Meditating Out Loud 5
Cover photo: Domy Castellano – Taiga cover art
"Meditating Out Loud" presents some of the best new ambient and downtempo tracks we've handpicked for you. We are coming back with the fifth installment of the series.
Martin Ruby – Sisyphus

Martin Ruby is an alt-folk collective led by Brooklyn-born, Moscow-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Marco North.

There are many things that make Martin Ruby's music special. They occupy a peculiar niche between folk and ambient. They use very old instruments. And they have Marco's deep voice and knack for changing characters like coats for every song.

But Marco's voice is not present on Sisyphus – a magical piece of music for people who "love the sound of trains in the night then we have work to do" (a quote from the band's Instagram). It is an ambient soundscape thickening like the night around Marco's banjola playing.

Marco North
Living in an extended quarantine, words began to get in the way. And then I asked myself, don't all of these lonely people just want to hear something that hits them right in their heart? What if I made an album that sounds like your neighbor playing guitar and you find yourself eavesdropping? That was the guiding principle behind every track on Jacob and the Angel, and in this case, the first single from the album – Sisyphus.

I am playing an August Pollman banjola made in 1897 on it, a rare and magical instrument that I went through hell to acquire. It is very hard to keep in tune. I can barely get a take before I need to stop and adjust it. Vintage instruments are not trophies to put on a shelf under glass, they should be used - and when you play them, they just bring something very special out of you. I try to live up to it as best I can.

My influences are fairly eclectic, but what they share is this ability to leave room for the listener to deposit themselves into the space of the song. Mingus, Arvo Pärt, Ry Cooder, and all of those Eno/Lanois collaborations helped me understand how I might pull this off.

The perfect time to listen to this track is when you are alone. You could be off on a walk, or in your kitchen writing a story. I think we have all heard about a writer putting some ambient Eno on a loop and writing something great. That is the road I set out on, to try to give people something to inspire their own work, and crack open their thoughts. Did I get there? Well, you'll have to tell me.
Domy Castellano – Taiga

Domy Castellano is a pianist, composer and sound designer based in Bitonto, Italy. His beautifully serene single Taiga is Giandomenico's attempt at sonically recreating a perfect place that exists only in his dreams. Now that the song is out it exists in ours too. And it's surely a place I'm going to revisit.

Domy Castellano
I always had dreams like the one I had for this composition. I remember having these kind of dreams since I was a little kid. There is always nature involved. I dream of some places I've never been in real life, but only in my dreams. Despite that, they feel very familiar. The landscape is always immense. There's always an inner sense of peace and I always felt good after having these kind of visions. Taiga is simply my way of describing this sense of peace and what I saw in my mind. I tried to create sounds that feel "far away", to capture the "huge" nature of the landscape. The process is pretty much straightforward. As soon as I get the right feeling from the sounds I'm using and how I'm organizing them, I keep going. This goes on until I feel the image in my mind is "satisfied" and can actually represent the always-changing nature of my dreams.
Thom McLaughlin – Electric Sheep

Thom who has been making music for more than half a decade has just released Pale Eyelids Freckle – an EP he calls "his most eclectic project". It is an endearingly kaleidoscopic collection of surprising sounds and constantly shifting moods. We asked Thom about the creative process behind the EP's standout track Electric Sheep.

Thom McLaughlin
This track (along with the project it belongs to) was created fairly quickly. I find that the tracks I create rather quickly end up being the ones I like the most.

My creative process is always changing, but one constant is that I do always try and explore new sonic landscapes. With this project and Electric Sheep, I wanted to explore the experimental side of my interests.

Electric Sheep started with some chords that I then ran thorough an FX chain. I loved the sound and texture of these chords so much that I just let them ride for the majority of the track. (Texture plays a huge part in my process as well). There is a little glitchy/scattered breakdown towards the end that I made with a lot of samples and other little tricks that I use in my DAW. Right at the end this creepy little synth comes in that sounds like a woman singing/screaming. That was made with a Nord lead 1 synthesizer.