Shells: Another Time tape (Unifactor Tapes, 2018)

January 1, 2019 at 1:52 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Shells: Another Time tape

Shelley Salant’s newest tape is a bit more ambient and weightless than her previous albums. Each side is listed as one piece, but there’s distinct movements within them, so they progress through different ideas. All of it feels like it’s levitating, and there’s a sort of glowing, slightly out-of-focus shimmer to it. It’s too far away to touch but it’s still easy to feel its presence from the distance. It seems to get a little rougher towards the end of the second side, and maybe a few other moments here and there. Still, there’s always something relaxing yet invigorating about what she does. Float out to sea.

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Michele Mercure: Beside Herself (Rvng Intl, 2018)

December 25, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Michele Mercure: Beside Herself

Beside Herself collects material from self-released cassettes, as well as film and theater scores, by Michele Mercure (once known as Michele Musser), whose LP Eye Chant was reissued by Freedom To Spend last year. All home-recorded and mostly instrumental, these tracks are generally too light to be considered industrial, although there’s some inventive found-sound sample usage on tracks like “Beside Myself” and “An Accident Waiting To Happen” (which forges a rhythm out of car crash effects). Mercure describes her performances in the liner notes, explaining that she wants to leave the audience with an impression rather than just stand in front of a bank of synthesizers, so she incorporated things like films, masks, and audience participation. Her music does have a sort of theatrical bent to it; “Liberation Day” seems to serve as the theme for a sort of imaginary psychodrama. A few pieces feature fretless bass or guitar from guest musicians, giving them somewhat more of a human feel, but tracks like the curious “A Void Dance” are more stiff and robotic. Taking things into a stranger dimension is “Night Music”, which starts out with a looped switching sound suspensed in mid-air, then briefly gaining a playful synth melody later on. Following the swampy “Antigone”, this inventive collection ends with the brief, frozen epilogue “Antarctica”.

Celer: I Wish You Could tape (Constellation Tatsu, 2018)

December 24, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Celer: I Wish You Could tape

Celer’s latest tape features two half-hour drones titled after Billie Holiday lyrics, and they both express sort of melancholy which can’t ever go away in a sympathetic, reassuring way. “Everywhere I Go You’re All That I See” is three descending notes repeating for all eternity, bathed in aural hot springs. “Wishes Would Be Grand If Only They Came True” is a bit more downcast and spacier, lending to more of a feeling of uncertainty. Still, it’s all immersive and quite therapeutic. Also of note is Memory Repetitions, a 5 CD box set on Smalltown Supersound containing remastered material which previously appeared on Bandcamp.

Air Liquide: This Is A Mind Trip 12″ EP (Intergalactic Research Institute For Sound, 2018)

December 23, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Air Liquide: This Is A Mind Trip 12″ EP

In probably the least acknowledged comeback of the year, Air Liquide released their first record since 2004 (and tbh, it’s been a lot longer since I’ve heard anything by this group). The A-side is far away from ambient or acid techno, it’s a slow, heavy, noisy psychedelic rock crusher with longtime collaborator Mary Applegate delivering spoken lyrics which aren’t unlike that “it’s the point of greatest intensity” speech that’s been sampled on a million tracks since the early ’90s. “Die Singende Saege” isn’t nearly as overpowering, it’s more like stumbling around a snowy forest. Finally, “Zeitgeber 3” is a spooky acid techno jam like the old days, but covered with the thick, haunting echo of the other tracks.

Nephew Lagoon: Windowood (self-released, 2018)

December 23, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Nephew Lagoon: Windowood

Barely any information is to be found about this mysterious artist, although their Bandcamp page says they’re from Ann Arbor. Most of the tracks are around a minute or two long, and they drift between eerie creaking passages and erratic beats, each functioning as a mini-scene in one larger dream sequence. Some of it seems like false starts or scattered bits of an orchestra tuning up rather than proper music, and it seems accidental if it ever stumbles on anything resembling a rhythm. Tracks like “yillow pass” and “9train” seem like reels of film scores which have started to warp and wither away.

Ocoeur: Inner (n5MD, 2018)

December 18, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ocoeur: Inner

French electronic artist Ocoeur’s fifth album is a set of wintry, minimalist ambient/IDM mainly consisting of blanket-like synths, although there’s also some piano, cello, and perhaps gongs buried underneath. It’s deep and melancholy, but it can also be relaxing. “Passage” is a mild shot of adrenaline, thanks to some flickering IDM beats, while more ambient tracks like “Mother” and “Unseen” slightly recall Vangelis at his most precious. “Echo” brings back the sculpted-static beats, then “Shelter” is a soft, comforting conclusion.

Suumhow: Crash_Reports (n5MD, 2018)

December 17, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Suumhow: Crash_Reports

n5MD has been releasing electronic (and sometimes non-electronic) music informed by post-rock, shoegaze, and ambient for such a long time that it might be hard to remember when they released more abrasive IDM on a frequent basis. Actually, I’ll admit I haven’t entirely kept up with everything they’ve released. But this Suumhow album was a very pleasant surprise. It has crunchy, glitchy beats in line with Proem or Quinoline Yellow, as well as rolling drift-scapes and bright, semi-distant melodies, befitting its artwork, which suggests data overload but also includes lots of blank white space, like looking at a snowy environment. Tracks like “Phoebe” and “Small Sky” are like overpowering machines trying to probe into your head, yet you’re in such a calm, controlled space that you just go with it. Very, very impressed with this release. Also, somehow n5MD managed to release a limited amount of copies on their original format, MiniDisc, which is strange because I thought those were discontinued.

Todd Osborn: SuperDisc 12″ EP (Portage Garage Sounds, 2018)

December 2, 2018 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Todd Osborn: SuperDisc 12″ EP

Shigeto’s label’s newest release comes from former Crush Collision host/current Technical Equipment Supply owner Todd Osborn. First surfacing as a white label with no information, the full release is out in stores now. The first side of the record contains two electro cuts. “Not Too Real” has heavy beats, some guitar-ish melodies in the background, and a general happy-yet-subdued feel. “Z-Lock” is weirder and more Drexciyan, but also kind of spare and not super melodic. The B-side is taken up by “Ambget”, which has a slow beat and a very minimal amount of looped samples, sounding a bit closer to Gas than anything from Detroit. It was actually recorded in 1997 but it makes a lot more sense coming out now than two decades ago. Available now from Bandcamp.

c.Kostra: Parallel Murderverse + Parallel Partyverse (Pytch Records, 2018)

November 29, 2018 at 6:46 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

c.Kostra: Parallel Murderverse

c.Kostra (Ryan Olcott) is behind the dreamy, tape-smudged sound of Devata Daun‘s magnificent music. His solo material is just as woozy and trippy, but he masks his singing with vocoders and glitches, and there’s perhaps a bit more touch of Prince to the home-baked chillwave funk of his 2016 debut, Now I Feel It. He’s released two EPs this fall, both of which are similar in tone but vastly different in mood. Parallel Murderverse (which came out on Halloween) is the devil over his shoulder, coaxing out his darkest impulses. It’s still danceable, but it’s creepy and sinister, sort of in between twitchy electro-funk and Tobacco. The few comprehensible lyrics are paranoid and haunted, but still a bit tongue-in-cheek (just check the gleefully vicious “Psychosis On the Playground”). Throughout, ultra-compressed shoegaze guitars blare out from the carefully crafted rhythms. The EP’s final song, “Barely See Me At All”, nails an early-’80s goth/minimal wave sound, but with the producer’s ghostly vocoders intact.

c.Kostra: Parallel Partyverse

Parallel Partyverse is perhaps the angel to Murderverse‘s devil, but more accurately, it’s a surrealist party record with a heavy dose of romanticism. “Holiday Music Stream” loops found samples into a fantastically blown-out, half-melted disco jam. “It’s the Way I Feel” sounds even more scrambled, yet the sentiment is strong enough that it can’t totally be obscured. A brief snippet of a “bad take” of “Holiday Music Stream” provides a tiny behind-the-scenes glimpse of the process behind his tape-warped sound. It all ends with the squishy slow jam “Candlelight”.

Devata Daun: Pye Luis (Pytch Records, 2018)

November 28, 2018 at 10:35 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Devata Daun: Pye Luis

Devata Daun’s first album, L o o k, was one of my favorite out-of-nowhere surprises of 2016, and one of the best lo-fi pop releases in recent memory. I wrote up a review of it for Decoder, but that site seems to be down indefinitely, so I can’t link to it, but the album is a must-hear (and a name-your-price DL on Bandcamp). Pye Luis is the follow-up EP, and it retains the distinctive warbling-tape sound, but the vocals are clearer, and there’s more slow jams. Songs like “Mademosielle” have warped textures and haunting melodies, but an undeniable R&B/pop core. “Weakening” is just magical, and the lyrics capture that restless crush feeling. The last two songs even include saxophone, for that extra romantic touch. Also available from Bandcamp.

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