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Lea Bertucci, "Resonant Field"

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cover imageThis latest release from Lea Bertucci ambitiously follows in the footsteps of Pauline Oliveros' landmark Deep Listening album (1989), though site-specific performances are certainly nothing new for the NY-based saxophonist/composer.  In this instance, the site was the Marine A Grain Elevator at Silo City in Buffalo, which NNA Tapes describes as a "silent, hulking concrete corpse" that stands 130 feet tall.  Unlike Oliveros, Bertucci chose to make her celebration of extreme natural reverb largely a solo affair, using the 12-second decay of the cavernous enclosure to create a rich haze of sustained drones and ghostly harmonies.  After the initial performance, however, she reworked the material with the aid of some collaborators, so the final album is a bit more complex and layered than a solo sax performance might have been.  Not much more though, as Resonant Field's primary appeal lies in those original performances, making it a very different animal than its more composed predecessor Metal Aether.

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 August 2019 18:02

Brutalism, "The Charged Void"

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cover image In stark contrast to his role in The Holy Circle, Terence Hannum's Brutalism project clearlydraws from noise and black metal, but the end product is distinctly different.  The fact that the name is referencing his interest in Brutalist architecture and not the violence associated with various metal genres makes it clear that he is not aping genre clichés but instead using some of those signifiers to create something entirely fresh with The Charged Void.

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 July 2019 20:28

Umberto, "Helpless Spectator"

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cover imageMuch like Brian Pyle’s Ensemble Economique project, Matt Hill’s Umberto guise often falls into a stylistic territory that I have a hard time connecting with.  In Umberto's case, that territory is a sort of "retro soundtrack" vision informed by both '80s horror films and spaced-out '70s synth music.  Both artists are equally capable of flooring me though and this latest release happily falls into the latter category at several points, as Hill took a more song-based and live instrumentation-driven approach this time around.  Admittedly, the resultant stylistic transformation was exactly not an extreme one (or a consistent one), but it is sometimes just enough to push Helpless Spectator out of the Goblin/John Carpenter realm and into something closer to a killer space rock band wielding unconventional instrumentation.  That is an extremely cool niche when it works, yet this album shines most brilliantly on the shadowy, synth-driven psychedelia of "Leafless Tree," which is an absolute goddamn masterpiece.

Last Updated on Monday, 22 July 2019 07:45

The Holy Circle, "Sick With Love"

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cover image On their most recent release, it would seem that The Holy Circle—Erica Burgner-Hannum (vocals, synths), Terence Hannum (also in Locrian, synths), and new member Rob Savillo (guitar) taking the place of drummer Nathan Jurgenson—are refining their sound into something more unique.  The gauzy, lush synth production and vocals are still prominent, with a sound rooted in the traditions of early dark synth pop, but Sick With Love sees the band drawing from a wider variety of influences, making for their most accomplished work to date.

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 July 2019 20:29

øjeRum, "Alting Falder I Samme Rum" and "Forgotten Works"

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cover imageEvery now and then, I plan to have a productive evening, get sucked into a Bandcamp rabbit hole, then wonder where the hell my night went.  I first encountered Paw Grabowski's øjeRum project during one such plunge last year and quickly fell in love with 2018's Selected Organ Works tape.  Notably, Grabowski does not seem to share my time-management issues, as he has released roughly ten more albums since then (three of them in the last month).  Needless to say, he is a difficult man to keep up with and tracking down which releases are especially inspired is a legitimate challenge.  These two recent ones are quite good ones, though they take very different directions.  The stronger one is arguably the newer Alting Falder I Samme Rum, which intermittently contains some of the most beautiful examples of Grabowski's blurred, slow-motion vision.  Forgotten Works, on the other hand, is exactly what the title implies: a collection of unreleased songs spanning nearly a decade.  It is quite a well-curated one though, as the Vaknar label unearthed some surprising gems that had miraculously eluded release up until now.

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 August 2019 17:56

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