Red Horse
Self Titled
Type

FROM THE ARCHIVES// Red Horse is comprised of “drummer” Eli Keszler and “guitarist” Steve Pyne, but the quotations are probably more important the instrument placed between them.  The duo subvert and destroy nearly everything you thought you knew about both instruments, channeling homemade feedback devices, clattering metal, and smoldering amplifiers instead.  The self titled album is resoundingly free and abstract, yet Keszler and Pyne never dip into true noise.  Red Horse injects experimentalism with a dose of unruly punk attitude and in the process gives a heartening blast of sound to adventurous souls. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia

Massprod
Aqwa
Further

Massprod’s brethren on Further Records may take weirder angles on electronic music or tease out its styles into more experimental realms, but none are more consistent.  On Massprod’s “Aqwa” he creates a syncopated journey into minimalist melodies and cyclical rhythms where songs could loop and revolve forever, but usually conclude in four minutes time.  The shorter length is key to Massprod’s approach.  His confluence of styles – dub, house, and ambient among them – all thrive in longer structures, but he wisely overturns stereotypes to fit his bite-sized tracks and keep listeners invested from movement to movement. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia

Octo Octa
Between Two Selves
100% Silk

It’s not often that dance music and contemplative dispositions mesh, and it’s even rarer when they mesh well.  Octo Octa accomplishes this feat not by coiling it around pop music signifiers like James Blake has in recent years, but by decelerating tempos just enough that they let in mellow textures and build atmospheres.  Momentum is very much a part of “Between Two Selves,” but Octo Octa uses it to create an odd sensation of suspense that simply cannot be found in dance music when it raises the BPM.  This allows such gems as “Please Don’t Leave” to have the feel of the track title even without a true vocalist pleaded his or her case. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia

Dark Side of the Audio System
Loop Collections 9
Analog Path

Over the course of the last two years Analog Path has evolved into one of the more consistent CD-R labels in a format that is constantly figuring out where it stands among other musical mediums, particularly vinyl, digital, and, of course, glass mastered CDs.  For its 14th release, the label looks back to its not so distant past and calls upon Shinobu Nemoto to deliver another set of quiet, creaky loop based compositions.  This time he houses it under his Dark Side of the Audio System moniker where wow and flutter become the predominate instruments after a few cycles elapse and your ears become familiar with the short piano phrases.  ”Loop Collections 9” isn’t linear like the “Disintegration Loops” and it doesn’t become more distorted and abstracted with every pass.  Instead each revolution is seemingly new and unphased by what came before it, a fresh life given to downcast material. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia

Electric Bird Noise
Desert Jelly
Silber

Previously known for droning and electrified fields of guitar distortion, Brian Lea McKenzie, under the moniker Electric Bird Noise, flips expectations and has instead crafted an album of synthesizer-led songs that are primed for appearances on the dancefloor.  ”Desert Jelly,” much like a new wave version of something Dan Friel or Dan Deacon might create, uses thudding drum machines and bubbling electronic textures to arrive at arpeggiator-riddled pop songs that are colorful and exuberant.  Though the energy can at times be manic, Electric Bird Noise smartly allows the album to slow to quiet, simmering soundscapes before accelerating to frenetic, beat-driven madness heard vividly on “I Miss Those Hardcore Kids.”  - Ryan Potts, Experimedia

People of the North
Sub Contra
Thrill Jockey

People of the North are in fact just two people – drummer Kid Millions and keyboardist/vocalist Bobby Matador of Oneida – but the sheer amount of volume, density, and sound they emit is by a band seemingly much larger.  On “Sub Contra,” their Thrill Jockey debut, the duo concoct a droning type of psychedelia that is always hard to pigeonhole: too much frenetic energy to be krautrock and too lucid to be in the proximity of pure ambience.  It’s also gritty, with decay and wilting sonics just as vital to the sound as drum patterns and organ layers.  Closer “Osage Orange” is the pinnacle of the album, and not just because it peaks at nearly a quarter of an hour.  The track compacts much of what makes “Sub Contra” an invigorating listen: plumes of electronic feedback and polyrhythmic drumming that coalesces into a lattice of sound more intricate and involved than a mere duo should muster. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia 

Gunter Schickert
HaHeHiHo
VCO

With Zombi’s Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra behind VCO Recordings, there is no surprise that the majority of the label’s output has been both cosmic in material and cinematic in approach.  It’s rarely put out anything as multi-faceted and diverse as Gunter Schickert’s “HaHeHiHo” cassette though, with a krautrock and psychedelic vocabulary that goes into some seriously surprising places.  ”Western Union” cycles through some desert rock motifs while “Power Call” goes even further out, bringing to mind the ’70s veneer of Brian Eno’s early pop recordings.  What’s interesting is that “HaHeHiHo” isn’t highlighting these trends in a contemporary light, in fact the material was originally recorded in 1996 and just now seeing the light of day. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia

Brandon Nickell
The Art of Memory
Tundra Dubs

Brandon Nickell is more than just a synth artist: he channels classic IDM material on the “The Art of Memory” that is abetted with old drum machine beats and healthy stretches of silence.  How he uses these two facets of sound to exert restraint and pace are key to “The Art of Memory.”  ”Voice,” for example whirrs quietly for over four minutes before drifting into the centerpiece of the album.  ”Progenitor” is Nickell’s finest moment, with twitchy rhythms that overlap and always threaten to loss the beat and follow chaos instead.  It becomes a psychedelic opus that your mind and feet can’t quite make sense of, urging you to listen deeper and get lost in its web of electronic sound. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia

Evan Parker and John Wiese
C Section
Pan

FROM THE ARCHIVES// Three years on, this is something that should continue to be celebrated: British free jazz figurehead Evan Parker collides in an improvised session with prolific noise merchant John Wiese.  One of Pan’s initial game-changing records, the entirety of “C-Section” is a full volume and maximum impact collaboration, with the duo cutting across numerous lines of logic in the experimental field like some type of abstract expressionist musical monster.  A strong sense of friction is evident throughout and frantic saxophone lines scrape against shards of feedback and bleed viciously into caustic rumbles of tape noise.  It’s bracing stuff, but there’s also a vivaciousness – even playfulness – to the proceedings, as if both musicians are thoroughly elated by the racket they’re making.  Even better, that feeling comes screaming through to the listener in the best possible way. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia

Rambutan
Inverted Summer
Fabrica

This is first vinyl effort from Eric Hardiman’s Rambutan project is stellar.  This set of eight tunes has been infecting my brain over the past week.  Hardiman’s at his absolute best here, mixing divergent styles with ease while keeping “Inverted Summer” delicately interconnected.  ”Time Garden” sounds like a long-lost early Ducktails piece in the best possible way as it bends and bubbles effervescently toward a lush horizon.  Contemplative tones blanket the solemn “Flying Through Glass” while “Shallow Motion” adds a surprising amount of crunch.  Hardiman is juggling so many flaming batons on “Inverted Summer” – each track has its own, distinct atmosphere – that I’m floored at how well he keeps them all in the air.  For a project that I’ve followed closely for years and that’s been responsible for numerous quality releases, “Inverted Summer” certainly stands at the top of the heap.  Really great stuff. – Brad Rose, Experimedia

Joasihno
A Lie
Alien Transistor

Joasihno began as a solo project by Christoph Beck, but the outfit has grown in both sonics and membership with the addition of Nico Sierig.  ”A Lie,” their sophomore album, is invigorating pop music that has streaks of shoegaze atmospherics and pulsing electronics in its DNA.  Kindred sonic spirits are found in past touring partners The Notwist and Owen Pallett, but “A Lie” is best compared to the thick, honey-like pop feel that Caribou was exploring circa “Up In Flames.”  One of the more enduring indie records from the past decade, Joasihno do that comparison justice with a diverse set of styles and arrangements that always manage to suit the song appropriately, regardless if it’s loud and churning psychedelic rock (“Some Light”), a twinkling, piano-laced ballad (“Monja”), or radiant layers of electronics (“Dream of a Disappearing Friend”).  - Ryan Potts, Experimedia

Case Studies
This Is Another Life
Sacred Bones

Though it’s not entirely the other life the title indicates, Jesse Lortz, here as Case Studies, definitely overturns the bright, upbeat pop-rock that his former outfit, The Duchess and the Duke, was known for.  He also trades in the guitar-led approach for a set of solemn piano songs that take detours through American-bred roots music and occasionally jazzy accompaniments.  It is uniformally slow, contemplative music, but “This Is Another Life” is also littered with small moments that lift and twist the material in different ways, including the spindling electric guitar solos on “Passage / Me In The Dark”, “Villages“‘s lush vocal duets, and the Tom Waits-esque barroom pianos on “House of Silk, House of Stone.” – Ryan Potts, Experimedia 

Jan St. Werner
Blaze Colour Burn
Thrill Jockey

Jan St. Werner hasn’t released an album under his given name since the early ’90s, which is why most people will be more familiar with his work as part of German electronic legends Mouse On Mars.  But what a return it is: “Blaze Colour Burn” is a sound collage work of misshapen contours and forward-thinking experiments that is somehow as composed and deliberate as any classical piece.  Just listing the techniques Jan St. Werner used – not to mention the sounds themselves – could take up an entire paragraph: DSP manipulations, improvisation, soundtrack work, graphic scoring, signal processing, field recordings, digital time stretching, vocal cut ups, and about a hundred other aural methods.  ”Spiazzacorale A” is the most beguiling track on this incredibly diverse and engaging album, placing a snippet of a public orchestra concert in Italy amid searing electronic textures, rippling bell arrangements, and passages of microscopic sonic particles.  ”Blaze Colour Burn” it’s so visionary and imaginatively well executed, don’t be surprised if most electronic fare sounds stale in comparison. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia 

Homeowner
Themes from 172
Orange Milk

On the surface Joe Bastardo’s Homeowner project (also of Bastian Void and head of the Moss Archives label) appears a lot like its synth brethren, using a bit of piano and tape with the majority of the sounds stemming from his analog synth set up.  But Homeowner effectively dials it back an entire generation to recall when electronic music was based on labs churning out stunning, one of a kind recordings instead of succumbing to thousands of artists with equipment in their bedroom.  Much of “Themes From 172” is exploratory and free, with an internal logic that is either too random or too vast for the human ear to discern.  But others have weird, multi-part rhythms that juggle and bob several different octaves apart.  When both approaches are combined the results can be remarkable: “Through a Keyhold Slanted” is chaotic and skewed beyond recognition in many ways, but it starts in a strict, chattering electronic pulse before gloriously losing it for several minutes of abstracted synth goodness. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia

Stellar Om Source
Joy One Mile
RVNG International

The solo project of Christelle Gualdi, Stellar OM Source is one of the myriad outfits that grew out of the OPN/Emeralds/Ferraro axis, the “zeitgeist of artists trending away from their noisy roots via polyphonic escapism,” as the press release tells us. “Joy One Mile” is Gualdi’s first album for RVNG and orients itself around the recognizable bass synthesis of the famous Roland TB-303. “Polarity” opens the album and pulls no punches, with arpeggiations and sprightly drums orbiting TB-303 rhythms. Later, “Trackers” unfurls itself from of a web of cycling digital synth tones, reaching a frenetic, dancefloor-ready pitch. Ultimately, “Joy One Mile” does not surprise or innovate, but rather offers up a cohesive and well-crafted set of songs that will appeal to fans of the aforementioned artists  as well as devotees of RVNG’s diverse yet coherent catalog.  - Alex Cobb, Experimedia