So this is the rebirth of something I used to do quite some time ago. The aim here is to try and discover new and interesting music each week with the aim of putting together a short list of recommendations based on that week's listening. Where possible I will try and connect them by theme, genre, or something else. The only guarantee I can give is that they will be connected by me. Also there will be links to buy/stream the content featured.
This week the small hint of a theme was freedom of/from time. A lot of either long form ambience, or rhythmic freedom. This is also just a loose theme with a lot of the interest in these pieces coming from separate sources. So starting with the first album.
65daysofstatic - replicr, 2019
Stunning album from the experimental group. Lots of beautiful noise-based layering with either no pulse whatsoever, or relentless driving pulses. There is a certain uneasy feel that permeates this album. Everything feels veiled with the more clear sounds being a noticeable exception. Beautiful album and perfectly fits the niche between ambient and active, in neither camp and both simultaneously.
Also recommended are their two recent releases on Bandcamp. Both are stunning, and both support Bail Funds for Black Lives Matter protestors.
David Toop - Apparition Paintings
Stunningly eclectic album of largely improvised and naturally flowing music. Toop really captures a sense of intuitive music progression at a really easy pace. The sense of time in this album is purely that of a free flowing sea without beginning or end. Each piece feels like a glimpse into that musical world before gently leaving it again. Really nice mix of instruments and sound sources and I love the long descriptive titles that give away more into what each microcosm is depicting.
Matmos - The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form
Stunning tour de force of an album with about as many different styles and sources as one could possibly expect on an album like this. This album has so much variety that I can't really talk about the style other than to say that is exudes a gleeful experimentalism. There is a genuine feel of true play throughout everything here. So many sounds and alterations happen not only in a way that feels intuitive, but also explorative. This is hard to fully accomplish without sounding unstructured, yet by subdividing the ideas into their own tracks, this album manages to feel sensible and structured. Everything has its own place. There is also a ubiquitous sense of almost granular examining and treatment of sounds, both in how the sounds feel themselves, and in how they are structured to change. Go into this one with an open and empty mind and allow it to overwhelm. That's what it's meant to do.
Lafawndah - The Fifth Season
After the overwhelming sounds of Matmos, it seems fitting to return back to some calm and ambience. This is an album of few layers and changes. At any point there is only a foreground and background. Each consists of one thing, both are perhaps obscured and undefined at times, but always have a strong sense of form and identity. A strongly ethereal album that is very concentrated with its material, very slow and methodical. Much like the album art, it is like a sculpture. Still and undefined, but very beautiful and haunting. Like much of her earlier work, this album is intimate to the point of both great comfort and great discomfort. It explores both the familiar and the unfamiliar. She embraces her eastern roots without fetishisation, reaches towards some western styles without sounding displaced, and hypnotises without relying on sensory overload.
Graeme Leak - Birds On An Amplified Fence
An interesting choice to end it on. This is a recent installation as part of a UK/Australia project to share the sounds and music of nature. It is a direct amplification and sonification of the sounds of birds landing on a tense fence wire next to some food. The rhythms and vibrations are purely natural and unadulterated. The pure rhythmic freedom is beyond almost any man-made music. The sound profile of the produced sound is so entirely alien, despite the source of the sound (both agent and object) being so obvious. The only hidden part of the process is the amplification. I love this project. It is simple, yet the unexpectedness of the sounds help realise the aim of releasing and making audible the sounds and processes that were not noticeable before. Likening back to the Victorian comparison of the microphone to the microscope, this piece simply shows what was always there, but we weren't in position to hear.