Another week of abbreviated reviews, but all gems, all the time. A lot of self-released treats this week, which is always a beautiful thing.
Forest Management Closing Credits (Self-Released)
The hazy spaces between consciousness and sleep hum with sonorous effulgence. Loops become tangled webs spilling over with sonic debris, a constant resonant drip where our thoughts drift into surreality. Forest Management is one of the best at stretching the crest of elegant, sonic waves into infinite clouds like silver-dusted vapor encapsulating all our most vulnerable thoughts. His music is beautiful, but not in expected ways. Disguising harsh edges with a vaporous aural cloak scatters the darkness, leaving only a visceral beacon behind. Stellar, as always.
[PHYSICS] Slipstream (Self-Released)
[PHYSICS] is a longtime favorite of mine (as evidenced by an LP Digitalis released in 2013) and Slipstream turning up unexpectedly is damn exciting. Mining through the granular neon, incandescent figures move along angular pathways surrounded by glowing mist. Circuitry sings, beaming off into lush vistas where the line between cybernetic fantasy and reality is blurred to obfuscation. Emotive synth leads slither between grounded basslines and arpeggiated magic. Slipstream holds a dreamworld in its palm like an offering toward new, unimaginable beginnings. The sound design is pristine, and each refined detail shimmers, welcoming us home. Massive recommendation.
Heart of the Ghost Summons (No Quarter)
Heart of the Ghost is one of the best trios on the planet, and on Summons, it’s lights out. Saxophonist Jarrett Gilgore is a man possessed, blitzing through lightspeed runs that dig out caverns in one minute before cutting a scar in the sky. Luke Stewart’s basslines are a viscous sea in constant motion. They bound forward, up, and down with purpose and force. Even in the breakdowns, that bass is pure power. With Gilgore shredding, often looking inward and reflecting, drummer Ian McColm expertly connects all the moving pieces. Summons is alive with grooves galore and heavy, raucous cuts that move straight past the bone and into the flesh below. This is a real gut punch.
Adrenochrome In Memoriam (Chaotic No Good/Symphony of Destruction)
Ten serrated tracks of angular punk-smeared darkness building speed headed straight for a concrete wall. Amidst the chaos and cacophony, blurred hooks drip out of the jagged cracks in the pavement and glide like melodic chaos across walls of snarling guitars and progressive rhythms. The vocals hit hardest, though, intertwined with the winding song arrangements while still hovering like a stoic beacon guiding the whole process. There’s so much infectious energy throughout In Memoriam that I can’t stop hitting repeat.
Susan Geaney Tape Melt (Fort Evil Fruit)
Haunting discordance becomes an all-consuming, blackened daydream. Susan Deasy’s composition is transportive, full of fading magic. Inspired by the sound VHS tapes make over time as they warp, “Tape Melt” is a memory stuck in time. Woodwinds groan as though they’re under immense pressure, and only tiny, expressive breaths escape sending shivers through the universe. Subtle movements create ripples, undulating outward, giving dimension and texture to the winding drones. Stretched-out string tones fill the hollow spaces turning the open ends into sirens, calling out to the last remnants of the magnetic divide. “Tape Melt” is dense and restless.
John Atkinson Long Harbor (Self-Released)
Excellent piece sculpted from recordings Atkinson made along the waterfront of New York Harbor between August and October 2021 with a host of sonic inquiries as a connective thread. The narrative rises through expansive silhouettes before diving back into the aqueous depths to explore the dialectic between the harbor and people over time. Placid serenity is interrupted by mechanical scrapes and the sound of industry taking over in the distance. Clattering chains and steam whistles push out one kind of life, replacing it with another. Beneath smoke-laden skies, a sort of unnerving sonic euphoria builds, marking the point of no return.
Eva Kierten The Metallic Ratio (Other Forms of Consecrated Life)
On the latest from the enigmatic and often spectacular Kierten (via one of my absolute favorite labels), The Metallic Ratio glows with a restrained terror. Sharp sonic remnants are reanimated into simmering lilting piano arrangements haunted by pensive strings. The anxiety in the air is thick and almost tactile. Lucidity is fleeting, but in the spectral visions spreading across each rising chord progression and tonal stab, we find a glimpse of what’s been lost. Kierten offers a hymn for all that’s been lost. Enclosed with the last breaths of solitude, sonic shards spill the last ounce of blood from a life long-buried, an offering to see us through the great divide. Stunning.
Chris Alford and William Thompson Overtone Undertow (Ramble Records)
When I first listened to this, I was immediately struck by the shifting, grating textures and how Alfred and Thompson wield them to create miniature, never-before-seen worlds. Surprising melodic visages spark new pathways where landscapes become metallic trash piles and skyscrapers built from dust. Thompson wields searching piano improvisations into gleaming pyramids, refining each layer until it reaches a sharp point. In the same breath, Alford’s guitar work is unique, veering between harmonic pointillism and desolate clawscrapes. The duo is constantly moving, whether in unison or on disparate paths that eventually find their way back together, but there is a lot here to digest. Repeat listens welcome.