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Keith Fullerton Whitman, "Late Playthroughs"

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cover imageIn the early 2000s, Keith Fullerton Whitman parted ways with his Hrvatski moniker and started recording more ambient-minded work under his own name.  His first major release in that vein was 2002's Playthroughs (Kranky), an album that is fairly universally acknowledged as a classic of the genre.  While I have no argument at all with Playthroughs' status as A Crucial Ambient Album, it is a bit more than that as well, as Whitman devised quite a fascinating and radical compositional approach for the album.  Trying to comprehend the actual specifics of the process makes my synapses fizzle and smoke, but the gist is that he fed his guitar into a system of effects and software that produced a completely transformed beast that expanded, evolved, and reshaped with a mind of its own.  Being a restlessly creative sort, Whitman soon moved on to other experiments, but he has been periodically revisiting that early system over the last decade with the benefit of newer software.  The aptly named Late Playthroughs documents a divergent pair of live resurrections of that set-up dating from last year.  Given the uncut, live nature of these pieces, this album is not quite as focused and sharply realized as the original, but it often does a beautiful job of both recapturing that magic and stretching the original aesthetic into stranger, darker terrain.

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 May 2019 17:24

Zachary Paul, "A Meditation on Discord"

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cover imageI almost slept on this unexpectedly incendiary delight, as it deceptively seemed like just another solid drone album based on my initial and brief exposure to it.  Then I noticed that Anna von Hausswolff had described it as "This is just.... wow."  Given that she does not seem at all like the sort to be floored easily, I revisited A Meditation of Discord for a proper listen.  I found myself sharing her sentiment by the end of the opening "Premonition," as Paul and his violin unleash a slow-burning and breathtaking one-man apocalypse in real time.  To some degree, it is undeniably Paul's masterful live loop manipulation that makes that piece such a beguiling and impressive feat, but even if he had a full band and a limitless studio budget at his disposal, its fiery crescendo could not be any more harrowing and visceral.  While he regrettably tones down his more volcanic impulses for the album's second half, the squirming and psychotically dissonant final moments of the closer beautifully reignite the album's transcendently disturbing brilliance.

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 May 2019 17:23

Reynols, "Minecxio Emanations 1993-2018"

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cover image Argentinian trio Reynols are perhaps one of the most baffling and unabashedly unique artists to arise from the tape/noise underground scene of the past 20 years.  Their recorded output has run the gamut of psychedelic rock, pure noise, heavily conceptual works (such as a processed field recording of chickens), and so much more.  With the bulk of their work confined to ultra limited cassettes and CDRs, this beautiful collection of six CDs and a DVD, along with extensive liner notes makes for a perfect starting point of collaborations, two unreleased albums, and a slew of unreleased and rare songs.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2019 12:15

Caterina Barbieri, "Ecstatic Computation"

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cover imageThis Italian synth visionary made quite a spectacular impression with 2017's Patterns of Consciousness and now makes her Editions Mego debut with its proper follow-up.  To some degree, Barbieri picks up exactly where she left off, as Ecstatic Computation shares its predecessor's masterfully executed conceptual conceit: using subtle shifts in obsessively repeating patterns to achieve a trancelike and hallucinatory effect.  Given both that objective and Barbieri's singular compositional rigor, Ecstatic Computation bears little resemblance at all to the work of other synth artists, but it also sounds quite different from the sprawling and sometimes overwhelming Patterns of Consciousness as well.  While it is hard to pick a favorite between the two albums, this one is definitely the more accessible, as Barbieri has distilled her vision into a much more concise and focused presentation.  This album is also quite a bit more varied and unpredictable, as Barbieri occasionally allows the machine-like precision of these pieces to careen off the rails and unleash a glorious and vivid shower of sparks.

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 May 2019 17:22

Luc Ferrari, "Music Promenade/Unheimlich Schön"

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cover imageOne of the many, many things that I feel vaguely and irrationally guilty about on a daily basis is my failure to take a deep plunge into the Editions Mego-curated Recollection GRM series, as there was a period in my life where I was extremely interested in classic musique concrète and was maddeningly unable to find much of it.  Consequently, this series would have been an absolute revelation for me back then.  Unfortunately, my passion for early electronic music is considerably diminished these days, as my historical curiosity has long since been sated and a lot of very important pieces have not aged particularly well.  That said, there are some pieces that have aged quite well indeed and there are always some long-forgotten gems that have eluded me.  This, the third Luc Ferrari release in the series, is one of those very pleasant surprises, resurrecting two lengthy tape pieces that range from playfully anarchic to enigmatically seductive.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 April 2019 06:18

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