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Janek Schaefer, "Glitter In My Tears"

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This is apparently Janek Schaefer's 30th album in 20 years, a milestone which surprised me a bit, as there is a considerable portion of his oeuvre that I have not heard.  That said, the handful of albums that I have heard have been kind of hit or miss, as Schaefer often errs a bit too much on the side of high-concept, cerebral sound art for my liking.  Glitter In My Tears, however, is right up my alley: a sustained and hallucinatory fever dream of brief and frequently beautiful vignettes (or "microcosms of haunted memory," as Schaefer himself describes them).  The inevitable downside to such an ambitious endeavor, of course, is that Glitter is exasperatingly populated with wonderfully promising themes that appear and vanish again in a minute or less.  In most hands, that would be quite a big problem, but Glitter is so uniformly strong and flows along so fluidly that I am left with little time to lament the more substantial pieces that might have been.  This is a wonderfully shifting, evocative, and immersive album from start to finish.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 July 2017 07:04

Second Woman, "S/W"

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cover imageThis innovative collaboration between Telefon Tel Aviv's Joshua Eustis and Belong's Turk Dietrich picks up right where the eponymous 2016 release left off, as the duo continue to gleefully pick apart and stretch minimal dub-techno into splintered unrecognizability.  As such, it would be quite a leap to describe S/W as dance music: all of the expected elements are present, but Second Woman reduce beats to skittering, stuttering abstraction.  The overall effect is quite a dynamically compelling one, ambitiously marrying an erratically sputtering and chopped-up synth haze with understated beats that seem equally inspired by skipping CDs, jackhammers, and ping-pong.  While some more hooks would certainly have been welcome, it is hard to grumble much about an album that sounds like it was sent from the future to show us what pop music for robots will be like.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 June 2017 17:59

Loke Rahbek, "City of Women"

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cover imageI have been on an extended Croatian Amor bender since last year's Love Means Taking Action, so I was delighted when I found out that Loke Rahbek was releasing his first solo album under his own name on Editions Mego.  Unsurprisingly, City of Women does not sound much like Croatian Amor at all, as Rahbek has been involved in at least a dozen other projects.  In fact, this release is billed as sort of a culminating convergence of Rahbek's varied and prolific history of underground music projects, though it is not nearly the radical compositional leap forward one might expect from that statement.  Instead, City of Women is a lot like a well-produced Loke Rahbek buffet that offers discrete forays into the many facets of his artistry (noise, dense synth soundscapes, sound collage, and even an occasional piano miniature) rather than a thematically consistent major work.  Several of the piece are quite good, naturally, but expectations should be moderated: this is only another characteristically fine Rahbek release rather than the beginning of a bold new chapter.

Last Updated on Monday, 05 June 2017 08:25

Drew McDowall, "Unnatural Channel"

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cover imageDrew McDowall’s second solo album for Dais is a bit of a surprise detour from 2015's more Coil-esque Collapse, largely abandoning the melodicism and eerie moods of its predecessor in favor of more fragmented and disorienting fare.  Many of these pieces ambiguously ride the line between bold evolution and perplexing regression, as McDowall's previously clear vision sounds broken and deconstructed into a miasma of lurching percussion, throbbing drones, and clattering metallic textures. As such, I had to re-calibrate my expectations a bit, but Unnatural Channel get points for taking chances and not going back to the same well a second time.  While I am not sure if Unnatural Channel comes at all close to realizing McDowall's potential, it is certainly an oft-compelling experiment, resembling a well-produced homage to the golden age of the noise/experimental cassette underground.

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 June 2017 13:17

Simon Fisher Turner, "Giraffe"

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cover imageFor his Editions Mego debut, the singular and polymorphously creative Simon Fisher Turner takes a break from his soundtrack career for a feast of smaller and more experimental works.  While the fourteen individual pieces of Giraffe are thematically united by an overarching concept regarding the blending of "life" sounds with music and machines, that concept allows for quite a wide variety of moods and textures.  The clear centerpiece is a gorgeously woozy soundscape ("Slight Smile") featuring a mysterious monologue from Emma Smith that ultimately turns creepily garbled and digitized, but a few other pieces are similarly inspired.  Though many individual pieces err a bit too much on the side of brevity, Giraffe as a whole is quite an absorbing work, languorously flowing from one mysterious and surreal scene to another with occasional unexpected detours into demented chaos, menacing industrial clangor, and lush Romanticism.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 June 2017 06:47

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