Microforms #1: December 7, 2022

Welcome to the first edition of Microforms, a shameless copy of The Capsule Garden but from someone raking through a different set of digital record bins. So, here are seven short takes of things of note that have been on repeat. As always, trying to do my Bechdel / Kinsey best.

Carnivorous Plants Ruled by the Dead (Invisible City Records)

Carbonized toast black noise with gorgeous drones somewhere in the mix, with an occasional voice bursting through and nail-sharp electronic shrieks. Though rather than giving off me-and-my black-t-shirt vibes, Ruled By The Dead’s two sides are a much gentler and glorious proposition. Obviously, already deep in the red, the louder this cassette goes, the deeper the listener can fall into it. There’s nothing purposefully startling in this latest from Owen Chambers that might break the reverie, but it leaves the ears blown out if played correctly. Advice: Loop this ground-zero meditation.

Conrad Praetzel Adventures into Nothingness (Paleo Music)

Much like the cover of the album, the sound here is an impressionistic smear of colors and tones. These nine tracks feel strongly rooted in real sounds, possibly guitar and feedback sourced, but heavy processing and flux have left rich but transitory passages of scattered moods across Adventures into Nothingness. Sure, there are rhythms and recurring melody parts, but the key feeling here is one of shifting abstract ambiance. The sounds used here might be at the softer end of the spectrum, but there’s nothing coffee table or ‘contemporary ambient’ about what Praetzel has done with these environments.

Me Lost Me Seedling / Daydreaming (Butterfly Effect)

A standalone two-track seven inch from Me Lost Me on Darlington’s Butterfly Effect Singles Club, it’s “Seedlings,” which unofficially claims the lathe’s A Side spot. Opening with percussive creaks of creaking dawn shadows and bright morning notes, Me Lost Me is in more pensive and electronic territory here than her recent The Circle Dance release. The song moves on a stumbling lope as its elements unstiffen and spread, rising and falling like breath. Glitches and echoes fill the space between a pulsing bass line and a bone-click rhythm, giving way to a repeated climax of Jayne Dent’s earworm melody line. A song about future-proofing for hope that still sits sad amongst a City’s shadowy spires. 

Topographies Tied / Arch (Self-Released)

A pair of fairly equally weighted pieces of post punk/coldwave throb, “Tied” and “Arch,” do the Technique / Pornography machine and guitar thing with confidence, dry ice, and neon on skin. “Tied” is more of a forward-moving sound that’s more mid-morning timescape than the aforementioned genre’s usual dawns or dusks. A stark piece of New Order/Cure romanti/melodi-cism, this single has more of a live feel than 2020’s Ideal Form; less austere and more physical. More stripped than its counterpart, “Arch” is just as propulsive but perhaps a little more obviously rooted in classic synth pop.

Haar “Up To A Love” (Self-Released)

This standalone single starts and ends with the kind of welcoming background hiss that makes me want to cup my hands over my earbuds to close the non-Haar world out. With gentle electronic sighs and guitar lines that swoop and circle like murmurations, “Up To A Love” sways in the same footprints in the sand as this year’s debut album did. Resolutely DIY, the song reflects on snatched moments of big thoughts, equal parts wonder and gratitude, something solid and still ungraspable.  

Wino Lodge Ouster Crawling (Chocolate Monk)

A new Karen Constance / Dylan Nyoukis project named after their studio/home, and this is their debut splat. A single 32-minute aural centipede, segmented with all the usual Chocolate Monk elements, this is a churn you can’t relax into. The bastards even drop some wtf smash-and-clanks into the right speaker prompting a pause and real-world investigation into the source of the sounds. Always queasily human with twittering layers of greasy sounds, there are few artists still as consistently prolific and rewarding as this pair. More than a good handful of this single ejection’s chunks are startlingly good, even conventionally melodic, and flit past far too quickly. They are still the same old duo, and they still sound like a food poisoning nightmare that you want to go back to.

Chat Pile Tenkiller / Lake Time (Flenser)

Currently being lauded by everyone and their nan, this cassingle by brutal guitarrorists Chat pile is the kind of thing that lifts bands to the top of their prospective underground. A Slint/Melvins mongrel, “Tenkiller,” is a song that stumbles around, losing blood like it just got planted across the side of the head by a coal shovel. It’s a massive, pounding clot of a song, an angry bleached piece of cinema that peaks around 2:50. Further evidence that guitars can still deliver where even HNW fears to tread. Someone botch-cloned an angry hungover Albini and gave him the swagger of The Bad Seeds. I can’t stop rewinding it, so I’ve no idea what the hell “Lake Time” is. All I know is – Oklahoma must be a complete fucking shithole [you have no idea – Ed.].

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