Albums of the week Listening Post: 24th September An experimental special, as a bumper crop of out-there releases from artists new and old hit the stores.
Album of the week: Sensations’ Fix – ‘Music Painting In The Air’ [RVNG INTL]
We are in the middle of The New Sincerity. It’s a movement, partly in reaction, I’d pop-diagnose to the 00s stock response of irony, mystery or effacement, or, in wider terms, against. The stance is, in contrast to recent years, emotional sincerity over deep ambivalence, and is often accompanied by a painfully earnest regard for the very material of The Art Form. It’s not great for literature – as Bret Easton Ellis was mouthing off about on Twitter recently, jest is better un-infinite, seriously – but it’s actually pretty amazing for music. It means you have music that sounds like everything in the world, and is kind of naive and really likes being good and free.
Step up Sensations’ Fix. The project of Franco Falsini, an Italian progressive guitarist, the majority of of this compilation was recorded at his home in Virginia in the mid-70s. The music on here operates as ambitious, earth-vast sonics, mixed with a pleasing, divergent imagination, conceived out of sheer, un-adulterated love of playing music. From its title down, ‘Music Is Painting In Air’ is a radically beautiful, deeply romantic snatch of music about one man’s experience making the most beautiful art form in the world. Think a combination of where you’d like Vondelpark to be in five years, or a consciousness-raised Oneohtrix Point Never or a more imaginative Emeralds, but so much more than that. It’s a totally and utterly brilliant listen, and you need a copy. I mean that sincerely. [CRJ]
Oneohtrix Point Never: & Rene Hell – ‘Split LP’ [NNA Tapes]
At the end of last year, Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, performed alongside visual artist Nate Boyce at New York’s Museum of Modern Art for an installation piece called ‘Reliquary House’. NNA Tapes are releasing a reworked version of this, renamed as Music For Reliquary House, on a split LP with Jeff Witscher, aka Rene Hell. Hell’s name is less known than OPN’s, but he is just as prolific in the noise and experimental scene, having released a glut of albums in the past on influential experimental labels such as Type. Lopatin digitally dissects, rearranges and repitches vocal samples, ridding them of any humanity that they may have once possessed. The music that surrounds the vocal cuts is atonal, with any melody that threatens to creep in becoming drenched in noise and abrasive tones. Lopatin made tweaks to the original performance piece, making them more suitable for home listening, but there is still a sense of trajectory and movement inherent. But there is also a sense that something is missing, that removing the accompanying visual aspect has caused something to become lost in translation. Hell’s side of the record, In 1980 I Was A Blue Square, is less abstract than Lopatin’s, consisting of five classical compositions and soundscape pieces that are interspersed with bursts of noise and chaos, creating a jarring dissonance between music and sound. Conceptually, it feels more complete than Lopatin’s side, although it is perhaps not quite as adventurous sonically. [SB]
Altar Eagle – ‘Nightrunners’ [Digitalis]
Eden Hemming and Brad Rose, the Tulsa-based husband and wife who make up shoegazey duo Alter Eagle, have taken a sure-footed step out of the obscurely ambient and into more joyful territory in their second full-length album, Nightrunners. Orbiting around Eden’s tentative lead vocal, the shimmering production does less to upstage her here than it did on the couple’s 2012 debut Mechanical Gardens, but still carries each track on a blissful wave, promising a delicate but solidly melodic listen. ‘Carousel Ocean’, as the opening track, is particularly strong, striding into view on a sturdy bassline and hand-clapping its way through pretty choruses. This album might be just what you need to brighten up your week, as we experience a grey chillwave of our very own. [AC]
Eli Keszler – ‘Cold Pins’ [PAN]
Massachusetts-born composer Eli Keszler is really more of a sound-artist than a whack-on-the-iPod-while-you’re-on-the-bus musician, and his latest PAN release is a collection of his recent installations. It’s really interesting stuff, and pretty eye-opening to see how far pianos and traditional instruments can be pushed. Tonally, it’s clean, warm and sturdy, sounding natural and wild in a really enlivening way. Truth be told, this is hardly stuff to whack on after Soldier at a house party, but if you’re curious about music’s outer edges, this is a great place to start. [CRJ]
Ricardo Donoso – ‘Assimilating The Shadows’ [Digitalis]
Ricardo Donoso is a Brazilian musician living in Boston who has been exploring the musical ends of minimalism and acid LFOs for a while. This album, out on Brad Rose rom Altar Eagle’s Digitalis Records, is his most mature and accomplished work yet, and – because this end of avant / noise is kinder to growing than other sectors of pop – these are no bad things. In fact, it’s a very cool set of compositions, and in combining the rhythmic expressionism of his home culture and personal songcraft, he adds a sense of depth and musicality so often lacking. Highly recommended. [CRJ]
Sylvain Chauveau & Stephan Mathieu – ‘Palimpsest’ [Schwebung]
French electronic musician Sylvain Chauveau has collaborated with the German experimental sound artist Stephan Mathieu on this twisted new LP, Palimpsest. Named after a page of a book or manuscript that has been scraped blank in order to be used again, this LP does pretty much the opposite, as it lifts Bill Callahan’s lyrics and vocal and places them over a brand new, fresh sonic environment, as crafted by Mathieu. Folorn, melody-less and bordering on terrifying, the album distorts and evades your expectations; Chauveau’s placement of Callahan’s words among the drones and groans of Mathieu’s composition makes the entire album into a kind of strangeness, or not-quite-familiarity, which is unsettling, fascinating and challenging to listen to. [CRJ]
Ike Yard – ‘A Second’ [Desire]
No New Yorkers Ike Yard (perfect name!) were Factory America’s sole band and their debut album, first released back in 1982, is a minor classic, and has just been reissued. It’s easy to see why Tony Wilson and his gang were drawn to its daunting template, icy tones and revolutionary use of tape and samples. It’s also easy to see why its daunting template, icy tones and revolutionary use of tape and samples didn’t make them rich enough to stick around for Live Aid. Being that I’m the sort of person who reads “Minimalist post punk funk from a long-out of print LP” and rushes to grab, I love it. It’s not an easy listen but it’s a thrilling one, with enough guts, ghosts and funk to fill in the dots between ESG, ‘My Life In The Bush’ and Young Marble Giants. Really cool, actually.