Defending the Indefensible: Windham Hill

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Does anybody have anything good to say about this merry bunch of nonthreatening muzakians? For my part, I will say that they have a cool logo and that I once heard a Robbie Basho album on Windham Hill that was okay, and that first George Winston album has nice cover art.

Surely there must be someone on ILX with a soft spot for Will Ackerman and Shadowfax...?

owen moorhead (i heart daniel miller), Thursday, 3 November 2005 17:57 (fourteen years ago) link

i have a Robbie Basho album on WH and it's FUCKING AMAZING@!

jaxon (jaxon), Thursday, 3 November 2005 18:03 (fourteen years ago) link

other than that, i'm pretty sure you're right

jaxon (jaxon), Thursday, 3 November 2005 18:03 (fourteen years ago) link

this thread is good:

"New Age Music", search and destroy.

i really like the first shadowfax album.

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 3 November 2005 18:10 (fourteen years ago) link

um no.

Matt Carlson (mattsoncarlhew), Thursday, 3 November 2005 19:54 (fourteen years ago) link

totally defensible. windham hill was really ahead of its time as far as business/marketing goes. they founded it for like $500. there wasn't a ready-made radio format to plug into. they had to actively seek out their audience. they helped created a circuit for their touring artists. when their samplers became popular they leveraged the popularity of george winston for their other artists.

really impressive what they did considering how maligned it was (and still is, i guess given the thread title). mostly, though, that's people who consider windham hill to be elevator music, which it ain't. one listen to a michael hedges album (or george winston, for that matter) puts that argument to rest.

my name is john. i reside in chicago. (frankE), Thursday, 3 November 2005 20:07 (fourteen years ago) link

I think Mark Isham had a record on there once, and he is aight--played with Van Morrison, David Sylvian, wrote a couple of good soundtracks...

douglas eklund (skolle), Thursday, 3 November 2005 20:21 (fourteen years ago) link

There's a George Winston solo piano record of Vince Guaraldi music, called Linus and Lucy — it's pretty good. Also, the second French Frith Kaiser & Thompson record originally came out on Windham Hill.

I do feel guilty for getting any perverse amusement out of it (Rock Hardy), Thursday, 3 November 2005 20:43 (fourteen years ago) link

that one onion thing about new age music from a few years back was pretty damn funny

Zack Richardson (teenagequiet), Thursday, 3 November 2005 20:48 (fourteen years ago) link

george winston's solo piano stuff is pretty decent to be honest, not to mention that it makes fantastic sample material for would-be dj shadows

nervous (cochere), Thursday, 3 November 2005 20:54 (fourteen years ago) link

It's usually no more wuss than any ilx-approved record by Tangerine Dream, Growing, Vidna Obmana, et al.

Whiney G. Weingarten (whineyg), Thursday, 3 November 2005 20:56 (fourteen years ago) link

they founded it for like $500. there wasn't a ready-made radio format to plug into. they had to actively seek out their audience. they helped created a circuit for their touring artists.

Windam Hill=New Age SST? Get in the van!

I don't know much about the history of Windam Hill...is there anything good online, I bet that would be an interesting read...

M@tt He1geson (Matt Helgeson), Thursday, 3 November 2005 20:56 (fourteen years ago) link

search: alex de grassi "slow circle".

recommended for fans of cubist brain-jazz wizards like egberto gismonte, jim hall, atom heart, haruomi hosono, etc who have a soft spot for hippie folk.

vahid (vahid), Thursday, 3 November 2005 21:06 (fourteen years ago) link

I don't know much about the history of Windam Hill...is there anything good online, I bet that would be an interesting read...

here's a couple of things:
http://www.onamrecords.com/Windham_Hill.html
(the text is all one big .gif file for some reason)

and this in cigar afficionado(?)

my name is john. i reside in chicago. (frankE), Thursday, 3 November 2005 22:03 (fourteen years ago) link

It's usually no more wuss than any ilx-approved record by Tangerine Dream, Growing, Vidna Obmana, et al.

completely otm

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Thursday, 3 November 2005 22:07 (fourteen years ago) link

There was a second French Frith Kaiser Thompson LP? Fuck. Back to the used bins.

I will defend Windham Hill because of the Liz Story records.

sleeve (sleeve), Thursday, 3 November 2005 23:42 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm a big fan of the Jack Nicholson / Bobby McFerrin record of How the Rhinocerous Got His Skin/How The Camel Got His Hump.

Stormy Davis (diamond), Friday, 4 November 2005 00:16 (fourteen years ago) link

The 2nd FFKT record, Invisible Means came out on Windham Hill in 1990, rereleased on Demon in 1995. It's okay, not great. There are cheap copies to be had on Amazon. The WH edition is cheaper — I guess people think they'll get cooties from touching it.

I do feel guilty for getting any perverse amusement out of it (Rock Hardy), Friday, 4 November 2005 01:21 (fourteen years ago) link

enjoyable music made by an interesting, disparate community of musicians - what's not to like, unless you're of the "music must be convulsive! and threatening and dangerous! feeling good is for pussies!" school, in which case, turn twenty already and get over it

Banana Nutrament (ghostface), Friday, 4 November 2005 01:28 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm a big fan of the Jack Nicholson / Bobby McFerrin record of How the Rhinocerous Got His Skin/How The Camel Got His Hump.

this sounds retardedly stupid

jaxon (jaxon), Friday, 4 November 2005 01:45 (fourteen years ago) link

j0hn geir uses that 'turn twenty already' (or whatever the scandanavian variant is, 'bjorn twenty already' maybe) like crazy - tread carefully son!

j blount (papa la bas), Friday, 4 November 2005 01:46 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm a big fan of the Jack Nicholson / Bobby McFerrin record of How the Rhinocerous Got His Skin/How The Camel Got His Hump.
this sounds retardedly stupid

not as retardedly stupid as this:

enjoyable music made by an interesting, disparate community of musicians - what's not to like, unless you're of the "music must be convulsive! and threatening and dangerous! feeling good is for pussies!" school, in which case, turn twenty already and get over it

as for windham hill, no opinion

hstencil (hstencil), Friday, 4 November 2005 01:48 (fourteen years ago) link

Windam Hill=New Age SST? Get in the van!

http://webzoom.freewebs.com/lowendr/c425130w4io.jpg

DJ Mencap (DJ Mencap), Friday, 4 November 2005 10:13 (fourteen years ago) link

ten months pass...
just found out john fahey produced george winston's first album, where he does a version of the fahey song "brenda's blues". wha'd'ya know?!

john, a resident of chicago. (john s), Tuesday, 26 September 2006 01:15 (fourteen years ago) link

It was on Takoma also, not Windham Hill.

Mark (MarkR), Tuesday, 26 September 2006 01:31 (fourteen years ago) link

the album i saw was on windham hill. was it re-issued?

john, a resident of chicago. (john s), Tuesday, 26 September 2006 01:33 (fourteen years ago) link

WH would get thumbs up from more ILXors than Phish simply because ___________________.

Butt Dickass (Dick Butkus), Tuesday, 26 September 2006 01:35 (fourteen years ago) link

I like George Winston, and Windham Hill generally.

gabbneb (gabbneb), Tuesday, 26 September 2006 01:36 (fourteen years ago) link

the album i saw was on windham hill. was it re-issued?

-- john, a resident of chicago.

Yep. Came out in '72, a few years before Windham Hill was founded.

Mark (MarkR), Tuesday, 26 September 2006 01:41 (fourteen years ago) link

three years pass...

I listened to some Windham Hill stuff over at a friends house last night. Mostly Mark Isham and Shadowfax. Some of the Shadowfax stuff sounds remarkably modern - the best stuff has an aesthetic that would fit in nicely with the ongoing bealeric movement maybe, although without the electronic elements. Good stoner music. The Mark Isham stuff was pretty bad. I thought it was going to be a Mike Oldfield rip but it was more like a one-man effort at Hatfield and the North type noodling without the finese. You just can't pull that shit off with crappy drum machines and the synths were pretty awful too. All this stuff had someone credited on the cover as playing "talking drum".

After that we listened to a couple of early 80s Phillip Glass albums and that made the Windham Hill stuff seem kinda dreary and unambitious.

everything, Thursday, 22 October 2009 18:55 (eleven years ago) link

there is some cool stuff on windham hill imo. michael hedges especially is really good

mark cl, Thursday, 22 October 2009 18:57 (eleven years ago) link

I'm into checking more of it out. Any more specific recommendations? I think my pal had at least one Michael Hedges record but we didn't get around to it.

everything, Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:01 (eleven years ago) link

if you like some shadowfax, or just the new age exotica beachcomber vibe in general, check out tri atma or do'a.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41TZSH3223L._SS500_.jpg

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4154D0P1XXL._SS500_.jpg

scott seward, Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:02 (eleven years ago) link

meanwhile, i had never heard the first shadowfax album, watercourse way, until this year, and that album is great! great guitars, great prog, a looooooong way from where they would end up.

scott seward, Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:05 (eleven years ago) link

'breakfast in the fields' is hedges' first (and is one of the earlier windham hill releases iirc) and is excellent. aeriel boundaries is other really good one - they're is some incredible guitar playing on those.

i also like a later one - 'oracle', came out in the mid-90s maybe, around when his profile was the highest. but those first two ones especially are really good

mark cl, Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:06 (eleven years ago) link

Funny. I was thinking about bringing up Windham Hill on that What's the Sound of the 2010s Gonna Be thread.

kingkongvsgodzilla, Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:07 (eleven years ago) link

Good call on that. This could finally be Windham Hill's day in the sun. Pick em up on vinyl while they're still cheap!

I did some googling this morning and I really want to hear that first Shadowfax album now. I'll try and check out those other recommendations too. Thanks for that.

everything, Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:10 (eleven years ago) link

i said that a few years ago that new age would be next for collectors. after they have all the prog and psych records, private press crystal healing records are the last frontier.

scott seward, Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:23 (eleven years ago) link

there's a lllottt of pristine new age records out there too for cheap right now

mark cl, Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:24 (eleven years ago) link

This is true. New age heads seem to have keep their shit pristeen, and they offloaded en masse for CDs.

from alcoholism to fleshly concerns (contenderizer), Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:27 (eleven years ago) link

See: every thrift store on in North America.

from alcoholism to fleshly concerns (contenderizer), Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:28 (eleven years ago) link

LOL. My buddy (who's 59) has a whole shelf of this stuff, all in absolutely immaculate condition. I don't think he's played any of it since the late 80s though. Until last night, that is.

everything, Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:31 (eleven years ago) link

Something about the new age mentality inclines one to fastidiousness. Same goes for jazz fusion and obscure European prog.

from alcoholism to fleshly concerns (contenderizer), Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:33 (eleven years ago) link

Yeah, well, he has tons of that too. We were listening to Weather Report till 2am. He put Windham Hill album on (I have now forgotten the artist) and if he had told me it was something new from the Boards of Canada I would've belived him.

everything, Thursday, 22 October 2009 19:35 (eleven years ago) link

Okay, that was easy. I have now secured a copy of the first Shadowfax album, which I will listen to tonight once I've got myself into the correct frame of mind. YES!

everything, Thursday, 22 October 2009 22:38 (eleven years ago) link

I remember seeing a Windham Hill solstice CD at my (Calvinist, ultra-conservative) sister's house once, which shocked me since I thought it would be too pagan for her, but perhaps she considers solstice adequately neutral.

_Rudipherous_, Friday, 23 October 2009 03:34 (eleven years ago) link

At first blush the new Jim O'Rourke sounds pretty WH.

WARS OF ARMAGEDDON (Karaoke Version) (Sparkle Motion), Thursday, 5 November 2009 04:26 (ten years ago) link

two years pass...

Local store had a 50 cent sale, picked up Tim Story - Untitled, my first windham hill record

the 500 gats of bartholomew thuggins (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 30 January 2012 04:06 (eight years ago) link

there's a subdivision kinda place near me called Wyndham Hill. looks like this:
http://c3321017.r17.cf0.rackcdn.com/660399_1.jpg
i like the george winston records I've heard.

tylerw, Monday, 30 January 2012 04:46 (eight years ago) link

hot thread:

WINDHAM HILL RECORDS I GOT TODAY

scott seward, Monday, 30 January 2012 04:59 (eight years ago) link

In 1989 or so, they put out a "new folk" compilation called Legacy that was pretty great: Blue Rubies, Bill Morrissey, John Gorka, that kind of thing.

Prince cover:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQQYSWpxc4w

Burritos are one of the things I'm nostalgic about!!! (Eazy), Monday, 30 January 2012 05:18 (eight years ago) link

two months pass...

Denny Zeitlin recorded two albums for Windham Hill - the laconically named Trio is a solid album.

Lost in Crafton, Monday, 2 April 2012 07:15 (eight years ago) link

kinda sorta loving that "when you were mine" cover

apparently by the blue rubies. discogs sez: Susan Maunu on vocals, Mitzi Johnson on 16-string Renaissance lute and John Loose on percussion

guess john sat this one out. want to live inside this song.

two months pass...

Never in a million billion years did I think I would ever be excited about anything the Windham Hill label — but here I am.

The first few Will Ackerman records are all very reminiscent of the oddball folky weirdo acoustic guitar noodlers (John Fahey and Leo Kottke, most obviously). Really been getting a lot out of them lately.

Picked up a couple Michael Hedges albums too (Breakfast and Aerial Boundaries). They're nothing if not technically impressive. Good tunes in there, too.

The only George Winston I've heard (Winter Into Spring) was so reminiscent of Keith Jarrett's 70's solo piano stuff for ECM that, being a fan of that stuff, I took to very easily.

Austin, Wednesday, 20 June 2012 03:45 (eight years ago) link

eight years pass...

Will Ackerman's 'Passage' been getting a lot of play around these parts, love Windham Hill vibes

healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Monday, 12 October 2020 22:25 (two weeks ago) link

yes! i think i found it for 50p somewhere and just liked the cover a lot, and it turned out to be a really present surprise

Hmmmmm (jamiesummerz), Monday, 12 October 2020 23:12 (two weeks ago) link

I think I put it on in a friend's apartment many years ago and straight up asked if I could have it. She gave it to me!

healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Monday, 12 October 2020 23:16 (two weeks ago) link

Every Ackerman album up till like 86 or so has worthwhile moments, though admittedly it's diminishing returns after 83's Past Light (the last one I like unreservedly). There was even a late 90s one my dad had that I remember liking but can't remember which one

Paul Ponzi, Monday, 12 October 2020 23:24 (two weeks ago) link

Scott Cossu and Eugene Friesen’s REUNION is gorgeous

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=L6FL1bedwe4

Agree with the Mark Islam love, too. Amazing composer and trumpeter

beamish13, Monday, 12 October 2020 23:50 (two weeks ago) link

I have been returning to Aerial Boundaries a fair bit of late. This old fella needs the calm. I could probably do without the flute but it's used pretty sparingly.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 18:49 (two weeks ago) link

i'm of the opinion sparing use of flute is almost always a good thing, except where Joan Baez and most Jethro Tull are concerned.

Hmmmmm (jamiesummerz), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 18:52 (two weeks ago) link

I spent way too much time making radio masters of Windham Hill holiday specials -- yes, this was over 20 years ago, but the trauma remains. ... the only defensible things are: (1) I got paid (2) while listening to this wretched music, I did regularly eat some tasty fried zucchini strips from the 24 hour Carl's Jr

sarahell, Wednesday, 14 October 2020 18:55 (two weeks ago) link

I can guess at why a lot of this stuff is held in such low regard, but the thing that stands out to me is how the good bits i've heard hit the same pleasure centres as a lot of the ECM material I like best does. ECM are obviously hip as fuck. Windham clearly not... but their sleeve design dept was obviously trying to do very similar things. is ECM just german/scandi and thus foreign enough to have some sort of chic strangeness to it that good old American hippies can't also share?

Hmmmmm (jamiesummerz), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 18:58 (two weeks ago) link

I feel like ECM has been a four letter word among record collectors until fairly recently

Paul Ponzi, Wednesday, 14 October 2020 19:11 (two weeks ago) link

I must admit that I've had a deep fascination with this mid-80s Will Ackerman album since I first heard it. I was often afraid of going to sleep as a child and would sit on my bedroom floor in silence, wrapping myself in a blanket and staring out of the window up at the moon for as long as I could. Maybe it's because the title evokes those memories — but even so, it still strikes me as a somewhat unique album for his 80s output. It's got a certain melancholy to it that just seems unique.

I think the thing with Windham Hill is that it was very hit or miss. For every solid Ackerman or Hedges album they released, it felt like there were two or three albums that were the exact kind of overly syrupy stock new age dreck that got the new age label a bad reputation to begin with.

And yes, I remember back in the late 90s and all through the 2000s working in record stores, admitting to liking ECM stuff was. . . well, an admission.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 19:13 (two weeks ago) link

yeah ... I still kinda cringe at a lot of ECM stuff

sarahell, Wednesday, 14 October 2020 19:13 (two weeks ago) link

That's your problem! This stuff is great

healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 20:21 (two weeks ago) link

The two Interior albums are excellent Japanese ambient-pop outliers on WH, especially the first one produced by Haruomi Hosono.

cooldix, Thursday, 15 October 2020 09:40 (two weeks ago) link


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