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 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.
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”
November 10, 2011
Clint Heidorn – Atwater
From the inverted cross on its cover right down to the woodsy, gothic font used in the liner notes, Clint Heidorn’s Atwater has its creepy, occult-style imagery down to a tee. But rest assured, this is no gimmicky, shock-appeal fodder – Atwater is a gorgeous and honest exploration of haunting atmospherics and emotionally charged melodic passages that uses its darkness, not to obscure the music, but rather to draw listeners in. Heidorn employs guitars, violins, and sparse percussion to invoke the feeling that this music is rising from the Earth – covered in dirt and leaves, slowly swelling up to monstrous heights. Intense, cathartic, and hopeful, Atwater is truly one of the year’s standout releases. Immerse yourself with a copy of the “hand-stained, hand-numbered, hand-silkscreened” vinyl over on Bandcamp.
Clint Heidorn – “2”
November 7, 2011
Flower Man – Inversion Fortitude
Knowing that everything that comes from the Caboladies camp always maintains a high level of warped, pulsating beauty should only increase the urgency of this recommendation. Inversion Fortitude, a brand new one-sided 10″ release from Caboladies’ Christopher Bush, provides one four-part movement that combines oddball Ferraro-ian melodies with gorgeous bubbling electronic progressions, victorious slow-mo synth lines, and lots more. The many pieces of Inversion Fortitude are connected by a shared focus on melody and a sharp futuristic sheen that sparkles throughout its 12-minute run-time like glowing moon rocks. Sublime and irresistible, Inversion Fortitude is nothing short of triumphant. Stream the whole thing over at the label site and be sure to pick up a copy on gorgeous vinyl.
October 20, 2011
Seziki Tetrasheaf/Quiet Evenings – Split LP
One of the many similarities between Rotifer and Hooker Vision – the two labels who teamed up their imprints and flagship artists for this mindblowing split record – is their focus on the quieter side of intensity and the subtler side of beauty. Often, releases on these labels tend not so much to demand complete attention but to earn it through their complex and immersive nature. This release is no different – with Quiet Evenings exploring the soulful, stretching drone of their Intrepid Trips LP to a new meditative high and Seziki Tetrasheaf creating a bubbling soundscape of weirdness that grows and grows as the track progresses. Without a doubt, this is one of the year’s finest mind vacations and a totally fitting celebration of two of the best labels around today.
Seziki Tetrasheaf – “Let’s Do Carpet Beach (excerpt)”
October 6, 2011
Chubby Wolf – Turkey Decoy
Each release from the late, great Dani Baquet-Long- one half of the fascinating, ethereal ambient duo Celer- carries with it a terrific amount of emotion and intensity. It’s as is her recordings have always existed in the depths of your memory but only begin to surface as she performs them. What’s brilliant about Baquet-Long’s works is that, throughout her powerful and intimate music, her sly sense of humor always shines through (see: song titles like “Cantankerous Baby” and “Cruel Sausage, Gentle Fingers”/her recording alias is “Chubby Wolf”). Turkey Decoy – a brand new record which compiles some of her final works- might be the most uplifting and joyful glimpse into the world of Chubby Wolf, sonically and texturally, to emerge yet. Just an absolute joy from start to finish – essential stuff.
Chubby Wolf – “Birthday Suit”
September 27, 2011
Black Eagle Child – Pages on a Plane
To know Black Eagle Child is to love Black Eagle Child. Under this pseudonym, Michael Jantz makes the kind of music that anyone can fall in love with- even children, apparently- one of whom actually has some guest vocals on this brilliant new record. Although Pages on a Plane saw its release this summer, it still stands as a remarkable work and one of Jantz’s most compelling statements yet. Full of luscious, looping guitar melodies, this one even features an absolutely killer track with an uncharacteristic steady, grooving drum beat. Covering new ground while also capitalizing on what he does best, Jantz has made a truly essential album. Purchase this and some other BEC oddities straight from the man himself.
Black Eagle Child – “Cycle to the Moon”
September 21, 2011
Danny Paul Grody – In Search of Light
The latest gift from the supremely consistent Students of Decay label is the second solo release from contemplative San Francisco frequent Danny Paul Grody. Titled In Search of Light and featuring nine wonderful compositions for synth and acoustic guitar, it is a record at once captivating and calming. Its melodies are equally familiar and fascinating, resulting in a cyclical work of art whose pieces fit together to form a truly warm and embracing listening experience that hits you instantly from the first spin. Sweet, refreshing, and crisp, In Search of Light is a record perfect for the coming of autumn.
Danny Paul Grody – “Orbits”
September 6, 2011
Mirror to Mirror – Here You Leave Today
It’s been a long time coming for this full-length vinyl debut from Mirror to Mirror- the majestic, swirling synth project from So.Cal’s Alex Twomey. We already know Twomey well from his many musical projects (1958-2009, Persimmons Pomegranate, etc), his beloved tape label Jugular Forest, and his many awesome releases for that label and several others. Here You Leave Today, which Twomey is co-releasing with iconic vinyl imprint Cylindrical Habitat Modules, stands as the most epic and fully-realized M2M release to date. It’s a warm and embracing listen: slow motion waves rising into healing patterns of spiritual harmony. Absolutely breathtaking stuff.
Mirror to Mirror – “Here You Leave Today (album preview)”