What we talk about when we talk about ambient music is the feelings we lose because they’ve been filled by the sound. Like Artistotle posited, “nature abhors a vacuum”. There’s no room for empty space in the world, something always fills it in. At least that’s our idea of ambient music, the feeling of losing control of your emotions, your body, because it’s been overcome by a wave of sound.
In The Netherlands, perhaps the most adept ambience masters are the duo, Wanderwelle. Slipping out 4 releases in the past 4 years on well-regarded international ambient labels Silent Season and A Strangely Isolated Place, the low-key duo have served up no shortage of warm waves. Deftly composed and designed, their prolific release schedule carries the musical confidence of a composer double their age.
Even in 2020, the duo squeezed out several performances, including a new debut at FIBER Festival of a new performance “All Hands Bury the Cliff at Sea”. But since they were around, we decided to invite them to curate our last archival sounds sample pack of 2020.
Download the sample pack here.
Het Duits praten van een parkiet
A parakeet imitating the human voice, which sounds very uncanny. This also provides a new opportunity to listen to a familiar language and make new observations to the sound of speech. The words without meaning become even more haunting due to the lo-fi quality of the sample. Small phrases of this could provide just the right ambience in an electro-acoustic piece. A pity that we don’t have a bird like this in the studio, although they probably do not come with a mute button.
Luchtschip Europa: communicatie vanuit de mast
Full and rich sound from a rigid airship. This could be the starting point for a drone, be it stretched or layered with itself to create chords or microtonal harmonies. The timbre is almost brass like.
This sample could work well as a ready-made, exactly the right balance between the sounds of machinery and the flutes. Sampling one of the many available flute tones of this piece and processing it with long delays followed by a convolution reverb could be a nice starting point for a track.
Het opstapelen van houtblokken
Sounds like this are really useful to give textures to your tracks, just playing at the background or processed and filtered. We recorded many similar sounds by ourselves for our album ‘A State of Decrepitude’, to achieve a sense of (ongoing) decay.
Het slijpen van een mes door een scharenslieper
The sound of a knife being sharpened. There are two things going on here, the high pitched noise feels almost organic, like a breathing pattern. The stone-like texture could really benefit from some reverb when processed. The rumbling background sound could function as sound design fx.
Oliemolen De Zoeker: roeren in de vuisterpan
Apparently, the only oil mill still operating, built in 1672. The ongoing, steady rhythm is truly fitting with this remnant of the past that is still going strong. Stretched out, this could work as a background to accompany long, droning tones. When sliced, this could perhaps also work as percussion samples.
Matrix van een printer zonder ponsband
This recording includes very harsh, electronic sounds. Looped or stretched, this one will certainly pull attention to itself, although not in a very pleasant way. The background noises which become more apparent in the second part, sound like they were played back on tape.
Algemene sfeer van een burenruzie
This is seemingly the impression of a fight between neighbours. It has a musique concrete feeling towards it, as there is so much stuff going on here. Continuing rhythms and repeated sounds, even the voices sound like they were already sliced and carefully arranged. A nice piece to make a graphical score to. Fragments of samples like this are useful to set a certain mood to a track. Obviously, this has to be done in a subtle manner, as the sample is overcrowded already.
Het afdraaien en terugspoelen van een band in een oud model tape unit
Some more fx sounds to be experimented with. The sounds at the beginning could be processed using reverse echoes and reverbs. If you are a modular user, the organic reverse reverbs of the Erbe-verb are particularly nice. The sound at the middle is very noisy and thus very useful for a more interesting noise source than ye olde white and pink noises. The last 10 seconds do not sound very useful, unless you are looking for the sound of a somewhat electronic sounding man blowing his nose.
Radiocommunicatie: ontvangst van een oproep
Radio noises like this are very useful, our library cannot contain enough of samples like this. Old radio noises immediately present a sense of things past. Taking recorded human voices out of context in a piece and processing them further is worth the effort.
Scheepsradio vanuit een radiokamer op een schip
Another radio sample, although quite different sounding. The voices are worn down and mostly humming, buzzing and noise going on. This produces an interesting and dynamic texture. For an example of how to use a sample like this, we refer to a track of our own: ‘Waves, Disappearing’.
Some more rattling sounds, made by an old stenography machine. There is some similarity to sounds produced by test equipment or a modular synth. Stretch it out and use it as a texture, or perhaps even as a percussion source, like a post-modern guiro.
Kerkorgel in de Pauluskerk
Beautiful organ chords and separate notes, very useful as a starting point for a droning track. Long organ tones like this, really showcase the organic texture of the instrument. When filtered, tones like this can also be layered with synth tones to create new and interesting timbres. Some of or favourite recent organ albums are: ‘All Thoughts Fly’ by Anna von Hausswolff and ‘The Sacrificial Code’ By Kali Malone.
Algemene geluiden tijdens communicatie via een satelliet
Another fx noise source, consisting of sounds created while communicating using a satellite. it sounds layered and thick with just enough variation going on. Combine this with the aforementioned organ tones and you have interesting drones to listen to for days.
Middelzware golfslag op zee met misthoornsignaal
Beautiful water sounds with another nautical tone playing in the background. Slices of this could provide a source for an uncommon convolution reverb. Stretched, slightly bitcrushed, and processed with a shimmering verb, this could also provide an alternative to white noises.
Sounds provided by The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision under a CC BY-SA license.