Sunday Service 010: Urban Meditation – The Dark Side of the Mix

A very special Sunday Service mix, the 10th in the series comes from Urban Meditation, who has remixed a selection of his tracks into an hour of beautiful ambient music. The Waveform Transmitter‘s Ste Knight presents.

It is actually a mystery exactly how this writer came across Urban Meditation, but what we do know is that once we did stumble into his sound, we were hooked. The producer, Charles Urban, is one of those rare talents that, often, you discover by happy accident, and whose music will instantly stir the emotions up into a maelstrom.

One point of note is that all of Urban Meditation‘s tracks are incredibly well produced. It is plain to hear that every single detail has been meticulously pored over, and no element in each track takes precedence over the next – his music may have been electronically produced, but it is so organic in feeling that it somehow takes on a sentience of its own as it envelopes the listener, the relationship between sound and audience becoming symbiotic.

As he discusses in the interview, below, Charles makes music under a variety of sounds, ranging from neo-classical to IDM. The Missouri-based producer released his debut long-player – ‘20 Years in Space’ – back in 2018, and has since released a second, in January of this year, titled ‘Currents of Space’. It would seem that existence beyond the realms of planet earth is something that interest Urban Meditation; perhaps his music is a vehicle through which we can explore beyond the limitations of the physical…

Urban Meditation‘s amazing Sunday Service mix is unlike any that have preceded it. Charles has taken music from his collection and reworked it into an hour of incredible ambience, with moments so hauntingly beautifully that it evokes a tremendous ache within the soul. This is truly stunning work and this writer is not ashamed to admit that there were several points throughout the mix that he was on the verge of tears, such was the vehemence of emotion stirred throughout.

As you absorb every drop of ambience that The Dark Side of the Mix contains, we urge you to take a read of Ste Knight‘s interview with Urban Meditation, who explains some of the concepts behind his work, and how he has arrived at this point in his musical trajectory. As always, you can grab the tracklist for the mix at the bottom of the page.


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Waveform Transmitter: Hi Charles! Thank you for joining us. We’ll start at the beginning – tell our readers a bit about the Urban Meditation project. How did it start? What is the ethos behind the project?

Urban Meditation: Hi Ste! I appreciate the opportunity to participate in The Waveform Transmitter. Urban Meditation started in 2016, when Carpe Sonum agreed to release my first album. That album is called “20 Years in Space” because it represents roughly 20 years of ideas, going all the way back to my college days. While I have been tinkering with music since high school, this idea only bore fruit in the last few years.

Urban Meditation is simply a creative outlet; a release valve from daily commitments of work, family, etc. I write music I want to hear… The material is worked to a point where it puts me in just the right place and keeps me there. The fact that others like it and purchase it is all icing on the cake (and still blows me away). Even without releases, I would still write music.

WT: Urban Meditation is – as the name would suggest – geared towards an ambient sound. Do you have any vehicles through which you explore different sonic territories?

UM: The name can be misleading I suppose. The name was chosen for two reasons – to honor Pete Namlook (Music for Urban Meditation) and because it matches my name (Thanks to Dave at Carpe Sonum for the idea.)

So far, the Waveform Transmitter mix is the only pure ambient release. My other releases are a mixture of trance, IDM, ambient, and neo classical. It is tough to stay within one genre / style for an entire album! (In fact, I don’t really understand many of the styles and genres placed on electronic music. I all just music to me.)

WT: You have put together an incredibly well-prepared Sunday Service mix of your own material. Can you talk us through the process?

Making the mix was a lot of fun! All of my albums are constructed as a single piece of music with the tracks representing movements of a larger story / journey. This naturally leads to a variety of moods and styles contained within the album. This time, I wanted to restrict the mix to just ambient music, still taking a journey, but not tied to a particular story. Far from being restricted, this was very freeing.

First I collected every ambient track from every project – some released, some still in progress. Then I thought about which ones fit well together and a sequence that would create a journey. Wanting to make new, unique versions of each track, I took the originals, split them into the component pieces, and reassembled them into a unique mix. Older tracks were reworked with skills gained. Newer tracks were revised and made into different versions. In some cases, tracks were merged together into something new.

The mix was assisted by a recently purchased keyboard controller with better software integrations. There are some live performance elements mixed with composed elements, bringing a human touch to the work.

Note – one of the tracks is a remix created by Canopy of Stars. I highly recommend his work.

WT: How did you feel this differed from, say, putting an album together?

UM: Like I mentioned, I was not confined to telling a story. My albums are usually continous mixes, but with the variety of styles, the transitions can be difficult. Sometimes I write interludes specifically for a transition; sometimes there are breaks in the music. Being a continous “DJ mix,” I paid more attention to the transitions and structured the tracks to facilitate those transitions. I usually obsess over tiny details in my albums. Emulating the DJ Mix feel, I did not tweak too much. As soon as the mix got to the right place, it was done and locked. Definitely fun…

WT: Who and what do you cite as being your main influences when it comes to music production?

UM: Like most of my peers, I am heavily influenced by Pete Namlook and the FAX label. Tetsu Inoue in particular is a huge favorite. I have carefully studied classic albums such as ‘Selected Ambient Works 85 – 92’, ‘Freefloater’, ‘Consciousness III’, ‘Zenith’, and ‘Organic Cloud’ to understand structures and compositions. Modern artists and friends like Aythar, Si Matthews, Mick Chillage, Ambidextrous, and Dan Armstrong provide ideas and inspiration.

WT: You can only listen to three artists for the rest of your life. Who are they?

UM: That is a tough one… I love Indian Classical Music, so Ali Akbar Khan. Tetsu Inoue can represent ambient electronica. To pick one more leaves out so many genres I love… Let’s say Dave Brubeck. Believe it or not, ‘Take Five’ was my entry point into Jazz, which became an entry point to a bunch of other genres.

WT: Thank you Charles for your fantastic mix! We loved listening to it and we are sure our readers will too. Good luck with all of your future Urban Meditation endeavors!

UM: Thank you so much! I truly hope your listeners like it. Currently, it is my favorite Urban Meditation work 😉


We are sure that you will enjoy Urban Meditation‘s mix as much as we did. Head to his BandCamp page to support his work – you can find it here. The tracklist for Secret Service 010 can be found, below.

Tracklist

1. Transmission – Into the Void [20 Years in Space – Headspace II]
2. Cassini [Currents of Space]
3. Moons of Jupiter (Voyager Mix by Canopy of Stars) [Recurrence of Space]
4. Hidden Depths [Currents of Space]
5. Deep Space [20 Years in Space]
6. Interstellar Dust [Headspace I]
7. Currents of Space 1 [Currents of Space]
8. Still Adrift – Comet Trails [Headspace II – Currents of Space]
9. Return – Nightfall [20 Years in Space – Headspace III]

Author: Ste Knight

Editor at The Waveform Transmitter. Lover of acid basslines, cavernous kick drums, and dark rooms. Cut his teeth to Surgeon's blistering techno assault at T-Funkshun in Liverpool and hasn't stopped for breath since.

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