September · October
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September 2021

Low HEY WHAT

Whoa — that was unexpected.
I didn't even like Low before! Seriously, I had never even finished a Low album before. And here they hit me with this incredible meteor of a record.

So this is
like
indie rock songs that sound like they would be acoustic on paper, only they come alive with a sound that's abrasive, loud, intense. (The Bandcamp tags say alternative, folk, indie rock. RYM says post-industrial and other experimental genres. I feel like the former is only right about the songs, the latter only right about the production. This is a two-headed beast.) Take “More” for example — barely over two minutes long and it packs more intensity than most full albums, pain, beauty, regret, inner strength, a beautiful melody and ear-scorching loudness. It's like a duet between the singer and the sounds, and you need both to truly understand what it means. It ends as abruptly as it started and that's how it should be, too.

I'm giving their back catalogue another chance to see if there's anything else I might like — no luck with The Curtain Hits the Cast nor with The Great Destroyer so far, perhaps Double Negative? — meanwhile I'm really impressed by this.

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

Teto Preto Pedra preta

Angry, colourful, hard and glamorous Brasilian pop music. With elements from nu-disco to post-industrial, acid beats and female vocals, live performances in which they're almost naked in provocative outfits.

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

Node Node

I listened to a lot of Berlin school for a couple of days, catching up on classics I hadn't listened to, giving others a new chance (Tangerine Dream Zeit sounds a lot better to me now), revisiting favourites — and this one really stands out as special. More interesting rhythms, goes further with timbres, sometimes veers towards dark ambient or a FAX +49-69/450464 sound. Node 2 is also great and ventures even further away from the genre.

▷ RYM

Christine Groult Étincelles

I really like this — maybe because it's close to drone or ambient music? Especially in the first tracks, there's a perfect balance between atmospheric drones and concrète sounds. It's the kind of music that I find very sensorial without being evocative, which makes it difficult to talk about, but “Canal instantané” is an exception: it's inspired by a walk along a river, following its rhythm, from place to place, each one with a specific atmosphere. Also “L'heure alors s'incline…” is a homage to Luigi Nono. More accessible than the little Nono I've heard though.

▷ RYM

JASSS Whities 027

Oh yes. Contemporary tech trance, bringing the hedonism of past raves to our dark times. Very different from her album Weightless but also great!

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

Denzel Curry Imperial

Shouldn't be my cup of tea, but I can't argue with how good this is. Assertive, aggressive, angry, yes — but the production and crepuscular, emotional melodies take this to another level. Would almost sound “haunting” if it weren't for the urgency of it. “ULT” is the perfect opener and single; “Tomorrow's Not Here” is the perfect closer.

▷ RYM

Tongues of Light The Myth of Separation and Selfhood

An art of illusion. Tongues of Light's albums have a truly mysterious, even mystical atmosphere — and it's funny to learn that the voice samples, which I pictured might come from obscure lost tapes recorded a long time ago in an attic or a remote country, are just sourced from Youtube videos. Hey, recontextualized like that, it works. And perhaps I'm the fool for imagining that a spirit channeling ritual in an isolated forest village in 1867 or whatever would be more mysterious than what I can find in two seconds. But the illusion is what I'm looking for anyway, right?

Channelled Messages at the End of History (the previous album) was a bit eerier; this one is very close and still has dark passages but also more soothing and hypnotic ones.

▷ RYM

Dalhous Will to Be Well

What happens when a Blackest Ever Black project (dark ambient / industrial / techno / dub) casts some light and colours in their dark world and take some inspiration from Boards of Canada.

Their previous album already aimed at something similar but I feel that this one is a lot more successful at it — more consistent, with a more cohesive style, more memorable tracks too. Thanks to Traz for the discovery!

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

Will Guthrie People Pleaser

Fun! A short album of wild drumming that changes styles and genres on each track, “building pieces from drum and percussion tracks left over from other projects, audio ripped from skate videos, noise electronics, fragments of a police interrogation, and anything else ready to hand”. I don't know if I'd call it accessible since there are very few melodies here, but it's intense and exciting throughout.

Thanks to tiny_vampire for the discovery!

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

Calsutmoran Bend of the World

I don’t know how to describe it, but BrothermanTrill features it on his list For the Void Is Black: Trve Experimental Hip Hop & Black Tongues as such: “sort of inbetween Cal’s early Memphis inspired stuff and his more recent sound collage nightmares. Still beat-driven but with the kind of experimentation that makes it near-impossible to digest on just one listen. Essential listening for this style.”

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

The Boats Do The Boats Dream of Electric Fritz Pfleumer?

Wikipedia: “Fritz Pfleumer (1881 – 1945) was a German engineer who invented magnetic tape for recording sound.”

A long hypnotic/soporific ambient track, somewhere between the near-nothings of, say, Haptic (including the ambient noise) and very warm drones to lull you to sleep, with soft glitches that remind me of another kind of surface noise and a few sparse neoclassical touches. Very, very nice.

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

J Dilla Donuts

Sweet, sweet loops.
I didn’t fully appreciate how good this was when I first listened to it years ago.

Each little loop-world you just visit, partly recognize (so many samples you’ve heard elsewhere, memories) and partly discover, and it all goes by so quickly but always leaving such vivid impressions. And you can only leave abruptly, but it feels like it will keep spinning without you, life will go on even after you’re gone.

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM



October 2021

The Three Degrees The Three Degrees

Top class soul — lush production, nice grooves, I love their voices too! (Some of the lyrics about womanhood are outdated now but eh, that was 1973.)

Thanks to danilo for the recommendation!

▷ RYM

Café Tacvba Re

Super eclectic. They change styles on each track, and I like all of it — or almost — even though I‘ve never been drawn to these genres. (Nasal singing over oompa oompa rhythms and I like it?!) So many earworms in there too. Honestly this is brilliant.

♪ “El ciclón”
▷ RYM

Lim Kim Generasian

Rebellious and aggressive, strange and dreamy, pop and avant-garde, it sounds like she‘s several artists in one. Apparently this was her first release as an independent artist and sounds very different from her previous K-pop releases? I haven‘t checked but I‘m looking forward to her next one!

(Does she have huge shoulders or a tiny head or ???)

♪ “Mong” (video — dreamy)
♪ “Yellow” (video — aggressive)
▷ RYM

Jenny Fried The Chicken House

Loved this short story. You know of Baba Yaga, right? This is an allegory, maybe an obvious one, but the otherworldly mood and images are great to get lost in. And the writing is on point.

Strange Horizons publish new fiction each week — short stories, poems, articles, etc. Other really good stories I‘ve found there include Janelle C. Shane68:Hazard:Cold (found it via a linguistics Tumblr blog, the story of a droid stranded on a hostile planet) and Noel CherutoWe Broke Nairobi (a terrifying story set in a post-climate apocalypse Nairobi, with surreal elements).

Strange Horizons

Injury Reserve By the Time I Get to Phoenix

This seems to get eerier with each listen. In a good way.

♪ “Knees”
▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

Solar Quest Into the Machine

“Into the Machine” is the trance track Burial‘s “Temple Sleeper” is based on, basically a 1990s brutal space combat video game boss fight vibe — I expected it to be the highlight, but “Acid Eye Full” is actually even better, a pretty damn beautiful 15-minute acid number. All good!

▷ Bandcamp
▷ Discogs
▷ RYM

Foetus Flow

J.G. Thirlwell at his most badass, psychotic, jazz-loving villainous best. Goes from absolute mayhem that begs to be listened to at a deafening volume to the coolest jazzy numbers to brooding pathos. Might actually be better than Nail?

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

Steroid Maximus Ectopia

And that‘s Thirlwell again, exploring another angle of his explosive industrial + jazz/swing combo — instrumental this time, and big band first and foremost with electronic beats and spy film cinematics.

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

Ensemble Économique No GPS

The soundtrack to getting lost in a hostile jungle? Or something else — but dense, disorienting, possibly hostile. Unidentified chants and rhythms over field recordings and noisy concrète elements. How much of this is field recordings? I‘m not sure.

▷ RYM

Terre Thaemlitz Fagjazz

A compilation* of Terre‘s pre-2000 works, from ambient to deep house (and a few influences from other genres — Chugga is a downtempo band, G.R.R.L. was Terre going techno / drum and bass / etc) — and a bonus hour-long track that sounds 100% like a Necks album. All pretty great!

* “Superbonus” (the Necks track) is only available here in full. “Pretty Mouth” was salvaged from a now redundant EP. The Terre‘s Neu Wuss Fusion tracks — some of my favourites — can also be found as singles or on Recalls. The Social Material EP would have been worth including in its entirety (it was only two tracks, both good), and although the G.R.R.L. album is hit and miss I‘m not sure how I feel about including just one track. Terre also has a bunch of other compilations which may or may not re-include these tracks. Yeah, that kind of mess is why I usually don‘t like compilations.

▷ Comatonse Recordings
▷ RYM

Burial Temple Sleeper

See “Into the Machine” above — that hook is turned into speed garage and goes through several phases, ending with a pitched vocal sample that reminds me of %The Prodigy‘s “Out of Space”. It‘s still dark because it‘s Burial, but really fun too, probably his most danceable.

Thanks to hoenir for the recommendation!

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

Genesis Owusu Smiling with No Teeth

Yeah, this man knows how to make a bop.

♪ “The Other Black Dog”
♪ “Gold Chains”
▷ RYM

Alain Bashung L’imprudence

I don‘t know Bashung well yet and I‘m not sure I ever will. I liked “Samuel Hall” on Fantaisie militaire (a moody drum and bass + spoken word track about a brooding writer with bad eating habits who hates everyone), but many of his other songs aren‘t my thing.

This one though is all dark elegance. Nocturnal, soft, deep, with lush arrangements, and Bashung‘s voice which sounds so charismatic when he speaks — sometimes weaker when he sings, but he knows how to play with that. He‘s not afraid to take his time either, like on the title track which bookends the album (fifteen minutes long in all, slow, barely moving, yet enticing).

♪ “Faites monter”
▷ RYM

Michael Pisaro Concentric Rings in Magnetic Levitation

One of my favourite Pisaro records, though he‘s got a lot of good ones. “Thirteen rings or loops of sound, wound around each other”, for three musicians — piano, crotales, sine waves and other sounds. Reminds me a little bit of Jem Finer‘s Longplayer at times in its hypnotic circularity, but more focussed, mysterious, and with actual progression too.

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM

Takanobu Hoshino Ancient Star Story of Asia

Field recordings and a few instruments (a Vietnamese jew‘s harp is the most recognizable, but various percussions can be heard too), said to evoke ancient legends, mythologies and celebrations about the stars from several Asian countries. How these connect at all though, I have no idea — but I‘m unfamiliar with these stories, so I wouldn‘t know. Perhaps the last track, in which swans can be heard and which evokes Cygnus (both the name of a constellation and the scientific genus of swans), is a key that tells you each sound stands for another? That would be pretty neat, but I have no idea. Anyway I like this.

Cold. Cryptic and mysterious. Water (on many tracks), birds and the wind sometimes, but nothing here is peaceful — it even gets noisy at times. Sometimes everything is processed, distorted.

▷ RYM

Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet Landfall

Very melancholic and strangely poetic. A concept album about loss, inspired by hurricane Sandy but also evoking extinct species, vanishing dreams and other images.

▷ Bandcamp
▷ RYM
▷ Nonesuch
♪ “CNN Predicts a Monster Storm”
♪ “We Learn to Speak Yet Another Language”



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