This past week the shelf was chockful of works that address planetary concerns from the elements to climate change to interplanetary dependence, and those chasms in-between! The first four are full-length efforts and the final two are EPs (a few of these with vocals) which we rarely cover, though I felt it was necessary to make an exception here.
Planet Supreme | S/T (Ant Zen)
扎克 | Orchestral Tape Studies (Past Inside the Present)
The Leaf Library | About Minerals (Inner Space Travels)
Aporie | Temporary Meaning (aisthesis)
Mathias Hammerstrøm | There Is a Light Within Yourself (Hammerstrøm Records)
HIN | Warmer Weather (Sound in Silence)
Some of the more recent offering on this longterm German label are incredibly fresh like this one by Karl Rydby (also known as Grand Mal X) here under the new moniker Planet Supreme. This is some serious futuristic ambient. It sizzles with a halo of hovering atmosphere, the type of work that makes you pause to collect your inner most thoughts. Chords dip down like honey, ringing out in choral refrain on Suns. The setting is stellar, the synths and drone, hivelike. Planet Supreme manages to also blend field recordings with an industrial layer for a montage of aural cinema.
These studies are a “compilation arranged and curated by healing sound propagandist, 扎克.” The mode becomes pure striations of ambient texture wafting from an off-white drone. The recording is broken into four parts, that actually work seamlessly as an extended long-player. Throughout there are frozen harmonies continually thawing, sometimes behind a filter, sometimes up front. But before the invigorating higher chords the layers melt and rise. It sounds like orchestral music for made in homage to the deterioration of polar ice, warm and chill, back and forth. Lovely set.
The Leaf Library is a quartet utilizing angelic sandwiched vocals, instruments, Moogs and field recordings to sculpt a delicate balance between sweet ambient drone and song. This feels like a conceptual album to me in between the pulse and blur, there’s always a sense of haunting musicality. Though its just out this week all formats (save digital) are sold out, and I can understand why, plus they do not skimp on program length as this runs well over an hour. About Minerals is a kaleidoscope of ambient, melodic cadences and a bit of a lazy hazy setting, spiced with a few bolder shorts like Blue Green Sequence.
Last year I review Olivier Haas‘ Control, and this follow-up is even moodier than his last effort, but in a lithe, almost dystopian Wild West way. His references to the fleeting sense of the here and now rings out in floating guitar drone that fills the room. Temporary Meaning is one of those stress erasing records that lingers, lengthens and transports the listener into a trance-like state. It flexes and even roars in various passages, but always demands a certain attention, even in its most elapsing of circumstances. Haas keeps things slow moving, charged by chord changes and other ceiling zero effects.
There Is a Light Within Yourself is the debut effort from Danish electronic sound bender (and singer) Mathias Hammerstrøm. From its breathy opening paired with blunt tribal half beats and other effects you are immediately engaged in this cozy world. Hammerstrøm uses his voice in unique ways, almost at a sweet yodel, even within his mellow delivery. The short record explores electronic melodies and understated funk along the lines of a Jamie Lidell/James Blake cross with teeny hints of Jónsi (Sigur Rós). The molasses pacing of tracks like I Never Forgive are worth the price of admission alone.
This UK/US duo of Jerome Alexander (Message To Bears) and Justin Lee Radford (The Kids And The Cosmos) has a stylish set of open rhythms and dazzling melodies, pairing vocal and synths that are a wash in Summery colors. Likely one of the more poppy recordings I’ve reviewed in recent times, it trickled through due to its lush atmospherics and understated vocalese, but rest assured these young gents will be the hit of any festival circuit this year. They remind me of a strange (and oh so pleasant) blend of Junior Boys, The Knife, and classic Beach Boys, with a modern Icelandic-esque twist. Get your best inflatables ready for sand, sun and these here sounds.