It’s been a good week so far, even if I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of things I agreed to do without enough time to do them. I suppose that’s normal at this point, though. I’m also in the solo parenting zone this week, but that’s been filled with discussions about volcanoes, chicken nuggets, and reading Kiki’s Delivery Service with my kid for the first time. No complaints.
The Daily is over on Patreon, as usual, today, but there’s been a lot of great dialogue there in the last couple of weeks around keeping up with new releases (and guilt/FOMO/etc.). Yesterday’s 11th Hour emergency episode got me thinking about how new release announcements were such an event when I was a teenager, and it bums me out a bit that I don’t feel that much anymore. Sign up over there and share your thoughts!
In the meantime, here’s some excellent music worth digging into.
Annelies Monseré Mares (Horn of Plenty)
Triumph burgeons in this imaginative reinvention of European folk music, unfolding into a journey that digs so far into the roots it becomes a forward-thinking exploration. From the inviting cover of Cyril Tawney’s “Sally Free & Easy,” which sparkles like a geode reflecting in the darkest caverns, to the hypnotizing, liminal space of closer “My Finest Hour,” Monseré weaves a timeless sonic tapestry, blending melodies and arrangements that feel so familiar, as though she’s extracted them from our bones, but playing them in a way that breathes new life into them. Classic timbres shine through as a futurist fanfare, laying out a golden path for her voice to glide across. What an album.
Oishi once upon a time there was a mountain (Bezirk)
Squiggly lines tell secret histories before they’re erased in a pulsing landslide. Wherever the dust settles, the connection between two distant points is reformed and reimagined. Cassette warble spits memory fragments into oscillating sawblades, scratching out instructions for the journey ahead. In the quiet spaces, where the wind echoes against the night, spectral mysteries are revealed in the static. Lives unfold in the resonant drifts where minutes last lifetimes and narratives become vulnerable reflections. A wonderful, intriguing album.
AVOLA Psykor (SIGE)
I love so many things about Psykor, but I want to start with the sequencing. It’s next-level great. AVOLA welcomes us into this burnt husk of a world gently, with parched, expansive drones echoing through the last remnants of daylight. Plunging down through the abyss, feedback seeps into the hollows, flaring out like a debris cloud. At this point, take a breath and prepare to get blown to bits. Tension rises. Acid boils. Lightning is in the air, sparking through heavy bass rumbles and blast-furnace rhythms. The intensity grows, breaking apart before amassing into something heavier and more furious. Synths growl at the moon, and electronics spit sparks into the darkness before we wake up and realize it was all just one hell of a dream. This rips.
Alan Courtis and Ben Owen Environmental Conditions (Park 70)
Somehow I’ve been out of the loop on the excellent Park 70 label, but I am glad to rectify that oversight this week. Alan/Anla Courtis always brings it, and in duo with Ben Owen, dystopic worlds are stripped for parts. Oscillations saw through mechanical configurations to break them down into component parts. Frequency patterns dissipate into endless ranges, and sound sources are obscured to the point of disassociation. Is it a churning engine or heavy rain on a metal roof? A metal bowl scraped for shavings or hail… also on a metal roof? There’s something so appealing to these vaguely-harsh drones and how Courtis and Owen straightforwardly present them.
Playbackers Playbackers Record (Tripticks Tapes)
Tapes and turntables collide, forming a quiet magnetic storm funhouse where crackle and warble drill lost psychedelic patterns into our collective consciousness. Playbackers Record is such a woozy, whimsical delight loaded with intriguing textures and winding, amorphous structures. An underlying quietness blurs the chaos into formless aural conversations where an air of mystery permeates the fractured gloss and tactile globules. Broken rhythms seep in and disappear at random intervals, making us wonder if there were just a dream. My inability to make sense of these enigmatic pieces is my favorite aspect of Playbackers Record. This music is as captivating as it is immersive and engaging, a series of questions without clear answers. I’ll keep trying to dig them up, though.
A Journey of Giraffes Empress Nouveau (Somewherecold Records)
Magic filters through the delicate spaces of Empress Nouveau like light refracting through a prism onto a gently flowing stream. Dulcimer-like tones create pointillist patterns, spaces where soft movements blend into the emotional undercurrent. Additions of flute, kaval, and saxophone broaden the sonic horizons, bringing out organic timbres to fill in the shaded details. Over a lush landscape, through fantastical forests and crystalline fields, A Journey of Giraffes leaves a narrative trail, leading us toward the magical heart of Empress Nouveau. Each vignette is a small world of its own, and together a playful, joyous universe emerges where we’re welcomed with open arms. This is such a beautiful album.
Dream Crease “Starclaw” (Self-Released)
Crystals sing through electronic spheres in the restorative spaces of Dream Crease’s beautiful “Starclaw.” Synth waves bloom into an overwhelming, shimmering embrace, as though the glassine tones are living dreamworlds where we can weightlessly float. “Starclaw” is immersive and iridescent, luminous in its inviting glow and sweeping with its ephemeral form. Each time the music surges, it eventually pulls back, drawing us to slow our breath and settle into its warm, fantastical cocoon.
Green Tea Snowblower (New Forces)
As soon as I saw “new project from Nick Forté,” I was in. Green Tea is a relentless pummeling pressing us against a jagged wall. Angular hellbroth groans against the breaking tide, like a decaying ruin trying to hold back an inevitable onslaught. Beneath the weight of noise floods and blackened rivers, Snowblower compresses into a claustrophobic, ever-contracting cavern. Buried in the sonic mud, Forté molds drenched ambient soundscapes and haunted, melodic repetitions. These fractured combinations of tonal exploration and overflowing harshness are captivating, drawing us toward a distant pitfall. It doesn’t matter; the trap was set long ago.
Carlos Ferreira Everything We Knew Was Wrong (Templo Animal)
Saturated with melancholy while floating on a wistful current, Everything We Knew Was Wrong doesn’t look away from the harsh ghosts of the past. Emotive guitar lines trace lines around forlorn memories, pulling them into focus on a bed of hazy synthesis and gloomy resonance. Ferreira shows considerable vulnerability, letting the visceral emotions of each piece have their moment. There’s such an openness embedded in this music that I can’t help but think back to moments I’ve tried to forget. Each pointed melody and pensive atmosphere woven into these songs invites reflection, and new possibilities are created through these considerations. Dreams can be real.
The Electric Nature Old World Die Must (\\NULL|ZØNE// / Feeding Tube)
The Electric Nature opens up a decaying house of horrors on Old World Must Die. Michael Pierce, Michael Potter, and Thom Strickland twist and turn under pressure from unseen forces, blitzing synths, field recordings, guitar scrawl, and God-only-knows. In the opening passages, sax-kingpin, Jeff Tobias, rises from the depths with metallic, resonant howls, letting the cryptic atmosphere seep from the tombs below. Once enough of the noxious gas escapes, a frenzied psychedelic freak-out takes off. Caustic drones split the ground into levitating shards pointing straight toward the grayed-out sun. Any speck of light that can pierce this roiling sonic veil gets swallowed by spiraling guitar layers and deep-fried midnight ecstasy. The Electric Nature rips everything to shreds so we can start over with a clean slate. Hell yes.