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Todd Anderson-Kunert, "Conjectures"

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cover image Compared to the first release I heard from Australian composer Todd Anderson-Kunert, Conjectures is a significantly different piece of work.  A Good Time to Go, from 2018, was an excellent tape of that drew from all different forms of abstract electronic sound art, from elements of rhythm and heavily processed sounds to more conventional synthesizer expanses.  For Conjectures, he takes a more reductive approach.  Using only the massive Moog System 55 modular synthesizer, the result is a very focused, yet dynamic work that showcases both the instrument and the artist.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 October 2019 14:53

Abul Mogard, "Kimberlin"

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cover imageThis has been an unusually eclectic and prolific year for Abul Mogard, as he has followed up his first ever remix album (And We Are Passing Through Silently) with his first ever soundtrack album in the form of Kimberlin.  On paper, the transition from Mogard’s usual fare into soundtrack territory makes a lot more intuitive sense than turning him loose on deconstructing Äisha Devi jams, but his innovation in bridging that stylistic gulf was a large part of why Passing was such an absolute left-field delight.  The pleasures of Kimberlin are arguably bit more modest by comparison, as it falls into more expected aesthetic terrain and feels more like an EP than a full-length (by Mogard standards, anyway).  In terms of quality, however, it does not fall at all short of his usual level of sublime mastery, culminating in a final slow-burning epic that can hold its own against any of his previous work.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 October 2019 06:57

Carla dal Forno, "Look Up Sharp"

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cover imageThe downside to releasing a beloved and perfectly distilled EP like The Garden is that there will eventually have to be a follow-up to it and people will expect it to be every bit as good (if not better) than its predecessor.  That is an unenviable level of creative pressure to be confronted with, but Carla dal Forno seems to have passed through it with grace and aplomb (and even managed to start her own record label along the way).  To her credit, dal Forno was not at all interested in making The Garden II, though her subsequent cover album (Top of the Pops) seems to have provided a rough template, as she has clearly been thinking a lot about what goes into constructing a good and memorable pop song.  Having internalized that, she then wrote a bunch of her own.  In a broad sense, it is very apparent that dal Forno is heavily influenced by the classic minimalist post-punk/indie pop of Young Marble Giants and AC Marias, but the best songs on Look Up Sharp feel like an inspired update rather than a loving homage, as she strikes a truly elegant balance of pared-to-the-bone starkness, muscular bass riffs, casual sensuousness, and understated experimentation.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 October 2019 07:03

Emptyset, "Blossoms"

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cover imageNo one can predict which trends or innovations will shape or define the experimental music of the future, but Emptyset's latest bombshell certainly feels like a gloriously bracing vision of one possible path: Blossoms is an album "generated entirely from the output of a neural network-based artificial intelligence system."  While the duo of James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas has always been extremely forward-thinking and experimentally minded, this is the first Emptyset album where it seems like the pair has actually leapt several years ahead of everyone else rather than merely taking existing ideas to unexpected (and sometimes fascinating) extremes.  That said, Blossoms is also a culmination of the same themes that have obsessed Emptyset for years, as the source material comes from recent acoustic improvisations with materials like wood and metal as well as their backlog of more architecturally inspired recordings (though it all ultimately emerges in radically unrecognizable form).  At its best, Blossoms sounds like little else that I have ever heard, evoking a kind of visceral, shape-shifting sci-fi nightmare.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 October 2019 06:50

Boduf Songs, "Abyss Versions"

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cover imageIt has been roughly four years since the last Boduf Songs album (2015's Stench of Exist), but Mat Sweet is finally back with his seventh full-length.  There are few artists who are as tirelessly focused on exploring a narrow stylistic niche as Sweet, so it was fairly easy to (correctly) predict what Abyss Versions would sound like: hushed vocals, slow-motion arpeggios, seething tension, and quiet intensity.  However, the details are always a surprise and I was especially eager to hear this particular release, as its predecessor felt like an inspired creative breakthrough that added a bit more color and rhythmic dynamism to the Boduf Songs' vision.  Perversely though, Abyss Versions does not build upon those particular innovations and instead makes a hard turn in the opposite direction: more understated, more intimate, more austere (though there are a pair stellar exceptions at the end of the album).   Despite that turn even deeper inward, Abyss Versions is yet another characteristically fine album, as Sweet unveils a solid batch of new songs that brood, creep, and smolder in all the right ways.

Last Updated on Monday, 07 October 2019 21:35

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