Already Gone is the second full length album from West Coast dream-drone unit En, the duo of Maxwell August Croy and James Devane, following their well-received debut album The Absent Coast (released in 2010 on Root Strata, which Croy runs alongside Jefre Cantu-Ledesma). For their sophomore release, the pair have opened up their tonal palette considerably. While the comparisons that critics made of their first album to the work of Tim Hecker and Stars of the Lid still hold true, Already Gone finds Croy and Devane mining even richer sonic climes. Here, the duo pull back the curtain on some of their source material, a move that allows the diversity of their instrumentation to resonate. On The Sea Saw Swell, Croy’s acoustic koto pings across the stereo spectrum as a looping guitar figure from Devane apparates from the haze of a beautiful, slowly shifting drone. The side-long closer Elysia is likely the duo’s defining recording to date, an epic slow-burner that reaches heights both angelic and cacophonous. Ultimately, it is the harmonious marriage of the organic and the obscured that recurs throughout the album that proves its defining trait, and it is precisely what makes En stand out in the ever-growing field of contemporary drone/ambient musics. En tour Japan with Grouper in late April.
It’s easy to imagine Norm Chambers as equal parts musician and mystic - one hand on the keyboard playing blissful synthesizer melodies well the other hand dances wildly in the air, collecting ethereal timbres. This balance comes organically on Chambers’ latest outing as Panabrite, Soft Terminal, out now on Digitalis Recordings. Nothing on the record is forced, it evolves naturally and Soft Terminal exemplifies the interaction between humans and synthesizers as a point of transcendence. Gentle melodic waves, pulsing sequences, and crystal leads float about, conjured into meeting before dispersing back into the ether.
The album opens with “Rainbow Sequence” a hazy patch resembling an electric piano strikes delay saturated chords, a color washed, cross processed image appears as a vocoded voice sings an indecipherable incantation, and LFO chirps appear as DNA strings carrying the plan for the rest of Soft Terminal’s existence. An arpeggio swells in the background, frequencies filter, the picture grows clearer. A low analog drone grows, stretching along with the LFO chirps until they form pulses of pure energy. “Index of Gestures” follows taking the meditation to movement. Against a hypnotic sequence, a vibrato filled lead attempts to mimic human speech~the synthesizers are now alive and Panabrite acts as medium, channeling the cosmic message.
Panabrite explores the neo-kosmische (or neu-kosmische, rather) of modern synthesizer music that grew in popularity in the middle to late oughts. Rather than become absorbed in passionless criticism or trend absorption, he moves forward with the idea of cosmic exploration. Soft Terminal is an album that reconciles the synthetic, the vast unknown of the cosmos, with the organic, the human experience within the cosmos.
Songs like “Janus” and “Sound Softly” are driven by beautiful guitar melodies, while the drum machine cameos as propulsion in “Camembert Symphony,” although, in large, Soft Terminal is composed from synthesizer sources. Panabrite is obviously familiar with the instruments and this allows him to convey the message of cosmic unity that much clearly. The title of “Microlife” is indicative of the album as a whole - each song expounds upon the miracle of life springing from the lifeless, with the synthesizer as primordial ooze from which component organisms emerge in surprisingly complex form to connect in waves of beautiful movement before dispersing back to source.
- Curt Brown (of Rubber City Noise/Black Unicorn/Cane Swords) for Experimedia - Buy
When I heard that Jesy Fortino and Liz Harris were making a collaborative album (two PacNW residents who record solo as Tiny Vipers and Grouper respectively) my interest was piqued. Harris is well known for her elegiac, lo-fi, and often quite beautiful recordings, while Fortino is more of a traditional singer-songwriter. The results of the two’s time spent in collaboration satisfies my expectations completely and, really, provides us with a wonderful example of a case in which two distinct artists forge a new sound while remaining true to their individual aesthetics. Harris’ ghost chorals are fleshed out by Fortino’s more upfront songcraft and vice versa. A stellar album that reminds me of some nonexistent Flying Saucer Attack-offshoot that VHF might have released in the early 2000s. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia - Buy
REVIEW | Dolphins Into The Future - Canto Arquipelago - Underwater Peoples
I’ll confess to not having been bowled over by everything I’ve heard from Dolphins into the Future, the solo endeavor of Belgium-based Lieven Martens. Much of this is due to my own cynicism/skepticism - the name, the crystal/New Age tropes, etc- I just can’t do it- so, needless to say, I approached this collection with quite a few reservations. While Canto Arquipelago didn’t shatter my preconceived notions of the project, or make me an instant convert, it is a really nice listen. A fairly transportive, romantic set of recordings that, really, do a good job of situating themselves alongside the private issue New Age (PINA) records that clearly serve as Martens’ muse. If you need to bolster your chakras, you could do a hell of a lot worse. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia - Buy
Hyper (and hyper-detailed) electronic, beat-oriented music from Justin Hopkin’s RareBit project. These are vivid, frenetic tracks which range from post-techno bangers to amorphous synth workouts. Beautiful arpeggiations find themselves wedged between glitching electronics and propulsive percussion. Hopkins is a fine craftsman with a deft ear for melody and textures, these pieces feel alive in a way that a lot of beat-drive music doesn’t. Recommended for fans of the Brainfeeder label. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia - Buy
REVIEW | Kleefstra|Bakker|Kleefstra - Griis - Low Point
Calling “Griis” a stark record would be an understatement. The monochromatic, blurry grey images that adorn the cover serve as the perfect barometer for the gauzy guitar-driven music within. Two side-long excursions sink into the murk that perfectly highlight Jan Kleefstra’s recitations in Frisian (a dialect spoken in northern Holland). The combination is oddly soothing even if, over time, it begins to feel almost overbearing. Each crackle, each subtle shift feels exactly in the right place. There’s a precision to this music that is organic. Even without understanding anything spoken by Kleefstra, you feel a connection with his words and the way it all flows. If the icy atmospheric guitars are the wreckage, his voice is the singularity that dissipates the fractured cloud. “Griis” skirts the line between hope & darkness and comes out the other side feeling utterly infinite. There is real beauty to be found in things so subtle. - Brad Rose (of Digitalis) for Experimedia - Buy
REVIEW | Ben Vida - Esstends-Esstends-Esstends - Pan
Ben Vida has been cooking up all manner of electronic fuckere over the last decade plus. Whether it’s been through his Bird Show project or other duos/trios/groups, Vida is a master of improvisation and composition. “Esstends-Esstends-Esstends” is a forward-thinking piece of visceral compositions. Intended as a device to engage the listener’s ‘sense of aural perception,’ Vida concocts uncompromising, microscopic vignettes that are as intricate as they are skull-piercing. Multiple layers buzz around each other, barely missing or utterly colliding, stretching the limits that your ears can handle. It’s an exquisite balancing act keeping track of each element as it glides (or crashes, as it were) in-and-out of focus. Like 2010’s Bird Show Band album (my previous favorite work of his), Vida is at his best when he’s assaulting boundaries and totally dialed in. “Esstends-Esstends-Esstends” is the best of both, presenting a singular focus that still keeps you guessing. Listen on headphones, listen on speakers, but whatever you do play it LOUD. - Brad Rose (of Digitalis) for Experimedia - Buy
Absolutely fantastic collection of skewed dance-oriented electronic music from Berlin by way of Osaka musician Kouhei Matsunaga, who has collaborated in the past with Autechre alum Sean Booth and Conrad Schnitzler. “Dance Classics Vol. I” merges infectious Techno rhythms with more abstract sound design to a stunning effect. It’s nice to see PAN stepping out into more accessible, rhythm-centric territory and this makes for a nice follow-up to the recent Heatsick LP. A great, imminently listenable LP recommended for fans of everything from contemporary modular synth music (KFW et al) to House. Features superb as ever jacket design/packaging from PAN head honchos Kathryn Politis and Bill Kouligas. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia - Buy
It’s amazing to me when an artist like Burial can continue to release material that doesn’t veer far from the tropes for which he’s become well known (and oft-imitated) and have the results be so consistently astounding. Despite his estimable discography, one could make a case for “Kindred” being the best Burial outing to date. The title track is expansive and beautiful, full of the lush, muted pads and alien vocal samples for which the UK producer is well known. Though much of the album feels quite familiar, archetypally “Burial-esque” as it were, there are some “new” moments worth making note of, for instance the straightforward house rhythms on “Loner” and the wonderfully abstracted denouement of “Ashtray Wasp,” the latter of which contains what is, for my money, perhaps Burial’s most devastating vocal sample yet. In the end, “Kindred” is another superbly crafted, essential release from one of the most distinctive voices of our time. Highly recommended. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia - Buy
REVIEW | Sean McCann & Matthew Sullivan - Vanity Fair - Recital
Vanity Fair features Sean McCann and Matthew Sullivan in a plaintive mode. Whether intentional or not, there is a lumbering ambient weight to the duo’s first collaboration on McCann’s Recital imprint. Maybe it’s Sullivan’s clanking found-sound collages that always seem to tear at the edges of McCann’s slow moving string work? Or maybe it’s the varied, organic sound palette in general that is loosely framed in a compositional context. Whatever the case, while most synth-based ambient records reach for the stars for inspiration, Vanity Fair seems firmly planted in the Earth’s soil. To my ears, the record seems concerned with injecting a little bit more ‘class’ into contemporary underground music (a goal also evident in Recital’s visual aesthetic as well), which, based on these results, is a worthy pursuit. - Keith Rankin (of Giant Claw, Orange Milk Records, and Tiny Mixtapes) for Experimedia- Buy
REVIEW | Hakobune - Recalling My Insubstantial Thoughts - Tobira
Blissed, heavily treated guitar explorations and effervescent field recordings. “Recalling my Insubstantial Thoughts” proves to be an apt title indeed as listening to these pieces is somewhat akin to the act of trying to locate in memory thoughts to which one previously attached little significance yet take on greater psychical weight in reflection. These are evocative, cinematic recordings which will surely appeal to fans of the 12k label. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia - Buy
Stunning new full-length from the prolific Marc Richter, curator of the fantastic Dekorder label. Richter is a man of many hats, as evidenced by the sonically diverse yet consistently rewarding body of work he’s released under the Black to Comm moniker. “Earth” proves to be a particularly arresting listen right from the start, with the spooked “Sticksoff II,” a track that features bizarre, warbling vocals and ominous held chords that are augmented by metallic whirring and percussive tones. It’ s these bizarre, almost “John Gavanti”-esque vocals, which appear on each of the album’s tracks, that make this BtC release truly unique in Richter’s discography. A surreal and quite beautiful album. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia - Buy
REVIEW | Vatican Shadow - Kneel Before Religious Icons - Type
Yet another essential remastered reissue from the Type label, which, frankly, has become one of the premier preservationists of releases that would otherwise likely evaporate into the digital ether (Clams Casino, Main Attrakionz, etc). Vatican Shadow is the post-Techno project of Dominick Fernow (he of Prurient/Hospital Records notoriety). Sonically, it recalls the aesthetics of UK-based imprints/acts like Blackest Ever Black and Sandwell District (in fact, Fernow will be releasing the debut full-length by a member of the lamentably-now-defunct Sandwell District, Silent Servant, sometime this year). Vatican Shadow has released a handful of highly limited, now highly collectible cassettes via Hospital and “Kneel Before Religious Icons,” along with the three-part “Washington Buries Al Qaeda Leader at Sea ” stands as the best of it. “KneelÉ” is some of the most militant Vatican Shadow material that Fernow has released thus far, with strident drum programming and buzzing synthesizers dominating the productions. Ultimately, it’s a great record that should satisfy fans of Techno and Noise alike. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia - Buy
Get your very own Brain Pulse Music Machine and jam with your brain from Drag City.
New Brain Tool for Experimental Music Fans
This machine was invented to make audible our brain wave pulse sounds. You just need the BPM machine and an amplifier. Connect with a cable and put on your headset. Then “TURN ON” your BPM machine.
How does the BPM machine work?
It picks up your brain waves via the headset and it sends them via radio waves to the processor. Then it sends electric pulses through the oscillator. These come out of the amplifier as a rectangular wave. See the instructional video on this site for more details.
Did you make the setup yourself or was it modified from existing technologies?
It was invented by MKC corporation in Tokyo, an effect pedal factory. We had hints from an EEG measuring instrument, and the apparatus produced by Tokyo Denshi Co. It’s an old style medical tool, like a 50s robot.
How does the machine help to treat patients?
I had been fascinated by brain waves which produce an electrical signal, and its reflection of one’s state of mind. It spikes very rapidly. Human beings lie but their brain waves never lie. For example, a patient with deep anxiety during treatment might have a brain waves that are very unstable. I could then put some very thin acupuncture needles at certain pressure points. Within 10 minutes his brain waves will calm down. Before he wakes up on the table it will usually remain as alpha waves.
Developmental disability treatment is one of my specialities. Generally today’s patients must take a very strong tranquilizer daily (for example, Ritalin, a methylphenidate that is prohibited to sell in the marketplace here now). Medicine is often their doctor’s only medical treatment. Sometimes they can get by fine without it if they have my treatment (acupuncture, moxibution, seitai, oriental herbs, and BPM). That way some of them are able to escape the heavy side effects of strong medicines. This is one of the reasons I invented BPM.
Remastered cassette reissue (from Rubber City Noise) of an original ultra-limited CD-R issued in 2004 by underground legend and Experimedia founder Jeremy Bible. Recorded between 1998 and 2000,The Journey of Enoch prophesied the rise of lo-fi, minimal drone underground which first…
Experimedia is now featuring original shop reviews for some of the titles we stock… as time goes on our goal is to include original reviews for most if not all of the titles we stock. More to come soon… here are some of the latest so far.
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Will Montgomery & Robert Curgenven - Winds Measure 25 This new vinyl presents two sides of summoned sounds, field recordings and treated media by sound artists Will Montgomery and Robert Curgenven. Montgomery’s side “Heygate” transmutes the South London housing estate into an acoustic architecture at times fragile yet as imposing as the modernist concrete blocks now in the first throes of demolition. Montgomery’s composition illustrates a fading modernity, without being overtly literal or nostalgiac, in abstracted field recordings, lo-fi signals and thoroughly sanded concrete sound moving in and out of silence as brief views of an age close to us yet quickly lost.
Side B continues Curgenven’s use (and re-use) of unique dub plates and feedback as previously documented on his “Oltre” for Line. Starting with a blooming series of tones occasionally pocked with small dubplate pops, occasionally wrapped in other wisps of field recordings. Considerably more static than Montgomery’s composition, “Looking for Narratives on Small Islands” hovering sound world slowly unweaves itself, overran and interrupted by natural sound.
As to be expected from Winds Measure, this slab of white vinyl comes with elegantly crafted letterpress art designed and printed by Ben Owen. - Billy Gomberg for Experimedia
Black To Comm - Earth - Destijl Stunning new full-length from the prolific Marc Richter, curator of the fantastic Dekorder label. Richter is a man of many hats, as evidenced by the sonically diverse yet consistently rewarding body of work he’s released under the Black to Comm moniker. “Earth” proves to be a particularly arresting listen right from the start, with the spooked “Sticksoff II,” a track that features bizarre, warbling vocals and ominous held chords that are augmented by metallic whirring and percussive tones. It’ s these bizarre, almost “John Gavanti”-esque vocals, which appear on each of the album’s tracks, that make this BtC release truly unique in Richter’s discography. A surreal and quite beautiful album. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Death And Vanilla - Self Titled - Hands In The Dark Records With Death and Vanilla, it’s easy to get caught up in that vintage drum sound — really, that vintage sound in general. Needless to say, their self-titled debut album is dropping at just the right time, with the inevitable Library Music craze just around the corner. We also get a healthy dose of old-school pop, complete with breathy female vocals and ‘dreamy’ instrumentation (that means lots of jangly guitar and vibraphone) all seemingly etched on slowly disintegrating 8mm tape. The question becomes, what elevates this above a coarse homage to all things vintage? Indeed, Death and Vanilla might have come off as mere aesthetic window dressing, but they are luckily imbued with a composition wit and melodicism that makes the record irresistible. - Keith Rankin (of Giant Claw, Orange Milk Records, and Tiny Mixtapes) for Experimedia
Nicholas Szczepanik - We Make Life Sad - WeMe Records New album by Chicago-based Nicholas Szczepanik following up from last year’s Streamline release, “Please Stop Loving Me.” This effort finds Szczepanik operating on a bit of a smaller scale, conceptually speaking, presenting ten song-like pieces over the course of the record’s two sides. Hovering digital synthesizer tones, processed strings and what sounds like time-stretched, fx-laden orchestral (and otherwise) samples make up much of the palette here, with Szcepanik setting his sights on concision and tonal diversity rather than the single-minded, pathos-driven bent that characterizes his previous full length. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Panabrite - Sub Aquatic Meditation - Aguirre Beautiful new album by Norm Chambers’ Panabrite project. Once again Chambers’ knowledge and interest in library/cosmic disco imbues his own output with nuances that allow it to transcend “synth music” proper and become something bigger. Pop sensibilities and rhythms abound on “Sub Aquatic Meditation,” with Chambers’ deft hands pulling pulses and arpeggiations from his array of exotic electronics. A superb record. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Pulse Emitter - Aeons - Aguirre Daryl Groetsch’s Pulse Emitter project must be one of the most underrated synth acts in North America, consistently putting out high-quality offerings (his Meditative Music Series still gets a lot of play around these parts- someone release this on vinyl!). He’s in fine form here, offering cycling, lush, crystal clear modular synthesizer tracks composed with the focus that we’ve come to expect from this project. “Spaceship” in particular is one of the more beautiful pieces I’ve heard from Groetsch to date. Pitch perfect stuff. - Alex Cobb for Experimedia
Ian Martin - Mechanical Rain - Further Superlative new work by Rotterdam’s Ian Martin, “Mechanical Rain” proves to be a subtle but affecting listen. Pillow-soft drones ebb and flow as rhythmic ticks and sputters (evocative of the album’s title) coalesce all around them, coming to a head on the dizzying, beautiful “Wires.” A cold, bleak minimalism pervades throughout the album, conjuring lonely landscapes, claustrophobic spaces and sleepless nights. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Main Attrakionz - 808s & Dark Grapes II - Type Fantastic public service release of Main Attrakionz’ genre-defining 2011 mixtape “808s & Dark Grapes II” on double LP, an album which, alongside the duo’s work with LW Hodge and Julian Wass on last year’s “Chandelier,” stands as the best they’ve laid to tape. With the striking diversity of its production credits, “808s…” in some ways functions best as a primer on the aesthetics of the MA sound, referred to by many critics as “cloud rap.” Friendzone provide hazy, ethereal and slow-moving tracks over which Squadda and Mondre’s laid-back flows sound entirely at home, while Marlee B and Giorgio MoMurda offer up lusher, more funky productions. “Take 1” features current it-rapper A$AP Rocky (it also appeared on last year’s “Live.Love.A$AP” mixtape) and showcases the epic, brooding production of Clams Casino, whose “Instrumentals” mixtape also received the vinyl treatment by Type. A terrific set and really a must-buy for anyone interested in the current state of rap music. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Belbury Poly - The Belbury Tales - Ghost Box A quite accomplished concept album from Ghost Box co-founder Jim Jupp’s vehicle that works equally well as both homage to British prog rock of years past (think Soft Machine circa ‘70-73) and as a thoroughly immersive, enjoyable listen in its own right. The release of the “The Belbury Tales” marks the welcome arrival of the superb Ghost Box label to our domestic shores. Jupp is joined here by Jim Musgrave on drums and Christopher Budd on bass/guitar, fleshing out his unique sound (which makes use of analog synths, percussion, melodica and other instruments) perfectly. The press release notes that the album was composed by way of “taking in medievalism, the supernatural, [and] ideas about the re-invention of the past, childhood, initiation and pilgrimage (both spiritual and physical),” and the depth of intention and influence is striking throughout. Fans of the Canterbury sound/Cuneiform records and forward-thinking rock as such take note. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Nicholas Szczepanik - The Truth of Transience - Isoundscore During the final stretch of The Truth of Transience’s first side, the pervading eerie drone cools down and drops all menacing pretenses. Everything opens up, and slowly a bright, shimmering major chord invades the entire range of sound, hanging like a bird in mid-air. Needless to say, the moment is beautiful and unexpected — the exact kind of shift that sets certain ambient records apart from the flock. The Truth of Transience is Nicholas Szczepanik’s first official vinyl release and is limited to 300 copies. - Keith Rankin (of Giant Claw, Orange Milk Records, and Tiny Mixtapes) for Experimedia
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