This week began with the news of Norm Chambers’ passing, and I’ve been reeling since. Norm was a titan in every way. His music was unparalleled, only obscured by his gentle kindness and supportive spirit. I said on Twitter, and believe it fully, Norm was the best of us. And his talent was enormous in ways I don’t think many fully grasp. His expansive discography is filled with diamonds, music with emotional heft and resonant depth. I was moved by how many people have mentioned that Norm’s music soundtracked pivotal, life-changing moments. I had said many times that Science of the Sea was on a loop for the last five or six hours my wife was in labor before our daughter was born. Others have shared similar stories. It speaks to his music’s power and the quiet force of nature he was. I will miss him dearly.
I made a Patreon episode of The Electric Rubicon with him last year on Science of the Sea public. I encourage you to listen to it. I’ll have a mix on Foxy Digitalis next week, celebrating his work, and please read Dave Segal’s beautiful obituary. Sail on, Norm.
p.s. As it’s Bandcamp Friday, Carl Antonowicz and I have a new album out, the debut of our project Building Buildings called Pink Helicopters. It’s weird as all hell.
Domenica Diavoleria Forever Your Salesgirl (Obscure & Terrible)
Whenever I finish listening to this hazy phantom of an album, I come to a strange place at the end of a waking dream. Diavoleria’s music is a mystery. In some ways, it barely exists; a haunted memory of imagined places colored with dark ethereality and intangible beauty. Yet I am drawn to it like a dying moth finding the world’s last light in the form of this powerful, glowing aural mist. Forever Your Salesgirl (one of my favorite album titles of 2022, FYI) is inquisitive through minor chord drones and electronic levity, pulling back the veil on the definition of airiness. These songs are fleeting, but together they land like an anvil on cracked glass. Diavoleria shatters us into pieces before blowing the dust into the magic hour. Incredible.
KMRU epoch (Seil)
The same experience repeated but through a prism gives off subtle differences that ripple out and form wandering chasms. Synths bubble through invisible cracks to cascade neon glimmers across barren concrete. Life blooms in the present. History echoes in the spaces between each harmonic layer. Digital facades hide the creeping decay beneath the surface, and each dripping note slides downward, searching for a moment of quiet. KMRU has this incredible ability to stretch the emotional impact of a single note into a lifetime. Listening to epoch is like being in a resonating bubble, watching our lives unfold from multiple angles, getting lost in the arpeggiated fog, and finding meaning in each tiny detail.
ekin fil dora agora (Helen Scarsdale)
For years, ekin fil has constructed a potent oeuvre that hangs from tenuous threads. Her music is entrenched in the shadow places where secrets bloom. Elegiac drones fuse with vocal enchantments and fractured folk arrangements to create worlds within the cracks of this one. Melodies hover and float away, adding to the feeling that fil’s music could disintegrate with the slightest breath. Yet, that gossamer sheen is her music’s greatest strength. We are bound to the ethereal harmonies throughout, ready to drift towards the darkening corners.
Xena Glas Movement EP (Self-Released)
Movement is as much a chronicle of Xena Glas’s journey from Texas to Brooklyn as it is a sonic meditation on finding our place within different spaces. Her voice is the beacon tying together all the disparate pathways, heightened by expressive synth arrangements, fractured rhythms, and processed field recordings that add a granular ambiance throughout. Glas shapes her vocal lines into spiraling sonic architecture that commands our focus. The sculptural effect against shapeless, emotive electronics is transfixing, as though each peculiar melody is a timeless secret being whispered through astral channels.
Nick Storring Music from Wéi 成为 (Orange Milk)
Music from Wéi 成为 sings with whimsical movement and emotive resonance. Written as a score for Yvonne Ng’s quintet dance Wéi 成为, Storring crafts songs that walk across the spatial plane with elegant force. Using a single instrument (piano – all kinds, played in so many different ways) as the seed, the shifting sonic palette veers toward pointillist melodies that expand into roiling metallic waves. As these songs move, the palette expands outward, causing our focus to sharpen. Storring’s one-person-orchestra approach has always felt intimate and distinctive, but as Music from Wéi 成为 pushes that idea further, something new emerges. This is a stunning record.
“A” Trio Folk (Al Maslakh)
As Lebanon’s oldest free improvisation group, “A” Trio is on a telekinetic trip throughout the stellar Folk. Rhythms pop along the surface, rising and falling with the energy flowing between the three musicians. Because they’ve played together for so long, the freedom in these sounds is heightened by how it’s deeply interconnected. Each arm of the beast moves in conjunction with the others. Frenetic soundscapes bleed into stoic drones. The cataclysms buried beneath our feet are unearthed with a sputtering howl. Acoustic guitar strings are fried and bent to the point of breaking, but everything remains tightly wound and flowing with synchronicity. Stellar.
Cache Mirrors History of a Closed Circuit (Repeating Cloud)
Slow days roll off the calendar like a quixotic breeze caressing the last leaves hanging on for dear life. Cache Mirrors’ beautiful new album, Closed Circuit, sits in pensive moments just long enough. Strings tie interjacent drones into gently expanding landforms, hushed and miraculous with each new dawn. Through reflective piano arrangements and spiraling guitarscapes, Closed Circuit finds a balance between emotional depth and spirited elegance. Invisible harmonies play out in the skies above as though they’re holographic birds flickering against the night. Cache Mirrors beckons us into this wonderful, sweeping narrative.
Euphotic Conjugate Regions (IKUISUUS)
Strange landscapes emerge from a neon mist. In the distance, sacred songs stretch above the globular architecture, spinning geometric clouds into aerial sound waves. The trio of Cheryl E. Leonard, Bryan Day, and Tom Djil use countless unimaginable techniques to repurpose the familiar into something alien. Certain textures and tonal essences on Conjugate Regions register in our brains before being twisted and turned on their heads. Something new appears on the other side of this sonic matrix. Drones dive through liquid mercury into symmetric circuit boards. Clunking arrhythmia pretends to offer guideposts, but it’s another mirage swallowed by whirring aural spindles and glassine speculation. This sound world is incredible, and even after multiple listens, I’ve only scratched the surface. Massive recommendation.
Stroke of Midnight s/t (Hot Releases)
This short, memorable debut from Philadelphia’s Stroke of Midnight (aka Chrissy Jones) is an ephemeral cache. Over four songs, she immediately throws us into a liminal mirror world where surrealist dreams become living memories. Relaxed disco anthems swim through cotton candy seas accentuated by spangled synth leads, harp glissandos, and distant arpeggios. Jones’s voice is the fuel for this lucid fire, though. It’s a spectral centerpiece, the axis point on which every liquid sonic spirit hangs. Stroke of Midnight is a dark and hypnotic gem.