Been in solo dad mode for a chunk of this week as Eden is at a conference in Chicago (let me mention how jealous I am since Chicago is arguably my favorite city in the US and it has been way too long since I’ve been there). Add in some other unexpected, self-inflicted clusterfucks and I wasn’t sure this edition of The Capsule Garden would ever come into being. But here we are! Lots of great stuff this week and it’s Bandcamp Friday so… y’all know what to do. And while I’m at it, let me plug the new Charlatan album on The Jewel Garden that’s out today, Streams. It was recorded last summer, but always felt like a spring album to me so check it out. Alright, let’s get on with it!
The Relatives s/t (Tripticks Tapes)
Another stone-cold winner from Nat Baldwin’s Tripticks Tapes. The Relatives is a new group featuring T.J. Borden on cello, James McKain on tenor sax, and Leo Suarez playing drums/percussion. It’s one hell of a combination and the interplay between McKain and Borden gets into some spectral zones that remind me, in parts, of those killer Wadud/Hemphill duos. But here, Suarez brings added heat imbuing a layer of rusted chaos to the whole thing that gets The Relatives crashing through the gutters. This is heady stuff that only gets better the louder it blares through the speakers. Excellent.
Manja Ristić Rings of Water (Flag Day)
Ristić’s pieces are always difficult for me, but I can never stop listening to them once I start. Rings of Water is no different. At times, it’s as though this music is taunting me, daring me to dig deeper into its aqueous expanses; daring me to engage with the living malformations hiding beneath the watery caverns. I love it. Piano arrangements are obscured by savage waves, but never stop trying to send the solemn laments back to the surface. Breathing drones become solid walls. Quiet moments belong to the frogs singing, looking for soulmates while the moon becomes sonic dust. The water is always there, waiting, moving, carving out aural canyons. Ristić is incredible and this is some of her finest work.
Joys Union Group Bordeom Euphoria (Trouble In Mind)
This Texas quartet makes one hell of an impression on their debut, Boredom Euphoria. Comprised of Neil Lord (Future Museums), Michael C Sharp (Uniform, Sungod, Impalers), Kristine Reaume (Sungod), and Dailey Toliver (Molly Burch), Joys Union Group soar through incandescent and smooth melodies like a flock of birds moving with singular movements tracing shapes in the sky. Acoustic guitars an invitation into the cocoon where lithe rhythms, flute silhouettes, and all manner of spiritual motifs become all-encompassing flight patterns. Boredom Euphoria is laid back, but intoxicating and potent.
Anthony Coleman and Brian Chase Arcades (Chaikin)
I’ve long admired Brian Chase’s drumming but in the past year, something clicked on a deeper level to where anything he’s doing is must-hear for me. Arcades is no exception as pianist Anthony Coleman’s lively, diverse style is an excellent foil to Chase’s approach. Together they wind through twisting passages, finding surprising ways to fit expansive tonal landscapes into the smallest cracks. At times quiet, at others raucous and simmering, Arcades leaves its mark.
Shedding Everything Becomes a Habit (Accumulated Blur) (tracedobjects)
Connor Bell’s Shedding project is always worth seeking out, but he’s mining new depths on Everything Becomes a Habit (Accumulated Blur). Emotive synth arrangements stick the rawest exposures with auspicious echoes and an effervescent hopefulness that trickles in like golden glitter. Arpeggios melt into viscous expanses; an aqueous underbelly that can’t stop dreaming of congealed formations. Rising leads reach for the sun’s shimmer only to be turned away when the square waves drop like burning zeppelins. Huge recommendation on this one.
Flora Yin Wong Sacro Bosco (Self-Released)
Flora Yin Wong makes music that is tangible as if it finds ways into the bloodstream to become part of whoever is listening. With Sacro Bosco, she infuses her sounds with the landscape, exploring themes and impressions from Italy’s holy mountain of Monteluco. Disembodied voices transmit ancient wisdom in wordless messages across a pointillist aural latticework. Rhythmic surprises emerge from forgotten cracks in the limestone. Emotive string arrangements are plucked into crumbling nests, forgotten for an eternity but resurrected in the elegiac tones spilled by the winds. On Sacro Bosco, the details hold lifetimes. Stunning.
ISYSXAE hyper nature (Self-Released)
ISYSXAE is a new trio featuring saxophonist Tom Chant, drummer Pere Xirau, and guitar god Ferran Fages. hyper nature opens things with a full blitzkrieg where all three artists are moving at 100 mph in the same direction. Chant absolutely wails like this is the last day of his life and Xirau keeps up the whole time. Fages, as ever, is another beast entirely and his guitar work slips between howitzer and bubbling stream, though his tone always has a nice crunch. Quiet moments get surprisingly introspective in various call-and-response structures, but ISYSXAE really shines when they’re bringing the whole damn thing crashing to the ground. This is sonic catharsis.
Son of Buzzi Die Hand der Riesin (Self-Released)
The more I hear Son of Buzzi play, the more I love his guitar playing style. That sells him short, though, because as the fantastic Die Hand der Riesin shows he does so much more. Sure, the gentle melancholy of “Im Nachtzug nach Hamburg” is spellbinding in the way he lets resonance hang, looking out over all the fading paths and forgotten memories, but field recordings, simmering electronics, and the starkness of no-input mixer spillage are important details. Son of Buzzi’s music sings with a focused clarity even as the world around him disintegrates into a sonic mirage.
Matthew Bourne, Emil Karlsen The Embalmer (Relative Pitch)
Incredible set from pianist Matthew Bourne and drummer Emil Karlsen that weaves through the catacombs like a tightrope walker in the dark. Bourne is expressive, especially in the lower registers where ghost stories become folklore, but Karlsen keeps the train on the rails. This is late night music, simmering with a surprising intimacy as Karlsen and Bourne play out a sonic conversation between two anomalies. Searching piano passages meet the skittering drum patterns as the duo scatter bones across every avenue and alleyway. The Embalmer is strange yet engaging; an album I keep returning to unable to totally unlock.
Arthur King UMN (Nosferatu) (AKP Recordings)
There are so many great elements to this Arthur King track – the buoyant melodies, the skittering rhythms – but the vocal glints hanging above it all have me all wrapped up. Haunted by the specters of a watery grave while the buoyant melodies slowly drift out of reach. Something about “UMN (Nosferatu)” (recorded as part of an ongoing live scoring event where neither the audience nor band know what is being screened in advance) feels like it was pulled from another dimension where Nosferatu isn’t a horror film, but a neon sci-fi adventure about a sad vampire. It’s wild and honestly incredible. My only complaint is that it’s a single track clocking in at 6:29. I’d kill for a whole album of this.
seah unfurling (Self-Released)
Beautiful new exploration where seah finds meditative luminosity in the form of tonal glass. Synth drones shift in subtle directions, rising like the breath of a loved one sleeping nearby. Simple forms become expressions of profound magic. Chords become infinite loops, stretched until forever is no longer just a dream. There’s something about “unfurling” that is so emotionally rich, so heavy that I can barely stand it, but I also can’t stop listening. What a beautiful piece of music.
Ariel Raguet The New Memories (Cyclical Dreams)
The New Memories is what it must sound like to be drowned in an ocean of machines. Gurgling electronics move at lightspeed, somehow with a guileless composition. Looping mechanisms become sentient and take on new pathways, bending waveforms into the organic matter they consume. The darkness creeps at the edges, though Raguet sends piercing triangles in spray patterns that keep the core burning safe and hot. This is mesmerizing.
gabriel seaver tuning (Halfshell Records)
Nine songs recorded on a single day (December 7, 2021), gabriel seaver’s tuning is impossible to ignore. Each of these solo acoustic transgressions is saturated with a quixotic melancholy, a searching enthusiasm. I know next to nothing about seaver, but these straightforward explorations are endlessly engaging, surprisingly catchy, and a wonderful showcase for the deftness and sincerity in his playing.
Carcáscara 2 (Aural Canyon)
Music like clockwork. Classical guitars swim in simmering seas where the life below beckons just as magically as the air above. The arrangements are stellar with flutes, marimbas, harmonium, and other accouterments adding organic layers, giving 2 a new world feel. Sun bakes the melodies into the cliff faces leaving impressions forever. This is music that doesn’t just float away but stays situated in the furthest reaches of our minds.