I don’t know if anyone has really noticed, but Foxy Digitalis has purposefully been moving at a slower pace in August. Not because it felt unsustainable where things were, but mainly so I could focus more time and energy on finishing some music projects (side note: it’d be a great time to subscribe to The Jewel Garden as fall is going to see a mountain of new music – from myself and others – come to light. Plus, it helps support Foxy Digitalis continued operation!). I can’t decide if I think it’s good that multiple people have said they didn’t realize I’d slowed down or not. Ha! That said, I’ve definitely missed the more intense approach, so post-Labor Day, I expect to be back at it.
With that, here’s a pile of music to consider.
Alice Kemp To All My Hideous Children (Coherent States)
Strange, ominous times are brewing in the distance in the alternative reality of Alice Kemp’s fantastic To All My Hideous Children. Horror evokes silence and the beguiling allure of the darkness. Kemp’s pristine sound design moves unexpectedly, crackling at the edge of a sonic abyss. Heavy drones meet tonal scalpels, coming apart at the seams to soak into concrete visages. Each shard is a sculpted expression. Voices levitate like dystopic sirens blurred into grotesque expanses where decay is a way of life. Excellent.
Judy and the Jerks Music to Go Nuts (Thrilling Living)
First off, Judy and the Jerks is such a good band name, but even more, the music delivers and then some. Angular melodies zip through the cereal aisle at the local circa 1989 with thousand-yard stares, ripping guitars, and dead west coast dreams. Cotton candy hardcore sugar highs spin into fist-pounding gutter pits filled with neon wrappers and charred punk-adjacent bucolia. Wide-eyed and full of promise, these ten songs are a bouncing brick straight to the face.
Nomad Trio featuring Matt Mitchell & Jim Black Boiling Point (Astral Spirits)
As soon as the opening title track begins, it’s as though there is so much music living within Matt Mitchell, Jim Black, and Gordon Grdina that they’re falling all over each other trying to get it out. It’s fantastic. The flow of Boiling Point harnesses this energy, building to a narrative crescendo. Grdina’s angular shred is offset by Black’s stoic rhythms and Mitchell’s full-fueled piano explorations, and together it becomes a glorious cacophonous reverie. In the introspective moments, frozen breaths hang like silhouetted tones in the air, adrift and unconcerned. There’s so much talent and expression woven into Boiling Point that once it ends, I’ve gotta hit play all over again.
Martyna Basta In Tension There is a Bliss (Superpang)
Imagining the experience of this piece as it was initially presented – in a black space with soundproofed walls and a quadriphonic soundsystem, is overwhelming. The experience itself must have been otherworldly. Basta always puts our senses on alert with her intoxicating mix of liminal sound design and organic atmospheres. A coldness runs through “In Tension There is a Bliss,” but it’s undercut by unexpected sources: children’s voices, rustling leaves, rippling glass tones. With the electronic interference and hollow resonance, the tension holds us tight, fixated on any speck of light in the distance. What a haunting, incredible piece of music.
Marcia Bassett Undulating Akrasboning (Artsy)
Loose threads flutter in midnight winds, cascading into the night on phantom electronic waves. There’s a faint pulse strewn through each faded corridor, propped up by slithering bleeps and articulating sine waves. Patterns are constantly knocked off course to avoid repetition. Each passage hovers within its own echoes. Light tries to bloom within the metallic reverb tails and hidden voices, but the glassine sonic tones are too breakable to hold it. Fantastic.
slightdeform INSIDE (Self-Released)
I’m a big fan of Ferran Fages and love hearing him in unexpected forms. In a duo with pianist Clara Lai, cryptic remnants from a forgotten world come to life as aural spirits. Liminal melodies and suspended chords mesh seamlessly and blur the distances between disparate tonal stretches. Darkness grows in the tonal margins, Fages’ guitar casting shadows through the piano’s resonance. Even hints of horror soundtracks and ethereal ambiance are woven into the channels, giving INSIDE an enticing narrative scope.
Masakatsu Takagi Marginalia #114 (Self-Released)
Takagi’s ongoing Marginalia series (daily piano recordings made at his studio in the mountains) is always a breath of fresh air. His delicate, introspective touch is like glistening dew in a sea of roaring fires, providing the slightest respite if we focus on each hovering note. “Marginalia #114” is one of my favorites in the series, moving slowly with purpose toward a peaceful sunbeam. Insects holler as a magnetic choir, brimming with life and energy that flows through each lilting chord progression. Takagi’s unearthed a little bit of magic here.
Alex Smalley & Lucia Adam Patterns (Hush Hush)
Lush soundscapes and quiet memories take on tactile forms in the wistful expanses of Patterns. As organic sound sources melt into vast electronic spaces, the final sunset of a looping dream slowly unfolds. Smalley and Adam pack so much emotion in each passage. The weight carries through, dragging us toward a shifting point in the distance where we can finally rest. Strings purr across pensive piano arrangements, fusing a solemn melodic streak into the core of this music. A gossamer sheen holds it together, ready to break at any moment. Patterns is absolutely gorgeous. (Amazing cover art, too!)