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Ensemble Economique, "In Silhouette"

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cover imageI truly never know quite what to expect from erstwhile Starving Weirdo Brian Pyle, as his Ensemble Economique project has covered plenty of shifting territory with varying results over the last decade.  His albums are certainly always intriguing and often deliciously aberrant, but I have not been truly knocked sideways since 2011's Crossing The Path, By Torchlight.  With In Silhouette, his 12th album, Pyle steps away from his recent forays into darkwave to plunge back into the unapologetically hallucinatory and warped terrain that I love best.  He has not entirely jettisoned his dark pop instructs though, as In Silhouette's deep psychedelia is enhanced by host of whispering and mysterious female voices.  While not every piece quite captures Pyle at his zenith, In Silhouette is cinematic in the best sense of the word, as it feels like being plunged completely (and uncomfortably) into a noirish and Lynchian world of shadow, menace, and dark sexuality.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 April 2017 08:21

Jacaszek, "KWIATY"

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cover imageI have historically had a complicated relationship with Michal Jacaszek's music, as I love his aesthetic and he consistently releases deeply immersive and intriguing albums, yet he has an uncanny knack for stylistic quirks that subjectively rub me the wrong way (harpsichords, a penchant for gloom and somberness, etc.).  Consequently, I was more or less just waiting around for an album to finally surface that was a bit more to my taste and KWIATY is that album. One one hand, Jacaszek mostly sticks to his familiar territory of dark, hiss-ravaged neo-classical fare, but the new twist is that he enlisted a trio of female vocalists to give voice to the metaphysical poetry of 17th century Englishman Robert Herrick.  While such a conceit admittedly sounds very arcane and high-concept on paper, it reveals itself to be quite beautiful in execution, often resembling an eerie, crackling, fractured, and otherworldly strain of dreampop.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 April 2017 06:40

Oikos, "The Great Upheaval"

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cover imageFor their first vinyl release, Rafael Femiano (guitars and electronics) and Felipe Pavon (drums and percussion) pulled out all of the stops on the most recent Oikos release.  In this case, that metaphor may be a bit of a misnomer, since most of The Great Upheaval is much more about mood and ambience than full bore explosions of sound, although those feature here as well.  The tasteful balance of the two, and the impeccable compositional structures, results in an album that is gripping in its intentional bleakness.

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 March 2017 22:43

Wolf Eyes, "Undertow"

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cover imageI am only a casual Wolf Eyes fan, so the bulk of their endless tide of releases passes by me unnoticed.  Every couple of years, however, they unleash something big to remind everyone that they are just as relevant as ever and continuing to tirelessly evolve.  The latest salvo in that vein is ostensibly this one, which also happens to be the inaugural release for the band's new Lower Floor Music imprint.  Stylistically, the two bookend pieces share a lot of common ground with the better moments of 2013's No Answer : Lower Floors, eschewing noise for something resembling deconstructed rock music that has gone sick and wrong.  When it sticks to that template, Undertow is quite good, but the more abstract and sketchlike material separating its two highlights makes for a somewhat uneven whole.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 April 2017 08:21

Robert Piotrowicz, "Walser"

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cover imageHis last major release, Samoobrona (with Lukáš Jiřička) may have had Piotrowicz trying something rather different by scoring a radio play, but Walser is a step back into the conventional album format, even if it was originally intended as a score for the film of the same title.  However, that motivation to try new things as far as instrumentation and composition goes (something that has been a distinct facet of his recent works) is not lost here.  Electric and acoustic instruments blend together, making for perhaps his most diverse and complex work to date.

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 March 2017 22:37

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