Another week where not a lot makes sense, but at least we’ve got some more excellent tunes to dig into.
Cyril Meysson & Sheng Jie La Chaleur Des Choses Sans Nom (Dub Cthonic)
Spectral facades glow against a dark backdrop infused with frenetic energy and determined drones. Meysson’s guitar tone cracks through the wailing sphere of Jie’s electric cello, encasing it in a metallic sheen. Movements elevate into an elusive jetstream, notes intertwining, unsure if they should move ahead or hold back, ending up in a pensive embrace. Their respective playing styles fit like puzzle pieces, different enough but, when engaged, creating something grander. Rhythmic scratches haunt gossamer springs, pulling these tracks further into the underworld.
Cube Proof of Bells (H&S Ranch)
When I first heard Cube a decade ago, I was instantly smitten with Adam Keith’s strident, obtuse electronic forays. With Proof of Bells, the harsh glacial crawl continues, abandoned and bounding recklessly ahead with the rhythmic crush of a cybernetic freight train. Weird splotches pepper the exterior, slathering every layer with a viscous hellbroth. Broken machines inhale spent fuel between beat-laden surgical procedures. In a land where synths have become sentient monsters, Proof of Bells is anthemic. The wall growls, welcoming the blast furnace with hissing fizz and spewing dancefloor dirges at every angle. I’m still obsessed.
Sara Milazzo Multicore (Artsy)
If someone buried a tape filled with strange, cryptic sounds, dug it up after a couple of decades, and then shot it into deep space, it would sound like Multicore. Sara Milazzo’s music is complex. Divergent sound strands veer away from each other, only connected by tiny points of light that keep them rooted in place. Echoes transform synthetic shapes into living structures. Voice fragments try to escape the looping warning signs, but distant sonic shadows suffocate any forward progress with cold square waves and harsh fuzz. If the library became sentient, Multicore would be its master. An incredible album from beginning to end.
Seawind of Battery Clockwatching (Island House)
Goldkey’s Mike Horn celebrates the longing of a distant summer where sunlight didn’t quite sting so much. This debut is magic. When the sky sings in the dripping resonance, the cosmos tear open to reveal a hollow core. Horn’s guitar playing is otherworldly, stringing forlorn melodies with lucid dreams. Each considered chord progression flickers, always ready to shine. Backlit drones move across the spatial plane, never in a hurry but always howling with purpose. It’s a beautiful place to be lost and figure out what comes next. If the future doesn’t come tomorrow, we’ll simply sit beneath these wistful, zealous souvenirs and hope we can evoke a better idea for eternity.
Damsel Elysium “Echoes of Laila” (SA Recordings)
The latest installment of SA Recordings’ The Hearing Experience is a mind-bending trek beneath the grid. Damsel Elysium immerses listeners in a riveting sound world permeated by intricate sonic details and propulsive energy. The low-end double bass rumble provides a foundation of electronics to tease the air, splitting into diverging, snapping threads. Engines roar. The atmosphere is overwhelmed by the brewing storm, but Elysium’s stylish crackle continues to grow in strength. Field recordings buoy the organic remnants sticking out of the electric morass as we wait for the rousing violin arrangements to lead us home. Another stunning entry in the series.
Roman Norfleet “Space Odyssey Black” (Self-Released)
The groove on “Space Odyssey Black” is eternal. Laid-back rhythms and a bassline that worms its way deep into the memory banks glide effortlessly through midnight streets, clearing the way for Norfleet’s alto sax and Kyler Fischer’s trumpet to devise a spiritual awakening. Back and forth, the sax and trumpet take turns singing and going supernova. Norfleet’s organ arrangement is the ultimate fuel, breezing through every breath of fire like a cold, focused phantom pulling memorable hooks out of dust. “Space Odyssey Black” is timeless.
CLASS s/t (Feel It Records)
The deeper we get into The 11th Hour, the more determined I become to find current punk bands that hit me just right, and CLASS fits the bill. Clash-infused melodies spiral out of control, breaking down in all the right places before being soldered into something new. CLASS bounces across the scorched concrete with angular hooks and catchy riffs. And goddamn, does that guitar jangle like Nikki Sudden’s ghost suddenly appeared from the catacombs, ready to clank together a couple glasses until morning. Five songs, roughly 13 minutes – time to listen to this for the sixth time in a row.
Gareth Davis & Machinefabriek Standards (of sorts) (Sublime Retreat)
Rutger Zuydervelt’s Machinefabriek continues to evolve and expand into new, compelling spaces, and the ongoing collaboration with clarinetist Gareth Davis is one of my favorite avenues of his work. Davis is incredible, and his ability to fuse inquisitive technique and emotive timbres pairs fantastically with Zuydervelt’s expansive electronics. From quiet introspection and specious minimalism to full-on drone skree, Standards breaks down our ideas of what we think we know and constructs new, improvised flares. Textural passages hint at hidden details below the surface where sonic liminality glimmers in full bloom. Standards is tremendous.
Henry Kaiser and Anthony Pirog FIGURE/GROUND (Ramble)
Beautiful spaces open up in the confines of Kaiser and Pirog’s enchanting duets. This is the music of beguiling fantasy, where vivid colors mix with cosmic influences to bridge the gap between what is present and what is imagined. “Figure” is whimsical but skirts along a darkening edge. Glistening arrangements fold into the exotic leads, sidestepping the resonant flow with agile runs and delicate glances. Shards of white light swim through the channels when “Ground” emerges from the firmament. Solos shred unambiguously across beds of lilting ambiance, alive and urgent as they run from the burning sun.
Nowherians That Is Not An Acceptable Lullaby (sound in silence)
On his debut as Nowherians, Crawford Blair crafts a collection of emotive spells. That Is Not An Acceptable Lullaby is lush. Across 11 tracks, airy arrangements float across a bed of stirring drones searching for expanding liminal spaces to explore. Blair’s music is wistful, as though culled from a series of broken memories teetering on the edge of disappearing. Strings and synths melt into seamless soundscapes to stretch the life of those remembrances out a little bit further. Light catches a stray note, blossoming into a new bespoke tendril where glassine tones shine, and the world stands still for just a bit longer. Beautiful.
Boyle Psych-Jazz Collage 1 (Personal Archives)
The endless triumph bounds without guile or aspirations into the rubberized void. Boyle’s sprawling Psych-Jazz Collage 1 is a hefty dose of horn-blown psychedelia spinning across cacophonous webs. Brass explosions avoid the rhythmic stabs of clanging rhythms and pounding drum loops. Funeral marches appear from the ether like conga lines full of lost ghosts serenading a dying world from beyond, bounding on conquering basslines. Every so often, the noise wall tries to rise from the ashes, but Boyle keeps it in check with hypnotic reed fantasies and an endless twirling fugue. Cuts and dashes, all in a day’s work. I love this.
Binary Phaze Velvet & Glass (rohs!)
Etched in the sinew, figures spell out hidden songs. Binary Phaze transmits this music through synthetic doorways locked with glass keys. Obscured by the cosmos and waiting for projected silhouettes to dissipate, each note is a crystal dagger infused with an ageless spirit. It’s as though these sounds have existed out in the ether through eternity, waiting for someone to pull them from the air. The minimal arrangements heighten each piece’s impact, the expansive timbres encapsulating every rich texture. The drama unfolds slowly, but the force of Velvet & Glass never wanes.
Hal Lambert Untitled (Dadaist Tapes)
Both pieces on this tape are excellent, but I am especially captivated by the contemplative guitar odyssey of “Dug Into a Bardo.” Searching the horizon during the last moments of twilight, Lambert creates a halo with lilting, undaunted shapes. Ringing notes fade into a disembodied haze where distorted drones emerge from the shadows, spawning mountains in their wake. It’s the rise and the downfall encased in steel-string reverie. Drummer Mitchell Mobley adds feverish energy to the cataclysmic howl of “Outcast Animals Find a New Home.” It’s an expository burst that leaves our edges frayed and the landscape covered in soot.