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Skylark Quartet, "Live in Tokyo"

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cover image Live in Tokyo is a series of 11 distinct interpretations of the 1941 song "Skylark" by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael performed by the quartet consisting of Orlando Lewis on clarinet, Franz-Ludwig Austenmeiser on keyboards, Hayden Pennyfeather on bass, and Roland Spindler on drums.  This fact is anything but obvious upon listening, however.  Based on the sound alone, it sounds more like an intimate series of improvisations rather than interpretations of a popular song from the 1940s, which was, I am sure, the performers' intent.  It may bear some resemblance to its source material, however the quartet manage to create something nearly entirely original.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 May 2019 21:36

Reality Tunnels

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cover image In its ongoing series of artist-curated compilations, the Idle Chatter label asked interdisciplinary New York-based artist Muyassar Kurdi to compile its latest release.  Specifically presenting female artists from around the world, Reality Tunnels not only further demonstrates the vast expanse of what can be defined as experimental music, but also gives some largely (and unjustly) unrecognized artists a platform to be heard.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 May 2019 21:30

Meat Beat Manifesto, "Opaque Couché"

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cover imageBilled as a companion piece to 2018's stellar Impossible Star, Opaque Couché continues Meat Beat's recent hot streak with a double album packed with inventive and meticulously crafted dance music virtuosity.  Given that Jack Dangers' work has passed though quite a succession of different phases over the years, Impossible Star is indeed Opaque Couché's closest reference point, yet the two albums go in significantly different directions within their roughly similar stylistic territories (and only this one pays homage to one of the world's ugliest colors).  Whereas its predecessor embraced the feel of an inhuman and paranoid sci-fi dystopia, Opaque Couché takes that futuristic bent in much more playful and propulsively kinetic direction.  Naturally, it all sounds great, as Dangers is a singularly exacting producer.  His true genius, however, lies in how seamlessly he is able to mash together high art, deadpan kitsch, and vibrantly infectious drum loops.  Admittedly, that has been true for quite a long time, but he seems to creep closer and closer to achieving the perfect balance with each new release.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2019 07:02

Nodding God, "Play Wooden Child"

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cover imageOver the last few years, House of Mythology has become a vacation home of sorts for David Tibet, as he keeps returning there for one unique and ambitious side project after another.  This latest divergence finds him teaming up with Andrew Liles for a very quixotic undertaking indeed: an album sung entirely in a dead language (Akkadian, one of Tibet's many deep interests).  Given that, I had no doubt at all that it would be one the year’s strangest and unapologetically indulgent releases, but I was still unprepared for how truly bizarre it ultimately turned out to be.  Suffice to say, there is nothing else out there quite like Wooden Child, as it feels like an especially unhinged prog opus that took a darkly phantasmagoric turn leading far from any recognizably earthly territory.

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 May 2019 18:59

Tim Hecker, "Anoyo"

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cover imageEight years ago, Tim Hecker released his landmark Ravedeath, 1972 album and followed it with an EP that revisited the source material in a more organic, stripped-down fashion (Dropped Pianos).  With Anoyo, Hecker beautifully revisits that same trick, albeit this time unveiling Konoyo's underlying gagaku ensemble rather than Ravedeath's underlying pianos.  The other significant difference is that Anoyo is more than a mere companion piece that pulls back the curtain to reveal the scaffolding of a great album.  Rather, Anoyo arguably equals and completes its predecessor, transforming Konoyo's blackened textures and haunted moods into something significantly warmer, more spacious, and more natural-sounding.  Moreover, Anoyo gamely stretches even further from Hecker's comfort zone than its parent.  Whereas Konoyo essentially fed Hecker's gagaku guests into a woodchipper, this release feels like a thoughtful, meditative, and organic collaboration with them, as Hecker's electronics eerily drift and swirl through the traditional Japanese sounds like a supernatural mist.

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 May 2019 18:59

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