Talk about Fall, new work is dropping quickly and October seems to be warming more than most Autumnal seasons of late, and it shows in a bevy of new releases – several highlighted here. The nineteen new records here are all releasing this week.
Alex McKechnie‘s Degrees of Latitude manages to use computer code (C++), programmed into trickling musical passages. The British composer has been harnessing electronics since the late 80’s and his is a classic sound that is bubbly, elemental, with a fat wink to the old school way of doing things. Works like Laurie’s Beagle loop like a cascading marquee. His friendly scores embrace a sense of playfulness without being overly syrupy. One cannot help but helplessly go lost within his distinctive electronic signatures, both meditative and a bit psychedelic.
Ergomope has released Етиологии (Amek Collective, Bulgaria). At first it’s melodic nu-classical, and suddenly field recordings of an outdoor crowd, cash registers and general mysterious fluxation of noise drone take over. Without spelling it out, this is one of those long-form conceptual records that tells a story in sixteen tracks by using familiar sounds and dark vibrations. The mood flexes and the atmospheres are heavily effected by the rocky and beguiling insertions of tactile, boulder-like rubble that seems to be falling all around our ears on the incredible Люлка от пламъци. Provocative and peculiar.
NEXT: Florian Hecker‘s Inspection II (Editions Mego) blends pitch, dual channel, noise (both effects and industrial) alongside a voice/narrator who walks the listener though with poetry (ala exquisite corpse). In true Hecker fashion, this is a complex listen and many may find his assemblage technique rather off-putting – but please keep in mind this is not background music whatsoever. Rather, his sound is more like building a skyscraper, if the tippety top floors did truly make the air squeak in slices above twenty floors. It’s as though you are listening to an educational tape, almost encyclopedic, with sounds as “examples”. File Under: Strange Noise.
You’ve heard of off-Broadway, well this is way out jazz w/a twist. Turkish collective Konstrukt teams up with the Windy City’s own, the incredible Ken Vandermark for something extraordinary on Kozmik Bazaar (Karlrecords). It’s almost too grande to try and sum up. But with the utmost brevity, let’s just say this is one of the most ‘balls-to-the-wall’ of the genre in a decade or more. Holy wild horns, Batman! What could easily be called scintillating will keep the most passive of listener’s on the edge of their seat. This may be earmarked as ‘free jazz’ but, people, get ready for a tidal wave of expressive serpentine adrenaline.
The young Swedish composer Marcus Fjellström (1979-2017) may have only been thirty-eight when he left this world, but he left a treasure trove of dramatic sound waves for generations to come. This includes two concurrent new releases: Exercises in Estrangement and Gebrauchsmusik (both on Lampse). The first is a cerebral, kaleidoscopic dissertation of sorts – lost in a world between the harmonic and the stirringly abstract. It moves in and out of consciousness with reverie, isolation, futurism and a quixotic sense of orchestration. The second album is even more obtuse at times, but comes off like miniature soundtracks to war, art and death. He incorporates lush fantasy effects over static and murmur. Even when he goes dark, it’s more the form and not the function speaking – but behind those lips is a haunting ghost in the machine.
Ohio (Taylor Deupree and Corey Fuller) has just released Upward, Broken, Always (12K). It’s a new sound for both artists who have been known to create wondrous minimal and ambient works. Here there is something quite eluding to Americana, and/or folk music. But beyond the beautiful twang, site a world dappled with birdcalls, and a blissful harmony, including a haunting croon (a full vocal on the title track). The duo has managed to balance this with other tracks that might fit into their typical sound, translucent shimmering layers of light-filled ambient rhythm. Though the two discovered they both hail from the state of Ohio, they recorded this in Westchester County, and by the sound of it, they are making their own map.
This is Situations (2018-2019) on Wet Dreams Records by Spanish multi-disciplinary artist Sofía Bertomeu, and it’s unchartered territory. Made up on truncated beats, and a ton of atmospheric elements it becomes a glorious maze of spatial realities. At one moment you are listening to tonal vibrations, the next you are led down a path of Bertomeu’s sounds of nature with ambient pulsations, then into hollow percussion with sonic echo, and still you conclude with modern techno elements alongside asymmetrical observations. She’s developed a secret recipe worthy of many a spoonful.
Eventless Plot, a trio from Thessaloniki sent us new release Percussion Works (Dinzu Artefacts) for a spin. This minimal tape offers quite a bit to absorb in four pieces. Percussion can be viewed from so many various perspectives and strategies – and these guys come through with something monumental in terms of its hesitations, it’s methodical layout. The record is dense and featherweight simultaneously, stretching like silly putty into incredible new forms, contortions. Nuanced to the nth degree. If you love tonal formation, this is definitely evolving sound sculpture in the making.
A record generously fluid within a minimal dub/glitch style that satisfies deeply above and below the surface instead of simply scratching it. Robert Heel’s The King of Groves (Shimmering Moods) is more than a simple play on words – it’s indulgent as it sneaks up on you, on this tender layer of your skin, then wrapping itself around in a riff of kinesthesia. Think Chain Reaction – now modernized for millenials (and fiftysomethings like me). Great to move and engage with, rooted in the moment. The production is slick and sensitive, paying close attention to discrete yet colorful nuances throughout. A stunning sleeper.
The four players on the latest collaboration from Montreal duo Sound of the Mountain with Tokyo’s Tetuzi Akiyama and Toshimaru Nakamura bring alive two new compositions. These folks some of the most competent living musicians out there, and they are infusing amplified clarinet and trumpet with guitars and nimb like a free-form jazz-adjacent fusion minus any soaring solo riffs. Instead the four work with intense harmony, creating an avant garde sound of broken noises, and curious musical crevices, filling in blanks, and leaving the riddle up tot he imagination. You can hear momentary lapses into Japanese traditions, as they work en masse, both with intimate phrasing and overly intense excesses over these two sixteen minute plus works. For those who love Henry Threadgill, Andrew Cyrille and/or the most unexplained gutteral utterances that still stand upright at the end of the session. Out on Mystery & Wonder.
More sounds from Chicago this week, this time from the duo Binary Canary (Ted Moorem – laptop, Kyle Hutchins – sax). Their new iterative systems (Carrier Records) is a head-turner. Inches from some semblance of jazz, these two young gents are in the pocket and far out (in space, of mind) – this being a term of endearment, as they engage with open ended discordant rise and fall. Sure, they manage to induce breathy bits into broken frequency and vinylisms, but the way they get from point a to z is something of future legend. Higher than helium this record buzzes to shrill bleats and deluded warm and fuzzies before it runs out of tape. A sonic trip.
The duo of Philippe Petit and Césario Fa as C_FA.PP debut their project combining Buchla Easel K + Moogerfooger Ring Modulator, Cwejman modular synthesizer + Sampler. As a title First Offence (Arachnidiscs) is a most definitely a wink/nod to the slurpy scientific sounds the French experimenters are tempering here. It’s partly a dip back into a much more innocent time when synths were room-sized installations rather than something you could carry in a suitcase – nonetheless – it’s a magical journey in four parts. While it may breathe like an alien, it’s dialing into the modern possibilities of (now) archaic technologies that still have quite a language to further decode. From particle bits to wavy lines made from frequency, this redefines a lost art for locating sounds from signals.
The gentle sound of Jo Berger Myhre & Ólafur Björn Ólafsson on their collaoration Lanzarote (Hubro) is, in a word, beguiling. This would be a great record to wake or go to rest while listening – it’s opener/closer Grain of Sand is a testament to lethargy. And that’s a good thing, especially if you possess a set of ears that can appreciate tender folk and grainy rhythms. This plays on sleepy jazz lore, with an unmistakable Scandanavian savoir-faire – something between Sigur Rós and mid 90’s Eno. Though this also is not a strictly ambient record, alas, you have a series of tracks that sit in wait ala much of the early Kranky imprint – with a fully realized set of production values that give it the allure of something set for the grandeur of stage and screen.
Another interesting duo with a record of note is the electroacoustics possibilities explored by Joanna John & Burkhard Stangl entitled Lynx (Interstellar). As they mesh old/new technologies to form an encrusted drone the air around you may become tinted with the strange and familiar. Guitar strings, rain, intermittent percussion are seriously infused here, steeped into a sort of sonic folk music. They have a rustic flair with cosmic glitter tossed sparingly into the mix, making for the soundtrack to nature at a turning point in history. It’s a glassy world we are looking into, one that is defying the odds to keep certain traditions alive, and for all its warmth there is something unsettling just below the surface.
Berlin-based guitarist/composer Julia Reidy takes off on her latest, In Real Life (Black Truffle). Combining barely audible vocal, elongated strings and heavenly synths this is an anomaly. It oddly falls between the cracks of spacey soundtracks and middle European folklore. Reidy’s playing is mythical. In two pieces (each around twenty minutes) the picking at her instrument is mesmerizing in both its repetition and its supernatural, choral resonance. The sound stimulates the ear as it almost subliminally seduces the listener into a meditative state. Trippy folk music for a future society.
On Lorca: Lost Tapes (1989-1991) we get a sweet slice of the work of Peruvian composer/musician Miguel Flores (on Buh Records). This is not the typical faire we script about here, but the imprint made a brilliant stroke in delivering this archival collection for a contemporary audience to indulge in the mysterious melodies of someone who may otherwise be misunderstood. Flores’ sound ranges from something similar to baroque to folk music to something out of a sci-fi flick – full of light harmony to generous orchestration. The standout here is IV a piece that is fueled by funny effects and weird synth distortions, essences of the rainforest. It breathes of the peculiar. There’s nothing typical here.
Out of Paris (Nahal Recordings) comes the debut, and near imperceptible Magnetic Voices From The Unseen by Renaud Bajeux. This is microsound at its most refined, and these four pieces are a testament to someone who has obviously spent the greater part of the past two years perfecting the most minute of tiny frequency play before committing it to wax. There’s a lot of technical junk in the trunk in the making, but that is all distilled into a haunting revelation of tonal separation, a wondrous collage of twisted oscillations and industrial repartee. As this winds with static and pulse, Bajeux has created a rare, timeless modern masterpiece.
Seattle’s Uncanny Dandelions (Kyle Trujillo) self-releases his new debut album today. Billed as “plunderphonics-ambient-trip-hop” this does sort of slip in and out of shape, form and genre quite flexibly – but the low grade funk of it all is quite insatiable. It’s got an unplugged, unfiltered quality, while having a ghost on its back in the way Portishead once did and whose torch is now carried by people like Andy Votel or Leyland Kirby. There’s something uniquely haunted here, just add a be-bop beat. This is worth more than a single spin, though it may be highly addictive.
American brothers Andrew and Michael Tasselmyer as Gray Acres have a new disc out on UK imprint Whitelabelrecs titled Material Forces. This is their sophomore release, and it’s a stunning micro-ambient journey. Their blend of placid undulating harmony, protracted and dappled in fine static is rooted in a template of shadows, a strata of grayness. What sound like loops is more akin to putting fog into perspective, looking at it’s structure down tot he molecular level. The production is of light, smooth like silky satin, and weightless. So subdued in atmosphere, as if clouds are rolling in and out high above you.