June 27, 2011
So, friends, we have reached the halfway point of ‘the year after the year 2010′. And, even if Zen Effects has only been around for four months now, I feel as if I’ve been running this blog forever. To celebrate this turning point in the year (and my life), I have compiled a short list of 12 of my favorite 2011 releases (in no order) that are still available to purchase. I review a lot of music – and I honestly love everything I’ve posted about (or else I wouldn’t review it)- but this list compiles a short few that are particularly special to me. Click below to check out the list and thanks to everyone for all your support!
June 24, 2011
Bee Mask – Elegy For Beach Friday
Throughout the last couple years, it would be hard to pick a single artist who has created a more vast, singular, and innovative body of work than Chris Madak aka Bee Mask. A few months back, we got to revisit one of his most moving works issued on vinyl via Spectrum Spools. Now, that same label is offering a career retrospective featuring awe-inspiring tracks handpicked by Madak from limited releases among his hugely sought-after discography. Pressed on luscious double vinyl – (with a strangely appetizing sleeve design) – Elegy For Beach Friday is just a crucial release.
Bee Mask – “Elegy For Beach Friday (album preview)”
June 23, 2011
Jannick Schou – Act of Shimmering
If you think, upon reading the title of Jannick Schou’s brand new release on Experimedia, that Schou will spend his forty-minutes of wax performing the type of beautiful, precious, ambient music for which the term “shimmering” is usually reserved, you best think again. Act of Shimmering is, without a doubt, a beautiful record but the sounds here are wickedly dense. Combing layers of harsh, buzzing guitar drone with otherworldly tape loops and passages of noise, Schou creates a dark and visceral reality. Throughout both sides of this fantastic LP, Schou finds catharsis in this heaviness, and he has created an album that allows listeners to find comfort in a world of chaos.
Jannick Schou – “Act of Shimmering (album preview)
June 22, 2011
Jürgen Müller – Science of the Sea
Science of the Sea, the sole full-length release by German artist Jürgen Müller, is the latest masterpiece offering from Digitalis vinyl, and it hits almost all of my pleasure spots. For one, it’s a total artifact of 1980′s ambient new age synth music: an era where new sounds and textures were seemingly beamed in from the future on a weekly basis. Additionally, it’s a work revolving around the aquatic world – a theme also explored by modern day heroes like Panabrite – and is the result of Müller’s studies of oceanic science. But it’s also just a beautiful, melodic, and eye-opening classic that deserves to be heard by as many ears as possible. Dive in and stick around: this is a truly spiritual journey.
Jürgen Miller – “Sea Bed Meditation” (video by ModuliTV)
June 17, 2011
Stellar Om Source – Heartlands
Christelle Gauldi must have had some sort of creative breakthrough recording at Angel Transfer in The Netherlands back in 2009 because, to this day, we are still hearing total masterpieces from those sessions. Last year, Olde English Spelling Bee gave us Trilogy Select, a veritable kosmiche greatest hits set for Stellar Om Source. Now, Aguirre is continuing its year-long hot streak by releasing Gauldi’s third vinyl release, recorded during her legendary time in the Netherlands. If the sound of droning synths buzzing toward heaven sends you into brain-numbing bliss, then consider this one a gift from the gods.
Stellar Om Source – “Heartlands (album preview)”
June 6, 2011
Quiet Evenings – Intrepid Trips
Intrepid Trips is a monumental release for Grant and Rachel Evans for several reasons. For one, it’s something of a defining moment for Quiet Evenings – a culmination of countless experimentations in synth-based ambient music, resulting in the must stunning and flawless music that either has been involved in yet. Secondly, it’s the very first vinyl release on their marvelous label Hooker Vision, marking a milestone for what started as a super-limited tape and CD-R imprint. Historical importance aside, Intrepid Trips is a gorgeous collaborative effort from Grant and Rachel, bringing their sonic, melodic, and transcendental gifts to a high-water mark. A total new age classic.
Quiet Evenings – “Radiant Endless (excerpt)”
May 24, 2011
KPLR – 12″ EP
Everybody’s favorite formless synth weirdos KPLR are back with the vinyl debut we’ve all been waiting for. Two sides of completely warped alien exploration mastered by Brad Rose, this EP is one of the strangest sonic journeys your ears will likely ever be graced with. Noise coming from all directions, the music on this record is a constantly shape-shifting beast, never settling or even slowing. Considering the strength of their still-killer tape on Prairie Fire, it’s no small complement calling this release their fullest and most developed piece yet. Just fantastic stuff, certainly bodes well for their upcoming Digitalis full-length. Highly recommended!
KPLR – “18.S.S.”
May 23, 2011
Trouble Books & Mark McGuire – s/t LP
Even in the fast-paced world of ambient, loop-based musicians, Mark McGuire had an impressively prolific year in 2010. It seemed like every week, he was putting out a new solo CD-R or tape release, not to mention his stunning work with Emeralds on their breakthrough LP Does It Look Like I’m Here?. So, 2011 has seemed comparatively devoid of McGuire acitivity. Trouble Books, however, just announced this new collaborative LP, featuring their typically gorgeous song structure on top of freshly birthed McGuire compositions. It’s a stunning collaboration, equal parts heavenly drift and woodsy hearth. Just fascinating to hear.
Trouble Books & Mark McGuire – “Song for Reiner Lucassens”
May 20, 2011
The Caretaker – An Empty Bliss Beyond This World
Leyland Kirby’s last album under his Caretaker monitor, 2008′s Persistent Repetition of Phrases, managed to crawl under my skin and stayed in my head forever. I know I am not alone in that reaction, judging by the deafening acclaim that LP received and by the mountain of anticipation that awaits An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, Kirby’s brand new follow-up to his debut. From the sounds of it, An Empty Bliss is a similarly beautiful piece of music but if there’s one thing we know about Leyland Kirby, it’s that he is always switching his game up on us and surprising us. In what is sure to be an enormous year for Leyland Kirby, this record presents itself as a truly essential release.
The Caretaker – “An Empty Bliss Beyond This World (album preview)”
May 18, 2011
Caboladies – Renewable Destination
The boys from planet Caboladies have got quite a few notches in their astral belts. They have several widely acclaimed side projects – including Carl Calm and Flower Man – and a number of bonafide classic releases – including the beautiful Crowded Out Memory CD-R and a tremendous split on NNA Tapes with Oneohtrix Point Never. Now, they’ve got a brand new full-length LP release on the supremely classy Students of Decay label. Only 50 copies are available at source – all on unreal orange vinyl. These things will go fast so act accordingly! If you miss out, though, don’t be too upset. The remaining 250 copies should be available at distros sometime in June.
Caboladies – “Collector”