I still have a flyer from when Russian Tsarlag played a show with Kites and Black Pus in my friend’s basement back in 2007, but I skipped that show so I could see Duran Duran Duran and Skymall play at some swanky hotel in NYC. So I’ve kind of missed out on the career of this prolific lo-fi musician for the past 7 years or so. Serious bedroom downer vibes, might seem a bit too dour to get into at first, but it’s actually pretty accessible. It’s slow and minimal, but it’s not lazy. Everything from the vocals to the tape and noise effects seem considered and planned. “One Way Out” has some sort of warped easy listening vibe, but other songs definitely don’t sound as easy. “Green Woman” sounds troubled and disturbed, and the nervous, maniacal laughter at the end only emphasizes this. “Play This Tape Again” has a nice warped, warbling texture, while “Become Solid” is a solemn near-instrumental with just a bit of tight-lipped speaking. “Plastic Door” ends the LP with some backwards, circuitbent sounds which segue into another downcast basement pop song.
Existing pretty far under the radar, this is a cosmic instrumental synth/drums project Fred Thomas has been working on with a couple other musicians. Two tapes have been released so far, both untitled. The first dates from April, and features soundtrack-y synthesizer tones and guitar loops, with occasional simmering, crashing and echoing drums. Side B is taken up by an epic meditation called “Everybody Wants To Go Swimming, Every Last One Worth Their Weight In Tomorrows”, which follows a lonely, shivering synth line and guitar, with more simmering, echoed panning drums, and later some laser-scapes. It’s a bit cold and isolated and even quite sad, and I’m in awe of it. The second tape is just being released now as part of Life Like’s Winter 2013 bundle, but Encore had copies a few months ago, so I guess an early batch sneaked out. This one starts with a furious Krautrock/spacerock jam, with thundering motorik drumming and thick buzzing organ, and harsh waves of synth washing over everything. The second track has funkier drumming and more explosive, glimmering synths. It just goes on forever and seems to get more fried and spacey, then it just glops to a stop. Unfortunately the A-side of this tape comes mostly out of the right speaker, I’m hoping this was corrected when the winter batch was released, because this is a truly astounding tape that deserves to be heard correctly. But the second side plays fine, and features more spacey, jittery synth and thundering drums. Asteroid-destroying.
Originally released in an edition of 7 CDr’s under the title Flugelrad, this is a tape of brief improv sketches by Craig Johnson (aka Laserbeams of Boredom). While it includes that project’s mindblowing drumming, it also features drum machines and lots of circuitbent toy instruments, giving it kind of a playful, junky trash-art feel. The tracks with distorted drum machine beats particularly blow things out of proportion, and the bit with all the chiming crystal and chipmunk-y sounds? Too much. This guy just fries my brain and eats it for dinner, every single time.
Yet another post about an artist I saw at SXSW earlier this year, and never got around to posting about or reviewing here. I actually saw Rites Wild (AKA Stacey Wilson) twice, once at night during the Not Not Fun showcase, and during the day at an all Australian showcase which I mostly went to because there was free food, but I had to stay for Rites Wild’s set because it was so awesome the night before. Her music is definitely on the dark, shadowy end of the lo-fi NNF spectrum, conjuring up the best of classic darkwave and minimal synth, but not succumbing to the typical goth cliches. The vocals stick to being veiled enough to be indecipherable, and the slow, ticking drum machines frame the expansive synth/organ melodies. The dark atmospherics make it seem too shadowy and abstract to really be considered “pop”, but the songs themselves are pretty compact and structured, they don’t meander. Not Not Fun released Rites Wild’s Ways Of BeingLP last year, and it’s a prime example of what she does best. Slow and drowsy and a little distorted, but never fully obscured. There’s a few would-be club hits if clubs played dark, drowsy lo-fi darkwave (“Thieves”), and even a stunning dub excursion (“Minimal Where”), with vaguely “The Model”-esque organ and crashing drum fills covered in waterfalls of echo. Deep, haunted dancehall from down under. Also released last year was The Past Will Become New Again, a cassette on Heavy Lows containing a 23 minute piece composed as a soundtrack for a radio show. This piece lets her zone out into deep space, focusing on repetitive synth sequences, heavy shifting atmospheres, and more obscured, submerged vocals. Just when you think it’s completely drifted out into space, a dubby pulse-beat emerges and some late-night synth-string melodies reflect the night sky onto the dance floor. Definitely more heady and psychedelic than the tracks on her LP. Seriously incredible and easy to get lost in. I was actually disappointed when it ended and there was no music on the second side of the tape.
Also of note is her alter ego Regional Curse, who released a tape on Night People called Natural Living. More haunted spacey sounds, with some songs stretching to the 10 minute mark. Not so many vocals on this tape, mostly slow throbbing beats and atmospherics, but the title track has some echoed whispering and a bit more of a progression than the other tracks. 10-minute closer “Best Believe” truly takes things into the void, with a slow beat crawling through mountains of delayed effects and zombie vocals. Such a horrible night to have a curse.
Policy has been on my radar since his “Emotional”/”Speed Of Life” digital single on Ill Cosby’s Car Crash Set label back in 2010. After a few 12″s and a digital album on Rush Hour, Policy is now releasing a full-length LP on 100% Silk, which also recently released a tape by Cosby. The 6 tracks on here all clock in around 6 minutes, and have bright melodic house vibes. Opener “Postscript 187” cuts it up microhouse style, with horn blasts and sprinkles of chimes and bits of vocals. “Grove Street Freeze” is sunny, chiming, melodic, and has a chipper bassline and a bit of the cut-n-paste lo-fi charm of the best of the 100% Silk roster, while still recalling classic deep house. “Rememberance” goes a little closer to the clipped, staccato sounds of UK garage, with hints of dramatic strings and another chiming melody. On the B-side, “Ghost In The Groove” is probably the most slamming 4/4 dance track, weaving a blanket of vocal samples and scattered piano chords, with a Derrick May-esque bassline tying it all together. “Wiseblood” goes for even more of a late-night Detroit skyline feel, cruising into the city with “E2-E4” faintly playing in the background. “Big Beast Anthem” ends the album with more of a techno headrush, pumping the tempo up a bit and using frequent crashing snare rushes. A fresh set of tracks from an always on-point producer.
Consisting of 22 movements spread over a single 45 minute track, this album is a sort of industrial spoken word psychodrama, featuring poetry and dialogue by Bryan Lewis Saunders, Pixyblink, Michael Holloway and others, all performed individually without awareness of the final project. Even without any overlying concept connecting the spoken pieces, the reoccurring voices, characteristics and phrases become familiar, and the liner note credits alluding to personal ads frame this some sort of a vague love story. Musically, it drifts through experimental, dark ambient and electro-acoustic textures, with some distorted industrial beats. After it’s all over, you feel like you’ve been taken somewhere else, but you’re not sure where.
Short album of indie-pop miniatures from a Montreal-based band. The foundation is minimalist post-punk bass/guitar/drums/vocals, but there’s plenty of experimentation with tape loops, analog synthesizers and pianet. The songs are cleanly produced and sophisticated, never settling into predictable structures and hooks. Sometimes it faintly resembles High Llamas or Sea & Cake minus the lush instrumentation. There’s also a few short BBC Radiophonic Workshop-style interludes. Feels a little isolated, so if you’re going to be spending this winter that way, this might compliment that.
3:01 AM Boards of Canada ~ Sixtyten ~ Music Has The Right To Children ~ Warp/Skam
3:07 AM Boards of Canada ~ Turquoise Hexagon Sun ~ Music Has The Right To Children ~ Warp/Skam
3:12 AM Boards of Canada ~ Basefree ~ Twoism ~ Warp/Music70
3:18 AM Autechre ~ C/Pach ~ Tri Repetae ~ Warp
3:24 AM Boyle ~ 4Feb2013 ~ 2013Disc1 ~ self-released
3:26 AM Bernard Parmegiani ~ Accidents/Harmoniques ~ De Natura Sonorum ~ Recollection GRM
3:33 AM Bernard Parmegiani ~ Dedans-Dehors ~ L’Oeil Ecoute / Dedans-Dehors ~ Recollection GRM
3:52 AM Emptyset ~ Disperse ~ Recur ~ Raster-Noton
3:56 AM Eluvium ~ By The Rails ~ Nightmare Ending ~ Temporary Residence
3:59 AM Deepchord ~ Plankton ~ 20 Electrostatic Soundfields ~ Soma
4:01 AM 303 Committee ~ Gemini Stare ~ Conquest ~ Inam Records
4:06 AM Jel ~ Thnk4u ~ Late Pass ~ Anticon
4:09 AM Daedelus ~ Frission ~ Drown Out ~ Anticon
4:14 AM Daniel Bortz ~ In The Yard ~ Patchwork Memories ~ Suol
4:17 AM Cuscino ~ Only The Beginning ~ Eternality ~ Fashion Sells Music
4:20 AM Alluxe ~ Shades ~ Nomad ~ Electronic Creatives
4:24 AM Trentemoller ~ Trails ~ Lost ~ In My Room
4:33 AM Nathan Felix ~ Broken Down The Walls ~ The Curse The Cross & The Lion ~ self-released
4:38 AM Magik Markers ~ Acts Of Desperation ~ Surrender To The Fantasy ~ Drag City
4:43 AM Throwing Muses ~ Morning Birds 1 ~ Purgatory/Paradise ~ Harper Collins/It Books
4:46 AM Crystal Antlers ~ Paper Thin ~ Nothing Is Real ~ Innovative Leisure
4:49 AM Stillsuit ~ 3 ~ Stillsuit ~ self-released
4:50 AM Monkey Power Trio ~ Downtown Woman ~ Misreattached 7″ ~ Pocahontas Swamp Machine Recordings
4:52 AM Splinter Cake ~ Forever Sleeping ~ split 7″ w/ Foot Ox ~ Folktale
4:55 AM Mutual Benefit ~ Golden Wake ~ Love’s Crushing Diamond ~ Other Music Recording Co.
5:00 AM Ken Kozora ~ Perceptions ~ Music For Lasers ~ self-released
5:06 AM 15.60.75 The Numbers Band ~ Narrow Road ~ Jimmy Bell’s Still In Town ~ Exit Stencil
5:12 AM Fuzz ~ You Won’t See Me ~ Live In San Francisco ~ Castle Face
5:16 AM Thee Oh Sees ~ Crushed Grass (Demo) ~ Singles Collection Volume Three ~ Castle Face
5:18 AM Bardo Pond ~ Taste ~ Peace On Venus ~ Fire
5:23 AM Cross Record ~ Dirt Nap ~ Be Good ~ Ba Da Bing
5:29 AM Kandinsky Trio ~ Silent Faustus Act III (Songs Of Home) ~ On Light Wings ~ Omnitone
5:33 AM The Gories ~ I Think I’ve Had It ~ The Shaw Tapes: Live In Detroit 5/27/88 ~ Third Man
5:35 AM Orchestra Of Spheres ~ Moro C con ~ Vibration Animal Sex Brain Music ~ Fire
5:39 AM Black Hearted Brother ~ (I Don’t Mean To) Wonder ~ Stars Are Our Home ~ Slumberland
5:43 AM Cave ~ Shikaakwa ~ Threace ~ Drag City
5:48 AM Heaven’s Gate ~ I’m Forgetting ~ Transmuting ~ Inflated
5:51 AM TV Ghost ~ Cloud Blue Moments ~ Disconnect ~ In The Red
5:55 AM Windy & Carl ~ Instrumental 2/Matchbox (demo) ~ Instrumentals 7″ ~ Burnt Hair
Latest release from one of Ryan Huber’s newest projects. This one focuses on noise, drone and field recordings. Charred atmospheres, but still a pulse and forward momentum. Some of it does feel like staring into the face of death, however, particularly “Gemini Stare” and “Adoniram”. “Damascene” and “The Tall Cedars” are more minimal, then the rest plunge back into the void. Hopeless and squalid. You might not make it out alive.
Debut full-length from Daniel Bortz, co-founder of minimal/tech-house collective Pastamusik. Not familiar with his earlier stuff, but I feel like this is the type of album that could be a good sort of crossover album to people who aren’t hardcore into techno, similar to Nicolas Jaar or Matthew Dear. It starts off with “Alone At Home”, a downtempo track with late-night autotune, then goes into a series of melodic, lovelorn dance tracks with vocals. Seems to run the gamut emotionally, from yearning (“Spend The Night”) to lovstruck ecstasy (“First Love”) to depression (“The Misery”). “Bright” is another short, sensuous downtempo track, and “Satisfaction” is a chuggy midtempo synth-disco track with vocoders. “In the Yard” is another melancholy (but brightly melodic) downtempo track, followed by “Pictures”, a depressive dance track with deep, moaning vocals. “My Cats Won’t Let Me Sleep” is a static-covered instrumental with pianos and sharp viola-like synth sounds, and “Friends” ends the album with the phrases “so many friends” and “I’m so happy to have you home” concurrently looped, making it seem like a bittersweet ending to a kind of lonely album, but you feel like something hasn’t been resolved.