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Enhet För Fri Musik, "Inom Dig, Inom Mig"

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cover imageBelgium’s Aguirre Records seems to have quite a talent for digging up some singularly obscure, weird, and surprising releases lately.  The latest one to knock me sideways is this one, a free-folk project that seemingly involves most of the Swedish underground. Ostensibly formed to reignite and continue the tradition of communal psych genius of heavyweights like Pärson Sound, Enhet För Fri Muzik made a rather intriguing detour along the way and wound up deep in idiosyncratic and otherworldly "outsider folk" territory instead.  Even that is a bit of an oversimplification though, as Sofie Herner's alternately fragile, distracted, ritualistic, and trance-like vocals are unpredictably accompanied with everything from saxophones to field recordings of birds and streams.  Admittedly, tight songcraft was clearly not a big priority during these sessions, but Inom Dig casts an absorbing spell of timeless unreality that transcends mere melodies and hooks.

Last Updated on Monday, 05 June 2017 16:03

Helm, "World in Action"

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cover imageLuke Younger’s latest EP draws inspiration from his fascination with the UK's media chaos surrounding last year’s Brexit vote.  I suppose that is arguably one good thing to come out of that dark bit of recent history, but Helm already seemed to be doing a perfectly fine job producing fine albums without that unfortunate muse.  Inspirations aside, Helm EPs generally tend to feel a hell of a lot like maxi-singles and they only surface when Younger has made a significant creative breakthrough.  World in Action is no exception to that trend.  In this case, that breakthrough takes the form of the 9-minute "Blue Scene," a gloriously skittering and jazz-damaged cacophony that often resembles a hallucinatory flock of worried geese...with a groove.  Naturally, the remaining three pieces adhere to characteristically Helm-esque levels of quality, but it is quite clear that the wildly skwonking, must-hear tour de force of "Blue Scene" is the reason that this release exists.

Last Updated on Monday, 22 May 2017 05:34

The Inward Circles, "And Right Lines Limit And Close All Bodies"

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cover imageAs a longtime Richard Skelton fan, I have been watching his recent trajectory with quite a bit of fascination, as he has been restlessly diving into increasingly varied and arcane territory while distancing himself further and further from his brilliant earlier work with each new release.  While there are still some lingering vestiges of that vibrantly harmonic-strewn string work in his *AR project with Autumn Richardson, Skelton's solo work as The Inward Circles is explicitly (and increasingly) intent on exploring an aesthetic of "burial, obfuscation and mythologization."  In fact, The Inward Circles often seems like a rather perverse name, as Skelton has seemingly ceased burrowing inwards and thrown himself into the epic, timeless, and vast.   At times, that newly cosmic scope falls uncomfortably close to dark ambient (a genre that I am generally quite happy to avoid), but it can sometimes yield absolutely crushing and awe-inspiring results as well (Nimrod is Lost).  This latest opus does not quite sustain the lofty heights of some previous Inward Circles classics, but it compensates with a slow-burning majesty that builds to a sustained and wonderful crescendo.

Last Updated on Monday, 22 May 2017 05:45

Aaron Dilloway, "The Gag File"

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cover imageSince releasing two stellar albums in 2012, Aaron Dilloway has been comparatively quiet, contenting himself with a steady stream of cassettes, collaborations, and reissues.  Apparently, he also spent a bit of that time slowly assembling The Gag File, the long-awaited follow-up opus to Modern Jester.  Given that Dilloway has long been one of the most influential figures in the American noise scene, it is no surprise that The Gag File is a bizarre, aberrant, and fine album.  That said, some aspects were still deliciously wrong-headed enough to catch me off-guard (though the cover art should have been a fair warning).  At its best, The Gag File transcends mere noise entirely and ventures into realms that feel like a vivid kitschy nightmare or the infernal horror of an endless bad party.

Last Updated on Monday, 15 May 2017 06:15

Félicia Atkinson, "Hand in Hand"

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cover imageFélicia Atkinson's radical artistic transformation over the last several years has been quite an interesting one, as each new release seems to distance her further and further from her excellent work as Je Suis Le Petit Chevalier and into much stranger and more challenging territory.  With her last major statement, 2015's A Readymade Ceremony, Atkinson shifted the focus away from music towards a strong emphasis on whispered spoken-word performance of repurposed found texts mingled with George Bataille and her own poetry.  Hand in Hand goes still further in that direction, often reducing the accompanying music to an absolute minimum to focus almost entirely on an eclectic and evocative array of hushed readings from old plant books, magazines, JG Ballard, Philip K. Dick, and her own writings.  The overall effect is often wonderfully surreal and intimate, but Atkinson’s hyper constrained and minimal palette does not offer enough melodicism or dynamic variety to quite carry a full album.  A few of the individual pieces, however, are quite mesmerizing (particularly the closing "No Fear But Anticipation").

Last Updated on Sunday, 07 May 2017 21:37

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