Hell of a day yesterday, but we seem to be cooking today, so let’s keep that energy going right until the end. Smaller garden this week but no less potent. The Daily is over on Patreon today (with an absolute gem of a record), so think about signing up. And hey, I sent a new, extra strange Charlatan out to Jewel Garden subscribers last week if that’s more your bag. With that, here’s some other great music to explore.
Maroulita de Kol Anatélo (Phantom Limb)
Across the four songs on Maroulita de Kol’s debut EP, an old world is reimagined and transformed. With lyrics revised from a Byzantine hymn by the poet and musician Kassiani (Byzantium’s only known female composer) and simultaneously lush and minimal instrumentation, de Kol’s voice is a real highlight on Anatélo. Opener, “Flying Woman,” sends lilting melodies skyward, climbing scales with a powerful, ethereal intonation. Violin crescendos are spellbinding, winding quickly, and unfolding with purpose. Her music shimmers with an effervescence even though it’s so heavy. I want to get lost here. Incredible.
Norman W Long only appears lost (Self-Released)
For me, Norman W Long’s work is unmissable. He has such an ear for capturing small, impactful moments from the world around him and contextualizing them with sound works that heighten that impact. “only appears lost” simmers in aqueous environments while microscopic life scatters overhead. Long uses diffuse metallic percussion in duets with distant birds and flickering insects while electronic inquisitions emerge from the detritus. It’s a gentle push to turn our focus into specific spaces. Voices and vehicles drift in and out of earshot, a distant reminder of the modern world encroaching. Darkness churns beneath blue skies with deep bass drones and sharpening oscillations on “with the everyday.” While the field recordings have a lightness, combined with heavier electronics, the view changes. Echoing train horns flicker before obscured rhythms try breaking out from the shadows. Everything here feels unsettled, drawing us in further until the sound surrounds us. This work is so pointed and immersive.
Slikback H I K A R I (Self-Released)
The future has been erased. Bombastic rhythms tease out the last confessions of a dying world, propelling the last remnants past a sonic blockade. Synths scatter like black lights refracted through scratched-up prisms before sterile basslines smother everything with a granular sheen. Slikback is relentless, though. Each time the music becomes too claustrophobic, he pulls us out for another deep breath before hitting us with another sonic cataclysm. Each movement is subtle, but the combined force overwhelms. Drama fills these cybernetic melodies, each sequence dripping with new dreams of imaginary lives. Slikback’s choice of samples and field recordings is inspired. Added textures saturate the soundscapes to imbue these pieces with countless emotional layers. Slikback never disappoints.
Michiko Ogawa Solo February 2023 (Self-Released)
I wouldn’t have heard this remarkable piece of music if it wasn’t for Keith Prosk mentioning it on Bandcamp Friday. Michiko Ogawa is a Tokyo-born, Berlin-based composer and clarinetist. Solo February 2023 unfolds with a slow, considered purpose. Notes stretch a few extra heartbeats, rising and falling with elegance and restraint, climbing toward an unseen vantage point. This music is weightless. A muted sense of whimsy percolates into the piece through synth accompaniment, allowing an airiness to filter between the flowing layers. It’s a wonderful excursion through soft-edged waves.
Domenica Diavoleria “Glitz Exigency” (Self-Released)
Menacing sonic atmospheres hide behind the dark ethereal shroud in the opening moments of “Glitz Exigency.” Glassine, pointillist frequencies tease cryptic messages through repeating patterns and eerie harmonics, trying to obscure the buried voices in the distance. A disquieting feeling hangs over these synthetic looping layers, but cascading arpeggios are promising echoes guiding us forward. It’s a stellar track.
Sanger & Sanger Music for Shakuhachi & Electronics (Tone Burst)
Straight away, the title of this album tells me it’s in my wheelhouse. Brothers Joseph Myoushin Sanger and Luke Sanger create an enchanting soundworld that divides time between lilting sonorities and jagged investigations. What’s most enticing about Music for Shakuhachi & Electronics is the surprising way those two tendrils intersect. New openings emerge from Joseph’s playful motifs, giving space for Luke to fuzz up the atmosphere. Certain sections have an aquatic feel like the shakuhachi notes are drifting through electronic bubbles, adrift with new lifeforms and fantasies. Also of note is the release includes the direct mix (with various delays, reverb, etc.) and the room mix, offering a stripped-back view of the same expression. It’s a nice touch that makes the release even more memorable. Fantastic design, as with all Tone Burst releases.
Carolina Wall & Antonella Mercedes Three Scars (Just Memories Records)
Memories are a powerful tool, tapping into unseen energy and finding immaterial connections between us. Peruvian composer Carolina Wall presents three pieces, two originals and one by Franz Liszt, all feeling like a century-old mirror. Mercedes’ crackling production adds further nostalgic sheen, heightening the timelessness of these recordings, but it’s Wall’s approach that tugs at our core. Each drifting melody, encased behind fogged glass, is imperfect but immutable. Eyes closed, we move backward through time to hold lost loves once more and gild our broken hearts. Utterly beautiful.
Holly Henderson The Walls (Ivy Records)
Sometimes I just need a good earworm, and Holly Henderson’s newest, The Walls, is filled to the brim with them. Catchy melodies sprinkled atop relaxed grooves and spirited arrangements. So much of The Walls is effortless, as though Henderson is channeling something otherworldly into existence through quixotic murmurs and timeless sentiment. Songs like “The Planes” and “Back After Sunrise” drip with light, bouncing forward with fervent purpose. Elsewhere, like the vulnerable simplicity of “Gold,” Henderson’s voice draws us close, the wordless passages stinging us before offering a curative embrace. Pop-infused structures float on rich, organic clouds as the meandering flute leads on “Fight the Need” or the slow unfolding of closer “Weep Like a Willow.” It’s all so fluid and inviting, giving The Walls an incandescent hue. Lovely.
Brendan Glasson “The Reality of People” and Other Works for Reed Organ (Debacle)
Open spaces skirt the edges of an elusive gravity on “The Reality of People” and Other Works for Reed Organ. At its core, this music is expansive, with resonant harmonics drifting skyward as though there’s no end to the distances they can reach. That’s only part of the story, though, as the weight carried in these emotive passages glows with such illuminative force that it feels like it will collapse in on itself at any moment. Tonal shapes intersect, tempting dissonance with elemental rattles and mesmerizing overtones. Beauty may lie in the spaces beneath the drones, but there’s only so much each piece can carry before it becomes too much.
Izvan Vida Zdolun (Self-Released)
Everything is greyed out and covered in muted tones on Zdolun. Croatia’s Izvan Vida buries traumatic memories and confusing thoughts in cold layers of hiss and reverb. Melodies creep forward; roots stuck in aural molasses as overcast skies dull the ache from morning’s light. When the ice finally melts, these drones melt back into the bedrock.
Dan Hayhurst Mono Sketches for Synthesizer, Tape Recorder and Pause Button (Self-Released)
When machines dream in mono, surely it sounds like this? A manufactured relic that glosses through electronic globules and bizarre architectural circuitry to find an odd sense of peace. Sculpture’s Dan Hayhurst always rattles cobwebs in our brains to turn us upside down and inside out. Voice cuts never quite break through, though an unsettling laugh here and there lives on well past its best-by date as synthetic screeds and electric glorp dance in arrhythmic glee—a truly confusing delight.