I may have gone a little overboard with this week’s installment, but it was the first ‘normal-ish’ (and I mean, pandemic-normal so still totally fucked up) week we’ve had since the start of the year and I listened to a ton of new music. No apologies, though, because this is all stuff worth giving a listen.
Zoltan Fecso Butterfly Hands (Longform Editions)
Different resonances conjured from different piano preparations intersect, pulling our focus inward as Zoltan Fecso’s pointillist sonic structures slowly lift from the ground. “Butterfly Hands” is whimsical, but also finds a companion in the melancholic reminders of light, gentle textures that drift just out of reach before disappearing forever. Soft embraces keep us aloft, though, and ready to find new intentions.
Anthony Guerra Cold Victory – Kingdoms III (C/Site)
The king has returned to the castle and even if the walls are decaying into dust and the crown is covered in rust, his song still stands strong. Anthony Guerra has done so much for so long, but it’s a name I haven’t seen in a while so Cold Victory – Kingdoms III is such a welcome listen. Solemn guitar arrangements meet ramshackle, whirring percussion, all standing beneath the quivering fire of his voice. Fuzz falls from the sky, blanketing the countryside in a woolen embrace that will eventually strangle all the life out of the soil. Guerra forever.
Anna Lerchbaumer Love, Lullabies & Sleeplessness (Eminent Observer)
I find myself weirdly obsessed with this strange little album, but considering it opens with the light snoring sounds of twin infants before moving into coos and cries and everything in between, it takes me back to a very specific place and time in my life, and I love it for that. The second piece, “Noisy Lullabies For All Ages (0-99)” takes a trip through fetal heartbeats, summer air conditioning, a long, warm shower, and a surprisingly calming vacuum cleaner, pieced together in a way that offers shade from the outside world. This is wonderful.
Zebularin Concrete Vague (Mono Time)
Dried-up frequencies are given new life by monsoon electronics and doom jazz deluges as electronics scratch up pristine surfaces with a blackened flair. Concrete Vague veers off the spastic path into fits of enchanting melody and surprising wistful epics. And when Ekkehard Roessle sends a sax solo straight into space at the end of “Stellages,” we are all levitating in the flares.
Iu Takahashi Stay (A Red Thread)
With the slightest of gestures, Iu Takahashi’s newest, Stay, breaks open a dam of heavy emotions. “I made this work thinking of my grandparents with dementia,” she says in the liners, and the low-hum resonance mixed with the banal becomes a poignant touchpoint for impermanence and finality. Takahashi’s fractured voice slips into the bloodstream on “Inori,” lamenting the way the disease consumes special moments all while keeping the ghosts at bay. Stay is a breathtaking tribute and yet another reason Takahashi is one of my favorite artists around.
MAbH Unnamed Vagabond (Cruel Nature)
Against all odds, we collected stardust fragments and piece together a new spectacle to draw in non-believers. It’s all dark here now, but voices pierce the howling veil of windswept horror that encircles the last vestiges of our lives. Funereal dirges sing over the horizon, beckoning us to inevitable doom. Romance blooms in the ashes of yesterday, though, and scratching out love letters in the blackened dirt, MAbH moves closer to transcendence.
Sarah Washington, Caroline Kraabel, John Edwards Fit to Burst (Self-Released)
I’m a massive fan of Caroline Kraabel and always find something interesting in her sax playing that I am drawn to. Fit to Burst is a different speed, though. Joined by Sarah Washington on electronics and John Edwards on bass, all three artists also weave their voices into the framework from forest gospel exultations to cryptic missives bathed in obscured light. Fit to Burst is a beguiling jewel that refracts countless ideas into enthralling sonic webs.
Eimear Reidy Things That Happened at Sea: A Short Story in Several Parts (Nyahh)
A soundtrack for a planet being born. Irish composer and cellist (who first made a lasting impression on this collaboration with the always great Natalia Beylis) Eimear Reidy channels a timeless spirit on this sonic narrative, conjuring the rawest emotions before splitting them into infinite, ancient elements. This music feels like something that’s existed within us for millennia, but only now has someone been able to tap into its visceral nature and extract it for all the world to hear. Exquisite.
Tomin Life Revisited (Self-Released)
I missed this when it came out in October, but am grateful to find it now. I love Tomin’s work so much and the strong, quiet heart that imbues every note. This is a reimagined version of a song from his Love of My Life EP and the winding path it takes leads to the same place, swimming in a warm sea of remembrances where everyone we love is floating nearby.
Elkhorn Sounds from the Bardo Vol. IV (Psychedelic Sangha)
Neck deep in the sunlight surrounded by illustrated mystical flora, Elkhorn’s entry in Psychedelic Sangha’s Sounds from the Bardo series stands at the pinnacle, arms stretched to the sky. Guitar and zither meditations glide effortlessly together, the arrangements loose and flowing as an invitation to let go and levitate across the astral divide. Great band, great album.
Norah Lorway another world III (Xylem)
A new entry in Lorway’s world of sonic disintegration finds us floating in the cracks between pieces of a shattered planet. Drones spread their wings, keeping an eye out for sudden movements, glossing over the silver surfaces dripping from an unknown source. Lorway’s work always has such a contemplative center and another world III is no exception.
E Ruscha V & The Only Thingz, Too (Good Morning Tapes)
Dripping springs obscuring undersea dance clubs are just one attraction on this beguiling secret island. Steel structures move in unison as synth pads and gauzy clarinet drones string together a long line of tropical flowers that have been dried in the salted air. Ruscha brings the jellyfish arpeggios, too, like a little gift for hidden creatures trying to find something to bring tomorrow’s dawn. Find some shade and get ready to watch the golden hour’s magical allure.
Yolabmi Before Your Past Lives (Muzan Editions)
Digging through the wreckage of past civilizations lost to the faces of death, Yolabmi unearths sonic artifacts that speak to our own ghosts. Some moments are quiet, alight with harmony and melancholy stuck against waves lapping the shore. Yet a midnight thread emerges, static electricity-infused machine languages and hours spent rewinding our lives, trying to find the point at which disintegration became the only answer.
Elliptical Path Riparian Themes (Self-Released)
Elliptical Path’s newest jaunt hits all my sweet spots from gleaming synth arpeggios and field recordings to expressive woodwinds and layers of acoustic guitar. Riparian Themes is full of light and intricate shapes casting dancing shadows among the clouds. Pieces fit together eloquently evoking feelings of floating, swimming in crystal blue water, and finding a place of comfort in the warm sun. For 14 tracks, Elliptical Path lets this music ripple outward into every corner of our imaginations.
Seamus O’Muineachain Different Time Zones (Self-Released)
Snow quietly falls against the window where a warm, orange glow spreads outward as an invitation for any lost souls to seek refuge. Irish sound artist Seamus O’Muineachain crafts delicate vignettes built around a framework of synths and piano. These pieces feel like they could fall apart at any moment; a sonic house of cards that is improbable and magnetic. O’Muineachain creates lovely little worlds I want to get lost in.