As this bad blogger plays catchup for a while on his submissions, we will get some supplementary posts to tell you about some of the great stuff I’ve received in the last few months. And someday maybe I’ll catch up for good.
Earlyguard – Possible World
Earlyguard is quite prolific in producing his series of long-form, single-track ambient albums, but the frequency of these releases in no way seems to detract from their quality. I’ve covered a couple of previous ones, and this one is just as impressive. Interestingly, Possible World has a positive title but I personally find the tone of this drone a bit more melancholy than the previous ones I’ve heard. Hence it’s my favourite. It’s a masterful drone of sonorous synths, sparse yet rich and ethereal. Definitely something Roach and Brennan fans should be chomping at the bit to hear, so get on that Earlyguard train right now! Long-form classic-style ambient does not get better than this.
Josh Furey – Petals
Always astonished to find myself giving positive coverage to a Canadian (personal issues with my countrymen, I’m afraid). Anyway, Josh Furey is certainly a talented Canadian indeed, working in the area of IDM, sorta, though at the scratchier, artier, hip-hoppy, no-dancing end of things. I liken this to the sort of thing that Susumu Yokota does, though with more of an air of melancholy. The recording sounds like you’re listening to an old slice of thick, scratchy vinyl, which, despite that, manages to be pretty darn funky. A lot of the samples used are of acoustic instruments, which does nothing to detract from the overall grooviness. The highlights for me are “Zither” (for obvious zithery reasons) and the title track, which has to be the funkiest track ever based on the sound of a harp. Furey’s album is groovy, moody and intellectually satisfying at the same time — a great example of the best this genre has to offer.
Kumea Sound – Kumea Sound
Every month there’s at least one album that slightly blows my mind, and this month is no exception. Kumea Sound’s album possesses the quality of originality, which I have to say, while I love electronic music very much, is a quality sometimes lacking. Not so here. This is rhythmic music with organic handpan sounds and some electronic beats. The percussion creates an Eastern-sounding element that runs through most of the tracks, very similar to gamelan sounds. This is married to delicate, ethereal melodies in a quite distinctive manner. The effect is mystical, positive and exotic without being a world music parody. Not sure I can even pick a favourite out of this smorgasbord of delights, but suffice it to say this one of the best albums that has come my way in the year + I’ve been writing this blog. Do not miss it.
Opollo – Rover Tracks
This freebie on Bandcamp is some very sweet, pure space music, and we all like that, right? Opollo has deft touch with these echoey cosmic synth and guitar sounds. “Pur-Lazarus” could have come from any of the space music masters, like a hipper Jonn Serrie. There’s subtle variety in the pieces, but like any great intergalactic journey, the consistently trancelike effect lasts throughout the voyage. I was pleased to find that, while I like dark ambient, this release, as opposed to a lot of the other space albums I get, is not aggressively dark and atonal. If you like the spacy, trancy end of the ambient genre, you should pick this up right now, close yer eyes and leave the globe for an hour. By the time “Its Final Resting Place” ends, floating on a bed of ambient guitar, you’ll be far away!
Chris Felton – NJ Transit
There’s a lot of experiment ambient/sound art/field recording stuff out there these days, and let’s be honest, that’s partly because it’s easy to make that sort of music by yourself. What is not easy, however, is getting it right. This pay-what-you-can EP is quite compelling and very well done, mixing sounds from, yes, NJ Transit with drones and simple, moody guitar parts. Felton would fit quite well on one of those experimental music labels that abound (12k, etc.) “Trenton” is probably the highlight, with some nice broken chord fingerpicking and a tense mood. An unassuming release but a nice example of the modern sound art genre executed correctly and with heart.
Find Hope in Darkness – B-Sides
The Bandcamp page of this artist claims that he is but fourteen years old, and if that’s true, well, we may have a prodigious talent on our hands. Technology certainly does make things more possible than it did when I was that age (the music I tried to create back then was garbage), but you still have to have some mature good taste to make good music, and there’s plenty of good taste to be found in this classy IDM EP, which is a free download. Some sound art noise is mixed artfully with synths and beats in “Forest”, while a couple of the other tracks are harder and more experimental and dubsteppy (“Falling”, “Run”). Worth the download for the first track alone and a harbinger of good things to come.
Nastrom – Nastrom
Dunno what it is about Europeans and neo-psych, but they’re dang sure good at it! Nastrom is some classic-sounding, Krautrock-y, ominous, mostly instrumental doomy sludge driven by droning, hypnotic bass guitars (as on “Deliblato Sandstorm”). “Deepest Secret” has a more post-punk vibe with a Wire feel and a beat that could have come from The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds. “Disappear in Smoke” is redolent of early seventies jammy King Crimson or even Henry Cow. While this stuff is quite spartan and minimal in its approach, there’s a great dark mood set on this recording that lovers of seventies experimental rock will enjoy.