In the space of about 18 hours, we experienced 3 1/2 seasons in Tulsa. After a beautiful warm, spring-like day with autumnal winds, severe thunderstorms battered us overnight before temperatures dropped to below freezing and snow flurries descended. My sinuses are exhausted. My ears are fine, though, so here’s a pile of great, weird music to sink some teeth into this weekend.
p2p Impossible Burger (Rat Drifting)
This is such a glorious surprise. Karen Ng is a favorite of mine – a saxophonist that I feel doesn’t get the credit she should (her solo record, Here, from a few years ago is outstanding) – but in this trio with Philippe Melanson and Christopher Willes, another facet of her ability is unlocked. p2p use texture as an emotional weapon, fusing sparse field recordings and musique concrète to open channels where the limitless spaces between us are narrowed. In the valleys artists like more eaze and claire rousay float, p2p carve out their own lane. Ng gets the best credit (stomach grumbles), but Melanson’s vocoder melodies bring all the tears to the yard. I love this album.
Pascäal Body (Dreamtone)
Asleep beneath a silver waterfall, our dreams become an aquatic utopia obscuring the charred reaches of a dying planet. Buoyant rhythms move into view, architecturally solid but still opaque enough for the electronic melodies to move between. Pascäal shapes these pieces into interesting shapes, scattering them across a submerged landscape like light refracting through moving water. It’s wonderful.
Noel Brass Jr. Majestic Fool (Self-Released)
The night passes by, youth slipping away into forgotten folds where the stars hide after dawn. Noel Brass Jr. has us swimming downstream toward romantic views where the city settled long ago. We may not be getting any younger, but when the languid strings swirl at midnight and that keyboard lead whirrs back into view, we eschew nostalgia and open our hearts to the next possibility ahead. “Majestic Fool” tastes so sweet.
Maya Lydia Impressiones de El Bruc (Jungle Gym)
These are field recordings for lying down in the darkness and wandering mentally. Sketches of memories flicker in and out of view like the flies buzzing in the rain on “Under Lower Fig Tree.” Practice sessions carry tremendous weight on “Saxophone 1” and “Trumpet,” the distant songs gently obscured by wind through the trees. Impressiones de El Bruc is simple yet incredibly moving.
Henri Lindström SOITA JOS MEINAAT DELAA (Artsy)
Henri Lindström’s repeating, slightly off-kilter synthesizer patterns on SOITA JOS MEINAAT DELAA make me dizzy. Time becomes an ouroboros gnawing at its tail feathers as it spins faster and faster circles. Lindström layers these passages in such a way that they are either just barely lined up or just barely misaligned depending on perspective, but it adds odd, dimensional shape to the sounds. Maybe it’s all the neon, but this is music I can see and as it loops and loops toward a sculptured horizon, I can’t stop staring at it. This is a prime Finnish sonic experience.
Spencer Dobbs Bayou Keening (Dust Press)
Fractured silhouettes fall to pieces once the daylight fades. Spencer Dobbs’ songs exist in the momentary lapses where reality outfoxes our memories and the cracks begin to fall. Sparse songwriting is held aloft by Dobbs’ rich, emotive voice and engaging lyrics. A solemn drama unfolds in the absence of a compass to guide us through the darkness, but Dobbs is everpresent like a spirit with unfinished business. Dobbs is joined by Mari Maurice (violin), Kate Fisher (vocals), Parham Daghighi (Clarinet, Saxophone), and Joe Wozny (guitar, piano) to shade in the hidden textures of his world on Bayou Keening, but the questions keep coming, pressing on to see if he’ll run out of steam. This album has haunted me since I first heard it last month and it continues to bloom beneath a new moon with each subsequent listen. Highly recommended.
Rachel Beetz Unofficial (Orenda)
Composer and flutist Rachel Beetz searches out extremes. Unofficial mixes harsh electronics boil in ancient cisterns like trapped dark energy searching for a way to escape. Beetz creates scaled, mazelike worlds that swallow every ounce of light. Lacerations bleed sonic debris into the hollow chambers, resonating outward until there’s no oxygen left to breathe. The ways Beetz transforms flute music into something snarling, alive, and caustic is incredible. Unofficial is special.
Yamaoka External Objects (Shimmering Moods)
Hazy arpeggios beckon in the opening moments of External Objects and become a recurring theme throughout this lovely album. Yamaoka wields featherweight melodies like a soft-edged knife, carving intricate shapes in frosted glass skies. Darker moments emerge but are swallowed by emotive pads bending skyward.
Delphine Dora A l’abri du monde (Early Music)
Quiet, intimate moments become points of departure on this 32-minute spell from the always great Delphine Dora. There’s something cryptic in the way she weaves disparate musical elements into the everyday sounds scratching their way into the forefront. A distant melody is ghostly adding to the feeling that A l’abri du monde is haunted as if Dora accidentally captured a hidden world from long ago in these recordings. There are so many ideas here to digest and explore that the journey feels different each time I listen.
Tomato Flower Gold Arc (Ramp Local)
It may be cold out, but Tomato Flower’s warm pop glow is spreading joy through the house. Gold Arc is catchy without being saccharine with each song carving out its own little space to decorate. Guitar leads flutter at obtuse angles jutting off toward lush forests held up by memorable basslines. Elements of whimsy saturate the wavering, lilting vocal layers spread throughout, but Gold Arc stands tall in the kaleidoscopic blast zone.
Robbie Lee & Lea Bertucci Winds Bells Falls (Telegraph Harp)
I shouldn’t be surprised that when two artists with such unconventional approaches get together, the results are unexpected. Robbie Lee and Lea Bertucci have both cut their own singular paths in recent years and together on Wind Bells Falls they create a world of forgotten histories and enchantments. With Lee’s unique instruments (like the human-sized contrabass recorder and a collection of 1920s bell instruments) and Bertucci’s skillful tape manipulation and electronics, they move across fog-soaked avenues, engrossed in the subtle movements of skyscrapers and bubble-like clouds. Crystalline tones skitter along with tape hiss and electronic fizz before the wind instruments pummel everything with joyous abandon. Wind Bells Falls is magic.
bahía mansa boyas + monolitos (Irán Wym Organización)
I am always thankful when another set of lovely soundscapes from bahía mansa turns up. With boyas + monolitos, our man in Chile is lost in the tropics, connecting his scenic electronic compositions to the flora and fauna growing skyward. Looping synths sketch out patterns in the clouds, the music subtly changing shape as it glides effortlessly through the air. boyas + monolitos is another excellent chapter in the ever-growing bahía mansa story.
Maggi Payne Through Space and Time (Longform Editions)
When cracks appear on the surface of the moon and the atmosphere around Earth begins to contract, a spectrum of sound waves emerge from the planet’s core. Maggi Payne is no stranger to pushing limits and Through Space and Time is dense and immersive. Listeners are pushed into different zones as they are crushed under the weight of imminent collapse. Payne’s music is visceral, blurring lines between the macro and micro as her sonic worlds are equally massive and intricately detailed. Through Space and Time takes us into places we may not want to go, but we’re better for it in the end. What a trip.
.cut Sinistre (Histamine Tapes)
Ominous sound collages refuse to stay within any prescribed boundaries on .cut’s Sinistre. Opening with a piece called “200 Dead Bodies On Mount Everest” hints at what’s t come, but the sonic diversity that’s interconnected by a singular black thread. Samples from True Detective stretch across eerie drones and midnight field recordings, all of it building a decaying shrine to our eventual demise. This is excellent.
Duncan Park Invoking the Flood (Ramble)
We burned down the house so the creek in the backyard can run rampant again. Invoking the Flood is a collection of meditations on the cleansing nature of water and the symbolic significance of rivers. These songs are built on rich guitar explorations rife with a hopeful cadence and inquisitive hues. Duncan Park’s playing throughout is emotive and inviting, bringing listeners into this space where it is sanguine and quiet.