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Colin Andrew Sheffield and James Eck Rippie, "Exploded View"

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cover image The concept of artists re-purposing existing music and other recorded sounds into an abstract collage or new composition has certainly been done before, and quite often.  However, when it is done expertly, such as on Exploded View, it can be an amazing method of work.  Colin Andrew Sheffield and James Eck Rippie approach the methodology from two technological extremes:  analog turntables and digital samplers.  The final product bears little resemblance to anything identifiable, resulting in a piece of music that is entirely their unique work and is captivating regardless of its construction

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2019 07:37

The Legendary Pink Dots, "Angel in the Detail"

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cover imageOne thing that I have learned time and time again over my years as a Legendary Pink Dots fan is that Edward Ka-Spel's muse is an eternally unpredictable one: wonderful songs can appear anywhere, anytime, and in any shape and high-profile releases are not necessarily always going to be the strongest ones.  Nevertheless, The Legendary Pink Dots' recent run of albums on Metropolis has reliably featured some of the band's tightest and most hook-driven songs, which certainly appeals to those fans hoping for a reprise of the band's late '80s/early '90s heyday.  I am not sure that I would include myself in that category, as I am quite fond of the band's more hallucinatory and abstract fare, but I do believe that Ka-Spel can be a legitimate pop genius when he is properly inspired and able to rein in his more indulgent tendencies.  Happily, this latest release (two years in the making) finds him in especially fine form, offering up an especially concise and focused array of great would-be singles along with some more outré forays into skewed psych-pop experimentation.  While I very much enjoyed the more playfully warped side of 2016's Pages of Aquarius, I feel quite confident in stating that Angel in the Detail is the strongest album yet to emerge from the band's Metropolis era.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 September 2019 20:34

Ramleh, "The Great Unlearning"

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cover image Following their last work, the lengthy two CD Circular Time, the double record The Great Unlearning features core Ramleh members Gary Mundy and Anthony Di Franco again staying largely in rock mode, but comparably bringing a bit more of their noise history back into the fray.  With an expanded roster of both drummers Stuart Dennison and Martyn Watts, as well as long time collaborator Philip Best and his Consumer Electronics partner Sarah Fröelich, the final product is their most varied, fully realized work to date, blending their guitar focused sounds with the early electronic experimentation from the band's inception.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 August 2019 17:28

Adam Wiltzie, "American Woman OST"

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cover imageFor someone who loves drone as much as I do, I have always had a curiously fragile and shifting relationship with Adam Wiltzie's work and it has only become more so since Stars of the Lid stopped releasing albums.  Consequently, Wiltzie's first soundtrack album (2016's Solero) slipped by me unheard, though my longstanding apathy towards film scores as albums may have been an even more significant contributing factor.  That is unfortunate, as it turns out that composing for film arguably brings out Wiltzie's best: if the understated radiant drones of late-period Stars of the Lid and the deep melancholia of Winged Victory for the Sullen represent the two poles of his artistry, the score for American Woman lies somewhere in the middle and I quite like it there.  Amusingly, that makes this album kind of an exasperating release, as the high points sound like the Stars of the Lid album that I have always wanted: bittersweetly lovely, melodic, and simmering with quiet emotional depth.  The catch, of course, is that the soundtrack nature of this album means that it is more of a series of brief vignettes rather than a fresh batch of fully formed compositions to get enveloped in.  I suspect that is why Wiltzie is only releasing this album digitally, but there are many appealing glimpses of something more substantial and satisfying flickering within this ostensibly minor release.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 September 2019 11:50

Consumer Electronics, "Airless Space"

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cover image After two amazing, although tantalizingly short albums in the past five years (2014's Estuary English and 2015's Dollhouse Songs), the Consumer Electronics trio lineup of founder Philip Best, Sarah Fröelich, and Russell Haswell have decided to go all out on this hour long, double record masterpiece.  Turning the thematic focus from the bleakness of austerity, pre-Brexit United Kingdom to the bleakness and violence of Donald Trump's America (where Best and Fröelich emigrated before the recording of this record), Airless Space is another work of fragmented, destroyed electronics and forceful, violent vocals.  Besides how strongly it stands as an individual work of art, Airless Space also makes it abundantly clear how much CE has evolved since beginning as a teenaged Best with a shortwave radio, a microphone, and a lot of annoyed people around him.

Last Updated on Sunday, 18 August 2019 21:27

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