It’s been a wild week over here at FDHQ, but some surprise bits of good news have trickled through so I’m heading into the weekend feeling more positive than usual. With that, I made everything at The Jewel Garden pay-what-you-want so if you’ve been wanting to catch up, dig in, or fill gaps, this would be a great weekend to do that (everything goes back to normal on Monday). And it’s always a good time to sign up for our Patreon.
Next week we’re hosting Jon Mueller in town for his performance of Afterlife Cartoons (an album I cannot recommend enough). Plus, a bunch of great music to read about below.
jablkagruszki Sea Life (Pointless Geometry)
A voice like glass echoes in the oceanic distance; a guiding light reaching out to pull the stars closer. It’s enchanting, magical. Synths glide effortlessly in melodic patterns, sending lead tendrils deep into the cracks as a healing salve. Beware of the dancing shadows calling like a siren from the void. Hypnotic arrangements are jewel-encrusted and effervescent, piercing minor chords with silver threads to pull them back into the solar sparkle. There’s melancholy infused with latent joy all over Sea Life, but it’s that voice that stays forever. Incredible.
Meadow Argus Peristera (Self-Released)
I’ve been a big fan of Tynan Krakoff’s Meadow Argus project for a while now, but Peristera is my favorite album so far. Dust-covered loops tug at memories buried deep in our subconscious, coaxed out by operatic samples and the increasing glassine electronics. Urgency fights against a current of clanging, broken down chimes and toy piano skeletons. Krakoff has an uncanny ability to push old, broken-down sounds up an ever-rising hill, the palette continuing to accumulate all kinds of disparate debris. Yet, he keeps it all tied together without losing a single melodic granule. This is music that carries so much weight, so much heartfelt wreckage that each creaking passage is like a reflexive self-sustaining rallying cry to keep fighting for one more tomorrow. Peristera is timeless and will be singing this rickety old song well beyond the realms of time.
Bégayer Préambule bègue (Vol.2) (Self-Released)
Desolate set of enigmatic sonic speculations from this French quintet. Homemade bagpipes spew tonal fuel over powerful, ancient rhythms and voice transmissions from another time. Sand-blasted arrangements move at dizzying speeds, buzzing around the terrain like insects invading from beneath the earth. Slow, plodding polyrhythms are back-breaking conscious streams covered in layers of dust with glints of silver and gold peaking out in the form of feedback howl and tonal chatter. Bégayer only gets more interesting with every new run.
Claire Cirocco & Fred Thomas NO GROOVE (Self-Released)
Small stories become towering narratives on NO GROOVE. Repeating keyboard patterns swim through blankets of hiss to bring news of hope to the masses. Drum splatter tries to break through lilting synth arrangements with a fuzz-laden hammer, but the flow just keeps flowing without any sign of stopping. Disembodied voices fade in and out, leaving us wondering if they were there in the first place? They’re like a brief glimmer of light at the periphery, ghostlike and fleeting. Even with the tremolo-obfuscation on Cirocco’s vocals, “City Crazy” seeps in through your pores to leave a lasting mark. Each of these 15 vignettes moves between surprising aural combinations and emotive miniature chronicles. NO GROOVE is confusing at times, but in the best ways that leave this wonderful album echoing in my brain for days. Massive recommendation.
Shoeb Ahmad Breather Loops (Atlantic Rhythms)
On the surface, the 10 pieces that make up Breather Loops tease out an aural simplicity using a familiar palette and recognizable patterns, but Shoeb Ahmad and an incredible crew of musicians combine these elements in new and engrossing ways. Synthesizers meter out meditative patterns while saxophone laments become epilogues to total isolation. Rhythms are bounding toward dusk with purpose, stinging the rain-parched paths carved by expressive guitar arrangements and pensive strings. Some of these pieces have a real visual quality to them, like an abstract paint sent across the airwaves. I want to lose myself in Breather Loop and never be found.
Noémi Büchi Hyle (-OUS)
Noémi Büchi always creates rich, hypnotic worlds. Over three tracks, Hyle creates elaborate sonic labyrinths through precise synthesis, restrained rhythms, and beguiling arpeggios. Captivating arrangements tug at our emotional subconscious; an assemblage of anthemic, closely considered sequences are layered to maximize the intrigue and exposition throughout. When the dark clouds clear, Büchi leans heavily into familiar forms and arrangements but twists the mood to project a feeling of hopeful desire. Hyle is dense and moving. So many melodic sequences are packed into such tight spaces that dissonance tries to creep in, but the elevated structure of these pieces keeps the world spinning all along the way.
droopy eye Embruja (LEAVING)
Neon patterns become liquid sonic architecture dripping between angular beats, holding a candle out to bring the waters back home. Electronics send out serpentine threads to entangle angelic timbres within the levitating dance floor. Embruja sounds like the back alleys in a futuristic arcology where crystalline surfaces are covered in imaginative grime. Layers tell stories and droopy eye’s forward-thinking compositional mind keeps searching for the next hook to start a new chapter. The brakes don’t need pumping, let’s hit the gas and head for the moon where we can float forever.
Helecho Experimentar Apaisido (Ramble)
Blurred psychedelic rifts leave odd-shaped melodic footprints baked into the mud. Cryptic soundscapes are shapeshifting, quiet spectacles where the spatial plane is pushed as far outward as possible and the two sides refuse to acknowledge one another. Apaisido is disorienting, but also impossible to turn away from. The air beneath these slow-motion drones is haunted with something caustic, but that only heightens the intensity when Helecho Experimentar brings out the sharpened edge of crackling sonics.
Norah Lorway no future then (xylem)
Hollowed-out remnants from the birth of time stretch into the infinite whirlpools pulling light into the darkness and the darkness into nothing. Cold drones swell into masses with their own gravitational pull, beaming outward with an unstoppable force. Eloquent synth swells sing with a lamentable urgency, looking for ways to stop the death spiral. It’s all too late, though, and the stretched-out tones eventually get siphoned off into the abyss.
Kristen Roos Universal Synthesizer Interface Vol II (Hotham Sound)
I loved the first volume of Kristen Roos’s Universal Synthesizer Interface, and this second installment exploring early algorithmic MIDI sequencing program keeps that itch well-scratched. Using only Laurie Spiegel’s ‘Music Mouse’ and Frank Balde’s ‘Diablo,’ Roos builds pristine electronic landscapes that come to life across six endearing pieces. Progressive beats are the underlying glue for Roos’s multilayered crystalline sequences. Notes rise and fall in immersive patterns, drawing listeners in with a constant barrage of seductive melodies and engaging song structures. There’s a sheen of perfection throughout Universel Synthesizer Interface Vol II, but there’s so much more to Roos’s creations below the surface. Wonderful.