If anyone thought I was kidding about starting a Rancid podcast, I certainly wasn’t. It’s been way too much fun to record and I hope people give it a listen. Meanwhile, quite a slate of killer tunes this week.
Astrid Sonne “How Far” (SA Recordings)
“How Far” is the newest offering from The Hearing Experience and Astrid Sonne’s stunning vocal arrangements are pure, blissful magic. Sonne always catches my attention with her pristine sonic silhouettes, but “How Far” adds new layers of introspective focus that brings another depth into the flowing soundscape. “How far do you want to go?” she intones repeatedly, stretching notes into spectral harmonies. It’s as though her voice is being refracted through a prism to illuminate her inner core and rejoin broken connections. Stunning.
Child of Illusion Khimaira (Relative Pitch)
The trio of Chris Pitsiokos (alto saxophone), Susana Santos Silva (trumpet), and Torbjörn Zetterberg (double bass) create quite a wonderful racket. A single 42-minute excursion veers from high wire wind acrobatics across a steady bass groove into contemplative shadow chasing where the horns skitter through ever-tightening corridors. Moments of quiet hint at distant trepidation, but the sonic blasts eventually rise to twist any oncoming treachery in knots. Basslines pop off into the night, building “Khimaira” to a resonant crescendo billowing deep into twilight. Another winner from Relative Pitch.
Gunter Herbig wherever i go… (Cosima Pitz)
This is an incredible surprise. Herbig transcribed Arvo Pärt’s music for guitar and across 10 solemn ruminations, a stoic kind of magic emerges from the shrouds of these languid hymns. Gentle resonance from Herbig’s electric guitar saturates this music with a ghostlike gravity. Notes hang stuck in the air between earnestness and gravity. Each piece fits together like some kind of eternal puzzle teasing out questions about the origins of everything. Herbig has crafted something truly special full of emotion and imagination.
Stellan Veloce Stellan Veloce’s Complesso Spettro (Hyperdelia)
Stellan Veloce’s Complesso Spettro is a really exciting debut from this Sardinian cellist and composer. Wide sonic brocades become stages for spectral guitar crunch to melt into voices hovering like witches around a bubbling cauldron. Cello passages emerge like short breaths hanging in the air, painting texture on the walls before disappearing back into the shadows. Elsewhere, string drones rise and fall like a thousand empires, and Stellan Veloce’s arrangements take on epic forms concealed in buried hollows. It’s sprawling and magical as though Veloce has hidden so many details in these pieces that each subsequent listen is like following a new treasure map. What a remarkable debut.
Comité Hypnotisé Hiking The Trails Of Mount Muzak (Cortizona)
This is a far-out trip hitting every continent before careening away toward distant solar systems. Ripples pummel the ground with concrete-blasting rhythmic escapades fueled by the sonorous glint of synthesizers and flutes twisting through a hazy dream world. Fire tones spin new dimensions into existence with disco rattles, Thai-infused psych bliss, and heady bass blasts. Pummeling arrangements spill sci-fi ornamentations all over the graph before the ink dries on an agreement to send the space race back in time. Absolutely fucking great.
The Living Sky Enter the Sky (Home & Garden)
Beautifully fried dirges from the duo of Matthew Hiram and Jason Millard channel hazy Western winds and phantom lysergic dalliances. Organ meditations fracture guitar spillage into rainbow shadows, the whole sky alight with fever dreams. Folk meanderings may channel familiar Vermont spirits, but The Living Sky is their own ghost. The voice hovers, groove-soaked basslines purr, and the fuzz becomes a wall of smoke encompassing us all. Enter the Sky is an aspirational hallucination where the world sparkles and fades, singing the dust to sleep.
H. Takahashi Paleozoic (Dauw)
I’m always taken aback by how warm and calming Hiroshi Takahashi’s music is considering that the sound design is flawless. Every note is crystal clear and every looping pattern bounces in perfect succession, yet it’s the inviting nature of these vignettes that have staying power. Each miniature visage plonks along methodically, but nothing ever feels sterile. It’s light, ebullient. Paleozoic has an aqueous thread running through it that gives all the movement a gossamer effervescence to send listeners floating away on meticulous clouds. Lovely.
Craca Humo Serrapilheira (Tropical Twista)
One of the descriptive phrases in Tropical Twista’s write-up for this album is “playful chaos” and it’s spot on. Brazil’s Craca (an alter ego of music producer and visual artist Felipe Julián) threads a messy energy through Serraphilheira with hypnotic marimba-esque melodies zig-zagging across mellowed-out rhythms. Guitar leads carve their way through the desert with reflective elegance, bouncing off one another as though the muted resonance is a mirror. Above all, Craca gets bodies moving. Infectious rhythms dust off dance floors and open the doors wide to let this music spread across every landscape. I never want to leave these grooves.
Ekin Fil “Being Held (Jefre Cantu-Ledesma Rework)” (Vaagner)
Ekin Fil’s Feelings is such an overwhelming listening experience that, as much as I love it, I find it hard to return to often. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s fantastic rework of album opener “Being Held” softens the edge of the original, offering an alternate dimension where birdsong signifies that the air is clear and the past is a mirage. Sinuous tones meander beneath the clear sky, relaxed in the warm air and open to the slow movements of shadows. Dissipating into aural dust, Cantu-Ledesma sends “Being Held” back toward the origins of the land.
Goodtime John & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy New Life (Foggy Notions)
Excellent new single from J. Cowhie’s Goodtime John project along with the one and only Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy where midnight landscapes come alive. “New Life” sends guitar soldiers drifting along echoing synths in an attempt to stop the flow. When Cowhie and Oldham harmonize on the chorus, the moon glows so brightly it breaks the sun’s heart. In tomorrow’s aftermath, the duo’s take on Don Williams’ “Till the Rivers All Run Dry” becomes a reverential lament for the loves and lives lost in the flood of reinventions and rebirths, offering salient apologies to stop the blood flowing from the stone. Two stunning songs aching for the ageless horizon.
Sophie Sleigh-Johnson Nuncio Ref! (Crow Versus Crow)
Electronics crawl through puddles of grime-infested oil on the way to be tarred and feathered. Acute scenes unfold through serrated sound collages. Voice samples spill out from a crack in the dam slivering further outward, a prophecy of the coming collapse. Jagged edges obfuscate the precise cuts as though Sleigh-Johnson is taking a digital scalpel to each computerized memory bank. Nuncio Ref! is a twisted journey through corrupted hard drives and digitized hellscapes.
The House In The Woods Where Path Becomes the Stream (Self-Released)
Trickling through the pastures and ravines of abandoned landscapes, The House In The Woods is mirthful on “Where Path Becomes the Stream.” Swelling synths grasp each stray ray of light, moving in slow motion down the path to where the trees begin to part. Something here feels anthemic though with a subdued ambiance keeping it from rising too high. As ever his sense of melody and sonic progression is dialed in as the stretched melody transforms into an earworm.