February 13, 2012
Perspectives / Basked Unit – Split C20
Here’s an expectedly weird one from the glimmering House of Sun: a split between likeminded sonic weirdos Perspectives and Basked Unit, each delivering some of their most expressive work to date. Perspectives starts things out with some slow-building and truly out-there walls of echo and chaotic instrumentation. It’s dark sounding music, with mysteries bubbling up everywhere. On the flip, Basked Unit (the collaborative effort of Pouw and Johnson) begins with a relaxing breeze of mellow guitars before transitioning into a sinister and ominous swell of patches and loops. By the very end of the tape, the sun may be showing signs of emerging, but the listener will likely be getting ready to start the whole thing over, just to bath in just a little more darkness.
Perspectives – “Intro (excerpt)”
January 25, 2012
From the Mouth of the Sun – Woven Tide
Lush and haunting, Woven Tide marks the first releases from From the Mouth of the Sun, the collaborative effort between Dag Rosenqvist of Jasper TX and composer Aaron Martin. Like Martin’s grave, woodsy 2010 effort Worried About The Fire (also released on Experimedia), Woven Tide conjures vivid imagery using sparse, subtle tools. Some tracks disintegrate and dissolve into warm, melodic resolutions, like the entrancing “Color Loss”; in others, tension builds to stunning moments of catharsis, most notably in the gorgeous “Like Shadows in an Empty Cathedral”. As a whole record, Woven Tide is a sublime and constantly shifting work: one that finds both of its illustrious creators in top form.
From the Mouth of the Sun – “Woven Tide [album preview]”
January 11, 2012
Thoughts on Air – Paleo Sails
Paleo Sails, Scott Johnson’s latest transmission under the Thoughts on Air monicker, comes packaged with a whimsical feline-frenzied collage that might stray a bit from the bold, minimalist Avant Archive aesthetic. The music itself, however, is exactly the high quality one would expect from the unstoppable label. Spanning a full hour of brain-melting music, Paleo Sails transforms from murky drone to hazy atmospherics with a gorgeous vocal-infused coda that ties the whole thing together nicely and assures you that, even if your mind may be drifting in and out of your body, Johnson is omnipresently overseeing the chaos. And his vision is uniformly righteous.
Thoughts on Air – “Yarlo”
January 5, 2012
Nova Scotian Arms – Cult Spectrum
2011 was another banner year for Grant Evans’ Nova Scotian Arms project, releasing the best tapes of his career as well as making his vinyl debut on the sublime Crystal Anniversary, with wife/partner-in-crime Rachel Evans. Cult Spectrum, however, marks NSA’s first full-length solo vinyl release and undoubtedly his most captivating work yet. Dark and mysterious, Cult Spectrum is an enormous listening experience that combines many of Evans’ talents: long stretches of tape loops, furtive guitar movements, and subtle swells of melodic drone. Cult Spectrum is an enormous victory for the NSA project, and it marks the first truly essential release of 2012 and one of the finest records of its kind in a long time.
January 4, 2012
Nathan McLaughlin – Echolocation #5
Released on the always-reliable Notice Recordings in April of last year, Nathan McLaughlin’s powerful and majestic Echolocation #5 is a tape that I’ve been listening to extensively. McLaughlin’s music is subtle and textured; repeated listens will reveal a fascinating amount of levels to each sound presented. But there is a gentle, primitive power to these recordings as well. Tape loops and delay are layered to create a steady swell of noise; music that becomes a part of your environment and inseparable from the atmosphere it is in. Echolocation #5 is a force of nature and arguably McLaughlin’s strongest statement yet.
December 23, 2011
V/A – Ous Mal Is Dead . . . Long Live Ous Mal
Olli Aarni, the Finnish mastermind behind Ous Mal, has made some enormously captivating and engrossing music throughout the years, inspiring many of the most influential faces in ambient music today. A few of these faces appear on Ous Mal Is Dead, a gorgeously fluid remix album on the unstoppable Australian label Preservation. Contributions from artists such as Black Eagle Child, Nova Scotian Arms, and Motion Sickness of Time Travel explore the versatility and complex beauty of Ous Mal’s music and the understated power of his recordings. As Aarni explores new sectors of music under the Nuojuva monicker, Ous Mal Is Dead stands as a beautiful representation of some of his most brilliant work as interpreted by several of his most talented peers.
Deep Magic – “Parveke (Deep Magic’s Fatal Wound)”
December 20, 2011
Phos Hilaron – Break In The Sun Till The Sun Breaks Down
Sunshine Ltd. has been, without a doubt, one of the most exciting tape labels to watch in 2011, with each of its releases baring subtle revelations in the field of electronic experimentation and ambient beauty. The most recent release on the label also happens to be the most epic offering yet: Phos Hilaron’s blindingly psychedelic Break In The Sun Till The Sun Breaks Down. And don’t worry, the music has got enough mystery and intrigue to justify its wordy, expansive title. Recorded in a church by “two brothers who haven’t seen each other in quite some time”, Break in the Sun explores a world of sonic brilliance that just illuminates the space it’s in, until everything seems as pure as the snow-white album cover.
December 9, 2011
Spiral Index – Gilded Dawn
Norm Chambers has already brought us some of the year’s best music under the impenetrable Panabrite monicker and now he’s introducing us to his newest offshoot: the proggy world of Spiral Index. Gilded Dawn is a bright and dreamlike journey into synth-led pop expeditions, sounding like a futuristic hybrid of Chamber’s bouncy masterwork Infinite Pulsations and last year’s still-awesome Discoverer tape on Overland Shark (but with 100% more vocoder!!!). The path of Gilded Dawn, however, definitely takes its own unique course; these songs are cinematic, melodic, and just flat-out epic. My prediction is that, pretty soon, our entire solar system will be echoing with the cries for a vinyl release.
Spiral Index – “Phobos”
December 6, 2011
Pink Desert – Daytime Series
From the venerable and aesthetically perfect House of Sun label comes this brilliant, symphonic slice of sonic beauty via PA soundscaper Pink Desert. On Daytime Series, shimmering drone emerges from the dust like the rising sun and proceeds to scorch everything in its path with blinding modular tones. Things rise and fall and transform melodically, but overall Daytime Series floats at one specific frequency, one which manages to evaporate all earthly worries throughout its nuclear, radioactive glow. This one is not for the casual spacehead, but rather, it is a supremely powerful listening experience and a totally joyful aural adventure.
Pink Desert – “Intro”
December 2, 2011
KPLR – Untitled
At last, one of the year’s most anticipated releases arrives just in time for prime placement in everyone’s end-of-the-year lists. Untitled is KPLR’s follow-up to this year’s astronomically awesome vinyl debut, and it pretty much finds KPLR maximizing on all of the things that has made their music so captivating and weird from the beginning. The pieces here are all fully fleshed-out robotic lurches, squirming and stuttering along to their own bubbling beats and chaotic rhythms, building toward chirping climaxes of electronic mayhem. It’s certainly the most epic and cinematic release in KPLR’s stellar discography, and I think this might even be their most danceable music to date. Seriously – this is one magical album.
KPLR – “circuit.rn 1”