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Forced Exposure New Releases for 3/27/2017

New music is due from Heleen Van Haegenborg & Christian Mendoza, Spectres, and Shelter, while old music is due from Cohelmec Ensemble, Klaus Weiss, and Yann Tiersen.

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Robert Piotrowicz, "Walser"

cover imageHis last major release, Samoobrona (with Lukáš Jiřička) may have had Piotrowicz trying something rather different by scoring a radio play, but Walser is a step back into the conventional album format, even if it was originally intended as a score for the film of the same title.  However, that motivation to try new things as far as instrumentation and composition goes (something that has been a distinct facet of his recent works) is not lost here.  Electric and acoustic instruments blend together, making for perhaps his most diverse and complex work to date.

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High Plains, "Cinderland"

cover imageThis is the debut release from the duo of Loscil's Scott Morgan and classically trained cellist Mark Bridges.  The pair met while at a residency in Alberta, then convened for two weeks of winter recording in renovated schoolhouse in Wyoming.  Consequently, High Plains is quite an apt name for this project, succinctly capturing both the windswept isolation of the region and the project's deeply melancholy aesthetic.  Being unfamiliar with Bridges, I expected High Plains to be a rather Loscil-esque endeavor, but the only truly significant similarity is that this album continues the bleak trajectory of Monument Builders: Cinderland mostly feels like a neo-classical soundtrack to an art film or perhaps like a stark and drone-damaged homage to Dirty Three.

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Oikos, "The Great Upheaval"

cover imageFor their first vinyl release, Rafael Femiano (guitars and electronics) and Felipe Pavon (drums and percussion) pulled out all of the stops on the most recent Oikos release.  In this case, that metaphor may be a bit of a misnomer, since most of The Great Upheaval is much more about mood and ambience than full bore explosions of sound, although those feature here as well.  The tasteful balance of the two, and the impeccable compositional structures, results in an album that is gripping in its intentional bleakness.

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Norman Westberg, "Jasper Sits Out"

cover imageRoom40's excavation campaign of Norman Westberg’s wonderfully hypnotic and self-released solo guitar work continues with this 2014 tribute to the Westberg family dog.   Notably, this release was already reissued once before (as an extremely limited vinyl edition by Hallow Ground), but this new incarnation is both remastered and expanded.  More notable still, Jasper Sits Out was the first of Westberg's homemade releases that Lawrence English ever heard, making it the album that inadvertently dragged this quietly beautiful facet of his artistry into the light.  As such, I half-expected Jasper to be a towering culmination of the entire reissue campaign, but it is more or less on the same level as all the consistently fine preceding releases (aside from one truly dazzling piece).

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Transparens

cover imagePart of the impetus of this three cassette compilation (by Wren Turco, who also contributes one of the tapes) was to showcase experimental electronic work by female artists that, not only often marginalized because of their gender, are also relatively new on the scene.  With her, Gambletron, and NaEE RobERts, a wide spectrum of electronic art is presented, from Gambletron's more discordant abstraction, to Turco’s stripped down deconstructed techno, into NaEE RoBErts' more conventional song structures.  All three tapes stand strongly on their own, but also compliment each other exceptionally well, making for a very strong compilation.

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VVV, "Why El Paso Sky"

cover imageIranian born, Austin raised artist Shawhin Izaddoost’s new release as VVV may, at least superficially, follow the hip-hop derived model of the mix tape as a collection of ideas and unfinished work, but that is not entirely accurate.  Why El Paso Sky feels mostly like a fully polished and realized release.  A combination of rich, complex ambient moments, vintage synth sequences, and strong beats are exceptionally well done on here, with a mix that captures both cerebral production and avant garde sounds with straight ahead physical rhythms and melodies.

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Growing, "Disorder"

cover imageAfter a lengthy six-year hiatus, this long-running bi-coastal duo have unexpectedly resurfaced with a new LP of buzzing, bass-heavy drones.  I am not sure if Disorder necessarily counts as a radical departure given Growing's history of constant re-invention, but it is certainly a remarkably far cry from their last full-length (2010's dance-damaged and sampler-centric PUMPS!).   It also bears little resemblance to the more shimmering and gently psychedelic fare for which Growing is best known.  Instead, the dominant aesthetic seems to be that of Kevin Doria’s recent pure drone work as Total Life, though that vision sounds artfully blurred together with Joe DeNardo's own (noisier) Ornament project, adding some welcome layers of depth and harmonic complexity.  While it does not necessarily recapture the magic of the duo's prime, it makes up for it by opening a promising and surprisingly visceral new chapter.

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Keiji Haino/Jozef Dumoulin/Teun Verbruggen, "The Miracles Of Only One Thing"

cover imageOn paper, this is quite an improbable and unexpected collaboration: an iconic and mercurial Japanese noise-guitar god teams up with a pair of serious Belgian jazz musicians.  For one, Keiji Haino generally tends to work with artists that are nearly as outré as himself (My Cat is an Alien, Merzbow, Peter Brötzmann, etc.).  Also, playing with an elemental force as unpredictable and unhinged as Haino seems like it would be roughly as harrowing as riding a bucking bronco for anyone new to his orbit.  To their credit, however, both Verbruggen and Demoulin prove to be inspiring foils and manage to ably follow Haino's muse to whichever strange places it wanders.  Needless to say, this is very much Haino's show, veering wildly between free-form chaos, roiling electronic maelstroms, feral howling, and a few passages of sublime accessibility.  Given that, Miracles is a bit of an overwhelming mixed bag as a whole, but one with some genuine flashes of brilliance inside.

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Allegory Chapel Ltd., "Without Tears: Noise in Theory & Practice"

cover imageElden M's recent resurgence as Allegory Chapel Ltd. has nary taken a pause since reappearing three years ago following an 18 year silence.  What might be the most surprising fact, however, is that Without Tears:  Noise in Theory & Practice is actually his first full length vinyl release since the project's inception in 1986, amidst a varied array of tapes and CDs.  This fact obviously has not been lost on him though, because this album is a comprehensive and cohesive work that covers the full gamut of the ACL sound, from the past to the present, presenting a singular and unique artist and his diverse, complex output.

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The Eye: Video of the Day

Lockgroove

YouTube Video


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Review of the Day

Bill Callahan, "Woke on a Whaleheart"
For his umpteenth album, Bill Callahan drops his Smog/(Smog) band designation and now goes by his given name, if only to distance himself from the gloom, misogyny, and misery of his previous incarnation and start fresh. Although his subject matter is indeed sunnier and his songs more polished, he thankfully retains his sense of humor and knack for wordplay.
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