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 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 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 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”
November 28, 2011
Zac Nelson – Towards Your Own Worlds
The key word in the title of Zac Nelson’s suitably out-there new tape on Field Hymns is the last word – that’s plural: worlds. This tape is one that occupies an enormous amount of celestial territory from bouncy, driving synth pop to slow jams and mind-spinning drone. Nelson’s music, however, isn’t all chameleonic; all six tracks on this album bare his unique sonic stamp. Pieces are connected by shared thematic and melodic references, making the album a unified and powerful whole. In other words, even if we’re dealing with several words here, they are all orbiting around the same strange, pulsating sun.
Zac Nelson – “Head Held Erect”
November 22, 2011
Reedbeds – Swells on High
2011 has been a huge year for Carter Mullin. He’s put out a slew of fantastic and warmly-received albums under his Reedbeds monicker and a handful of great releases on his label Calypso Hum, for which he also provides artwork. Now he is ending the year on a hugely positive note with the finest album of his career so far – the brooding and texturally fascinating Swells on High, just full of wholly immersive interlocking, meditative, looping guitar melodies. It’s his first release for Hooker Vision, a label that is no stranger to sweeping drone classics, and stands tall among the label’s best releases to date. In this interview, Carter discusses the making of Swells on High, his creative process, and the future for his music and his label. Click below to read on.
Reedbeds – “untitled [excerpt]”
November 18, 2011
Josh Mason – Temple Bell
Temple Bell isn’t the first lush, ambient release of the year to divulge itself in the concepts of memory and meditation, but it might just be the most effective of echoing that feeling of drifting into the subconscious, with one’s thoughts becoming increasingly choppy and disconnected with each deep breath. Josh Mason’s world involves spontaneous bursts of buzzes and beeps intertwined with breezy acoustic guitar strums, melodic riffage, and reverberating tones. At times, Mason’s bittersweet electronic emotionalism recalls the sweeping dronescapes of Fennesz, albeit with a more fragmented edge. Comprised of six pieces, all lasting under five minutes, Temple Bell never overstays its welcome and, like a good night of sleep, ends before you’re ready to move on with your life. Just blissful music.
November 15, 2011
Giant Claw – Tunnel Mind
Keith Rankin, the man behind beloved Brooklyn label Orange Milk, creates jumpy, gorgeous, and psychedelic electronic nuggets under the monicker Giant Claw, and he has been refining his style with brilliant consistency on several sublime releases over the last few years. His most recent release is the dark and dreamlike Tunnel Mind, which puts a ghostly neon shine on Rankin’s world of synth mazes and drum machine backdrops. The album is almost operatic in its sprawling nature and the adventurous melodic territory which it covers, yet Tunnel Mind reamins just the kind of intimate and subtly addictive album that listeners will just fall in love with right away.
Giant Claw – “Wonderland”