Launched only just this year, Whited Sepulchre has been the source of some of the most emotionally compelling and sincerely personal sounds of 2016. Having launched back in April with Braeyden Jae's morosely uplifting Fog Mirror, the SLC-based ambient tinkerer's debut album on vinyl, Whited Sepulchre now issues Ant'lrd's Sleep Drive, a three-track spread of cumulus-like aural drifts. The drone suite "MS-Dass" unfurls its 20-minute celestial canvas across the entire B-side, serving as the perfect compliment to the A-side's more rhythmic and ramshackle approach. Album opener "Hood" rides an effervescent bob of dewy warmth, feeling like a calm, cool summer morning. "Kasuisai" suggests more elusive elements, perfectly playing the emotional middleground of its bookends. The track plays out like some distant but definite spiritual offspring of rustically kosmische synth explorers Cluster. The video for "Kasuisai" follows a series of obscured but alluring images of nature, feeling not unlike a dosed walkabout or some pastoral waking dream.
Although Ohal Grietzer's debut solo material materialized only this year, she's managed to carve out a substantial, hyper-stylized but altogether genuine niche of her own. Acid Park, released back in May on Styles Upon Styles, finds the Israel-born, Brooklyn-based musician in various states of unguarded awareness of both her self and her surroundings. Ohal's Cancelled Faces, also released this year, score extended the producer's quixotic curiosity with dark but optimistic meditation. Ohal's output turns another new leaf as a fertile source of remix material. This time around, Matt Morandi (aka Jahiliyya Fields) reconfigures Acid Park's opener "All Mine" from an airy, agile drift of shimmering vocals and vibrantly fleeting textures into a denser, more claustrophobic affair. A sifting strobe of percussion ruffles through the entire piece, carrying movements of open space and throbbing elegance.
Stream/download the track below and consider donating $1 to the song's cause: the Ali Forney Center in NYC, a space in NYC that helps, houses and educates LGBTQ homeless youth.
Chicago synthesist Brett Naucke is one of the more vital cornerstones of experimental music. Through his work running the impeccable Catholic Tapes imprint, operating a number of collaborative efforts (Druids of Huge, Exercise), and recording under his solo Face Worker alias, Naucke has curated and perpetuated beautifully bizarre music from the fringe. Now, Naucke returns under his given name with Executable Dreamtime, a six-song set of precisely processed permutations that suggest a method of transcribing and categorizing dreams. Tracks like "Executable Dreamtime" and "The Space Between Twins" open deep, sprawling paths of vibrant ambiance, floating on clouds of arpeggiated tones and throbbing noise. Elsewhere, "1028 Modulated Tunnels" and "Forever Overhead" use randomness and repetition to reveal exquisite drifts of synthetic bliss, not unlike Keith Fullerton Whitman's modular meditations or fellow Umor Rex labelmate M. Geddes Gengras.
Executable Dreamtime is out now on Umor Rex, along with three new tapes by Maar, Alexandre Bazin, and Siavash Amini and Matt Finney.
In a relatively short amount of time, Angelo Harmsworth has amassed a modest but impressive discography of beautifully unnerving, polished-yet-lo-fi drone music. Highlighted best on Silent Orgasm (Bathetic, 2012), Fluxus Rainbow (Patient Sounds, 2014), and Cerrillos Discos (released on his own Lime Lodge imprint last year), the Santa Fe-based musician effortlessly mixes the sinister with the serene. Harmsworth now returns with Blush, the first vinyl edition released by Denmark-based cassette imprint Phinery. "Blossom I" unveils the first taste of the LP with an austere drift of slightly serrated tones. Harmsworth's take on no-frills drone music carries the baton last held by the fringe imprints Ekhein or Phaserprone, eschewing unnecessary frills for more minimal, intimate presentation. The song's video, directed by Jenny Sundby, follows some anonymous protagonist in a variety of waking lives. Sundby compliments the random, vulnerable but natural motions with low-key meditations on light peeking through a window shade, perfectly capturing the song's vaguely hermetic feeling.
As Machine Listener, Cleveland-based Matthew Gallagher artist, musician, and occasional AdHoc writer, creates enormous and agile sets of noise music that skirts blunt of brutal tendencies of the genre for more curious, engaged experiences. Endless Coil, Gallagher's latest release, ventures even further into glorious and otherworldly treks of sound and away from some of the more abrasive areas the project has mined in the past. The opening motif rockets into the air in a spiraling din of Terry Riley-esque noise, shimmering in a trail of frayed and shifting sound. The display soon dissolves into a massive, undulating drift similar to Beat-era Bowery Electric and focusing its powers on both terrestrial and celestial bliss points. Gallagher steers things into more minimal realms, ditching the layers of tones and textures for a simple, optimistic but eerie bell melody. The B-side unfurls a slow and sedate but robust shroud of amplified electronics, burning through worn but sturdy organ drones as though John Cale's early New York recordings were slowed to a smear.
While Tomasz Bednarczyk has flirted with deep house and minimal techno in recent years, the Polish composer and producer's output largely aligns with more ambient, ethereal tones. Nowhere, Bednarczyk's third outing on Lawrence English's experimental imprint Room40 but first under the New Rome alias, returns to the drifting, lilting aural opiates. "Single," the disc's first single, heightens the peripheral beauty and furthers the synthetic sprawl, creating an immersive cloud of swirling sound. The result hits similar pleasure points targeted by Jeff Witscher in his later work as Rene Hell, or more explicitly, as Marble Sky. The song's video is perfectly fitting, telescoping its way through clouds and zooming in on anonymous, washed-out visuals.
Recently released on Styles Upon Styles, Ohal Grietzer's original score for Lior Shamriz's film, Cancelled Faces, is a dynamic and wiry set of sounds that balances between wholly unsettling and deeply, beautifully moving. The 12 songs on Cancelled Faces lurk with demented curiosity, mixing aurally filmic traditions of Wendy Carlos and Jóhann Jóhannsson to less tangible modes of OPN, all while retaining Ohal's sincerely personal and unique approach to composition and arrangement. Now, Ohal's work gets an added layer of complexity with an extended reimagining of Cancelled Faces' oeuvre by PAN cohort Jar Moff. The seven-minute epic turns the dense but austere source material into a complete storm of sounds, throttling moments of beauty through series of jarring edits, atonal melodies, and starkly contrasted moments of lightness and darkness. The piece serves as a perfect foil that compliments both artists' charms.
Driftmachine is the Berlin-based duo of Andreas Gerth (Tied & Tickled Trio) and Florian Zimmer (Saroos), a duo that has explored distantly dubby, wholly immersive sets of experimental music that intersects cavernous electronics with subtly vibrant avant-kosmische musik. With only a couple of years under their belt, the project now returns with its third release: Colliding Contours. The LP comes via Umor Rex, Driftmachine's longtime home. More than a match made in heaven, the pairing furthers a sense of curation for both project and label alike. "Dogov Godov," a midway jam from Colliding Contrours, finds the project mining spacious, open-ended ambiance similar to the tectonic movements of Substrata-era Biosphere or a slower, somehow more contemplative To Rococo Rot. Negative space is emphasized just as much as the pulsing textures and apprehensive rhythm. Austere jabs of sound and static-addled noise fill space with the sardonic glee of Chris & Cosey while keeping one foot deeply rooted in more celestial realms.
For the better part of four decades and documented across more than 100 releases, Loren Connors has chased elusive trails of guitar-based, ephemeral blues. Often working alongside a heady run of collaborators (such as Jim O'Rourke, John Fahey, Alan Licht, Keiji Haino, David Daniell--the list goes on) but largely working in the solo realm, Connors' work continues to peel back deeper layers of distant, deeply subtle emotion. Recently, the guitarist and composer has experienced a sort of resurgence, with continued live activity and Sean McCann's reissue of Connors' classic Airs LP on Recital just last year. Now, Connors turns yet an entirely new leaf by releasing The Red Painting, his first released piece of piano music. The piece is undeniably Connors: drifting through air with frayed beauty, solemn optimism, and unbelievable restraint. Each note seems to spiral up like a sparking ember, burning its way higher and higher before fading out forever. Let's hope there's plenty more where this came from.
Now three LPs-deep into her solo career, Christina Vantzou has led a quiet but consistent run of subtle orchestration and peripheral, striking beauty. Like clockwork, each album receives a companion remix EP, seeing each track tweaked and reframed by any number of Vantzou's peers. No. 3, released last October on Kranky, is no different, finding remixes by the likes of Robert A.A. Lowe, The Sight Below, and labelmates Tara Jane O'Neil and loscil. Perennial synth wizard and ex-Emeralds member Steve Hauschildt lent his talents to a stunning rework of "Stereoscope," a transcendent mid-album highlight of No. 3. The song's stark but alluring video, shot and directed by Vantzou herself, play out with the alienated but human beauty of 'Under the Skin.' Together, the audio and visual create a deeply moving, dreamlike experience that heightens Vantzou's immediate feelings of both distance and familiarity.