For their latest album, the duo of Andrew Chalk and Timo van Luijk (Af Ursin) take an unexpected detour from their impressive run of limited self-released albums for an appearance on Stephen O'Malley‚Äôs eclectic Ideologic Organ imprint. To honor this auspicious occasion, the core line-up is fleshed out with returning collaborators Tom James Scott and Jean No√´l Rebilly, as well as pedal steel guitarist Daniel Morris. In all other respects, however, Vieux Silence is every bit a traditional Elodie album, unfolding as a flickering impressionist dream that seems to emanate from a time and place totally unlike our own. As an album, it does not necessarily tower above the rest of Elodie's consistently fine oeuvre, but the title piece might be the single most achingly gorgeous piece that Chalk and van Luijk have recorded together to date.
Michael C. Sharp is no stranger to the world of electronic music, being a member of Austin‚Äôs psych heavy Sungod. His previous experience, however, has been that of a drummer, which does not at all come through on Never Enough Time. While the five songs on this tape are built largely upon interlocking loops, there is nary a drum sound to be found. Instead it is a rich suite of synth excursions, with a bit of tasteful guitar thrown in for good measure, culminating in an elegant and powerful record.
A fitting follow-up to 2015's Only Red, Andy Grant again delivers a strong suite of harsh, aggressive electronics, but with a slightly different mood to it. Anger and frustration still abounds, but it seems to be shaded with a self-aware futility and nihilism that is very fitting and appropriate for the title.
It is hard to not feel twinges of nostalgia on Marker‚Äôs self-titled debut. The stiff drum machine beats, the lush synthesizers and chorus-heavy guitars call to mind a number of bands without ever actually sounding like them, feeling like a fitting devotion to a style without ever trying to copy its most notable practitioners, resulting in a warm, alluring album that has managed to sneak under the radar this year.
This is the debut album from an ambitious project that brings together half of Wire (Matthew Simms and Graham Lewis), idiosyncratic synth supernova Thighpaulsandra, and percussion virtuouso Valentina Magaletti. Naturally, any project where Thighpaulsandra is untethered by someone else's clearly defined aesthetic is destined to be a bit of a stylistic rollercoaster (even more so when Graham Lewis's own eccentricity is factored in), so UUUU is quite a freewheeling and disorienting affair at times, dabbling equally in prog, psych-rock freak-out, drone, krautrock homage, experimentation, and Lewis-style "pop" weirdness. It should also come as no surprise that UUUU's work feels quite spontaneous and improvisatory and occasionally errs into bombast and indulgence. Such moments are largely eclipsed by the times when everything gloriously locks into place, however, as this foursome almost always find a way to wrest some vistas of sublime beauty or flashes of transcendent inspiration from their wild and lysergic free-rock excursions.
This latest EP is something of a daring experimental coda to this year‚Äôs excellent Borders, as studio wizards James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas attempt to translate their crushing, frequency-saturated onslaught into purely acoustic recording techniques. Obviously, there has been a lot of foreshadowing throughout the duo‚Äôs career hinting at this direction given Emptyset's longstanding fascination with architecture and natural resonance, but it was not until Borders that the essential missing piece was added to the formula: the viscerally biting snarl and rattle of a homemade zither. Given that Skin further constrains an already hyper-constrained vein of minimalism, this EP is primarily just for existing fans eager to see how well Ginzburg and Purgas handle pushing their vision to a seemingly self-sabotaging extreme, but a few of these simple variations survive the transformation with quite a lot of raw power intact.
The third installment in David First's Same Animal, Different Cages album series (which are constructed from the use of a single instrument) is a contradictory piece of art. On one hand, it is clearly the most song-focused of the series thus far: a record of melodies and more conventional structures that contrast with the often pure experiments of the previous installments for guitar and analog synthesizer. However, by nature of the instrument used this time, a harmonica, I found it to be a more challenging work, but one that is still as rewarding as the releases that preceded it, and perhaps the most conceptually rich as well.
While the gargantuan, triple disc Sleeper from Daniel Menche is still relatively new, he and SIGE head Aaron Turner (he of an immense number of projects) also managed to find the time to record this collaborative LP. Recorded over a two year span, Nox is far more inviting and downright beautiful than I would have expected from two artists who have always shown hints of the sort in the past.
Carla dal Forno's latest EP is an absolute stunner, distilling her dark pop genius into four perfect gems of dreamy, intimate, haunted, and endearingly ramshackle beauty. Aside from being four of the finest songs that she has ever recorded (any one of these pieces could be a single), The Garden is most striking for the improbable collision of influences that dal Forno seems to balance effortlessly: in a perverse way, this Australian dreampop chanteuese might be the most perfect and transcendent embodiment of the Blackest Ever Black aesthetic. While her songs are certainly catchy and propulsive (a inarguable anomaly in that milieu), The Garden's feast of hooks blossoms out of an ultra-DIY/underground backdrop of stark and gritty basslines, primative drum machine clatter, tape hiss, and warped electronics. At its best, The Garden sounds like a singularly muscular and half-sexy/half-unnerving dreampop album that is too well informed by the darker, uglier undercurrents of post-punk and early industrial to ever lapse into soft-focus navel-gazing.
After two fine vinyl releases on Pomperipossa, Mark van Hoen and Mike Harding's mesmerizing sound collage project now takes a detour to Touch's Field Music imprint. While the transition to CD format does not seem to have made much of a structural impact (the album still feels like a single, abstract, and longform piece),¬†Mappa Mundi is nonetheless a radically different album from last year's more musical A Perfect Blind. The abandonment of the more composed, melodic, and "structured" elements of their sound may seem like a deeply counterintuitive move after such a wonderful leap forward, yet Dr√∏ne prove themselves to be remarkably fluid and adept at changing their aesthetic to fit their conceptual inspirations. In this case, the stated objective is "tracing and describing the audio surrounding and occupying the planet Earth," which mostly translates into a hauntingly strange and mysterious immersion into a crackling entropy of phantom radio transmissions, squalls of static, choruses of insects, and creepily digitized voices.
I have to admit that I was legitimately blindsided by this latest project from Sister Grotto's Madeline Johnston, but I would have been eagerly anticipating it if I had been at all aware of her previous work, as last year's You Don't Have To Be A House To Be Haunted is similarly quietly stunning. ¬†The key difference with Midwife is simply that Johnston (with the aid of co-producer Tucker Theodore) has now distilled her languorous and hazy dreampop vision into something a bit tighter, hookier, and more sharp-edged. ¬†Obviously, any female solo artist making artfully blurred, melancholy, and reverb-swathed music is doomed to be deluged with Grouper comparisons (favorable, in this case), yet Johnston's aesthetic is quite a bit more muscular and direct, albeit slowed to a somnambulant Codeine-esque crawl. ¬†While those are certainly great reference points to have, the real magic of Like Author, Like Daughter largely lies in the songcraft and execution, as this is simply a batch of strong, memorable songs presented beautifully.
The debut release from Monika Khot (also a member of Zen Mother) as Nordra is one of those sort of records that just gleefully trounces unnecessarily invented borders between genres without a single care or consideration for what an album should sound like. Khot rarely settles into a single style or even structure for these four songs, but there is method to the madness. A full gamut of alternative pop, techno, and drone metal show up, sometimes within the span of a single song.
The latest release from Stephen Petrus's long running dark electronic/death industrial project may not deviate far out of the comfort zone of its discography, but that is really a moot point. Instead, it works as the culmination of styles he has dabbled in, but with the self-assured sheen of an experienced artist. I will admit it personally hits some specific nostalgia buttons for me as well, but even objectively it is an excellent piece of malicious, sinister electronics.
Natalie Chami is best known for being one-third of Chicago's Good Willsmith, but she has also been a prolific solo artist, releasing a slew of cassettes on labels like Hausu Mountain since 2011. ¬†Love Sick is Chami's debut full-length and it is quite a stunner: based on Chami's past, I was merely expecting a suite of atypically skillful analog synth sketches and experiments. ¬†Instead, Love Sick is a gorgeously sultry and blearily hypnagogic feast of visionary outsider soul. ¬†Happily, most of Chami's experimental and improvisatory impulses survived that transformation intact, which is what makes this such a unique album: Chami does not downplay her more lysergic and unpredictable edges so much as find a way to shape them into languorously seductive hooks. ¬†When that happens, some great songs result, yet the more impressive achievement is how Love Sick coheres into such an intermittently dark and absorbing whole, like an erotic dream that subtly morphs into a nightmare.
I embarrassingly came very close to sleeping on this brilliantly unhinged and raucous album, as most critically acclaimed rock music these days tends to underwhelm me. ¬†Omaha's Nance is an entirely different story though, as Negative Boogie does a damn fine job recapturing the hostility and recklessness that made bands like Suicide and The Cramps so much cooler than everyone else. ¬†Of course, Negative Boogie does not sound at all like either of those bands, but Nance's incandescent intensity and viscerally slashing guitars have a way of making even a Merle Haggard cover sound feral and frightening.
With both of his primary projects releasing new material at nearly the same time, it becomes tempting to compare and contrast Richard Chartier‚Äôs academic-tinged solo work with the slightly campy (at least in presentation) Pinkcourtesyphone, and at the superficial level there is a lot of similarity. Both Removed and Something You Are Or Something You Do are slow, sparse works that at times drift into near silence, but besides the mood and presentation, the actual compositional approach separates them most. The two are rather distinct works that each capture part of Chartier‚Äôs style extremely effectively.
Compared to the multimedia project Sirens from last year, Thanasis Kaproulias‚Äôs latest work as Novi_sad is more of a return to his older style as far as composition goes. The single piece that makes up this album may be less concept-heavy, with the only information included being that is is based on environmental recordings in the US, Sweden, Brazil, and the Greek countryside. But even stripped back to just music, Wound_Burner excels in both its diversity and its sense of cohesion. Throughout the 45 minutes he mixes in digital interference, noisy found sounds, traditional electronics, and even voice (courtesy of Irini Kyriakidou in a swirling, yet structurally consistent and gripping album.
Michael Wells, historically of Greater Than One, GTO, Tricky Disco, Technohead, S.O.L.O., and many more incarnates has unveiled a bunch of new and previously unreleased recordings under the Dataflow Recordings umbrella.
four S.O.L.O. releases have been made available: American Echo's, Low Impact, Silencio (originally recorded in 2012), and Out Is In (originally released in 1999).
a new Tricky Disco single, "I Wanna Be Loved" is now available with two older tunes on the Cosmic Tones EP
numerous older and new tracks are available by Technohead
as well as Tech House Collection by G.T.O.
These are all available digitally from the following places:
- iTunes: https://goo.gl/h2zqKn
- Amazon: https://goo.gl/MdQX4e
- Google Play: https://goo.gl/YUiHjr
- Beatport: https://goo.gl/kLzEUE
- 7digital: https://goo.gl/9jc72D
- Junodownload: https://goo.gl/fWcn98
Dataflow @ Beatport: https://goo.gl/GZLiJf
A new Analog Africa compilation is almost always a major event for me, particularly since the general trend is that they seem to get both better and more imaginative with each passing year. ¬†A significant reason for that success is that label head Samy Ben Redjeb has been increasingly drawn away from the heavily anthologized regions of Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and Kenya and into less explored territories and more unusual, ephemeral microscenes. ¬†Pop Makossa offers a bit of both, journeying into Cameroon and capturing the brief window in which the prevailing pop style absorbed the funk and disco sounds coming from the US. ¬†If this collection is any indication, Redjeb and co-curator D√©ni Shain have found quite a rich and largely untapped vein, as these twelves pieces are a feast of fluid basslines, tight songcraft, strong hooks, and seductive grooves.
Last summer, Ben Frost flew to Chicago to record with Steve Albini for two weeks, an engineer who certainly shares his appreciation for raw power. ¬†It turned out to be quite a fruitful union, yielding roughly two hours of (presumably) explosive new material that will likely be surfacing for the next several months of the foreseeable future. ¬†This EP¬†is the first salvo from that stockpile of blown-out, impossibly dense speaker-shredders, acting as a bit of a teaser for a full-length due in late September. As expected, Threshold of Faith absolutely erupts from the first notes, capturing Frost at the top of his gnarled, seismic game once again. ¬†In fact, an EP seem to be the perfect format for Frost, as he is at his best when he shows up, unleashes a hellstorm of face-melting elemental force, then gets out before any numbness starts to set in.