The plans for what would become The Sidereal Cycle took place without any input from me. I first found out about the concept from a post on the Altus blog. As soon as I read it I reached out to Mike (Carss, AKA Altus) with a resounding, “Yes, please!” Fans of Free Floating and ambient I’m sure will understand my enthusiasm.
Simply put, Mike Carss is a master of ambient music, there can be no doubt about that. Of the ambient artists that I listen to and love, I feel that Altus music is the most ‘composed’. While much of it is decidedly cinematic in structure, even the more minimal and abstract pieces seem to have deeper structures and themes that resonate throughout.
With its focus on thematic elements, the music of Altus is also decidedly painterly in that the melodies and structures help to draw mental images, especially since each release usually contains a specific topical reference (time, sleep, fire, water, etc.).
And so it is fitting that Altus turns his hand once again to the grand theme of time and the seasons with The Sidereal Cycle.
I have to say that I think there is something about winter that brings out the best in Mike’s compositional and performance abilities.
I encourage you to listen to each of the releases in his Winter Embrace Series as well as his Black Trees Among Amber Skies. I think these are some of his best works, certainly some of my favorites.
This release ranks among his best and I think is probably his greatest long-form work. It is probably, as he mentioned to me, his most ‘ambient’ work in that it is more minimal than some of his orchestrally inspired pieces. I think it’s true. There is such a beautiful and delicate simplicity that he captures here.
It is a gorgeous wintery landscape that he has captured in sound for all of us to enjoy.
Released December 21, 2012
The Sidereal Cycle is a four-part suite of long-form ambient works created by Altus to reflect the earth’s annual cycles as we make our way around the sun each year.
Each release is set to coincide with the Solstices and Equinoxes, beginning with the summer solstice of 2012. The title of each track pays homage to dominant constellations in the northern sky during each of the seasons.
The Sidereal Cycle 1 (Cygnus) July 2012
The Sidereal Cycle 2 (Andromeda) September 2012
The Sidereal Cycle 3 (Orion) December 2012
The Sidereal Cycle 4 (Virgo) March 2013
All instruments and sounds by Altus (Mike Carss)
Cover design by Brad Ross-MacLeod
Photography by Mike Carss