10 August 2017

RECOMMENDATION #194 - SOMNOROASE PASARELE

SOMNOROASE PASARELE - DEMO
never anything 2017, edition of 50

"Somnoroase Pasarele is Gili Mocanu and Elena Album, two visual artists who live and work between Constanta and Bucharest in Romania. the so-called aleatoric techno of Somnoroase defies categorisation – techno, post-punk, experimental electronics or noise would be too restrictive and inadequate as labels. Their music is an enigma, and it doesn't strive for understanding. Somnoroase's music – wrapped in a layer of impenetrability and urgency – is a mirage, it seduces and pushes away at the same time, it is close, but far." - BABA VANGA

i've been following NEVER ANYTHING since their first tape NA1 by LUSTANA [REC #80] caught my eyes then ears in the fall of 2015 - so when DEMO (which i don't think is literally a "demo" and i'm not sure what it might mean in romanian, if anything) hit bandcamp about a month ago, i noticed it, but it fell into the "i will check this out eventually" queue, mostly because i have an ever growing list of things i would like to listen to while my free time to do so at a sufficiently close range is ever diminishing - also, i had never heard of em - apparently eight of their ten tapes dropped last year -- the weirdo cassette world is vast

the borrowed blurb above might set the scene for their other tapes, as my perusal confirms thus far, but it mostly misses the mark on DEMO, save "it doesn't strive for understanding... wrapped in a layer of impenetrability and urgency" -- it remained out of sight and mind for a couple weeks until the label the guy who handles/mixes SOMNOROASE PASARELE releases gave me a heads up and stated "it's some orchestral drone you might like" -well yes i do like some of that quite a bit- followed with a tantalizing warning - "beware, some pretty intense stuff" - so i cracked a beer and braced myself

intense stuff, indeed - forty minutes of utterly engrossing suspenseful soundscapes, a one way ticket to the spine tingling far sides of fear and uncertainty at the immersed intersection of obsession, paranoia and reality, like a score for some (para?)psychological thriller shelved because it took over, made the visual aspect merely an afterthought, and moreover shattered some subconsciously reinforced hyperrealistic facade that made it too real, not just for the movie but for perceived reality - well i'm not sure i buy into all that hooplah but music like this sure makes me ponder it, and since i still have movies playing in my mind, what i hear is kinda like the ever deepening and distorting plot of REAR WINDOW somehow simultaneously infused with the complete blackout of 2001 - LIGETI, not STRAUSS

contemporary comparisons might include FIVE GUITARS FOR TONY CONRAD [REC #88] and way back recommendations in GLASS HOUSE's HEADLANDS [REC #2] and KURMA & OARIANA's FROM HERE ON IN [REC #13] - for hyperbole, it's kinda like if CHARLEMAGNE PALESTINE aggressively yet gracefully channeled his cathedral drone into glorious micropolyphonic orchestration with flecks of gray noise pillow top textural manipulation and singing bowl spiritualism - it is the cosmic chaos from which STARS OF THE LID were born, the shapeless nightmare lurking in the recesses of TIM HECKER's dynamic expressionism - not for the faint of heart, but for those who embrace it, close listening will be immensely rewarded

28 July 2017

RECOMMENDATION #193 - OSMAN ARABI

OSMAN ARABI - INTENT
fort evil fruit 2017, edition of 60

"From Tripoli, Lebanon, currently based in Berlin, Arabi's various activities encompass harsh noise (notably his 20.SV project), black metal, industrial and free improvisation. Intent follows on from his 2014 solo electric guitar cassette for The Tapeworm, Destroying Symmetry, which Byron Coley suggested combined the 'melodic astringency' of Bill Orcutt with the 'semi-ecstatic [and] hermetic' approach of Matt Valentine. Here, each track consists of two improvised guitar parts, matched in mood but overlaid blindly without specific reference to each other. From the clash of random elements an overarching meditative synchronicity emerges. Improvised, channeled and recorded in one take on the 9th of August 2015 at Big Snuff Studio Berlin. Engineered and mixed by Lucas Behrens." - FORT EVIL FRUIT

mention BILL ORCUTT and cook up phrases like "hermetic improvised guitar" and "meditative synchronicity" and you are sure to pique my interest, but reference MATT VALENTINE and you get bumped to the top of the heap - i vaguely recall perusing DESTROYING SYMMETRY, and though INTENT seems assembled from much the same parts, ARABI took something good and made it great, as this is thee perfect reformation of his sonic assemblage, conjuring a ghost in the machine which exceeds quantification

this MV reference, you gotta go back to early 2000s MEDICINE SHOW output like MOON JOOK and THE URANIAN RAY - sublime spacetime rupture by way of folk guitar deconstruction - with one end cutting closer to avant folk guru JON COLLIN's improvisational wizardry and on the other TOM CARTER's transcendental blues destruction, quite literally, as the tracks have acoustic guitar panned to one channel and electric to the other - i rather enjoy the effect myself - it really grabs you like how COLEMAN's FREE JAZZ and COLTRANE's ASCENSION jump out at you in stereo, except INTENT inverts the function with a less is more philosophy

to be sure, this is top shelf deeply affected flickering single take improvisation, a glorious fusion of monastic meditation and appalachian lonerism, or a tripoli by way of berlin approximation thereof, that comes off kinda like CHARALAMBIDES churnin through outer limits variations on the STOOGES "l.a. blues" approaching JANDEKian reinterpretations of SLINT's SPIDERLAND - yeah, it's that good

16 July 2017

RECOMMENDATION #192 - RAISING HOLY SPARKS

RAISING HOLY SPARKS - SEARCH FOR THE VANISHED HEAVEN
eiderdown 2017, triple cassette edition of 50

"Search For The Vanished Heaven emerged from extensive travels throughout the uncanny landscape of Europe Endless during times when dream & reality often became confused. What remains... prog gnosis, lunar devotionals, ancient-future rituals & thanks & prayers to the resident spirits, who know of no borders save those liminal ones we may sometimes glimpse... // For John & Peter, Rolf-Ulrich & Gille ...& Cosmic Couriers Everywhere... // David Colohan, Richard Moult, Alison O'Donnell, Guenter Schlienz, Gary Morrison, Dom Cooper, Declan Kelly, Ulrich Rois, Matt Leivers, Jez Creek, Barry Synnott, John Cavanagh, Bart De Paepe, Enda Trautt // All words & music by Raising Holy Sparks, except for the spoken sections, which are taken from the writings of Arthur Machen (3 March 1863 - 15 December 1947) // Recorded variously across Europe // The Search began sometime in 2012 & was completed Under The Light Of A SuperMoon in November 2016, if such a search can ever truly be completed..." - EIDERDOWN

man this zoned me in and out on a scale of biblical proportions, real quick - in a matter of minutes i was sold the whole way, hook line sinker - even if i had no preconceived notion of DAVID COLOHAN or his RAISING HOLY SPARKS project, or EIDERDOWN for that matter, or a glimpse of the awesome screenprint artwork -which, even considering EIDERDOWN's well established artwork excellence is the best yet for sure- i would surely be singing the same praise -- thousand yard staring metronomic percussion with a repetitive minimalist banjo subtly yet inexorably immersed in a cosmic sea of bliss? was that twenty minutes or twenty lifetimes? close listening makes it impossible to discern - and that's just the first track

i was a bit late to COLOHAN's work - i didn't catch on to UNITED BIBLE STUDIES until AINE O'DWYER's MUSIC FOR CHURCH CLEANERS via FORT EVIL FRUIT started making waves, and then not obsessively enthralled by what little i encountered until 2014 when i picked up RHS and DECLAN KELLY's understated yet overwhelming meditative masterpiece TRIVENI SANGAM / THE SAME RIVER TWICE, then shortly thereafter backtracking to ever greater works ERA OF MANIFESTATIONS and FOUR SACRED MOUNTAINS - the latter blew my mind, it had me reeling, it quickly earned the mental check mark of a vaguely defined (lengthy) shortlist for surefire inclusions on any all-time list i might ever bother to put together at some point, or maybe not, but the point is that FSM is undoubtedly somewhere on that theoretical list

well, here's another no brainer check mark worthy effort

in an attempt to reduce this exemplary work to my typical referential trappings, consider old guards of kosmische minimalism like TONY CONRAD WITH FAUST, NEU! and KLAUS SCHULZE as channeled by contemporary captains DIRE WOLVES, ETERNAL TAPESTRY and EXPO 70, with twists and turns synergistic to SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE or STEVEN R. SMITH, particularly his tenure with/as HALA STRANA, or perhaps more akin to NATURAL SNOW BUILDINGS drifting out on a deep current into zoned krautrock territory, with a reserved styling while achieving impressive motorik cruising speeds at times, despite seeming effortless, organic, minimally guided natural propulsion, like a sleek ship steering downriver, or a satellite streaking across the sky, jettisoning previous stages along the way - but a peculiar moss covered new age mystic futurism permeates throughout, like a BLADE RUNNER street level IAN WILLIAM CRAIG juxtaposed with a ceremonial mound soundscape and touches of HAROLD BUDD meets SEAN MCCANN experimentation

there are some elements of SEARCH that to some extent make A MELBOURNE NOCTURNE (PL13) seem like an elaborate collection of live fire tests, not unlike DIRE WOLVES' HOUSE OF TRIANGLES (PL15) to EXCURSIONS TO CLOUDLAND [REC #169] - i'm quite fine with that - to my ears both PSI LAB tapes are more endearing expressions, in the moment, springboards toward more formed and polished artistic statements, and particularly in COLOHAN's case, toward an unequivocal magnum opus, a clear and present frontrunner for my favorite album of the year



03 July 2017

UPDATE - PROJECT PL17

broken ground on a massive project, a various artist cassette boxset -PL17- in or among what i often described as "new weird american drone" tentatively due late fall - i won't reveal the lineup just yet, it's a bit early i think as things are still in flux and an email or two is a ways from recordings in hand, but there's not much surprise to it, nearly all involved have been previously recommended here

in other news, the PSI LAB SHOP on discogs will shut down soon, or at least go on another extended hiatus, so act now if you are so inclined, feel free to email reasonable offers to PSILABTAPES [at] GMAIL [dot] COM

also, i posted a midyear review of some of my favorite tapes and non-tapes on the PSI LAB facebook page a few days ago - check that out if you're lookin for a photo-and-grocery-list recap thus far

stay tuned

29 June 2017

RECOMMENDATION #191 - ANTHENE

ANTHENE - SHIFTING LANDS
polar seas 2017, edition of 50

"recorded in toronto, canada, summer 2016 and winter 2017 with minilogue, blofeld, juno, guitar and effects pedals. photography and layout by brad deschamps and shaleen sangha." - POLAR SEAS

"recordings by brad deschamps. 1/2 of north atlantic drift, curator of polar seas recordings" - ANTHENE bandcamp

ANTHENE's sophomore cassette completes an illustrious arc of limited (some impossibly so) cd titles spanning the eighteen months or so since originating in late 2015 with debut cassette REPOSE (also concurrently issued on cd), also via "ambient / drone / electronic" label POLAR SEAS -and as far as i can tell, the only two tapes put out by this cd dominant imprint are these two ANTHENE tapes- that despite the distinction of being mastered by SEAN MCCANN it somehow managed to fall through the cracks, though the risk of that invariably increases for me as the year winds down

i think it was GUIDE ME LITTLE TAPE -which sadly closed up shop late last year- that turned my attention to REPOSE early last year, and like i said, SHIFTING LANDS is very much on the same path, just further on down the road a ways - a certain dynamism rises to the surface with unexpected turns forming emotional hooks that draw you in, even if you aren't listening particularly closely, which i suppose is just a rewording of ENO's traditional assessment of "ambient music" - navigational references SEAN MCCANN and TIM HECKER and STARS OF THE LID probably sound about right without hearing a note, but there's a bit more to this lush minimalism with subdued airy synth melodies and alluring dark ambient atmospherics than many of this sort have to offer - there's just enough added and honed to an edge that is just sharp enough to set it apart, not just from REPOSE but from contemporaries at large - we might be considering metaphoric millimeters here, but that is often the distance between good and great in the world of ambient music - whatever it is, SHIFTING LANDS has it

some contemporaries to consider - KYLE LANDSTRA and SECRET PYRAMID, with the former's immersed sidelong passages of cosmic bliss segmented and compressed into a patchworked panorama of sorts, and the latter sunk into an even deeper dream state - there's some grayed out ethereality overlap with EKIN FIL, and favorable current year comparison to OJERUM's WHEN BIRDS FLY [REC #172] and SAMUEL REGAN's A WARM ROOM [REC #187]