Mark Applebaum’s percussion piece “30” is actually three pieces in one; it consists of “The First Decade”, “The Second Decade”, and “The Third Decade” all played simultaneously. All three individual pieces are presented by themselves, as well as in combination with one other piece. It’s almost like a sort of Zaireeka experiment performed live. Of course, it all sounds best in the original three-in-one piece, there’s definitely long gaps during the other pieces. But it’s quite interesting to hear them all individually and in combination just to see how it all fits together. Solo piece “The First Decade” is actually a symmetrical stereo piece, with identical instruments played by left and right hands and microphoned so that they pan to their respective channels in the mix. Listening to the piece by itself means 10 minutes of blank space punctuated by woodblocks and cowbells panning rapidly between both channels. “The Second Decade” features a quartet playing different percussion instruments as well as doing choreographed hand gestures and hissing. “The Third Decade” is a bizarre soundscape with dozens of instruments as well as common (or maybe not-so-common) objects, including a manual typewriter, a saw, a corrugated plastic tube called a bloogle, etc. Pretty interesting concept, I’m sure seeing it live would be fascinating.
4th album from the hard-to-categorize Ninja Tune-related artist. As you can probably tell from his name (read it backwards), this is pretty upbeat, positive music. Lots of live drums and guitars and chopped up vocals along with glittery synths. Would very easily fit in a DJ set with Tycho, Bonobo or Four Tet. Plenty of songs stick to a leisurely tempo, but “Neighborhoods” starts out slow then goes into a doubletime drum’n’bass beat. “Separate Ways Forever” is the most chillwave song here, maybe. “Bushmills” has nice crashing drums (which glitch out a bit sometimes) and a sort of surfy feel. Maybe? Sure, let’s just say it does. Also, the album’s graphic design was handled by chiptune artist minusbaby!
“Depressive chillwave” project of Dan Barrett of Have a Nice Life. Quite literally, this album is what happens when you have health problems and are stuck inside, bleeding and strapped to medical machines, unable to go outside and enjoy the gorgeous summer weather, so you decide to make an album. Slow, lurching beats and dark synths, with undistorted (but sad) vocals on top. “My Body Betrayed Me” (the first song released by the project) opens with droning synths and an industrial-like distorted beat, but then the synth melody that comes in sounds like it would be bright if it weren’t so dark, if that makes sense. Instrumental “DSA” lightens things up a bit with a more propulsive beat and synth bassline. Album highlight “Death Sentences” hits me right in the feels with its mantra of “can’t relate to anyone.” “If I Let Him In” is another slow, gloomy electro-pop epic with ticking drum machine beats and hazy synths. To be sure, this is a seriously depressed album, but Barrett has an incredible melodic sense and his lyrics ring true. Quite a remarkable album.
Downright bizarre (and long, at 70 minutes) beat tape from Pat Modugno of Moth Cock. Starts out sounding like an extra tape-fried Madlib mix, but then it just goes off in too many strange directions to keep track of. At one point it sounds like Pacman trying to eat a crunk drum machine beat, before it erupts into silly, sinister pitchshifted laughter. A few hip-hop and reggae samples poke their way in, and it’s hard to tell if they’re being interrupted or if they’re interrupting everything else. So many dimensions to this one, it’s unreal. Try to make sense of it yourself.
Hobo Cubes-related project exploring disjointed beats and scattered moods. There’s longer pieces and shorter, fused-out interludes. Individual tracks remind me of Throbbing Gristle, early Pole, and various glitch artists. The last cut on side A is like an extremely shadowy, distant juke track. Another skittery yet glacial rhythm appears near the end of the second side. The tape continually drifts and morphs into something different, but it doesn’t seem schizophrenic or bipolar. Available on Bandcamp.
Demented avant-jazz-rock from the trio of guitarist Mike Sopko, bassist Bill Laswell, and drummer Thomas Pridgen, along with several guests including Anticon keyboardist Martin Dosh. Laswell’s signature rubbery, atmospheric bass sound is all over this, and Sopko’s guitars swarm, overpower, and attack, often sounding like there’s several of him playing at once. Pridgen’s drumming is similarly ecstatic and crashing. Together, the trio create a collision of sounds which feels fractured and frenetic, but actually has a remarkable flow to it. “Detroit” is far less cluttered and noisy than some of the other tracks, and has a sly funk groove as well as fluttering sax by Joshua Smith. The tracks with Martin Dosh on keyboards are noticeably more atmospheric, especially the drumless “Daybreak” (“Shades of Sunny Days”, without Dosh, has a similar effect, but is much tenser). “Praxis” is named after Laswell’s long-running project with Buckethead and Brain (among others), and has a similar hard-edged yet funky feel. A nice, wide-ranging collaboration.
The latest album from legendary German experimental artist Asmus Tietchens consists of glacial, minimalist drones, as do many of his albums (particularly ones released on Richard Chartier’s Line label), but the first track features subtly shifting textures which at least faintly bring to mind some of his older, more industrial-ish works. Other tracks feel like icicles melting into strange noxious gases and dissipating. “Ornament 4” consists of a cluster of fluttery sounds mingling and whistling eerily, occasionally settling on an ominous hiss. “Ornament 5” is the album’s most serene moment, but there’s still a strange, haunted feeling to it, it’s hard to tell if that’s a voice buried underneath the rumbling bass drone. Transportive and otherwordly, as always.
The latest release by Japanese label flau is an excursion into late night ethereal R&B from a vocalist named Noah. Her cooing vocals blend in with the pillowy, cloudlike atmospheric synths and downtempo beats, sometimes feeling like they’re dreamed or imagined rather than properly sung. Impossibly delicate, this is music that easily drifts away if you don’t stack a paperweight on it. It also seems to drift away from the R&B influence as it progresses, getting into some lightly noisy shoegaze textures on the stunning “Flaw”. “Tadzio” is a bittersweet storm cloud in which Noah’s voice is so airy it almost sounds like a ghost. Not to mention, naming a song “Gorgeous Death” wins points in my book.
3:02 am Matchess ~ “Nursery Tale of the Spectre” ~ Somnaphoria ~ Trouble In Mind ~ 2015
3:06 am Matchess ~ “Castles in the Air” ~ Somnaphoria ~ Trouble In Mind ~ 2015
3:08 am Suicide ~ “Ché” ~ Suicide ~ Red Star ~ 1977
3:12 am Oneirogen ~ “Vessel” ~ Plenitude ~ Denovali ~ 2015
3:15 am Autechre ~ “Perlence” ~ Quaristice ~ Warp ~ 2007
3:19 am Undacova ~ “Prove” ~ Miad ~ Somia ~ 2004
3:21 am System ~ “Spy” ~ System ~ ~scape ~ 2002
3:25 am Ryoji Ikeda ~ “0º :: zero degrees ” ~ 0ºC ~ Touch ~ 1998
3:31 am Asmus Tietchens ~ “Ornament 2” ~ Ornamente (zwischen Null und Eins) ~ Line ~ 2015
3:41 am Steve Roach ~ “Magnificent Gallery” ~ Dreamtime Return ~ Fortuna Records ~ 1988
3:47 am Malcolm Dalglish ~ “Swimming Rocks” ~ Jogging the Memory ~ Windham Hill Records ~ 1986
3:51 am Jens-Uwe Beyer ~ “The Life Of” ~ The Emissary ~ Kompakt Pop Ambient ~ 2015
3:56 am Mike Cooper ~ “A Cinnamon Peeler” ~ Fratello Mare ~ Room40 ~ 2015
4:00 am Jatoma ~ “Little Houseboat (Lucky Dragons Mix)” ~ Little Houseboat Remixe ~ Kompakt ~ 2011
4:05 am Skanfrom ~ “Cashier” ~ Hand Picked Fragments ~ Suction Records ~ 1999
4:09 am Princess Century ~ “Metro” ~ Progress ~ Paper Bag ~ 2015
4:12 am U.S. Girls ~ “Navy & Cream” ~ Half Free ~ 4AD ~ 2015
4:16 am Noah ~ “Gorgeous Death (Noah Remix)” ~ Sivutie ~ flau ~ 2015
4:20 am Herva ~ “Kila” ~ µ20 ~ Planet Mu ~ 2014
4:26 am Toecutter ~ “Spiders In Paradise Remix (with the Bonettos)” ~ Toecutter ~ System Corrupt ~ 2006
4:29 am Alec Empire ~ “Fuck The Shit Up” ~ Squeeze The Trigger ~ DHR ~ 1996
4:33 am Richard Garet ~ “Meta, 2013-2015” ~ Meta ~ Line ~ 2015
4:39 am µ-Ziq ~ “Wring” ~ mp3 ~ Soundcloud ~ 1994-1995
4:48 am Mark Stewart + The Maffia ~ “The Wrong Name and The Wrong Number (DJ Battle)” ~ Science Fiction Dancehall Classics ~ On-U Sound ~ 1983
4:57 am DJ Spinn, DJ Rashad & Danny Brown ~ “Dubby” ~ Off That Loud EP ~ Hyperdub ~ 2015
5:02 am Danny Brown & Clams Casino ~ “Worth It” ~ mp3 ~ Adult Swim Singles Program ~ 2015
5:05 am Mamaleek ~ “Nothing But Loss” ~ Via Dolorosa ~ The Flenser ~ 2015
5:10 am Beck ~ “Today Has Been a Fucked Up Day” ~ Stereopathetic Soul Manure ~ Flipside ~ 1994
5:12 am Wand ~ “Dovetail” ~ 1000 Days ~ Drag City ~ 2015
5:16 am Film Student ~ “Radium Girls” ~ Film Student ~ Simulacra ~ 2015
5:20 am New Order ~ “Singularity” ~ Music Complete ~ Mute ~ 2015
5:26 am Dan Friel ~ “Jamie (Luvver)” ~ Life ~ Thrill Jockey ~ 2015
5:30 am Simon Scott ~ “Confusion In Her Eyes” ~ Insomni ~ Ash International ~ 2015
5:36 am KANT ~ “Maelstrom” ~ Metaphysik ~ self-released ~ 2015
5:43 am Sopko Laswell Pridgen ~ “Airplane Mode” ~ Sopko Laswell Pridgen ~ self-released ~ 2015
5:48 am Sean Sonderegger’s Magically Inclined ~ “Crown” ~ Eat the Air ~ Skirl ~ 2015
5:53 am Julia Holter ~ “Betsy On The Roof” ~ Have You In My Wilderness ~ Domino ~ 2015
The Flenser has been releasing plenty of great metal/not-metal in the past few years, and this album is another eye-opener. Boundary-pushing metal which sounds like it could have been recorded in a Transylvanian dungeon as well as a seedy New Orleans jazz club or a Crooklyn basement circa ’97 with Scotty Hard on the console. There’s harsh growling, but instead of being drowned out by walls of guitar noise or blastbeats, there’s damaged lo-fi rock, trippy beats or crunchy drums, restrained jazz guitar, and static-covered piano. It really, truly does not sound like any other record I’ve ever heard, and it’s awesome. I’m guessing this the only illbient jazz metal band in the world, but I am totally open to being proven wrong on that one. (Edit: Now that I think of it, that description reminds me of Praxis and a few other Bill Laswell projects, but this sounds leagues away from any of them to be honest. Anyway, just listen to it!)