I mentioned this on today’s episode of Foxy Digitalis Daily (over on Patreon, as it always is on Wednesday – a great day to sign up!), but we set our clocks forward 10 days ago, and my body is refusing to adjust. I think my brain is a bag full of sludge right now. It’s a trip, and here’s to hoping it gets better soon. Even so, I managed to string some words together about ten releases worth investigating.
Primitive Motion Portrait of an Atmosphere (Room 40)
Distances skew toward an imagined horizon, where solemn, plucked chord progressions teeter on the abyss’s dusty edge. Ramshackle whimsy intermingles with a breezy ambience, lifted by Sandra Selig’s voice into a place of shared language and reflection. Portrait of an Atmosphere is bare, recorded without reverb or delay, relying on acoustic resonance and intersecting aural shards to build these immersive sonic landscapes. A surprising flow unfolds at different angles, created through collage and never feeling quite linear but permanently interconnected. Saxophone missives crawl atop muted rhythms and reed organ passages, giving way to Selig and Leighton Craig’s wordless whispers before fading back into the soil. Highest recommendation.
Satoko Fujii Hyaku, One Hundred Dreams (Self-Released)
On her 100th album as leader, Satoki Fujii assembles a dream ensemble to scatter sonic ashes into the wind, seeding the world for new lineages to grow. With the likes of Wadada Leo Smith, Ingrid Laubrock, Sara Schoenbeck, Brandon Lopez, Ikue Mori, Chris Corsano, and more, Hyaku, One Hundred Dreams is an exercise in revelatory ecstasy. Fujii is the life force driving the group forward, her piano ringing with a forceful, emotive drama that sparks life in all directions. Lopez, Corsano, and Tom Rainey wind the tension into elegant foundational architecture while the sonic palette expands into sonorous reverie. Horns and woodwinds stoke new conversations in resonant tone patterns and wistful reflections, each solitaire timbre combining with effusiveness. Smith, in particular, lights up the room, causing everything to stand still. Textural electronics heighten Fujii’s more angular passages, and the dueling percussion from Corsano and Rainey remains a wonder throughout. Hyaku, One Hundred Dreams is immaculate, with the sound of nine titans absolutely in the pocket for 60 minutes. Divine.
Kristina Warren New Suns (Self-Released)
Through a series of ARP 2500 explorations, Kristina Warren ties knots around layered oscillations. Movement and rhythm cycles fuel New Suns, where investigative threads meander through these synthetic corridors like cryptic dispatches from future civilizations. Drones stretch their wings, scattering electronic debris into symbolic patterns where meaning and memory collide. Each piece has its own distinct aura, as though these are snapshots from different time periods, all trying to communicate the same indecipherable messages. Pulses hint at melodies, repeating at lightspeed above deeper frequencies creating random shapes. New Suns is engaging and enigmatic, leaving me slightly bewildered and wanting more. That’s a good sign.
Ehua Clouds EP (3024)
Machinations churn ahead with a polyrhythmic fury, a volcano spewing electronic mayhem into an unsuspecting metroplex. This is music suspended in glass, bouncing off impenetrable walls as it navigates unknown emotional deep dives. Bass lines go globular before burying themselves deep within the earth to emerge again as some type of synthetic life force. Ehua’s percussive elements push Clouds to new levels, her use of Duduk on “Nefele” a real standout. Textures gloss over every tonal surface, coating Clouds in a patterned glaze that becomes visceral the more these four tracks dig in. Stellar.
Reynols Peloto Cabras Mulusa Olve (Calar Music)
Behold the night of cataclysms. Reynols opens a hollow buzzsaw to carve out concrete blocks from every city street, throwing caution into a bucket as Anla Courtis and Roberto Conlazo drown it with heavy fuzz and howling guitars. The drums are barely audible, giving Peloto Cabras Mulusa Olve a ghostly feel. Angular scrawl aids the cryptic undercurrents in obscuring what’s happening in the background. As ever, Miguel Tomasin pulls mutinous magic from dead ether, bleeding psychedelic grit across the noise field. There’s an intoxicating minimalism in places that resonates into the dead of night, making Peloto Cabras Mulusa Olve a cavernous riot.
Cat Tyson Hughes Crossing Water (Past Inside the Present)
Deep in the glow of crystalline forests is a soft cocoon with an inviting resonance. Cat Tyson Hughes shapes her world with gentle, rolling soundscapes lined with textural atmospheres and a luminous aura. Everyday life weaves its way into Crossing Water, a reminder that we can find music anywhere if we stop and listen. Synth tones resonate and overflow with abundance where echoes become worlds, and those worlds sing until no words are left. Throughout Crossing Water, an aqueous undercurrent flows – these liquid sounds are the glue and the heart. Whispers flicker in and out of view, wistful in moments and effusive in others but never far removed from the beautiful remnants in each inviting tone. This is a delightful reverie.
Na Nich Super Earth (Semantica)
It’s been way too long since I dug into Semantica’s catalog, but I’m rectifying that this month. Na Nich (aka Alexander Pavlenko) channels the distant future into a series of club-infused science fiction. Pummeling rhythms have their edges shorn off with soft filters and effervescent synth arpeggiations. A whole world built from buried, faded neon and flickering lights materializes through focused, progressive beats. It becomes more insular as it moves forward as Pavlenko builds out the sonic framework through glassine accouterments, pointillist textures, and dub whispers while driving deeper into space. Whenever I’ve hit play on Super Earth, these tracks end up stuck in my head for days.
Hiroshi Ebina Silver Lining (Mystery Circles)
Something special blooms as soon as the opening chord progression of “Would You Believe In Me When I Can’t Myself” fades into view. It’s the sound of longing. Hiroshi Ebina crafts delicate sonic worlds where every note has a purpose, where every passage has the larger picture in mind as it drifts toward some distant point. Silver Lining expands outward to draw us in. Wind scours the surfaces of each crystalline soundform, leaving the surfaces weightless so that each resonant spark is held aloft on an aural cloud. Beautiful.
Dura Approach (Aural Canyon)
Dreams rise and fall with the sun. Dura’s Approach is a looming specter fostering understanding inside the glistening steel echoes riding tremolo waves into the darkest reaches of night. Minor chords angle for their place under the moon, but discerning frequencies have already taken over the landscape. Each of these eight pieces has its own character while feeling like a component part of a larger story. At times it feels frozen, as though these sounds unfold while tethered in place, while the spirit winding through the spectrolite repetitions tries to break free. It adds an element of tension that finally bursts into ethereal silhouettes on the 15-minute closer, “A Small Thing That Grows.” Approach is potent medicine.
Federico Durand Día de nieve (Prius/La Cumbre)
Small ideas can bloom into beautiful visages. Federico Durand’s Día de nieve is a lovely slice of whimsy, miniatures rife with details that lead to imaginative sonic entanglements. He describes each piece of music as a snowflake, which works on multiple levels. Crystals form within the empty spaces between notes, and every one of the five tracks is its own individual micro world, but together, they combine for magic. Pirouetting sequences give way to childlike singing covered in an opaque hiss, remnants of a messy life. Stillness beckons toward the back, however, with loping, resonant echoes gliding effortlessly toward a new oblivion. Take a quick breath, and Día de nieve is gone.