Philip Perkins: Yeah Machine (Artifact Recordings, 2019)

September 14, 2019 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Philip Perkins: Yeah Machine

Philip Perkins is an experimental composer and sound engineer who has been releasing music since the ’70s, mostly on his own Fun Music label. This one is actually on Artifact Recordings, a long-running Bay Area experimental label which recently returned after a period of inactivity. This is a series of “live performances using recorded, made, found, purchased and stolen sounds”, and it’s filled with scenes from everyday life, yet they’re amplified, layered, and sometimes crashing into each other. The incidental rhythms of transit or machinery are present, but nothing resembling beats or drums to carry this along. It’s very hyperrealist, with normal, recognizable sounds twisted into strange, hallucinatory forms. Sometimes it gets a bit frightening, like the way “dahns” evolves from sickly popping noises which sound mouth-generated to a ghostly drone choir. Even a music box or chimes sound sinister on “nebawn”. “m2” is a sudden all-at-once explosion of laughter, police sirens, and breaking glass. And you’ll ponder an explanation for that flock of crows during “1-6”.


Julion De’Angelo: Stand On Your Square 12″ (Tone Log Jr., 2019)

August 31, 2019 at 8:59 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Julion De’Angelo: Stand On Your Square 12″

Julion De’Angelo’s first solo EP, following a Sound Signature-issued split with Thomas Xu, is a three-track exploration of rhythm, connecting African traditions through functional club tracks. The A-side is taken up by “Stand On Your Square Pt. 1”, which is preceded by a monologue from jazz percussionist Skip Burney, who explains how tradition is a life commitment. The track itself has an insistent but still raw drum pattern, lush deep house pads, and cascading jazz pianos. “Sizzlelean” concentrates solely on rhythm, consisting entirely of a bass-heavy drum machine sequence which nods to old-school electro while still sounding futuristic. The second part of “Stand On Your Square”, subtitled “Bird”, features a similar drum machine tone but brings back some of the deep, jazzy elements of the first part, while adding a thick electro-funk bassline. Almost Mellotron-sounding synths creep in, and while they don’t erupt into big, expressive melodies, they subtly grasp at an enlightened, euphoric feeling the way only repetitive dance music can.

Longmont Potion Castle: 16 (D.U. Records, 2019)

August 31, 2019 at 7:52 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Longmont Potion Castle: 16

Now that the Longmont Potion Castle documentary Where In The Hell Is The Lavender House? has come into existence, we’ve been afforded a tiny glimpse into the world of the mysterious prank caller/sound artist, but there’s still so many unanswered questions and it’s likely we’ll never know exactly how his mind works. Even seeing inside his home studio and observing him doing what he does, there’s no way to explain how he’s able to quickly come up with absurd names or nonsensical details, or how he has the nerve to repeatedly call people and just refuse to back off for so long. LPC 16 just came out, and it doesn’t answer these questions any more than the movie did, but it’s just as entertaining all the same. There’s more instances of him going “oh no, don’t do that” whenever someone threatens to call the cops on him, and lots of “oh yeah, sure, uh-huh, big time” with crazy echo whenever someone tries to ask what address he has or other pertinent information. After screenings of the documentary, he’s been doing live phone calls, and some of those found their way onto this album. There’s an audience applauding at the end of the opening medley, and best of all, “Flashback Takeout” was recorded after the Detroit screening of the movie. I was there and I was doubling over with laughter the entire time. He calls a pizza place and asks for some pizzas (one small, one extra large) and breadsticks with triple pineapple and pepperoni, and he keeps piling on delay so his order gets extremely confusing. An absolutely timeless LPC moment, preserved for all eternity. Other highlights include “Barn Door”, where he keeps playing around with a creaky door sound effect and looping his voice and asking for WD40 or something to fix it, and “Peacock”, an epic 11 minute chain of several businesses being connected to each other asking each other for books with titles like Peacock, Warlock, and Bangkok, with several mysterious sound effects strewn throughout. And on “Liter of Salad” he keeps mixing up measurements of various foods for his order, and keeps responding to the guy’s laugh with a really cheesy electronically altered laugh of his own.

Otto Solange: шон (Eilean 69) (Eilean Rec., 2019)

August 25, 2019 at 11:42 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Otto Solange: шон (Eilean 69)

Somewhere between a beat tape and an unraveling dream, Otto Solange’s latest has tumbling, deconstructed beats and gauzy, floating textures which never quite form anything solid. A voice calls out “No words, a feeling”. Beats form out of bird calls, acoustic instruments poke out, and drums play at different speeds while other samples dissolve. Reality is subverted and no sounds are used the way they’re originally intended. The intro to “Heart-Shaped Box” is looped under a flurry of mangled voices and thumping drums. “Akō Rōshi” is an absolutely mesmerizing crushed raga drone, and “Ever Round, It Turns, He Goes to Sleep” increasingly gets stranger, more absurd, and more fascinating. It also made me think of how ridiculous it is for someone to aggressively yell “Go to sleep!”, because it’s clearly not going to make someone fall asleep. This album is basically like a dream where the imagination is working in overdrive, but you’re still in such a deep, hypnotic state that you don’t wake up.

Mukqs: Mem Aleph tape (Jacktone Records, 2019) + Jaki Crush tape (No Rent Records, 2019)

August 24, 2019 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Mukqs: Mem Aleph tape

Two of the latest tapes from Hausu Mountain’s Max Allison explore vastly differing styles. Mem Aleph (his Hebrew initials) is released by Jacktone Records, the Detroit label run by Doc Sleep, and it represents his techno side. This is music for deep sea cruising and night driving alike, with lush chords and detailed beat patterns gliding along at a breezy tempo. The tracks flow into each other, making this a continuous escapade, and while there’s no shortage of new ideas popping up and cycling through, the lengthier “Autoblock True” lets things breathe a little bit more. “Miracle Love Item” gets into some glitchy repetition a bit like the Field, while “False Minoshiro” and “2 Mesos” are choppier and more playful. The more sentimental “For Diane” mixes in some manipulated acoustic guitars and vocals, but keeps the kinetic beats and bright, busy basslines.

Mukqs: Jaki Crush tape

Jaki Crush is an entirely different ball game, but just as good. Far away from his beat-driven work, this is a boisterous set of cut-up collage pieces with no logical beginnings or endings, splicing up scrambled pianos, flurries of drum machines, homemade sounds, and rapid, momentary noise inserts. While in the spirit of classic musique concrete, it sounds altogether more DIY and punk rather than academic. It’s grubby, lo-fi, and restless, and incredibly fun. While the album is one disorienting blast after another, the drama elevates a bit more during “Save Scumming”; turn it up loud enough and you really feel like you’re in the center of a great catastrophe.

Steve Lehman Trio + Craig Taborn: The People I Love (Pi Recordings, 2019)

August 18, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Steve Lehman Trio + Craig Taborn: The People I Love

The latest from alto saxophonist Steve Lehman is a daring set of complex rhythms, unpredictable paths, and impassioned solos. The presence of pianist Craig Taborn is welcome, but the rhythm section of Matt Brewer and especially drummer Damion Reid nearly steal the show. All of the musicians are in tune with each other, and tracks like “Curse Fraction” are tightly organized puzzles which nevertheless feel vibrant and even breezy. A definite highlight is a cover of Autechre’s “qPlay”, which translates algorithmic glitch into something more human-sounding (and again, Reid’s frenetic drumming absolutely decimates). A brief “Interlude” feels like it’s peering down a dark pathway, then “A Shifting Design” is a dirty, rambunctious crooked shuffle. “Beyond All Limits” begins with a bass solo before Lehman’s fluttering saxophone takes over; it’s one of the album’s more delicate pieces but it’s still a bit fiery. Just a marvelous record all around.

Arrowheads: Lifeforce tape (Constellation Tatsu, 2019)

August 10, 2019 at 5:01 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Arrowheads: Lifeforce tape

This one immediately nails a sort of ’70s space rock synth soundtrack sound, with very rich synths and an appropriate amount of zoned-out melancholy. It’s really excellent, very instant-vintage sounding and very homemade rather than sterile and lab-produced. Even the brief, minute-or-two tracks that make up most of the album are bursting with passion. There’s too many astounding tracks on here to pick out highlights; it’s all amazing, really.

Corwin Trails: Wolf Songs Folk Songs LP (self-released, 2019)

August 10, 2019 at 4:30 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Corwin Trails: Wolf Songs Folk Songs LP

This astounding LP from Corwin Trails constructs highly melodic downtempo IDM from acoustic instruments and field recordings from Northern Michigan as well as India and Nepal. All of the percussion came from sounds captured in the woods, but it’s so crackly, crunchy, and fizzy that you might assume it’s laptop-generated glitch. The melodies are played using instruments including autoharp, bazouki, sarangi, accordion, and prepared acoustic guitar strings, and it’s all open and resonant, yet it’s extremely tightly arranged. There’s moments where the rhythms sound close to tabla playing (“Decomposition”, which reminds me of Decomposure, an artist who used to make IDM pop songs out of sampled household sounds) or gamelan (“In Search of”). It also sounds a bit like a musically focused version of the Books, meaning without the goofy samples. There are some samples and vocals though, especially on the second side. “The Absolute Irreversible Emptiness of Extinction” extracts Robert Redford’s voice from a Natural History Magazine record abot wolves from the early ’70s. The album ends with a longer piece called “An Old Oak Tree” which features ghostly vocals by Amie Simons, which seem to be about dealing with change. Fantastic, gorgeous, inventive stuff.

Lithium Enchantment: Vital Signs/Reaching For You tape (Illuminated Paths, 2015/2019)

August 4, 2019 at 7:07 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Lithium Enchantment: Vital Signs/Reaching For You tape

Bringing two older releases briefly back into circulation (only 25 copies of this tape exist), this is a travelogue of memories, possibly of parks, cycling trips, and seasonal getaways. These tracks were recorded around 2003-2005, so the whole thing feels like a secret that’s largely been kept in someone’s basement for ages, only to be brought out on rare occasions, and only for people who would appreciate or understand it. The brief tracks and woozy synths make this feel like an early BoC release for sure, but there’s more of a lo-fi snap to the drum machines on tracks like “006 (Momentary)”. “Poplar Accel” is closer to vintage Mo Wax, with lots of rapidly shuffling drum breaks and a mixture of tense and laid back vibes. “C” is playful, rotund, and simple, and the wistful “Cloud Station” is way too nice to only be 48 seconds long. The longer tracks are all on the second side, and while some of them develop a bit more, there’s also a few extended ambient reflections. Still, “Great and Small” is an amazing energy burst of Mike Paradinas-style synth melodies and fill-heavy electro drum machines. “Lakeside Park” is a fairground ride unto itself, with vivid, Sunday afternoon melodies and tempo shifts which keep it from getting too comfortable, but it lets you down easy at the end.

Will Brooks: Flump EP tape (Illuminated Paths, 2019)

August 4, 2019 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Will Brooks: Flump EP tape

Pretty excellent batch of Shlohmo-type bad vibes that feel good. “Toggle” and “Scope” both have grainy guitars; the first is at a crushed tempo while the second is a bit more upright, and a bit closer to Tycho. “Hello, Again (The Elephant Trees Remix)” is sort of a lost lo-fi trance-pop song, with just a vague Burial aftertaste. The cassette features bonus track “Sanctuary”, a guided temple meditation with a drum machine.

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