Recent Releases: August 9th and 13th, and September 24th
Here's some thoughts about the music that came out around the first half of August:
August 9th, 2021
Temporal Marauder - The Shape Of Love (Ketu)
Ten years ago, Joseph Raglani put together a fictional band called Temporal Marauder, they had a whole elaborate biography and everything. He had been around working publicly with modular synths since the mid 00's, and I'm no expert on everything that he's put out, but it felt like up to this point the closest he would get to going into song mode would be on a track like the opener on his split with Outer Space, there's a lively and dynamic melody that makes the equipment apparent by the way it takes its steps, while also operating with a depth that defies the expected limitations. But it doesn't quite get into the type of overt structure with distinct parts that I'd expect from pop music. A lot of different wonderful things happen, but it all feels like an uninterrupted stream. His fake band didn't really change that sense of linear flow, but there's something about the flashes of a heavily-vocoded delivery of the title line in "I Saw You Walking" and the way that stood out in the disorienting swirl of perpetually lagged music attempting to catch up to itself. But then some years back, Erica Sparks joined and with her vocal and songwriting contributions, the band has produced a collection of songs that find unopened doors in the sorts of hallways that Broadcast or Stereolab have traveled in. There's space age bachelor pad vibes on tracks like "Through Windows Over Lawns", but then there's also "The Lives In You" sounding like the land-based inverse of The United States Of America's "Cloud Song". The songs still feel like they have the linear flow of Raglani's early stuff, like in the way that Sparks' vocals casually step into the higher notes on "State Of The Station", but there's still enough delineation to make it unambiguous that this is pop. The whole thing feels like it's targeted directly at the pleasure center of my brain, it hasn't been far from my speakers or headphones since it came out and I expect it to stay that way for quite some time. Highly recommended!
August 13th, 2021
d'Eon - Rhododendron (Hausu Mountain)
This album has been getting compared to older video games a lot, particularly the fantasy worlds of something like Zelda, due to the instrumentation being modeled after the type found in the chamber music that commonly accompanies stories with swords and castles, synthesized in a way that makes no attempt to hide its nature, evoking a time when this sort of sonic limitation was mandatory. But while technology may have advanced to remove this limitation, that doesn't mean that it still isn't necessary for some music. And it feels necessary here, it heightens the sense of uncertainty in the stranger turns of the narrative, like the later portions of "Into the Clearing" and both parts of "Through the Mangrove", and it makes me more willing to buy into the charm of the plucky determination in "Rhododendron" pt I, II, and III. That series in particular actually makes me think of a strength that this album has over the sorts of video games I'm reminded of. I remember playing Chrono Trigger, after going through an initial adventure through time, you make a stop back in the starting town before continuing on to new battles. There was something comforting about hearing the same music as before, a nice moment of respite. But when "Rhododendron pt. II" comes on, I get that same type of comfort from the return of the familiar, but the music is beefed up. It feels like I've leveled up from the tracks that came between this and pt. I, and it's details like this that elevates this far beyond the realm of nostalgia and into the world of great music.
Sally Decker - In The Tender Dream (NNA Tapes)
This experience reminds me of the way that I hear certain noise music, even though a large portion of this album doesn't even have any sharp edges in the sound. And when the abrasive side does show up, it's not operating at an overwhelming scale. But listening puts me in a place where I don't feel myself moving, it's the kind of music where I count the rhythm by saying 1 and then eventually the music ends. There's definitely a sense of form to it, especially when vocals show up. But even with the variety in all of those aspects, the experience feels like one whole something, beamed down onto me by some kind of towering giant.
Minua - Simulacra (Warm Winters Ltd.)
This trio is new to me, but I'm really enjoying the introduction provided by this mini-album, it does has such a satisfying structure. It starts with these two tracks that have a lot of layered woodwinds, with all of the breathing highlighted in the recording. And maybe I'm just a little naive about the realities of playing an instrument with your breath, but something about the construction makes me feel like there's this huge imbalance, with way more air coming out than going in. It's not upsetting, the music still sounds gorgeous, but it makes me feel a little off balance. But then on the third track, the air abruptly goes still, and the music is just some strums ringing out over a small synth drone. It's like the earth stops spinning. I find the effect highly satisfying, it pulls me in even deeper, into an even better position to connect with their time-scale.
Rachika Nayar - Fragments (Commend)
Earlier this year, Nayar had her debut album out on NNA Tapes featuring a lot of really great granular mangling of guitar sounds that never gave the impression that it was losing any musicality through all the technological warping. Really fresh stuff, definitely go back and check it out if you missed it. This new one feels like it's on a smaller scale and plays the sound a bit more straight. It's a collection of miniature snapshots, rarely exceeding two minutes, featuring many layers of guitars, and they all very clearly sound like guitars. I do generally have a preference for going out adventuring in the larger structures and constructed timbres, but sometimes I want to relax at home and not have to put on shoes, so it's really cool to see that she has music for that mood as well.
Lucy Railton & Kit Downes - Subaerial (SN Variations)
I've been having a great time with all of Railton's music released over the past few years, but it turns out that even before the first album came out in 2018, she had recorded this project with Downes the year before. They're friends from school days, and have featured on each other's work, but I wasn't aware of his side of things before now. I'll have to check it out, because he does a great job meeting Railton's cello with some organ. A lot of the music will have the cello taking a fluid and expressive position while the organ sounds more blocky, with the latter aspect really getting played up with the way the higher notes cut to the front of the sound. It gives me a sense of muscles and bone assembling in real time, with each side informing how the other constructs their next step and taking on an assertive role when needed for the overall creature to be functional. It's just a great process to witness, I'm very glad this made it's way out into the world!
Jana Rush - Painful Enlightenment (Planet Mu)
If you have any interest in footwork/juke, this is an essential listen. And if you don't, then you're in luck. Because Rush says that this isn't a footwork album, and my perspective of the genre is far less informed, but this really does feel like something else. Though there's a lot to unpack with the influences, honestly I need to read more about her and all of the context around this. There's a recent interview in The Wire but I still don't have a subscription, but this interview from South Side Weekly gives a peek into her history. One thing that stood out to me was what she said about what unifies her productions: "Well, what my music has in common is that it’s typically crazy—and it sounds chaotic, but it’s not. In my mind, it works out. I guess that’s one reason why I like Venetian Snares. When my mom listens to his tracks, she’ll be like—“what is this noise?” But you know, it makes sense to me, and that’s how my music is". Venetian Snares' music would often get abrasive and pummeling, but I had a shift when I listened, where it became about moving with power through dangerous territory. There's probably metalheads out there who have explained the sensation better than I could, but I feel like that spirit animates Painful Enlightenment, and the ways that it engages with its dark emotional subjects. The album's got all of this, while also maintaining a sense that anything can happen, with all sorts of fresh idea about rhythm and sound. It's tremendous, do not miss this one!
Ludwig Wandinger - Rooms (Orange Milk)
You might see the artwork on this, and the 16 minute runtime, and think you're in for some kind of information overload experience, one that's packed to the brim with intricate and jagged handcrafted waveforms moving with the plasticity of hand drawn cartoons, in the style of a computer with really good graphics. And there's sounds that fit the bill for that on this album, but there's also plenty of calm moments that let you catch your breath. I do love a good all-out overload, but it can sometimes be more difficult for me to see what the music is doing beyond the spectacle, to get out of the headspace where I'm always expecting the unexpected, so that it all becomes expected. But this has just the right amount of space to allow the personality and differences to shine through. "Mindroom" has this dull metallic sound as this sort of root of the music, where chaotic stacking rarely goes long without seeing the root reassert itself in the bottom of my ears, except for a few moments of maximum intensity. Something about it feels much more focused on vertical height, it's way different than "Pferdestärken", which is more like a very large collection of projectiles without the kind of single mass connection of that first track. I'm sure I've got a long way to go before the whole picture is clear, but it still feels like I got to skip the part of the magic eye poster where it doesn't look like anything at all, and that's very cool.
And if that's not enough for you, there's so much music that is coming out around now!
September 23rd, 2021
FRKTL - السَّمْت Azimuth (Self Released)
Mong Tong 夢東 - Orientations 向位 (WV Sorcerer Productions 巫唱片)
September 24th, 2021
Crazy Doberman - "everyone is rolling down a hill" or "the journey to the center of some arcane mystery and the entanglements of the vines and veins of the cosmic and unwieldy millieu encountered in the midst of that endeavor" (Astral Spirits)
Crazy Doberman - illusory expansion (Astral Spirits)
Equipment Pointed Ankh - Without Human Permission (Astral Editions)
Headboggle - Digital Digital Analog (Ratskin Records)
Devin Hoff - Voices From the Empty Moor (Songs of Anne Briggs) (Kill Rock Stars)
Hiro Kone - Silvercoat the throng (Dais Records)
Maurice Louca - Saet El Hazz (The Luck Hour) (Northern Spy)
Lyra Pramuk - Delta (Bedroom Community)
RXM Reality - WEWEREFRIENDS (We Be Friends)
Saffronkeira + Siavash Amini - The Faded Orbit (Denovali)
Macie Stewart - Mouth Full Of Glass (Orindal)
Taranoya - Becoming (sound as language)
Temp-Illusion - PEND - REWORKS (Zabte Sote)
Mark Tester - Oblivion Rhythms Revisited (Moon Glyph)
Henry Threadgill Zooid - Poof (Pi Recordings)
Richard Youngs - CXXI (Black Truffle)
September 27th, 2021
Barbara Dang & Muzzix - Michael Pisaro: Tombstones (Elsewhere)
Jordan Dykstra / Koen Nutters - In Better Shape Than You Found Me (Elsewhere)
SELVEDGE - THRESHOLDS (Self Released)
Guy Vandromme - Bruno Duplant: l'infini des possibles (Elsewhere)
September 30th, 2021
MonoLogue - MOVIMENTO (Grisaille)
I'll have some more to say about all of these later on, but I will say anyone who caught RXM Reality's performance at the HausMo Fun One last July and was wanting to see where he was going with that pop stuff... it's here. And it rules. And that Temp-Illusion remix album does a great job finding people to take the information overload drum programming into some cool directions. Normally I get frustrated when remix albums feature too many takes on the same track, but everyone puts enough of an imprint on their work to where it was never an issue. But yeah, there is an overwhelming number of promising possibilities here, roll some dice and no matter where you land, you should end up somewhere cool.
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