C V L T S
Rather nice short-run LP (ltd to just 150 copies) on the generally consistent Aguirre imprint. The press release is skimpy on useful information (probably by design), and instead tosses around terms like “post-hypnogagia” and “kings of haze,” descriptors that I had to try hard not to let inhibit my appreciation of the album. As near as I can tell, CVLTS are a Kansas-based psych unit comprised of an undefined amount of string/synth/percussion manipulators who are, as it turns out, fairly adept at creating shambling, drone/psych/kosmiche miniatures. The opening track is all subaqueous keys and loops and serves as a nice prelude to “Brahma Weapons,” a lovely fuzzed-out jam which proves to be one of the album’s strongest tracks. With the synth/neo-kosmiche field rapidly becoming bloated and edging ever closer to its inevitable telos, it’s nice to hear a record which makes use of an expanded palette. A cool listen. - Alex Cobb
Mind Over Mirrors
High & Upon
Originally released on cassette by the always wonderful Gift Tapes label, “High & Upon” is the long-lost sister to Jaime Fennelly’s Mind Over Mirrors debut, “The Voice Rolling.” Given new life thanks to incredible mastering job by Rashad Becker, Fennelly’s warped harmonium concoctions are skewed masterpieces. As the warm tones created by the harmonium are blasted through an endless matrix of oscillators and effects processors, new landscapes are built from the ground up. The melodies and resonance on “High & Upon” is blissful. Music like this can’t help but infect the listener. Miniscule manipulations add up to a massive, cohesive whole - each little twist of a knob or flick fo a switch is subtle in its immediate effect, but is integral in how deep and saturated this music is. Even the brittle piano strikes that begin the album closer, “Mountain Convalescence,” perfect this. Mind Over Mirrors makes music in bright, living color. As the closing moments of catharsis dissolve into a continous, distorted sonic vice, “High & Upon” has come full circle. The last funeral piano chords are a reverie for this magical, wonderful place. Easily one of 2012’s finest reissues and extra points for its stunning artwork & design. Highly recommended. - Brad Rose
Ou Du Monde
I like how the name Mpala Garoo sounds in my mouth — like a bite-full of mashed potatoes or something. To western ears, Moscow native Ivan Karib’s music shares a similar fluffy exoticness; a translation of a translation, filled with electronic and organic hand drumming that dances around hazy off-center guitar jams. In the last few years tropical imagery has been appropriated by a range of artists, imbuing their aesthetics with a sense of sunny escapism. On Ou Du Monde — which is a vinyl update of a 2010 Sweat Lodge Guru tape — Karib proves that the tropics are more a feeling than a place. The Beach Boys or Jo‹o Gilberto might as well have been from the arctic. This kind of music is both optimistic and bittersweet. It feels good, and feeling good is a cross-generational, cross-regional kind of thing. - Keith Rankin
Tidal / Rambutan
Taking full advantage of the side-long capabilities of 12” vinyl, Tidal and Rambutan present two 20 minute tracks that expand and contract, distort and sustain in several different ways. This split LP capitalizes on recent Aguirre successes by Panabrite and Pulse Emitter while simultaneously extracting the melody and pulse those records exhibited to feature the cool, abstracted soundworlds that billowed beneath the surface. Of the two sides, Tidal’s “Sounds of the Future” contribution is much more monolithic as it filters a smudged, mid-level synth drone through banks of reverb and lo-fi recording techniques. Conversely, Rambutan offers a patiently dynamic track that swirls and twists an assemblage of synthesizer debris into a colorful web of sound. By using similar tools in divergent ways, Tidal and Rambutan prove to be fitting counterparts. - Ryan Potts
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.
TIP TO LABELS: Get us digital promos and info as early as possible to increase the likely hood of your release receiving a review.
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