NEW MUSIC: Alaskan Tapes – Views From Sixteen Stories

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Last month, Canadian composer Alaskan Tapes (Brady Kendall) released his new album Views From Sixteen Stories. Check out the title track below, a warm, dream-like, swelling piece of music that rises and falls with a certain weightlessness. There’s sonic depth to it too. Turn up the volume and the richness of the bass tones resonate wonderfully through the track.

Hit the Bandcamp link to stream and buy the album on vinyl/CD/digital or stream on the other usual platforms.

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: Tristan Welch – Tuesday

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‘Tuesday’ comes from Tristan Welch‘s 2019 album 40 Hours (via Verses Records (a label collective out of Washington D.C.) and it’s quite a mesmerising, slowly unfurling piece of droning ambient music. There’s a gentle swell, ebb and flow to the track, almost akin to an entity slowly breathing. Guitars, effects and a saxophone shape an immersive listening experience.

ALBUM REVIEW: Moon Duo – Shadow Of The Sun

Rating8shadow-lpMaking use of a limited palette of instruments and ideas is an approach that has tripped up many a musician as they’ve endeavoured to get to the core of their creativity and cut out any frills and fireworks. Both Moon Duo and singer/guitarist Ripley Johnson’s other band Wooden Shjips have always attempted to do just that and almost without fail they’ve succeeded.

Moon Duo’s fourth album takes the repetitive melodic hooks of Circles (2012) and takes them to a darker and more cocooned place. There is an increased sonic density and sometimes claustrophobia on Shadow Of The Sun even though they still sound like a band trying to create the aural equivalent of interstellar travel. Sanae Yamada’s keyboards take the lead in most cases, conjuring up the gothic garage rock of Zero, Free The Skulls’ droning psychedelic organ and the billowy dream pop of In A Cloud. Johnson knows that vocals are just another part of the compositional puzzle and provides them in the form of textural tones rather than a lyrical lead instrument.

Through the haze and drone there is a pop sensibility at the heart of Moon Duo’s music. Slow Down Low could easily be early rock n roll if it wasn’t for the Suicide and Krautrock filter the pair apply to the song. Shadow Of The Sun is ghostly, parallel-world music that hypnotically and economically rephrases the past. This is a mind-altering, chemical-free trip of the highest order and their strongest album to date.

Chris Familton

this review was first published in The Music

REVIEW: EARTH vs BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT

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Listening to both these records over the weekend I sensed a real connection and some common threads running between the two of them.  Made from two different environments and perspectives but sharing some of the same sonic aesthetics, they are disparate personalites travelling on opposite sides of the same road, with the same destination.

Earth is a band that revolves around Dylan Carlson, the one constant member since the formation of the band in Olympia, Washington back in 1991.  Their sound has slowly evolved from dense, suffocating drone metal to the more structured grandeur of the last three years.  In this time they have released three brilliant records with Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method, Hibernaculum and now The Bees Made Honey

Brightblack Morning Light formed more recently in 2001 and revolve around the New Mexico duo of Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes.  Their first full length was Ala.Cali.Tucky under the name Brightblack, followed by the self titled Brightblack Morning Light and now the new Motion to Rejoin.

Earth operate as a purely instrumental band, using large dynamics, repetition and drone as the constant tools to create an atmosphere.  One that conjures up images of bold landscapes, impending doom and the parched and windswept American desert.  Brightblack on the other hand use a different kind of drone and repetition.  Theirs is a drifting, woozier haze.  Their desert is drowning in the twilight, or shimmering in the glow of the last rays of the day.  It doesn’t quite produce the same feelings of dread or of marching into danger but it is still nonetheless unsettling.

Earth’s evolution has seen the inclusion of a wider palette of instruments.  We hear piano, organ and glockenspiel chiming with and against guitar tones that shimmer darkly.  Tones that have the same depth and grit as those Neil Young conjured up for the Dead Man soundtrack.  The hymnal twang that Carlson creates reverberates and swells through the canyons in almost slow motion.  The sound is mesmerizing in that you feel like you are slowly being led somewhere against your will, towards the end of the earth, it’s a feeling that the space and texture builds up chord by chord.  The one track that perhaps rises above that is Miami Morning Coming Down II (Shine).  Here the mood is more optimistic with a chiming guitar melody rising and falling over a cathedral organ sermon.  The old phrase that comes to mind is ‘behind every cloud is a silver lining’.

Motion To Rejoin also moves through the same canyons but its journey is more intimate and mystical.  The swirling tones and vocal incantations, though often lyrically indiscernable, build a mood of campfire cermonies, mexican potions, smoke and ghosts.  Songs like Gathered Years also trade in the stop start lumbering rhythm but the gospel vibe in their church is a dreamier one of spells rather than brimstone and doom.

I highly recommend checking out both these records if you are curious or a fan of this psychedelic blues strand of americana and other bands such as Dirty Three, Neil Young, Mogwai, Calexico, WovenHand, Spiritualized and Metallic Falcon.

Earth – Engine Of Ruin (song)

Brightblack Morning Light – Hologram Buffalo (song)

NEWS: FENNESZ immerses himself in the BLACK SEA…

Christian Fennesz will release his new record, entitled Black Sea, on November 25th via Touch.

UPDATE: TOUCH’S ONLINE STORE IS NOW TAKING ORDERS FOR THE BLACK SEA LP AND LP/CD… CLICK HERE.

It will be released on both CD and LP and each will feature different album art and 2 extra tracks on the vinyl version.  The album features Fennesz’s trademark combination of acoustic and electric guitars, synths, electronics, lloopp and computers and will no doubt further extend his reputation as a leader in the drone, experimental electronic genre.

The two previous albums (Venice and Endless Summer) are compulsory listening if you have dabbled in similar sounds from Philip Jeck, Tim Hecker or Machinefabriek.

In the meantime you can hear the first single, Saffron Revolution, here on Pitchfork