The Capsule Garden Vol. 1.4: February 4, 2022

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I didn’t really think about it at the time I started this feature, but this is a nice little(ish) shopping list for all your Bandcamp Friday needs (or maybe The Jewel Garen is – ha!). Seriously, though – another week with a ton of great music. It’s like a firehose straight to my face every week and I still can’t get enough. Spend some time with these – you won’t regret it.

Elina Bolshenkova 19/01 (Self-Released)

Warm, organic drones sit breathlessly next to glacial panoramas where oxygen is in short supply. Simple rhythms mimic irregular heartbeats; claustrophobic and tangled like a century of cobwebs undisturbed. There’s something ancient running through Elina Bolshenkova’s 19/01. Strings rusted to eternity still have sonic left in their tense reservations, but they’ll sting when provoked. I want to explore every corner of this eerie and lovely sonic world.

Rob Collier Driftwood and Other Found Objects (Noumenal Loom)

Noumenal Loom is a label that always hits my sweet spot and this new slice of timeless synthesis is another example. Rob Collier recorded this in 2016, but it could easily be from 2116 as well as 1976. Tender arrangements move at pensive speeds, searching for answers to questions we haven’t quite worked out yet. Lush hibernal tones glean life from the frozen civilizations left behind, energy running rampant if we’re willing to dig just below the snowy surface. I can’t get enough of Collier’s stunning opus.

John Butcher, Thomas Lehn, Gino Robair shaped & chased (NI VU NI CONNU)

shaped & chased is part of a 5LP series John Butcher put together for NI VU NI CONNU and in this installment, the saxophonist is joined by Gino Robair on percussion and Thomas Lehn on EMS Synthi AKS. Butcher soars in a series of blazing, effervescent runs, pushing his sax into the stratosphere. Chaos and calm build in succession with Robair knowing when to cut a trail and when to hover, but Lehn’s electronic wizardry is a constant surprise. So many intersecting sonic textures angle off into new directions, giving shaped & chased an original plot of land to dissect. This is stellar.

Sachi Kobayashi Weathervane (Stereoscenic)

Abandoned places become ghost figures that spread across the wind seeding new prospects for life. Kobayashi’s voice integrates into the synth swells like crests of a wave moving in slow motion. Solace is fleeting, but Weathervane holds out hope for all days, waiting on a sign that the world will turn again. Arpeggios offer glimpses, but the time isn’t quite right, yet, and so we hang weightlessly for millennia. 

Muzgash Moonlight Runes (Elminster)

At the bottom of the diamond quarry lies a tunnel that glows red hot every full moon. Muzgash unleashes a reverberating sonic arsenal that clangs through dense fog, obscuring the dark creatures infecting every surface. Blast furnaces rise from ash cloaking blistering percussive stomps and hellfire voices, ensuring the downfall of tomorrow.

Giovanni Di Domenico & Jim O’Rourke ARCO (composition for string sextet and electronics) (Self-Released)

Patience is a way of life in the disparate spaces Giovanni Di Domenica and Jim O’Rourke create with hushed string memories and resonant electronic fields. Gentle folds are pulled apart to reveal an illuminated presence where the slow movements of yesterday pay off in spades. ARCO is well-considered, beautiful music.

Karen Vogt In Sheltered Places (Self-Released)

Karen Vogt’s recent string of solo experiments have been absolutely lovely and In Sheltered Places might be the best of the bunch. Haunting vocal melodies stretched and rendered into hypnotic shapes, moving against a surface of glassine electronics that try to weigh them down. Vogt has such an enchanting voice, though, that it will cut through any obstacle and always manage to shine. 

Golden Brown Zonal Light (Self-Released)

Trees gently sway in a summer wind while the sunlight filters beneath skyward boughs, blinding, yes, but enchanting too; a distant world calling us from beyond. Stefan Beck is so good at transmitting calming waves through space, weaving sonic tapestries of electronic and acoustic instrumentation into incandescent vistas. Zonal Light is such an alluring place to get lost.

Zane Trow Traces (Room 40)

Short-lived moments meant as a treatise on impermanence end up holding such weight that the opposite always rings true. Zane Trow’s expansive realms sing with the birds of “lull” and clash with the pensive rhythms of “apparition” with the same concentrated effort. Grayscale rainbows flourish in the clear-eyed drones sucking up all the oxygen in the vicinity, longing for a cold night to slumber.

Alicia Lee Conversations With Myself (New Focus)

Clarinetist Alicia Lee sparks a mischievous journey across five pieces that become an exultation of her instrument. These solo clarinet (and bass clarinet) mantras are winding and assertive, but never without a tinge of whimsy to paper over the cracks. Magic especially ignites when Lee spins golden timbres into Unsuk Chin’s “Advice From A Caterpillar, from Alice In Wonderland,” the remnants of a supernova falling to earth as she climbs higher and higher into the night. I’m absolutely smitten with this album.

Sven Laux & Logic Moon The Unavoidable Death of Loneliness (Ambientologist)

Buried in our introspective gaze, the sea carries us to a place where our memories can finally rest. Sven Laux & Logic Moon paint melancholic soundscapes that tease a hopeful world beyond the pale, but each string arrangement, guitar missive, and electronic passage doesn’t let that warm glow get too bright. The world can be an ugly place, but if we listen closely a severed beauty will reveal itself. This is a dense album that demands close attention.

Manja Ristić The Return of Medea (Self-Released)

A collection of tears becomes an ocean to drown ourselves in as dead angels hum a solemn, droning song. Water is at the center of The Return of Medea, but incidental sound recordings bring the album to life. Bottles crashing, footsteps in the snow, a fire’s crackle; it all comes into focus as luminous objects are extinguished, scratched out, and lost in the maze-like aural structures. 

J. Soliday a sour green (Crank Satori)

It makes sense that the cover of a sour green is reminiscent of bile. J. Soliday’s latest cooks electronics in a vinegar stew only to spew acid all over the saw waves and disintegrate every filter in its wake. Two of the ‘instruments’ on a sour green are bathtub and sink. It makes sense when it sounds like these electronics are being drowned and boiled alive. Soliday always gets into some thick, gnarly spaces but this is even more delightfully caustic than usual and I’m super into it.

Nova Dive Neon Dream (No Problema)

The city is underwater but the lights will never go out. Neon runs through the veins as glacial synths search for a heat lamp to move lithely in the sinuous sonic drips. Sunken rhythms are alive with bright tendrils, reaching upward only to be thwarted by glass plates. Neon Dream is caught in a drift that never really feels right, but the pressure is mounting so we continue on toward the gleaming cube at the pinnacle anyway. Don’t wake up.

[something’s happening] something like that (Self-Released)

This is the kind of thing I would love to hear more of; sparse, sterile electronics imbued with a hint of grimness meshed with spoken word via processed readings. Iris Colomb and composer Daryl Worthington (his most recent Beachers album is great, by the way) blur together a stark palette that ends up being hopelessly engaging. Colomb’s performance is entrancing, the minimal sonic web heightening her every word. The combination is perfect. [something’s happening] is such a fantastic surprise. 

Kuma Hounds And Echo In Conjunction (Waxing Crescent)

Listen close enough and the sunlight gleaming off the morning dew becomes a forlorn echo bathed in serpentine silver tones. Kuma’s gentle hand moves, a passive puppeteer pulling each synthetic string, leaving notes to rot in the humid air while the world moves slowly beneath. Steel echoes across barren lands marking the edges of a synthesizer choir that hopes another dawn will come tomorrow. This is a wonderful journey.

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