There was a lot of new music during this brutal week and in the bleakness, I am ever thankful for these sounds. It’s also Bandcamp day so, like every other day, it’s a good time to support artists. Any of these albums would be lovely additions to your collection. There’s also a new collaborative record between myself and Matt LaJoie (Herbcraft, Flower Room, Cursillistas, ML Wah, etc) out today that I’m quite proud of. Check it out.
Jana Irmert What Happens At Night (Fabrique)
It’s not just darkness that permeates Jana Irmert’s latest, What Happens At Night, but the confines of mortality and questions of impermanence. Cryptic sonic patterns convene in the shadows, twisting together in a glossolalia masquerading as prophecy. Electronics sputter and whir with intermittent movements cast off in the footsteps of another life. Liminal spaces expand to become recognizable figures shaded by aqueous field recordings and glowing chord progressions. When Irmert’s disembodied whispers rise from chainlink ashes, night wins the day and as the monoliths awaken, lightning-strike rhythms pierce through the windswept drones to clear the decks for a new era to begin.
Natty Gray / Boar split (Cult Love Sound)
Tulsa’s Natty Gray and the king of cutup, Boar, join up for a knife-edged, blood-soaked split. Natty starts things off with a voicemail from when he got cranked by a car last year and it sets the mood. There’s an introspective stream on “You Will Be Happy Someday/Live” as worn-out organ drones get intermittently clattered by feedback squalls and razor-cut frequencies. But those dungeon-inspired missives are spooky and alluring. It goes full blitz electronic hellhound eventually, but the contradiction works. Boar slices and dices metallic sheets of sonic scree with the precision of a laser-focused surgeon. Eardrums are shredded. Entrails are blitzed. The full sonic force of this shock wave seethes with aural nihilism, leaving a charred trail in its wake.
∑V∑RYTHING The Lovers (Self-Released)
Glassine romance swirls into digital memory banks as ∑V∑RYTHING explores the realms of signalwave splendor. Fading recollections stretch across decaying memory banks saturated with synthetic drones and melancholic leads. Doses of surrealism become intertwined in opaque arpeggios. Cosmic expectations are met within the neon shadows cast by propulsive rhythms and bubbly glacial electronics. The Lovers sounds like a place we’ve been before, but the verdant hues have all shifted and everything carries a haunted shimmer.
Emily McWilliams Form in Flow (The Crystal Cabinet)
Emily McWilliams (Silver Godling, Thou, etc) explores sounds often missed and purposefully forgotten on the beguiling Form in Flow. Emotive themes emerge throughout as McWilliams finds beautiful imperfections in this specific instrument (a century-old Brambach tiny baby grand). Clicks and knocks echo beneath the spectral random patterns and lilting timbres. Textural drones and ambiance bring an otherworldly element to the pieces, but the piano is the star. Notes resonate as wooden footsteps mimic a slowing heartbeat following an overgrown path toward coalescing toward a silver strand of light in the distance.
Jadorian Jademar Knight Earthlight (Self-Released)
Light spills into the midnight garden as piano notes swirl into each other, creating a droning helix effervescing against the starlight. Vocal loops enchant each repeating passage as the music becomes a kind of sonic mantra. Earthlight is heady but still weightless. Jademar works in surprising hooks with flickers of magic echoing across each crystallized sample. In this space, I am lost and drifting away.
Forest Management Palm Life (husky pants)
Forest Life always finds a spark in quiet places. Palm Life is a sprawling, expressive whisper. Tonal patterns are blurred into near-nothingness only to be reconstituted as eloquent arrangements adrift on an endless current. Soft rhythms are questioning, hopeful of their own existence, but steeped in a quest of anxious realizations. Repeating structures encircle the heart of these pieces, though; minimalist harmonies begin to separate, ready to be carried like dandelion seeds on the wind. Tape manipulation buries time beneath a growing cadence of hiss-laden dreams sustained on blurred melodies and emotional rifts. Palm Life is a stunning creation.
Kaho Matsui boywife (Self-Released)
This album got me good. Within the first 30 seconds of opener “one hundred million billion,” I was all in. Skittering, glitched-out rhythms that somehow manage to feel alive scatter ashes beneath some of the most emotionally captivating synth arrangements I’ve heard recently. The dichotomy of these beautiful, moving progressions underpinned by harsh, chaotic beats is spectacular. The rest of boywife delivers on the opening promise with shimmering arpeggios, blast furnace rhythms, and autotuned vocals all wrapped in angular sound design and pensive apprehension. I’ve got butterflies.
Xisco Rojo мать может я (Self-Released)
Recorded during the same time as his fantastic Transfigurations album, Xisco Rojo continues his recent trajectory of spectral guitar explorations and audio experiments. Dusting off the strings, Rojo presses into contemplative laments flipping between blues-inflected plucks and reverberating drones. His playing is so rich and textural, both of which are heightened by his approach to production. Hellfire soundscapes grip the edges, pulling us closer to the burning flame. This album is expansive, like a trip through a parched desert searching for the promise of this humming oasis full of life. Fantastic.
Empire State Observatories Beneath Truth (Obscure & Terrible)
As soon as the opening track, “Phase Theme,” explodes into a massive drone catharsis, Empire State Observatories has me hooked. Each track carries its own spirit, but the overriding feeling of Beneath Truth is that of escape. This is music that, while firmly rooted in the present tense, is always shuffling ahead on spiraling expanses and distant charms. Emotional undercurrents move into focused guitar exultations that simmer beneath a stoic sky. Fuzz-laden reveries sing with purifying notions wrapped in the resonance of tomorrow.
labile mundi s/t (Chained Library)
Between two underworld prisms, a series of glass chains grind against each other spewing phantom drones into an interdimensional maw. labile mundi’s self-titled album is the sound of a planetary core hollowed out and gasping for air. The churning frequencies sink below a blackened vat of broken gravity clawing furtively at the growing nothingness. This goes well beyond bleakness and straight into a resonant void. Clashing metallic echoes tighten the rusted restraints, pouring ghastly fuel into the low-pitch clatter. Death bells signal the last moments before the end. This is gloriously fucked up.
Opin Hospital Street (WarHen)
A dark cloud disintegrates into worlds of colliding sonic debris. Hazy dancefloors sprout wings using lithe synth cuts and opaque resonance to effervesce across climbing rhythms. Surprise hooks meet neon junkyard scrap along the pathway heading into a gleaming underwater prism. Basslines melt like submerged ice cream, sweet and ruined, impossible to recondition. Opin is always searching for another universe to explore, giving Hospital Street an expansive narrative that only makes sense once the woozy reversescape brings things to a close.