November 30, 2011
Millions – Millions
Having released some spectacular music on a vast number of acclaimed labels (Stunned, Blackest Rainbow, 2 AM, etc…), Millions should be a household name for most ambient cassette hoarders by now. This brand-new self-titled CD on the Install label, however, brings David Suss’s glacially paced worlds of synth drone to a sublime level of excellence. It’s without a doubt his finest offering yet and fully represents the levels of patience and atmosphere that make Millions such a singular and engrossing act. All the way through, Millions is just a gorgeous, compelling listen. Throughout the album’s many lengthy peaks and valleys of glorious sound, there is not one dull moment. Hugely recommended.
Millions – “Glacial Time”
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”
November 14, 2011
Sparkling Wide Pressure/No Mind Meditation – Split c30
Some record labels take some time to develop before demanding the music world’s attention; others come right out the gates fully loaded and ready to blow people’s minds. It goes without saying that Paramita Recordings is in the latter category, welcoming itself into the world with three split-releases featuring some of the most acclaimed and celebrated acts in the current underground of cassette coolness, packaged with flat-out jaw-dropping artwork. Best of all is this wickedly warped split starring ZE favorites Sparkling Wide Pressure and No Mind Meditation. SWP presents another reason why we all need more of his gorgeous, lopping guitar-sprinkled drone, and NMM goes even further into the realms of subconscious, psychedelic new-worlds ambience. Revelatory, chill-inducing stuff.
Sparkling Wide Pressure/No Mind Meditation – “Split [sample]”
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 31, 2011
The Cats’ Orchestra – Easter Yeast
Chances are, you’ve never heard music quite like Easter Yeast. It’s an album that runs primarily on chaos, noise, and spontaneity- yet there is total beauty and grace to each of its noisy, subtly melodic, homemade compositions. It’s a completely cohesive work of lo-fi art that functions best as an album- yet nearly every track could stand alone as a highlight. Even if you can’t quite figure out what exactly is going on in the mind of The Cats’ Orchestra mastermind/Dumpster Diver Nicholay Syrov, I’m willing to bet you will be totally moved by (not to mention, strangely addicted to) this album. Big recommendation!
The Cats’ Orchestra – “Ablutionary Ritual”
October 28, 2011
The Renderers – A Rocket Into Nothing
Even if A Rocket Into Nothing is The Renderers’ first album for indie stalwart Ba Da Bing, there’s no hiding the fact that this band has been around for quite some time now. And on A Rocket into Nothing – an album that marks the beginning of the second decade of the Renderers’s career – the band totally sounds like seasoned veterans even if they’ve still got the raucous energy of some new psychedelic upstart. Beginning with the queasy echoes of opener “Down River,” The Renderes build a beautiful ambient atmosphere where electric guitars squeal and reverberate like David Lynch’s nightmares and powerful vocal hooks pierce right through to the bone. Simply put, A Rocket Into Nothing is a masterfully created listening experience that just refuses to leave your head.
The Renderers – “This Shining Life”