It’s November and we have kissed the cruelty of summertime heat and drought goodbye. As seasons turn and churn as do what we have plugged into our ears. Whether you want to shake your tree, chill by the moon or let your freakiest flag fly, during this harvest there’s something for you. All released today, this double fistful of selections should keep your senses in check and/or keep you thinking all season long.
Phil Durrant & Bill Thompson‘s new Intraspect (Burning Harpsichord Records) is an improvised 31-minute modular/tonal piece. Through its duration you may notice slight curves, bare distortions and variance in pitch. The duo seem to be channeling the timbre of frequency as a language, perhaps one heard by lifeforms other than human. At the midpoint they drop the velocity, now aided/abetted by minimal corroded industrialism. This is far from meditative, instead feels quite brooding and telepathic.
The two tracks that make up the new record by Gareth Davis & Scanner, entitled Footfalls (Miasmah) are a slight left turn for two gents who have long established their own signature sounds. Released digitally and on orange vinyl, you enter a sonic glow of tones, stuttering and smooth, on the electro-ambient Towards the Door. It wavers, floats and bobs about in compelling muffled melodies. The flipside offers tingling reverberation and tactile effects that play and compete with an otherwise sleepy canvas of broken folky rhythm. Listen here.
Over the course of 2019 Isaac Helsen has slowly been releasing parts and pieces of his Remnants Series Vol. I-VIII (Past Inside the Present), but this Fall the grouping of eight recordings, in its entirety, is fully revealed. The labelrunner and sound sculptor has found time amidst releasing many others’ works, to delight with some of the most ethereal works this year. The seventeen pieces included run from shorts like the ambiguous tinkering on 3347-00-8GA (1:36) to The Augur (12:36), a quasi orchestral elegy left to chance. The full collection is primarily ambient, like the glimmering just-released Desert Mirror and Maelstrom which will harness the senses and render the body to gradually buckle in deep reflection.
Live In The Batcave (Black Truffle) comes from the quartet of Joe McPhee, Graham Lambkin, Charlie McPhee and Oliver Lambkin. Filled with growls, squeals, toots, howls and randomized, improvised percussive elements — this is out out avant jazz with many twists. Some of the sounds are peculiarly human, almost silly – many using the body (mouth) as instrument. The press guides us to the fact that this may be partly innebriated. So cheers, to all those who might consider a toasting over one more shot of tequila. It’s an elusive listening session with a funky edge, edited organically. Out on a limb I think even Albert Ayler might blush a lil’ as this goes from stream on consciousness to seasick jingles, between and back again. Clink, clink, clink goes the animated weasel let loose. It’s a family affair. Prost.
The new Fallow (Dronarivm) from offthesky (Jason Corder) is breathtaking from the first few notes. Packaged in a stellar design with coverart from Stephen Spera the visual finds its way into the elegant way the mix melts away in layers. Julie Slater‘s strings here are incredibly delicate and icy as well, which gives the disc a real radiance. The delayed pace only offers a deeper drama and entree into a world of orchestrated harmonies, glassy drone and aeriform suspense. Breathy and effortless this will be on rotation for weeks to come.
What’s That Smell?: This vinyl reissue of work by Renaldo & The Loaf (aka Brian Poole and David Janssen) is a combination of the Brits work dated back to 1987. The Elbow Is Taboo / Elbonus (Editions Mego) with an impressive running time of nearly 90 minutes over a 2xLP. Gather ’round the mythical/psych folk rock melodies of a band that might be lost in obscurity without diligent dives into unique experiments in electronic music. With its medieval edges and worn funky linguistics the duo plays everything from glockenspiel to pickle jar. Playfully animated, this crosses the worlds of Levenslied with hints of Negativland and Malcolm McClaren’s buffalo gals-era jams with the unexpected. An entire platter dedicated to bonus tracks. File under ‘strange funk’.
Speaking of re-issues…..Any chance I can dive back to the sounds of 1978-82 I’m all in. Here’s the seminal album Y (Definitive Edition) by The Pop Group (1979, Radar; here on Mute). Mind you I was unaware at the time of the greatness of this Bristol fivesome who only lasted a few years, only to resurface thirty years later. But when I first tuned into them sometime in the mid 90s I was hooked, and their debut record is a prime example of what made them completely unique. They are the antithesis of their name. They combine whispers and noise, harmony and distortion, with a whole lot of angst and understanding. This is post-punk no wave with a lust for tribal half-beats. If you could imagine The Aupairs, Was (Not Was) and Bauhaus with a dash of out jazz and SPK – now, you begin to scratch the surface. The remaster includes Alien Blood (unreleased rarities – some edgy and breathy pieces in there) as well as Y Live (for the first time ever) – that’s twenty extra tracks (!!!) – and it is super clean and biting. If you’ve never picked this one up, this is the time, and this is the record, of the time.
The new album Diver from Tobias Preisig (Quiet Love Records) delivers stripped down strings and melancholic harmony. From the intimate opener Néon with its sources separating, and airy drone the listener will be engaging closely with a record altogether tipped in a folky realism and futuristic levitation. The compositions begin to recess in your mind the more you listen, and the more you listen the greater chance of being lured into this cinematic vision. Preisig’s arrangements are derived from both classical and pop music, fusing these modalities with flourishes of worldliness and forward-thinking rhythm.
Throughout An Angel In Alliance With Falsehood (Amek Collective) you will notice repeated sound effects, broken glass and dragged objects – this makes for an intriguing new release from Valance Drakes. Embedded are samples of field recordings, watery gestations, baby cries and ringing that fades in and out of the mix, bathed in all of the ten tracks here. Written during his trips to Bulgaria there’s something inherently hip-hop within the guise of its drone/ambient soundscape and the breaks therein. The repetitive elements come and go, leaving way for striking electronic tones and graceful allusion. Honestly, for these ears, this is a single track broken into ten shards with poetic titles. Even with the addition of Richard Devine and Surachai, this ltd tape run breaks no new ground, but it’s worth a second spin.
Slowly Dismantling (Room40) from Yann Novak is his latest plaintive journey into oblivion. His is an alienated ambient, and even a bit more introspective than usual. Novak’s subtle approach shows a deft ear, one that would be best appreciated via headset for a deep listening experience, one might miss some of the finer qualities of a track like Accumulation otherwise. The five works fluidly weave into one another over these forty minutes. When I hear We All Disappear and read the liner notes about his memories of his hometown hotel/bar lost to fire most can relate to the effects of gentrification, urban planning – as well as the greed and the sometimes sinister human nature behind some of these choices. Parts of this simply drift away, disappearing into the abyss. A graceful sleeper.