I can’t believe we’re already in the middle of November. That is absolutely wild. Also wild? As I’m writing this at 4 PM on Tuesday afternoon, there’s an ice cream truck rolling through our neighborhood. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that in November. So that’s a thing now, I guess.
This week’s new Songs of Our Lives episode is one of my favorites so far. Niecy Blues is awesome and their debut, Exit Simulation, is easily one of my favorites of 2023. I hope to find time to write something about it in the next couple of weeks, but the episode is great fun. I hope you’ll check out both it and the album! I’m having such a blast doing this podcast and appreciate everyone listening. I’d be thrilled if you considered joining the Patreon as I’m hoping to hire an engineer for all the podcasts in 2024 to help ease the workflow a bit, so it would be a massive help. Plus, you get an entire exclusive section per episode (with weird/fun facts and extra questions!) plus music previews, weekly round-ups, and more. Check it out and sign up HERE.
There’s also a cache of new Foxy Digitalis merch that I haven’t talked about much, so here’s a little picture. You can browse the shop HERE.
Alright, enough about me and supporting the site, how about some stellar new tunes?
Gabriele Leite Territórios (Rocinante)
An air of endless possibility dances through Gabriele Leite’s fingers in these alluring, pointed guitar compositions. She is inquisitive with her progressions but never seems too concerned with the answers her music asks. Simply putting forward a stream of ideas through sumptuous sonic expressions is enough. This music moves effortlessly but with purpose, each series of chords and notes building story after story on a lifetime narrative. Lightning-quick rhythms rocket “Ritmata” forward, connecting moments across time. Zigzagging pathways reveal themselves in the quiet pauses Leite laces throughout these pieces, giving her new directions to saturate with golden scales. Moving around the dynamic range stokes the fires at the heart of this music, even if certain moments are gentle and subdued, it’s always burning white hot. Territórios is my favorite guitar album of 2023. Essential!
Better Corners Continuous Miracles, Vol.2 (The state51 Conspiracy)
These are sound collages made of dreams. Continues Miracles, Vol. 2 finds Valentina Magaletti, Sarah Register, and Matthew Simms piecing together a history of the astral plane with synthetic fragments, blurred rhythms, and a ghostly elegance centered in glass. Momentary memory lapses evaporate in resonant echoes hidden behind field recordings and scratched-out cadences. The repetitions within are scarred by stochastic rhythmic patterns, imbued with an understated warmth by ethereal vocal layers and grinding jagged guitar lines. Sounds move in all directions, hovering like liminal clouds obscuring the secret places its melodic stretches are trying to find. Continues Miracles, Vol. 2 uses this constant motion to search for somewhere to be still, finally resting in the negative space of whimsical piano arrangements and lilting resonance of the closing title track. A wonder.
June McDoom With Strings (Temporary Residence Ltd)
From the opening moments of the most beguiling cover of Judee Sill’s “Emerald River Dance” imaginable, it’s like June McDoom was plucked from another era. Her voice is timeless and understated, but each world hits with a soft, welcoming force. Dancing across these lilting arrangements for harp and string quintet, McDoom sings with a strong whisper, finding new ways to imbue familiar songs with new life. Glissandos shimmer in waves. Violins purr sweet nothings The whole thing is utterly intoxicating. “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair” is immortal, but here it doesn’t just float on the wind, it becomes the wind. Gravity compresses it into something more elemental. McDoom’s two originals, “On My Way” and “The City” shine like beacons shrouded in fog, layered guitars carving paths through the amorphous, spellbinding arrangements. Highest possible recommendation.
ArtSaves Home Is Where the Hatred Is (Kopi)
Recorded in Tehran, Arash Mollakarimi explores the idea of home on the fantastic Home Is Where the Hatred Is. Complex emotional webs unfold in these intense sonic atmospheres. Mollakarimi fuses experimental approaches with familiar tones and a cache of engaging electronic textures that build spiraling structures as walls to surround us. Tension runs through these nine pieces, buried in the roiling electronic waves and sharpened by the forward-moving cadence. Beats hold more than the rhythm, they’re a dam against the rising tide of disappointments and fading memories. Days disappear into years, all of it stitched into plaintive drones fueled by fractured, melancholic arrangements, but Home Is Where the Hatred Is doesn’t give up and keeps pushing ahead through the tactile aural fog. An absolutely fantastic record.
our dear friend, the medic the inaccessible solitude of the sky (self-released)
Be still and listen closely to the incandescent shimmer of “the panorama of life was unrolled before,” the introduction to the inaccessible solitude of the sky, and we can feel an ethereal hum. our dear friend, the medic stays at a distance while opening a pathway of vulnerable aural expressions. Cool whispers dance on the surface of gilded guitar loops and silvery sonic tendrils in the opening reflections of “her silence and the fixity of her gaze continued.” Rustling leaves shelter from the wind, hoping impermanence doesn’t take hold in wistful melodies and sharpened timbres repeating in steel cascades. The line between despair and flight is often the thinnest of veils, and this music holds it close before keeping its arrow skyward. Distorted textures are a welcoming gloss from the hopeful clouds above. We can get lost here for a while before deciding which direction to follow next. Really lovely.
Mindy Meng Wang 王萌, Sui Zhen Origin of You (Music in Exile)
Origin of You is dreamy, riding a wave of chance. Exploratory soundscapes are tinged with airy timbres and timeless aural silhouettes. Recorded in one day in 2018, Chinese-Australian composers Mindy Meng Wang and Becky Sui Zhen explore themes of emptiness (空 (Kōng)), pain (疼 (Téng)), and ‘energy’ (气 (Chi)) through vocal incantations and repetitions levitating above a sea of guzheng, minimal rhythms, and electronics. Spaces open as Wang’s words spill beyond the margins, followed by sharp plucks and swirling synth melodies. A stomping cadence emerges, adding an unexpected jolt to the flowing soundscapes, but Origin of You is beautifully sequenced, a narrative unfolding with delicacy and purpose.
Cassia Streb Marginal Habitats (Harmonic Ooze)
There are a lot of moments that completely pass us by but still linger in our subconscious waiting to make an entrance. Marginal Habitats is escapist yet visceral. Recorded at Joshua Tree National Park with viola and a cache of small objects, Cassia Streb draws music out from the Earth. Small movements slowly eddy around quiet clicks and percussive textures, footsteps on dry soil moving to points unseen. Droning notes bake in the sun as though they could disappear into dust at any moment, infusing each stretch of Marginal Habitats with a withering delicacy. Streb draws a map with parched tones and pointillist timbres from dried branches and metallic taps, not necessarily leading us anywhere in particular, but inviting us to appreciate and explore the small spaces where we already are, where so much exists that we’ve yet to discover.
KMRU Stupor (Other Power)
Through the static comes a collection of joyful noises. Birdsong and children’s voices intermingle with fading dissonance and languishing sonic fields to create an inquisitive, immersive landscape. Once the waves wash across the surface, though, it’s only moments before the emotive electronics fade into the ether. Static builds tiny monuments beneath fluttering surges, each one adding to the weight Stupor holds at a distance. Once the gossamer walls break, though, harsh timbres collide up close, drawing out melodies hidden in the intermediate spaces. It never quite gets completely dark in these sound worlds. A diminished neon glow hovers at the periphery, anchored by looping bass tones and intense synth leads, keeping watch as this music makes its processional toward midnight hymnals. Essential listening, as ever, from one of my favorite artists around.
eleOnora tuuljamuud (Cruel Nature)
Calls from a dimension beyond our understanding beckon our exploratory spirit in the opening moments of tuuljamuud. Haunted, formless echoes fade in and out of view like a liminal glow. This music feels ancient, something that has existed forever in between worlds, but was only extracted when eleOnora’s voice cracked it open. Duets with wind and the resonance inside a stairwell eschew the underlying bleakness to find beautiful expression in the face of nothingness. “Voice improv through jaw harp at home” in particular is imbued with an ancient sheen, the timbre of the jew harp adding a rough, well-worn edge to her vocal incantations. Melodies stretch beyond the horizon to entangle the world’s essence in an evaporating cosmic air. Incredible.
bahía mansa Mallki (Cyclical Dreams)
Shine a light toward the shadows and life scatters. Aqueous synth bubbles flicker and scatter and prismatic tones build up before dripping to the surface to form amorphous landscapes. This music is fluid and in constant motion. Laced with field recordings, Mallki draws us closer with hints of whimsy buried inside emotive melodies. It’s lovely, but somehow heavy, like an aural heartache. Drama builds as chord progressions rise and fall, moving up and down the mountain in search of a place to rest. Distortion crushes the small moments into granular specks to repurpose on the other side of the wave. This world is lush. Details are an endless stream of beautiful sonic moments combined into captivating atmospheres. Stitching melodic scraps into beautiful mosaics, bahía mansa always finds a way to shine.