This singular album was originally released back in 2004 on David Sylvian‚Äôs Samadhisound label, but Boomkat has just issued it on vinyl for the first time (along with quite a lot of accompanying praise about its status as an absolute masterpiece). ¬†As curmudgeonly as I am, I have to agree‚Äìwhile the epic centerpiece of Spellewauerynsherde could probably benefit from somewhat sharper execution, these seven pieces cumulatively amount to quite a quietly staggering whole. ¬†Rapturous beauty aside, Spellewauerynsherde is also quite a radical and inventive bit of sound art, as it was crafted entirely from feeding medieval choral music in Rabelais' self-designed Arge√Øphontes Lyre software, which seems to work by mutating, disintegrating, and recombining the source material. ¬†Naturally, the sublime and unusual source material itself deserves a healthy amount of the credit for this album's timeless beauty, but Rabelais' transformative magic has unquestionably elevated it into something considerably more otherworldly and mysterious.
I am very much enjoying this new chapter of Wolf Eyes' career, as this second release on their Lower Floor imprint is every bit as deliciously wrong-sounding as Undertow, yet breaks some intriguing new ground. ¬†The world is littered with iconic noise artists who flogged their one great idea to death and it is refreshing to see that John Olson, Nate Young, and James Baljo seem quite hellbent on avoiding that fate these days. ¬†Granted, Strange Days II is only a lean 20-minute EP, but it is enough of a compelling detour to justify its existence despite that: it may be brief, but it is a complete and coherent statement. ¬†As with most recent Wolf Eyes fare, it would be quite a stretch to call Strange Days II "noise," yet the trio definitely apply the genre‚Äôs tactics to unleash a corroded, thudding, and dystopian caricature of jazz (or at least a pleasingly gnarled twist on Zoviet France-style sci-fi tribalism).
Ora was always a rather curious and enigmatic project, as the collective formed by Andrew Chalk and Darren Tate in the '80s has been historically characterized by extremely limited releases and shifting membership. ¬†Time Out of Mind adds yet another strange chapter to the Ora tale, as it is a reworking of unreleased material that largely pre-dates Ora's debut release (1992's DAAC cassette). ¬†Chalk and Tate make it clear that this is not a "lost album" though‚Äìit is more of an alternate history, suggesting a path that the project might have explored without the intervention of line-up changes and new working methods. ¬†Naturally, Chalk fans will probably swoop down on this album en masse, as material from this project is so maddeningly rare, but this collection is a modest and understated affair content-wise, consisting primarily of brief sketches and vignettes of mysterious field recordings and bleary drones.
Compiling recent small-run cassette works into a luxurious double record set, Essential Anatomies represents a reunion for the duo of Colin Andrew Sheffield and James Eck Rippie. ¬†Collaborators since 2000 and friends for even longer, the four lengthy recordings here capture their Texas reunion in 2015, and with its undeniable sense of complexity and cohesion, makes it clear that they have not missed a step from their time apart.
This collaboration between Andrew Chalk and Timo Van Luijk (Af Ursin) has been active since 2011, yet this is the first of their albums that I have actually heard, as Van Luijk shares Chalk's love of limited, small press-style releases. ¬†As a result, Elodie's output has mostly been a series of vinyl-only releases from Belgium and Japan, though Stephen O'Malley‚Äôs Ideologic Organ has thankfully stepped up to get their next album to a wider audience. ¬†On paper, Odyssee seems like a very poor choice for my first Elodie experience, as it has two traits that generally make me steer clear of an album: it is both a live recording and the soundtrack to a film. ¬†In reality, however, this album is quietly stunning, taking Debussy-style Impressionism into gorgeously smoky, twilit, and eerily hallucinatory territory.
Edward Ka-Spel is certainly having quite an amazing year, already releasing two great albums in the form of I Can Spin A Rainbow and The Brown Acid Caveat. ¬†This deeply strange and proggy solo effort is kind of a bizarre bridge between those two peaks, featuring occasional contributions from Amanda Palmer and seemingly expanding upon the thematic premise of The Tear Garden's "Lola‚Äôs Rock." ¬†High On Station Yellow Moon also feels like a repository for all of Ka-Spel's recent ideas that were too abstract and unstructured for his "proper" albums‚Äìlike a pressure-release valve for an overactive mind. ¬†In that sense, there is a definite resemblance to the collaged, free-form aesthetic of The Legendary Pink Dots' Chemical Playschool series, albeit with a fairly consistent and intriguing thematic thread weaving through it all. ¬†Another similarity to the Chemical Playschool series is that Yellow Moon can be a meandering and frustrating listen at times, but patient listeners will be rewarded by an occasional sustained passage that captures Ka-Spel at the absolute peak of his powers.
I had absolutely no idea what to expect from a new Tear Garden album, as it has been nearly a decade since the last one and The Brown Acid Caveat slowly came together while cEvin Key was dealing with cancer and Edward Ka-Spel was deeply immersed in I Can Spin A Rainbow. ¬†Despite that, the impending release bizarrely took on a near-mythic significance for me, as this project has inspired several of Ka-Spel most enduring moments of genius ("Romulus and Venus," "Hyperform," etc.) and he has been riding quite a (fitful) hot streak over the last few years. ¬†Also, the time simply felt right for The Tear Garden to return. ¬†Happily, Caveat largely lives up to my unreasonably high expectations even while it subverts them, as the duo largely eschew deep psychedelia in favor of propulsive, tightly structured electronic pop (albeit with some inspired detours along the way). ¬†Naturally, the album‚Äôs hookiness is mingled with Ka-Spel and Key's deeply skewed and oft-hallucinatory aesthetic, but I was still completely unprepared for the throbbing disco groove of the opening "Strange Land."
A rather fast follow-up to her last tape (It Was a Time of Laboured Metaphors, also on Helen Scarsdale), Australian sound artist Kate Carr's latest work is another entry in a rapidly growing discography that blends elements of both traditional composition and the unpredictable nature of field recordings. She does this and merges them together seamlessly, coming together as a beautiful set of sounds and moods from across the globe, yet still unified as a part of the human experience.
As a follow-up to 2015's debut EP, the duo of multimedia artists Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf and Jonathan Lukens expand on the ambiguity and sparseness on Two, while still showing marked development and innovation in their work. With their sonic palates expanded and a determined focus, the final product is an album that conveys a significant amount within its somewhat minimalistic framework.
This is kind of a companion piece to 2015's absolutely sublime A Light At The Edge of The World, embracing a similarly fragile and dreamy mood, but taking a very different structural approach: ¬†while its processor took the shape of an extended and gorgeously floating stasis, Everyone Goes Home When The Sun Sets consists of nearly twenty discrete and ephemeral miniatures. ¬†That is not entirely new territory for Chalk, as that approach previously reached its apotheosis with 2012‚Äôs fine Forty-Nine Views In Rhapsodies' Wave Serene, but it is still a curious step away from his strengths and his longform comfort zone. ¬†As such, Everyone Goes Home is not quite as immersive and hypnotic as Edge Of The World, but it is still a fairly unique release within Chalk's canon, as its gently hallucinatory drift of glimmering vignettes offers its share of nuanced and distinctively Chalk-ian pleasures.
I have always viewed Psychic TV with a mixture of fascination and annoyance, as the project managed to assemble some of the most talented and idiosyncratic artists in underground music, but were far too erratic, scattershot, and over-prolific to ever turn their genuine flashes of brilliance into a great career. ¬†That said, the founding duo of Genesis P-Orridge and Alternative TV's Alex Fergusson definitely started off strong and these two reissues roughly bookend that golden age. ¬†Pagan Day, which first surfaced as an extremely limited release in 1984 (it was released December 24 and deleted on Christmas), is a collection of early 4-track sketches, several of which were later released in different form. The strange and uneven Allegory and Self from 1998, on the other hand, was perversely the band's pop breakthrough, featuring the half-annoying/half-subversive underground hit "Godstar" and whole lot that could never be chart-worthy. ¬†Admittedly, there are a few moments of magic amidst that stylistic jumble, but the more polished ensemble work unexpectedly feels a bit less substantial than Pagan Day's rough-hewn creative outpouring (for good reason).
Yair Elazar Glotman's monster √âtudes album lamentably slipped by me when it surfaced in 2015, but I immediately became quite a fan once I finally heard it. ¬†As a result, I was thrilled to discover that he was returning once more to wood and strings after last year's Blessed Initiative album. ¬†His collaborator, Mats Erlandsson, is a part of the primarily noise-based Posh Isolation milieu, which makes this an intriguing pairing for the task at hand: creating "imaginary, dislocated 'folk' music for the current dark ages" (exactly the sort of endeavor that seems tailor-made for Miasmah). ¬†Given that the two artists are primarily known for experimental/electronic fare, it is a bit eyebrow-raising to find them exclusively wielding an eclectic array of zithers, singing bowls, Moroccan lutes, and other traditional instruments here, but their production talents prove to be quite useful for shaping their acoustic ethno-appropriations into a shadowy suite of appealingly seething and grinding neo-classical brooding.
This is apparently Janek Schaefer's 30th album in 20 years, a milestone which surprised me a bit, as there is a considerable portion of his oeuvre that I have not heard. ¬†That said, the handful of albums that I have heard have been kind of hit or miss, as Schaefer often errs a bit too much on the side of high-concept, cerebral sound art for my liking. ¬†Glitter In My Tears, however, is right up my alley: a sustained and hallucinatory fever dream of brief and frequently beautiful vignettes (or "microcosms of haunted memory," as Schaefer himself describes them). ¬†The inevitable downside to such an ambitious endeavor, of course, is that Glitter is exasperatingly populated with wonderfully promising themes that appear and vanish again in a minute or less. ¬†In most hands, that would be quite a big problem, but Glitter is so uniformly strong and flows along so fluidly that I am left with little time to lament the more substantial pieces that might have been. ¬†This is a wonderfully shifting, evocative, and immersive album from start to finish.
Fifty years ago, one of the greatest (and most short-lived) psych-rock bands of all-time (P√§rson Sound) was formed in Sweden, though it was not until 2001 that their amazing collected recordings were finally released. ¬†Despite only recording one album, the core of P√§rson Sound never actually went away and the band has evolved and taken on new guises over the ensuing decades (International Harvester and Tr√§d, Gr√§s och Stenar), erratically surfacing every now and then and sometimes flirting with greatness anew. ¬†This latest release is a somewhat bittersweet affair, as two founding members (the whole rhythm section, actually) passed away during the recordings, albeit not before leaving an intermittently stellar and incandescent swansong in their wake. ¬†Tack F√∂r Kaffet / So Long is easily the best¬†Tr√§d, Gr√§s och Stenar album in ages.
Clodagh Simonds and her impressive coterie of collaborators have returned for the much-anticipated second installment of the planned Salt Garden trilogy. ¬†In a broad sense, this latest EP is a clear continuation of its predecessor, consisting of three timeless and drone-informed pieces of sublime and Siren-esque choral beauty and an instrumental coda. ¬†However, this release also marks an intriguing evolution upon the aesthetic of the first Salt Garden, opting for a more understated and unadorned approach. ¬†As such, there is not much here that offers quite the intensity and immediacy of "The Golden Sun" or "The Undone Mother," but the compensation is that Simonds has further distilled her vision into something more naked and pure, eschewing ornamentation and orchestration to shift more of the heavy lifting to her voice and her words. ¬†They can certainly handle it.
For his third boxed set on the label since 2011, prolific ambient artist Tor Lundvall collects another four previously released (but limited) albums and a rarities compilation into a diverse sounding, yet thematically unified collection. Essentially the soundtrack for virtual environments, such as rainy days or visiting a park, Nature Laughs as Time Slips By is another suite of beautiful, if often melancholy instrumental music that covers the vast spectrum of Lundvall‚Äôs beautiful work.
I must admit to still being a bit perplexed by this release. Can, for all their greatness, were never really a singles band. Most of those that were issued were edits of album material, so there is little exclusive material to be had here, barring said edits, which usually just remove material rather than presenting it in an appreciably different way, and a handful of non-album material. However, when viewed as a career overview or sampler (something essentially replacing those Cannibalism compilations), it is a different matter, and the set provides a good opportunity to revisit the latter, often maligned recordings.
The usually prolific Richard H. Kirk has been unsurprisingly quiet as of late. Playing shows as Cabaret Voltaire again (which I have conflicted feelings about) and a small reissue campaign via Mute and Die Stadt has been about the extent of his recent activity. Which, admittedly, is odd from a man who used to make up projects just to fill out his own solo compilation albums. So when first hearing about the new material that makes up Dasein being released, I was eager but unsure what to expect. Thankfully, the hiatus has done nothing to deter Kirk, who has put together yet another exceptional work of his own take on electronic music, and one that channels moments from his entire career.
This is the debut release from Peter Kolovos's Black Editions, an imprint embarking upon the ambitious and necessary task of reissuing classic albums from Japan‚Äôs legendary and defunct P.S.F. label. ¬†Naturally, Kolovos wanted to start with a bang, making Watashi Dake? an obvious choice: originally released back in 1981, it is the first solo release from the mercurial and iconic Keiji Haino. ¬†Spontaneously composed at night in a completely dark studio (presumably while wearing sunglasses), these hermetic, haunted, and idiosyncratic songs make for quite a challenging and uncomfortable listen, but that is precisely the point: for better or worse, there is nothing else on earth quite like Watashi Dake?
This digital-only sister release to And Right Lines Limit and Close All Bodies is a suite of comparatively simple, warm, and straightforward drone pieces, which presumably explains why its companion warranted a physical release while Scaleby did not. ¬†That lack of fanfare makes sense, as Right Lines Limit is a far more complex and ambitious work that expands the limits of Skelton's vision while this release is merely nine variations on a theme firmly within his comfort zone. ¬†I happen to be quite fond of that comfort zone though, as these bleary, churning reveries play much more to Skelton's strengths than some of his more cosmic, universe-chewing excursions of late. ¬†While the recurring Inward Circles' theme of obfuscation is still in full effect (there are no recognizable stringed instruments to be found), Scaleby nonetheless carves out its own lovely niche of languorously vaporous, dreamlike beauty beneath a patina of shifting crackle, grit, and hiss.