19 February 2018

RECOMMENDATION #211 - OJERUM | AARON MARTIN

OJERUM - UNDER GANGE
vienna press 2018

"Following a contribution on the recent Vienna Press compilation, Under Gange marks øjeRum's debut on the label proper. It combines, over a double cassette spread, two discrete suites of graceful arrangements. Taken together, they present an extended study of sombre movements for strings, piano and synthesizer. // øjeRum is the primary sound project of Copenhagen resident, Paw Grabowski, also a prolific visual artist who is well known for his collage work. øjeRum has released a succession of quality releases of on imprints such as AVA and Vaald, among others. // 2 x c32, White cassettes / clear cases. Duplicated in real time on Luxman machines." - VIENNA PRESS

i've been obsessively collecting OJERUM tapes since his first one SANGE TIL DOENDE emerged in 2014 courtesy HORROR FICTION - GRABOWSKI has a penchant for handmade micro editions, initially as supplemental EPs and then as intimate reissues or parallel variants and revisions, uniquely artworked and stylized, some of the coolest tapes i have ever seen

i do not intend to portray favorites like HVID HVILE or NAAR VI VAAGNER or STILHEDENS as less than excellent - to be clear, i think -everything- with OJERUM's name on it is well worth having - but despite my dedicated fanaticism, i must admit --in part due to its unrealistic bar-setting showstopping perfection which i'm in no hurry to refute-- i haven't experienced that feathery knock out punch that SANGE so effortlessly delivers since, well, SANGE

by that measure i suppose UNDER GANGE is a return to rare form, as it finds GRABOWSKI simultaneously reinforcing his established style while incorporating new elements, sometimes comfortably cultivating a familiar fertile soundscape, other times navigating into adjacent territories sharing a border or two with SKITTISH ARM, and beyond toward zones sparsely and infrequently inhabited by the soft underbelly of european post industrial dark ambient dronemakers like C.L. LOBBESTAEL and TREADING BLOOM

the key to UNDER GANGE is the attention to detail, the nuance - this separates UNDER GANGE from the pack, both contemporaneously and intra-catalog - these loop like structures don't just reel you in, they come alive, without any unforced errors like gratuitous clutter - there's no undue gimmick or over-saturation like i often find in my pursuit of new weird ambient drone - this is the good stuff, and -only- the good stuff, and by that i mean in no uncertain terms that UNDER GANGE is -at least- the best OJERUM since SANGE, if not his best outright





OJERUM with AARON MARTIN - NEEDLESHAPED SILENCE
fluid audio 2017

"Mistakes are quickly erased in a world that wishes to erase flaws, but imperfections can be perfect things, too, and that's true of Needleshaped Silence, a collection of muted tracks from øjeRum wherein the past reassembles itself to permeate the present. Accidental sounds become firm roots that can't be displaced, and its solid foundations become defined things which, thanks to the slightly worn, decade-dulled layers around them, don't sound like accidents at all. It isn't always quiet in a dynamic sense: quiet music can be quietly-toned and not necessarily quiet in its overall volume, and it also dismisses the stale, carbon-copy approach of the recording process.

Like a collage, single tracks were taken and moulded anew using the same old software as before. Introverted sounds that were once buried under the woolen clothing of outer layers are now reluctantly exposed, arriving at the forefront of the music. øjeRum added that he 'preferred the seemingly random, anonymous, silent and unpretentious sounds, recorded as mere backdrops and never intended to come to the fore'. Chance encounters are essential ingredients in the magic spell, but the transitions are so subtle as to seem invisible. A new sound slips easily into the old, and Aaron Martin's additional strings help in fleshing the tones out, supporting them in their first steps and hovering around the quivering vibrations, the subdued frequencies. Deeper and deeper the record descends, until the atmosphere sails through a pair of gates and into the inner reaches of the mind, its own kind of deeper-toned ambient seeming to be a perfect fit for the inner cosmos, coming across at times as a sister of space-ambient. Black sunshine fills the world of Needleshaped Silence, its sobering strings levitating in and around the quavering, flexible tones, its near-silent music lit by the past's dull solar flares." - FLUID AUDIO

i was particularly excited to hear this, as with the perfect pairing of SISTER GROTTO and BRAEYDEN JAE on the phenomenal collaboration BORN TO LOSE/BORN TO LEAVE, i figured if there was one artist perfect for a collaboration with OJERUM it would be AARON MARTIN, whose IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT WHEN EVERYTHING IS ASLEEP (also via FLUID AUDIO) made my 2016 top ten non-cassette list - and much like that collaboration where LEONARDO ROSADO provided textural soundscapes within which MARTIN operated, here OJERUM provides these sparse yet engrossing structures, a solemn sonic framework, and then MARTIN expertly adds exquisite string elements, well reserved and perfectly complimentary to OJERUM's flickering ambient drone backdrop, further deepening the emotional immersion of the resultant work, and it is breathtaking - i shouldn't have let this one sit by the wayside as long as i did, and this should not have been absent from my year end non-cassette list





AARON MARTIN - A ROOM NOW EMPTY
preserved sound 2018

"sees him returning to the memory-based recordings of previous albums such as Almond, River Water and Chautauqua, where layered meanings in the music and titles don't allow a single clear-cut reading of the music. 'A Room Now Empty is similar to the concept of Day Has Ended where Christoph Berg and I created music to encompass the passing of a day, but stretched out for the passing of a lifetime or at least a portion of a lifetime' says Aaron. Using cello, electric guitar, bass, roll up piano, banjo, concertina, acoustic guitar, voice, ukulele, singing bowls and lap steel, A Room Now Empty keeps the same intimacy and directness of Aaron's previous albums, with a slightly more processed sound creating distance within the music. / Mastered by Ian Hawgood" - PRESERVED SOUND

released just three weeks ago and PRESERVED SOUND already has a second edition coming down the pike - while perhaps not the over the top exuberant artifact that is FLUID AUDIO's cd packaging modus operandi, A ROOM NOW EMPTY has the best cover artwork i've seen this year thus far (courtesy OJERUM no less, as with the other two titles here) --it has me thinkin, i should spend more time blurbing about the physical aspect of all this stuff, or at least an annual revue, because a lot of this stuff is almost as impressive visually as it is aurally

but, aurally, A ROOM NOW EMPTY is the finest showcase of MARTIN's skill and talent, at least that i've heard anyway, moody modern classical constructs with contemplative traditional abstracts and a tempered experimental edge that cuts straight through a black and white cinematic veil to a much more potent level of intimacy and realism exceeding and wholly independent of any forced imagery or even situational suggestion therein - in that way -and also to some extent sonically albeit tangentially- i find some comparison to STEVEN R. SMITH's most subdued sides, as well as AURALGAMI SOUNDS SERIES contributions from ROB COLLIER and SARA SOLTAU, closing in on SEAN MCCANN's RECITAL imprint where i think MARTIN would fit right in -- to be sure, there -are- vivid images and situations, thoughts and emotions, that appear associated when i listen, but i bring those to the table, knowingly or not, as the artist by way of the music allows - such is a hallmark of a well crafted close listening experience



09 February 2018

RECOMMENDATION #210 - MATT LAJOIE | ML WAH

tackling my favorite new label's fresh batch of tapes, all of em highly appreciated additions to my collection, but these are the standouts by my measure

MATT LAJOIE - THE FOUNTAIN
flower room 2018, edition of 50

"Recorded live at 3S Artspace (Portsmouth, NH) 06.29.17. Special thanks to Daniel Bachman & John Andrews. / Matt Lajoie: electric guitar / Home-dubbed Type I music grade c27, with each cassette shell individually hand-painted by the artist. Full-color pro-printed tip-on cover on clear polybox, hand-numbered and strictly limited to 50 copies." - FLOWER ROOM

LAJOIE at peak electric (slide) guitar wizardry - side one akin to JON COLLIN eschewing his typical "a loner starkly" approach, arming himself with a warm amp and an array of pedals, pulling up alongside criminally underappreciated fellow weirdo folk guitar veteran DOC DUNN (another regular MV & EE road warrior and studio contributor), here LAJOIE conjures an electric vibe parallel to DUNN's 2009 acoustic trip PEACE BE YOUR RIDER courtesy BENIFFER

side two pushes past COLLIN and DUNN toward a more boldly psychedelic territory adjacent to folks like RAFI BOOKSTABER and CLOUDSOUND with glorious gradually de-sychronizing loops nearing the kosmische zone of "golden age" EXPO 70 circa 2009-11, not too far from the last known intergalactic position of LAJOIE's mainline HERBCRAFT triangulated by masterpiece WOT OZ and satellite tapes TABS OUT and AMEN DUEL, bringing to mind another avant rural guitar gem quietly collecting a decade of dust by another unheralded trailblazer in 2008's DUST AMERICAN DUST by PETE FOSCO courtesy DIGITALIS - this is like the best tape DIGITALIS never released




ML WAH - BIG AIR
flower room 2018, edition of 50

"ML Wah's solo debut is a long-awaited return to the brass instrumentation that was the origin of his musical path 25 years ago. An unbroken chain of ambient sample-and-hold-based automatic compositions unfold organically in the cathedral of now time across two sides. / ML Wah: trumpet, slide trombone / Home-dubbed Type I music-grade c52, with hand-painted A-side and hand-stamped B-side on black shell. Full-color pro-printed tip-on cover, hand-numbered and strictly limited to 50." - FLOWER ROOM

a mind-blowing dark ambient drone concerto for trumpet, patient longform improvisation elegantly laid out over hypnotic loops laced with kosmische experimentation - big air, indeed - a tabula rasa dream state where out of the nothingness appears this surging swelling energy, a glorious sonic monolith of origin and inspiration, primitive yet profound, echoing enthralling existential evocations in DEREK ROGERS' SATURATIONS and SOMNOROASE PASARELE's DEMO, kinda like LICHENS' THE PSYCHIC NATURE OF BEING swapping voice for trumpet

LAJOIE offers a crucial bold brass counterpoint to COLIN STETSON's hyped saxophone works, which, aside from the fact that i wholeheartedly believe that the trumpet is a vastly superior instrument (unless you're almighty COLTRANE or SANDERS), right out of the gate i find BIG AIR's approach and execution much more -exponentially more- captivating and exhilarating than anything i've heard from STETSON, but hey, that's just me

BIG AIR kinda taps into the cinematic charge of both LIGETI and STRAUSS courtesy 2001 and to some extent VANGELIS' BLADE RUNNER score, as well as the hushed stark psychosis sides of early to mid 70s MILES DAVIS, sure think BITCHES BREW, but just as much if not more so BIG FUN and GET UP WITH IT

a year end top ten tape heavyweight contender right here

05 February 2018

RECOMMENDATION #209 - BURNT HILLS

BURNT HILLS - ROUND LAKE
c/site 2018, edition of 100

"safe to say that the best Monday night house party has been happening on a weekly basis at the Helderberg House in Albany. For well over a decade Burnt Hills has gotten together on Monday nights to jam, host shows and produce some of the best free-form psych rock the 21st century has known. On Round Lake, one such Monday evening is captured. On this night the usual Burnt Hills players are joined by Marc Weinstein, former drummer of the mighty MX-80 Sound (that makes for a total of three drummers on this session). Starting on a slow groove, Round Lake ramps up quickly into the full freakout that has been typical of Burnt Hills jams. The band sustains the heaviness with the confidence and ease of seasoned vets, allowing the listener to be lost in the shred and fury pulsing out of the basement." - C/SITE

ROUND LAKE continues BH's emphasis on the groove, letting in some natural moonlight and cool air to counter some of the daunting claustrophobia of their patented helderberg haze, apparent that -something- is different in the gradient, more than just a third drummer, though crucial in the waning minutes of this hour long excursion - the first few could be a lost basement tape of ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND or hell maybe even DEERHUNTER if they hooked left instead of faded right after CRYPTOGRAMS, but then it slides toward their more familiar careening cacophony

following a wide-open gear-shifting muscular groove, ROUND LAKE channels BEEFHEART's "drop out boogie" and the KINKS "you really got me", elliptically orbiting a vibe triangulated by ELEVATORS' LIVE IN TEXAS, FLYING SAUCER ATTACK's IN SEARCH OF SPACES and COLEMAN's FREE JAZZ with an ambulance siren and table saw added to the lobe-splitting frenzy - that said, ROUND LAKE mostly manages to stay on its hinges, with some sweet lead guitar lines that mange to climb -just barely- above the fray long enough to open pathways previously closed off by gratuitous sonic demolition - if previous efforts might be perceived as "noise" -pejorative sense- then perhaps this is thee BH recording to shed that stigma and earn more appreciative ears

is this stoner rock? eh, sure, but it's sure to send most purveyors ducking for cover, so i might go with somethin a bit more selective like "proto industrial bonehead kosmische" or even the grossly ambiguous "experimental rock" if that helps any fence-riders - perhaps consider BIRDS OF MAYA's READY TO HOWL and MIKE VEST (BLOWN OUT, HAIKAI NO KU) demos, or that ROUND LAKE could be construed as BH siphoning away some of the untapped resources lying beneath adjacent sonic territories of fellow tip-of-the-spear free rock outfits DSDV and DIRE WOLVES, though both arrived on the scene after BH, and ROUND LAKE is still very much (un)filtered through BH's inimitable -untouchable- chaos theory, obliterating everything in its path



get it direct from C/SITE -or- from FLIPPED OUT distro (run by central BURNT HILLS member and helderberg house owner JACKSON WINGATE), who still has some PSI LAB tapes available (PL08 NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, PL14 SKITTISH ARM and PL15 DIRE WOLVES)

http://csiterecordings.storenvy.com/products/23134554-burnt-hills-round-lake-cs

http://flippedoutrecords.com/shop/burnt-hills-round-lake-cassette-c-site-recordings

15 January 2018

RECOMMENDATION #208 - VIERZIG SKIZZEN | CLA-RAS / LUNG CYCLES

cozy tape label LILY --self proclaimed "purveyors of good sh*t" with TUCKER THEODORE's all time instant weirdo classic TO MAKE THE SUN HURT on his bandcamp "recommendations" page commented with the simple yet crucial plea "please listen to this" which i wholeheartedly echo-- starting off 2018 right with a stunning one-two(-three) punch

VIERZIG SKIZZEN - TRAVELS IN PUBLIC
lily 2018, edition of 60

"For our latest batch of releases, Lily Tapes & Discs reaches across the Atlantic for the first time to welcome vierzig skizzen of Kiel, Germany to the fold. Partly inspired by a recent move away from home, travels in public translates the nervous optimism of leaving the known behind and embracing the new into a collection of road-weary journal entries. It's music that radiates from the overlap between wistful recollection and hesitant beginnings, like watching tracers of late night scenery on the other side of a bus window, or imagining familiar faces emerging on unfamiliar streets. It's a lonesome soundtrack to what we see when unknown surroundings make us feel like spectators to our own lives. // Edition of 60 pro-dubbed metallic gold chrome tapes. Packaged with full-color j-cards, numbered and assembled by hand at LTD Headquarters." - LILY

VIERZIG SKIZZEN ("forty sketches") is emergent soundscapist DANIEL STUHR who describes TRAVELS as "the first VIERZIG SKIZZEN album" despite digital and physical titles that predate, perhaps demarcating his first non-self-released album or perhaps a commentary on "album", perhaps shedding light on how he approached TRAVELS from inception

in any case, STUHR delivers the goods, a soothing iv drip, part hypnotic melodic undulation of SPARKLING WIDE PRESSURE, part textural heaven of BITTER FICTIONS - it's not easy to discern which instrument is which, where one note ends and another begins - a sonic palette where hum, feedback and distortion are not mere effects employed to enhance other elements or else left as unintended artifacts, rather these colorful sounds are aptly applied to both stand on their own and aesthetically compliment the totality of the music, both at any particular sliced moment in time and from a panoramic perspective - but TRAVELS isn't the perfect sum of it's perfect parts - the real beauty of it is that, say, much like ENO, for all the attention to such aural minutiae, there's -something- there that wasn't recorded --though intended, no doubt-- that is so easily able to obliterate all else and allow the close listener to soak it in, to escape through it like a hidden door - if there's somethin beyond the horizon of this existence and it doesn't sound somethin like this i will be rather disappointed



https://vierzigskizzen.bandcamp.com/

CLA-RAS / LUNG CYCLES - SPLIT
lily 2018, edition of 50

"seventh entry in our long-running series of split releases brings the tape debut of Cla-ras, a new musical project based in Providence, Rhode Island. 'I Could Taste Iodine in the Drinking Water' is a subtle but impactful introduction, a transportive work of deceptively rich guitar playing that slowly fills the room like steam off a pot of broth, with spoken word adapted from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley emerging from the haze. Opposite Cla-ras's performance is the first new transmission from Lung cycles since 2015, a loose constellation of slow meditations on quick ideas, left alone to simmer while we wait for the room to heat up. // Edition of 50 pro-dubbed gold chrome tapes. Packaged in Brad Paks from Stumptown Printers with artwork designed, printed, and assembled by Jeremy Ferris, numbered by hand at LTD Headquarters. Includes a copy of 'Above Bridge Water' an illustrated booklet that serves as a companion piece to the tape." - LILY

LUNG CYCLES split cassettes are a real treat, fresh yet familiar, wandering yet welcoming, and perhaps easier and less daunting for the featured artist to just focus on half a tape's worth of material and to know that LUNG CYCLES will pick up the slack on the flipside - not that CLA-RAS leaves much slack to pick up

"transportive" is an operative word for this batch, but CLA-RAS's execution is on a grander scale, a nineteen minute sidelong suite, delicate fermatas sustain and dissolve above and below the sound floor, forming elongated loop-like structures that reveal minimal almost subliminal melodies, further out past ENO toward KRAFTWERK's "harmonika" and even further - really, CLA-RAS is like the finest iteration of late 70s early 80s private press new age, but with a certain longing or forlorn undercurrent that betrays that vibe, echoing in a STARS OF THE LID record run out groove, in a headspace not too far from DAVID COLOHAN at his most zen, perhaps not too distant from DAVID ANDREE's all-time favored IN STREAMS, then as it winds to a close things turn toward a decidedly folk-ified ambient zone, somewhere between MARISA ANDERSON and that NEVADA GREENE / SCOTT TUMA split, finding some overlap with PSI LAB's own SHAMELESS FRIEND cassette [PL03]

LUNG CYCLES picks up where CLA-RAS leaves off with a cluster of elegant hypnotic passages embellished with minimal self accompaniment, sometimes in the form of a subtle yet crucial dynamic ambient backdrop, other times courtesy blurry field recordings of people, muted faceless conversations and some of the clutter that comes with that, here filtered, strained and retrained into an immersed atmosphere - intimately recorded and emotionally invested, enamored maze-like circular melodies and pensive soundscapes, improving and expanding on some of those "slow meditations on quick ideas" that surfaced on his split with YLAYALI [REC #44] - i might be more inclined to the "moody drone psych" styling of the miniature odyssey presented on his side of a split with OCEAN CHARTER OF VALUES [REC #57] as highlighted by standout "sparklers" but i'm also inclined to say that this is his best side yet, cultivating a sublime zone adjacent to a host of upper crust contemporaries from ILYAS AHMED to OJERUM, from LOST TRAIL to TALK WEST, and recent phenoms ERIK KRAMER and JACOB SUNDERLIN

2018 is certainly off to a stellar start

03 January 2018

UPDATE - FAVORITES OF 2017

same deal as last year's list, a bunch of good stuff didn't make the cut, a bunch of good stuff i just couldn't find the time to sit down and recommend, and that many more that i probably slept on or otherwise missed, still i think i got out more recommendations this year than i might have first guessed - i think about half of the tapes and most of the non tapes are still available from their sources and/or usual distros

cassettes

RAISING HOLY SPARKS - search for the vanished heaven (eiderdown) [#192]
DANNY CLAY & GREG GORLEN - birch (midnight circles) [#173]
BITTER FICTIONS - xxvii (shaking box) [#190]
SARA SOLTAU - series 1.2: in parts (auralgami sounds) [#199]
ERIK KRAMER - a house, floating in the middle of a lake (anthropocene) [#204]
JACOB SUNDERLIN - hymnal (null zone) [#205]
STARBIRTHED - citrine dreams (flower room) [#203]
LINDEN POMEROY & LONESOME BLOOD - maybe it's our january heads (illuminated paths) [#171]
BUFFALO VOICE - pilgrim takes his spill (antiquated future) [#189]
SOMESURPRISES - serious dreams (eiderdown) [#180]

non cassettes

SARAH DAVACHI - all my circles run (students of decay) [#207]
JON COLLIN - the glorious licking (singing knives) [#206]
ALEXANDER - alexander (self released) [#202]
EXPO 70 - cleverly mystique (5nakefork) [#182]
ASH & HERB - northern lights (child of microtones / flower room) [#203]
MIDWIFE - like author, like daughter (whited sepulchre) [#188]
YERBA MANSA - untitled (deep distance) [#170]
IRMA VEP - no handshake blues (faux discx) [#186]
SAMUEL REGAN - a warm room (unknown tone) [#187]
ANDREW WEATHERS ENSEMBLE - build a mountain where our bodies fall (full spectrum) [#196]

https://www.facebook.com/psilabtapes/posts/1597630643668142