Alan Garner’s Caves


A is for Alderley Edge

Throughout his life Alan Garner has drawn on the landscape and legends of Alderley Edge, the place that has been home to his family for many, many generations. It has become more than just a dramatic backdrop though, its hills, rivers and most of all its stones have become the defining character of his writing, providing a link throughout his stories, and a connection with the deep history of the area.


Nowhere is this more vividly felt than when he takes us underground. Below Alderley Edge is a network of caves and tunnels, carved out by men over many hundreds of years as they mined for galen, cobalt and malachite. This underworld was the home to the sleeping warriors of Garner’s first novel the Weirdstone of Brisingamen. And it is here that his young heroes Colin and Susan find themselves in the book’s remarkable subterranean…

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cétieu ~ Into the Light

a closer listen

LightInto the Light is a sanctuary for soft colors. Peach, vanilla, cinnamon, the whitest of white chocolate; cétieu (Poland’s Tekla Mrozowicka) has already made our end-of-year lists and she is now one of Europe’s leading lights. Her music isn’t tainted in any way, shape or form. Everything is pure, innocent and lovely. Ambient should always be this way; unobtrusive and yet calming the body, mind and spirit, glowing radiantly whilst blanking out the petty dramas of the day. It’s one of the reasons why we listen to and love ambient music; we can escape. It doesn’t fear, it doesn’t hate. All is love.

The ambient tones are crystal clear, and they shimmer like a thousand gemstones as the sun lights upon the surface of a shallow rock pool. Slightly introverted, it lives solely for the pleasure of living, and it enjoys being alive. Everything gels together, but the piano is the true leader. It slowly…

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Revolt of the Apes

Keeper of the Dawn” is the name of the new album from the globe-trotting duo known as Ancient River, and while the album’s admirably alive and aloof atmosphere – hazy, echoing circles of fog-clearing sound that blanket the sonic landscape as completely as any morning light – certainly captures the dawn, Ancient River have been around long enough to know that they can never truly keep the dawn. Not that they mind – as “Keeper of the Dawn” works to clearly confirm the band as the undeniable, enthusiastic keeper of all that is Ancient River.

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We’ve been watching this River flow for several years now, noticing how the current continues to grow stronger. Though we interviewed the band in anticipation of their 2010 Austin Psych Fest appearance, it was when we watched Ancient River perform at that very Fest in 2012 that they solidified their place in…

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Rare Photos of Egypt from the 1870s


Sphinx & Pyramids of Chefren and Mankaura, Giza – Photograph via NYPL Digital Gallery

The New York Public Library has shared an incredible gallery of over 9,000 photographs and illustrations of the Middle East from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century. These include, books, albums and archival compilations.

Monuments of ancient Egypt and the Biblical world figured prominently in the early years of photography. French Academician François Arago (1786-1853) endorsed the new medium in 1839 claiming it would provide a labor-saving means “to copy the millions and millions of hieroglyphics which entirely cover the great monuments at Thebes, Memphis and Carnac, etc.” Immediately artist-travelers took chemicals, cameras, and photographic plates of metal, and later glass into the regions around the southeastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, to record the famous sights that had been known previously to Westerners only through the intervention of the artist’s hand.

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10 classics from the dawn of ambient music

Make Your Own Taste

I swear this blog isn’t going to turn into an endless series of lists, but this idea appealed to me. The ambient genre wasn’t really “born” till the 1980s, when the term became widely used. New Age was already basically in existence, ambient music’s maligned sibling. Though as we all know, the lines between the two are often blurred. Ambient was born, really, from experimentation with new technologies in the 1970s as well as the absorption of new musical influences from other genres and places. Drones, once limited in Western music to avant garde tape loop compositions, now became accepted in the post-hippie world. Krautrock bands, raga-rock bands and other experimental rock musicians stretched the limits of their compositions, jamming as long as they pleased. Lonely keyboard players with access to the newest gear sat around noodling and meditating and inventing. Visionaries like Eno and Fripp started theorizing about the…

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Ecuador could become first country in hemisphere to legalize all drugs


Add Ecuador to a growing list of countries pushing back against the U.S. “war on drugs.”

A ruling party lawmaker recently introduced legislation that would make Ecuador the second country in the world — and the first in the Americas— to decriminalize the personal use of all drugs, from marijuana to cocaine to heroin.

The bill, presented by a lawmaker allied with President Rafael Correa, would regulate the consumption of over 100 substances and create a state agency to control the importation, exportation, production and cultivation of illegal drugs. Anyone interested in using or obtaining drugs would have to register with the agency.

If approved, the South American country would follow in the footsteps of Portugal, which in 2001 radically shifted its drug policy from prosecution to prevention and rehabilitation. It would also reflect the growing challenge from some Latin America countries to the decades-long U.S. approach to fighting drugs that…

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At the Intersection: Music & Field Recordings

a closer listen

Metra LocomotiveRecent albums from Phil Edwards, Emile Milgrim & T. Wheeler Castillo and D Bayne exist at the intersection between performed sound and field recording.  Many artists turn to field recordings for texture, but in these works, the originals are honored in a manner that sets them apart from their peers.

As recently as a decade ago, the cache of popular field recording sources seemed small, restricted for the most part to children, birds and rain.  The best examples were found in the work of former generations: children in “Another Brick in the Wall, Part III,” birds in The Cure’s “Like Cockatoos,” rain in The Who’s “Love, Reign O’er Me”.  But over time, the use of such elements began to seem lazy, as these sounds were frequently chosen to flesh out the sound of thin compositions.  The ambient field was, and in many cases still is, particularly susceptible to clichéd uses of…

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