This week has been a trip. Around midnight on Sunday, a gnarly storm ripped through Tulsa, knocking out power to about 1/2 the city, uprooting 100-year-old trees, and doing all kinds of other damage. We get nasty storms here yearly, but this was different (basically a city-wide squall line with 100 mph winds). Thankfully, we’re fine, besides having no electricity (less than ideal when it’s pushing 100) and some big limbs to clean up. But it’s thrown a massive wrench into this week’s plans. We’ve got a place to stay until we have power again, so we’re lucky, but you probably won’t hear from me if you’re trying to get in touch (or maybe you will!). With that, listening to awesome tunes and writing about them has been a great distraction, so here’s a new installment of The Capsule Garden. And hey, it’s a great day to grab a shirt or join the Patreon or something and boost the ol’ spirits.
Eternities Realness (Harmonic Ooze)
After being lulled into a state of calmness through quiet, bending drones and spacious resonance, Realness claws through the skin and leaves a scar. Katie Porter and Bob Bellerue concoct a blackened aural stew that churns beneath the surface and harnesses the weight of a decaying grid. Stretches tones want to break but hold on to the last fibers and hang together. Porter bends hollowed-out notes into a sonic breathing void blanketed by Bellerue’s fragmented electronics. Edges are sharpened. Distortion becomes a wave until the feedback climbs the walls and sharp frequencies begin cracking glass. Realness is visceral and hypnotizing, with Porter and Bellerue riding the chaos into the rotten core.
Lorena Álvarez & Alejandro Palacios Paisajes Para Torcer al Reloj (Not Not Fun)
Keys tap on the sky like rain trickling against a window, following melodic edges etched by echoing horns. Lorena Álvarez & Alejandro Palacios have an unspoken understanding that blossoms into an entrancing whispered language. Cotton wrapping floats into space and hovers with held notes before dancing away on gossamer tonal trailings. This is a sonic path laced with repeating harmonic patterns and textured aural reflections, lithe and lightweight with its own unique gravity. Glassine passages are blurred in the tenuous shadows, but the invitation to float away on these familiar clouds is never rescinded.
Fog Net Headlands (Bathysphere)
Glistening synthesized spaces spiral away into crystalized remnants. Melodic spindles wind through distant shorelines, weaving darkness-tinged leads with fragments of our forgotten pasts. We melt into Fog Net’s electronic vistas and turn our grayscale outlines into neon dreams. Headlands permits us to find quiet adventures in ambient worlds, where holographic birds flutter above amorphous aural streams, and memories seep from electric aquifers. Fog Net traverses between minimal, emotive soundscapes and resplendent sonic expressions, freeing our imaginations from the sonorous wilds. Wonderful.
Atsuko Hatano Ren Bin (Self-Released)
There is so much life in the lilting melodic blooms at the core of Atsuko Hatano’s beguiling Ren Bin. Using a Leslie speaker to bring layers of swirling movement into-and-out-of view, Hatano’s viola stands as the central focus. Expressive forms take shape in the drifting folds, with string arrangements pulling tears from the sky and fusing the heartfelt melodies with ephemeral drones and piano motifs. Navigating these aural expanses is one hell of a beautiful ride as timbres intersect, compressing spatial distances and opening new expressive channels. Shifting palettes change moods in successive turns, running our emotional threads into knots. Hatano can evoke countless ideas immediately, spiraling our emotions until we let go and whirl away in the undercurrents.
Normal Nada the Krakmaxter Tribal Progressive Heavy Metal (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
The airwaves are concussed. Crashing through a sonic matrix in search of an electric current, Tribal Progressive Heavy Metal is relentless in its pursuit. Dancing basslines bounce through globular circuitry without frying any synapses before folding into each other, forming towering melodic blasts. Blast beats send off metallic shards, riding simmering waves through hi-hats and glitterati cymbals beyond midnight and into a strange, sacred realm. This music is effusive and captivating. Stochastic rhythms pummel familiar forms, with synth lines decaying behind the curtain and reemerging with stereoscopic furor. Even if Tribal Progressive Heavy Metal ventures all over the globe and beyond, we still end up blanketed in sweat and ready to run through concrete. Incredible.
tom betteridge pearly (Brachliegen Tapes)
Ghosts or demons, does it really make a difference? pearly combines roughhewn textures, impressionistic vocals, and a host of unrecognizable sound sources into a magnetic, sonic soup. Cryptic messages translate into lost languages reimagined as humming wires. Words never quite formulate, but we’re still pulled along the muddy ground, beckoned somewhere beyond sight. Sound fragments are fused into an angular crumble, a shrine to hiss and decay. Betteridge turns in unexpected directions to wind a bizarre narrative into divergent expressive forms. It’s some kind of a trip into spaces trapped beneath the surface, holding phantom constructs at arm’s length for examination.
Greta Ruth “Holy Omen” (Self-Released)
Sweetness comes as gentle skydrops in the bare corridors of Gretua Ruth’s lovely “Holy Omen.” Small, vulnerable flashes refract into timeless expressions, guided through shadows by Ruth’s soft delivery and sentimental plucks. Piano accents brighten the world a little like the curtains were pulled back, and delicate resonance became a flood. Ruth’s voice, though, pulls us close and keeps us there, held still for each endearing moment.
Petteril The Leems Boyste (Puremagnetik)
The Leems Boyste is inspired by an allegedly true supernatural story called The Doddleston Messages, but I honestly don’t know anything about that. However, these five pieces capture a specific cryptic vibe and turn it into a sonic narrative of its own. Textural, looping tape manipulations spurn secret passages into an unseen plane where specious shadows are cast against fading backdrops. Piano melodies stick out like clues, shards of broken aural glass scattered amongst dead leaves and painful memories. Everything here feels just out of reach, like lights in the distance when we’re stuck in a cloud of darkness, beckoning but elusive. The Leems Boyste hints at something more if we open our minds and dig a little deeper.
Carlo Costa & John McCowen pianissimo etc (Tripticks Tapes)
Every time I hit play on pianissimo etc, and the opening track kicks in, I get this impossible feeling as though I’m being dragged through a metallic debris field floating in midair. It makes very little sense, but that’s a big reason why I am so captivated by this music. McCowen’s contrabass clarinet feels inevitable, larger than life. Guttural vibrations reverberate through caverns, encasing us in an oppressive glow. It would be too much if not for Costa’s folly, high-pitched squeals, and swishing percussive explorations. With the clarinet humming from the Earth’s core, Costa riddles the sonic mass with textural phrasings and spectral imagery. Together, the duo unlocks something ancient, the key to a place where we levitate on sound while it scrapes our skulls clean. This is fucking great.