Los Angeles-based composer and multi-instrumentalist Sean McCann is working on something big—as if he's trying to redesign music from scratch, using classical music methods as a foundation. His upcoming double LP, entitled Music for Public Ensemble, is built around a fascinating conceptual framework, spanning a wide array of aesthetic and conceptual ideas, many of them outside the field of music. One of such ideas realized on the album is the "Video Singing Scores," in which the vocalists sing words being shown on the screen in different colors, whereby each color (or hue) dictates a different pitch. But this is just a tip of an iceberg: concept-wise, this album, made together with McCann's numerous friends (Ian William Craig, Andrew Chalk, Graham Lambkin, Cameron Stallones, and many, many more) is truly a mine of ideas—a lot of which take the lyrics from McCann's book Pacifics, that itself blurs the line between poetry and prose.
Music for Public Ensemble is out November 11 on Recital.
Though the Cleveland-based astro-drone trio Emeralds deactivated in 2013, the kosmische spirit lives on, every now and then manifesting itself through the band members' numerous other projects. Outer Space is one of the most fertile ones, originally established by former Emerald John Elliott back in 2007 and currently operating as a duo with Andrew Veres. John revealed on the band's website that the music on Gemini Suite was composed a few years back as result of their friends' request for the sounds that would soothe the child and put it to sleep. So the duo came up with some of the dreamiest, clearest analog ambience that you might hear from any recent electronic music release. If it can put a baby to sleep, then it can probably make you lost in sound, too.
Of all the bands following in the footsteps of The Velvet Underground—both musically and visually—the legendary '90s New York noise rock unit Laddio Bolocko might be following those footsteps in the most faithful way. These guys feel like the ultimate reincarnation of the original Velvets vision of seedy, noisy psychedelia. Always staying off the grid, limiting their output to ultra-limited releases that saw their wider exposure in 2006 anthology The Life and Times of Laddio Bolocko. Now a new slab of previously unreleased prime time Bolocko material is about to be released through No Quarter, the same label that released albums by the band's successor, The Psychic Paramount. Being a sort of a teaser, the label released 17 minutes from the new anthology, entitled Live and Unreleased 1997 - 2000 on YouTube, providing a glimpse into two lenghty pieces from the new album. "17 Minutes of Laddio Bolocko" give you all the reasons to fall in love in those black-clad trippers again: supreme deep-fried psychedelia operating perfectly between careful songwriting and free jamming in a live setting. 17 minutes of something tat might become one of the most intense psych releases of 2015—even if it's an archival one.
Live and Unreleased 1997 - 2000 is out December 4th via No Quarter.
If musicians are like scientists, then Seth Graham must be a nuclear physicist. He's constantly trying to break the structure of music and human speech into the smallest particle possible, as if trying to show us the abstract nucleus of auditory communication. And the titular track from the upcoming Orange Milk cassette No.00 in Clean Life represents the same insatiable need to disintegrate and create new, exciting collages with microscopic samples. This time the basis of the track are pieces of speech and choral singing, or at least the digital facsimiles. Nevertheless, Graham manages to evoke a strange, barren land of angelic glossolalia and sparse harp and ambient interludes. It's an intensely minimalist piece, which bursts with clouds of information after long seconds of silence, which is challenging and rewarding at times—especially when the nucleus reveals all the sense before the listener.
The title of the newest release from Philadelphia based ambient producer David Sutton a.k.a. LXV refers to two ancient words that have strong faith-related or religious overtones: "asylum" is the place where one can seek rest and refuge. "Theophany" refers to an act of a deity's appearance in front of a human being. Combined it with an ascetic depiction of a desert on the album's cover it creates an atmosphere of katharsis, an endurance in a raw, dry land that strains the body and drowns the ears in a wall of warm, pulsing, noisy piano deconstructions or washes of distorted recordings á la Tim Hecker. The ambient sounds are sometimes crashed with field recordings, like the heavy sounds of digging in rocky ground disturb the delicate tapestry of synthesized bliss. A deeply cinematic album, bridging the gap between the past and the future, somewhere between the industrial wastelands of "Red Desert" and the early 20th century desert paradise of "There Will Be Blood".
Jared Blum's Vision Heat project emits a distinctive glow of pure, distilled 80's VHS movie soundtrack nostalgia inspired by the whole slew of cinematic and musical visionaries spearheaded by a double genius John Carpenter in the 1980's. His new album, The Chosen Themes, projects an image of imagined, visionary movie and TV series themes collected into a sort of visionary compilation (just to check some of the track names: "Vision Heat Logo Tone #4", "City Skyline Montage", "City Nites Themes 1 & 2"), accompanied by wonderfully oldschool videos by Jennifer Juniper Straford, who mangles the VHS memories for a psychedelic, delirious effect. The sounds on the LP are sure to be a wet dream for every fan of classic 80's synth tunes and all the TV pieces that catch the zeitgeist of the bygone age.
The Chosen Themes - Program I is out now on Root Strata.
Sacramento-based drummer Zac Nelson is one of those musicians who managed to craft a truly idiosyncratic and personal vision of hyper-psychedelia that escapes pretty much any attempt at RIYL-ing with mindboggling works such as Charbroile, Towards Your Own Worlds or Sound a Sleep Sound. Compared to those works, his new single, "Weak Robe", which promotes his upcoming LP New Once, is almost like straight-up pop with its catchy hooks and mellowed out hippetronics. The video directed by Adam Murphy comes with a somewhat freaky, folky vibe, combining various great outdoors activities with strange ritualism and some cool slo-mo branch smashing action to boot. Get prepared for some drum-heavy avant-pop to hit you this summer.
Let me start by saying that the FRKWYS series by RVNG Intl. label is one of the best collaboration series on the planet right now, where various modern experimental electronic musicians meet their predecessors and musical trailblazers to create new exciting composition. The newest installment in the FRKWYS catalog is We Know Each Other Somehow, an exercise in harmony and unity between the acoustic guitar shaman turned synth wizard Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (who did some serious folk magic with his Lichens) and New Age pioneer Ariel Kalma, responsible for the 1978 progressive electronic/field recording masterpiece Osmose. Recorded at Kalma's home in Byron Bay, Australia, the album collects meditations by the two spiritual minds emanating from synthesizers, reflecting the warmth and intimacy of the Australian paradise. The grainy, black and white 8 mm video for "Strange Dreams" comes from the full-length film Sunshine Soup, directed by Misha Hallenbach and Joey Rashid, which accompanies the album.
If you ever wondered who are some of the most devoted acolytes of Kosmische Musik (or maybe, given the French title of their new album, Musique Cosmique) and minimalism, it must be Chicago's Bitchin Bajas, the trio of Cooper Crain, Dan Quinlivan, and Rob Frye. "Marimba," a new track from the forthcoming LP (and cassette) sounds like a pure distillation of early electronic rhythms and endlessly looping notes bathing in the Teutonic glow. The titular marimbas bounce and tangle among the almighty sequencer while the shiny synth waves and ethereal flute push things up into the bliss territory.
While Joanne Robertson was already an emerging figure in the British folk underground, it was the ever-evolving trickster and avant provocateur Dean Blunt who brought her into the spotlight, collaborating with her on Stone Island, The Redeemer, and lately on Black Metal, where her soft guitar basically builds the tracks and sets the mood. Now the tables have turned, with Robertson releasing her new LP, Black Moon Days, and Blunt assisting Robertson with some truly bedroom beats for a ballad so shy ("Hi Watt"), it's basically shoegaze. Or shoegaze folk, with Joanne staring at her shoes with emotional intensity while plucking on her acoustic guitar.