Danger Room: Rick Owens Prank (Funny!!1) (Safa Collective, 2019)

January 22, 2020 at 10:34 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Danger Room: Rick Owens Prank (Funny!!1)

Closely related to Ann Arbor art-rockers Satan Face, Danger Room is a basement-dwelling noise act deconstructing rock and jazz forms. Released on Christmas, this tape starts out with some hissing and buzzing before someone starts mangling a guitar, and then an oscillator, or tape deck. Some overdriven guitar effects piledrive everything into the ground for a moment, and a lengthy track called “Reverse Cuomo” is filled with demonic screaming, seemingly in direct tribute to Masonna. It would be hair-raising if the piercing feedback and tape manipulations didn’t throw it all into the realm of the absurd and hilarious. HWAHHHHHH!!!!! The second side is taken up by “Jazz (we don’t got)”, which has wailing reeds snaking through hissing synth eruptions. It gets noisy and chaotic, but not in the same ripping-your-brain-from-its-stem way as the first side. There’s measured stretches, and more primal screaming, and more piled-on freak-outs. It also takes a long time to finally die off.

Ross Goldstein: Timoka (Birdwatcher Records, 2020)

January 22, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ross Goldstein: Timoka

Ross Goldstein (of Devin Gary & Ross, with Gary Panter) released more of a psych-pop album on Northern Spy a few years ago, but this is something totally different. Using a Mellotron only, he’s recorded an instrumental suite which could easily be arranged for a full orchestra and used as a soundtrack to a particularly haunting movie. It’s not all “Strawberry Fields Forever” flute warbling; there’s lots of slow-moving, suspenseful strings, ominous pizzicato notes, and dramatically paced timpani and cymbal rolls. A few moments like “Lunar Day” sound like brief bits of orchestral pop stretched out into longer thoughts, but then there’s darker mood pieces and cues like “Pink Broom” and the more ambitious, creaking “Bas-Relief”. It all maintains a distinctly low budget feel, but for one artist using such a limited palette, it has an impressively wide scope.

Jessica Ekomane: Multivocal LP (Important Records, 2019)

January 20, 2020 at 11:58 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jessica Ekomane: Multivocal LP

I haven’t yet witnessed one of Jessica Ekomane’s quadraphonic performances, but turning this LP way up gives me a sense of how transportive they must be. It seems simple on the surface — steady pulse in each speaker being generated with a millisecond’s difference in tempo, gradually interlocking and falling out of sync and forming strange, complex bent polyrhythms — but it just scrambles my brain to hear it all play out. So much seems to going on, all of these rays of sound are darting out and rapidly circling and returning at the same time, but when they’re close to being in sync it all just feels like it’s actually really simple and direct. I feel like I could just bounce around this head-vortex forever.

Thyme Lines: Geodesists tape (Constellation Tatsu, 2019)

January 20, 2020 at 11:32 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Thyme Lines: Geodesists tape

This tape consists of crystalline synths along with several types of flute, readily bringing to mind Emerald Web but with more of a concentrated, made-for-VHS-documentary feel. Most of the tracks are brief, momentary scenes with Pascal Nyiri adding curled tufts of flute-smoke to Sébastien Durand’s translucent, brightly colored synth vistas. Some of it sounds very improvised and unplanned, like “Earth Call for LFO & Flute”. In fact, very little of it really sounds premeditated. It all flows naturally, but at the same time it couldn’t have just sprung from nowhere, there’s some definite personality to it.

Thomas Dimuzio: Sutro Transmissions LP (Resipiscent Records, 2020)

January 19, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Thomas Dimuzio: Sutro Transmissions LP

Longtime experimental musician and mastering engineer Thomas Dimuzio has been working with Buchla modular synths for some time now, and this is his first LP created entirely using the setup, edited down from two live improvisations recorded on Haight Street in San Francisco, near where the synthesizer was invented. The first side (recorded in 2018) begins with a scrambled burst of FM radio transmissions and algorithmic processes, eventually all concentrated into a drone-ray. Right when it all seems tranquil, a cosmic bubble bursts and a loud electronic interruption occurs; it’s always startling every time I listen, even when I know it’s coming. The second side, recorded three years earlier, starts out with another soup of voices, shredded tones, and scrambled frequencies, seeming to rise up in tension without settling into a proper rhythm. Still, there’s some recurring voices and tones that emerge from the sonic gumbo, including a man saying “Don’t worry” and a particularly longing vocal manipulation. It all feels like it’s whirling around in the ether, but at the same time it’s all being deliberately stirred around by some invisible force. The audio particles hold together, but infrequent infusions of static still occur, with remnants of voices allowed final chances to be heard before completely disintegrating.

The Glass Path: Recurring Faces Through The Spiral Of Time LP (Hologram Label, 2019)

January 18, 2020 at 3:04 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

The Glass Path: Recurring Faces Through The Spiral Of Time LP

All of the sounds heard on this album were sourced from field recordings made in Peru in 2016. They’re hardly recognizable as such, though, as they’re processed through muddy tape loops that make them sound like they’re shivering at the bottom of a well. On a few occasions, such as the brief “Cosntanera”, a remnant of a tune pokes through, in sort of a Caretaker-like fashion, and it sounds like it’s gasping for air. “Llaulipata” sounds like a sputtering airplane flying overhead while diseased birds chirp. “On Train, On High” is a much brighter, more uplifting melodic organ spiral. After that, it gets frigid and unforgiving again. People are busy plowing the streets and snowblowing sidewalks outside right now, and some of this sounds like a disfigured version of that. Then the final track, “Clap In The Oasis”, is another blown out, exhausted distortion of another long-forgotten melody. Super discomforting but really intoxicating.

Local Talent: Higienópolis (Projectwhatever, 2019)

January 18, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Local Talent: Higienópolis

Toronto’s James Hill (who is currently touring with BadBadNotGood, and is also a member of Autobahn Trio) leads Local Talent, a jazz trio heavy on atmospheric synths and flowing, spontaneous rhythms. On this brief album, sounds and moods shift from kaleidoscopic daydreams to classical piano introspections; “The Silent Cry” starts out the latter and ends up the former. “Tundra” and “Sailing At Night” are appropriately dusky and/or wintry, but then “Skeletons” is more rousing and colorful, and easily the album’s most exciting track. The somber “Blue Rainbow” showcases Rich Brown’s electric bass playing more than the preceding tracks.

Clandestine Syndicate: Rocket Science EP (self-released, 2019)

January 16, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Clandestine Syndicate: Rocket Science EP

While the cover of this EP makes it seem like a collection of smarmy college rock songs for frat boys, surprisingly enough it ends up being four tracks of legitimate electro-techno. “Apache” is a cool blue electro-glide with astronaut transmissions echoing in the background. “Voice Obsession” has more of a playful bounce to it, having fun chopping up a chatty voice over a cruising electro beat. “Drone Gangsta” is a long similar lines, but without as much of a vocal presence, other than the title line. “Cool Thing” is a more Detroit techno-sounding sequel to “Voice Obsession”, and perhaps my favorite track here.

Animals Within Animals: We Fail For A Living (Bad Taste, 2019)

January 12, 2020 at 11:49 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Animals Within Animals: We Fail For A Living

Plunderphonic collective Animals Within Animals finally resurfaced last year, encompassing hundreds of years of failure, detritus, and making do with what’s available on the gargantuan, hilarious We Fail For a Living. Opener “Unlikely Things” arranges a tune out of a clip of someone taking non-musical sounds and talking about making music out of them, essentially doing his job for him. “Trashy Music For Trashy People” is a brief collage based on Oscar the Grouch’s “I Love Trash”, incorporating several other songs and audio clips about trash, and touching on the whole trash art philosophy. “Fresh For 88” is a collage of hip-hop samples which directly reference the year the songs were recorded, starting with BDP and then progressing through the golden age to gangsta to Busta Rhyme’s pre-millenial paranoia, kicking off a Y2K theme which continues through the album. The three-part “Chronological History of the United States” series is absolutely bonkers, smashing together hundreds of suspenseful movie clips, intense dubstep drops, death metal growls, Freddie Mercury a capellas, and loads of profanity into dense pieces of sonic overload. Also, Negativland’s Weatherman warns of impending failure, and there’s a lengthy lecture on “brain warshing” set to waves of industrial noise.

Briain: E-FAX004 12″ EP (Art-E-Fax, 2019)

January 5, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Briain: E-FAX004 12″ EP

Really high quality blend of electro, breaks, and braindance. “Laniakea” immediately comes booming at you in full force, but there’s also subtler, more intricate tracks like “Aisling Sequence” and “It’s Never Enough”. “Truth or Shnare” sort of leans into dubstep as well. Loads of ideas on this one, it’s easy to mix but it has its mentalist moments as well.

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