The forward march of Songs of Our Lives continues unabated with a new episode featuring the one and only Nina Dante. It was such a delightful conversation, and I came away with it knowing Nina so much better. I love getting to know more about what makes so many artists, musicians, writers, etc. who they are and get a small glimpse of how they’ve landed in the places they have. I hope you’ll listen. (And if you really love the episodes, consider joining the Foxy Digitalis Patreon for extended episodes and more). Also, be on the lookout this Friday for the first non-Patreon episode of the new Foxy Digitalis Podcast. This replaces the Daily, and I’ll get into what it’s going to be on Friday’s episode. Some new shirts with its killer new graphic later this month, too.
It’s another Bandcamp Friday this week, so despite an uncertain future (that’s been relatively uncertain for at least 18 months as far as Bandcamp goes!), it’s still a great day to support artists and labels and send some extra scratch their way.
Mary Lattimore Goodbye, Hotel Arkada (Ghostly International)
There’s a moment when we realize the real constants in our lives are impermanence and change. It can overwhelm and devastate, but memories will linger and by leaving things behind, we move forward, we continue to be. Mary Lattimore’s latest is a paean for what’s forgotten, a future eulogy for what’s to come. Cascading harp silhouettes are blanketed by lilting, effervescent vocal arrangements and the hopeful sparkle of electronic synthesis. Crisp timbres outline our past lives with a resonant glow, clear as day in the rearview lighting the path ahead built on searching guitar leads, looping chord progressions, and a soft, dancing cadence. Soft plucks with the sweetest melodies can still sting, though, and Lattimore knows how to squeeze blood from our ghosts, building new landscapes from the dried patterns. She has always written incredible, spellbinding music, but Goodbye, Hotel Arkada twists in the highest peaks, leaving no doubt that the worlds she creates will last forever. Stunning.
Norman W. Long Re-Membering/Re-Presencing (Rural Situationism)
Entire universes hide themselves in the small movements and intricate textures of Norman W. Long’s work. Re-Membering/Re-Presencing is familiar yet distant. The untouched nature of these sounds are combined in ways that reveal previously unheard timbres and resonances. Cicadas flicker with a metallic intensity surrounded by dampening night humidity, an echo of yesterday’s ghosts present in every fiber surrounding us. Other worlds are opened when trains become spaceships, their rhythmic patterns stretched into hollow drones like pathways to beyond. Fragmented pieces return, pulling us back into the soil where everything has changed. Synths and electronics steam ahead on melodic vapor trails, fusing vivid colors into atmospheres before landing on the other side of the divide where imagination lives and breathes within every moment. Highest recommendation.
Lynn Nandar Htoo Jamadevi (Yes No Wave Music)
Myanmar composer and sound designer Lynn Nandar Htoo casts a fraught shadow in the immersive and enigmatic Jamadevi. Using emotive sonic environments teeming with lithe melodies in combination with traditional Myanmar percussion, Htoo tells the story of 2021’s brutal political events in the country. Each of these seven tracks tells its own part of the narrative, but as a cog in the larger picture, there’s a threaded power that emerges. Serene atmospheres give way to harsh rhythms, fusing metallic timbres with a raucous, bass-heavy propulsive flow. Inevitability creeps into the margins, growing through electronic passages to bloom into fully realized aural resistance. This music is reflective, but also active in keeping these moments, these ideas at the fore. Absolutely incredible.
Ng’at Maler Pearl House (Self-Released)
Ng’at Maler packs so much into these three songs. Pearl House opens with a wistful bounce, field recordings from Nairobi imbuing the melodic synths with texture and energy. A catharsis breaks free even while we’ve got one eye looking back. Maler pulls us skyward, but before we fall back to Earth through elegiac strings and sharp clouds, a mesmerizing electronic sequence sends us astral traveling. In other moments, buoyant aural sonnets flicker within ethereal atmospheres while underlying details are blurred into the urgency of the fleeting ambiance. Whimsy dances in the rain and inviting vocal patterns of closer “Onge,” the sweetest whisper riding the wind into tomorrow. Pearl House is such a vulnerable and engaging set of tracks, a place to stop and get lost for a few languid breaths. Really great.
Seawind Of Battery & ragenap Chaos Life Preserver (Eiderdown)
After a quick inhalation, anthemic steel rains down from gilded clouds in the fading neon sky. Seawind Of Battery and ragenap are the lucid dream team, weaving guitar explorations into whole-world sonic movements. Chaos Life Preserver is massive and ever-present. Cascading melodies fall from glossy cliffs leaving a wake in the resonating sunlight. Nothing is glossed over, every note hangs on past oblivion before melting into the next movement. Contrasting timbres from distorted drones and clean, bright signals create an inviting center where these sounds swirl and sing in all directions. Beyond the horizon, aqueous passages hang and disintegrate in slow-moving bass patterns looming above like smoke from a signal fire. Every landscape that emerges from the tonal scrawls is interconnected, making Chaos Life Preserver a travelogue for romantic seers.
Opal X Environments (Brachliegen Tapes)
Sprawling excursions into dense landscapes become connected by slow-moving tremors on Environments. Synthesis is dissected and repurposed for amorphous architecture, growling in the subterranean layers while harnessing bright timbres beyond the atmosphere. Opal X treads through dense drones, moving against a solid sonic current to expand the narrative scope of this music. There’s an underlying heaviness to these pieces, but she doesn’t stay grounded and still finds ways to imbue lightness in stretched melodies and ephemeral dissonance. Environments doesn’t go down easy as the immersive sound worlds envelop every last point of departure before quieting into the darkness.
Concrete Cedars ox (Self-Released)
Concrete Cedars is a new trio from Lawrence, Kansas featuring Chance Dibben (SELVEDGE), Til Willis (Til Willis & Erratic Cowboy, etc.), and Bradley McKellip (The Roseline). With ox, spontaneity breeds quiet catharsis. Captured during a live performance in May 2023, across eight pieces, moments spark to life, are explored through hushed sonic conversation, and disappear back into the ether. Impermanence is the glue holding these ideas into place. Shimmering guitar tones create a hypnotic gaze, from which slow rhythms and elegant soundscapes spill out, leaving a silver trail in their wake. Underneath, electronics tunnel through shards of tonal bedrock before rising toward feedback squalls in the sky. The interactions and intersections between different, but adjacent sound worlds fuel the invention of a unique, always-shifting language.
Malwina Kołodziejczyk/Jacek Chmiel Telekabina (Synergetic Sonance)
There’s a wildness and a feeling of abandonment permeating the hollowed-out confines of Telekabina. A stew of Jacek Chmiel’s crackling electronics and echoing zither melt into strange, opaque shapes, leaving pitch-black emptiness for Malwina Kolodziejczyk’s saxophone explorations to fill. There is so much texture and boundary-cutting technique in her playing that it’s utterly mesmerizing. This duo smashes disparate timbres and conflicting sounds together and somehow makes it all work. It’s bizarre and wonderfully exciting. Singing bowls ring out into the ether like the dying howl of a fading cosmos. Breathing exercises sputter a million tiny structures into existence, the pointillistic wash of microscopic worlds where a momentary flicker feels like an entire lifetime. Kolodziejczyk and Chmiel thrive in the negative space, using lingering silence as an instrument unto itself. Even in the harshest moments where sharp, metallic timbres cut like obsidian knives, we can’t help but be transfixed. Nice stuff.