September 5, 2011
Aquarelle – Sung in Broken Symmetry
There’s a lot to love about Sung in Broken Symmetry, the new album by Aquarelle. It’s musically brilliant, with haunting melodies evolving throughout the course of each track. It’s also sonically stupefying- an awe-inspiring listen that washes over you, reverberating coolly in your head. Warm and spacious guitars – both electric and acoustic – build and collapse with flashes of cello and pedal effects until it all just sounds like one massive echo. Think Endless Summer made for the September-flood-set. And, on the impeccable Students of Decay label, Sung in Broken Symmetry comes equipped in a gorgeously designed sleeve with the first 50 on crystal clear vinyl. Highly recommended!
Aquarelle – “With Verticals”
August 4, 2011
Dry Valleys – Movile Cave Sojourns
Canadian fledgeling tape label Old Frontiers truly brings the goods with its first official releases: tapes from guitar-synth mainstays Sundrips and also ice crystal overlords Dry Valleys. On Movile Cave Sojourns, Dry Valleys creates an impeccably sparse and haunted landscape. You can practically hear a cool winter wind rolling through the chilly synth overtones that comprise both sides of the tape, and you better believe it feels refreshing and liberating. Even when things get darker on the second side, Movile Cave Sojourns makes for a highly spiritual and rejuvenating listen.
Dry Valleys – “Movile Cave Sojourns (excerpt)”
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 15, 2011
Derek Rogers – The Exhaustion of Emotion
Last week, the marvelous California label Bridgetown unveiled a biblical, earth-shattering batch of 15 new releases. Among them is this new release from Derek Rogers, whose masterful Informal Meditations is still echoing in my head. The Exhaustion of Emotion is a similarly meditative album, but maybe think of this one as that tape’s “formal” counterpart. Rogers’ reverberating, droning synth has never sounded more stately and expressive, and his gift for melody is as strong and captivating as ever. It’s just a cooling, refreshing listen – no “Exhaustion” to be found here, outside the title. You can preview this album, and the rest of the batch, in this handy sampler, but be sure to head over to Bridgetown and grab whatever you can as fast as you can.
March 4, 2011
Nova Scotian Arms – Sacred Drift
It’s no secret that I believe that Grant and Rachel Evans are doing some of the most exciting things in the music world right now. Hooker Vision, the label they run together, has put out many of my favorite tape and CD-R releases of the past few years and their collaborative musical project, Quiet Evenings, has resulted in nothing but sublime audio transcendence on every release. Grant’s solo project, Nova Scotian Arms, is currently on an especially wild streak of spectacular releases. Best of all is his newest one, Sacred Drift, a wholly immersive set of breathtaking tape-loop experimentation that ranks among the finest sets of music I have heard all year. I was fortunate enough to get to speak with Grant about this new album. Click on to read all about the new album, his new projects, and the upcoming NSA-vinyl release on Digitalis.
March 3, 2011
Sky Stadium – The Lodge
Here’s some warm, fuzzy ambient synth music to soundtrack extended periods of time spent staring at the sky and questioning your existence. Sky Stadium offers glacial-paced tones that hit from all angles- constantly washing you in the purest of natural-minded drones. Electronic music rarely excels in being so unabashedly celebratory and entirely meditative at the same time. You can never have enough of these sorts of tapes!
Also available from the world of Sky Stadium is Blue Horizons - a brief set burned onto individually labeled Sony-brand 3″ CD-Rs, a similarly beautiful and inviting collection.
March 1, 2011
Caged Soprano – Erowid High School
Caged Soprano didn’t change the world with last year’s The Newspaper tape, but it came pretty close. Now, the Jugular Forest label finally gives us a proper follow up: it’s called Erowid High School and it seeks to answer all your coming-of-age questions. Sparkling, translucent synths dance through the hallways of your memory, begging you to be late for class and skip detention for once. While you’re there, also check out two new tapes from ambient megabullies Mirror to Mirror. Giving up your lunch money has never felt so good.
February 25, 2011
Black Eagle Child – Lobelia
Catching my attention with his recent split with Eureka on Stunned, Michael Jantz, known to the music world as Black Eagle Child, writes gorgeous, nostalgic guitar pieces that are hitting the spot for me in a major way now. Recently put out by the wonderful Preservation label, Lobelia is his first full-length release and is a bittersweet and uplifting meditation on family, birth, and memory. Truly astounding work – this is simply beautiful music.
February 22, 2011
Kevin Drumm - Imperial Distortion
Kevin Drumm, the world-class noise artist who turned everyone’s brain to slime with his 2002 masterwork Sheer Hellish Miasma and last year’s 5-CD set Necro Acoustic, is also capable of making breathtaking, meditative ambient music. This is exactly what he delivered on Imperial Distortion back in 2008, and now, Hospital Records is giving us all a chance to see that side of him again. This 3xLP reissue is the first time Imperial Distortion has been released on vinyl and is limited to 300 copies.