Michael A. Muller – Lower River

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Michael A. Muller is a co-founder of Balmorhea who have released six albums over the last 13 years. ‘Lower River’ is the title track of his solo album and it’s a wonderfully immersive and hypnotic piece of ambient, droning music that hangs in the air, draped in resonating, melancholic chords.

The press releases describes the track as being inspired by his own remote travels throughout the US and Europe and the personal exploration of a meditative practice, it’s a sonic exploration of what it means to hear versus to listen, to immerse oneself in navigating the subconscious plane of pure energy and deep, immersive creativity.

Lower River is out October 25th on Beacon Sound (vinyl) + 1631 Recordings (digital).

NEW MUSIC: Christopher Tignor – The Resonance Canons

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Christopher Tignor is a New York composer with an impressive CV. In his early days he mixed sound at CBGBs, was an assistant to La Monte Young. He gained a Masters in computer science from NYU, proceeded through Princeton’s PhD program in music composition, and was later recruited for a software engineering position at Google. He’s released nine albums and collaborated with a range of other artists including Keith Kenniff (Helios), Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, John Congleton, and This Will Destroy You.

Tignor’s latest album A Light Below features this track ‘The Resonance Canons’, an 11 minute instrumental journey that is based around the sound of tuning forks. It sparkles and glistens, clangs and pulses with bell-like qualities and both melancholic and slightly ominous undertones. Lovely stuff!

“Since the last LP, my technique for tuning forks also earned some attention (and an honest-to-God tuning fork sponsorship). Again, I wanted to push the musical possibilities here, dialing those gestures in to create locked, luminous polyrhythms alternating with left hand pizzicato. I combined these methods with cascades of triggered synths in “The Resonance Canons”, an 11 minute trip ending in complete vulnerability—as the tuning fork loses its resonance, I continue knocking it against my bridge, a final ostinato built from processed noise and resonant wood.”

 

NEW MUSIC: Federale – Trouble

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Here’s some cinematic, widescreen psychedelia courtesy of Federale, a seven-piece ensemble based in Portland, OR. Spearheaded by longtime Brian Jonestown Massacre bassist Collin Hegna, the band was conceived as an outlet to channel inspiration from 60’s & 70’s European soundtracks, particularly those from Italy made famous by the Spaghetti Western & Giallo genres.

They certainly hit the mark on ‘Trouble’, a song that swaggers along with dark intent, a smokey atmosphere akin to Calexico on a desert road trip with the Bad Seeds and Lee Hazlewood behind the steering wheel. Horns and strings enhance the mood before the  operatic sound of Maria Karlin sends things skyward.

‘Trouble’ comes the new album No Justice, due out on November 8th.

 

NEW MUSIC: Dear Boy – Heaven Moves

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“A really nice, new English indie guitar tune” I thought to myself when I first heard ‘Heaven Moves’ by Dear Boy. I was wrong though! The band hail from Los Angeles and they’re starting to gain some attention with their mix of English jangly post-punk and pop-tinged melodies. They recently finished a run of dates with James and Psychedelic Furs which gives a further idea of the kind of sound they have. ‘Dear Boy’ reminds us of Ride and Boo Radleys with a dash of Prefab Sprout thrown into the mix. A really nice tune.

Dear Boy released The Strawberry EP earlier this year and this track is a bridge between that release and a full-length album.

NEW MUSIC: Vanessa Van Ness – True True Shot

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“Molly Ringwald was my saviour…”

Gothic guitar pop with a post-punk twist is the order of the day on this new track from Vanessa Van Ness, a Melbourne-based guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer from Venice Beach, Los Angeles. There’s a roll call of influential women in the song, over a minimal backing of guitar and percussion. ‘True True Shot’ has a really nice mantra-like quality to the it. Slightly ominous yet meditative.

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Chastity Belt – Chastity Belt

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Music is about mood and the way it sonically hits the ears, heart and mind just as much as it’s about the stories and ideas conveyed by the lyrics. The appeal of Chastity Belt’s new self-titled album lies in both elements but it’s the overall sound and the warm dreaminess that billows out of the speakers that provides the strongest appeal and connection point.

All four band members share lead vocal duties and they’ve spoken of adding more dynamic harmonies and violin on this record. Those changes are key to the overlapping, drifting and lightly psychedelic sound across the ten songs. Structural experimentation, such as the drums taking a minute and a half to enter the fray on Elena, take the song structures away from standard rock shapes and closer to post-rock or a dream-pop version of Sonic Youth, bereft of their sharper edges. In a way the album sounds like lo-fi jangly guitar songs recorded in high fidelity, given the rich and lush treatment given to the recordings. The result is immersive and, once the listener lets go, quite immersive.

Many of the songs unfurl slowly, gently revealing their melodies on repeat listens as they seep in. A distant descending guitar riff on Rav-4, the counter playing on Half-Hearted that works like a beautifully disembodied version of Verlaine and Lloyd duelling in Television. Split is another gem, bathed in reverb and a tumbling verse that breaks through the clouds into a skyward chorus, it again shows the band quietly pulling at the threads of guitar pop – like The Smiths and some of the bands that emerged from the underground scene in ‘80s New Zealand.

The album never reaches the peak and immediacy of the single Different Now from 2017 but taken as a whole and listened to accordingly, there’s a beauty in the textural nuance and overall gentle hypnosis of the album.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Nina Harries – Will, I’m Not

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Nina Harries is a British double bassist and vocalist hailing from Northampton and trained in classical music at the Royal College of Music. She dials into a nice dark and moody trip-hop vibe on this track. “I’ve got a bad feeling” she sings in a haunted, Portishead style before the skies darken and thunderous percussion arrives and her vocal is blasted with distortion. The production comes courtesy of Peter Miles.

NEW MUSIC: Flaccid Ashbacks – On and On

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What at first sounds like a generic noisy indie rock song from New York psych-pop explorers Flaccid Ashbacks takes some really interesting twists and turns over its five minutes. From a Sunny Day Real Estate emotive outlay through to a mid section with sharper edges and into its contrasting country strum that sounds like Pavement. It adds up to a restless yet still captivating sound and comes from the Flaccid Ashbacks’ new album Come On Come On, a record that jumps all over the place, normally with constantly inventive and appealing results, like The Strokes and Mac DeMarco covering Arctic Monkeys songs through a hallucinogenic lens.