Collin Sherman: Organism Made Luminous (Ex-Tol Recordings, 2022)

October 20, 2022 at 6:46 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Collin Sherman: Organism Made Luminous

Continuing his strong discography of multi-tracked solo recordings, Collin Sherman delves deeply into modular synths and other electronics on his 14th effort. Opener “Failed Deontological Promise” has the longest list of gear in the liner notes, but the following “Across Three Fields” is a bit more ear-catching, with a nice balance of sparkling analog synths, vibraphones, saxophones, and flicking drums pulling it all along. “Hegemonic Virtues” has a fat, distorted Moog sound and way-out sax, calling out to Sun Ra’s side of the galaxy. “Dialectic Rejected” has a bit of a cyber-Western flavor, with desert guitar melodies and a rattling electronic textures which act like the spurs of the steady drum beat. The longest track, “Says Flowers”, puts away the synths but still conjures up unearthly sounds from a bowed Telecaster and an alto sax. “Late Edition” is one of the more synth-heavy tracks, and its beats were made by loading typewriter sounds in electronic drum software, creating organic-sounding IDM. “Space Mission of the Immortals” is a dazzling mix of glowing circuits and freewheeling sax melodies. Sherman has used a lot of these instruments in his previous work, but this album is a unique evolution of his sort of solo space jazz.

Persher: Man with the Magic Soap (Thrill Jockey, 2022)

October 19, 2022 at 8:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Persher: Man with the Magic Soap

In one of the least expected directional shifts of the year, techno producers Blawan and Pariah, otherwise known for their live analog collaboration Karenn, made a noisy industrial metal record and Thrill Jockey is putting it out. The modular textures are still present, but there’s demonic growling and overwhelming distortion. Punkish blasts like “Ten Tiny Teeth” provide the most energy, but there’s also dense, bludgeoning industrial tracks like “World Sandwiches 2”, and “Patch of Wet Ground” has some convulsing blastbeats and sinister riffs. “Calf” is really the only track that slows down and gives at least a little room to breathe. Skinny Puppy going sludge metal is the only top-of-the-head comparison I can think of for parts of this album, and that’s not really even close.

Illusion of Safety & Z’ev: s/t (No Part Of It, 2022)

October 13, 2022 at 6:29 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Illusion of Safety & Z’ev: s/t

This long-completed collaboration between two noise/experimental legends is finally going to see a physical release this year, thanks to No Part Of It and a huge list of other labels. The album was reportedly finished in 2008, before Daniel Burke retired Illusion of Safety for several years (the project is now active again), and Z’ev died in 2017. It contains two side-long tracks which focus on metallic percussive drone. Much of “A Strategy of Transformation” sounds like a giant dome-sized cymbal being continuously struck, with crunching static and captured voices making appearances at unexpected moments. There’s some violent crashing near the beginning, as well as some alarming electric interruptions. The dome-drone disappears before the final four minutes, and after it all goes still, fragments of intimate guitar notes emerge from several different angles, becoming iced over with electronic textures and interrupted by more crashes. “Smaller Revolutions” also sweeps intimate sounds into a whirlwind, simultaneously creating a stretched, distant, heavy blur and more detailed, microscopic movements. After a brief chorus of natural sounds, a more chaotic moment happens during the last five minutes, as signals scramble, waves collide, and more metal crashes to the floor, ending this mesmerizing collaboration with an apocalyptic peak.

XEREX: XEREX MEETS DRACULA (No Part Of It, 2022)

October 12, 2022 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

XEREX: XEREX MEETS DRACULA

The back cover of this album states that XEREX is a duo of conjoined twins from Germany, and that they “have been grown in a petri dish as elderly mathematicians in 1972.” This album is supposed to be an “invisible story” similar to a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Apart from the intro, a sampled welcome from Dracula himself, all of the tracks are numerically titled, and they generally concentrate on one certain loop or texture and explore them for the duration of the piece, rather than progress. “Dracula II” sounds like a cloud of ominous bells, for example. “IV” is much longer than most of the tracks, and it’s basically a bubbling cauldron of acidic synths for 9 minutes. “V” is a more potent brew which constantly seems like it’s going to boil over. The rest doesn’t get quite that abrasive, although “X” has some harsh bell buzzing. “VIII” has a tense, cricket-like glow, and “XII” similarly has a shivering type of organ drone. The Choose Your Own Adventure description is apt, basically pick a track and you’ll be placed in a specific audio setting for a few minutes. In some cases, that could be a scary situation you might want to work your way out of, and other times it’s more of a serene audio bath.

Terrence Dixon & Jordan GCZ: Keep In Mind I’m Out Of My Mind 2LP (Rush Hour, 2022)

October 10, 2022 at 7:09 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Terrence Dixon & Jordan GCZ: Keep In Mind I’m Out Of My Mind 2LP

I picked this one up at the Rush Hour shop when I was in Amsterdam recently, but it’s officially out worldwide and on Bandcamp now, so there’s no better time to post a review. Following a store-exclusive 12″ from 2020 (which I got when I visited last year), this is a full album from the prolific Detroit producer and the Juju & Jordash member, presumably recorded during the same 2019 sessions. All improvised using hardware, these are tracks that just spring forth, with melodies that unassumingly bloom along with the rhythmic currents. “Operation Delete” gains more of a steady kick after starting with a more broken pattern, and eventually rises up as if anticipating an abduction. “State of the Nile” is a perfect example of the type of Sun Ra space-techno Dixon is a pioneer of, with some unexpected keyboard plunks and echo effects that shoot from the side. “Above Ground” has melodies that sound like they’re being played on thumb pianos or tuned percussive instruments, and the synths expand from there, making reflective patterns from the melodies as well as splashing out cosmic effects

Dan Friel: Factoryland (Thrill Jockey, 2022)

October 8, 2022 at 10:20 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Dan Friel: Factoryland

On his newest solo album, Dan Friel (Parts & Labor, Upper Wilds) continues to write melodies that could be featured in Disney cartoons or pop songs from ’80s coming-of-age movies, and play them through junky equipment doused in distortion. He’s always used his childhood keyboard in his solo music, so there’s a child’s sense of discovery to what he does, except he’s been doing this for ages and he’s able to push the equipment to the limits and create these raw but ear-bleeding and catchy compositions. Most of these are concise nuggets that would be perfect for a noise-pop jukebox, if such a thing existed. “Trash Dunes” is the only one that stretches out, getting caught in a dot matrix printer loop before adding a beat and more sonically expansive melodies. Somehow it all ends with an ambient lullaby. Pretty magnificent stuff, Life is still my favorite of his but you can’t go wrong with any of his solo recordings.

Aquarian: Mutations II: Delicious Intent 12″ EP (Dekmantel, 2022)

October 6, 2022 at 6:57 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Aquarian: Mutations II: Delicious Intent 12″ EP

The second Aquarian EP of the year is another impeccably designed rocket-powered rave epic. The tracks glide forward with precision, yet they’re heavy and forceful, requiring one to buckle down tight. “Delicious Intent” is a storming rave/gabber hybrid, and “A Familiar Place” has some unexpected jazz touches. “If U Wanna” has some familiar vocal samples and some of the most twisted drum breaks imaginable. “pPPRISM” eventually adds glowing organs to its turbulent breakbeats, which are maybe the most straightforward on the EP. Both Mutations EPs are among the sharpest, most exciting breakbeat releases of the year.

Woody Sullender: Music from Four Movements & Other Favorites (Dead CEO, 2022)

September 23, 2022 at 5:26 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Woody Sullender: Music from Four Movements & Other Favorites

Woody Sullender’s first release in over a decade contains pieces from Four Movements, a downloadable project which seems to function as a video game, interactive environment, and album all at once. There’s a demo video on his website, it looks pretty amazing. The music is pretty fantastic on its own. Sullender plays banjo and produces minimalist electro-acoustic soundscapes, heavily influenced by techno on several of these tracks, particularly the mesmerizing “Figment Pattern” and “Towards Minus”, a remake of “Minus” from Robert Hood’s 1994 minimal techno blueprint Internal Empire. “The Tale of the Brook to the Pool” is more fragile, dissolving away from rhythm, then slowly reforming. “Chelsea” starts with low thumps, crackling static, and slow acid techno growls, with haunted echoes taking over the piece as the kick drum thumps onward. “House of Calm Serenity” is a lengthier, more droning track featuring harmonica by Seamus Cater, Sullender’s collaborator for his last release, the 2020 LP When We Get to Meeting. Final track “Life Without Objects” is echo-heavy enough to qualify as dub techno, yet it’s busy and full of movement rather than loop-based and repetitive.

Connie Han: Secrets of Inanna (Mack Avenue, 2022)

September 21, 2022 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Connie Han: Secrets of Inanna

Pianist Connie Han follows 2020’s impressive Iron Starlet with an album inspired by ancient Sumerian culture, specifically the goddess of love, beauty and war. Mostly consisting of compositions by Han and/or drummer Bill Wysaske, who produced the album, the release is conceptually inspired by ancient mythology, but doesn’t necessarily play like a typical concept album. Tracks like “Gilgamesh and the Celestial Bull” demonstrate Han’s stunning technical virtuosity, yet her music is more accessible than it may seem. She switches to Fender Rhodes for the playful, sparkling “Young Moon”, as well as parts of the first and last tracks. The less restricted hard bop tracks like “The Gall├╝ Pursuit” are the most exciting ones, but Han never fails to impress.

Nickolas Mohanna: Sight Drawings LP (Run/Off, 2022)

September 15, 2022 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Nickolas Mohanna: Sight Drawings LP

The newest record from Nickolas Mohanna is a continuously flowing suite of shivering vibrations, sampled sounds from nature, and intimately miked acoustic instruments, all gradually merging into a rhythm which seems like it’s channeling something from deep within the earth. Beginning with hyper-tense jittering, the sounds evolve into rattling, drumming, and acoustic bass by the beginning of “Earthworks”, which later becomes consumed by a swarming drone which slows time down. “Riprap” feels looser and more relaxed, mainly focusing on a few resounding notes and letting feedback ripple into a nearly hidden patch of introspective piano notes. An almost upbeat rhythm emerges in time for “Kinetics”, as pianos tremble and everything gets splashed by a wash of phasing effects. Strings dissolve into digital clouds during “The Atomist”, and “Rolling Block” starts out as jumpy, antsy strings before it smooths out to slow, rich bowing.

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