A Half Dozen Discoveries

All of these are out on the shelves (virtual and otherwise) released today, and believe you me, it’s an A to Z of challenging, ethereal and otherwise thrilling sounds from various points on the planet. Tune in!

Dose Curves (Backward Music) is the latest from Montreal-based harpist Sarah Pagé. Her experimental sound is ambient and orchestral, languid and yet tremendously taut. The echoed drones lead way to vibrant strings that shimmer in the back/foreground as if staring through you with a set of ice blue eyes. But that’s also where the thaw comes in, like an ice floe. Particularly of note is her piece Lithium Taper which we featured on our new podcast. Full of haunting reverberation, it’s unlike anything I’ve heard recently and though it runs a short four minutes I’d imagine it being extended for hours. There have always been too many tropes about the harp in and of itself, but the listener can rest assured that this recording eludes each and every one of them. For a debut, this is capital Gorgeous.

Lindstrøm‘s On A Clear Day I Can See You Forever (Smalltown Supersound) is “contemporary disco” from Oslo. With four tracks running at thirty-eight minutes the way he makes every second count is in the subdued production, full-tilt synths and seductive plugged-in approach. Wiggly washes on the title cut make for something very cinematic (ala mid 70’s sci-fi allegory). If I didn’t know better I’d say he was the golden child taking up the baton passed by Jerry Goldsmith here, by a side road once trodden by Can, Neu and the like. The depth of the electronics, the synths, are like a magical waterway that ripples onward, but once he turns on the beat (Really Deep Snow) we are in some semblance of anything retro-futuristic. One wonders what the visuals for a live show might include, but the stage will likely be set to chronicle the delightful variegated light cast here.

Ah, the early 80’s, forever cognizant in my frontal cortex as a time of the best music of my life, a time of free crossover and genre-f*cking. One of the acts that it took me many years thereafter to catch up with (likely because of the break in the big pond between), is Malaria! And Wow, what an intro with this two-part collection, Compiled 2.0/Full Emotion (Moabit Musik). While I was listening to Cabaret Voltaire, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and Pylon, these women were tearing it up in Germany (even though a decade later they would record in New Orleans!). Compiled 2.0 has all the elements that found that fusion between punk rock, new wave and a peculiar ‘beat’ sense of timing – brazen and bold. I’m reminded of The November Group, Romeo Void, The Cramps, Au Pairs and other projects of the era (all that included the imput of talented women). Every single track offers a resounding punch in the gut and into the moshpit.

Continuing on to Full Emotion – which I must mention is a perfect pairing here, also from 1981-82. The deeper I delve into this, the more I acknowledge a great loss to the overall listening experience of my youth, but this has the attitude to transcend time. Snarling sax and impassioned vocals, nearly spat out, color this world lurid and on the pulse. They offer something poetically dank, left for a new generation. Berlin 1981-84: A perfect slice of a time and place, remastered brilliantly. What comes around goes around….

The latest from Brazilian ambient artist MYMK (Bruno Sres) is Forays Into Clamor (Beacon Sound) and it’s as haunting as it is daunting. If you read/heard my review of Garlands you may see a natural progression here in this lush drone of hushed tonalities and references to ancient civilization. It’s a gorgeous albeit isolated scape (No Quarter Given) reinforced by frequencies ala telecommunications that are simulated within a rolling modulation. The atmosphere is thick and rich and desolate. The only other artists out there that come to mind are Netherworld and perhaps some of the earliest work by Thomas Köner. The only track here that seems mildly estranged (only at first) is Home Free, otherwise this is a rare gem. These forty-so minutes have such a sense of ethereal sustain, the listener will easily dip into this subliminal world and find themselves disoriented.

From the initial energy of frequency vibrations this new record from Emptyset is like a (over)dose of crisp wind in your face. Blossoms (Thrill Jockey) is a late bloomer this Summer, and coming from Fort Worth where we’ve been experiencing a serious drought, I can stare at this for hours on end – or rather kick back and chill alongside it. But this record by the duo of James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas is not on its laurels, in fact, it forensically dissects abstract codes into a stirring into a new form of electronic minimalism that buzzes, dazzles. These ten short tracks (all around three minutes) each are titled after parts, pieces or processes of flora. Darkness and light and the metamorphosis between. Though it may not seem obvious on the surface, this is ultimately delicate in terms of both production and composition.

We covered the most recent release from Missourian Whettman Chelmets but this is self-released project is something different (limited edition cassette through Aescape Sounds). The one thread he manages to tie-in on Long Read Memories is a quasi-conceptual blueprint for which the listener may have to bring their own interpretation (and we encourage this practice!). This one involves the psycho-social adaptation of murder in one’s life (family), and it’s well worth the read over at the Bandcamp page. Chelmets delicately brings a harmonic and haunting atmosphere, piecing together modulation, field recordings and synths that flare and soften to an ambient glow. He’s storytelling by way of mood, and it packs a wallop. It’s far more provocative than most episodes of either Cold Case Files or anything on Investigation Discovery (ID) that I’ve indulged in over the years. It spans found sounds that are both rural and manipulated which turn towards the psychedelic, all while keeping the tone deferential, fueled by fog and circumstance.

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