The past five days, it’s been a struggle to find a balance between every responsibility in my life and Tears of the Kingdom. Add in that my kid is just as into it as I am now; it makes it even more ridiculous, but what can you do? (Do not think about when you’ll have a few free minutes to play a damn video game, it would be an excellent place to start, I suppose). Anyway, I still managed to listen to a bunch of music, and here are some I wanted to say a few words about.
We’re Not Afraid of the Dark Glossolalia (Room 40)
This perfectly-named duo of Matt Warren and Gail Priest scour barren landscapes for faint echoes and ghostly sonic residue. They may not fear the dark, but these four pieces are bathed in midnight’s decay. Reverb-soaked machines break into pieces before the glowing shards fade into desolate reflections. Elevated, sneaking glimpses of distant light, emergent synth patterns draw outlines around Priest’s levitating vocal arrangements. Moments rise through the murk, captivating all sides before becoming encased in lilting drones. There’s still space for fractured radio transmissions to make it through the burning frequencies, casting strange shadows against metallic cutouts. Glossolalia lives in the details, building an aural world from the harshest beauty.
halo_error_ / Natty Gray s/t (Peyote Tapes)
Quixotic thunderstorms quickly turn into barren darkness on halo_error_’s “window to mirror.” Distance is only a mirage, with haunted voices building echoes from dark matter right outside our door, twisting space and time into a gnarled dronescape. Morse code pleas hide in glitched tones and unnerving laughter, the charred sounds contextualizing rain and birdsong as bizarre sideshows in a world falling to pieces. Natty Gray spills tremolo-laden poison pills into an oscillating electronic pit. Background hellscapes churn in the thinnest layers imaginable, crackling in demonic waves before disintegrating into near silence. The coast seems clear, just don’t look back.
Dogwood Tales Rodeo/13 Summers 13 Falls (WarHen)
Do two EPs make an LP? Physically, yes, but spiritually? I don’t know. That said, there’s an underlying connection between these two beauties from Dogwood Tales. Summer breezes give way to wistful laments twisting through acoustic vistas and serotonin serenades. Songs rise from faded memories, drifting the cosmic divide out near the West Coast and a honky tonk sound bath. Dogwood Tales’ music is timeless, cast in silver hues with an elegiac shimmer, dreaming simultaneously of yesterday and tomorrow.
Iztok Koren Praznina / Emptiness (Ramble)
Praznina / Emptiness runs the gamut. Banjo excursions crash into whirring soundscapes, cut apart, and reassembled into bowed string frenzies. Koren stitches together fractured imagery, remnants of a second life, keeping its distance from these twelve musical offerings. Modular grit sands off the edges, but our focus keeps returning to the banjo and guembri, their buoyant cadence and tactile resonance glowing white hot. Texture finds its way into Praznina / Emptiness through surprising crevices – a cymbal swash, an unrecognizable surface via contact mic. Koren follows his own path, seeking answers to bridge separate worlds into something whole and new. Excellent.
Violeta Garcia and Brice Catherin DJ Protestant (pan y rosas discos)
Two cellists – Argentina’s Violet Garcia and France’s Brice Catherin – join forces on a nail-scratching, cryptic duet. Stripped-down approaches burn a different kind of fire through extended techniques and enigmatic string work. Movements bleed into perpendicular movements, as though Garcia and Catherin attempt to search out the least likely intersections to explore. Certain moments lend to quiet contemplation, inward expressions rattling guttural messages from nowhere. Each note is a reminder. Details accentuate shattered drones and build texture into these raw, far-reaching improvisations.
Nilotpal Das “Harmonica C# Ab” (Self-Released)
A mesmerizing, 80-minute harmonium performance balloons into an enormous resonant fieldscape where our imaginations calm down at first before running wild into the beyond. The continuous drone is eternal. Das’s endurance is incredible. Viscous slabs of sunkissed harmonium tones are stretched into a spellbinding universe. I lose myself in the resonant timbres and encompassing frequencies. My mind spins off into imaginary lands covered in diamonds, parched and stung by the gently rising cadence. I am adrift, beyond the beyond. I don’t know if there’s a musical sound I love more than the harmonium. “Harmonica C# Ab” is expertly recorded and engineered, each granular node captured and sent spiraling. Pure magic.
Drew Gardner Flowers In Space (Feeding Tube)
Silk silhouettes carry snaking guitar explorations through the crisp night air, aloft on slick basslines and simmering grooves. Everything on Flowers In Space simply flows. Stripped down and ready to bounce through patterned, streamlined fields, Gardner leads the trio of himself, Andy Cush (Garcia Peoples), and Ryan Jewell (the one and only) into an oblivion state of mind. Jazz-adjacent inflections find their way into the glossy melodies, pushed along through august atmospheres by Jewell and Cush’s prescient grasp of this music’s inward cascade. Gardner’s playing is so expressive and inviting, pulling us into this transient world to sit and reminisce for a moment before flickering off to another plane. Great stuff.
Michelangeli/Falciani Solis Obitus (Superpang)
Violin and modular synthesizer is a combination I will always be here for. On Solis Obitus, worlds collide to create new worlds. Classical, emotive string arrangements are intersected by ruptured electronics and fractured rhythms. Immersive spaces grow from these sonic dichotomies. Emotional reflections are beamed into distant vistas, forlorn and wistful but rising like a decayed yet expressive beacon. Synth patterns fuse with the stochastic, propulsive cadences and rising, affecting arrangements to infuse Solis Obitus with an unrestrained sense of drama. This music is cinematic. It’s a place to get lost within, to follow through every twisting valley and poignant summit, and eventually find a new horizon to seek. Incredible.
Naima This Must Be the Place (Self-Released)
A gentle jungle brushes against our skin, sending blissful shivers into blooms of new possibility. Pattering rhythms mimic a soft rain encompassing our view in a glassine sphere entirely surrounded by intricate movements. Beyond the first layers, soft swells emerge from quiet, radiant drones as invitations to seek deeper meditations. So many details add depth and texture to this sonic narrative, but Naima’s clarinet nocturnes get me the most. From the shaded pathways, This Must Be the Place flows into a whimsical, rhythmic space. Joyous melodies and buoyant arrangements populate the verdant aural universe hovering within a lasting sweetness.
Meadow Argus Spool’s Gold (Hooker Vision)
Meadow Argus never disappoints. Fluttering seasickness comes and goes, lost in the spillover from last year’s dreams. Tape loops bleed into the margins where drones fall apart, and quavering organ notes stretch their roots into underground circuitry. There are bizarre systems at play throughout Spool’s Good, where nothing makes sense on purpose, and everything is hidden behind clouded glass. Radio transmissions are connections to another time, cut and scraped from the dying ether. It’s hard not to feel woozy as these undulating sonic flows wind deeper into the fruitful soil, ready to plant new life (for a buncha of bees).
Julia Andersson Dröm (Moderna)
Julia Andersson immerses us in soft textures and billowing structures on these ten solo piano pieces. Dröm is music for everyday magic. Quiet mornings staring at the horizon, waiting for the sun to emerge one last time, into getting lost in enchanted landscapes filled with bright trees and wistful memories. Andersson has a gentleness to her playing that encases each note in a subtle haze, as though these pieces are played at the lost junctures of our daily lives. It’s music for past moments we never knew were so important at the time. Chord progressions sing sweet lullabies in one minute before lamenting the last dance of the season in the next. Dröm is sad and beautiful and wonderful, even if it all feels just out of reach.