Rachika Nayar, "Our Hands Against the Dusk"

Our Hands Against The Dusk main photo

The debut full-length from ambient-electronic composer Rachika Nayar, Our Hands Against the Dusk, is both kaleidoscopic and inventive, but far from cerebral. In mid-2019, the Brooklyn-based artist chose the cover image (a video still of her hands entwined with a friends') from an old collaborative project. Along with its title lifted from a Richard Jackson poem, the image of "touch" references deeply (inter)personal experiences that animated the album over the four years it was written: not just caress, but encounters and collisions.

Her compositional process similarly begins with a moment of touch: her fingers on the fretboard. Songs are built from guitar loops that are then digitally processed into endless new shapes as they are combined and threaded through multiple genres and emotions.

Nayar grew up exploring musical worlds ranging between modern composers, Midwestern emo, uplifting trance and beyond. The diverse influences are visible on longer tracks such as "Losing Too Is Still Ours," which extends from rippling guitar figures and keening vocals to methodic, marching strings. The song title stems from a Rainer Maria Rilke poem of great personal import. Other songs wind through their own images and cultural iconography, forming a poetic web. The ghostly hazed "Aurobindo," for one, references an Indian yogi at whose Pondicherry ashram a family member had a moment of Hindu "darshan."

For Nayar, the album's fluid but always deeply felt form is thus a way of translating that which could never be summed up with static names, words, or feelings. It is her way of navigating the many communities, musical and human, through which she’s passed as a trans feminine Indian-American. Rejecting the easy reduction of her project to an "identity politics narrative," though, she takes that understanding as one of many in a stream of perspectives that shapes her life, and her music suggests the same.

To that end, Our Hands Against the Dusk mines the flux and discontinuity of experience as fertile ground. Nayar's debut invites us to join alongside it in thinking beyond metanarratives, as musical and emotional histories touch in its twilight space and refract into a multifaceted whole. In that endeavor, Our Hands Against the Dusk is an embrace and a hope.

More information can be found here.

  1430 Hits

Aperus, "Archaic Signals"

cover imageEven though I should absolutely know better, I have spent plenty of time and money over the years trying to find new artists that scratch roughly the same itch that several of my favorites did in their prime. In my heart, I know that no one will ever be able to replicate the magic of classic Dead Can Dance or Zoviet France or whoever, but that certainly does not stop me from endlessly disappointing myself with my doomed and stupid quest. Sometimes, however, I am drawn towards an album due to its surface resemblance to something familiar only to discover that the artist shot right past the target nostalgia zone to achieve something that is unique and wonderful in its own right. That is the case with this latest release from Brian McWilliams' long-running Aperus project, which calls to both the "sci-fi tribal" aesthetic of classic Zoviet France/Rapoon and the desert/ethno-ambient side of Projekt's late ‘90s heyday (Steve Roach, et al.). As far as I am concerned, that is an absolutely wonderful stylistic niche to stake out, but McWilliams' execution is what elevates Archaic Signal into something truly special. Rather than simply recalling the iconic figures who birthed a milieu that I love, this album reveals that those original visions have evolved into a compelling new phase with some visionary architects of its own.

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  4290 Hits

Ashley Paul, "Ray"

Ray is Ashley Paul's bright, sensual return to Slip: a lifting, delighting suite of yearning winds, loose beats, and cocooning, humid bass coming together and falling apart as songs.

The LP airs Paul's new trio, alongside bass clarinettist Yoni Silver and bassist Otto Willberg, who fatten out and shine light on her singularly intimate, multi-instrumental with mystery and grace. 2018's Lost In Shadows wrote into the bewildering ecstasy of recent motherhood with a tingling resolve. On Ray - recorded remotely during lockdown - Paul's deliciously hesitant songcraft is an outpouring and an anchor in freshly tumultuous times.

Says Ashley:

"Over the past six months I've found myself needing music in a new way, a way of coping. I found again albums I had loved in the past, full of melody and humor, to cancel out the barrage of terrible news happening outside. I think this album is a reflection of that need. There is the playfulness of spending my days with our four year old, and the hours spent tending to plants in the garden and examining bugs, and also the pain of missing family and friends. It's hard for me to fully comprehend the breadth of emotion I've felt recently but maybe this is a small window.

The trio idea had been formulating in my head for months, and then lockdown happened. At first I was very disappointed and thought I'd be waiting forever to finally make it a reality, but time passed. I started working on a new album and could only hear it with these guys. We recorded remotely. I sent material in a variety of ways; written, aurally and verbal ideas/queues, sometimes with just a shell of a track and other times nearly completed. I wanted all our voices to be present, and to allow freedom in the parts for interpretation and improvisation. Maybe because we've all worked together in various situations and are friends, I’m not sure, but it came together naturally, magically and quickly."

More information can be found here.

  2017 Hits

Kuupuu, "Plz Tell Me"

Sparkly disjointed pop by Finnish luminary Jonna Karanka!

As part of legendary groups such as Avarus, Hertta Lussu Ässä and Olimpia Splendid, Jonna Karanka has been a key player in the Finnish underground for most of this century. Through her Kuupuu alias, she dwells among an illustrious generation of Finn sound wizards which includes Tomuttontu/Jan Anderzen, Tsemba/Marja Ahti, Lau Nau, et al. Through the collaging of warbled acoustic instruments and looped-up electronics, Kuupuu has long been carving out her own lines into this post-free folk/neo-psychedelia lore.

Plz Tell Me, her first LP since 2013's Sisar, was originally a self-released cassette through which new forms emerged in the Kuupuu repertoire. Jungly orchestral arrangements meet slick dub-tinged productions in a series of pop tunes for disjointed times: whether you dance or swoon or stare confusedly into space is up to chance. The original nine tracks get the full LP treatment for this Belgo-Finn treaty renewal, with 12 songs that weave down endless summer full of disembodied voices that moan and quaver as they murmur lullabies to punctured beats. Plz Tell Me opens a dazzling zone for fantasies to inhabit and intertwine, where incongruent sounds and a noisy kit of dreamed storylines knit a full tapestry of whimsical bliss.

More information can be found here.

  2028 Hits

Vaagner/Vaknar Fall & Winter 2020 Tape Batch


Canadian violinist Christopher Whitley presents his first release of this year, Landscape Shifts (Slight Return), a collage of material derived from a 40-minute single movement piece that originally premiered in Austin, Texas earlier this year, composed by Christopher Whitley for small ensemble, electronics and projections.

Having been composed and performed a month before the Covid-19 related US shutdown, the piece was originally conceived in response to the book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell, yet took on a new meaning as the core theme proved to be uncannily prescient in the following months of enforced stasis and lockdown.

The work itself, split into two parts, evokes themes of solitary introversion and serene patience, embedded in an tranquil ambiance featuring light movements of cello, voice, violin, piano, percussion and electronics, yet the piece never comes to feel cluttered as the small ensemble unfolds in a flurry of harmony throughout its 23-minute duration, as even in its busiest moments Landscape Shifts (Slight Return) is as much about the music as it is about the silence in between the individual sounds, giving the work an acute sense of intimacy that offers listeners a moment of sincere respite in these turbulent times.


Under his moniker "Blessed are the Hearts that Bend," filmmaker and artist Luke Seomore channels his narrative abilities and experiences into musical output. Is My Destroyer, his latest album, is an ode to film, legacies and trauma.

On the album, Luke showcases meticulously sculpted compositions that range from solemn ambient soundscapes to orchestral symphonies, often featuring spoken word or field recordings, while being permeated by a rich sense of cinematic atmosphere. Is My Destroyer unfolds like a story arc, always filled with a sense of time and direction as ideas morph, grow, disperse and rekindle; with key pieces like "Palace" these ideas seem unbound, bursting out of their seams with emotional grandeur, elegance and passion, while other works such as "Orio" or "The Tower" offer sincere moments of reprieve.

In the end, Is My Destroyer feels like a film without pictures, enticing listeners to fill the void with their own imaginings as they experience this moving body of work, leaving one with both a shared sense of connectivity and a singular experience, which ties in to the core theme of the work, one where Luke questions how experiences, legends, ideas and trauma get passed on through generations.


Initially self-released digitally earlier this year, Ruben Kotkamp's debut album fall/winter 19ʼ20 showcased the Netherlands-based artist's prowess at crafting a musical world entirely his own, enveloped by a fabric of electronic blips, glitches and clamor. Yet under this soundscape of synthetic networks lies a poignant human component that underpins the inherent moving quality of the work, which when viewed in its entirety comes across as a meditation on the digital ages continually intersecting framework between man and machine, voice and sound, body and fabric.

For this expanded issue, Vaknar presents the original album in physical format for the first time, while including two new pieces that further expand upon themes found in the original work, such as a new composition by Ruben Kotkamp, which interlaces some of the albums components into a 12-minute barrage of static noise and modulated voice experiments.

Additionally the expanded album includes a rework by Belgian composer Mathieu Serruys, who likewise reworks various components from the album and molds them into a 9-minute long, heavily tape-processed soundscape of clattering hiss, droning horns and tempered voices, ending the album on a final swan song of deteriorating machinery and human impermanence.

More information on all three releases can be found here.

  1962 Hits

The Bats, "Foothills"

Spanning the last 38 years, The Bats have clocked nine incredible albums; each one seeing the band evolve with new material from the prolific songwriting hand of Robert Scott. Add to that tally the extra singles, b-sides, EPs, compilations and tribute songs they’ve recorded, creating a succinct setlist is a nearly impossible task.

Their 10th full-length, Foothills, was recorded in Spring 2018 at a country retreat pop-up studio. At that time, 15 songs were captured and immortalized in the Canterbury foothills of the Southern Alps, Aotearoa (New Zealand). Only too well, The Bats know the possibilities, potentialities and sonic vistas that arise when one takes the reins for the recording process in a beautiful place that's on home turf.

Robert Scott, on the making of Foothills has said "Time marches on... finally, we found a gap in our busy lives and chose a week to convene. We found a house that is usually inhabited by ski field workers — Kowai Bush, near Springfield about an hour west of Christchurch and of course nestled in the foothills of the mighty Southern Alps. The songs had been written, demo'd and arranged for some time, but still with a little room for trying things out in the studio. Many carloads arrived at the house, full of amps guitars and recording gear, we set up camp and soon made it feel like home; colored lights, a log fire, and home cooked meals in the kitchen. We worked fast, and within a few days had all the basic backing tracks done, live together in one room, the way we like to do it - it's all about 'the feel' for songs like ours."

The Bats must hold a record in New Zealand (perhaps the whole world, once The Rolling Stones throw in the towel) as a band that has survived with the same line-up for 38 years. No split-ups, no reforming for nostalgia's sake.

So far, half the band have spots in The New Zealand Music Hall Of Fame, vocalist/ guitarist Robert Scott (The Clean) and bassist/producer Paul Kean (Toy Love), and it's only a matter of time before lead guitarist Kaye Woodward and drummer Malcolm Grant find themselves in there too. The four-piece has created twisted wistful folk, psychedelic rock, bouncy twee pop, and everything in between, but whatever the genre, their sound is always distinctively, unmistakably The Bats.

More information can be found here.

  1899 Hits

My Cat is an Alien, "The World that IS and IS NOT"

The World that IS and IS NOT is the enigmatic title of My Cat Is An Alien's new "concept album."

The World that IS and IS NOT is the existential reflection of MCIAA on 2020: a pandemic scenario where everything seems to vanish into the Void.

Explicitly dedicating this new studio album to the dark ages we're all living through, more than ever MCIAA stand strong to claim that Music and Art are the primary and true "cure" for spiritual disquiet and moral despair.

Thus the music herein is highly spiritual, sensitive, soft and warm… surprisingly lyrical. Its celestial melodies cannot but induce to transcendental meditations. MCIAA offer a one-way ticket to still unexplored otherwordly territories and better realms of space-time consciousness.

An inborn wisdom that Roberto Opalio resumes in his poem handwritten on the album insert: "In the endless vortex of No-Thing / […] I still do believe / Art can save my Spiritual Noise soul."

Produced by MCIAA in multi-dimensional, fully dynamics-frequency spectrum "STEREOALIEN FIDELITY."

Released on the renewed Opax Private Press imprint in a first, ultra-limited and hand-numbered edition of 100 Silver Color Vinyl LPs, housed in full-color printed jacket with folded cover/insert on Italian fine art linen textured 250g cardboard. Includes a 70x50 cm Poster. Cover and poster painting by Roberto Opalio. Design by MCIAA.

More information can be found here.

  1924 Hits

Black Wing, "No Moon"

Dan Barrett— the man behind Have A Nice Life, Giles Corey, and Enemies List Home Recordings— has unveiled details for his sophomore album as the electronic project Black Wing. Due out December 11th on The Flenser, No Moon is a gorgeous chillwave/post-punk record with nine bleak yet blissful songs and is a fitting close out to the year 2020.

Written over the course of the last few years, with about half of the songs penned over the last six months (mostly due to pandemic "free time"), No Moon is a heart-wrenchingly honest outpour of emotion. Throughout the writing process, Barrett was having recurring dreams and felt a strange sense of timelessness — that, combined with quarantine is what he simply describes as "a weird experience." Barrett explains, "Quarantine was profoundly isolating. With writing this record, more than anything I just wanted to prove to myself that I could make something out of it. That ended up being a lot of songs about feeling isolated, a lot of 'trapped in my own head' moments. I think that was a lot of people's experience as well."

Barrett formed Black Wing in the mid-2010's as an opposite to his project Giles Corey; where Giles started as 'only acoustic instruments allowed,' Black Wing started with only digital instruments. In 2015, Black Wing released its first proper full length, …Is Doomed, to great critical acclaim. Much like that album, No Moon bubbles with electronica and indie-pop with earworm melodies and affecting lyrics. But No Moon is a transitional change from Black Wing's debut; the songs here are a bit more experimental and there's a significantly wider emotional range to them.

The nine new tracks on No Moon are gloomy yet glorious, heavy while ambient, overwhelming yet alluring, and offer an earnest and honest look into one's self during such a troubling and confusing year — something we all can relate to.

More information can be found here.

  7713 Hits

Ana Roxanne, "Because of a Flower"

cover imageAna Roxanne's cryptically titled debut mini-LP was one of 2019's most pleasant surprises, as she masterfully wielded a minimal palette of hazy vocals, subtle instrumentation, and field recordings to construct a suite of songs that felt both remarkably intimate and completely untethered to conventional structure or contemporary trends. In fact, I suspect I could have been easily convinced that ~~~ was a highly coveted private press obscurity from the early '80s. This latest release (her first for Kranky) takes a somewhat different direction in some ways, but thankfully remains every bit as beguiling as its predecessor: the field recordings may be less prominent and Roxanne's previous impressionistic, amorphous structures have been largely replaced with more conventional shapes, yet the hooks are now stronger and the songs more memorable. That feels like a perfectly acceptable trade-off in my book. While I am historically dismayed when artists that that I enjoy move further away from the idiosyncrasies that made their early work so special, Roxanne proves herself to be the rare exception to that trend, as the best moments of Because of a Flower take the warmth and melodicism of ~~~ to some truly beautiful new heights.

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  3222 Hits

Meitei, "Kofū"

It began with Kwaidan, a simmering study on the lost art of Japanese ghost story-telling. Then there was Komachi, baptized in the earthly winds and static that define its comforting sonics.

On Kofū, Meitei masterfully closes his trilogy of lost Japanese moods with an engaging interrogation of artforms and aesthetics as a provocation — or, as fashioned in the album’s subtitle, a "satire of old Japanese aesthetics." Each entry's distinct flavor has earned Meitei acclaim for conjuring a bygone culture through his transportive form of ambient music. Kofū arrives as a deconstruction of this approach. With his first release on Kitchen, Meitei has quietly defied expectations set by his previous two albums, while continuing to challenge modern notions of Japanese sounds.

Once again, Meitei resumes his focus on a Japan that has long ceased to be. This time, Kofū is deliberately playful in bridging a sensibility that connects this imagined past to the present. Fractured piano chords are the first to greet you on "Kintsugi" before they make way for a spectral elegance that parades the haunted mask of Kwaidan on "Man'yō."

But like an ambient soothsayer schooled in the art of the 808s, Meitei quickly drives Kofū with propulsion on "Oiran I," which shares a sibling in Side B track "Oiran II." On both songs, he builds tension served up by flickering hip-hop rhythms — achieved by carefully processing old drum and metal sounds — with a subversive spirit unforeseen in any of his work thus far. Dissecting vocal recordings to the point of incomprehensibility, Meitei aims for something stirring beyond- words — not unlike J Dilla and his mountain of cut-up soul samples, or The Caretaker with decaying 78s. He abides by a principle attributed to the master Hayao Miyazaki: "Beyond logic speaks of human nature."

Kofū allows full immersion into fragments of the past without the trappings of nostalgia. The tracklist is denoted by prominent (and unseen) figures of this history. Tracks "Sadayakko" and "Otojirō" are named after renowned entertainers from the Meiji era, while "Nyōbō" is dedicated to a long-suffering line of working class women within a patriarchal Japanese society. The sounds of "Oiran," sharing the name of the title bestowed upon courtesans, were sparked after learning about the treatment of red light district workers within this era. It paints a grim picture of baidoku (also known as syphilis) and its ravage spread.

These stories cloud the overall mood of Kofū, but Meitei takes a Mizoguchi-like approach to mould that unimaginable pain with tenderness. "Oiran I"'s hidden subtitle is Hana, and "Oiran II" is Shiokaze. As Meitei explains, "Hana means gorgeous and glorious. Shiokaze is the sea breeze — for her life." Tracks like "Urameshi-ya" and "Gen'ei" provide a meditative space amidst the turbulence, while "Shōnen" takes a turn for the cinematic. The eight-minute odyssey is engulfed by shadowy voice loops, mixed best for a headphone experience in a solitary setting.

Meitei bids farewell to an expedition first sparked by a passion for a long-forgotten cultural past. Kofū is a definitive conclusion with an open invitation to listeners from Japan and beyond — encouraging continued appreciation of this sacred part of history, wholly untethered from the world at large.

More information can be found here.

  2181 Hits

Alessandra Novaga, "I Should Have Been a Gardener"

cover imageNew albums from Die Schachtel do not surface very often these days, but just about everything they choose to release is at least enticingly unusual. That trend happily continues with this latest album from Milanese guitarist Alessandra Novaga, who follows her 2017 homage to Rainer Werner Fassbinder with this tribute to yet another iconic cinematic auteur in Derek Jarman. As someone currently obsessing over Andrei Tarkovsky's writings about art, I can say that Novaga is a definite kindred spirit, as I Should Have Been A Gardener obliquely celebrates Jarman himself rather than presenting itself as an imagined soundtrack for any specific film. In fact, I actually wish it was a bit less oblique, as the album only reaches its most memorable heights on the final piece when Novaga’s slow-moving and sublime guitar work is entwined with an old interview with Jarman himself. While that surprise posthumous cameo is certainly welcome, it is not necessarily his presence that elevates that piece into something more transcendent—it is more that Novaga's lovely and understated playing is most effective when it interacts with other textural layers. Almost the entire album is a modest, quiet pleasure though, which I suppose is entirely befitting for a tribute to a man who would have cheerfully devoted his life entirely to gardening under different circumstances.

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  4361 Hits

Longform Editions 16

Longform Editions 16 presents four new pieces from a diverse set of artists exploring ideas through sound composition surrounding listening, perception and focus, both in the abstract and our everyday.

claire rousay
it was always worth it
LE061
Having forged a stark individual path with her deeply personal domestic and field recordings, Texas-based claire rousay offers a compelling exploration into the dynamics of human relationships and self-perception. Listening to it was always worth it—heavily scored with voice-to-text—is to recast your ears towards the ghosts of lost loves and find a new perspective.

"I love the sound of voices, especially the voices of my loved ones. Those are the sounds I listen to."

Taylor Deupree
Canoe
LE062
Head of the influential 12K label, New York's Taylor Deupree's own work plays on rich, abstract atmospherics and, along with his solo work, has found immense acclaim through collaborations with kindred spirits Ryuchi Sakamoto and David Sylvian. Canoe is a supreme work of stillness and meditation with a mysterious sense of calm, evocative of being adrift at sea. 

"With Canoe I hope to instill a sense of solitude, loneliness, and the hushed searching for and unknown something, just out of reach."

Clarice Jensen
Platonic Solids 1
LE063
Melding cello composition and electronic elements, Clarice Jensen has been fascinated by the five shapes that make up the platonic solids, writing graphic scores based on these along with the elements of earth, fire, air, water and the quintessence Plato assigned to them. Platonic Solids 1 portrays sound that evokes stasis and movement at the same time, and very generally, explores the perception of sound through dimensional space and time.

"I'm fascinated by what happens to my perception of time when I'm listening to music, particularly work that is minimal and long… I find myself getting lost in galaxies inside the minutiae of something my ear has attached to."

Strategy
The Babbling Brook
LE064
Strategy, the long-running alias of Portland mainstay Paul Dickow, offers The Babbling Brook, a stunning sound collage of continual, rolling change, rotating on a seemingly unending axis of calm and chaos. An ode of sorts to the movement of water, the piece represents Dickow's ongoing quest to challenge the more traditional sense of ambient music.

"This concludes a long series of explorations of unsequenced, improvised approaches to music which does not commit fully to the traditional sense of "ambient" music as purely contemplative in nature, but instead offers moments of confrontation, surprise, dream logic, or disorientation interwoven with sustained, immersive elements."

More information can be found here.

 

  2285 Hits

Mouchoir Étanche, "Une fille pétrifiée" (Black to Comm)

"I am sitting in a garden, I haven't left the property in weeks, someone is dropping off food once a week. I haven't seen a human being in ages, I feel like a reverse Schroedinger cat - do I exist when nobody sees me? I must be somewhere in France but I don't remember. I have lost my consciousness again. When I wake up I hear a broken record looping somewhere in the mansion. A washed-out opera. Behind the trees I see the dilapidated hermaphrodite sculpture in a field of verdant nettles and fern. I hear gunshots far afield, aeroplanes in the sky, sirens on the main road.

When unconscious I dreamt of sitting on the Concorde observing the scarab blue ocean and iridescent clouds from above, an erstwhile receding memory. Sometimes I hear the organ of the nearby Renaissance Cathedral merging with the Russian Church bells.

I am hallucinating again. Someone's humming in the kitchen? Singing? A radio? I overhear two young women talking about art galleries in the neighbor's garden. Bees attack, again…..again and again. The hairspray finally intoxicates them. An amphoric Japanese voice is whispering in my head saying I will die soon. Someone (something?) bangs on the vases. The fountain's water turns dark red.

Fleur calls and says mum died. The funeral will be televised on Tuesday. We opt for the synthetic choir for the service. The call is suddenly interrupted. Mold is slowly taking over the house.  I go back inside."

More information can be found here.

  2075 Hits

Actress, "Karma & Desire"

After recent mixtape 88, Actress reveals new album Karma & Desire.

Karma & Desire includes guest collaborations from Sampha, Zsela and Aura T-09 and more. It's "a romantic tragedy set between the heavens and the underworld" says Actress (Darren J. Cunningham) "the same sort of things that I like to talk about – love, death, technology, the questioning of one's being." The presence of human voices take the questing artist into new territory.

Flute-like melodies contributed by Canadian organist and instrument builder Kara-Lis Coverdale.

More information can be found here.

  2386 Hits

My Cat Is An Alien & Jean-Marc Montera, "Nuit d'Hiver"

It was on a winter's night ('Nuit d'Hiver' indeed) five days before Christmas 2018, when My Cat Is An Alien and Jean-Marc Montera converged onstage to perform for the second time as a trio, proving once again their heavenly graced and powerful music-mind-soul connection. As it happened at their very first live encounter in 2015 (released by San Francisco cult label Starlight Furniture Co. under the title Union Of The Supreme Light in 2017), "Before jumping on stage, NO word was spoken about the concert we were going to play, nor even trying to figure out any sort of basic music scheme to be followed" recalls Roberto Opalio.

In 2018, at the opening of the final edition of the REEVOX-NUIT D’HIVER festival at GMEM inside the restored industrial complex of La Friche La Belle de Mai in Marseille, the spaceship-like dome of Le Module shook like never before. Nuit d'Hiver is a true musical hurricane of radical free jazz and "Spiritual Noise."

Brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio are world-renowned for their radical aesthetics of "instantaneous composition," their innate skill in creating articulated and ever-evolving improvisations that develop as if they were proper written scores from beginning to end. The same approach occurs in every duo's collaboration with other artists too—be they Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Italian electronic pioneer Enore Zaffiri or Hungarian avant-garde poet-performer Endre Szkarosi to name a few—as well as in whatever situation they might be invited to perform—including the opening of Venice Art Biennale or Milan Fashion Week.

Jean-Marc Montera is a revered guitar maestro whose skill in non-idiomatic improvisation surpasses the mastery of all his companions for his willing to explore new sonic territories instead of repeating classic formulas nowadays become too much "academic." Co-founder of GRIM (Groupe de Recherche et d’Improvisation Musicales) in 1978 and now associated artist of GMEM in Marseille, Montera debuted as soloist on legendary label FMP (Free Music Production).  Over the years, he has collaborated with many free jazz and avant-garde musicians including Famoudou Don Moye of Art Ensemble of Chicago, Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, Barre Phillips, Jean-François Pauvros, Pauline Oliveros and Christian Wolff, and set up several groups specializing in the interpretation of graphic scores by 20th century composers (Cornelius Cardew, John Cage, Earle Brown, etc.).

More information can be found here.

  2735 Hits

Spires That in the Sunset Rise, "Psychic Oscillations"

When you walk outside, in the light, and the sparks in your head define your map of the world, your relation to time and thoughts that lead and follow, full of light, discharging constantly. When you talk to others, an exchange of pleasantries, the flow of humanity, breath through a flute, bow on string, colors, sounds. How you never feel it all at once, the best you can do is hop on a wave and ride it.

Our age has us filled to bursting with anxiety, recriminations, separations and segregations, categories, colonies, tribute, miniscule compensation, tokenism, lip service, creeds, dogmas, easy answers, false hopes, compromise, disappointment, emperor's new clothes, and wolves in sheep's clothing.

Spires That in the Sunset Rise have wandered these woods for nearly twenty years. Psychic Oscillations is an active meditation, an album that probes how time works and reworks itself through cyclical structures, loose improvisation, and wordless vocal play, plaints and praises. While at times celebratory, there is also a palpable urgency underlying the entire record. In the wordless vocalizations of sound and breath it is unabashedly body and at the same time entirely transcendent.

Spires That in the Sunset Rise come together with this crisis point in the now and offer this vessel, filled with psychic energy made physical in time. Psychic Oscillations was written over a span of time which included a condensed period of focus during an artist residency at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, summer of 2018. The instrumentation on this record hones in on cello, alto saxophone, flute, synthesizers, and voice. It is the Spires' twelfth album. Here and now.

More information can be found here.

  1867 Hits

Severed Heads, "Clifford 2000"

While the 1980s output of Australia's oft misunderstood Severed Heads is well known, the 2000s were also an intensely creative period for the group.  Along with a periodical magazine/album called Op, Severed Heads released limited hand-cut discs, two computer games and a handful of ultra-rare artworks. Medical Records is proud to present a new museum entitled Clifford 2000: a 180gm double album holding 18 years of music over four sides of continuous montage personally segued by Mr. Ellard himself.

Out December 8, 2020 on Medical Records.

  2235 Hits

"A Little Night Music: Aural Apparitions from the Geographic North"

A Little Night Music: Aural Apparitions from the Geographic North main photo

The midnight hour crept unto thee with hasty caution, revealing A Little Night Music: Aural Apparitions from the Geographic North, our third putrid prowl into Halloween-inspired sounds to torment and tantalize throughout the season. For this bout of distinguished dementia, we culled 31 brand new tracks of haunted hysteria conjured by some of the most alluring ambientists and outer auteurs from around the world.

Spanning over two hours across two cassettes, A Little Night Music… unfurls itself in a literary horror structure, appearing and disappearing through a stirring Prologue and Epilogue by London-based cellist Oliver Coates, with each side of the cassettes introducing its Chapter with a chilling dirge courtesy of the inscrutable Geographic North House Band.

What fills the ensuing pages is a mirthful tale concocted by an assembly exploring a realm all at once mournful and fatalist at its core. Entries from Clarice Jensen, Malibu, and the collaboration of Like a Villain and Christina Vantzou bring about endless glacial landscapes accented by pitch-grey skies. Conversely, transmissions from Michael Valentine West, M. Sage, Gregg Kowalsky, and Austrian ambient stalwart Fennesz explore richly textured mines of foreboding glee.

Suspicion is the word when considering Zelienople's eerie horse-carriage clip-clop, Nick Malkin's neon-lit noir-jazz, or Carmen Villain's gripping dub excursion. Elsewhere Ki Oni, Takagi Masakatsu, and Mary Lattimore (joined here by Paul Sukeena) provide glimmers of warmth amidst a tortured chill.

Notable is the resurrection of Lotus Plaza and his solemnly hopeful piano composition, while barren hallucinations courtesy of Alex Zhang Hungtai, Ilyas Ahmed, and Danny Paul Grody set the stage for a third act confrontation from Atlantans Fit of Body and Algiers, providing a one-two serving of sensual unrest and cautionary homily.

With hope and resolve shimmering through the final moments of our journey, know that all proceeds from the digital and cassette editions go directly toward Feminist Women's Health Center, an Atlanta-based nonprofit providing safe, accessible, and compassionate abortion and gynecological care to all those who need it without judgement.

More information can be found here.

  2089 Hits

Prana Crafter, "MorphoMystic"

Prana Crafter is William Sol, a musical mystic who blends the raw energies of nature with guitars, synthesizers, singing bowls, and a dose of flow-consciousness. The resulting sonic nectar flows out from the amplifier, cascading in the mind of the listener, splashing mantras against the listener’s third ear. Some music is meant to entertain, to be consumed like flashing patterns on a TV screen. Not so with the music of Prana Crafter. This music is a sonic-tapestry of energies that are meant to envelop the listener and deliver a message that, as Sol puts it, cannot be known through symbol or through sign.

Likened to artists across the psychedelic and folk spectrums—Popul Vuh, Agitation Free, Six Organs/Ben Chasny, —Sol's self-professed mentors-in-spirit Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, and Manuel Göttsching are present as well in familiar and surprising ways. In reviews it has been said that Prana Crafter’s music is "an example of psych-folk at its finest" (Raven Sings the Blues), "like a long-lost pressing from the early '70s, it's a mist-shrouded mysterious meditation" (Shindig Magazine), and even that, "few other musicians are making music as ambitious and genuine as Prana Crafter" (The Active Listener).

Will has said he thinks of himself as a conduit when recording and with MorphoMystic, Prana Crafter are creating truly Cosmic Music, a synthesized mediation – think if you will of Terry Reilly and Sandy Bull blending their hypnotic energy flow together. MorphoMystic is a 35 minute kosmische-inspired acid opus that lets your mind venture in the slipstream, between the viaducts of your dream before gently floating you back down to earth.

More information can be found here and here.

  1877 Hits

Stephen Mallinder, "Pow Wow" reissue

A new sub-label of the longstanding Canadian electro imprint Suction Records, Ice Machine — focusing on old-school wave/post-punk sounds — is thrilled to present a new, deluxe reissue of Pow Wow, the debut 1982 solo LP from Cabaret Voltaire's Stephen Mallinder.  Now expanded to a double-LP, and also released on CD/digital, it's a definitive reissue which now includes Mallinder's early solo discography in its entirety. This collection of mutant dub/funk/postpunk sounds just as fresh and contemporary in 2020 as it did in 1982 (note Autechre's inclusion of standout cut "Del Sol" in a mix earlier this year), and highlights Mallinder's crucial contributions to Cabaret Voltaire.

Some words from Mr. Mallinder on the scene and era from which Pow Wow was born: "It was an interesting, and inspiring, time. The primal caterwaul of punk was dying and lots of really significant things were emerging from the fires. Much looser vibes were in the air and there was a much more exploratory feel. Punk had championed a visceral, anti-intellectual approach but in truth the real characters brought so much more to the table, and what began to happen - from people like The Pop Group to Throbbing Gristle, and emerging scenes from No New York to Factory Records - is we began to embrace the art of it all. There was acknowledgement of the importance of books, films, graphic art, and experimentation with all those mediums. We were just as interested in turning over rocks to see what lay beneath, as throwing them. There was a sense of new magik emerging."

Pow Wow
was commissioned by the Fetish Records label, and recorded at the Cabs' Western Works studio, where Mallinder would spend his days recording with Cabaret Voltaire, and continue on alone into night recording his debut solo material. "I slept very little in those days," he adds, continuing: "It was done on 8 track and very multi-tracked, so lots of recording, then bouncing, and overdubbing, to get the integrated feel of the tracks. I became very adept at pressing record then jumping onto equipment to play it - it was actually a very 'live' record in that sense. I've always seen rhythm at the core of what I do so I loved the layering of counter rhythms. The sequence/arpeggiator parts were all drum machine triggers that were played live. It was about creating a distinct groove so arrangements came from weaving in and out of those linear grooves. It was fun to play everything from drums, guitars, keys, trumpet, percussion, tapes… and record and produce it all. Prince got it from me!"

More information can be found here.

  1911 Hits