Yesterday was a big day for the Foxy Digitalis universe as my new podcast, Songs of Our Lives – and one of my favorite things I’ve done in a long, long time – officially launched. Jeff Tobias was the perfect first guest. It’s engaging and hilarious and just a generally wonderful, educational listen, and I hope you’ll take the time to give it a go. Thanks to everyone who has listened, shared, and reached out about it so far – it means the world!
There’s also a load of incredible music happening, so let’s dig into that a little, alright?
Madison Greenstone Resonance Studies in Ecstatic Consciousness (Relative Pitch)
Resonance lives and breathes on the incredible Resonance Studies in Ecstatic Consciousness. Madison Greenstone cracks open hidden worlds within hidden worlds residing inside the Bb clarinet. Harsh spectacles give way to budding pathways and unexpected turns. There’s an underlying pressure soaking up sharp timbres beneath the sonorous current of this music, Greenstone acting as a gentle guiding force. This music is full of surprises as tones stretch to breaking points, collapsing in on themselves to create something new. Notes sit in moments, etherizing through moments of feedback and dissonance. A relentlessness emerges from the perceived stillness until another wall falls and the world begins anew. Resonance Studies is an incredible exercise that pushes the possibilities of this instrument into a new realm.
R.I.G & Elvin Brandhi TYMPANOPHONIA (Self-Released)
The cataclysm lives in the concrete shards left behind after the end of our imagined existence. Joined by the great, the singular Elvin Brandhi, Tunis’s R.I.G. splits atoms into splintered, sonic claustrophobia. Sharp tonal expressions infect monstrous bass blasts like parasitic electronics, leaving no surface unmarked. Brandhi twists her voice into countless unrecognizable shapes, blitzing repetitive furor into rhythmic spellcasting. There are moments where it’s as though she’s wielding ancient incantations from another time, but pushing them through a dystopic matrix. R.I.G. brings the heat on these productions, too, with synthetic decay seeping into the dark corners, glomming onto pristine surfaces so that they fade to black. Cryptic visions will haunt the dreams of all who enter TYMANOPHONIA, but the hellish chaos is worth the price.
Dustin Wong Perpetual Morphosis (Hausu Mountain)
Perpetual Morphosis is all things spread across a gleaming sonic universe and packed into every tiny crack. Dustin Wong’s music is a beacon, joyful patterns, and pathways built on gentle cadences, electronic landscapes, and silvery guitar architecture. A secret dance unfolds within bouncing progressions, elevating each looping repetition into a cosmic reverie. Fourth-world movements frolic in digital glass forests, ensconced in a faded neon sheen. Wong paints with tonal whimsy to create a world where everything is interconnected and teeming with an enthusiastic spirit. The world of Perpetual Morphosis is wide, but every surface swims through melodic currents to arrive in a place where the pristine is organic and this immersive soundworld is connected to the pleasure centers of our minds.
J and the woolen stars Personal Problems… (Daisart)
Fractured sonic silhouettes are obscured by the hazy allure of disjointed memories, but it doesn’t soften the crestfallen melodies at this music’s pointed edge. Snaking string patterns trace shapes through the hiss-laden arrangements and focus the emotional current surrounding each passage, each word. Loose, waltzing circles move lackadaisically through the piano inquests and resigned, engaging vocals, leaving the feeling we’re longing for just out of reach. There’s a sense to keep moving in any direction that permeates this album; an acceptance that being lost is at least being something. That keeps us from forgetting. The warmth of a certain love may be long gone, but in these beautiful, engaging songs, the sparks never fade.
Illuha Tobira (12k)
Life blooms in the quiet spaces in between large, slowly shifting worlds. On Tobira, Illuha is the trio of Corey Fuller, Tomoyoshi Date, and, for the first time, Tatsuhisa Yamamoto. Movement is a central thread here, with this music always moving away or toward something unseen. The addition of Yamamoto’s drumming imbues the shifting, resonant landscapes with lithe textures and gentle forward dynamics. Emotive electronic motifs trace pathways on an opaque map, heading into a growing night space to follow drone patterns in the stars. Soft tonal washes melt into field recordings and intersect with the sharper percussive timbres dancing in the margins, all of it combining to become an immersive aural cocoon.
Pauline Hogstrand Áhkká (Warm Winters Ltd.)
The slow build of Pauline Hogstrand’s “Herein,” the a-side to the fantastic Áhkká, grows into a welcoming, roaring buzzaw. A wildness stretches its arms around the droning ecstasy, furthering the subterranean push of expressive dissonance. Layered shards of untethered reverie combine in surprising ways, building a living mountain of sound that is simultaneously impermeable and precarious. Angled resonance acts like a mirror, reflecting sounds toward different, adjacent atmospheres, creating an overwhelming air of tarnished grandeur. Some things exist for a quick moment, but Áhkká harnesses the sentiment of eternity. Electronic blips and rolling, metallic timbres are blinks in time, as infinite space is compressed into two adventurous sonic conversations. Highly recommended.
Dark Sines The Space Time Paradox (Ceremony of Seasons)
Transitions through abstract ideas that, at their core, feel intrinsic and permanent, like the seasons, can be a tough concept to capture. Dark Sines sculpts a series of sonic reflections that nails that. Autumn is a time of preparation, thinking about rest – either permanent or temporary; of the warm colors of decay and engaging fragrances. The Space Time Paradox stops time, existing in that moment of transition and exploding it into a universe of lively sonic landscapes. Arpeggios dance and glisten beneath overcast skies, floating on emotive synth arrangements and motorik rhythms. Minimalist timbres are like speculative tendrils, searching for the different pathways beyond, hanging on flickering melodies, and moving through crystalline dreams. This is such a rich, inviting album.
Fantôme Josepha Dramarama (Fort Evil Fruit)
From the opening moments of “Sturm,” the midnight season is upon us. Josépha Mougenot is a witch in the sky, casting an alluring shadow. A simple, effective rhythm underlies the organ sorcery and subdued guitar shred, all of it saturated with the blackest black. Noise walls howl before reassembling the propulsive cadence and still-humming, heated glow. Other elements build out the shaded atmosphere, with Mougenot thrumming angled melodies on koto and Arnaud Marcaille spelling his own messages in guitar dust. Bizarro blues motifs poke out from the dark clouds in moments, washing smoky timbres into the melancholic tones. It all ends in the melting confines of “Lion,” where searing leads and desolate vocals sink to the bottom of a black hole. Dramarama is enticing as all hell.
Proteins of Magic “Flesh it Out” (Particle Recordings)
Kelly Steven’s latest single as Proteins of Magic is steeped in a desperate aura, clutching at the last few seams before they snap. Guitar progressions snap into place in the pocket of a quiet, propulsive rhythm, buoyed by midnight-tinged flute melodies and sharp piano chords. As ever, Steven’s voice is the beacon drawing us in, using her words like knives. “Is this the heaven that you promised me?,” she asks, “It’s all a little harder than it used to be.” Urgency builds in her upper register, a tension spreading through every bar as the song pushes forward toward the cliff before dissipating into the sky. Proteins of Magic never disappoints.
Tim Six Infinity Studies (Global Pattern)
Infinity Studies is filled with drones that are engrossing and enveloping in their depth and resonance. On this cassette reissue of Tim Six’s 2017 album, exploration becomes grounds for purposeful bewilderment. Using an array of acoustic instruments – shruti box, santur, sine wave generators, and more – and field recordings, the world of Infinity Studies is dense but never overwhelming. Organic soundscapes crawl across parched surfaces, renewing elemental life. Hidden in the distant waves, ghost melodies get stretched beyond the horizon as faint reminders of something lost. Six imbues each piece with subtle changes, elevating the experience of floating to something otherworldly and boundless.