Nothing like ending Tuesday with your kid spiking a fever, but here we are. Luckily I got all this written (save for this intro) before that happened, so on this week of Bandcamp Friday, I’ve got a pile of gems for you to check out. And, of course, Foxy Digitalis Daily is over on Patreon today (and it’s kind of a hilarious episode. People seem to enjoy my more random/rambly intros, and this one… whew, it went places). I’d love you all to sign up, join the fun, and support the cause.
Speaking of Bandcamp, I hope that most of Foxy Digitalis’s readers have been following and supporting Bandcamp United – the employees there organizing to form a union. They’re asking supporters to email leadership to cease union-busting activities. Here’s more info on that.
Lastly, a new solo album of mine will be released on Friday called Muppet Soup. It’s not a follow-up to Annular Silhouettes at all (I’ve talked a bit more in-depth about this on Patreon), but maybe a follow-up/relational release to Reflexive Wizardry? I don’t know – it’s a lot of weird, bloopy fun.
Onto the tunes…
Tuulikki Bartosik Playscapes (Efni)
I was excited when Playscapes was announced, and as the first tracks emerged, that grew. I didn’t expect to love this album as much as I do. Still, it has an unrelenting ability to make me smile and lose myself in Tuulikki Bartosik’s imaginative, stitched-together soundworlds. Accordions and vocals form the foundation of these emotionally-dense pieces, from bouncing opening “Robertsfors” to the hypnotic arpeggiations of “繋がりTsunagari,” but Playscapes blooms when the palette expands to include zither, cello, piano, Omnichord, and plenty more. Playful atmospheres dance through “Helsinki:Aatos,” where repeating patterns feel free and light. Closer “Livland:Suusilm” stretches beyond the rain clouds, a coda for the emotional journey that came before with ruminative cello arrangements and a desire to continue the pathway forward. Elsewhere, solemn passages give way to pulsing, organic rhythms as though we’ve stumbled on a nomadic dancefloor. Playscapes is wild at times, contemplative at others, but constantly engaging and memorable. Bartosik is one of a kind.
Server Farms Parks That Were Never Built (Disfold Ltd)
Crumpled blueprints whisk away in the dust-laden wind, adrift in darkening skies on a journey into different worlds. Blown-out mirages disintegrate through distorted chord progressions flitting between ascending and diving headfirst toward the ground. Eventually, the sight lines open up through glassine stretches where the shimmering ambience becomes blinding. It’s a beautiful, stark reminder that nothing, even our dreams, is real. Unfused rhythms and robotic ghost voices scatter into constellations of debris, a pattern we hope gives us some secret message hinting at meaning but, in reality, is just more machine-fed gloss. Arpeggios get dissected and taken apart so the component parts can be fleeced for melodic shrapnel to punctuate the illusory worlds living in Parks That Were Never Built.
Grand River All Above (Editions Mego)
Combinations of wide-ranging sonic articulations and inward emotional frameworks bloom into something special on All Above. Grand River (Aimée Portioli) taps into an otherworldly pulse with these interconnected disparate journeys. Countless synth timbres build a skyward architecture, pushing further beyond view before expanding in ways that bring us toward one another. Chord progressions buoy vast arrays of evocative electronics, and gossamer voices spill across rhythmic structures. Aural textures and field recordings open the world further. Each track is its own world as Portioli’s sonorous reflections become a gilded mirror that pushes us into unseen meditative zones. Stunner.
Joy Guidry “Almost There” (Whited Sepulchre)
A calming spirit rises in the distance, flowing forward on liquid wings. Joy Guidry creates a placid, still expanse with crystalline tones stretching toward the horizon. “Almost There” is gentle and expressive, the slow movements full of peaceful reflection and an overwhelming sense of love. As a guide, Guidry welcomes us into this space with a generous spirit buoyed by drawn-out bassoon melodies. Beautiful.
Megan Alice Clune Furtive Glances (Room 40)
I’ve often returned to these interjacent vignettes in the past month. Something about the stark vulnerability permeating each piece is so affecting. Furtive Glances is diaristic, compelling in its melodic wanderings and emotive sheen. Notes are held for just a beat too long, adding hints of longing in the resonance and glimmers of an inner narrative at play. Movements are considered, often slow and repetitious, but with a fanciful air spreading outward from a guarded core. When Clune’s voice appears in quiet stretches, it channels a different spirit, something visceral and ethereal that gets at our central essence and pulls us deeper into these sounds.
Naïssam Jalal Healing Rituals (Self-Released)
There’s something transcendental about Healing Rituals. This music is utterly infectious in the best way. Jalal’s voice greets us at the gate, surrounded by laid-back yet irresistible rhythms. It’s a greeting and invitation. Healing Rituals takes flight in the incandescent nay solos and oud-like timbres from Clément Petit’s cello. Filling out the ensemble are Claude Tchamitchian on double bass and Zaza Desiderio on drums. Winding melodies spin modal patterns into golden sonic threads tying together inventive harmonies and hints of whimsy. Flowing through narrative structures, the album rises and falls through peaks and valleys like a living, breathing entity. What a joy it is to get lost in this sonic space. Exquisite.
Testarossa How Should I’ve Known (Club50/NWL)
Bopping my head, driving through the arcade fields of How Should I’ve Known feels like an alternate reality dystopia. Synthcapades bounce gleefully through bleak landscapes drained of color except in the margins. There’s no excess here. All the neon is focused ahead, where joy hides in the pixelated fields, and romantic escapades hide underground. Testarossa spins up infectious melodies through multiple synth layers and easily twists them into new expressive shapes. Voices are obscured and processed to oblivion, at times cryptic and forlorn. How Should I’ve Known is vivid and delightful.
OMS Illeism & No Consolation (Suite 309)
Everything must be torn apart before being reassembled into something unrecognizable. OMS uses the sharpest edges for the finest cuts but splatters everything with globular sonics and grayscale fuzz. Sound fragments become memory devices before they’re fused together in unrecognizable ways, simultaneously giving Illeism & No Consolation a familiarity and distance. Woozy escapades are like sailing a ship through sand dunes dosed with disorienting arrangements and psychedelic radio waves. Rhythms follow disjointed paths. The weight of all these combined layers is unbearable and inescapable, a tether we crave, a constrictive aural corset. From beginning to end, the walls are moving, and we can’t tell if they’re getting closer or we’re getting smaller. This is a destabilizing gem of an album.
RIG (Musique Austère...) (Self-Released)
Silhouettes distill into sonic forms with liminal drones and synthesized corridors. I know next to nothing about Tunisia’s RIG, but there’s an enticing bleakness on (Musique Austère...). Pointed tonal patterns glaze across forgotten prisms where the sonic frequencies get refracted into a spectral mist. Echoes hollow out the caverns below, letting metallic shards bounce in the sonorous flow. There are empty spaces within the empty spaces, like these frequencies are spilling out from beyond the void, enticing us to fall deeper. Like most things, eventually, it all washes away into dust.