Scintillating Spelling Bee

When Does a "Remix" Become It's Own Original, Unique Release?
Yet another Austere collaboration, this time with the ever-prolific and
never-sleeping reigning king of the Ambient Drone kung-fu style, Stephen
Phillips, who single-handedly releases at least a half-dozen or more CDs a
year, runs 2 or 3 labels with his own material as well as others, and is the
mastermind behind the brilliant Drone Download Project (
where various artists provide free MP3 tracks which Stephen hosts for free
download for a year before they are pulled and issued as MP3 CDs for purchase.

From what I've gleaned from Austere's always minimal Web site, despite their
desire to keep things a bit mysterious through anonimity and providing vague
and even misleading info about their releases, this isn't your standard kind
of collaboration where two artists work together to create tracks nor even one
where each artist contributes their own tracks but releases them together on
the same CD. No, this is something that Austere describes as "complete
mystical demixification" - Stephen Phillips did not want the original source
tracks used for the mixes, but actually worked, somehow, mysteriously, with
the final recording just directly ripped from his CD copy.

In theory, this sounds like a complete disaster, but amazingly, it's not. The
resulting single, long piece ("fade" is four separate although overlapping
tracks) covers most of the original ground, and only hints of its origins in
certain places and always in a good way, usually just a reminder of a bit of
"fade" that was particularly good or stood out. This "demix" does have three
"sections" broken up as separate tracks but without any pause in the music,
each signifying a change in the mood and tenor of the ongoing music.

The results are definitely very different than "fade", which was a very
ambient, floaty, minimal and oft-quiet release with very distinct tracks.
Whereas "faded" takes the original sounds and moves them in different
directions, combining and overlapping them, processing them and creating a new
piece that is more more drone/trance-oriented, far less minimal and without
the quiet spaces (such as in "Lid" on "fade") and more into a slow moving,
foggy miasma with a slight dark tinge to it where the original tended more
towards the light. This is not to say that "faded" is a dark ambient
recording at all; rather that Phillips chose to find a bit of the dark and
droney that was underlying the comfortable ambience of "fade" and brings that
up to the front and center, and builds everything around it, without losing
that floaty feeling and ability to make one's mind drift away from focus and
into random thoughts.

An easier comparison would be to say that where "fade" is more quiet and truly
"ambient", "faded" is more engaging, always moving, and constantly drawing
your attention. "fade" tends to live up to its name by easily falling into
the background (as true Enoesque ambient music tends to) but "faded" won't let
you slip away that easily; it engulfs you in a haze and steadily changes as it
progresses, never letting your attention slip away.

Given the circumstances of this approach to collaboration and remixing of an
existing work, this reviewer was highly skeptical that it could be very
different than the original (but it is, very much so) or that it would still
capture the elements that make "fade" an ambient classic (but it does, and
then adds all its own elements that make "faded" an ambient drone classic.)
Few people could probably pull this off, but Phillips' work here is genius,
and the post-production and mastering of the final release sounds stunning, as
provided by the staff at The Sound-O-Mat ( who've been
engineering all of Austere's releases for at least the last five years.

Recommended to those who like drone ambient music as well as anyone who owns
and appreciates the original it's based on, as the comparison of the two is
worth a listen just for the sake of it, just to see how a master musician
like Phillips can transform someone else's work into something completely his
own, without sacrificing the elements of the original in the process. I truly
believe this new release takes the concept of "remixing" to a whole new realm,
and Phillips and Austere deserve great credit for somehow not just making it
work, but making it a gigantic, uncompromising success.
-- Wayne Dolman, June 2005

rik - ping things

A collaboration wherein a meeting of minds and a reimagining occurs...
Using sound sources created by the duo Austere, "Faded" is a collaboration between the enigmatic pair and Dark Duck founder Stephen Philips. It's a very interesting collaboration as both parties come from similar drone minded locations and share a number of the same musical values, so much so that during the length of the disc it becomes difficult to distinguish the work of each artist. To that end "Faded" is a wonderful disc featuring three unnamed long form tracks that showcase the talents of all parties involved as a solid unit.

Track 1 captures a dark and dreamy dronescape where variations, details and shapes evolve and become more apparent over time. Being surrounded by a piece like this for so long, the listener is inspired to listen for more, to become more aware of their surroundings and environment and ultimately becomes more concious not only of their musical background, but also of their perceptions of their own space. An engaging and thought provoking work.

Track 2 mixes seemlessly out of 1, maintaining a similar feeling and introducing new ideas. While it's happened very casually, very simply, the listener has been placed in a new location, a new space and it's apparent. Slightly higher tones begin to invade the space and greater variation becomes apparent in the themes of the piece.

Track 3 finds us in a slightly more frenetic, more active location where tones and sounds are more pronounced and apparent. Given the new shape and style of the work, this track feels almost melodic in some respects, a greater musicality coming through in the feel of the piece where elements from both earlier tracks play and dodge around eachother. It works very effectively, a successful blend of sounds that satisfies and resolves with the listener.

As I mentioned earlier, "Faded" is a wonderful showcase for the combined talents of both Philips and Austere, a collection of music that both shares ideas with its individual members work, as well as creating a new sound hybrid that takes it's members in new directions and ideas. It's an impressive disc and I hope that there will be more such collaborations to come from this trio.