Nilotika Drum Ensemble, "Ejokawulida"

Massive 2-tracker debut EP by hard-hitting Nilotika Drum Ensemble on their ancestral Bugandan percussion. Formed 11 year ago in Kampala, Nilotika have been a staple of Nyege Nyege parties since day one as well as forming the core of the more recent Nihiloxica project. Consisting of seven drummers under the leadership of Jajja Kalanda, Nilotika lure us into a mesmeric sonic kingdom dominated by furious beats against dense and complex polyphonic textures. Played with unrelenting energy and innate power over a repetitive trance-inducing structure both tracks are an urgent exploration of different rhythmic territories through intricate patterns, rapid undulations and haunting build-ups that command you to groove and dance. The first track, "Ejokawulida," is based on rhythms of Iteso traditional music from the eastern part of Uganda, whilst "Kekusimbe" is inspired by a variant of Bugandan traditional music called Bakisiimba.

More information can be found here.

  1419 Hits

Abul Mogard, "In Immobile Air"

In Immobile Air is Abul Mogard’s new solo album since 2019's Kimberlin OST, an epochal assembly of widescreen ambient works made during lockdown in Spring 2020.

Master of harmonic empathy Abul Mogard makes an ever welcome return to Ecstatic with a suite of patented pathos for testing times, mostly generated from an old Bechstein upright piano built in 1891.

Inspired as much by the instrument's rich harmonic textures as the Italo Calvino short story that lends the album's track titles, In Immobile Air collects five works written by Mogard during the ill-fated Spring of 2020.

Thematically, the album dwells on Mogard's typical concerns with memory and states of mind, and comes to feel like the musical rendering of a soul preoccupied by their mortality.

As such, it can be read as a suite of instrumental hymns for a world coming to terms with its current condition and state of static unrest, evoking a stillness of air in its glacial movements while reflecting a gnawing sense of something impending. Yet, it's simultaneously and quite profoundly soothing in its widescreen harmonic shifts along the knife-edge between bliss and dread.

The album arrives after a pause in Mogard's prized oeuvre since 2019's And We Are Passing Through Silently with a humbly arresting presence that perfuses all of his best work and keeps his listeners rapt for more.

The handful of pieces speak to both the artist’s rich inner life, and the inner voice of his instrument. Using analog and digital equipment, he transforms the melancholic simplicity of his melodies into a quietly dreamlike space.

The title track lays out this bare aesthetic with wilting, elegiac notes that vaporize into a timbral thizz, before its brooding course takes in the oblique beauty of "Clouds" and tarry drones recalling recent Deathprod moves in "Black Dust." He finally emerges from the murk most poignantly with the clearer keys of "Sand," only to shore up somewhere more contemplative, abstract, in the low key magisterial expanse of "On a Shattered Shell Beach."

The drawings featured in the cover artwork were made by Marco de Sanctis at the same time as the music.

"I think of these drawings as images from his memory, snippets from his past, like Calvino's collection of sand," Mogard offers. "But perhaps they were just drawings."

More information can be found here.

  1525 Hits

Tomaga, "Intimate Intensity"

The last, outstanding release of the London based experimental duo (Tom Relleen and Valentina Magaletti), accomplished just before Tom’s passing in August 2020, is the distillate of two years of new creative enhancement.

Mostly recorded at Tom's "Bunker" – as he called his house in London – during the days off from live performances and challenging collaborations throughout the world, Intimate Immensity collects ten intense tracks that outline a breath-taking epiphanic journey revisiting the multifaceted worlds explored by the band in seven years of non-stop and mostly live activity.
The wonderful blue artwork especially created by the acclaimed artists Icinori is a perfect match with the gist of Tomaga's aesthetics of intimacy that is well expressed by a few lines in the gatefold:

"I just found an interesting book by Gaston Bachelard called The Poetics of Space, with chapters on 'house as universe,' nests, shells, 'intimate immensity,' 'the phenomenology of roundness'... I think it ties in with our feelings about bunkers and the urge to partition the universe to create our own spaces, vs cleansing or colonizing the everyday to make it empty of anyone else's taste.  I think Tomaga tracks with their individual micro worlds are a bit like that…" – in this way Relleen introduces us into Tomaga's pulsing universe where space and meaning, articulated by sound, acquire breath and character as an expressive place where you can feel at home.

It is a quite similar aesthetics that could be perceived through Derek Jarman's quotation from Blue (1993) used in the video of "Intimate Immensity" realized by Noriko Okaku together with some of Tom's favourite stones collected from different places throughout his life.

Blue protects white from innocence
Blue drags black with it
Blue is darkness made visible
Blue protects white from innocence
Blue drags black with it
Blue is darkness made visible.

The dialogical richness of musical influences, that has always been a peculiarity of all Tomaga's performances, finds its peak here. The sonic spectrum is really wide, ranging from modern composers such as Laurie Spiegel and Pauline Anna Strom who has recently passed away, to the British refined dance aesthetics of Muslimgauze and Ossia.

The somewhat deceitful approachability of the ten tracks, their crystal clear and elegant surface, is in fact the outcome of the deep process of transformation that has personally and musically involved the duo during the last two years. 

Out March 26. 2021 on Hands in the Dark.

  1466 Hits

Perc, "Bitter Music - Complete Edition"

Perc's career defining Bitter Music album from 2017 is re-released for 2021 including all the remixes from the album gathered together for the first time.

First up is the original ten track album including "Look What Your Love Has Done To Me," then come the remixes including reworks from I Hate Models, Dax J, Amelie Lens, Matrixxman, Lucy, Pessimist, Hodge, Perc himself and many more.

More information can be found here.

  1433 Hits

Madlib/Kieran Hebden, "Sound Ancestors"

Kieren Hebden: "I was listening to some of his new beats and studio sessions when I had the idea that it would be great to hear some of these ideas made into a Madlib solo album ... arranged into tracks that could all flow together in an album designed to be listened to start to finish ... we decided to work on this together with him sending me tracks, loops, ideas and experiments that I would arrange, edit, manipulate and combine. I was sent hundreds of pieces of music over a couple of years."

Out January 29th, 2021.  More information can be found here.

  1484 Hits

Meitei, "Kof≈´"

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Over the last few years, Daisuke Fujita's Meitei project has carved out an intriguing and hard-to-describe niche that brings together several seemingly disparate threads I never expected to see intertwined. The vision at the heart of the project is an attempt to recreate what Fujita calls the Lost Japanese Mood, which makes his work a conceptual kindred spirit to The Caretaker. Meitei can be considerably more eclectic and inventive than that comparison would suggest, however, as there is a subtle sense of playfulness that approximates chopped, screwed, and deconstructed exotica even when the ostensible subject matter is something creepy like Japanese ghost stories.

KITCHEN

Before now, Meitei's work has primarily lingered in fairly "ambient" territory, crafting surreal soundscapes of hazy, crackling loops and enigmatic snatches of dialogue. This latest release, on the other hand, captures Meitei in unexpectedly rhythmic and melodic form and marks a truly revelatory leap forward. It is tempting to describe Kofu as Meitei’s “party album,” as the best moments call to mind the delirious fun of Carl Stone’s recent pop music collages, but there are a lot of haunted, phantasmagoric, and mysterious interludes that would make it one very unsettling party. Both sides of Meitei’s vision have their share of highlights though, as the warbling, hiss-soaked beauty of "Manyo" is every bit as compelling as the propulsive, rapturous left-field beat tape fare of the two-part "Oiran." A handful of pieces feel a bit too incidental to leave a deep impression of their own, but I certainly have no qualms with the eerie, dreamlike spell that they help conjure. If Kofu offered only that, it would still be an appealingly immersive and unusual album, but the most inspired pieces elevate it into something truly sublime and memorable.

Samples can be found here.

  2495 Hits

William Basinski, "Lamentations"

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I suppose I am predisposed to enjoy any major new statement from William Basinski, given my undying love of both hypnotic repetition and tape loops, but I was still a bit blindsided by the dazzling heights he sometimes reaches with this latest opus. That said, the heart of Basinski's vision remains mostly unchanged, as Lamentations is yet another album lovingly assembled from his seemingly bottomless archive of distressed tapes ("over forty years of mournful sighs meticulously crafted into songs"). The mood and structure this time around are fairly far from Basinski's usual comfort zone, however, as these twelve eerie miniatures feel like a hallucinatory stroll through a haunted and rotting opera house.

Temporary Residence

Such an aesthetic is generally just fine by me (though not my favorite of Basinski's album-length visions), yet Lamentations feels legitimately brilliant when it transcends mere mystery- and sadness-soaked ambiance, as it does on the swooningly operatic centerpiece "Please, This Shit Has Got To Stop." With that piece, Basinski attains a level of heavenly melodicism and emotional intensity that I have not encountered in any of his previous work. The rest of the album, on the other hand, generally feels like an atypically murky, brooding, and subtly nightmarish twist on his usual loops of ravaged tape. However, there are also a few second-tier highlights like the swooningly angelic "All These Too, I, I Love" or "O, My Daughter, O, My Sorrow," which approximates the strains of a great This Mortal Coil song drifting through a supernatural fog. As such, Lamentations lies somewhere between a somewhat uneven album and a significant creative breakthrough. For now, Basinski has not fully mastered how to craft short loop-driven compositions as consistently mesmerizing as his classic longform work, but I suspect he will get there soon: adding chopped classical vocalists to his arsenal was definitely a welcome and wonderful flash of inspiration. More importantly, "Please, This Shit Has Got To Stop" may very well be the finest piece that he has ever released. While I suspect I could happily listen to variations of El Camino Real or 92982 forever, I am absolutely delighted that there are still some fresh ideas lurking in all those decaying tapes.

Samples can be found here.

  1749 Hits

His Name is Alive, "A Silver Thread (Home Recordings 1979 - 1990)"

A 4-disc, 60-track anthology compiling early work by Warren Defever aka His Name Is Alive, prior to signing to 4AD. This set compiles 3 volumes previously released on vinyl, alongside a bonus disc and 36-page booklet.

For the past couple of years the Disciples label has been exploring the His Name Is Alive tape archives, charting the development of their sound over 3 roughly chronological volumes - All The Mirrors In The House, Return To Never and Hope Is A Candle (the latter LP being released alongside this boxed set). The full vinyl trilogy is anthologized here, alongside a bonus disc which collects together the best tracks from a series of cassette companion volumes that Defever compiled to go alongside each LP - 6Teen OK, Return Versions and Ghost Tape EXP.

While 'official' His Name Is Alive albums are much-loved by fans of the 4AD label in its crepuscular Cocteau Twins/This Mortal Coil period, these tentative tracks reveal a different kind of sound, notably losing the layer of prominent female lead vocals to reveal the shadowy instrumental moves going on underneath, with some tracks recorded when Defever was as young as 10.
With help transferring ageing cassettes and annotating the results from Shelley Salant of Tyvek, the unearthed results are revelatory - a gorgeous sequence of gently decaying tone float made with an incredibly primitive DIY set-up.

More information can be found here.

  1528 Hits

zakè, "Orchestral Studies Collectanea"

Orchestral Studies Collectanea consists of seven previously unreleased orchestral movements (Tracks 1-7) in addition to remastered variations of arrangements that originally appeared on Orchestral Tape Studies and Orchestral Tape Studies [Tyresta Reworks].

Orchestral Studies Collectanea is a compilation arranged and produced by zakè with additional production by close friend Tyresta. OSC is a group of richly layered movements of fragmented orchestral loops, paying homage to minimalist symphonic composers and orchestras. zakè and Tyresta incorporate field recordings and faint drone billows to accompany these selected samples of orchestral loops. With an emphasis on tone and recurrent murmurs, these arrangements offer approximately 48 minutes of delicate repetition, reticent sound treatments, and subtle manipulations. OSC is intended for low-volume listening.

More information can be found here.

  1421 Hits

Esplendor Geométrico, "40 Años Nos Iluminan"

40 AÑOS NOS ILUMINAN40 AÑOS NOS ILUMINAN

40 Años Nos Iluminan ("40 years enlighten us") is a special edition release celebrating the 40th anniversary of legendary Spanish electronic pioneers  Esplendor Geométrico.  This is NOT a "best of" or "collection" but an all NEW album!

40 Años Nos Iluminan is not just another EG album, as they have reinvented themselves by taking inspiration from their own long career since 1980. The new tracks included in 40 Años… offer better sound and compositions full of details, sometimes subtle, opening a new path of exploration that goes beyond the typical current industrial music loaded with clichés.  Here E.G. experiment with noise, recorded voices, striking collages, and their trademark hypnotic rhythms of industrial trance. 40 Años… marks a turning point and an evolution for E.G. (which, however, still sounds like E.G.).

The album includes 16 NEW tracks in the double vinyl version and 24 in the double CD.  Four cuts are versions-reconstructions of old EG tracks by other artists.

More information can be found here.

  1387 Hits

Robert Turman, "Chapter Eleven" boxed set reissue

Debuting in 1988 as a self-released 8xCassette boxed set, Chapter Eleven collects the solo recordings (1976 - 1987) from one of the earliest members of the US Industrial Noise scene, coalescing a wide swath of influences and culling experimental techniques into inventive new terrain. Carefully remastered from the original tapes, this deluxe reissue is a long-awaited rescue from obscurity.

"Turman seemed to have taken over where the last of the great synth based kraut artists left off in the '70s, infusing the spiritual meditation music with his own brand of loop hypnosis, slowly moving drones, industrial patterns, guitar fuzz, and even some in-your-face 80's style synth work" - IMPOSE Magazine

More information can be found here.

  1370 Hits

Mouchoir Étanche, "Une Fille Pétrifiée"

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The main reason that I follow Marc Richter's career is simply that he keeps releasing great albums, but he deserves a lot of credit for being one of the most restlessly creative and consistently adventurous artists in the electronic music underground. In keeping with that theme, this latest Black to Comm side project is arguably another experimental playground akin to Jemh Circs, yet Mouchoir Étanche's first full-length unveils a surprisingly focused vision best described as "somewhere between a chopped & screwed opera and a fever dream about an imaginary Dario Argento film set in a cathedral."

Cellule 75

The delirious intensity of the opening "Enter Mirror Hotel" is probably the perfect distillation of this latest direction, but it has some tough competition from a few other pieces deeper in the album, such as "Sécheresse," which brings together an achingly gorgeous descending organ theme with an evocative host of found sounds (children playing, ringing metal chimes) that overtake the original motif and transform into a smeared nightmare. "Le rêveur illimité" is yet another favorite, as overlapping layers of a woman speaking in French tumble over each other while eerie drones mass and slowly undulate beneath. It sounds a hell of lot like what would happen if Félicia Atkinson decided to create her own alternate soundtrack to Suspiria (which I sincerely hope she someday does). Admittedly, some of Une fille pétrifiée's other pieces are occasionally too indulgent for my taste, but Richter is generally in fine form, as he sustains a unbroken mood of haunted and bleary hypnagogic ambiance while still playfully stretching and twisting samples far beyond recognizability. In theory, Richter's finest work will always wind up on his more formal and "composed" Black to Comm albums, but he clearly has too many excellent ideas for just one outlet and some of those ideas work quite beautifully in this more spontaneous and collage-inspired incarnation.

Samples can be found here.

  1615 Hits

Alina Kalancea, "Impedance"

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Impedance, an entirely instrumental album spanning 4 sides, contains powerful rhythmic sequences, heart-beating frequencies and hypnotic loops that are paradoxically encapsulated in carefully crafted compositions which are full of secret passages and hidden doors. Kalancea's work creates ungraspable sonic experiences, which take us over, immersing us in powerful and mind altering soundscapes.

There's no quick payoff on Impedance. This is the sound of new, patient electronic music full of depth and substance.

Alina Kalancea is a Romanian sound artist and composer based in Modena, Italy. She has studied sound design and synthesis with Enrico Cosimi and collaborated with producer Alex Gamez, and artists Julia Kent and Raven Bush.

More information can be found here.

  1298 Hits

Dead Sea Apes, "Night Lands"

As darkness falls, once familiar territory is rendered alien and foreboding; full of weird and terrifying possibilities. These are Night Lands.

Cardinal Fuzz are proud to present Night Lands, the new album from Dead Sea Apes.

Recorded live in the rehearsal room last December, the newly expanded 4 piece Dead Sea Apes lock into spooky nocturnal grooves, augmented by Nik Rayne (The Myrrors) who was over in the UK for the month.

Night Lands is comprised of 3 off-the-cuff improvised jams, where Dead Sea Apes effortlessly mind meld with Rayne to head off into parts unknown.

Night Lands by Dead Sea Apes is released on vinyl and ltd CD by Cardinal Fuzz.

Out February 7, 2020.  More information can be found here.

  4820 Hits

Sunburned Hand of the Man, "Pick a Day to Die"

"Sunburned Hand of the Man might be the last of the great American free rock collectives. There was a time, not too long ago, when every region of this great republic could boast of its own visionary troupe of seekers and improvisers, thrumming at the frequency of the illuminated world. There was Pelt in the south and Jackie-O Motherfucker in the Pacific northwest, No-Neck Blues Band in New York and the iridescent Jewelled Antler out in the Bay Area. And up in the New England wilds, there was The Sunburned Hand of the Man.  David Keenan of The Wire memorably called it the New Weird America. It felt to me like the mystical democracy of Walt Whitman. It was never arch or jittery or wiry; it sprawled like the continent and massed like the seas. It produced some of the most singularly thrilling performances that I ever had the privilege of witnessing. Most of those groups have since gone dormant—disbanded entirely or decomposed into smaller units and solo projects. But the Sunburned Hand of the Man remains.

Or rather, we might say that the Sunburned Hand has returned. The sudden appearance of the phenomenal Headless in late 2019 felt like something of a resurfacing. There had, of course, been a steady trickle of obscuro cassettes and CD-Rs over the years, filling out an already bewilderingly immense and impossible to master discography. But Headless felt like their first proper album since the release of the Kieran Hebden-produced A on Ecstatic Peace! all the way back in 2010. It appears that it was no one-off.

The thing that one has to remember about Sunburned Hand of the Man is that while they were no less committed to vast, ritualistic summonings than their siblings in the American free rock underground, they were perhaps uniquely capable of channeling that cosmic funk. There’s a throb and a groove to Sunburned's music that made it as much body music as head music. This is a different kind of American weirdness than that which conjures ghosts and threatens to tear down the veil between worlds. This is “free your ass” weirdness that chugs and bounces. It makes us want to get out of our heads where we’ve all been trapped these past months and drive on the freeway or bop down the street or loaf like Walt Whitman in the stoned sun. Like the man said, it makes us want to taste the campfire. Pick A Day to Die. Sure, but definitely not today."

--Brent S. Sirota--

More information can be found here.

  1259 Hits

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.

  1300 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.

Continue reading
  4155 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.

  1911 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.

  1895 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.

  1860 Hits