This week has felt extra long and I’m not sure why. I was telling someone that the level of tiredness I feel these days is beyond anything I’ve experienced, and I’m near certain I’m not even depressed. It’s just existential at this point. Anyway, a ton of good tunes this week. I’ve been listening to more music than usual, feeling very inspired by it all at the moment. I am continually buoyed by the fact that there are so many good tunes out there that I will never come close to hearing it all. I love it, but here’s a few to scratch through the surface.
aden flow / in the midst (Kit)
Two songs that are like a warm shower in the middle of winter. Enveloping melodies explore the ways we situate ourselves in the larger narrative across emotive arrangements, sensuous synth leads, and effervescent rhythms. aden layers their voice like waves of gossamer buoyancy to elevate our pain out of the darkness and into a place where they breathe us anew. These tracks are a beacon where our collective compass points.
Joseph Allred Thầy (Self-Released)
Few artists’ music hit me with the emotional weight that Joseph Allred’s does. I mean it most sincerely when I say they are a gift to this world. Thầy is based on two haiku Allred wrote; a call to calmness and mindfulness; a tribute to Thích Nhất Hạnh. Elongated visages emerge from a fog-laden forest, the quiet clatter of the river off in the distance while Allred’s guitar sings in celestial tones. It is as devastating as it is magnificent; the whole of everything distilled into six memorable aural tomes. Embers finally fade in the contemplative harmonics of “Not the Same River,” leaving us again to remember our mortality will still be there in the morning.
Joane Hétu Tags (Ambiances Magnétiques)
What a magnificent album from a label (Ambiances Magnétiques) that very much has my attention. Joane Hétu is a composer, saxophonist, and vocalist and her work is always inventive and sonically captivating. Tags collects four ‘orphans’ – pieces that didn’t have a home elsewhere – and shows everything that makes Hétu great. Lithe woodwinds dance across simmering floors while voices shoot upward like ancient machines hidden underground come to life. Beautiful guitar tones gloss through blank corridors, flitting between resonant drones and rippling splurges, interconnected with an underlying sigh of relief. It’s amazing that these four pieces weren’t written with each other in mind because Tags works as a wonderfully cohesive album. Recommended.
Claptrap Adulting (unjenesaisquoi)
When the world falls apart and new settlements pop up in the dystopian wastelands cobbled together from whatever debris can be found, the local watering hole is going to blast these wonderful, strange songs out of antique Gramophone speakers. Traditional instruments like mandolin and classical guitar smash together with modular synthesis and drum machines to become a dizzying display of anti-traditional cyborg pop. Get down in the end times.
Saint Abdullah Chiasmatic Relations (Room 40)
Brittle forces are at their most fierce when they realize the bonds are beginning to break. Saint Abdullah continue their incredible forays, plotting an escape in these elevated planes. Dusty tones evoke grounded feelings that search the wasteland for any form of protection. Mental strength is the static obscuring the distant fires that will one day be blotted out by the night. Saint Abdullah continues to plot their course as one of the best music duos around.
KMRU there was nothing in between (Self-Released)
Midnight atmospheric brilliance from KMRU is always a beautiful gift. there was nothing in between is his latest EP, his crowded field recordings bring life and texture to the rising aural patterns and distilled tones. Conversations drift into the ether while haunted houses sneak through stitched-together portals. KMRU’s music always makes the world feel like this beautiful and terrifying place; a place I want to explore every inch of and lose myself.
Jane Deasy Mouth of the Sound (Fort Evil Fruit)
One of the newest joints from the always-dependable Fort Evil Fruit is an increasingly claustrophobic brain massage. Massive drones rise and fall like imagined empires, spreading oscillating electronic sludge across the fading landscapes. Deasy shows incredible restraint across both side-long pieces, only letting exact amounts of sediment sneak through, but in the long run, it is still enough to build a dam.
Fugue In Sea Forgotten Spaces (High Mage Productions)
Drowning robotic choirs drift into view across expansive synthetic silhouettes draped in moving aqueous tapestries. Melancholy reigns supreme, but a few stray globules spread across the experimental timbral plane. Forgotten Spaces sounds like something cooked up in a deep space laboratory from a distant future and jettisoned as soon as the music became too saturated with emotions of longing and desire. It’s beautiful in unfamiliar ways with leads that beg to stay in the clean air just a little while longer. Fugue In Sea is a new name to me, but I’m quite intrigued.
Romance Once Upon A Time (Ecstatic)
Sweet, wispy lullabies float down from a golden perch. If the rose from Beauty and the Beast was an album, it would be Once Upon A Time. Heartbreak is strung from the rafters like all the diamond necklaces lost at the bottom of the sea. This is one of my favorite albums so far this year. Have you ever been in love?
Saloli The Island: Music for Piano vol. I (Self-Released)
Earthen magic is woven through this beguiling album of solo piano compositions. Each piece carries its own spirit, but together the collection is an emotional trek. Hope emerges only to be swallowed by solemn truths on pieces like “The Island” and “Mediation”; joy and longing dance hand-in-hand on the stunning “Shadow.” There’s a surprising physicality to this music, too, that only enhances its emotional depth and spiritual reach. Stunning.
Heavy Cloud A O A (Self-Released)
Where did we get lost along the way? Cryptic roadmaps disintegrate leading spectral tones to escape into the sunkissed dust. Ghosts rattle in a melancholic haze where melodies become weeping willows swaying against blackened cliffs. It never mattered if our memories were real, it only mattered we believed them. Heavy Cloud has released a lot of wonderful music in the last year, but this is my favorite.
Michael Potter and The Electric Nature Mount Analogue, 20th Anniversary Edition (Self-Released)
Unleash the hurricane and don’t bother bolting down the windows because this heady dose of blackened psychedelia is going to burn through any obstacle anyway. Twenty years on, this shrine to Bardo Pond and The Holy Mountain eviscerates. Thick soup guitar wreckage jumps to the front of the line over, pushed into the soil by sodden bass sludge. When those jams escape, though, and the signal is clear, it’s time to shred all the way to the sun. Hail.
Devin Sarno & Patrick Shiroishi Sound Study Two (Self-Released)
I will listen to anything Patrick Shiroishi is involved in at this point. His track record is impeccable. On this new collaborative exercise with Devin Sarno, deep laments shine a light on a world long closed to the outside. Mournful vocals caress the softest spaces with a sublime earnestness, scarred loops slowly churning away underneath as we’re pushed out into the crisp air. Shiroishi’s saxophone becomes the hammer that finally cracks the facade, and reality seeps in.
Valeria Miracapillo | Dimos Vryzas Discipline of the slow (Flaming Pines)
There’s a ringing in my ears turning into looping melodies pulled across rattling timbers being readied for the coming rain. Squiggly rhythms poke out of burrows as the storm blows in, Vryzas’s violin exhaling in the green-grey murk. There’s a lucid fragility on Discipline of the slow that keeps me coming back, trying to find the key to unlock the hollow spaces beneath the surface. An urgency arises toward the end suggesting this is a prologue to a larger story. Another lovely missive from Flaming Pines.
Jason Kolàr Liquid Rhythm (Dauw)
Living inside a crystal world lies a viscous illuminated sea. Jason Kolàr’s Liquid Rhythm mines those minuscule expanses for dream fuel, creating sonic moments that capture our spirit in glass. Arpeggios become ladders to the stars; synth pads are rivers of life. Intricate shapes unfold into aqueous movements that follow unimaginable paths of tonal flares. There’s a clarity to Liquid Rhythm that’s intoxicating and listening with eyes closed, I am floating down the unclouded streams of an unnamed paradise.
Jordan Christoff Elements (No Problema)
PJS’s Jordan Christoff ventures into verdant wilds on his own with Elements. Utilizing a similar palette, these four pieces carve out their swath in the electronic ambiance. Tidal pools get lost in the monsoon rains, giving way to a deluge of featherweight drones swirling like flocks of seabirds aloft in the growing storm. Elements shines in its synthesizer-fueled expansiveness, weaving new romanticized myths out of thin air.
SHON Heart In Soil (Self-Released)
Longing for cosmic dreams, Heart In Soil is a magical remedy. Gentle arrangements become a fortress against the hard edges outside our cocoon. Piano melodies hang in the minor forest. The introspective glances pierce each chord, keeping us safe even as the bitter winds howl against the window. SHON still peppers joyful carnival rides into the solitude with bright arrangements dancing on the pressed copper ceilings and ambient carousels sparkling against a midnight backdrop. Heart In Soil is a wondrous mystery.
Isnaj Dui Laapiu (Hard Return)
A single 20-minute excursion through wintry straits, Isnaj Dui uses a pitch-shifted bass flute and crackling electronics to light a path through barren wastelands. Her melody is permeated by timeworn ceremonies and exigent liminalities, moving slowly ahead despite the worsening conditions. It’s a mesmerizing piece of music, so slow and considered that it feels ready to explode once the world ignites.
Juho Toivonen Suurpää (C/Site)
Ancestral guitar liturgies extracted from a core buried in the oldest glaciers on Earth are let loose by Finnish enchanter Juho Toivonen. Suurpää, his second album, is dense and murky. His guitar tone is caked in mud. Each slow-motion passage, imbued with howling drones and frozen vocal incantations, lets another banished soul loose and ready to scavenge the emptiness for new blood. This music is ritualistic.