The in-between month with a steady bunch of tasty releases. I’m hearing all these Trout Mask Replica influences and this is a welcome development. Perhaps we’ll agree, or maybe you’ll find no sense to any of these offerings. Music transcends any sort of detachment from reality. Some of these albums take a bit of time to suss out and blossom.
Orgue Agnès: A Une Gorge
File Under: swiss savants create swinging grooves
I have know way of knowing if they are actually singing in any known language, or just improvising. It might matter. It would certainly make them funny. So many tangental resources and possible sources. Trout Mask Swiss, comes to mind. These dudes can swing and create delirious sound scapes and Krautish expectations. Can. Yep, Can. They might be songs crafted with layers and layers of overlays and edits, but it comes across as improvisational. There is a sense of abandonment of convention. A search for something not heard before. It took about three listens, and a look at one of their live video gigs before I really heard it. What a wonderful place they’ve created.
Gideon Wolf: Replicas
File Under: Cinematic deep space vehicle
Modern classical mixes with dark, ambient drone with a score-like ebbing and flowing between moods and atmosphere. Tristan Shorr, aka Gideon Wolf spent two years working on this long album and you can hear the hours of care and craft that went into its production. With organic transitions from electric and acoustic realms, Wolf shares an expansive and passionate sense of harmony and rhythm. But there is also rage and anxiety. “Raging at the current state of UK decline.” Replicas has anger, but it also harks back to the artist’s earlier days: Gideon Wolf calls ‘freedom, degradation, concrete, community, rich, poor, the melting pot of cultures, music and people from life in the estates.” “As well as anger, the records seethes with anxiety, angst and frustration.” (Bc) He is just at home in the digital world as he is immersed in modern classical modalities. Not on Tidal, you’ll find this on Bc.
Wojtek Kurek: Ovule
File Under: free, improv drumming
Kurek is a prominent figure in the Polish improvisation and free music scene and has worked with other bands such as Kollaboral. Using contact microphones attached all over his kit, with a small electronic affects machine he manages to stay one step ahead of chaos and instead surfs wave after wave of beats, clicks, ambient wash within a spontaneous percussive framework. Listen to it once all the way through because it is an actual album. The first song eat 21 has this relentless gong banging away like a machine and it’s divine.
The Gaslamp Killer: Break Stuff
File Under: Stealth dub
LA’s electronic underground and experimental DJ Gaslamp Killer has extended his range, although he’s still very much an LA-centric producer.
Yugen Blakrok: Anima Mysterium
File Under: hip-hop futurism like an old school MC
Although picked by Kendrick Lamar to sing alongside Vince Staples on the Black Panther soundtrack, Johannesburg-based Yugen Blakrok did not take the commercial bait and has gone on to create an audacious new full length album. There is an old school vibe/Futurist mysticism and a spiraling flow of words, twisting and turning. Her first effort since, 2013’s Return of the Astro-Goth finds her even more focused on wordplay and her role as MC is decidedly feminist and Futurist. No gangsta’s here.
Dave Harrington Group: Pure Imagination, No Country
File Under: it must be jazz, or psyche or fusion
Some “Jack Johnson” sort of grooves and I did say a fusion of sorts. Not the normal, showoffy stuff, but memorable and measured out in long form doses. It’s traditional in a mid-70’s sort of manner, but rarely does this come off sounding so relevant.
Refree: La otra Mitad
File Under: new flamenco movement
Spanish producer Raul Refree is known for his many solo albums and collaborations, and film soundtracks. Here he works with Silvia Perez Cruz and Rosalia and is considered a major innovator in what is being called a new flamenco movement. Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth helped with some songs. Refree had in mind a flamenco film called Entre dos agues, directed by Isaki Lacuesta, that used non-professional actors. Refree sat in on many or the filming locations and then worked out the sound as he watched versions of completed scenes.
Miserable Chillers: Schoenblintsjia
File Under: spontaneous commuter blues
New York-based artist Miguel Gallego foregoes the usual song structure found on his earlier albums and concentrates on field recordings of his long subway and bus commutes with the spontaneity of sitting down and improvising to many of these recordings. A trip worth taking.
Tanya Tagaq: Toothsayer
File Under: Native experimentalist
Tanya Taguq is an Inuit throat singer who brings modern modalities and experimentation to her new album Toothsayer. A combination of her unique vocal work, electroacoustic instrumentation, synths and piano, with the percussionist Jean Martin sitting in on two cuts. Taguq says of her new effort: “I named it Toothsayer because I always liked the term soothsayer, to look into the future and to speak wisely. Teeth represents protection and hunting in nature. We are going to have to get our fists up and our teeth out to carve our way to survival in this world.”
Phil Western: No Love Lost
File Under: RIP west coast synth improviser.
This is my first experience listening to a Phil Western record, who has had a solid solo recording career, as well as having played in bands such as Skinny Puppy. He’s an explorer, who uses vintage synthesizers and tape machines to improvise his way into what seem to be psychedelic trances, rich with detail and a gear head’s vast knowledge of where and how to get certain sounds. There’s some of the exuberance of William Orbit, the sense of the ecstatic just within reach.
File Under: Nordic 4th world
Christian Grothe gives us a nice dose of Nordic Fourth World with his album Hauch. Piano, voice, guitar and supposedly done entirely on an iPad.
Notable Videos and Shorts
File Under: clip and soundtrack
El Buho: Picaflor
File Under: beautiful song
Mark Hollis: I Believe in You
File Under: RIP the sensei
Tyrone Douglas: Tongue Drum
File Under: proceed without caution
Fire Ant Colony: Molten aluminum
File Under: why didn’t I think of that?