Recent Releases: August 15th and 20th, and October 15th through 17th
Here's some thoughts about some of the excellent music that came out around the middle of August:
August 15th, 2021
Neil Luck - Downturn Fantasies (Entr'acte)
I first heard about Luck through his album with the choral ensemble Musarc, Bloody Sirens. I was immediately taken in by how inventive the music was, how it would use the struggle to get the words out as a meaningful part of the composition. This album feels like it continues that spirit, but now it's the recording as the point of origin for sounding trouble. The music is full of singing, and it even features a genuine standard, Polka Dots and Moonbeams. It has been performed by Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughn, John Denver, and Bob Dylan, to name a few. The rest of it isn't exactly crooner-friendly material, but there's a simplicity to them, like there's one track where the vocals are basically just a descending scale. But the simplicity in that area feels like it is meant to emphasize just how much music there is in what happens to sound, sort of like the way Rashad Becker's "Traditional Music Of Notional Species" albums use simpler forms for the same purpose. Though Becker's stuff is more sonically consistent. With Luck's album, there's guests who bring in different instrumentation and help provide a sense of each track having their own distinct biome, though the various types of sonic damage also go a long way to their unique characteristics. I cannot recommend this highly enough for anyone craving adventurous music, this is some of the weirdest music I've heard all year and I love it.
August 20th, 2021
Bob Bellerue - Radioactive Desire (Elevator Bath)
This one has quite a lineup! Bellerue is joined by gabby fluke-mogul, Brandon Lopez, Jessica Pavone, Luke Stewart, all artists who have been on some great albums that have appeared on this page, and also Ed Bear, he's new to me, but I think it's fair to say I should probably check out his stuff if he shows up in a place like this. Bellerue is also a new name for me, but he has a really cool approach on here, where he performs with feedback generated from/directed to each individual performer. At first I thought of it like he is encasing each performed in a forcefield, the description says "the performers were physically located within speakers of varying sizes to create multidimensional feedback systems", and for some reason that made me envision the way the seven maidens would look after you would beat a dungeon in The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past, when they show up encased in a crystal. I thought Bellerue would be doing that to the performers, but with feedback. But I don't think that's accurate, the feedback is more focused than that, directed to the amplify specific portions of the sound body rather than being so all-encompassing. It's more like an overflowing energy emanating on one part of a body, and sometimes that energy bursts out and turns into it's own thing. Maybe I'm off-base with this analogy, I still need to work on pulling the sound apart when I listen, but I'm having a great time with my attempts. And it helps that there's a piece that is drastically simpler than most others, with only has Pavone on organ, accompanied by Bellerue's feedback. And then another piece goes even further, with just Bellerue playing feedback against the instruments on his own. I think paying more attention to those ones can help unlock what's happening with the full ensemble, it's really cool that they're included. But not at the start, you have to work your way through the full experience before you get that kind of info.
Jon Collin - The Fiddler Now Steps To The Road (Unifactor)
I've never heard Collin's music before, and I do wish that I had a bit more knowledge about his music, because it's tricky to write about. I could say that the experience feels like trying to grab smoke, but that feels more like I'm talking about the difficulty of talking about it, rather than talking about the music itself. There's a few things I can pick up on, like how the music is constructed outside of real-time, but still shows a confident restraint in knowing that it doesn't need a lot of sound to draw you in to the way it unfolds. And the instrumentation of guitar and fiddle alongside environmental and ambiguous sounds has the type of beauty that gains from its blemishes. I feel like there's a lot more to it, but I guess that's a positive attribute too, when music can hold on to the mystery.
Gordon Grdina & Jim Black - Martian Kitties (Astral Spirits)
This is another instance of Astral Spirits introducing me to artists that I need to know. I went in to the listening experience armed only with the preconception that "Martian Kitties" would mean a lot of emphasis on timbre and effects. You know, get some instruments processed so that they sound like cat noises, and then make them even weirder with some alien digital reverb or something. I would have been perfectly happy to get that, but this is much different, launching right off with some rockin' guitar from Grdina and drums from Black, the type where it's like always on some awkward footing but it still manages to barrel forward with absolute confidence. There's some additional electronic manipulations from Black that pop up that sort of get into the sound work that the name made me expect, and Grdina jumps over to the oud sometimes, but mostly this is some weird instrumental rock, I am into it.
Pasquarosa/Gerycz - II (Unifactor)
At first I was a little disappointed that I didn't get something written up about this at the time of release. Because the casual waves of guitar and drum on here totally have a "late summer night with lingering heat" kind of feel to them. But when this came out, that was already happening, we already had those nights. Right now, it's cold outside and my windows are leaky, so it seems like an even better time to have this music move into my life like a warm breeze. There's a flexible tempo, but both Pasquarosa and Gerycz are locked into it, neither one taking a step out of place for each rise and fall. It's not all serene, sometimes they do kick up a storm, but it's more like the excitement of some sudden rain against the window rather than anything that suggests possible mortal danger. They're only cooking up good weather as far as I'm concerned.
Rosali - Chokeweed (Unifactor)
Another stellar entry from this batch of guitar albums from Unifactor. The tracks all feature some kind of looping foundation, sometimes it's light drum machine, but usually just guitar, with additional guitar layers that take a more expansive approach to time. I feel like the word "meandering" gets a bad rap, like people associate the term with aimlessness. But I see the meandering qualities here as more like being on a road that might take some twists and turns, but there's never any exit, this one road is the whole trip. But there is still a purpose to the course, a sense of direction. And since most of the songs here are only around 3 minutes long, it never gets anywhere near the point of travel exhaustion. The whole thing's got an engaging serenity to it, very cool stuff right here.
Jumping forward to now, here's a quick overview about the great stuff that has come out this weekend!
October 15th, 2021
Anz - All Hours (Ninja Tune)
brin - Water Sign (sound as language)
Fire-Toolz - Eternal Home (Hausu Mountain)
Perila - 7.37/2.11 (Vaagner)
Marina Rosenfeld - Teenage Lontano (Room40)
Aho Ssan - Simulacrum Remixed (Subtext Recordings)
Jimmy V x Slum - AUDI COMA (Orange Milk)
October 16th, 2021
Requiem & Simon McCorry - Joy; Division (Woodford Halse)
October 17th, 2021
MonoLogue - MOVIMENTO (Grisaille)
I wrote a bit about Fire-Toolz on Friday with a focus on all of the music videos that have come out for her incredible new album, so if you'd like to see some additional thoughts you can give that a read. I'll have to go in-depth with the whole album later, but for now just know that I think it's tremendous. There's also the Ninja Tune debut of Anz, if you're not familiar with her dance music, you are in for something special. Then you've got brin doing some great work with the lush sonics that have been showing up on the collaborations from this year, and this Aho Ssan remix album has a great lineup (including FRKTL, Exploited Body, and KMRU), I'd actually missed the original album but it seems like something I need to hear. And then these new ones from Rosenfeld, Perila, and Jimmy V x Slum are all very promising as well. And then Saturday had the new Requiem & Simon McCorry album, it's a very nice earthbound alternative to the ascensions of their last meeting.
On Sunday we should see the new MonoLogue album. It's the conclusion to a three-part suite, with the preceeding parts coming out on Enmossed x Psychic Liberation and Falt. I'm not sure if there might be some delay with this latest one, it would be understandable since delays are happening with nearly all physical goods, seemingly. So why not check those first two parts while you wait, because she has such a great take on the GRM acousmatic electroacoustic composition style. There's a real sense of care for the details of the sounds, and a deft ability to maintain the sense they can make together, like the compositions will spend a lot of time in the quieter end of the dynamic range, and it's easy for the sense that's made with synthetic sounds to get lost in the silences, but the connections here are quite strong. Superb stuff, definitely check it out.
There were also a whole bunch of surprise releases, or maybe I just missed the initial news. Dasa Tapes has a new batch, including a new one from Eventless Plot! And I don't know if I'm just missing their announcements, but Klammklang have a new one that I only just now found out about from Diana Romanova, I haven't heard anything from it yet, but everything they put out is worth paying attention to. But I've been missing some of their other recent releases, I need to go back and check those out too. Then there's also this new Lag OS album, I loved the previous album on anòmia, I'm excited to see what's in store for this one. Then there's also the regularly scheduled surprises like with Takuroku, this week's pair include a new one from Julia Reidy that I'll absolutely need to hear. And SUPERPANG put out their 100th release with something from Finlay Shakespeare, they'll be taking a break until 2022, which is helpful since I need some time to catch up on their recent activities.
So yeah, lots of great stuff to check out, and I'm sure there's plenty I'm missing!
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