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Nicole Oberle, "Skin"

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cover imageI know very little about Nicole Oberle and I suspect that suits her just fine, as she self-describes as a "digital recluse."  What I do know is that she is based in Texas and that she has recorded quite a prolific stream of self-released material over the last year or so.  One of those releases was last fall's Skin EP, which has since been picked up and reissued in expanded form by Whited Sepulchre.  That is great news for a couple of reasons, as I would not have encountered her work otherwise and this new incarnation of Skin is a significantly more substantial and compelling release than its predecessor.  In fact, the newly added songs are some of my favorite ones on the album.  As such, I suspect this incarnation of Skin will rightfully go a long way towards expanding Oberle's fanbase, as there are appealing shades of both Grouper and erstwhile labelmate Midwife lurking among these eleven songs.  The most fascinating parts of the album, however, are the ones where those influences collide with Oberle's divergent interests in ghostly, downtempo R&B grooves and unsettling, diaristic sound collages.

Last Updated on Monday, 06 April 2020 06:52

Louise Bock, "Abyss: For Cello"

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cover imageLouise Bock is the latest guise of iconoclastic composer Taralie Peterson, who is best known for her role in psych-folk luminaries Spires That in the Sunset Rise.  It is probably fair to describe some of her previous work as "polarizing" or "an acquired taste," as she is not one to shy away from dissonance or nerve-jangling intensity.  However, it is also fair to say that she has recorded some truly transcendent and impressively wild pieces over the years.  In some ways, Abyss: For Cello captures Peterson in comparatively accessible form, but that is mostly because there are limits to how much infernal cacophony one person can create with just a cello and a saxophone.  That said, that limit is considerably higher than I would have expected, as Abyss is quite a churning and heaving one-woman tour de force of cello-driven violence.  Moreover, it is quite an impressively focused and tightly edited one as well.  It is quite a pleasure to witness Peterson's power so beautifully harnessed for maximum impact, particularly on the album's brilliant centerpiece "Oolite."

Last Updated on Monday, 06 April 2020 06:46

My Cat is an Alien with Joëlle Vinciarelli, "Eternal Beyond II"

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cover imageThe Opalio brothers have had quite an impressive history of adventurous collaborations over the years, as they have been joined by many of the most iconic figures in underground music, as well as an inspired array of interesting folks that I had not previously encountered.  Naturally, a number of those unions have yielded wonderful results, but one of my favorites was the Opalios' pairing with Talweg/La Morte Young's Joëlle Vinciarelli for 2016’s Eternal Beyond.  Several other artists have gamely and effectively adapted themselves to the brothers' unique aesthetic and working method over the years, yet Vinciarelli is the one who was most successful at finding and filling a space that made the collaboration feel like something more than the mere sum of its parts.  More specifically, she brings some welcome bite and visceral intensity to the Opalios' phantasmagoric and alien reveries.  Consequently, I am absolutely thrilled to report that this trio has now become a recurring project and that Eternal Beyond II is every good as its predecessor (if not even better).

Last Updated on Monday, 30 March 2020 07:08

Matt Elliott, "Farewell to All We Know"

E-mail Print PDF the eighth solo album from the French-based British musician behind Third Eye Foundation, it is impossible to not compare Elliott's delivery to late bard Leonard Cohen. Elliott's accomplished Spanish guitar craft further add to the resemblance, particularly if followed by Cohen's final album Thanks for the Dance. Working as a solo artist since 2003, Elliott has achieved a new aural mastery on his latest work. At the start of the new decade, we face anticipatory grief, a collective loss of safety, and ultimately have been forced to bid Farewell to All We Know. Many artists use songwriting as a way of making sense of a bewildering world, and Elliott has crafted a perfectly timed accompaniment to grief, offering resignation and renewal with his heartfelt message "Maybe the storm has passed and devastated everything, now we just have to rebuild and live again."


Ian William Craig, "Red Sun Through Smoke"

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cover imageI am generally not someone who believes that everything happens for a reason or that tragedy breeds great art, but I do think that the emotionally fraught and unusual circumstances surrounding the creation of Red Sun Through Smoke steered Ian William Craig in a direction that feels uncannily appropriate for the current moment.  Craig's original plan was simply to sequester himself for a couple weeks in his grandfather's empty house in Kelowna, British Columbia while he wrote and recorded a new album.  As it turned out, however, fate had quite a macabre cavalcade of unpleasant surprises in store for him, as Kelowna became surrounded by forest fires, his grandfather died, his parents moved into the smoke-shrouded house, and the woman he loved moved to Paris.  Naturally, all of those events resulted in quite an intense swirl of emotions, but at least a correspondingly intense (and beautiful) album ultimately emerged from that fraught period, as the best moments of Red Sun Through Smoke distill Craig’s art to its simplest, most direct, and most intimate form.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 March 2020 07:04

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