Reviews Search

Mary Lattimore, "Goodbye, Hotel Arkada"

Goodbye, Hotel ArkadaThis six-song album borrows its title from a beloved Croatian hotel damningly slated for modernization, which is a fitting inspiration for an album that "celebrates and mourns the tragedy and beauty of the ephemeral." Obviously, that is an especially resonant theme these days, given the endlessly accelerating pace of change and the relentless erosion of the comforting and familiar. Lattimore has always been unusually well-attuned to such feelings, but Goodbye, Hotel Arkada is also inspired by her passions for collaboration and travel, both of which "shake loose strands of inspiration."

Ghostly International

In keeping with those themes, this album features a number of intriguing collaborators (Slowdive's Rachel Goswell, The Cure's Lol Tolhurst, etc.), as well as a number of pieces inspired by warm memories of specific places and times from her travels, tours, and childhood. In fact, this is now the second Lattimore release that alludes to the island of Hvar (the first being 2020's landmark Silver Ladders). Naturally, the end result of all those reawakened memories and inspired collaborations is yet another gorgeous Mary Lattimore album, but it took a few listens before I fully appreciated this one's magic, as Goodbye, Hotel Arkada often feels deceptively simple on its surface. In reality, however, these are some of Lattimore's most focused and beautifully crafted pieces to date (they just take a little bit longer than usual to reveal their full depths).

Continue reading
1651 Hits

Techno Animal, "Re-Entry"

Re-EntryOut of print soon after its initial release in 1995 and on vinyl for the first time, the second collaboration between Justin Broadrick (Godflesh) and Kevin Martin (The Bug) has always been considered a high point in their lengthy collaborative discography. A sprawling two-and-a-half-hour masterwork of heavy beats and rich ambience, it is just as captivating today as it was nearly 30 years ago. Reissued and repackaged with care from all involved, it is a masterpiece that is deserving of the attention it is receiving.

Relapse

Any time some sort of social media prompt of "favorite albums of all time" or the like pops up, Re-Entry is one of the first titles that comes to mind for me. I still have vivid memories of purchasing the original CD set. It was a bit after its release, so roughly late 1995 or maybe early 1996, when I managed to get a special order (one of the few options in a pre-Internet ordering world) from Blockbuster Music in Brandon, Florida as an import. I had become a fan of Godflesh the year before, around the Merciless EP, and started tracking down some of Broadrick's numerous side projects, with this one being among the most hyped at the time. To say it was an influential release for me is an understatement: It fundamentally changed the way I perceived music, and electronic music specifically.

Continue reading
2533 Hits

American Cream Band, "Presents"

PresentsThis is not my first exposure to Nathan Nelson's freewheeling Twin-Cities improv collective, but it may as well have been, as the droning kosmische psychedelia of last year's Embrace You Millions provided no hint at all of the dramatic stylistic reinvention looming on the horizon. To my ears, the band's entertaining new direction is best described as "James Chance fronts the B-52s," but the album's description goes even further and promises both "a spiritually-charged journey" and "a shit-kicking party record." The fact that Presents emphatically delivers on the latter claim is quite an impressive feat indeed, as the number of shit-kicking party records successfully recorded by shapeshifting collectives of synth and space rock enthusiasts tends to historically be quite low. To their everlasting credit, American Cream Band buck that trend quite decisively, as Nelson seems literally evangelical in his desire to make a fun and raucous party album and he assembled one hell of a killer band to bring that dream to life.

Quindi

The "building blocks" for Presents were originally recorded back in December 2021, as Nelson brought ten musicians to Cannon Falls' Pachyderm studio to "live together," "eat together," and "lay down some drum-heavy sessions." That studio choice was presumably quite deliberate, as Nelson seems like a guy who is intuitively attuned to seeking and setting the right vibe and Pachyderm birthed quite a few iconic albums in its first heyday (The Wedding Present's Seamonsters and PJ Harvey's Rid of Me being two prime examples) and became a post-foreclosure labor of love for the late engineer John Kuker in more recent years.

Continue reading
1743 Hits

Choke Chain, "Mortality"

MortalityAs evident from many of my reviews at the time, I was (and remain) a big fan of the noise to EBM pipeline of genre overlap that was popular a few years back. Representing my two most momentous musical preferences during high school, hearing the two alongside each other was a perfect paring. Choke Chain, the solo project of Milwaukee's Mark Trueman is keeping this tradition alive, with a new album that leans more towards the rhythmic, rather than harsh end of this spectrum. Synth heavy, yet with aggressive vocals and production, it makes for an appropriate, fully realized album.

Phage Tapes

Mortality is the first full length from Trueman's project, following a handful of EPs and stray songs. Fittingly, it is the most definitive refinement of his approach to date. The components are consistent from what came before: pummeling drum machines; grimy/aggressive FM bass synths; and simultaneously angry/pained screaming vocals. The aforementioned noise influence is more notable on the unconventional production and the aggressive vocals that could almost be lifted from a power electronics record. The overall feel/aesthetic leans more in to the black and white austerity of the noise world, as opposed to the more cliché goth industrial world.

Continue reading
1715 Hits

Rick Reed, "The Symmetry of Telemetry"

The Symmetry of TelemetryAustin's Rick Reed has been an active composer and performer of electronic music for over 30 years, but The Symmetry of Telemetry represents his first release since 2018. Using synthesizers, organs, vocoders, and found radio noises, Reed's compositional approach of developing smaller, disparate segments that are then later strung together in a collage is perfect for this material, juxtaposing different sounds and moods across the album's three lengthy compositions in a way that is dynamic, yet still coherent and cohesive as a whole.

Sedimental / Elevator Bath

The 20-plus minute "Dysania" is immediately a work of weird, wet electronics. Coded transmissions beep and bleep through what sounds like synth bass and stuttering machinery. At times the more modular qualities of the synthesizers pierce through constantly evolving idiosyncratic bursts. Reed eventually steers the work into old school sci-fi soundtrack territories, but just as quickly introduced luxurious, glossy tones. The dynamic nature of the piece is what makes it most captivating, as Reed jumps from different sounds, moods, and dynamics effortlessly, while still retaining the cohesion of a composed work. Symphonic loops, humming machinery, and crunchy wobbles all appear at some point, making for an almost disorienting pace and development.

Continue reading
1820 Hits

Radian, "Distorted Rooms"

Distorted RoomsIt has somehow been seven years since this long-running Vienna trio last surfaced with 2016's stellar On Dark Silent Off, but they seem to have spent that time diligently dreaming up innovative new ways to be amazing. In a general sense, Radian's vision is not a far cry from the austere, jazz-adjacent post-rock of their celebrated labelmates Tortoise. The magic of Radian, however, lies in the band's singular attention to detail and their quixotic compulsion to continually turn sounds upside-down in imaginative feats of dynamic sorcery. The overall effect is akin to that of dub techno being made by an incredibly tight live band, but the live aspect is quite illusory, as Distorted Rooms presumably sounds almost nothing like what the band originally recorded (in fact, the band themself note that one piece "eliminates nearly all traces of the original performance"). While many of the sounds do remain present in one form or another, Radian revels in celebrating and amplifying the barely audible and non-musical bits while also eliminating or burying the louder, more traditional "rock" tropes like chords and melodies. Obviously, The Dead C have made a fine career out of similarly deconstructing and inverting rock music, but Radian are the gleaming, precision-engineered opposite of Dead C's own shambling, spontaneous, and blown-out vision.

Thrill Jockey

The opening "Cold Suns" was also the album's first single, but it is unclear if it was chosen because the band believed it to be one of the most perfect distillations of their vision or if they merely thought it was one of the album's more immediately gratifying pieces. I suspect the reason may be the latter, as the album's second single "Skyskryp12" features a similar level of comparatively heightened drama. For the most part, however, "Cold Suns" offers a fairly representative first impression of Radian's current direction: gently stuttering loops, killer drumming, and a remarkably minimalist palette of guitar sounds. Unlike many other songs on the album, however, it eventually coheres into a brooding and tense chord progression, which lands the piece in somewhere near the post-punk revivalism of Moin (at least until the bottom drops out for a lengthy outro of distorted vocals, smoldering distortion, whimpering synth quivers, and broken, skeletal drums). "Skyskryp12" has a roughly similar aesthetic, but with one key difference: after it collapses upon itself, it kicks back into gear and builds towards a darkly cinematic crescendo. While both pieces are admittedly enjoyable and satisfying, however, the album's strongest pieces tend to be the ones with a bit of a lighter touch.

Continue reading
1840 Hits

Colleen, "Le jour et la nuit du réel"

Le jour et la nuit du réelAs someone who has loved Cécile Schott's work since 2003's Everyone Alive Wants Answers, I have long been fascinated by the various twists and turns that her vision has undergone over the years. While there have certainly been stretches in which she has lingered upon a vision for more than one album, Schott's creative restlessness invariably steers her into adventurous and unfamiliar territory eventually. As a result, Colleen's small discography is divided into an impressive number of distinct phases (the sample-driven collage era, the viola da gamba years, the synthesizer years, etc.). In a general sense, this latest full-length (her ninth) is a continuation her recent synthesizer phase, but it is also a significant break from her previous work in that vein: Le jour et la nuit du réel is seven-suite double album of minimalist vignettes exploring how a motif can be significantly transformed through the manipulation of synthesizer settings alone. Given the fundamental constraints of that vision, the album admittedly feels a bit less substantial than several of Colleen's previous releases, but connoisseurs of nuance and elegant simplicity will find much to love.

Thrill Jockey

The album's title translates as "The day and the night of reality," which is a nod to both the album's structure and its primary inspiration. The "reality" bit is a reference to how "subtle or radical" changes to synth settings can completely transform how the same melodic phrase is perceived by the listener, which Schott likens to how new information can transform our feelings about a person or situation (i.e. our perception of reality). In keeping with that theme of transformation, the album is divided into "day" and "night" LPs and the first LP concludes with a suite entitled ""Be without being seen," which is intended to function as a "twilight transition zone." According to Schott, the "day" pieces feature "more friction, tension, and abrasive timbres" in order to channel the "invigoration of daylight," while the "night" pieces feature "slower, more melancholy textures and longer trails of delay." Being a longtime fan of both melancholy and trails of delay, I personally prefer the album's second half, but both sides of the album share a hell of a lot more common ground than they do differences: every single piece on the album is essentially a simple melody unspooling over a shifting bed of arpeggios. Schott's gear was similarly stripped down, as the entire album was recorded analog-style with just a Moog Grandmother synth and two delays (Roland RE-201 Space Echo and "her trusted Moogerfooger Analog Delay") and "no additional digital production." Interestingly, this album is the first entirely instrumental album that Schott has recorded in well over a decade, but it began its life as an "an album of songs with lyrics in the style of her previous album," so Schott's muse definitely led her quite far from where she originally intended to go (and I suspect this new vision must have been considerably more challenging to realize than what she originally had planned).

Continue reading
2702 Hits

Jonathan Canady, "Suffering and Defiance"

Suffering and DefianceWell known for his time in Dead World, as a member of synth trio Nightmares, and his deactivated power electronics project Deathpile, Jonathan Canady has long been a pillar of the American noise world. Now working under his own name, he has recently entered the world of soundtracks and participated in an extremely limited collaboration with legendary artist John Duncan. Suffering and Defiance is his latest purely solo, purely audio work, and it loses none of the harshness he is known for, yet makes it clear his work is anything but harshness for the sake of harshness.

Old Europa Café

There is no question what the album is going to be like from the opening moments of "Suffering and Defiance Part I": woozy, overdriven noise loops appear immediately, pushing the whole mix into the red. However, there is much more going on beyond just noise. The second part of the title piece appears later on the CD, a rumbling crunch with sustained, sizzling buzz that demonstrates an excellent use of layering and audio textures.

Continue reading
2139 Hits

Grey Windowpane, "Barnie Bewail: A Film Soundtrack"

Barnie Bewail: A Film SoundtrackThis is a weird one. Billed as a film soundtrack—although I cannot seem to find any evidence of the film actually existing—this tape from enigmatic UK artist Grey Windowpane is all over the place as far as styles go. Free improvisation electronics, bedroom pop numbers, and random interludes are all scattered about this cassette. The lo-fi sound and production serve as a unifying factor on these 11 songs, giving an slight sense of continuity within the chaos.

Half-a-Million Records

Loose, drifting noises are a constant from piece to piece: they underscore the crusty organ of "C.E. Last Hurry CUF," the precursor to the churning loops of "Manny Soaked My Arm in There," and as part of the open space and random voices of "Jubilee." There are other, more chaotic pieces, such as the clattering thumping collage of the aforementioned "Manny" feature hints of musical tones and melody, but never quite get there.

Continue reading
1831 Hits

Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf, "Internal Return"

Internal ReturnI enjoyed Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf's gnarled, doom-soaked debut Big Other (2020) quite a bit, but I enjoyed it in a casual way and failed to truly grasp the full extent of his singular and ambitious vision. While that situation has thankfully been remedied by this latest opus, the music of Internal Return is just one piece of a much larger and more complex ambition that incorporates Jewish tradition, artificial intelligence, video art, and a uniquely disturbing visual aesthetic that resembles a vivid sci-fi nightmare that blurs together several dystopian cinematic futures at once. Curiously, when taken by itself, the music of Internal Return is more elusive and ambiguous than its more crushing and epic predecessor. When combined with Rosendorf's AI-created videos, however, Internal Return transforms into a viscerally unsettling mindfuck that will probably haunt me for weeks. As Rosendorf himself puts it: "It is not a comfortable place to be in, at least not exactly; like being adrift in an imageless dream, it produces monsters of a kind that, once they are receding into memory, we get the sense they were not actually terrifying, just... strange." Hopefully, those monsters will recede into memory for me soon, as I am still very much lingering in the "terrified" stage for now.

Negative Capability Editions

As was the case with Big Other, Rosendorf enlisted an eclectic array of talented guests to help him realize his vision and Tzadik/Davka alum Daniel Hoffman kicks off the album with a fiery klezmer-informed violin solo over a roiling bed of doom-inspired drones. As Rosendorf sees it, Hoffman's violin acts as "a furious, yet frail guiding voice in a void" while "the music treads a path that you cannot follow, one that arbitrarily narrows down, twists and turns whenever you're certain you have it right." He also compares the underlying music to a series of depth charges and "an apocalypse in miniature," which sounds about right to me. Without the accompanying videos, Internal Return feels like being trapped in a crumbling and haunted fun house: it approximates a labyrinth of darkly surreal scenes that feel more like fleeting, enigmatic impressions than compositions with a deliberate dynamic arc or cathartic payoff. There is one exception, however, as the album's smoldering final drone epic ("Immer Besser") tags in Liturgy drummer Greg Fox for a ferociously volcanic crescendo of sludgy doom metal chords and machine-like blast beats. That piece is the closest thing that Internal Return has to a single, as the remaining pieces are too deconstructed to make a deep impact outside their intended context (musically, at least).

Continue reading
2557 Hits

Francesco Gennari, "Frammenti"

FrammentiIt is immediately clear from the opening piece "Preludio" that this is music composed with an unusually clear sense of structure and direction. As a classically trained pianist, Francesco Gennari has a solid grounding in music theory and he applies this knowledge to modular synths, with an authentic desire for experimentation and some serious chops; he can play. What elevates this debut recording even further is his ability to develop complex pieces from simple themes, while injecting energy and a sense of aggression and dynamics into his music.

Important

Having grown up during the prog rock heyday of the early 1970s, knee deep as we were in the truly awful and the absolutely bloody magnificent, I hesitated to refer to Gennari as "classically trained." Back then, and particularly when applied to guitarists or keyboard players, this phrase became almost a code word for impressive speed and an elite technique almost inevitably leading to impressive dullness and top notch overcomplexity. No such pitfalls with Frammenti, though, and there is not a dull moment on this entire album. It smacks of a brilliant sci-fi soundtrack. In fact if I were Ridley Scott I'd redo Blade Runner, keeping the best bits of Vangelis, erasing all traces of the white dove, and liberally applying some Frammenti. (Then I'd also demand that Dennis Villeneuve recall and destroy all copies of Blade Runner 2049 but that's another story).

Continue reading
2261 Hits

Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt, "Play at Duke"

Play at DukeThese two singular artists have been fitfully playing together for roughly a decade now and they have released a number of albums documenting their incredible duo performances. Notably, their most recent union was for 2021's absolutely killer Made Out of Sound album, but that one was a bit of an aberration for the duo, as it was a studio creation crafted remotely. Happily, Play at Duke captures the pair back together on stage where they belong. The stage in question was unsurprisingly at Duke University, but the album's prosaic title omits a rather significant detail: the performance in question closed out Three Lobed Recording's 21st anniversary festival in appropriately riveting fashion. While both artists rank among my favorite musicians and have truly incredible chemistry as an improv unit, some performances are undeniably better than others and Play at Duke feels like an especially inspired night to me. Moreover, Orcutt and Corsano make a virtue of brevity as well, as there is not a single wasted note or even a hint of a lull in this 25-minute tour de force.

Palilalia

The performance feels like an unusually joyous one right from its first rolling toms and major chords, which makes sense given that the performance was the culmination of a three-day festival in which Orcutt and Corsano were surrounded by great music, a host of their peers, and a sizable audience of receptive fans waiting to be properly blown away. It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment in which I was blown away myself upon hearing the album, but I am confident that it occurred some time during first of the performance's three sections, as the duo quickly strain toward the transcendent and ecstatic (Orcutt's wordless vocal howls tend to be a fairly reliable indicator that a particularly incendiary performance is underway). Naturally, there are plenty of killer licks and technically dazzling drum fills throughout the album, but the true beauty lies less in what Corsano and Orcutt play than it does in how they play it, how they interact with each other, and how they feed off the volatile spontaneity of live improvisation.

Continue reading
2491 Hits

The Heartwood Institute, "Mist Over Pendle"

Mist Over PendleThe Heartwood Institute creates memorable hauntological radiophonic doom-synth library folk music wherein traditional instruments from autoharp to zither are warped beyond identification, and blended into a barrage of synths and samplers, with film dialogue and nature sounds sprinkled in. Witchcraft is the subject matter of Pendle, and the album has a suitably spellbinding atmosphere, albeit one with the sense to emphasize grime and poverty. That's not to say there are not layers of sound which suggest cloudy pseudo-romantic myth, misty obscurity, and even smoke billowing up from a hexastein into some corridor of eternal purgatorial uncertainty where no one can hear your appeals for help, your moans or wails.

self-released

Mist Over Pendle is music inspired by the book of that name by Robert Neill and both are depictions of the events around the Pendle witch trials of 1622; amongst the most infamous such trials in English history. The album has an appropriately eerie density. We hear crows cawing, muffled human cries, incantations, repetitive electronic thuds, the occasional eye scratching curse and air cracking screech, foreboding synths, brooks not so much babbling as blabbing confessions during a water boarding session, and snippets of dialogue in archaic dialects lifted from an obscure 1976 television drama The Witches of Pendle.

Continue reading
2411 Hits

Gianni Safred "Electronic Designs"

Electronic DesignsElectronic Designs was originally released in 1977 and it retains a weird and wonderful retro-futuristic atmosphere. By turns bizarre and swinging, wild and smooth, these recordings have a depth and an edge not always achieved in so-called library music. Younger glitch merchants can only hope to get close to the swing that Italian master Gianni Safred effortlessly knocks off on "Elastic Points." Then again, he did play with Django Reinhardt. This is a killer release with calculated, almost architectural, quality oozing out of every track. The cosmic melancholy of "Spheres'' is not unlike some of Basil Kirchin's more poignant compositions, such as "I Start Counting" while the frankly stunning "Planetarium" has Safred gradually unleashing an array of textural flourishes, as if imitating meteors or shooting stars amid a galaxy of stars and planets.

Four Flies

I was attracted to this album because of Larry Manteca's "Ufo Bossa/Intergalactic Porno Scene" (released in March on the Four Flies label) from the previous recording Mutant Virgins From Pluto. That breezy ultra-lounge electro-cocktail 7" sent me scurrying through the Four Flies catalog and landed me here. The cover art of Electronic Designs - with interlocked squares, parallel lines, images from maps or pseudo-astronomy, and oblongs which resemble circuit boards - gives away some of the compositional structure and feel which Safred coaxes from his Polymoog and ARP Odyssey. It's all about functional experimentation, relaxed and catchy, hypnotic space-age swathes of melody floating over well-grounded grooves.

Continue reading
2033 Hits

Natural Wonder Beauty Concept

Natural Wonder Beauty Concept While I am a fan of both DJ Python (Brian Piñeyro) and Ana Roxanne, a collaboration between the two is not something that I would have ever foreseen happening due to the substantial gulf between their styles. Unusual circumstances can lead to unexpected places, however, and the two mutual admirers found themselves both adrift and living in NYC in 2020 ("well-loved albums aside, no one was playing shows, and a general listlessness and disconnection prevailed"). As a result, the two finally met in person and soon began working on new music together ("studio experimentation was the instinctive extension of a friendship finding its feet"). Before they could finish an album, however, circumstances changed again and Piñeyro returned to the European club scene, while Roxanne toured the world and moved back to California.

Mexican Summer

Fortunately, the pair were still able to meet up occasionally and eventually had enough material to convene in Los Angeles and Brooklyn to finish an album. Given the pedigree of those involved, it is no surprise that Natural Wonder Beauty Concept is a compelling project, but it takes some unexpected directions: while Piñeyro's recent collaboration with Ela Minus resulted in a poppier strain of DJ Python's "deep reggaeton," Roxanne's influence often steers Piñeyro's beats in a more vaporous and ambient-inspired direction.

Continue reading
2134 Hits

Merzbow, "CATalysis"

CATalysisOne of the reasons I had to investigate this latest album from the always prolific Masami Akita is that I was surprised it took him this long to make a cat themed album. A staunch animal rights activists and composer of many animal themed albums (Chickens! Bears! Dolphins! A whole bunch of other birds!), it took well over 40 years into his career to produce something in respect of the venerable house feline. How much this applies beyond the title and beautiful photography used as packaging is of course questionable, but musically it is Akita at his most diverse.

Elevator Bath

It has been ages since I have listened to new Merzbow material, but I found myself rather surprised at the diversity of sounds on CATalysis. My interest started to wane once he went full laptop, and I always preferred his earlier tape/loop based works, so the fact that this in many ways feels like a hybrid of the two is a wonderful thing. Right from the opening "CATalysis No. 1," this combination is notable: metallic chain rattles over an electronic windstorm as everything is swept into an intense, collapsing overdrive. Harsh loops and shrill feedback make for some multifaceted pairings, and some great stereo effects add further depth.

Continue reading
2410 Hits

"When the Frog from the Well Sees the Ocean (Reports from English UFOlklore)"

When the Frog from the Well Sees the Ocean (Reports from English UFOlklore)This latest collection from Folklore Tapes borrows its title from a Japanese proverb about knowing one's limitations ("the frog in the well knows nothing of the sea"), which was itself borrowed from a Chinese fable. In the context of an album devoted to UFO lore, of course, humans are the frogs, the infinite universe is the ocean, and the usual eclectic Folklore Tapes cast of characters gleefully devote themselves to celebrating the colorful hoaxes and stories of their countrymen who claim to have experienced a visit from extraterrestrial life. While alien visitations are admittedly a bit outside the usual realm of Folklore Tapes' research, I would be hard pressed to think of a roster of artists better suited to tackle the topic, as just about everyone involved brings a freewheeling playfulness to the theme and surprises abound. This is yet another characteristically brilliant and inspired compilation from the inimitable Folklore Tapes. Hell, it might even be their best yet.

Folklore Tapes

As is the case with most major Folklore Tapes releases, this collection exists only in physical form, as music and scholarship are eternally intertwined for the label (the LP includes quite a comprehensive essay by Jez Winship, as well as artist notes about stories that inspired their individual pieces). Also as expected, the album's contributors are a welcome murderers' row of names that will likely be familiar only to those who have delved into previous Folklore Tapes collections. That said, the album does include a killer (if brief) new piece from Dean McPhee ("The Second Message") that is predictably an album highlight. Unsurprisingly, I am predisposed to enjoy just about everything he releases, but "The Second Message" is doubly enjoyable for being something of an aberration, as McPhee's usual sustain-heavy melodicism is beautifully enhanced by a gorgeous descending chord motif and an unexpectedly wild and psychotropic finale. I was also thoroughly delighted by the trio of Carl Turney, Brian Campbell & Peter Smyth, as "July Aitee" is a perfectly distilled swirl of groovy, synth-driven dreampop magic (as well as a healthy bit of howling chaos).

Continue reading
2316 Hits

Matt Weston, "Embrace This Twilight"

Embrace This TwilightLike 2021's Four Lies in the Eavesdrop Business, composer/multi-instrumentalist Matt Weston's latest work is a lengthy double record. However, this time he specifically utilizes the format to create four side-long and expansive pieces that constantly develop, bringing in a multitude of different sounds and elements. The result is a series of intense, dense compositions that can be hard to keep up with at first, but eventually reveal a deep sense of complexity in their structures.

7272Music

"The Drunken Dance with the Telegrapher" is the first (and longest) of the four works. It clocks in at over 17 minutes and is always shifting and evolving through that entire duration. Opening with oddly processed, mangled sounds that resemble a pained monster, Weston adds sporadic, intense drumming and a creepy, droning ambience. He introduces high pitched noises and metallic pulses, the piece goes into shrill, harsh spaces at times, but the captivating bent tapes and layered tones keep it from being anything but an endurance test. Percussive thuds, drill-like electronic tones, and tumbling drums all appear at different times, making for a dizzying piece.

Continue reading
2055 Hits

Klara Lewis and Nik Colk Void, "Full-On"

Full-On As Alter's album description insightfully observes, a collaboration between these two Editions Mego alumnae "somehow seemed inevitable," yet I was still pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly Lewis and Void were able to combine their visions into something that feels both new and wonderful. On one level, the success of this union makes perfect sense, as both artists tend to turn out some of their strongest work in collaborative situations (Carter Tutti Void and Lewis's KLMNOPQ EP with Peder Mannerfelt being prime examples of that phenomenon). However, both artists excel in extremely specific realms that have some limitations: Lewis is exceptionally good at collaging non-musical sounds, while Void seems particularly adept at crafting eccentric noise-damaged techno.

Alter

Obviously, beat-driven sound collages were a distinct possibility, but so were any number of other options, so I had no clear expectations about where this shared vision would ultimately land. Now that said shared vision has landed, however, I can confidently state that Full-On resembles a deeply unconventional beat tape and quite a good one at that. While I suspect some listeners will initially find the album's kaleidoscopic parade of brief loops and vignettes exasperatingly sketchlike (there are a lot of 1-minute songs), I personally warmed to Full-On almost immediately, as practically every piece that made it onto the album is compelling, inventive, and endearingly idiosyncratic.

Continue reading
2183 Hits

Caterina Barbieri, "Myuthafoo"

MyuthafooThis latest album from Barbieri is intended as a sister album to 2019's landmark Ecstatic Computation and has been released to correspond with the imminent reissue of the latter. The central difference between the two albums is that Myuthafoo gradually and organically took shape during Barbieri's extensive touring, as the "nomadic, interactive energy" of those many live dates inspired her to play with experimental variations in her process each night. More specifically, she would program patterns into her sequencer, then feed them into her "arsenal of noise generators" to explore different combinations and the most compelling results were set aside for future expansion and/or eventual release.

light-years

In characteristically cerebral fashion, Barbieri's arcane processes have their roots in cosmogony, as she is fascinated with how a small number of limited options can "branch out into a much larger structure, eventually reaching towards an open-ended cosmos of possibility." Admittedly, comparing Myuthafoo to the birth of a universe will probably establish unreasonably high expectations for some listeners, but they can at least console themselves with yet another killer Caterina Barbieri album while they patiently wait for a new and better universe to form.

Continue reading
1921 Hits