Alabama label Noumenal Loom is definitely no stranger to a humid, absurd realist approach to electronica, having worked with an international cast of good-humored gothic artists like Foodman, Giant Claw, and DJ Voilà. Taking inspiration from swampy folk and electronic exotica, Jasper Lee's Mirror of Wind's is the label's latest. Lee has composed film scores as well as video projects; he also invented the Pyraharp, a plucked string instrument that resembles an upside down endtable. With this new collection of songs, Lee imaginatively creates a realm that seems fantastic and nostalgic, and then he writes its soundtracks. The result is new-age, primitivist plunderphonics in a similar tradition to Belbury Poly or Plantasia. Over a landscape of whooshing trees, cawing birds, and delicate, unidentifiable instruments, a mystery story seems to emerge. Quietly sung over spacious, saloon shuffles in some parts, and improvised with gleeful jazz riffs in others, the plotless journeys within Mirror of Wind are curious and enigmatic, like an unidentified reel of home recordings discovered in a barn. Tracks like "Veil of Crocus" and "Bamboo Shack" best showcase this in short bursts. They are not merely interludes though, but imaginative vignettes that move the album forward. Other numbers, like "Quaint Gothic Spring," are more like dour Western ballads than abstract New Age works, but still blend modern and nostalgic myths and images. As the album unfolds, more instances of magic and suspense appear, drawing the listener in further.
Mirror of Wind is out March 3 via Noumenal Loom. You pre-order it now.
"...one thing that's attracted me and cemented me with this music is its ability to create spaces where people can feel really welcome."
The Club is a mysterious, sometimes dark, enveloping space, but a welcoming one. Many underground clubs and venues in the United States suffer from frequent stigmatization from an unsympathetic public. Occasionally, sudden tragedies occur, a reminder that even safe spaces must face the world outside. But the Club is still a haven for shaking off stress, becoming closer with oneself, and bridging cultural boundaries underneath a heavy, syncopated kick drum. The Bermuda via Oakland producer Russell E.L. Butler gets this: his new 12" for CGI Records, I'm Dropping Out of Life, blends the ecstatic throb of acid with a nod to his heritage and Bermudan indigenous music, Gombey. Butler has previously released music with the UK gatekeepers of underground house, Opal Tapes, as well as a track on the recent, cold-fire compilation Club Chai Vol. 1. His latest, "A New Day," carries a positive message and inertia, and is sure to draw people to the dancefloor.
I'm Dropping Out of Life is out February 3 on CGI Records. Pre-order it here, and also check out Butler's feature with Moog Music below—he jams in his sunny studio with his cat and talks about the necessity of staying grounded in the 21st Century.
G.S Sultan's debut tape for Umor Rex was a chaotic, tongue-in-cheek deconstruction of pop banality. The digital alias of Roy Werner attacks audio like Foodman and Giant Claw, ripping the grains to shreds and flattening out atonal textures to create jarring, beautiful waves. His experiments contain a certain humanity within a mechanical and bloodless heart, which Werner brings to an intensely climax on "Crepuscule M," the final track on his upcoming album on Phinery tapes. Redundancy Suite will be the 4th G.S Sultan release, first full-length LP for a label that continues to assert its position at the forefront of experimental electronic music. In keeping with the digital theme, the cover is adorned with artwork by Birch Cooper. Werner digs deep into his artificial aesthetic, where ideas of physical space and shape are confounded. Machines perform organic activities, bubbling, hissing, sputtering, increasingly fluid and natural, pixels getting smaller and smaller, closer to the fundamental units of life they are based on. Acoustic instruments vs. digital instruments vs. reconditioned, recycled sounds of recordings of digital and real instruments. Digital technology, more and more, continues to lose its shape and its “edge,” in the sense that the boundary where technology begins and humanity ends. What’s interesting is how personal the music gets. This is immediately counterintuitive. Personal? The realm of lyrics, imagery? What is personal is also an atom bomb of public emotion, rendered in real time, spread across the digital plane and compressed into granular chords.
The Russian artist Kate Shilonosova moves through a stuttering, kitschy fever dream in the video clip for her track, "KKU." An alumni of the constantly-expanding Red Bull Music Academy, Shilonosova makes up one half of Glintspeak in addition to her work as NV. "KKU" is one of ten cerebral, cinematic jams on her new tape Binasu. Shilonosova seems to bridge the land between Björk and Kavinsky, with some heavy exploration into Japanese pop aesthetic acting as a nice thickening agent. Binasu is Japanese for "Venus," the figure depicted in the artwork by Orange Milk co-overlord Keith Rankin, and Shilonosova talks about the role this genre played in her music in an interview for Wonderzine, also mentioning American composer Laurie Anderson, as well as the Novation Supernova, a vintage synth prized for the "warmth" you can clearly hear fuzzing up her music.
Stream the album on Orange Milk's Bandcamp. The tape sold out; a second edition is forthcoming.
DJ Rashad was destined to live forever. His music is the kind that seems infinite -- free of social and political woes, of economic hardship, and of consumerist image-making. A member of the hardworking Teklife crew, Rashad's pioneering footwork tracks zipped by at 160bpm with frenetic, transcendent energy. A prolific producer and DJ, Rashad oversaw the rise of Teklife to the international stage. Since his sudden death, very little of Rashad's work has surfaced, aside from an EP of unreleased tracks on Hyperdub, 2015's 6613. Perhaps they were letting us all pause for breath. Teklife have now announced , a 14-track double LP of collaborations between Rashad and DJ Spinn, DJ Earl, DJ PayPal, and more. The result of what was no doubt some emotional, painstaking curation, this dedication looks to be nothing less than definitive. Pre-orders are up for an April 8th release date. This will also be Teklife's first physical release, and they've provided us with a bonus Rashad collaboration with Machinedrum, which you can stream below.
On their second collaborative work, producers and multi-instrumentalists Andrew Weathers and Seth Chrisman craft a billowing, atmospheric suite for synthesizers and driftwood. LikeLouella, this c20 on the Danish Phinery Tapes is a relaxed and wandering exploration of ambient arpeggios and textural field recordings. Although Ever Steady doesn't contain the skilled inflections of Americana drone that Weathers loves to explore in his work, the tape is very much inseperable from the West Coast, and the sprawling national parks that set the backdrop for these two composers. Both Chrisman and Weathers draw heavily from the environment and from nature for inspiration, which gives their digital soundscapes and electroacoustic improvisations an eerily natural quality, like an abandoned ranger outpost that has remained in a forest long enough to earn a place in its history. Weathers' label, Full Spectrum Records, often releases works of experimental folk and country, such as Chrisman's distinctly rural homage to good 'ole Upstate New York, Olivebridge. In this instance, the pair convey Point Reyes National Seashore, in California. A physical artifact from their session finds its way into "Bishop Pine," giving the work an essential sense of place.
Ever Steady is available to pre-order from Phinery, shipping on January 18.
A Discogs oeuvre of over 30 full-length releases since 2011? Biographical details that stop at the first initial? A Tumblr dedicated to cataloguing innumerable side projects and the locations of those last few tapes out of a hand-numbered run of 40? Germany Army may have a lot of the characteristics of your typically clandestine cassette composer, but they remain enigmatic stalwarts of some of the bestlabels in the experimental scene with their arcane sense of musicianship. Keeping in the tradition of '70s industrial bands to whom German Army draw many comparisons, their songs are also quite catchy, but as unsettling and numerous as a stack of Weird Tales magazines in the waiting room for a Soviet-era assisted suicide clinic. They’re not so esoteric, either. Peter Kris, a “founding member” of the duo, has released music on Tymbal Tapes and A Giant Fern. Their upcoming LP, Karash Tilich Mir, features a set of swampy, scampering noir, with plenty of cult-ish voice samples. Listen to the indicatively strange “Dreary Commonplace" below.
The music of Steven R Smith has come to be commonly referred to as "free folk," with variations on that term being used to describe his varied output. Smith is a multi-intrumentalist (meaning he is primarily a guitarist, but also has amassed a small army of homemade instruments that include xylophones, amplified gourds, and at the very least one of those noisemakers involving bowing a pitched wire nailed to plywood). His tandem projects, Ulaan Khol, Ulaan Markhour, and Ulaan Passerine, use similar improvisational techniques to convey expressive, lush musical scenery. With Ulaan Khol, Smith throws bluesy, diatonic guitar work into a puree machine, creating an oozing, black miasma that would apeal to fans of Ennio Morricone and Sunn O))). Ulaan Khol hasn't released any new music in a few years, and "In The Spires" marks something of a return to form. It's a vast track, with multitracked guitars conjuring the grandeur of the big, open Western US, where Smith is from.
This track is one off of Salt, which Ulaan Khol is putting out on casette on Soft Abuse in December.
The first time Kevin Drumm and Jason Lescalleet got together, they released a 2-CD album of sample-based noise called The Abyss. It was a bit of a runaway success, as much as harsh electroacoustic albums can be, but that is hardly surprising considering how long both artists have been manipulating noise with a calculated sheen of reckelessness. The noise composers will release a second collaborative album next month, and they're teasing it here on a two track EP, Night and Day. It's hard to know what to expect with Drumm and Lescalleet -- their sampling sources tend to be thematic, reflecting a chosen method or material the artist is exploring. A clue to the meditative sin wave on "The Night" can be found in Drumm's digital release from July: The Sea Wins. Here, it's been severely shortened, reflecting the bite-size format Lescalleet often uses on his collage series, THIS IS WHAT I DO.The Sea Wins leaves the sparse violence of Drumm's past work behind, and heads for the open desert. With Night and Day, the duo splits the difference, clearly influenced by silent horror flicks and the hypnagogic buzz of late-night scifi radio programs.
Their untitled collaborative album will be available on Erstwhile Records in October. In the meantime, Glistening Examples has been keeping their Bandcamp up to date with thick volumes of sound from Lescalleet and others.
In 4/4 we trust... Techno is such a beautiful genre of music. Created from stark origins with simple intentions, good techno truly harnesses the power of simple, textural rhythms. It's more than music to simply dance to, it's music to lose one's heartbeat inside. And Blondes remain leaders among artists redefining the techno canon, in this case using modular techniques and improvisation. The duo has been going steady since the mid 2000s, staying fresh in an oversaturated club scene that demands long hours from its DJs. They dropped a 50-minute cassette called Rein last month, and since then have been working in the studio on a new EP, Persuasion. The debut video for the 12" EP serves no real visual purpose other than to frazzle your perception of color and dilute the difference between chimpanzee and man, but Blondes has a greater subconscious shockwave in mind: to bring your mind back to where it belongs-- in the sweaty, bomb dropping jungle club we're all secretly a member of, just a few bpm below street-level.