Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Of Natural History (2004)


For fans of: Univers Zero, Mr. Bungle, Kayo Dot

"As it has been said, this album is almost impossible to describe. Not everything becomes evident to ones ears right away, and even now I'm still hearing new parts in songs. The excellence of the songs does not become clear right away either. At first, 'Babydoctor' may seem like it has a first half that is almost uninteresting or 'skippable'. But after a little while, it becomes a very much needed part of the song.

The use of instrumentation on this album is phenomenal as well. There are even some homemade little beauties to be heard. The bowed spatula just being an example of one. For anyone that has ever said that drums and percussion are only for rhythm and are otherwise boring or pointless, this album will change that. For anyone that has ever said that the bass is an unnecessary instrument, used only as a backbone in music, this album will change that. The musical talent of this group is tremendous; a force to be reckoned with.

As far as the songs go, they build up and up until the they implode and then explode, causing a post-apocalyptical euphoria of sound to sweep over the grounds of the listener's mind. It's truly incredible.

This album is not to be understood at once, but with time, it reveals itself to be a truly astonishing masterpiece" - Nathan

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Land of Kush - Monogamy (2010)


For fans of: Evangelista, Bark Psychosis, Natural Snow Buildings

The robotic voice here almost ruins it for me, but, the explicit stuff that the robot's saying adds a good amount of hilarity. If you can get past that voice, this album does indeed have a lot to offer. Like their first album, it offers a uniquely psychedelic blend of rock, jazz, and middle-eastern/north-african music that keeps me captivated throughout. There is an incredible number of musicians associated with this project, which explains why it contains the power of an army ready to march to war. It's an orchestra jamming like there's no tomorrow. - Matthew Foster

Demdike Stare - Forest of Evil (2010)


For fans of: Oneohtrix Point Never, The Caretaker, Vladislav Delay

The space in this music seems to me as important as anything. It allows the build of an atmosphere that, once acted upon, is unlike anything you can get without that space. It's very natural, as if you're on a hike while under some kind of psychedelic influence, and you randomly come across some interesting creatures. You don't know if what you're seeing or hearing is really there or if it's just your imagination it, but whatever it is, it's incredibly intriguing. There are nice stings in the music and an ambiance that is followed by and added upon with dubby percussion and electronic drones. It's an exiting exploration of ideas and new possibilities that has me anxiously awaiting their promised next two 2010 releases. - Matthew Foster

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Echospace - Liumin (2010)

Listen Part 1
Listen Part 2

For fans of: Vainqueur, Monolake, Pole

A techno dragon, the fusion of technology and organic fantasy. The beats cut and the atmosphere swallows. Then when there's nothing left, it leaves you cold and empty, like after staring into the night sky for hours upon hours. Us humans will die, but the mechanical will "live" forever. I don't know what I'm talking about, but once again, Echospace delivers a devastating ambient dub techno exploration that is euphorically transporting. - Matthew Foster

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Marcel Dettmann - Dettmann Remixed (2010)


For fans of: Efdemin, Redshape, Pantha Du Prince

Marcel Dettmann works in an area outside of most electronic music. His music is based in dance music, but seems to have something else going for it that you won't find on most dance floors. Like Basic Channel, what he creates is hypnotic and mind altering. Many interesting sounds can be heard within, as if the techno beats are really just a shell in which many little tasty sonic surprises are hidden. I can't speak about how these remixes compare to the original tracks, but if you are enjoying Dettmann's debut album, this is a good place to go to for more of those same massively hitting beats and dynamic sounds that you can wrap your mind around. - Matthew Foster

Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal (2010)


For fans of: Emeralds, The Knife, Yellow Swans

Synths bounce near and far, up and down, left and right. The songs "Returnal" and "Peryouandi" add some creepy vocals that remind me of the best of The Knife. Oneohtrix Point Never have definitely created a sound of their own, and it's electronic synth drone/noise at its best. It's like traveling at the speed of light in a futuristic flashing light filled spaceship through the universe while gazing at the stars and planets whiz by. While maybe not something that will be easy to connect to and enjoy quite like a good pop album, it can provide a journey like no other, where what you know to be true is thrown into question. - Matthew Foster

Six Organs of Admittance - RTZ (2009)

Listen Part 1
Listen Part 2

For fans of: Natural Snow Buildings, Steven R. Smith, John Fahey

Do you think music should demand something from the listener, like full attention, or should it not demand anything and be able to easily entertain without much thought involved? Here is a set of songs that don't do much for me when I don't give them much attention and just let them hover in the background, but when I really focus on the drones and chimes and such and let the chanting and guitar strums glide over, it can be absolutely exhilarating. There are many great moments within this set of nearly 20 minute long songs that make it a prime example of drone or psychedelic folk that will certainly be one to return to when I want something that can act as a sort of meditation. The first 5 minutes of "Punish the Chasms With Wings" blew me away, it's a fantastic ambient/drone intro that I would have liked to see expanded into something much longer and larger. RTZ is full of despair and seems like a hint as to what the end of one's life might be like. - Matthew Foster

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brendan Perry - Ark (2010)


For fans of: Cocteau Twins, Scott Walker, Bel Canto

It's been more than 10 years since Brendan Perry's last album, and even longer since one from Dead Can Dance, but as Scott Walker's proved, it's better to wait and create a fully fleshed out album, then to rush through it and release something that's lacking in some way.  The former seems to be just what Perry's done here.  Several of the songs themselves are not really new, but were written throughout the last decade, some of which were created for Dead Can Dance's 2005 tour.  His singing is as ethereal as ever, and the instrumentation behind it really soars.  It's very orchestral with beautiful melodies that build with power as the tracks progress.  The album was created fully by Perry in isolation, which can explain why it sounds so "pure" or "full" to me.  I think this is close to as great as anything he or Lisa Gerrard have produced. - Matthew Foster

Harold Budd - Abandoned Cities (1984)


For fans of: Brian Eno, Steve Roach, Robert Rich

"Harold Budd's Abandoned Cities contained two very ambitious pieces of music. The 20-minute 'Dark Star', collocating drones and symphonics, abstract and moving in slow-motion in no clear direction, felt like a somber nebulae hovering over a dormant city, a threatening mirage of a world dead for thousands years, icy and hostile but deluding you into believing that it can be warm. The 23-minute 'Abandoned Cities' went even deeper into hibernation, and even deeper into existential despair; this music was pure anemia, resembling barely audible emotions that implode towards the abyss; a requiem for a star that dies and vanishes into eternity, and only it's memory is left. At some distant world, you can still see the star, it's flickering light still traveling a hostile universe, but in actuality the star has died." - ILY

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Balaclavas - Roman Holiday (2010)


For fans of: Liars, Pere Ubu, Thee Oh Sees

Rhythmically complex and heavy, this is some noisy post-punk that reminds me of Pere Ubu. At many points I think the singing sounds a lot like that of Thee Oh Sees. There's also a saxophone thrown into the mix on "Night Worship." There are clearly some diverse styles being mixed here, but it all comes together very nicely and doesn't feel disjointed at all. I could name a bunch of great bands that come to mind when listening to this (Liars, Morphine, Wire), but Balaclavas don't really sound quite like any of them. Their unique mix of attractive sounds is a fantastic addition to 2010 that I will definitely enjoy hearing again. - Matthew Foster

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today (2010)


For fans of: R. Stevie Moore, Neon Indian, Animal Collective

This is Ariel Pink's first release for a well-known label and the Haunted Graffiti really seem to have upped their game for their 4AD debut. I've plenty enjoyed their music in the past, but never has it hit me quite as greatly as this one. All of their music has an aura of 80s retro, but while in the past it's been really hazy and lo-fi, Before Today is a big step up production wise. Some may see that as a compromise, but I don't think so at all, they use the production to bring out the best of what's in their music. Rather than sounding like a bedroom recording that idolizes the sounds of the 80s, this one sounds like it actually uses the improved production technologies that were often employed in that decade. As for the songs themselves, they should be pop hits, they're filled with joy and I can't help but grin from ear to ear while listening to them. Not all of the songs here are fully new ones, but the way they are meticulously recorded here make them all sound new. This is certainly the Ariel Pink album I'll be listening to most, until their next one at least. - Matthew Foster

Aboombong - Asynchronic (2010)


For fans of: Natural Snow Buildings, Yellow Swans, Emeralds

Incredible! Yet another fine drone/ambient/noise release for the modern age. This one includes a great mix of drumming and various percussion with lengthy and flowing drones. It sounds just about as "free" as music gets, something that could have come from another planet. It's certainly not something I'd want to hear very often, but when you just feel like letting your mind wander to unknown and exiting places, this can very nicely fit the bill. This is what I imagine might come out of a jam session with Sun Ra and Natural Snow Buildings. The last couple tracks however drop the crazy percussion and just focus on the ambiance. Fortunately, they don't need the drumming to keep my attention, and even without it, it would stand as a very nice drone release. - Matthew Foster

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mission of Burma - Signals, Calls, and Marches (1981)


For fans of: Shellac, Wire, Gang of Four

This set of songs shows off Mission of Burma having as much fun as seemingly possible with their post-punk sound. The beats are almost krautrock like in the way they keep the energy up throughout the songs, and the guitar playing fills them with catchy riffs front and back. The tracks seem at times to be rather straightforward, but there's actually a lot going on, even guitar solos here and there within this wall of sound. The vocals are quite standard punky rants, but they work with the music perfectly. Overall, the music is extremely cathartic and enjoyable. - Matthew Foster

Sam Amidon - I See the Sign (2010)


For fans of: Jack Rose, Vashti Bunyan, Sufjan Stevens

The first thing to hit me with this one was the off-kilter guitar playing. It's very avant-garde and beautiful in it's uniqueness. There's a male and female voice here, and both sound great with the music. Unfortunately, the songs near the end aren't quite as good as those near the start, but those near the start are fantastic. Also, some of the lyrics are a bit repetitive, but these are small qualms that only make it a 4/5 instead of a 4.5/5. Highly recommended. - Matthew Foster

Friday, June 11, 2010

Koss - Ancient Rain (2010)


For fans of: Gas, Markus Guentner, Yagya

An ambient album you can dance to.  Like the ambient artists of Kompakt, Koss likes to add a tempo to his soundscapes.  It is most definitely first and foremost an ambient album, and a very good one at that, but the tempo keeps it from sounding like a Brian Eno knockoff.  Rather than getting lost in a wash of hisses and waves, here there is more of a sense of being grounded.  While that may sound like it loses some of the beauty of ambient music, I don't think it does; the rhythm just allows the music to be more active if you want it to be.  The beats here are not too large or obtrusive and blend nicely into the sound.  Certainly one of my favorite ambient albums of the year, and I'm surprised at how little attention it's received. - Matthew Foster

Konono N°1 - Assume Crash Position (2010)


For fans of: Boredoms, Fela Kuti, Black Dice

A fast and non-stop percussion explosion! Though at the same time, it's very soothing in a way. Like good techno music, it'll make you dance and feel very "elevated." It also sounds a lot like the funky afro-jazz of Fela Kuti at times. I could just imagine standing in a circle of people stepping forward, back, and forward again while slapping our thighs and having the time of our lives. There are even some nice ethereal sounds to be found here, making it a relatively diverse album. With the popularity of extreme percussion artists like Boredoms and Dan Deacon, this album has a perfect place to sit in today's music. - Matthew Foster