Analog sound wizard Paul Riedl returns once again with another volume of his heavy synth/cosmos head trips with Ambient Mixtape Vol. 4. He continues the heady sonic journey with SFI Recordings, blasting our psyches with 9 musical excursions into what sound like deep space drifts. Late in 2021 Paul dropped Ambient Mixtape Vol. 3, which was his debut with SFI Recordings. That album became a favorite of mine very quickly, making both Riedl and SFI Recordings instant musical crushes of mine.
With Vol. 4 Riedl doesn’t seem to change the formula as much as opens the floodgates to other realms even more. His ambient/new age work here is impeccable, locking into the world of 70s and early 80s new age/ambient artists like Steve Roach, Susan Ciani, as well as contemporaries like Lisa Bella Donna and Polypores. Vol. 4 goes head first into the cosmos, which gives us the listeners some serious zone out time.
I’m newly initiated into Paul Riedl’s work, both with his bedroom synth trips and his work in Blood Incantation. Despite the obvious sonic differentiations, Blood Incantation and Riedl’s synth work both share a kind of cosmic quality with each other. It’s all scorched earth and speed metal riffing when Riedl fronts Blood Incantation, but there’s still an underlying DNA connection in that both lock into a kind of cosmic vein. Blood Incantation’s latest album, Timewave Zero, is an all-out heavy synth record with everyone stepping behind the keys for some Tangerine Dream cosmos vibes. It’s an amazing record, especially if Paul’s solo stuff truly tickles your fancy.
Ambient Mixtape Vol. 4 are a series of synth improvisations, just like Vol. 3. I feel something like “Drifting” would be a great soundtrack to some sensory deprivation tank action. Floating in the warm, epsom salt-saturated waters as your mind harkens back to simpler times; foraging for food in the wilderness, or crawling from the primordial ooze, or floating through the newly created universe(thanks, Big Bang.) Both “Drifting” and “Drifting II” carry all the weight of the world so you don’t have to, letting you float through the great starry wildnerness in search for some serious peace and tranquility. “Calm Lunch” is a tomato and Miracle Whip sandwich at the edge of time and space.
Elsewhere, “Melancholy Float” brings up visions of stars forming before our very eyes, while “Cloud Collage” comes together in a haze of circuital bliss. The album ends on “Rev I”, “Rev II”, and “Rev III”, songs that feel like the calm conclusion to the overall journey.
Once again Paul Riedl gives us an amazing album filled with heady, forward-thinking ambient/new age music. Improvised journeys into deep space; sound collages painted from within that invite us to step inside and get lost for a bit.
Ambient Mixtape Vol. 4 will be released 4/1 via SFI Recordings.