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brainwashed

Envenomist, "Bleeding Out"

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cover imageDavid Reed's newest album as Envenomist may be a collection of six songs, but the presentation and consistency between them seems more akin to a long from composition broken into distinct pieces.  His bleak analog synthesizer works have been notable as a recent member of Bloodyminded, and as part of the trio Nightmares with Mark Solotroff and Jonathan Canady, but here he is in sole control.  Perhaps due to it being a fully solo excursion or his compositional intent, the arrangement is sparse but strong, and the final product is a bleak synthesizer creep that hints at film score but is an entity entirely unto itself.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 February 2017 23:21 Read more...
 

Lawrence English, "Cruel Optimism"

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In recent years, my expectations of what a new Lawrence English album might sound like have gotten increasingly blurry, as he has an admirable tendency to explore new concepts and collaborations that lure him far away from the classic drone fare that initially put him on the map.  Cruel Optimism is arguably a return to English's more straightforward drone work in some ways, but it feels like quite a corroded and scorched return, which certainly fits nicely with English's somewhat dark conceptual inspiration.  Needless to say, it is a characteristically fine album and quite a distinctive one as well, evoking a kind of bleak orchestral grandeur flourishing amidst crumbling ruin and decay.

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 February 2017 20:23 Read more...
 

Jim Haynes, "Flammable Materials from Foreign Lands", "Throttle and Calibration"

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cover imageFor his two most recent (near simultaneous) releases, Jim Haynes has scaled back his audial representation of decay to something a bit colder and more intentionally off-putting.  Both albums are largely based on field recordings taken from a residency in Estonia, and capturing the detritus of Soviet era electronics (and some still active) via shortwave and then processing the results.  The final products may be somewhat sparser than his other works, but no less fascinating, and with an additional menacing edge.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 February 2017 15:23 Read more...
 

Alan Courtis, "Los Galpones"

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cover imageAlan Courtis (aka Anla Courtis) is one of those composers that at times is occasionally too prolific, spreading himself thin over numerous collaborations and solo works each year.  Because of that, his work is sometimes less focused than it could be, simply due to the extreme breadth of what he puts out.  However, when one of his releases is obviously a fully realized concept, his work is usually exceptionally compelling.  Los Galpones (The Sheds) is one of his more targeted works, by that standard.  A record built upon mostly just guitar and metallic objects, it is a wonderfully unified suite of four distinct pieces that work together perfectly and creates a nuanced sense of post-industrial decay.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 February 2017 15:24 Read more...
 

Emptyset, "Borders"

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cover imageEmptyset has always been a project that I felt weirdly guilty about not appreciating more, as they seemed like a more cerebral and mercilessly deconstructed twist on the UK's industrial-damaged post-dance milieu of Raime, Haxan Cloak, and Demdike Stare.  Also, I love James Ginzburg's Subtext label.  Unfortunately, all their songs sounded vaguely the same to me and I found all the praise for their architectural inspirations a bit mystifying.  Yet still I kept optimistically buying each new album hoping for a masterpiece that never arrived.  Thankfully, this debut release for Thrill Jockey finally makes everything click for me.  The same general template as always is still in place (improbably dense, ribcage-rattling bass and a slow-motion kick drum pulse), but Ginzburg and Paul Purgas have now distilled it into a thing of truly bludgeoning elemental force: Borders absolutely explodes from my speakers.  Also, the duo now wield a bass-heavy homemade "zither" to wonderfully visceral and snarling effect, which I did not see coming at all.  I am officially now a convert.

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 February 2017 19:52 Read more...
 


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