Fausten: Mercenary (Acroplane, 2022)

August 16, 2022 at 7:34 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Fausten: Mercenary

Former Ad Noiseam act Fausten returns with a new EP of steel-plated industrial sound sculptures. “Cathedral” deviates from the beat structures, instead taking a frightening, queasy detour through a suspicious stretch of a forest. “Jour De Gloire” is a vast, lumbering robo-beast constantly on the reload. “Mercenary” is hard yet finely pointed, with the “pop” sounds at the end of some of the bars setting it over the top. With heavy Scorn vibes throughout, the EP ends appropriately with a rework by Fret, one of Mick Harris’ other projects, mixing thudding post-Aphex beats with heavy waves of industrial dread.

Kloke: Cosmik Connection Vol​.​ 2 (Unknown to the Unknown, 2022)

August 11, 2022 at 8:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Kloke: Cosmik Connection Vol​.​ 2

Unknown to the Unknown recently started a series of atmospheric jungle records, and following Tommy the Cat’s first volume, Australian producer Kloke steps up. He’s released music on Coco Bryce and Tim Reaper’s labels, and this is easily up to their quality level. “Crystal Caves” has holographic synth swells, but also pummeling breaks at just the right moments. “All Around” is a more reflective, filter-breaky tune that revolves around your mind and practically beckons you to stop and look around without actually sampling that Ferris Bueller quote. “Dreams” is a more Timeless-style percussive storm, with a lovely rinse-out. Finally, “Rhythm Equation” sparkles and glides without kicking into overdrive.

Michael Orenstein: Aperture (Origin Records, 2022)

July 30, 2022 at 10:35 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Michael Orenstein: Aperture

Pianist Michael Orenstein named his new album Aperture for the way he filters and processes his influences through his own lens. He covers John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock and pays tribute to Manuel Valera, and also points to Billy Childs as a major inspiration. There’s plenty to enjoy on here, particularly “Not Today”, which is busy and vibrant. “Slow Coffee” is also pretty exciting, with lots of complex drumming yet a relaxed sense of confidence which makes it go down easily. The “Giant Steps” cover and Herbie medley are lovely. Not a whole lot to say beyond that, just a solid jazz album.

Iceberg: Final Thaw (Astral Spirits, 2022)

July 29, 2022 at 5:55 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Iceberg: Final Thaw

Guitarist John Kolodij teams up with both members of Baldi/Gerycz Duo (who are also in Cloud Nothings) for this short album of side-long tracks which seem unassuming at first, but reward patient listeners who stick around past the slow beginnings. “God Moves on the Water” is distant and glacial for a while, until all of a sudden the three musicians are stripping paint off the walls with explosive, warp-speed drumming and scorching guitar and sax firepower. “Harland Wolff Blues” is a far more meditative, almost plaintive piece at its inception, giving more time to Baldi’s nuanced saxophone strokes. Just as he starts getting gruffer and reedier, the guitars heat up and the drums start rumbling, and then it’s caught fire and detonated. Kolodij’s feedback is an absolutely manic scree, yet Baldi’s melodic wailing cuts a guiding light through the brain-fog. The way it melts down at the end is a nice touch.

Christoph de Babalon: Leaving Time (Super Hexagon, 2022)

July 17, 2022 at 6:03 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Christoph de Babalon: Leaving Time

Christoph de Babalon’s newest EP feels almost wistful, moving beyond the darker impulses of much of his best known work and reflecting on separation. The breaks are as measured and precise as always, but there’s no forceful attack to the drums, nor does the music feel like it’s channeling a whirlwind of rage or deep, brain-clustering depression. “I Trusted You” has the most choppy breakbeats, but they’re skeletal and spacious rather than rolling. You could step to it but it’s not really dance music, and “Steps Into Solitude” goes even further from the club, with growling bass and popping micro-beats which nearly seem like an outline of a drum pattern. “The Upper Hand” (the opening track) is a similar mood but has more developed percussion. A much different space than either his breakcore or dark ambient works.

Fred Thomas: Those Days Are Dust, Dream Erosion Pt. II LP (Dagoretti Records, 2022)

July 11, 2022 at 6:12 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Fred Thomas: Those Days Are Dust, Dream Erosion Pt. II LP

Two years ago, Fred Thomas released Dream Erosion, a tremendous synth-based instrumental LP which ended up being a perfect soundtrack for a shut-in summer when every day seemed to melt together and there was no telling when anything would be back to normal. This is that record’s sequel, and while live performances and traveling have returned, so much else is still uncertain. This is a record of shaky, unsteady dreams which call out from some place of refuge, opting not to explain or ask questions but interpret life in recent times. Opening with the stormy, anxious “January Redux”, the album switches closer to the sound of Hydropark with “Unfit”, an indie rock instrumental with dub echoes dripping from colorful synth pulsations and a ragged rhythm. “Boat Cloak” is a bit darker and heavier, and has some intense and jarring sound design while still sounding pretty lo-fi. “Crisis Days cont.” also boils up a bit and works some smothered feedback noise into its festering drone. On the other side of the record, “Composition of the Whale” emerges from waves of hiss, with distorted yet tranquil melodies cloaking the freewheeling drums, which end up being ground into dust and eroded, just like the album’s title. “Post-Flood Edits” has an arpeggio synth melody blearing from the sunset, eventually showering it with effects so that it feels like your doubts and concerns are being amplified so much that they overwhelm you. “Light Bough” starts out as a tape-smudged piano melody before it snaps into focus, then “Tears of Joy” is a gentle, glimmering, slightly glitchy confection that floats like a sweet dream.

Rose & LaJoie: On the Crystal Seas (The Jewel Garden, 2022)

July 10, 2022 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Rose & LaJoie: On the Crystal Seas

The first collaboration between Brad Rose and Matt LaJoie grabbed me as soon as I hit play. Rose’s synths are vast, glowing, and radiant, and LaJoie’s guitar navigates, conjuring up stunning audio vistas. “A Horizon Purified” slips between psych-blues soloing into submerged, mind-altering effects and drones, and it’s an intense, fulfilling experience. “Remnants of the Sunrise” is closer to the album’s title, a light, shimmering new age piece which floats slowly and doesn’t look out in any direction. Just supreme calmness and tranquility. Nothing to complain about, nothing even really to observe. Just put it on and drift.

Filter Dread: Space Beams EP (Sneaker Social Club, 2022)

July 9, 2022 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Filter Dread: Space Beams EP

Filter Dread continues thrusting forward with six massive bass heaters. “Underwave” heads straight for the cortex with hospital machinery beeps and heavy grime bass — audio brain surgery. “Space Beams” shuffles and wobbles, and “Asid 888” is an unexpectedly melancholy first-person arcade shooter. “Ghost Square” is heavy yet spacious and surreal. “Data Temple” shapes Timbaland-style stutter-beats into grime/garage patterns and throws in unexpected delays and beat clusters, traveling in a few different speeds at once. Out of time, still-futuristic Y2K-era sounds, beamed directly into the present.

WeFreeStrings: Love in the Form of Sacred Outrage (ESP-Disk’, 2022)

June 27, 2022 at 11:18 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

WeFreeStrings: Love in the Form of Sacred Outrage

Violist Melanie Dyer (Sun Ra Arkestra, William Parker, Tomeka Reid Stringtet) leads this string-based jazz ensemble, which has been active since 2011, and this is their second album. Three of the four pieces are written by Dyer, and they’re dedicated to civil rights activists. “Baraka Suite” is made up of six movements, and they flow together at an unhurried pace, but not in a lazy way. Michael Wimberly’s drumming stands out, and he does some intense solos, but the string playing is strong as well. “Love in the Form of Sacred Outrage [for Fannie Lou Hamer]” is the shortest and most immediately striking piece, with sharper, more angular movements and a greater sense of urgency. “Pretty Flowers” (by Baba Andrew “The Black” Lamb) is more graceful, with extended strokes, fluid pacing, and stunning interplay. Where the previous piece is frantic and alarmed, this one is more empathetic, and it feels like clearing one’s head after the shock of some terrible news. “Propagating the Same Type of Madness, that uh… [for Fred Hampton]” is richer and more dynamic, definitely tense but not full-on cathartic. The entire album is inspired, unique protest music which encompasses a wide spectrum of emotions.

Lewsburg: In Your Hands LP (12XU, 2021)

June 26, 2022 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Lewsburg: In Your Hands LP

Dutch Velvet Underground disciples Lewsburg return with a brief third LP which alternates between brief vignettes and very matter-of-fact mini-narratives. “The Corner” seems like a continuation of the Waldo Jeffers-style story that kicked off their last album, and “Getting Closer” is a further half-spoken reflection. This is definitely far from the rock’n’roll or pop side of VU, and it even seems to deconstruct the various aspects of the group that influence them, and focus on the specific ideas. The album’s final song, “All Things”, is a slow, violin-laced drone-out, yet it doesn’t get as intense as something like “All Tomorrow’s Parties”. It’s far more patient, and it continues in two parts, one by lead vocalist Arie and the second by bassist/percussionist Shalita. 23 minutes seems alarmingly short for an LP, especially for a two-sided one that plays at 33 RPM, but it says everything it needs to in that time, so not a moment is wasted.

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