I spent a lot more time this week working on my own music than usual, so once again ended up listening to a lot less than I had in the queue. That being said, I did get into a lot of gems this week and the first one here, Ana Foutel and King Imagine’s Archeology is of particular note. As ever, throw some money and support the way of these artists and labels this weekend (or hang on until next Friday’s Bandcamp day).
Also, if you are into this feature and all the good stuff Foxy Digitalis putting out into the world, sign up for the Patreon or The Jewel Garden subscription and help keep this work happening! Thanks!
Ana Foutel & King Imagine Archeology (Self-Released)
Without any added context, Archeology is a wonderful album filled with anxious soundscapes that still offer hints of solace. The context matters, though, and Ana Foutel and King Imagine recorded this between March 4 – 10 at Interzona Studio in Kyiv. In that light, the distress and apprehensive sonics take on new meanings. Granular hiss is like dust loosened when buildings crumble, hanging forever in the air while solemn, intermittent piano chords share laments with no one. Strings are scratched, pulled into obstructed nooks hidden from the crushing electronic drones. There’s a disparate feeling woven throughout Archeology, different instruments and tonal palettes sneaking through corridors, unsure if they’re looking for one another or hiding. Archeology is remarkable, essential listening.
hinako omori a journey… (Houndstooth)
Omori’s electronic arrangements are exquisite, full of emotive passages and rich detail, but on a journey… it’s her voice that holds the boldest magic. Songs like “Ocean” and “Heartplant” are unforgettable, her words twisting into sculptural frameworks that illuminate the oscillating waves to pierce the deepest reaches of our consciousness. This is the music of living; the tactile atmosphere holds space for stray thoughts and buried emotions to flourish. Liquid synths modulate natural harmonies, glowing brighter in each looping progression until the sonic balance is in tune with our own natural rhythms. a journey… is incredible, beyond words.
Dana Lyn A Point On a Slow Curve (In A Circle Records)
Multi-instrumentalist and composer Dana Lyn sets off on an exciting set of original places played with an all-star cast including Patricia Brennan, Sara Schoenbeck, Hank Roberts, and more. Written as a sonic poem that echoes the creation story of Jay DeFeo’s The Rose, A Point On a Slow Curve is labyrinthine. Strings lilt in nebulous forms, bounding effortlessly around the resonant hollows of Brennan’s vibraphone and drummer Noel Brennan’s rhythms. Schoenbeck’s bassoon is earthy, leaving a wave of dust wherever it howls. The real showstopper on A Point On a Slow Curve is the four-woman choir. Moments of tenderness and serenity are equally as potent as when the choir goes ecstatic. Lyn’s narrative structure is endlessly engaging, lifting the nine-movement album into the highest echelons. A Point On a Slow Curve is one of the most original records I’ve heard all year.
Arif Mirbaghi, Kaveh Ghaffari, Farhad Asadi Nostalgie Vol. 2 (Qame Feraq)
The smoky, slithering leads that pepper every song on Nostalgie Vol. 2 gets my blood flowing every time I put this on. Muted trumpet seeps in like quicksand from the attic, embedding itself within these dusty grooves. This music feels like it’s been transmitted across time from another dimension. Arif Mirbaghi’s basslines never quit (his guitar playing is killer, too) and the glissade of Ghaffari’s spellbinding keyboard trips drift away on smoke plumes toward gilded towers and sunkissed fields. This is timeless brilliance. Qame Feraq just keeps dropping diamond after diamond.
c o m t e Cipher (Self-Released)
Eulogies for fallen landscapes ring through the hollows of Cipher like a blissful reminder left for future generations. Field recordings mix with emotive synth arrangements connecting distant pasts with an eye toward tomorrow. Drones flow like underground rivers stretching tendrils into the rock, energized with reverberating tones that shine like gossamer echoes. Cipher is beautiful, but rises and falls with a heavy emotional undercurrent. c o m t e soundworld is rich. (note: all proceeds from this release will be donated to Save the Children Ukraine)
Kate Carr fake creek (Flaming Pines)
Another slice of magic from Kate Carr and Flaming Pines, fake creek is an 18-minute live performance for the submerged. Hydrosonic drones resonate like endless underwater expanses. Varying creaks and trickles bubble up like the song of a decaying shipwreck with Carr weaving in metallic chimes and echoing bird calls to add strange signs of life. It’s eerie at times, but there’s a surprise peacefulness to fake creek that keeps me returning to its aqueous dimensions. Carr does an amazing job of capturing the beautiful underwater spookiness that has always drawn me underwater. Wonderful.
Hirotaka Shirotsubaki 00’s Phantom (Alien Garage)
In the sky after a storm, quiet spreads its wing even as distant rumbles still percolate through the air. Guitars poke at the glint from puddles before they evaporate back into the sky. Emotive drones reach for the last vestiges of cloud cover, keeping the soft gray pillows aloft with resonating drifts caught by stray wind gusts. The smell of petrichor lingers, hinting at secret worlds beneath the surface where these gentle tones vibrate with a cosmic radiance. 00’s Phantom is full of memories we’ve never had and lives we’ll never lead, but the familiarity of it all brings a strange comfort to the long nights ahead.
Jenn Kirby Ravel (pan y rosas discos)
Time is a shapeshifting animal on Jenn Kirby’s latest, the quixotic Ravel. Pop constructs are stitched together from battered sonic silhouettes, propulsive rhythms, and beguiling vocal acrobatics. That all of these songs began as improvisations is a testament to Kirby’s skill as a songwriter and composer. Ravel is at times anthemic (“Catch Me”), gloriously saccharine in other spots (“We Never Have Time” or “Lost and Found””), and often intoxicatingly strange (“Real Feels,” “Shines Low,” or “What I’m Doing”), but it never lets up and never misses a beat. Kirby’s got hooks for days, but they just happen to be splayed across fading neon soundworlds that are being sucked back into the wormhole from where they descended. Ravel is absolutely fantastic.
John Edwards | Steve Noble | Yoni Silver HEME (Shrike)
Excellent set of seven pieces recorded in the thick of lockdown at an empty Cafe Oto, HEME juts off at unexpected angles to incorporate lost notes hidden away in forgotten corners. Drummer Noble and clarinetist Silver have performed previously as HOME, but the addition of Edwards on double bass lends a new layer of grit to the recordings. Stochastic rhythms lead into sketchbook woodwinds, trapping the frenetic energy from Edwards in a vibrating glass capsule. Spiraling clarinet runs tease the quick percussive blasts into a rhythmic junkyard where all the lights are out and the shadows have taken over. HEME is an absolute delight.
Ivy Meadows Memoria (Fluere Tapes)
Memoria is a real bit of magic from Camilla Padgitt-Coles. Inquisitive synth melodies trickle through spectral gardens at slow speeds. Refractive tones repeat over a bed of gauzy arrangements distilled in sea glass. The shape of Ivy Meadows’ music is always changing, flattening out into sinuous shimmers or elevating into resonant cloud forms. Each note in the chain is a velvet hammer, leaving a swelling crater that still cradles us with a gentle touch. Searing drones are offset by aqueous arpeggios, remembrances that no longer fit our current pathway but hold importance to us all the same.
Nick Podgurski + Zachary Paul Secret In The Heart (New Firmament)
Two side-long expressions that carry kindred messages using similar sonic palettes but conveyed in different languages. Using synthesizer, violin, and electronic, Podgurski and Paul color in the tiniest details in these stirring drones with hues of vulnerability. This is music with heart, ripped open and left to effervesce upward and soar across the sky. Massive soundscapes like these can be daunting, but the two parts that make up Secret In The Heart never feel heavy. Cinematic flourishes engage different emotions, pulling listeners deep into this beguiling world. This is stunning, beautiful music.
Amosphère More Die of Heartbreak (更多的人死于心碎) (33-33)
Warm aural baths run through Amosphère’s fantastic debut, More Die of Heartbreak. Born in China and educated in Japan before moving to France, she loops hypnotic synth pathways together into memorable, inviting sonic landscapes. Sine waves bleep across the night sky like flickering space ships cast against a backdrop of solid-state drones and woozy melodies. More Die of Heartbreak is enveloping, sending listeners into a state of meditative weightlessness as each repetition sparks to life. Really wonderful.
ubu boi & r hunter A Symbol For Disguise (Genot Centre)
For a brief moment, the sun peaks over the horizon and gazes across the world unmoving, still. Then the beats hit and the stillness disintegrates into quick, dub-inflected tectonic plates shifting beneath. Viscous synth arrangements drip with blood from the emotional trainwrecks ubu boi and r hunter distill into unencumbered blast patterns. Voices ooze from the disheveled cracks spreading across the pavement, chased by searing leads and snarling thunder. A Symbol for Disguise is all action and drama that demands attention. The sound design on A Symbol for Disguise is flawless, leaving a maze of dense music, impossible to ignore
landtitles as the night comes softly down (Polar Seas)
Melancholy glitches skin the outside of drifting piano chords, vibrating above the surface of a body of water shrouded by night fog. Each of these pieces is rife with detail, teeming with the smallest aspects of life in forgotten spaces. Crackling electronics sit in the calm waters of reconstituted guitar melodies, all of it pulling together for another night watching the stars. Bass tones grow and shake the ground swelling, creating new landscapes. Each note hovers in its own airspace; each light flickering until it finally goes out.