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Loscil, "Equivalents"

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cover imageI cannot think of many other artists in the ambient/experimental milieu who are as unwaveringly reliable as Scott Morgan, although his last major release (Monument Builders) admittedly threw some unexpected new elements into the mix.  With Equivalents, however, he returns to his comfort zone for yet another lovely suite of lush and elegantly blurred ambient soundscapes.  Morgan’s inspiration this time around was Alfred Stieglitz's iconic series of cloud photographs, which could not possibly be less surprising or more apt: the Loscil aesthetic has long been the musical equivalent of a sky full of slow-moving, abstract cloud shapes and Equivalents is an archetypal example of that.  Nevertheless, the Loscil aesthetic still continues to evolve in subtle ways, as Morgan eases up a bit on his characteristic melancholy, resulting in one of his warmest and most quietly lovely releases to date.  It is possible that Morgan may have learned a thing or two about balancing light and dark from Stieglitz's striking photos, but the real beauty of this album lies in how he masterfully and seamlessly dissolves chords and melodies into gorgeously dreamlike and gently churning abstraction.

Last Updated on Monday, 26 August 2019 07:26 Read more...
 

Kali Malone, "The Sacrificial Code"

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cover imageI was recently very surprised to discover that Kali Malone is from Colorado, as she has been quite an uncannily ubiquitous and quietly influential presence in European experimental music circles over the last couple of years.  That role is especially remarkable given how her solo work increasingly sounds like it could have been composed a few hundred years ago (a direction largely rooted in a fateful meeting with an organ tuner).  This latest release is the culmination of Malone's recent passion for pipe organs, following in the wake of last year's brief yet excellent Organ Dirges 2016-2017 EP (Ascetic House).  The two releases are quite similar aesthetically, as Malone remains quite found of slow-moving and meditatively drone-like compositions, but The Sacrificial Code is simultaneously simpler and more ambitious than its concise predecessor.   In fact, this sprawling double album of organ works is an absolutely monolithic statement (and a fitfully mesmerizing one at that).  To my ears, it admittedly errs a bit on the side of overwhelming, but The Sacrificial Code is probably exactly the album that longtime fans were hoping Malone would someday release.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 August 2019 06:53 Read more...
 

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 Read more...
 

The Deontic Miracle, "Selections from 100 Models of Hegikan Roku"

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cover imageThis second installment of Blank Forms' ongoing Christer Hennix archival series is quite a radical departure from the wonderful Selected Early Keyboard Works, which is a hell of a surprise as both albums originate from roughly the same period (Stockholm, 1976).  The key difference is that Keyboard Works was composed of (mostly) solo rehearsal tapes made during the Dream Music Festival, while Hegikan Roku captures the ensemble's actual public performance.  In fact, it was to be The Deontic Miracle's only public performance, as Hennix wryly notes that the trio were "the most rejected band ever formed in Sweden."  While that is somewhat heartbreaking, it is easy to see why this project was not warmly embraced: challenging art is often described as being "ahead of its time," but The Deontic Miracle must have seemed like they existed outside of time altogether.  Even by today's standards, an amplified Renaissance oboe and sarangi trio playing dissonant, Just Intonation drone music would likely clear a room instantly (as would a lot of other albums that I like).  As such, this is definitely one of Christer Hennix's most difficult releases, but it features some very bold and uncompromising work indeed.  It is wonderful to see it finally surface.

Last Updated on Monday, 05 August 2019 07:15 Read more...
 

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 Read more...
 


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