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Golden Retriever & Chuck Johnson, "Rain Shadow"

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cover imageI can think of few other projects that have elicited such a wide and continually shifting range of opinions from me as Portland's Golden Retriever, as Jonathan Sielaff and Matt Carlson sometimes seem like immensely talented and idiosyncratic visionaries and sometimes seem like dedicated revivalists of my least favorite strains of kosmische musik.  This new collaboration with Oakland-based pedal steel master Chuck Johnson, however, is unambiguously a marriage made in heaven, as Johnson's warm and soulful ambient shimmer provides the perfect context for Sielaff and Carlson to work their magic.  At its best, Rain Shadow feels a bit like a long-lost Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois collaboration, but one that has been updated with sharper edges and a more sophisticated approach to harmony (and, of course, a heavily processed clarinet).  This is very likely the strongest album that either Johnson or Golden Retriever have ever recorded.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 May 2020 07:03

I Feel Like A Bombed Cathedral, "W"

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cover imageI am an enormous fan of this latest endeavor from Ulan Bator founder Amaury Cambuzat, as AmOrtH was easily one of my favorite albums of 2019.  Notably, this latest release marks the project's vinyl debut, which makes it the first album in which Cambuzat's real-time layering has had to contend with actual time constraints.  I was not sure how well that would work, as the core Cathedral aesthetic has always been to allow pieces to unhurriedly and organically unfold until they complete their "natural" progression (and the project's crowning achievement thus far is a piece that stretched out for 40 glorious minutes).  As it turns out, however, Cambuzat handled that challenge quite well.  Given the greatness of the opening "Indignation," it is entirely possible that he simply had a killer 20-minute piece in the vault just waiting for this opportunity to arise, but it is equally possible that he mathematically converted that duration into a fixed number of heartbeats and simply worked from that.  While the B-side is admittedly a more minor pleasure, I remain continually amazed by the depth and breadth of what Cambuzat can achieve with just a guitar and some pedals.  This is yet another excellent release.

Last Updated on Monday, 25 May 2020 06:53

Container, "Scramblers"

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cover imageRen Schofield might be living in a new country (England) and releasing music on a new label (Alter), but no one need worry about those differing circumstances having any impact at all on the single-minded and relentless brutality of his work as Container.  That said, Scramblers is (rightly) billed as a more "high-octane" incarnation of Schofield's punishing aesthetic, as it evolved directly out of his aggressive live performances.  To some degree, such a statement is largely academic, as just about every Container album has felt like the techno equivalent of a runaway train, but it is true that this particular album offers virtually no breaks at all in the intensity of Container's splattering and pummeling rhythmic assaults.  That is just fine by me, as Schofield's primal violence is consistently executed with surgical precision and visceral power, but more casual fans may find themselves wishing that Container would someday evolve further beyond the mercilessly one-dimensional onslaught of previous albums.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 May 2020 07:04

Wire, "Mind Hive"

E-mail Print PDF is a safe assumption to say that most folks who buy a ticket to a concert expect to hear a few songs from their favorite band's latest album; after all, this is how bands showcase their latest music, but also provide fans the chance to hear their earlier work. Anyone seeing Wire since the '00s can assume no such thing; entire tours have included nothing but their newest work, barely acknowledging the fact that they've been around since the '70s. Wire does what Wire wants. Thankfully, they're great at it. It's a testament that Wire can still sound like Wire, maintaining that certain "Wire" sound, and yet continuously reinvent themselves, creating memorable - and fresh — music after 40 years.


Lawrence English, "Lassitude"

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cover imageIt has been roughly three years since Lawrence English last released a proper solo album (2017’s Cruel Optimism), though he has kept himself quite busy with collaborative work since then (most notably as half of HEXA).  Nevertheless, I have always been quite fond of his solo work, so I was hoping that he had something ambitious in the pipeline and this latest release hits the mark in that regard.  While I am not sure that I would necessarily characterize Lassitude as one of English's major releases, it is at least half brilliant and takes quite a different approach to drone than his usual fare.  Part of that uniqueness lies in the fact that English focused entirely upon the pipe organ for this release, but Lassitude is perhaps even more significantly influenced by its inspirations, as one piece is inspired by Éliane Radigue and another by Phill Niblock.

Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2020 05:41

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