K. Leimer: Imposed Order/Imposed Absence (Palace of Lights, 2018)

July 20, 2018 at 11:14 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

K. Leimer: Imposed Order/Imposed Absence

This is a remastered reissue of a 1983 album by K. Leimer (also of Savant, who were recently anthologized by Rvng Intl), one of his last albums before he stopped releasing music for two decades. The second disc is recordings he made during the hiatus, and while he was transitioning from analog to digital instruments. Imposed Order can be broadly described as ambient, particularly on longer, spacier tracks like “Three Forms of Decay” and “Method, Language and Silence”, but a lot of it plays with African rhythms, even approximating water drumming at some points. Tracks like “Life of the Poet” fit in nicely with the type of Fourth World fusion which has become hip again. The tracks on Imposed Absence date from 1983 to 1987, and while they’re described in the liner notes as sketches or pieces set aside, there seems to be a bit more of an immediacy to some of them (but not others). “Rain Bed” gets slightly hazier, combining thin waves of digital static with what sounds like bowed strings. “The Uneven Ritual” is a brief art-rock piece which comes a lot closer to Leimer’s work with Savant. “The Surround” ends the album on a sort of dark, candlelit note.

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Eve Fowler: Words Doing As They Want To Do LP (Radical Documents, 2018)

July 18, 2018 at 11:15 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Eve Fowler: Words Doing As They Want To Do LP

Photographer Eve Fowler is known for producing works which incorporate the words of Gertrude Stein, often blowing them up on to large, stark, colorful posters. This LP was created for Fowler’s first major European exhibition, and it contains unaccompanied readings of two Stein works, recited by several readers taking turns, speaking clearly but very occasionally fumbling. The first side, “Miss Furr and Miss Skeene”, is a 1925 poem which contains the first published usage of the word “gay” referring to sexual orientation, and is believed to have helped popularize the term. The piece is very repetitive, with the word “gay” being used well over 100 times, and it seems like a sort of word game, exploring every last approach to the ideas it’s conveying. But the words “regular” and “regularly” also crop up a lot, and the characters seem to be doing normal, everyday things (or not really doing things, just being, and being happy), so it drives home the point of the normality of being gay. It’s definitely something that should be heard, but its repetition could verge on being tedious. On the other side is “Q.E.D”, a short story written in 1903 but published after Stein’s death. It’s an autobiographical story about coming out, and it’s much more complex and affecting than the poem on the first side. In fact, while listening to it, it’s kind of mind-blowing that it was written over a century ago, as every sentiment spoken is entirely relevant and relatable today.

Philip D Kick: Pathways 12″ EP (Astrophonica, 2018)

July 7, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Philip D Kick: Pathways 12″ EP

Om Unit has revived his juke/jungle alias Philip D Kick for an EP of original tracks, rather than remixes of established classics. This one explores a bunch of different hybrid sounds, starting with the uptempo acid and breakbeats of “In Formation”. “Work That” is sort of a Chicago vs. Detroit thing, recalling both Steve Poindexter and Underground Resistance, before being nearly consumed by jungle (but keeping the fast 4/4 beat). “Drown” is hard yet liquid jungle which revolves around a Gang Starr sample, then plunges into Amen-land. DJ Spinn guests on “Vibe Off”, and it’s a more jungle-centric version of any of the Teklife tracks which have flirted with the genre. “For Real” knits tightly wound electro beats with some flashes of jungle breaks and a thick level of suspense. Very nice release.

Lunaria: Ascension Now tape (Constellation Tatsu, 2018)

July 7, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Lunaria: Ascension Now tape

I wish they played and sold music like this at new age bookstores. Purely uplifting and relaxing without being cheesy or seeming like it’s catering to a niche audience. The tape consists of two side-long pieces which richly wave back and forth, enveloping but never overwhelming. Sometimes there’s the sound of gentle rainfall, but it sounds more like it just happened to be raining during the recording session than a piped-in sound effect. Either way this tape is serene and enjoyable.

Endurance: Shade Terrarium tape (Constellation Tatsu, 2018)

July 6, 2018 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Endurance: Shade Terrarium tape

This is my introduction to Endurance, even though he’s released over a dozen tapes since 2016. It’s clearly in the ambient zone-out realm, but it combines found sounds and rich tonal drifts, and it expands and travels rather than remaining in the same mode. It’s a bit cold and melancholy, but it’s not totally isolating. While the first side is a bit more melodic, it gets a bit crushed out by the second’s side “Itineranturum”. “Fluminam Ductur” sets chiming melodies over a storm of washed-out tape noise, and they manage not to get swept out.

Chihei Hatakeyama: Scene tape (Constellation Tatsu, 2018)

July 6, 2018 at 9:14 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Chihei Hatakeyama: Scene tape

Chihei Hatakeyama is forever a master of muted, wintry ambient pieces and soft, distant drones. This tape is typical of his trademark sound, but the snowy melodies seem to flutter and wander a bit. It’s not as glacial as you might expect. And the two-part “Blue Reminder” is soft, intimate, and cradling, yet also quite melancholy. There aren’t too many elements here, but they all express so much. This man has dozens of albums, and he simply does not release bad music.

Alex Crispin: Open Submission tape (Constellation Tatsu, 2018)

July 5, 2018 at 9:51 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Alex Crispin: Open Submission tape

Very minimal yet open and resounding ambient pieces which sway back and forth, expressing thoughts and feelings in an unforced manner. It’s pleasant and relaxing, but “Ohko”, with its delicately dripping IDM-like melodies, seems to reflect some sort of concern, and it’s one of the more stirring pieces on the album. “Pharoah” starts out sounding like it’s barely going to squeak out of the gate, but eventually it gets covered in deep, torrential waves of mist. “Cleater” is a Casio dance which turns into a grand guitar duet. Then “St. Stephens” is an ethereal lullaby for pipe organ. Super vast yet at the same time very simple; a standout release without being too far off course.

Carlos Giffoni: Vain LP (iDEAL, 2018)

July 5, 2018 at 9:11 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Carlos Giffoni: Vain LP

The first Carlos Giffoni album in a surprisingly long time is an analog synth soundtrack to a nonexistent movie about a woman with psychokinetic powers. It’s nothing like the harsh, cut-up noise Giffoni was releasing around the mid-’00s, and only occasionally does it resemble the acid techno stuff he was doing at the beginning of the decade, but it still sounds unmistakably like his work. It’s rich and full of mystery, with sorrowful moments like “The Desert” and more playful ones like “We Pay the Price”. “Erase the World” starts out sounding very alien, but then a techno beat slams in and sets things moving, although it still seems a bit out of sync with the other sounds, which drop out before the beat does at the end. Later tracks sort of feel like aural spider webs, with impressive, delicate patterns which seem ready to trap and ensnare. Maybe it’s not quite that ominous, much of the album has a light, curious feel to it, but there’s still something cautious about it. Good stuff in any case.

The Electric Nature: Shadow Selves Meet In the Light CDr (Tape Drift Records, 2017)

July 5, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

The Electric Nature: Shadow Selves Meet In the Light CDr

The Electric Nature are a trio from Athens, Georgia who play a heavy yet spacious form of instrumental rock. The group can sound free and unbound, but they also can hone in on a specific detail and work it until it’s been gnawed to the bone, then they take off and explode into total chaos. This happens during the album’s title track, which is also reprised in a half-hour live version, showing how far they can stretch their ideas when they’re in the moment and feeling truly inspired. In between is “The Walker Between Worlds”, which seems a bit more agitated and anxious, but not quite as focused. Still, worth checking out if you appreciate groups like the Dead C.

Asmus Tietchens: Dämmerattacke (Korm Plastics, 1997/reissued by Klanggalerie, 2017)

July 4, 2018 at 7:31 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Asmus Tietchens: Dämmerattacke

This 1997 album from Asmus Tietchens starts out with a 23-minute glowing orb drone accompanied by rowing boat sounds. The rest of the tracks are shorter, and maybe not quite as panoramic, but they’re still quite stunning in their minimalism and subtlety, exploring higher frequencies (and lower ones, as on bonus track “Schlagschatten”) as well as more fluid tones and textures. Tietchen’s early-’80s synth pop releases on Sky are his most accessible works, but as far as his purely experimental recordings, this is one of his better ones.

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