KEVIN MCKAY “Neutral Mind” C43 (Cudighi Records)


Kevin McKay’s four-piece creates an almost shoe-gazey thick wall of psychy, shimmering dreampop through heavily reverb/delay’d guitar pickerings and jangly chord progressions that almost get buried beneath contrapuntal, Of Montreal-esque bass grooves, magical synth blankets, understated drumming and an almost early Clientele-ish coo of pleasant AF vocal delivery. 


Fairly upbeat and infectious, this brand of indie rock makes for great driving music and early party mood-setting.


https://kevinjmckay.bandcamp.com/album/neutral-mind

and/or

https://cudighirecords.bandcamp.com/


—Jacob An Kittenplan

WEAVING “S/T Tape” C23 (Self-Released)


Austin TX’s Weaving’s “S/T Tape” is a smorgasbord of varying instrumental ditties ranging from psyched out ragas* to Moondog homages** to spacerock jamz to trippy hip-hop beats to avant-classical clarinet lullabies, these all wrought via commanding use of electric guitar, keys, drum machine/hand percussion, and with an arresting employment of virtuosic reed playing sprinkled here & there for good measure. 


It all comes across like a diverse instrumental mixtape with a good-vibed spacing out in mind. If you listen to nothing else, be sure to catch “Martin Moondog” (side A: 4:33), cz it’s pretty fuckin’ rad!


https://eerieapartment.bandcamp.com/

and/or

https://worldoutsidetheworld.wordpress.com/


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*think Sir Richard Bishoop’s more spacey amblings

**replete with frog pond atmospherics!!!!

CHANNELERS “Depth of Rest” C42 (Inner Islands)


If Ashan’s (Sean Conrad/Inner Islands) recently released “Transfigurations" album embodied the centering breath and its power over one’s wayward consciousness, SC’s other primary altar* ego’s following release as Channelers, this “Depth of Rest”, acts more as a Yerba Mate-fueled, micro-dosed hiking meditation.


Pairing rich environmental field recordings with synth pads, dulcimer, and Irish low whistle(!), DoR excitedly wrangles our stirrups and tugs us along a spirited* trek through straight-up M-A-G-I-C-A-L arboreal ecosystems, leading us down shady, gentle streams, ducking under fallen redwoods, getting tickled by ginormous ferns…you get the idea. This is a glorious New Age pick-me-up with some mild psychedelic overtones** that’s well, well worth back to back listens while hitting your favorite woodland trails!


https://innerislands.bandcamp.com/album/the-depth-of-rest

and/or

http://thegentleways.com/


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*intentional

**Riders on the Storm-style!

INNER TRAVELS “Nature Spirit” C40 (Inner Islands)


In just over a half-decades’s time, and over a dozen and a half releases, Wisconsin’s Inner Travels has trekked across many (if not all) of New Age’s sub-sub-strains, and, with “Nature Spirit”, out on Inner Islands, it may be safe to say that Steve Targo has dreamt up his most centering, beatific release to date.


Across three tracks, IT* calmly guides our mind’s ear through confidences of crisply executed field recordings** that stretch well into our subconscious as Halpernian anti-riff after eye-surrendering anti-riff of reverb-drenched glockenspiel/chime runs and sunshine-doused synth-pad washes each take turns un-hooking us from any semblance of movement or melody, untethering us from any likeness of compositional scaffold and expectation…and, ultimately, anxiety.


This is capital-H “HEALING” stuff, and is truly, absolutely perfect for unwinding after a very long day/life.


https://innerislands.bandcamp.com/album/nature-spirit

and/or

https://innertravels.bandcamp.com/


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*the exact antonym for that scary clown, in fact!


**that would be well worth listening on their own!

ASHAN “Transfigurations” C44 (Inner Islands)


Sean Conrad, current head-honcho over at Inner Islands (AKA Ashan AKA Channelers AKA 1/2 of Orra AKA 1/2 of Skyminds, just to name a few) has been a stalwart well-spring of New Age and chill electronica in the SF Bay Area for over a decade now, but none of his releases have quite managed to transfigure the essence of deep, meditative breath and its relationship to staving off fleeting, errant thoughts quite like this latest release, “Transfigurations".

 

Across six spacious sections and with the patience and pace of tides, Ashan unfurls beatific drone-swells to rise and fall as concerted breath, a serenity of focus all but delivered straight unto our mind’s ear; yet with a catch…


Lying just below these troughs of the sonorous sines lies a celebrated glitch, a nervous energy, a delayed distraction competing for our attention. Ashan has managed to acknowledge/embody this Monkey Mind, to map and draw it out for the listener to experience, first-ear; it’s magnetism and engagement are revealed, reconciled, and then ushered off into the aether, all this performed again and again and again, with mindfulness and grace. Truly beautiful stuff!


In a world terrified of cheesiness and predictability, SC/II continuously provides a nervous system-centering anchor and non-chemical-based prescription for how to decompress and re-center ourselves. Thank you!


https://innerislands.bandcamp.com/album/transfigurations

and/or

http://www.innerislands.com/

http://thegentleways.com/


—Jacob An Kittenplan

JEF MERTENS “The Only Music I Ever Recorded” (Dadaist Tapes)


Lifted from the dadaisttapes.com site:


"Dadaist Tapes is a tape project discouraging product sales by making each tape available for free in an edition of 25, funded by a monthly cycling allowance to work. free downloads."


Translation: When these limited run tapes are available, they’re free to order (though I can only assume shipping’ll cost ya?), so you’re gonna hafta check in constantly to see if you can grab one before they’re outta there.


This specific tape (already “non-sold out”) by Jef Mertens documents some simple, contemplative electric guitar strumming improvisations (and a passing chime or two) that sounds a whole helluva lot like late 90s instrumental emo bridges segueing between cathartic/melodramatic belting/hollerings. It’s a pleasant atmospheric jaunt, but nothing groundbreaking like what you’ll find on JM’s bandcamp page if you click to watch the video for “Nyack”*, though I’d strongly discourage this if you’re even mildly epileptic.


https://dadaisttapes.com/dadaisttapes/the-only-music-i-ever-recorded

and/or

https://jefmertens.bandcamp.com/releases


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*doo iit!

V.VECKER ENSEMBLE “Coastal Depression” C40 (NoiseAgonyMayhem)


Kosmische never sounded so British Columbian.

Well wait, I guess that’s not totally true. Kosmische is kosmische, at home in a planetarium or black-lit dorm room from Vancouver to Vladivostok, or even, uh, Dar es Salaam. Point is, if you got that spacey kraut-inspired drone going on, you can be sure there’ll be a bunch of kooks ready to listen to it. Kooks who are more interested in stargazing and internal contemplation than anything else. Kooks that have enough time on their hands to really let this kind of tunage wash over them. Kooks like, well, me.

So why “British Columbian”? The ensemble, here a trio of V.Vecker, David Rogers, and Luke Rogers, hails from Vancouver, and Coastal Depression places the proceedings and the worldview firmly in that locale. “Suspended and caught between ocean, islands, mountain ranges and borders[, it] is a heavy place.” The ensemble therefore attempts to capture this “heaviness” through droning guitar, synthesizers, and saxophone, letting the weight of the notes and the length of their passing stand in for the at-times-odd and at-other-times-overwhelming sense of BC stasis. There’s nothing like a thick, syrupy synth stab to punctuate a weighty stasis.

What’s great about Coastal Depression is that it can stand in for that kind of stasis, that kind of hovering inert midpoint felt by anyone stuck anywhere. It pulses a universal kind of rippling energy, vast and spacious, enveloping easily or slowly making itself known until it’s all you know anymore. Actually, whether it’s subtle or direct, it’s going to grab your attention in one way or another until, sadly, it suddenly ends, and you realize what you’re missing.



--Ryan

CINDY “Free Advice” (Paisley Shirt Records)


Here’s some free advice for you, Cindy (or Paisley Shirt Records): if you leave such an obvious comparison as Galaxie 500’s On Fire mixed with Cowboy Junkies’ The Trinity Session in your promo copy, you’ve already done my job for me. I don’t have to write anything else. Thanks for the assist!

Totally just kidding about leaving it there, because I’m a huge fan of dream pop, and Cindy perfectly encapsulates everything good about the genre. Most of the tracks are laid-back, stripped-down affairs that ripple languidly across time and space, hushed hymns to wind and streams. Sometimes a little guitar rocker enters the fray, and in those moments Free Advice takes on some Alvvays qualities (and I always love me some Alvvays). But in almost all instances Karina Gill’s murmured coo draws you closer, inviting you in to the private worlds she creates. They’re melancholy and safe all at once, like hunkering under a blanket fort on a rainy day.

What may be most surprising is that before 2016, Gill hadn’t even picked up a guitar or tried to sing! Now, four years later, her fully fleshed band is two releases in, and the results are wonderful. There’s always room for tunes like these on those rainy days – or even the sunny ones too. Yeah, all days.

[Plus, all proceeds go to the Movement for Black Lives, which should totally make you want to buy this even more, or just donate!]



--Ryan

GERMAN ARMY "Animals Remember Human" C45 (Crash Symbols)




Created as "an ode to critically endangered birds and their habitats," Animals Remember Human is certainly reminiscent of forests and other lifeforms, with its wide spectrum of soundscaping and almost alien beats and structures. The 18 brief tracks each end quickly, appropriately for an album about creators that may be ending quickly as well. This isn't exclusively enjoyable for fans of endangered birds, however. It's a powerhouse of a cassette, journeying through a uniquely green drone and techno.

https://crashsymbols.bandcamp.com/album/animals-remember-human

SEWNSHUT “Sewnshut” C30 (self-released)


Did Norwegian one-dude post-rock artist Sewnshut listen to a lot of netlabel stuff back in the early internet MP3 boom years? I’m talking peak blog era, mid-2000s, when anybody could release anything digitally – and this was even before Bandcamp. Some of my favorites were Lost Children and Laridae, and there were others too, but I can’t think of their names. Sewnshut, aka Lasse Kausland, would have fit perfectly on Lost Children. Melancholy instrumental vibes, deep inner turmoil, release through euphony. Still the best way to get to the bottom of what ails you, if you ask me. These eight tunes are perfect for headphones and rainy days, micro-movements to catalog the details of your troubles to. But in tape form, not MP3s – what do you think this is, an iPod blog? (Well, the MP3s are available too, but think of them as an added bonus to the lovely physicality of the tape itself.)


--Ryan

OBSEQUIES / THE ELECTRIC NATURE “Obsequies / The Electric Nature” C20 (Lurker Bias)


Talk about polar opposites. Obsequies fill their half of this tape, “Blood on Metal,” with heavily echoed and mournful vocals, accompanied only by what sounds like a guitar pick scratching strings and other diffuse warbles. At times chanted, at times ethereal, “Blood on Metal” really does get past the epidermis and threatens to jar the whole body it’s connecting loose. Which, of course, is what the Electric Nature does on their side, “Lungrakes,” flipping that restraint on its head with a maelstrom of psych bombast. Staking its territory with a couple minutes of controlled march, Michael Potter’s outfit suddenly blooms like the offspring of Sleep and Tonstartssbandht, pummeling their instruments until the groove is ripping off that epidermis and the blood is spattering all over the metal, the heavy metal, ya know?

Two sides, one goal: total focus. You’ve got mine.



--Ryan

REPULSAR “Repulsar at Remer” C30 (Stucco)


“Bob Deified” begins Repulsar at Remer with a looped sample of The Arm saying “Wow, BOB, wow,” from Twin Peaks. It’s sampledelic chaos from there. Then there’s “No Devil God Knits War,” which is a backward rendition of the skunk-rock track “Raw Stink Dog Lived On.” It comes before “Raw Stink Dog Lived On,” so you’re disoriented FIRST, then treated to the forward motion of the tune. Perfect! “Deified Bob” is actually sort of jazzy in frontward alignment, The Arm’s intonation of “Wow, BOB, wow” virtually unchanged from “Bob Deified” (because, you know, palindromes).

Also because, this:

Though Sasquatch outnumber humans 500 to one, Bigfoot sightings are still a rare occurrence. Why? The elusive Sasquatch are multi-dimensional creatures with the ability to phase in and out of time. When one is spotted, they move backwards to a time before the encounter and hide to avoid detection. Repulsar has composed music for Sasquatch appealing to their ability to move back and forth in time.

Sasquatch feel safe when they hear backwards sounds. Thus, the music on Repulsar at Remer sounds the same backwards as it does forwards. This is a quasi-live album taken from a campfire concert at the Chippewa National Forest near Remer, MN… the self-proclaimed “Home of Bigfoot.”

Even though this sounds crazy, it ain’t half bad! I enjoyed it thoroughly, which, coupling the concept with the cover art, I was not expecting in the slightest.



--Ryan

VALERINNE “A Ghost Year” C52 (Amek Collective)


What’s with all these jokers getting right into my headspace about the year we’re having? Atmospheric Romanian trio Valerinne continue the trend, swirling the melancholy and droning post-rock of A Ghost Year at the periphery of reality, right at the spot you can’t quite pinpoint without catching it in the corner of your eye, forever keeping itself at an unfortunate distance. Hidden behind clouds of sweet, thick drone, A Ghost Year was the year we could have had, the one where we all hugged and everyone was healthy. That year is a total figment right now.

For a group billed as a noisy one, Valerinne really shows immense restraint, going full Eno in their cavernous, supernatural concoctions. Each of these five lengthy tracks descend like specters, obscuring reality and intent and infiltrating your mind, body, and soul. They warp your outlook until you’ve shifted focus to the Valerinne way of thinking, the dream of a different life through a different lens that seems so impossible a majority of the time these days. But don’t fool yourself into thinking A Ghost Year is the real year – we still have to keep our eyes ahead, because we’ve got a lot of work to do. But for a quick excursion to somewhere totally other, Valerinne has you totally covered with A Ghost Year.



--Ryan

JEREMIAH FISHER / ANTHONY JANAS “Jeremiah Fisher / Antony Janas” C40 (Reserve Matinee/Leicht)


Jeremiah Fisher’s 20 minute long string of stream of conscious sounds morphs environmental ambiance into nervous system-direct scrapes, pulsations, & reverberations, then back again, at breakneck speed & with such a fluidity, it leaves the listener feeling there both the entire cosmos and just one tiny compact point of dark matter, simultaneously. The composition, with panning as part of its own internal movement and mood, not only stays fresh but outright gripping in its novelty with regard to tweaked samples and living, breathing, seething modular syntheses. 


Anthony Janas’s side is every bit as spellbinding, but through entirely different means; though still focusing on shifting the inner ear’s perspective of spatial concepts w/r/t his disembodied field recordings, AJ crisply holographs an alien landscape for us to experience, but then veils our receptors with treated* dissociated doubt! One might find these poses “creepy”, were one even able to reference a “normal” anywhere nearby.


These two sound sculptors are visionaries and their work is so meticulous and complex, I doubt it’ll ever get old before the magnetic strip gives out. Enjoy this Deep Listening delight with good headphones in a quiet, uninterrupted space!


https://reservematinee.bandcamp.com/album/jeremiah-fisher-anthony-janas

and/or

https://jeremiahfisher.bandcamp.com/

https://anthonyjanas.com/


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*again, expert panning and pedals are employed to make one feel heavily drugged

CAMERON / CARTER / HÅKER-FLATEN “Tau Ceti” C60 (Astral Spirits)


Out of this world, man.

Like seriously, and literally. Lisa Cameron, Tom Carter, and Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten know what’s out there, like they’re the visionary Fox Mulders to our incredulous and grounded Dana Scullys, “I Want to Believe” posters flapping in the breeze of the quantum anomaly they’ve somehow managed to conjure in their practice space. They’re gazing skyward to Tau Ceti after all, a star in the Cetus constellation that has similarities to our own sun. Tau Ceti the star has planets orbiting it. Some are potentially habitable.

But for what?

Yeah, yeah, ripples and energy coming from the cosmos, interacting with us in some way because we can pick up the frequencies. This whole thing’s in a slow-cooker, with SETI laboratories poring through the data. Cameron, Carter, and Håker-Flaten are messing with the frequencies, causing chaos in the readings. Maybe they’re making the frequencies. Maybe they’re not even on earth.

They’re definitely making the frequencies.

Tau Ceti takes its time feeling us out, probing our intelligence and defenses with measured and deliberate string plucks and percussion hits, until all parties are ready to determine that “We Are Not Alone.” And then “Daath (The Abyss)” erupts like a methane geyser on Enceladus or a solar flare, rippling out into the vastness of space and trailing color and light. And “Traveling Spaceways” just tries to one-up it, but it’s a psych blowout too, ripping a hole in the fabric of space-time.

Tau Ceti, here we come! … Or it’s coming to us. Either way, strap in, Mulders and Scullys (and everyone else).


--Ryan

VARIOUS ARTISTS “Infinite Futures” 2xC60 (Full Spectrum)


If there are indeed infinite possible futures from the present on, maybe we could have figured that out a while back and not hurtled down the present/future that we’re in, the one where everything sucks and people are sick and dying? I’m just saying – seems like we made some pretty bad decisions as a human race along the way to get where we are. But here’s the good news: we don’t have to stay on this path – we can enact a future where we get past all of this and realize that long-sought-after “better tomorrow.”

Full Spectrum realized that a little over ten years ago. The erstwhile North Carolina label (now based in Littlefield, Texas) run by Andrew Weathers (who’s mastered pretty much every tape you own) started off with no plan, just the starry-eyed mission to release cassette tapes of music that they liked. Before anyone knew it, an entire decade had passed, and Weathers decided to do something to commemorate it. Enter Infinite Futures, a massive double cassette set that pits artists who have released music on the label against each other … well, more like puts them in the same room together to see if they can coexist. Turns out they can. (This is pre-COVID.)

I think we can safely say that Full Spectrum has made more correct choices than not along the way, and Infinite Futures is certainly a reflection of that. These long-form pieces all adhere to the freewheeling experimental spirit exemplified by Weathers and cohorts, those who have blazed the trail from then till now. There’s all kinds of great stuff here – from electronic excursions to ambient explorations to skyrocketing guitar crescendos to jazzy whirlwinds, Infinite Futures scratches pretty much whatever itch you happen to have at any given moment, maybe even several of them at once! Truly, the results speak to imagining the amazing possibilities inherent in fruitful collaboration. Some might say there are infinite possibilities … infinite futures

Plus, most of these songs are in the ten-minute range – I’d be surprised if the average time of all the tracks wasn’t ten minutes. Ten minutes, ten years? Parallelism!

https://fullspectrumrecords.bandcamp.com/

R. MCLAUGHLIN “Confines” C57 (KMAN 92.5)


Just barely remaining within the “Confines" of spacious sonority, KMAN 92.5 head honcho, R. McLaughlin, continuously hop-scotches the line between either casting tightly-wound & complex polyrhythmic webs or wildly floating loosely syncopated strings, each synthesizer-web/string (four layers, minimum, per track) being continuously dynamically tweaked and yet still staying distinct in their timbre/sustain/rhythm/groovability from all the others. What’s more, RM's constantly shifting panning and mixing of said bewildering weave remains so meticulous throughout, it’s hard to tell exactly where the ebbs and flows are even headed at any given time; Maximum engagement achieved!


At low volume, it’s a fuzzy wash of mostly-beatless* electronica, but with the volume cranked up, a teeming underbelly of movement springs to life and drags the ear into a jet stream of mesmerizing, interlocking textures and patterns. Pretty fuckin’ rad stuff here!


https://kman925.bandcamp.com/album/r-mclaughlin-confines


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*if not semi-Múmish, during passsages when percussion does pass through

VARIOUS ARTISTS “Psychotropes 2” C64 (Alrealon Musique)


Indonesia has never seemed further away than it does right now. New York too, for that matter – I’m not going to be getting on a plane anytime soon to travel anywhere, so both places are out of the question. I’m sequestering myself until further notice – well, at least until all that COVID is gone.

Why am I talking about Indonesia and New York in virtually the same breath? Great question. Psychotropes 2, out NOW on Alrealon Musique, is an “18 track compilation of noise & electronics from Indonesia and New York, USA,” highlighting the similarities and shared inspirations that can span oceans and continents and cultures. But I don’t know anything about that hogwash – I’m just a philistine with a tape deck and very few interesting insights, pummeling this keyboard with my fists.

So it’s probably pointless to track any sort of progression here – let me just say that it’s an incredible global connection Alrealon Musique has made in bringing together such disparate “noise & electronic” artists. Sure, there’s wall of sound maelstroms and chaotic electronic manipulation, but there’s also storm-clouds-in-the-distance creep and slightly corroded human-voice spectrality. Everything is three-dimensional and tactile in a way that gripping a rock and whipping it through the windshield of a car is three-dimensional and tactile. Not to mention cathartic.

Anger, restlessness, tension, Psychotropes 2 has got it all, telegraphing a universal sense of unease. From where I sit here in the United States, I’m amazed at how easy it is to find common ground through sonic assault. I guess it just goes to show you that, no matter what the language, we can still communicate via racket.


--Ryan

AVIDA DOLLARS “DMMM" C50 (Self-Released)


Minneapolis’s post-industrial duo, Avida Dollars, has come out with a surreal darkwave sprawl in “DMMM”, blending the drum machine and synth bombastics of Street Sects, manic vocals* of Xiu Xiu, & guitar indie-jamminess of Broken Social Scene in such a way that these familiar tropes form their very own unique (if not slightly disorienting) singular soundtrack that’s perfect for long city walks and/or crafternoon accompaniment. Super easy to get lost in and downright infectious in parts! Can't wait to hear what’s next...


https://avida-dollars.bandcamp.com/album/dmmm


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*kind of a perfect mix between Street Sects & Xiu Xiu, really

ALBERT DEMUTH / THOT AUDIT “Albert Demuth / Thot Audit” C41 (Self-Released)


Starting off pointedly vulnerable, this split between family & friends gradually shifts from attempted Berman-replacement alt/folk to late 90s psych/garagerock, in a series of explicitly more and more novel steps, adding and then tweaking tremolo pedals, echo, and, later, heavily delayed synth pads. While the centered genre is alt-country, the real recurrence is consistent effects/dynamics exploration*, which will make every listener wonder: Could (parts of) this be pulled off live, were the audience not drop-dead quiet? How much could one possibly even adhere to the recorded blueprint?


This split needs to be played at max comfort/safe volume to get what it’s offering, but it takes a few tracks (and/or repeated listens) to really latch on. The overall gestalt might leave songwriters with more questions than answers. No bones about it, though, the artwork is fucking KIL-LER and worth the price of admission alone!


https://albertdemuth.bandcamp.com/album/albert-demuth-thot-audit

and/or

https://thotaudit.bandcamp.com/releases


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*Angel Marcloid lending a pretty powerful accent here & there?

BLOOD RHYTHMS “Heuristics" C69 (Personal Archives)



"A heuristic technique, or a heuristic, is any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method that is not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect or rational, but which is nevertheless sufficient for reaching an immediate, short-term goal."

    ~W. Iccapedia


Fitting name for these Arvo Zylo études, excavated from his bountiful catacombs, dated back from 2K-2K15, all of which are fast & loose, raw & dirty, unhinged and unadulterated. There’s an Evangelista-esque psalm, a (relatively) sleepy ambient vignette, a scary story, a KMFDMish-guitar-led shred sesh and a slew of other dusty artifacts that all fit fairly well together in their (dark) spirit of exploration and atmospheric command. 


https://personalarchives.bandcamp.com/album/heuristics

and/or

http://nopartofit.blogspot.com/



—Jacob An Kittenplan

SPACE HEATER "Sales Event of a Lifetime" C37 (Terry Tapes)


This sick, slick, six-piece prog-rock outfit has it going on, with sax, trombone, multiple synths & guitars, bass & on-point percussion (see: Andy Loeb, from yesterday’s review!) that all seamlessly lock in for stop-on-a-dime grooves, time changes, & mood shifts. You want Mahavishnu Orchestra-smooth jazziness? Done. Howzabout some blues-heavy Gentle Giant riffage? Uh huh! Hell, they’ll throw in a free-jazz freakout and D&D adventure FOR FREE!


Sales Event of a Lifetime, indeed! Listen to from front to back for maximum trip payoff!


https://spaceheatermusic.bandcamp.com/album/sales-event-of-a-lifetime

and/or

https://terrytapes.bandcamp.com/music


—Jacob An Kittenplan

ANDY LOEBS "Open New Window" C18 (Self-Released)


Banged out solely on a Korg Electribe 2, Andy Loebs’ “Open New Window” sprints across 18 minutes of proggy footwork and vaporwavy gamelan* polyrhythmics in such a dizzying hurry it’s hard to tell just what the hell is going on. Think Orange Milk’s mid-2010’s percussion-centric, dancy-freakout style, a-la Darren Keen and Barry Helafonte, but more mercilessly caffeinated. This is some pretty rad stuff to get the heart & mind up & racing! Helluva workout!


https://andyloebs.bandcamp.com/album/open-new-window


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*replacing metallic tones with cheesy/classic voices

ABAUNZ “Ilunpean Arnas Hotsa Entzuten” C32 (Jollies Records)


From just southwest of the Pyrenes Mountain range, Abaunz, singing primarily in Basque, commands a raw & dirty mix of old school minimal industrial brutality, employing ancient drum machine programming, occasional guitar destruction, classic 80s stock synth tones, and tortured/chanted vocals; but overtop these elements is where it gets really interesting; Abaunz sprinkles in an innovative mixed bag of ambient texture, Euro-danciness, and even a skosh of Latin and Middle Eastern flavor, making “Ilunpean Arnas Hotsa Entzuten” (translation: Hearing the Sound of Breathing in the Dark”) a truly novel and inspiringly agitating, cohesive ride in unfamiliar (if not outright uncharted?) country.


https://jollies.bandcamp.com/album/ilunpean-arnas-hotsa-entzuten

and/or

https://soundcloud.com/abaunz


—Jacob An Kittenplan

SKYMINDS “Shapes & Traces” C40 (Internal Rhythm)


Skyminds’ sophomore full length, “Shapes & Traces”, finds the SF Bay Area duo continuing to blend a diverse array of acoustic strings & hand percussion with cosmic synths & smooth, groovy bass (& saucy hi-hats & pretty piano lines & sleepy flutes & bright dulcimer &&&) to form a unique hybrid beast of psychedelic indie-strumentals and spacey devotionals that defy all genres. Though there are familiar hints of the trippier sides of Yo La Tengo, Sea & Cake, & Akron/Family sprinkled throughout, Skyminds’ arrangements are far lusher, interlocking, and, at times, almost chaotic in their overloaded output. 


At low volume it’s study music with a swagger, but at max volume, it’s a rollicking journey!

  

https://internalrhythm.bandcamp.com/album/shapes-traces

and/or

https://internalrhythm.org


—Jacob An Kittenplan

THE FANTASTIC IMAGINATION “Wizard Friendship Bracelet" C41 (Fish Prints)



The Fantastic Imagination’s “Wizard Friendship Bracelet” is pretty much everything you dig about ambient electronica and new age all rolled into one rollicking stream-o-conscious adventure, making beatific pits stops along the way for dance parties, lotus position bliss-outs, elven communing, & even a few Enya-esque yodel-alongs, all these sub-strains flowing seamlessly in & out of each others’ spacious environments. 


WFB feels pretty much like an ecstatic DJ’s mixtape with a perfectly weighted ratio of shake-it to cool-down time built in, and it's pretty fuckin' great!


https://fishprintsinc.bandcamp.com/album/wizard-friendship-bracelet

and/or

https://thefantasticimaginaiton.bandcamp.com/


—Jacob An Kittenplan

WETHER “Heir Bud" C23 (Strategic Tape Reserve)


Bordering on downright aggressive, Wether’s newest offering “Heir Bud” holds our ears to the staccato crackle of atonal rhythmic destruction for so long, it begins to sound like a hell-rented frog pond. Enter in some soaring/delayed ghoulish samples & soundbites and we’re back in the deepest bowels of Hades once again, the only reprieve of side A being a bizarrely tonal closing that wraps up like Bach’s iron fuckin’ fist.


Side B is a parallel hell, swapping out knob-tweaking rhythmics for more bleak musique concrète schizophrenia, finishing off with a possessed karaoke hymn of despair. 


Not for the faint of heart, this release pairs well with STR’s following/most recent offering, Q///Q, as it’s pretty much the polar opposite. 


https://strategictapereserve.bandcamp.com/album/heir-bud

and/or

https://wether.bandcamp.com/


—Jacob An Kittenplan