The Capsule Garden Vol 2.8: March 8, 2023

Took a quick road trip to Dallas last weekend that was simultaneously incredible and exhausting. I think I’m finally getting my bearings back, but some of this edition was written in a weird, weary haze. I also went a little wild on last week’s Bandcamp Friday, so I am swimming in an absolute bounty of fantastic new tunes (not much of which is reflected in this week’s column, actually, but it’s simply been a non-stop sonic feast over here at FDHQ this week!). That said, we now have some sweet t-shirts and hoodies for sale with all funds supporting the site’s continued operation (you can also sign up for the Patreon, which does the same, and patrons get extra episodes of the Daily and loads more!). Alright, let’s get into the good stuff.

Joseph Allred What Strange Flowers In The Shade (Feeding Tube)

A different silhouette of the great Joseph Allred emerges from behind the shroud on What Strange Flowers In The Shade. Joined by a shifting ensemble of astral luminaries, Allred spreads those wings further than ever. Glowing, organic drones shine like a thousand wooden diamonds on the opener, steel string resonance reflecting in every direction around an introspective guitar lead. Revenant choirs grow from the soil where Allred’s planted the seeds for a new limb in their sonic family tree. Familiar names like Patrick Shiroishi and Magic Tuber Stringband turn up to fill out the shimmering picture. Still, Allred’s guiding hand in these compositions continues to light up the world. A stunner.

Noel Brass Jr. “Pastel Syndicate” (Self-Released)

Descending arpeggios flicker like streetlights reflected in raindrops in the opening moments of Noel Brass Jr.’s “Pastel Syndicate.” Even if this track feels light as air, it coalesces around a profoundly emotional soul. Each note transmits energy from one plane to another, chord progressions promising new, welcoming vistas beyond our imagination. There’s a gentleness as the piece moves from a buoyant flow into a place where gravity drags us downward, but Brass Jr.’s arresting cadence remains the cradle where we can catch our breath. “Pastel Syndicate” is a beautiful piece of music.

Loula Yorke YSMYSMYSM (Truxalis)

A welcome reissue of Loula Yorke’s 2019 debut tiptoes across fried circuitry before exploding into hypnotic globular clouds. Processed field recordings collected from Butley Creek are turned into otherworldly investigations through static pulses, oscillating drones, and controlled electronic chaos. There’s a broad swathe of sonic debris left in the wake of these investigations and explorations, as though the world is being scoured for answers, and the only place left to look is within the sanctuary around us. Yourke dissects these sounds, obliterating recognizable traces and reforming them into ecstatic synthetic magic. Aqueous sources are blitzed and crushed to come out the other side as aural gravel. Mud sloshes itself into a fever, carried away on hypnotic sequences into another dimension. YSMYSMYSM tricks our ears in the best way, leaving us wondering why the world we once knew has disappeared. 

Sítě Radiant Perception Beyond Sorrow (Stoned to Death)

Two live collaborations and a side-long studio recording make up Radiant Perception Beyond Sorrow from Czech artist, Sítě aka Jan Tomáš. Expansive synth passages are imbued with hovering melodies and massive drone squalls. Leads glitter on the surface of these undulating sound walls as though dancing on water and sending secret messages to the sky. Joined by Jan Kašpar and Tomáš Vondra on the live recordings, the trio creates shifting landscapes saturated with an investigative spirit. They search for something in the gurgling tones and vocal incantations, but aural shrouds encase any answers in fog. Emerging dialects between the collaborators cascade into new sonic languages, all imbued with a cosmic glow. The four-piece movement on the flipside opens the horizon into distant galaxies, as though the universe is folding in on itself. 

Shy Bather Dream Timbre (Unknown Tapes)

Contrabass clarinet and modular synth duets from Madison Greenstone and Michelle Lou that creep noisily away from the void. There are repetitive patterns that shift with such subtlety that it takes minutes to realize how wide the sonic net has been cast. Feedback swells, overcoming the grating drones and oscillating waves trying to tether higher frequencies to the ground. The pace is slow, and each movement is purposeful. The b-side features Greenstone’s interpretation of Lou’s composition, “Telegrams.” Somehow the performance feels simultaneously spacious and claustrophobic; each drawn-out clarinet note is like a cryptic message from a lonely phantom before guttural rattles bring us back above the surface. It’s beautiful and haunting inside a cocooning resonance.

Emilian Gatsov Mall Womb (Mahorka)

Voices seep through minimalist, glassy passages to encase liminal spaces with a primeval spirit on Mall Womb from Bulgarian composer Emilian Gatsov. This is music for protection. Somehow these quiet chamber pieces feel as though they are impermeable, protected from the outside darkness even though little light is within their resonant walls. The sparse instrumentation carries a lot of weight, adding to the haunted nature of the album, but it’s really about the vocals. Ethereal choirs float above elegiac string arrangements, pushed further into space by fractured rhythms and angular corridors. Synthesizers expand the gravitational pull of these compositions, buoyed by funeral piano sequences and damaged memories, but the ghostly voices shelter us and keep us whole. Stunning.

Shoko Numao Live at Ftarri — Lena (Ftarri)

This is pure, billowing whimsy. Shoko Numao, a singer-songwriter from Japan, crafts delicate songs infused with a supernatural power. Each plucked chord and vocal melody carry enough light to illuminate the sun. This music exists in the folds of the wind and the spaces between heartbeats. Numao’s voice is like a shadow cast larger than life, recognizable yet stretching beyond its boundaries. It’s emotionally rich, and even though the palette is simple, these songs are dense with sentiment and warmth. Along with her solo performance, two pieces are done as a duo with pianist Fumi Endo, bringing a different timbre to the same timeless spirit. This is so, so good.

Ulaan Khol Milk Thistle (Desastre)

In the opening moments of Milk Thistle, Steven R. Smith – one of my favorite guitarists ever – stretches a handful of notes’ emotional apex into the blackened sky. Ancient grooves grow from the earth, built on top of skeletal rhythms and buried basslines. Even for Smith, this is heavy. Any attempt to pull away from the center gravity of Milk Thistle is sucked back into the rich, emotive arrangements. Distortion plies its trade like a roughed-up psychedelic sheen. This is music tethered in a deciphered past with its own invented tales and auras, medicine borne from the building blocks of a dying world. Smith has always created engaging aural narratives, whether the Ulaan monikers, his solo work, or Hala Strana. Milk Thistle injects this into our bloodstream with an engaging, propellent force.  

Golia / Shiroishi / Sikora / Skrowaczewski / Wedman / Zappa HelMel (Fort Evil Fruit)

This definitely qualifies as a dream team. Four saxophones (Vinny Golia, Catherine Sikora, Patrick Shiroishi, and Stanley Jason Zappa) teamed up with a pianist (Andrew Wedman), and drummer (Nick Skrowczewski) is a recipe for a wild night. Before the horns take flight, Wedman and Skrowczewski zigzag into a dueling spectacle before the winds blast in. Pointillist runs intersect at odd angles, leaving obtuse spaces for sax tussles to fill. Runs blitz across the spatial plane at light speed, undercut by sharp howls and percussive rumbles. It’s dizzying in the best possible way. All four saxophones are chasing each other through a ramshackle maze, but nobody knows who is chasing who. This is such a wild, wonderful ride. Huge recommendation.

amby downs & Steve Gunn Looming change / Building fabric (Longform Editions)

It’s always wonderful to hear something new from Steve Gunn, but it’s especially significant when it’s in a different format than I’m used to and with a surprise collaborator. Teamed up with amby downs (aka interdisciplinary artist Tahlia Palmer), this piece opens an expansive pathway before looking inward. Resonant tones stretch out forever while still feeling fleeting and impermanent. Tactile accouterments tap secret messages with metallic pinpricks, sending our minds wandering through gleaming landscapes beneath a golden-hued sky. Each rise and fall is a deep breath and a millennia. Eventually, the veil lifts, and Gunn’s trademark guitar expositions filter in through sunlight on a wave of mirth. It’s light and joyful, buoyed by textural field recordings that spark imaginative shadow dances. downs and Gunn find harmony and admiration through sonic conversation before fading into the ether. 

Sungod Starscape (Crash Symbols)

Neon clouds swirl around a psychedelic wormhole traversing the future countryside, sucking up everything and sending it back in time. Sungod’s expansive astral sonics glean the last rays of light from beyond the cube and refract it through one hell of a groovy prism. Synth leads rip through the cosmic veil in one moment before dissipating into an oozing organic freefall. Moving into the next system of galactic ruins, guitar shreds and piano shimmers veer into the spaces between liminal spaces like a laser show on forgotten planets. New age motifs drift blindly toward the crystalized horizon. It’s all wild, all the time. Melodies are fried to a crisp, baked in, and ready to set sail on painted electronic waves. 

Aura en el espejo He perdido una galaxia (Self-Released)

Motorik crunch bounds in rhythm beneath a loop of blast furnace guitar motifs. There’s full-on fried, and then there’s the title track on He perdido una galaxia. Doubled vocal incantations are a hypnotic gloss on this block-circuit gamble. Everything here is creeping under a veil of distortion and aural haze, as though it’s meant to be the secret heartbeat of a forgotten civilization that’s been building for centuries. Seismic shifts echo against sharp melodies, piano keys breaking into glass shards, and electronic tremors. It’s all there beneath a sepia-toned excavation, primordial and covered in layers of synth dust. Cool stuff.

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