The Capsule Garden Vol 2.4: February 9, 2023

Most of y’all probably didn’t see the announcement on Twitter earlier in the week, but starting Monday, I am launching the Foxy Digitalis Podcast. To start, it’ll be a daily episode, about 5-10 minutes long, featuring bits of news and an album of the day + review of said album. I’ve been doing it for the last two weeks on Patreon, and it’s been a blast, so I’m excited to bring it out into the world. A little freaked out, too, but that’s part of the appeal. Anyway, that’ll be here on the site and wherever you might listen to podcasts. I hope you’ll check it out. And don’t worry, there will still be all the same writing, interviews, mixes, etc. That won’t change. 

Quickly, one more mention of Country Wifi‘s (Nathan Alexander Pape and I) debut, Smoked Bologna Blues, was released last Friday on The Jewel Garden (digital formats + a bootleg CDR-style). Check it out.

In the meantime, here’s a pile of music worth your time.

BLAKMOTH Tourniquet (Self-Released)

I’ve listened to (and written about) a fair amount of BLAKMOTH’s releases over the last couple of years, and there are always emotive atmospheres and introspective drones to absorb. I love his work. Tourniquet, though, is my favorite yet. Throughout these seven brave explorations, he reflects on and processes mental health struggles through an evocative sonic lens. Synth arrangements rise and fall, trying to escape a suffocating blanket where distortion lurks in the shadowlands. Stretched-out chord progressions dig through minor keys and a foreboding sense of doom. This music is so rich and full of emotional depth and conflicting feelings that it stops me in my tracks. It’s difficult to even write about because I just want to let these massive soundscapes wash over me. Huge recommendation (and special mention for the powerful cover art).

@xcrswx & Lolina split (Feedback Moves)

Bare bones white-knucklers pound out rhythmic code, sliced and repositioned for unknown purposes on “FIXES.” @xcrswx is the duo of Crystabel Riley on percussion and Seymor Wright on saxophone, and this cut-up mantra dreams in concreté grooves. Ambient sound drifts in the background, fireworks blasting like hovering spacecraft, circling bleeding horn samples, and repeating fanfare. It’s unsettling in the undercurrents, but each sonic, percussive blast hits with a stone-cut purpose. Lolina’s “FM” pushes through the margins deep into the hollow underworld. Looping beats push against the claustrophobia, but creeping drones and untethered synth progressions close off the last remnants of light. There’s a sinking feeling that no matter how far from the bottom we seem, there’s still somewhere lower to go. Stellar.

Akira Sakata / Ken Ikeda GAUCHE (Ftarri)

Gossamer spirits dance in angular patterns on this intricate, wonderful performance from saxophone legend Akira Sakata and synthesist Ken Ikeda. There’s an intimacy throughout these two 30-minute pieces that is captivating. Over decades, Sakata has shown he can play with unbridled ferocity, but in these quiet moments with Ikeda, there are heady contemplations and inward-facing expressions. He guides each note toward the next map point toward an unknown destination, moving in conjunction with Ikeda’s ghostly arrangements. Gentle drones spill out high-frequency reflections, inviting Sakata to push higher into the cold, lighting every passage as he goes. This is gentle, powerful music, a moving collaboration that builds a stirring connection between two disparate sound practices. Crucial listening.

Ryley Walker & Jeff Tobias It’ll Sound Different Once We Get Some Bodies In The Room (husky pants)

If the room is empty and we’re all empty, maybe there’s nothing to fear. Or perhaps we’re distracted by the frenetic, rattling clang and pistol-whipping splonk from Ryley Walker and Jeff Tobias. As far as dream duos go, this one tracks. Walker spritzes ice-cold tempests with silver-toned guitar bellows, inviting Tobias to wax lyrical on saxophone before grinding these sweet sonnets into bone dust. Brass shakes say goodbye to the drones chasing up from behind, looking for refuge in pensive chord changes scattered along the burnt-out highways. Shadows leave the scene when nobody is looking, following lightning-quick runs into the desert to scavenge for late-night snacks beneath a frigid moon. This holler packs a velvet wallop.

Barbora Polyxena Nowak Arborio (Jipangu)

Various piano preparations are a broken reflection of classic arrangements and motifs. Barbora Polyxena Nowak combines disparate approaches into a seamless whole, creating a muted yet transfixing aural environment. Across four pieces, Nowak shows incredible skill in building tactile atmospheres full of dark, imposing expressions and then layering them with melodic, sometimes haunting improvisations. A scattered rattle bleeds into quiet, dampened notes, spread out like a pointillist map of the stars. Spacious resonance mixes with exciting textures to encapsulate Arborio in a fading sheen. I feel lost within Arborio, but I’m not sure I want to be found. 

Leo Chang & Lucie Vítková Religion (Tripticks Tapes)

Shifting paradoxes come together in expansive sonic abstractions on Religion, where searching for a new way forward leads us to ask more profound questions about ourselves. Vítková and Chang cast a wide net, using an array of instruments and devices, to create a textured soundworld that considers the timbre and spaciousness of each note with intention and grace. Accordion drones distill organic textures in slow aural movements, countering the puncture-like quality of piri wails. Voices echo with aqueous silhouettes, held aloft on harmonic waves simmering with golden timbres. A skittering shadow emerges from low-breath growls as though forgotten memories have come back to life. Surrounding quiet, oscillating drones with the ghostly resonance of Chang’s voice amplified via gong (aka VOCALNORI) becomes an etching of past lives and future revelations. The atmosphere is dark but inviting and looks inward. The dichotomies throughout Religion buoy the feeling that these infinite forking paths are an illusion, and if we just focus on the core of these coalescing sounds, we can find some kind of center. Incredible, engaging stuff. 

Asher Tuil Automatism (Room 40)

Rich textures build wells of emotion throughout the stunning landscapes of Asher Tuil’s Automatism. These pieces rise and fall like forgotten empires, held to ash and dust but still somehow finding ways to poke through into the world. Drones are eviscerated in swathes of fuzzed-out radio transmissions and tactile glimmer. Melodic passages are stretched, served up as wistful visions that we barely remember but leave a sub-conscious impression on our psyches. Tuil is so skillful in balancing the tonal palette with an array of field recordings, blending them seamlessly to the point that the line between them disappears. Listen closely as ghost orchestras are washed away in the flood, left to fend for themselves against the mountain of static-infused tears. Excellent.

OPLA GTI (Pointless Geometry)

There are moments on GTI where it seems like two different songs are playing simultaneously, and it’s a goddamn delight. Sputtering electronics unearth woozy melodies from beneath mountains of fried circuitry and old, decaying machines. There are little bits of leftover guitar scraps that skitter through blocky rhythms, adding organic textures to a world that feels like the opposite. OPLA knows how to break up the bleak landscape with disjointed arrangements clattering into each other at sharp angles, leaving a trail of morse code aural breadcrumbs that become a narrative for a lost civilization. It’s a wild trip, well worth digging through the muck to discover.

Brutou Dou Deep Tunnel (Artsy)

Environments painted in muted neon, and fading pastels drip across the synthetic tone murals. Moments become lifetimes in these deep space soundscapes, obscured by bleeping machines and cavernous architecture. Deep Tunnel jumps between worlds, eschewing polished movements but instead using each leap as an inflection point to search for new dreams. Electricity runs through this music, feeding its limits and expanding the astral plane between diffused harmonic elements. Across four pieces, with inspiration points from imagined caves and Alice Coltrane, Brutou Dou distills electronic crystals into lively aural glitches. 

San Kazakgascar Long Tones of August (Trouble In Mind)

The sun never sets on the dog daze of summer and the warm glow of San Kazakgascar’s expressive drones. With ensembles of nine to 10 players, these two expansive, improvised pieces flutter through deep pink skies, mining the clouds for psychedelic hymnals invented on the spot. Guitars crash through glass fog and flute ecstasy, held up by shimmering resonance from a collection of strings, woodwinds, and shruti box. The heat is tangible. Midnight spirituals fade into view from the farthest reaches of liminal space, stuck between astral planes and growing in dynamic force because of it. Synths arrive from a deep sleep, stuck in the organic sonic goo flowing in every direction. Long Tones of August is an incredible trip, living, breathing worlds of sound amassing in the distance for one last push toward dawn. 

Kaiho Zion Transic Trips (Wormhole World)

I’ll admit, the cover for Transic Trips threw me. I was expecting some kind of kawaii-obsessed glitchcore madness. Instead, we’re greeted with heady sitar drones and crystalline electronic processing flow through the Lisa Frank neon imagery, layering golden-hued resonance with shimmering echoes. Sunlight sticks a dagger through the layers, coalescing bright mornings into prismatic tonal shards. Sometimes, rhythms appear in the distance, just out of reach, but still working as a guide for these snaking, ecstatic corridors to follow. I’m not sure I’ve got my head around this one yet, but that keeps me coming back.

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