Rasmus Birk: Cult of Rasmus (Black Cottage, 2023)

March 25, 2023 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Rasmus Birk: Cult of Rasmus

Affiliated with Applesauce Tears and Black Cottage Records, Rasmus Birk is an Atlanta-based cut-and-paste electronic group, and apparently some sort of cult. They seem to prefer pinching samples from old films, maybe even educational ones, so their music has this out-of-time quality. “This Is Your Focus Leader” is a celebratory opener filled with gleeful horns and guitar riffs. “Sop the Droplet” unexpectedly begins with gospel pianos, then eventually adds slap bass and distorted, smeared beats. “Sunshine Casual” is a gorgeous chillout track, with bird chirps and sighing vocals complementing the dreamy beats. “Wolfie” does in fact featuring a wolf howling, starting out with a fun, freewheeling first half and then spacing out for the second. “Babette Becomes a Burden” has an ear-catching sample (“I said, I’m not hard to look at!”) and swells of dubby horns. “Down and Baroque” has a curious combination of black-and-white old movie samples and slow, squishy beats. “Head and Breakfast” seems to try its hardest to play around with your head, chopping up a sample about playing a while after supper and before bed over queasy synths. “Creeping Jenny” is a long, multi-part journey involving a mysterious long distance call, and it has a heart-warming ending. “Her Name Was Funky Bundle” is based around a minor conflict between a couple; the repeated “I’m no freak!” sample near the end is what gets me. “Confetti and Meet Halls” starts out uncertain, then loses itself at the disco. Finally, “The Feedback Rhythm” moves sideways with erratic riffs and nervous synth sequences.

Illusion of Safety: Organ Choir Drone (No Part Of It, 2023)

March 19, 2023 at 1:29 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Illusion of Safety: Organ Choir Drone

Organ Choir Drone is edited down from hours of material recorded by Daniel Burke, including his first Eurorack modular synthesizers recordings, used for a performance with Shen Wei Dance Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. “Children of the Fear and Light” is where to start if you’re interested in hearing modular synths at their gnarliest, and it matches its title with swarming movements that bring to mind a giant radioactive insect monster from an old sci-fi movie, plus there’s the faint sound of chattering children near the end. “Organic Pistons” seems to be where the album title comes from, as it’s just a really beautiful, almost sacred-sounding organ piece. “Waste of Civilization” contains piercing, high-pitched frequencies throughout much of it, as well as scrambled masses of radio-transmitted voices, but much of the other synth work is more peaceful, so it ends up somewhere between serenity and confusion. “Black Helicopters” appropriately starts out with violently shredding/chopping distortion, then flows through various amounts of disorienting buzzing and droning, as well as gentler guitar manipulations that subtly trick the mind. “Groundswell Horns” is the longest track, at 19 minutes, and it starts out with some more higher frequencies and desolate wandering. Some slight glitching, rustling, and clicking emerges, making it feel like things are barely holding together and on the verge of collapse. The rest of the piece is a very slow, gradual build, bubbling and shifting until everything starts moving faster and more forcefully, drilling into the core at the very end. Once that’s achieved, there’s little else that can be done, so the brief finale “Blackout” is two minutes of a faint, sickly gnawing feeling until everything expires.

Death Factory: Vol. 3 (No Part Of It, 2023)

March 18, 2023 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Death Factory: Vol. 3

This CD contains four lengthy pieces by Chicago’s Michael Krause from a decade or two ago. This is bludgeoning death industrial that you just stare into the face of as it slowly consumes you. Opener “Manifestation of Fear (3rd Version)” is truly mesmerizing, the distortion just permeates your consciousness and the slow thudding fully draws you in. Then it turns into this sort of bleary horror carnival spectacle, and ends with a demonic jumpscare. “Feasting on Fear” is more of a cinematic junkyard soundscape that gets more scorched as it goes on. “…More Disturbing American Foreign Policies” applies some pretty mind-frying effects to a looped sample about Cambodia, presumably from a documentary or news broadcast. Finally, “Prophecy” is a massive, nearly half hour swarm that gets into some harsher, more piercing tones than the other pieces, but spaces out its more overwhelming moments.

Applesauce Tears: Artifacts (Black Cottage, 2023)

February 12, 2023 at 9:55 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Applesauce Tears: Artifacts

The newest album from Atlanta’s Applesauce Tears adds more of a post-punk edge to their synth-heavy psychedelia, particularly on the opening track, “Dressed for Fortress”, with its commanding, driving bassline. “It’s Us Against the World (It Always Has Been)” sounds familiar, like it’s the theme to a teen drama I haven’t seen in ages. “Eurasian Girlfriend” is a distant, jazzy reflection and “Her Purse Falls and Everything Scatters” switches from clicky IDM-style rhythm to a more aggressive post-rock gale. “It Was God While It Lasted” is one of the more relaxed, breezy selections here, but “When Sleep Spoke to Hera” is a tense track that starts with slow, crawling trap beats and wispy, shivering synths, then explodes with flair and color later on. “The Wam Ebrace of a Mediocre Poet” is a further fusion of jazz noir, trappy drum machines, and gnarled guitar riffs. “Bent Like Winter Grass” is a truly pretty, gauzy song enhanced with strings, and “Another Piece of the Puzzle Goes Missing” retains strings but slathers then on top of a more of a late ’90s-style funky electronic beat, which would be fit for a movie trailer without them. “The Way We Weren’t” is more of a good-time jam with siren synths, ethereal vocals, and I think maybe even some slide guitar.

Bruce Licher: Exploratorium (2006/deluxe reissue by Independent Project Records, 2022)

February 11, 2023 at 6:34 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Bruce Licher: Exploratorium

Bruce Licher of Savage Republic and Scenic recorded these pieces on a 4-track in 1997 and originally released them on a limited 3″ CDr mounted on a 12″ sheet of heavy card stock letterpress. This is a proper CD reissue with a lengthy bonus track, but still containing fancy packaging, including postcards for each track. The original tracks are gliding space rock guitar solo excursions, with “Going Home” being the most awestruck, conveying a feeling of blissfully travelling at light speed towards one’s destiny without having the slightest notion of danger. “The Penstemon Field” is a much more dramatic and melodic piece which (to me) approximates a devastating trek home through the rainy streets at night. “Number 09” is vastly different than the other tracks, though it was recorded around the same time. Instead of guitar-based drifting, this is a wild synth expedition, with legions of echo and delay making the sequences feeling like they’re constantly crumbling and rebuilding, stretching a prismatic fortress throughout space.

Meadow Argus: This Old Rotten Barge tape (Tynan Tapes Temporal, 2023)

February 5, 2023 at 11:54 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Meadow Argus: This Old Rotten Barge tape

The newest Meadow Argus tape is the project’s most evocative recording yet, making the listener feel like a stowaway on a haunted ship on the path to total disappearance from civilization. The album extensively incorporates field recordings run through a delay pedal, with the first stretch of the first side taken from the banks of the Ohio river under a bridge, while a spooky backwards voice bleeds through from the other side of the master tape. Then there’s “It’ll heal over”, taken from a hospital hallway while being wheeled in for surgery. The echoed voices, unsteady tape quality, and wavering melodic loop all present feelings of displacement, not being able to believe any of this is happening, not being fully there. “Just like the skim that shines across the humps and the swells of the tide waters”, which takes up all of side B, is a bit calmer, with samples taken from an aquarium lapping up against the patient organ droning. There’s sounds of children being amazed at the sea life, and some distant playing and shrieking which gets twisted and whirled into the stream. Some unexplained explosions which sound like cannon blasts are audible near the end, yet that part feels like a memory rather than a document of something actually occurring.

Longmont Potion Castle: 20 (D.U. Records, 2023)

February 4, 2023 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Longmont Potion Castle: 20

Sometimes when LPC calls someone, they seem to think he’s talking about someone they know, and there’s a spark of recognition, which leads into a more engaged conversation. This happens early on during the newest LPC album, when he mentions someone named Crazy Face and makes up the very fake-sounding name Ralphred, and the other guy thinks he’s talking about his neighbor, Glen. Those parts are pretty cool. He actually manages to convince someone that he’s talking to his own son at one point, and only gives vague answers, acting surprised when the other guy relays the “wait for it” news that the person he just talked to has a monkey and wants to move in soon. Any of the parts when he makes the person on the other line laugh are always good fun. I will always love the incomprehensible jargon calls; “Pig Metal” is a prime example of that, where he just rattles off a stream of technical terms about metallurgy and confounds the person on the other end. The call when he says his name is “Freaky Bucky” and goes on about an “orb within an orb” and then plays on his “new banjo” is a hoot. In one of the most surreal LPC calls ever, he tries to convince a bunch of people that he’s about to setting off some holograms down the street, so they should stay inside their homes for a few hours, and there’s a chance that the holograms might travel through windows, but they can’t walk through walls or doors. Other types of LPC calls are best in moderation, and they’re more abundant on his recent albums. The ones when he connects a tree of businesses to each other, none of whom have any clue why they’re talking to each other, and he edits out his own voice and just leaves his reactions, those can be amazing sometimes, but can also wear out their welcome after a while. He has a whole bunch of people talking to each other about someone claiming their cigars have exploded, and somehow they find themselves talking to beer distributors in other states. There’s also a LOT of times on this album where he talks to someone and then patches in a crotchety old Jewish man that’s appeared on lots of other LPC albums before, but seems to turn up on most of these calls. He pretty much says the same thing every call (i.e. screaming that the other person is a criminal and full of shit, shit, shit!!!!!) except the one when he’s connected with cops who appear to be investigating the problem, in which case the bootlicker is patient, cooperative and respectful. “Clashettes” is a little different, though. It’s a medley of older-sounding LPS calls strung together with tape rewinding sounds. None of them sound familiar to me, so maybe they’re outtakes or unreleased calls. The way the rewinding sounds occur, and the title of the track itself, made me think he was going to try to mash the calls together and do something weirder with them, but it sounds pretty interesting the same. “Aardvark”, however, is pretty much a redux of the bookstore calls on the last album or two, it could very well just be additional material from the same series of calls. Also, I’m both amused and terribly annoyed by the guy on “Normal Jarvis” who repeatedly asks “what’s your real name?”, not realizing how dopey he sounds. Like a lot of LPC albums, especially the more recent ones, this one might require some judicious editing on the part of the listener, but there’s some incredible, mind-expanding stuff on here when he’s at his most inspired.

Michel Banabila: Singles (2020-2022) (Tapu Records, 2022) + Hidden Patterns (Tapu Records, 2023)

January 29, 2023 at 4:14 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Michel Banabila: Singles (2020-2022)

Michel Banabila has been releasing various forms of experimental music for 40 years; his discography is vast and difficult to categorize. This album consists of various digital singles he’s released so far this decade, almost all of which are collaborations. Solo track “Orbital Resonance” opens the set and couldn’t be more accurately titled, from its flickering, spaced-out intro to its subtly hypnotic loops. Bill Laswell guests on “The Woods”, with Alex Haas, a lengthy soundscape which seems to approximate both whale calls and life in the wilderness. The more percussive “Yek Nefes” features Cengiz Arslanpay’s ney flute playing along with a gentle rainfall of drums. Jeff Greinke appears on “Lattitude and Longitude”, which has stunning sound design and some of the stranger sounds on this CD. Two tracks with Ümlaut and Salar Asid feature eerie-sounding Kurdish violin; the first has sparse percussion and enchanting bass grooves, while the second is much heavier on splashing, waving percussion. Robert Jarvis’ trombone playing on the next two tracks imitate the pitches of speaking voices, resulting in some wild cadences. “An Agreement of Sorts” sounds more chatty and conversational while “A Disagreement of Sorts” is more drawn out at first but eventually becomes a bewildering collage of crossed wires and multiplied sounds. “States of Consciousness” with Gareth Davis is one of the more deliberately confusing tracks here, a musique concrete-style composition with numerous sound fragments clashing together, as well as mutated bass clarinet, animal sounds (I think?), and car alarms. Finally, the nearly 10-minute “Oblong Hobnob” has playful turntable interruptions and whistles, as well as rich harmonium drones. It would be a soothing ambient piece if it wasn’t for all the strange and wonderful sounds fluttering around, transforming into something else.

Michel Banabila: Hidden Patterns

Hidden Patterns is another compilation of Michel Banabila’s recent work, dating back to 2008, and including more collaborations and music from film soundtracks. The whole release actually has a very cinematic feel, with poignant acoustic melodies which seem like they’re underpinning pivotal scenes of self-discovery and realization. It starts out with two brief solo pieces which are ethereal, piano-based, and if not ominous, then at least beckoning things to come. Oene van Geel’s violin gives several other pieces a strong sense of longing, and Anton Goudsmit’s guitar playing on the version of “Ears Tell Us Where We Are in Space” brings the sound closer to ECM-style jazz. “Secunde (CJD Remix)” is a 13-minute epic with murmuring voices and an acoustic bassline which resembled oar strokes pushing a boat down a canal. “Sounds from an Unforgettable Place 1” has more distruptive electronic beats stamping and rattling away, along with haunting vocals. A few other following tracks incorporate sounds that may or may not be vocals of some sort, be they synthetic or manipulated, making it seem like the machines and instruments are speaking. Finally, “One Moment in Time” is another lengthy, peaceful gondola drift filled with subtle murmurs, resonant guitar strums, and slowly blossoming synth swells.

David Barnes: Pieces (self-released, 2022)

January 22, 2023 at 5:08 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

David Barnes: Pieces

David Barnes has released over three dozen recordings since he first began making tapes in the late ’80s. This album incorporates recordings made back then, as well as newer instrumentation and compositions, and it’s an inventive, genreless set of tracks that cut across time and space. “Pragmatica” merges Charles Cohen’s Buchla synth playing with breakbeats blasting from the past, found object percussion, and wisping guitar solos. “Autumn Col Legno” features violas played with drumsticks along with guitars and pianos, somehow conjuring up mental images of boats drifting about in a shore. “Artesian Rhythms” is more of a homemade Fourth World exploration, with African instrumentation mixed with iPad synths, sampled drums, more found instrument percussion, and many other sounds. “Woodland Meadow” is a zither-based drone that inevitably brings to mind Laraaji, and “The Bells of Vauxi” also seems to find spiritual peace within nature, though in a slightly more psychedelic way. “Traveling Song” is a more rustic but still gently atmospheric violin-based piece. “Hovering Above” is a more cinematic, guitar-heavy psych-drone, while “Adagio for 2020” is a more ethereal neo-classical piece made more haunting with some whistling and vocals. Finally, “A Taste of Lavender” is a change of pace in the form of a bit of a live psych rock jam recorded in the ’80s, with newer guitar parts seamlessly layered on top.

Strategy: Graffiti in Space (Constellation Tatsu, 2022)

January 17, 2023 at 8:45 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

The newest Constellation Tatsu batch focuses on more beat-driven material, and the most high-profile artist of the three is Kranky alumni Strategy. Graffiti in Space is a dub voyage from the farthest realms. “Fountain of Youth” is full of heavyweight bass pressure, yet it’s absolutely weightless; it’s a strange sensation and there’s little to compare it to. “Message from Ouroboros” adds thumping kicks and a bassline, but feels fluid and lava lamp-like. “In Space No One Can Hear Your Screen” is both minimal and deep, with a particular drum tone guiding the way and bass pushing everything else down into blank space.

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.