The Capsule Garden, Vol 1.2: January 21, 2022

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Before getting into the meat of this week’s installment, a quick mention for this release from the great Lawrence English & Room40 with proceeds going toward relief efforts for those impacted by last week’s volcanic eruption in Tonga (and ensuing tsunami). ‘Oseni contains field recordings from the Pacific Ocean and knowing the quality of English’s field recordings generally, it will be fantastic while also supporting a good cause. Get at it!

Okay, so this week’s Capsule Garden gets into all manner of weird and varied zones. It never ceases to amaze me how much interesting sound is out there and how it’s seemingly never too deep to dig. A lot of tunes worth the time to explore this week so dive right in.

Shane Parish Viscera Eternae (Ramble)

Another winner from the Ramble crew, this time with Georgia-based guitarist Shane Parish pushing strings down into the maze-like channels of an alien ant hill. Parish is an incredible guitarist who can seemingly do anything technically, but it’s the emotional washes that saturate his winding travels that get me every time. Viscera Eternae collects two side-long jaunts (one steel, one nylon) into the valley and pulls them straight back into the meditative light. Great stuff.

Sara Serpa Intimate Strangers (Biophilia)

On this amazing collaboration between Portuguese vocalist and composer Sara Serpa and Nigerian writer Emmanuel Iduma the world is simply a place. Water laps on the shore, distances traveled are measured in weeks not miles, birds fly overhead as Serpa weaves spellbinding piano stretches and vocal incantations around Iduma’s recitations. Intimate Strangers is unexpected, magical.

MonoLogue ALICE (Wabi-Sabi Tapes)

150 years after the publication of Through the Looking Glass, Italian artist MonoLogue reconceptualizes the work as a futuristic sonic tangle. Golden hues mix with vivid color as a dizzying mix of electronics and percussion create spinning mirror worlds. Reflections come in all shapes and sizes, the axis shifts on hushed voices and glitching matrices. Alice’s journey goes interstellar through a time loop.

J.R. Bohannon Compulsions (Astral Editions)

The lights have all been shot out and the forests have reclaimed every city between the coasts, and J.R. Bohannon’s stunning guitar music rings out over all the empty land and hidden spaces left behind. Compulsions is a beautiful collection that tells the story of hard times and quiet moments but finds strength and solace in the spaces between the two. I can’t stop listening.

Maria da Rocha nolastingname (Holuzam)

Strings become buzzsaws in the blackened haze of stilted drones and aural spikes. Maria da Rocha’s world is on edge, ready to collapse. Surprise rhythms break through the gloom to pound out industrial-sized treatises on the beauty within the void and the welcoming harshness across this decaying space. nolastingname spreads its vines into nothingness, grinding air into ash.

Ryoko Akama songs for a shed (Another Timbre)

A light beckons us out into the garden at night. Soft petals brush against the skin leaving vague hints of discoloration from yellow pollen. The air hangs heavy with perfume. songs for a shed features six fantastic pieces for piano and other instruments by Akama performed by Apartment House and they find the precise balance between delicacy and permanence. Each step is careful but never without purpose.

Heather Stebbins Olny (Zeromoon)

Texture reigns supreme on Olny, but it’s a front for unexpected earworms and drifting melodic pathways. Heather Stebbins lets this music move in its own directions, piecing together a rich story that unfolds over sine waves and granular dissections. This is my kind of modular synth music.

Jason Stein / Damon Smith / Adam Shead Volumes & Surfaces (Balance Point Acoustics)

Damon Smith is so prolific it can be hard to keep up, but considering how good all of these recent Balance Point Acoustics releases have been it’s at least worth trying. Volumes & Surfaces finds the St. Louis-based bassist throwing down spacious bent grooves with bass clarinetist Jason Stein and drummer Adam Shead. The flow is always progressive here, but the details and sidewinder runs always stand out. The trio is beyond the firing line here and ready to unearth something ancient under the dirt. 

Ki Oni & Luke Elliot A Brief Time In Four Divisions (Earthworks Outer National)

Ambient drift marked with chimes as seasons change and time stands still. Ki Oni and Luke Elliot combine to hold the sun’s resonant glow against their skin, lighting a passage to newly-created heavens. Lithe drones cut through the darkness, each glassine drip an offering to the sacred realms. Stunning.

Madison Kaylynne Honey From A Flowering Tree (Topos Press)

Sound collage narratives soaked in the Appalachian soil as a testament to the heaven of our youth. Kaylynne’s world tiptoes through synthetic melodies while voices echo beyond the grave. Everything is slightly off, though, giving Honey From A Flowering Tree an eerie undercurrent. It’s like we’re being let in on some long-forgotten secret.

Soshi Takeda Same Place, Another Time (Constellation Tatsu)

The future swims upstream into holographic fisheries where synthetic diamonds glow bright, obscuring hollow worlds. Dark blue backdrops highlight the bright neon choreography; inviting rhythms smooth the bass charges like a pearl’s surface. Gem drops hold billowing leads and midnight pads in their arms, dancing cheek-to-cheek until the sun kisses our faces again. Soshi Takeda’s universe is the expansive, beautiful landscape I’ve been searching for. Good morning and good night.

Vilhelm Bromander aurora (Warm Winters Ltd.)

Sweeping the curtains open at dawn, the bright white pours in to open our spirits. Contemplation leads to a surprising display of resilience and Bromander’s pensive compositions are a map through the outside chaos. Deep breaths. Quiet reactions. Smile in the golden hour’s warmth.

Close Scrape (Adam Linson / Matthew Wright) CUTOUT (6×6) (Relative Pitch)

This is a wonderfully bizarre surprise from Relative Pitch where turntable stretches meet fluttering glitched electronics inside a wood-paneled castle. Stitched-up voices move back and forth beyond a cataclysmic veil of splintered shards and blitzed piano runs. CUTOUT (6×6) skrees and skronks into living, breathing holograms. This is wild.

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