The Capsule Garden returns this week after a brief hiatus to deal with personal/family issues. I’m consistently overwhelmed by the volume of music that comes across my desk and through my inbox each week. The deluge grows monthly, but I continue to check out as much of it as possible. But I’m one person, so there’s only so much I can listen to. That said, I also spend considerable time digging through websites, Bandcamp, etc., to find music that isn’t just sent to me. Not everyone has the time or resources to send out loads of promo emails, hire publicists, etc.; the last thing I want to do is become dependent on that as the only source for what Foxy Digitalis covers. This is all to say that if you’ve reached out and sent something over but haven’t heard back – it’s certainly not personal or an indication I don’t like your music. There’s just so, so much. It leaves way too many people behind. Anyway, enough of that, and onto the tunes…
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UNN I Deserved (Modular Mind)
Came to this a bit late, but I Deserved is a stunning, vulnerable debut. UNN is the work of Charlène Dannancier, and she pulls rusted strings through a maze of visceral electronics as an act of isolated defiance and penitence. Mutated voices spill like sirens’ blood into a wall of industrial rhythmic crush. Dannancier’s arrangements hit like a buzzsaw, but even within the caustic confines of stifling blasts is a gentle aural stream. Detailed sonic passages are like etched glass, precise and sharp. There are no dulled edges on I Deserved. Tempestuous drones oscillate in every direction, held up by fractured, blackened beats and deadweight basslines. With each successive track, Dannancier digs deeper, searching for her own hidden core and the place where we feel most alive. This is a dark, acerbic gem. Unreal.
Songs For a Tired City in plain sight (Subcontinental)
India’s Songs For a Tired City elicit memories with a hypnotizing combination of expressive synth passages, field recordings, and instrumental arrangements. Haze drifts over stolen conversations in unlit alleyways. Electronic melodies loop toward infinity on a wave of modal arpeggios and flute explorations. Digging deeper, they unearth buried pulses as though the desert’s heartbeat is a living, breathing instrument. Drones lift the excavations into new spaces above the clouds with an enchanting push. This music spans ages. The narrative woven into in plain sight hints at a part of us all that’s interconnected and without pretense. Fantastic.
Private Lives s/t (Feel It Records)
Once the fuse is lit, the adrenaline explodes into a million focused bits of sonic shrapnel on Private Lives’ incredible debut. Vocals are belted out into the gasping void, saturated with a faint fuzz to heighten their visceral impact across jagged, sharp-angled guitar riffs and buoyant basslines. Basement anthems rise through the floorboards, pressed forward on spitfire rhythms. Jackie’s voice cuts through every slammed door, though, shoving these unforgettable hooks into the deepest recesses of our brains. Thirteen minutes, five tracks, every second memorable.
claire rousay & e fishpool Distance therapy (Longform Editions)
There’s such a fine line between solace and despair. rousay’s music explores that edge with a certain elegance, and joined here by e fishpool, the microscope turns into a mirror. Dramatic turns flit between everyday sounds and hovering drones as Distance therapy simmers beneath an unseen weight. Aqueous shade gleans every ounce of meaning from the last breaths of dusk before a midnight rhythm bounces in with an assertive push. The broken landscape fades away, revealing the decaying remnants of a club built on the wilderness’s isolation. Solemn piano notes percolate through the wind, scattering like ashes to seed the world anew.
Manja Ristić The Desire of My Heart (Self-Released)
It’s hard to express the connection I feel with Manja Ristić’s work, but it always digs straight into my core. The Desire of My Heart is no different. This work of musique concrète shapes banal, every day occurrences into emotive landscapes. Water leaks through cracks in the pavement, revealing a liminal river beneath the surface, beckoning us closer with intimate drones and rusting textures. Electric fields fuse with organic matter to form a sonic mirror twisting our reflections into tension-filled remnants. In the hollows, insects scour the waves and metal bones for a winsome recollection to carry toward the receding tides. Ristić has created a remarkable sonic world.
Wolf Eyes Dumpsters & Attitude (Self-Released)
The horror of waking up connected to a thousand sputtering machines is heightened by the feeling of being utterly forgotten. Electronics spit grease on a dying fire. Blackened edges creep in, pounding at the door like a firebrand howitzer hopped up on tabernacle PCP promising the end of days. Screeching horns bleed out. Rotting garbage soaks in the squelching noise hymnals that we fed to the decaying maw. Dumpsters & Attitude grinds with the hellhounds and pierces the glass bubble surrounding our spectacular dreams. Wolf Eyes forever.
Bárbara González Acción Rizoma (Tsonami)
So many moments on Acción Rizoma are held close to the chest, like the last remaining fragments of a cherished place. Broken music boxes flicker to life while falling to pieces. What are those echoing screeches? In one moment, it’s an exotic bird. In the next, a human howls. Pianos tear apart at the seams in rebellion, scratching and splitting like they’re being suffocated in their own skin. González creates pieces swimming in intimate textures. Melodies are wistful yet detached, a distant reminder of all that’s lost and still possible. Acción Rizoma is fantastic.
Earth Room s/t (Related States)
Seeing the line-up alone for Earth Room got me excited to explore this improvised world. Robbie Lee, Ezra Feinberg, and John Thayer concoct a sprawling world of cosmic expression filled with organic vignettes, liminal ruins, and intriguing aural silhouettes. Expressive woodwinds and flickering synth arrangements run headfirst into free jazz rhythms and resonating strings. Earth Room especially shines when Lee, Feinberg, and Thayer settle into a serene groove. The music becomes a natural extension of whatever plane we’re occupying at that moment, an accompaniment to the subtle shifts and histories of our fleeting reality. Earth Room is otherworldly and interconnected, an aural feast of ethereal essence.
Lalén Ríos Luna A Brain Wholly Outside (Porous Collective)
An alternate reality unfolds on Lalén Rios Luna’s latest, A Brain Wholly Outside. I’m intrigued by the disparate sound sources and interesting combinations, feeling like a familiar presence haunts an unfamiliar place. Sputtering electronics drip from hidden caverns housing secret villages, spaces where the cold resonance burns across the sky. Drones are broken up by scattered, oscillating ashes whirring into cryptic figures, writing unspeakable messages in the dirt. The quiet looms in the distance if we can just decode the meaning in the hollows.
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