OK, it’s now August 2013. But I missed a month of roundups so I’m still catching up on July and June! And there’s still more left over! (part one is here) Ah ’tis work being a blogger of, um, some note. Anyway, once again this selection covers a number of different kinds of intelligent and enriching music and you would be remiss not to check out these recent releases by some fine talents.
Robert Farrugia – Almost There/On the Way
A very interesting and pleasant album with two distinct personalities and a variety of styles. The first is moody post-ambient sound art featuring some excellent creativite use of bell-like sounds, combined with some drone pieces that will appeal to fans of classic ambient. There’s even a very nice “neo-classical”-style piano piece. The other half of the personality is “post-rock” or shoegaze-influenced ambient with big-reverb drum sounds and dreampop guitar, as on “Nostalgia” and “Night Static”. A lovely album indeed, with a heavy emphasis on beauty and emotion.
Earlyguard – Undefined Shapes
Undefined Shapes is a very impressive single-track long-form ambient recording, based on an unobtrusive but cavernous drone that waxes and wanes over the course of forty-five minutes. The recording goes through various louder and softer permutations, with subtle shades of sound popping in and out of the mix before eventually developing into a lightly sequenced part with roots in the Berlin School. I love the mood this piece creates — this guy knows the subtle craft of drone music. You can get this on iTunes and drone enthusiasts should definitely consider a purchase.
Purejunk – Dreamachine
There’s a ton of variety on Dreamachine, an album of short electronic neo-psychedelia pieces, from the upbeat “Tape Reels” to the moody, melancholy “Strings of Life” and “Heaven Bring Forth”. Purejunk touches upon almost every type of moody electronica you can think of, from light and airy to dark and mysterious, with an edge from the hipper, techno-based end of things as well. A lengthy album that doesn’t release until September 2013, but you should bookmark it because this one is for almost every fan of electronic music.
Sunset Speaker – (one)
An ideal purchase for all you dark ambient fans out there, this debut is full of disquieting, scary noises and throbbing drones, a veritable festival of nocturnal delights. Personally I favour tracks like “The Smell of Hell” with its alternating, tense two-note ground of hazy synth, and the windy sounds of “Aldergrove”. The recording ends on almost an up-note with the very beautiful (and therefore incongruously titled) “Open Wounds”. The perfect soundtrack to a night of staring into the melancholy depths of one’s soul! I’ve heard a fair amount of dark ambient and this is one of the better recordings I’ve come across – no foolin’.
Jay Penaflor – Youth Algorithms
Now for a change of pace! Penaflor is an Australian s/sw who has made a lovely three-song ep of very psychedelic tunes that hearken back to the glory days of neo-psych acts like The Church, XTC and Echo and the Bunnymen but with the added bonus of an acid-folk feel and a sunshiny, uplifting gloss redolent of The Go-Betweens’ 16 Lovers Lane album. There’s some great guitar sounds, memorable melodies, and Penaflor’s got a really compelling, distinct singing voice. I really like this recording and look forward to a full-length masterpiece from Penaflor in the near future.
His Name is Codeine – The Only Truth is Music
His Name is Codeine is from Scotland, which makes sense, since Scotland has been the source of so much noisy shoegazey music over the years, and this group carries on the traditional remarkably well with buried male/female duets, loud, skronky guitars and stately, repetitive drumming to achieve that classic trancelike effect. There’s also a pleasant looseness and a live feel to the production sometimes lacking with this kind of music, that little touch of Velvet Underground garage-band rawness. Highlight track is “Magdalena”, featuring some eerie guitar wailing and a tense build-up. This album is a really nice combination of shoegaze volume and inventiveness with genuine rock ‘n roll energy, and I think we’ll be hearing a lot more about this band.