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Colleen, "A Flame My Love, A Frequency"

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cover imageCécile Schott has long been my absolute favorite kind of artist: the kind who thoughtfully and quietly pieces together wonderfully distinctive albums and tends to only surface when she has something new and intriguing to say.  As a result, being a Colleen fan has been a deliciously unpredictable slow-motion rollercoaster that has taken some expectation-subverting turns over the years: most artists who come right out of the gate with a sublime and timeless masterpiece like Everyone Alive Wants Answers would just keep revisiting that success with diminishing returns, but Schott has tirelessly kept moving forward with each new album.  That evolution reached a crescendo of sorts with 2015 vocal-centric Captain of None, shedding a lot of artifice to reveal a more intimate and direct incarnation of Colleen.  In some ways, this latest album continues that trajectory, but it also finds Schott setting her viola da gamba aside for a synthesizer.  Admittedly, I tend to shake my head sadly whenever someone makes a synth album these days, but Schott has managed to bend those electronics to her will rather than falling under their spell like so many others.

Last Updated on Monday, 06 November 2017 09:32

Emptyset, "Skin"

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cover imageThis latest EP is something of a daring experimental coda to this year’s excellent Borders, as studio wizards James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas attempt to translate their crushing, frequency-saturated onslaught into purely acoustic recording techniques.  Obviously, there has been a lot of foreshadowing throughout the duo’s career hinting at this direction given Emptyset's longstanding fascination with architecture and natural resonance, but it was not until Borders that the essential missing piece was added to the formula: the viscerally biting snarl and rattle of a homemade zither.  Given that Skin further constrains an already hyper-constrained vein of minimalism, this EP is primarily just for existing fans eager to see how well Ginzburg and Purgas handle pushing their vision to a seemingly self-sabotaging extreme, but a few of these simple variations survive the transformation with quite a lot of raw power intact.

Last Updated on Monday, 23 October 2017 07:30

David First, "Civil War Songs (For Solo Harmonica)"

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cover image The third installment in David First's Same Animal, Different Cages album series (which are constructed from the use of a single instrument) is a contradictory piece of art.  On one hand, it is clearly the most song-focused of the series thus far: a record of melodies and more conventional structures that contrast with the often pure experiments of the previous installments for guitar and analog synthesizer.  However, by nature of the instrument used this time, a harmonica, I found it to be a more challenging work, but one that is still as rewarding as the releases that preceded it, and perhaps the most conceptually rich as well.

Last Updated on Monday, 16 October 2017 22:32

Elodie, "Vieux Silence"

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cover imageFor their latest album, the duo of Andrew Chalk and Timo van Luijk (Af Ursin) take an unexpected detour from their impressive run of limited self-released albums for an appearance on Stephen O'Malley’s eclectic Ideologic Organ imprint.  To honor this auspicious occasion, the core line-up is fleshed out with returning collaborators Tom James Scott and Jean Noël Rebilly, as well as pedal steel guitarist Daniel Morris.  In all other respects, however, Vieux Silence is every bit a traditional Elodie album, unfolding as a flickering impressionist dream that seems to emanate from a time and place totally unlike our own.  As an album, it does not necessarily tower above the rest of Elodie's consistently fine oeuvre, but the title piece might be the single most achingly gorgeous piece that Chalk and van Luijk have recorded together to date.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 October 2017 08:22

Aaron Turner & Daniel Menche, "Nox"

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cover imageWhile the gargantuan, triple disc Sleeper from Daniel Menche is still relatively new, he and SIGE head Aaron Turner (he of an immense number of projects) also managed to find the time to record this collaborative LP.  Recorded over a two year span, Nox is far more inviting and downright beautiful than I would have expected from two artists who have always shown hints of the sort in the past.

Last Updated on Monday, 16 October 2017 19:55

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