Recent Releases: August 3rd and 6th, and September 10th
Just added some thoughts to the anticipation list, about some recent music from the beginning of August:
August 3rd, 2021
Mukqs - In Human Form (Husky Pants Records)
This is a great introduction to the way Mukqs does things. Not because it covers everything in his repertoire (there's none of the aquatic ambience of Water Levels, or the relatively coherent beats on his work with Sharkula), but the journeys taken here embrace a good variety of the possibilities of his hybrid live/prepared electronics. It operates as two distinct live sessions, each with their own approaches to moving between direct (though highly warped) tunes and more spaced out hazy territory. The first one opens with four quick ones, going off like a rollercoaster that's been made more fun by the increased danger of its age. But the second one keeps it a little more even. There's some great interconnectivity in the sets, like the way that the distorted synth at the heart of the final track makes a brief appearance a few tracks back in "Keep Your Eyes Open". This album has quickly turned into one of my favorites from Mukqs, I feel like there's still so much more at work in making this music great that I haven't gotten into yet, and I look forward to it all being revealed to me over the years.
August 6th, 2021
Bass Clef - Magnetic Chapters (Wrong Speed)
My way in with Bass Clef's music was through his releases on Slip, "111 Angelic MIDI Cascade" and "Orezero". I've heard some of the other stuff, but most of my experience is with those two albums, and they are central to how I understand what I hear from him. On the Slip albums, it's like he's hooking the synths up directly from the box and into my mental perception, like the air of reality has never touched these sounds. Which isn't a problem, since it would just get in the way of hearing the weird production details and how they heighten the expressive qualities of the already-lovely melodies. On this new album, it feels more like the synths are being documented in a space rather than piped into my skull, except the space is actually totally constructed, as synthetic as anything else. But the expression-heightening detail work is as strong as ever, like in the way the emulated string sounds on the 3rd track jump into a higher register for the ending, but in the process their timbre gets warped, as though the virtual strings became tangled in themselves. This is music as well equipped at triggering fascination as it is at bringing a smile, wonderful stuff.
Liars - The Apple Drop (Mute)
So I have a bad habit of taking long-running bands for granted, and I really shouldn't. With Liars, it's like that initial run of the first three albums (and the Oneida split and two 7 inches that came out in 02) was all so huge for me, every step delivered some dramatic shift in their rulebook. But starting with their self-titled album in '07, it felt like the rules were settled. The results were still great! But even when there were some big moves in style, like with the different approaches to synths in the first half of the '10s, it just didn't feel the same as before. I had lost the ability to feel as though a song from Liars could challenge their established history. The truth is probably that I'm just not recognizing something, but I don't think it actually matters. I mean, as a person writing about the music, it would probably be good for me to be able to talk about what this new one brings to the table. Something about the way that this is the first time the band has ever grown in size after shrinking to the point of being an Angus Andrew solo project, perhaps. But as a person listening to the music, I'm just happy to have some great songs, and Liars are still doing some great songs, and I want to just sit with that before contemplating anything else about it.
NTsKi - Orca (Orange Milk)
The Giant Claw album from earlier this year was my introduction to NTsKi, but it turns out she's been doing some very cool electronic pop for a few years now, just not on albums. One of the tracks has even had a cool video and a wild Foodman remix out and available since 2018. But I only really became aware with this full collection of tunes, and honestly I'm glad I wasn't on the cutting edge, because getting to hear these songs bouncing off each other is such a great experience. She'll hit you with a track like "Kung-Fu", where she plays as a slow and steady foil to these staccato cartoonish voices on the beat, and then on the next track, the production is all-in on amplifying the comfort. But then you also have tracks like "On Divination in Sleep", where the softer voice is just one tool she deploys alongside a more direct approach to claiming the foreground. It's just really great to get this full of a picture of where she's coming from musically, I'm not sure if I'd find the picture so clear if I wasn't encountering it all so close together. This is an excellent debut album that suggests a promising road ahead!
Moritz Von Oswald Trio - Dissent (Modern Recordings)
I'm not on the same level as the people who really love Basic Channel, the classic dub techno duo that Oswald was a part of. I've enjoyed a lot of what I've heard, but the experiences have always been driven by the passion of the existing fans, like I was more catching the secondhand smoke of their party. I still need to have my moment with the music, but I'm sure I'll get there. This does mean that I'm probably not in the best position to speak about his music. I haven't even heard any of the other trios that he's done (they do have some good looking lineups), but this one features Laurel Halo on keyboards, so there was no way I was going to miss it. Heinrich Köbberling fills things out on percussion, and Oswald's role is as this unifying force with one hand on some additional synths, and another on some electronic percussion. It's a really cool format, sometimes Köbberling has the percussion side all to himself with his kit, but Oswald can easily just step over and put some mechanical rhythms in the foreground, and then back away and focus his energies into joining Halo on the keys. So the tracks can vary pretty heavily in their fluidity, but they all feel like the work of the same band, there's always a sense of the music capturing the same sort of beauty as the deep colors of an overcast day.
Sunk Heaven - THE FVCKHEAѪTED LVNG (American Dreams)
This feels like something I would see performed in some kind of underground concrete bunker, like even when the music is relatively open, it still feels like the sound is being crammed into a space that's too small for it. Which is perfect for the vibe, slow beats and oscillators coated in grit, vocal intensities that correlate with the weight of the distortion. When I see myself in my mind's eye while listening, I'm sweating by the end. If you want something reasonably heavy, this one is a great way to put some pressure on.
Saadet Türköz & Beat Keller - We are Strong (CHINABOT)
This one's just a short trip with Türköz's voice and Keller's guitar, but it really packs a punch. I'm not familiar with the musical influences of Türköz's Uyghur culture that she is bringing to this music, but I love the way that both of these musicians are so receptive to what the other is putting out there. Like at the end of "Kashgar", in the last 90 seconds the guitar is processed to put out these high pitched beeps, while the voice is giving some popping plosives, and in the last minute Türköz lets the full voice out and goes beyond percussive breaths, she falls into this rhythm at a lower pitch and it feels like the guitar is trying to fit into the timing. But the momentum pushes it into letting more noise through, which leads to the voice going into a higher pitch at a rapid fire rate, with the guitar quickly reaching up to catch it, and then in an instant the voice returns to the pops and the guitar climbs back down. I'm sure that the additional context will help me appreciate it more, but honestly I think it's enough for the start to just hear these two musicians hearing each other.
And here's what's coming out right now and in the immediate future:
September 10th, 2021
---__--___ - The Heart Pumps Kool-Aid (Mondoj / Orange Milk)
Jessica Ackerley and Daniel Carter - Friendship: Lucid Shared Dreams and Time Travel (577 Records)
Sarah Davachi - Antiphonals (Late Music)
Lee Gamble - A Million Pieces Of You (Hyperdub)
Lexagon - Feminine Care (Ratskin Records)
Annea Lockwood - Becoming Air / Into The Vanishing Point (Black Truffle)
Low - HEY WHAT (Sub Pop)
Norman W. Long - BLACK BROWN GRAY GREEN (Hausu Mountain)
Skeeter Shelton & Hamid Drake - Sclupperbep (Two Rooms Records)
Smylex Attack / ardor. - Aether / Flux (Strategic Tape Reserve)
Synalegg - Computer Series (OOH-sounds)
September 11th, 2021
WRS - Bruh Matrix (Self Released)
September 13th, 2021
Wobbly - Instant Monitress (Self Released)
I'll have more to say about all these soon, but in the meantime, you can turn to Foxy Digitalis for some thoughts on the wonderful new releases from Lexagon and Ackerley/Carter. They also had something about a track off the ---__--___ album, I'm not sure if there's any other in-depth writing on this one yet, but the duo of more eaze and Seth Graham have cooked up something beautiful on this album, and I look forward to going into more detail about it later. Boomkat has some information about many of these other ones. I really wish I wasn't behind schedule so that I could share more, like the details on this latest chapter of the Monitress saga from Wobbly. It strikes a great contrast with last month's overtly human entry, and it is going to be a lot of fun to explore with words. But you don't need to wait for me, just dive in when it shows up. So much great stuff this week, I'll have more to say soon!
For more blurbs about recent releases and listings for future ones, check out the anticipation list.
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