Levain is a collaboration between Nathan McLaughlin and Jeremy Purser, an uneasy mixture of spare, open-ended American fingerstyle and the chilly winds of reel-to-reel soundscaping. The two halves of the tape are divided into vague episodes– on both sides what begins as something rooted in Appalachian visions gradually disintegrates into grainy treatments of improvised sounds. Lots of extended-technique messings-around on the strings, lots of obscure and piercing amplifications. Ultimately, even more fog and weathering: painted rocks, bare trees, cold mornings. Good stuff from an intriguing new batch of improvisationally-minded music off Columbus, Ohio’s Cabin Floor Esoterica.
Conjoining Currents: EAI, Drone, American Primitivism, Andrew Weathers
Label: Cabin Floor Esoterica
The ashen beauty of Appunti, the debut solo recording of Marco Marzuoli (one-half of How to Cure Our Soul and curator of Città Sant’Angelo’s lux), off ÉTER in CD form, may sneak up on to you in the same way that William Basinski’s Cascade did to me. You’ll be giving it a re-listen at any odd hour past 11:30 PM, and suddenly the quiet breathing of the ostinato melody just floors you, absorbs you, pulls you into its recesses. Marzuoli’s most recent album is in fact the awesome Senza Titolo, from Yann Novak’s always fantastic Dragon’s Eye Recordings, but I absolutely have to backtrack for this one, which came out mid-August.
Appunti is a piece for bass guitar, a loop that was treated through analog and digital means to enfold the melody in a hushed and obscured soundscape. The infinite repetition slowly emerges from the gloom, enveloping the space bit by bit. You become lost in it, and it becomes life itself, the world itself, your body begging for sleep, your head interrogating secrets, its tiny changes the inarticulate mystery of everything.
One of my favorites of the year. Essential listening for sure for any and all devoted to or merely intrigued by drone, ambient music, and other modern composition type-explorations.
On their 12″ split for Hitt Records Ragged Hollow, Columbia, Missouri’s Nevada Greene and Chicago’s Scott Tuma continue to soldier American Primitivism down uncertain roads, crossing paths with modern composition and post-rock soundscaping along the way. The Columbia band’s half, “Earthquake Hollow”, is a leisurely walk in the woods with fingerstyle guitar and fiddle, ending in a serene clearing, the final goodbye chimes in the wind and gentle synth pads. The contribution from Scott Tuma (something of a Chicago legend of independent music by now– check his collaboration with Mike Weis of Zelienople), “All the Ragged Glory”, is heavy, headily-resonating stuff, a nighttime panorama of rusted bridges and abandoned machines. A postcard from an America becoming more and more distant every day– a must-listen for anyone down with the real folk-blues’ legacy.
Conjoining Currents: American Primitivism, Drone, Post-Rock, Lake Mary, Marisa Anderson
Label: Hitt Records
Another beauty that deserves to not slip beneath your radar: Teramo, Italy-based sound artist and musician Lorenzo Balloni’s debut solo recording 創生のさいはて [The Farthest Ends of Creation], off Yokohama’s murmur records, who have previously released material from Celer, Francisco López, and Yann Novak, among many others fine folks. What lies herein is a quiet acousmatic journey where the peaks are lost woodland cries, distant rumbles, seeping drones, pattering rain…it is lulling in its sensitivity and slow flow, but an ancient drama emboldens it. Those peaks give a cosmic backdrop to transitory scenes of kids at play, people taking their time, doves and sparrows politely making their presences known. The collage makes a panorama of the impermanence of things– soft colors, clear lines, everything given room to breathe. Born in 94, Balloni is a relatively young guy, but already he has shown himself to be an incredible sound artist. I mean, man. Like Luigi Turra, Fabio Perletta and Haruo Okada, and Novak, he crafts deep-listening spaces of an intimacy and intuitive comfiness– there is a lot to take in, but it is easy to immerse yourself in. A jaw-dropping solo compositional debut.
Conjoining Currents: Sound art, Field Recording, EAI, Drone, Luigi Turra, Yann Novak
Label: murmur records
Arsari is 21 year old Iesi, Italy-based producer of electronic music Riccardo Saraceni, and Scavare is his totally promising debut album, a resplendent meshing of noisy pop-ambient and glitchy, pulverized beats. He may at the moment be an absolute beginner, but it’s impossible not to get the sense of an assiduous pair of ears (that took in their fair share of arty, tactile mid-90s electronica/IDM, no doubt) as you pour over the wintry, glitchy vibe of the opener “Semi Di Chia”– melancholic and glittering, melodic and shattered. The pixelated fresco lives up to the album’s name and excavates a funereal, poetic spirit. Where I really found myself hooked was in “E Il Fuoco Si Rifiuta”, where a cautious, dubby rhythm collapses into an enveloping, surging wall of sound– power ambient indeed. Scavare is fine stuff, and to see such a young artist with such a strong grasp of a minimal aesthetic makes me incredibly curious about what other offerings are to come…check it out, pronto!
Conjoining Currents: IDM, Glitch, Electronica, Ambient, Noise
Moss Covered Technology is a new moniker of English producer Greg Baird, perhaps better known as BMRN (BoomRuin). Speicherbank is Baird’s second full-length release for Eilean Records, located at the ninth point of the Eilean map. Right off the bat, in the space of the transition from the woozy tape-saturation ambience of “Midsleep” to the cautious first bars of “Story, Story”, you get the sense you’re in for something that will throw back to all your favorite hauntological downtempo electronica/instrumental hip hop albums, with lo-fi textures spiraling into a starry eyed spaciousness. You delve further and see that it took some inspiration from all that, but it ultimately takes the feel into far more abstract zones. For Speicherbank, Baird made use of field-recordings recorded in his home town of England; these songs are often a lot less beat-driven and more droney than anything, yet still finding that comfy feeling of nostalgia in decay in their crinkled, bleary layers. “Remembered” is a keeper like that, and the use of breathy samples against the dun drones of the gentle closer “Susa” seems to take the best of both worlds. Ultimately, Speicherbank is something more sensitive, more demanding of close re-listenings.
Conjoining Currents: Ambient, Glitch, Downtempo, Drone, Feend
On his debut recording Memorate, Viewfound (musician and sound artist Milo Thesiger-Meacham) crafts oneiric loop-based ambient excursions, invoking forgotten presences and the flood of memory. What is really impressive is to think that a haunter like “Rooms”, with its skin of vinyl hiss and muffled echoing, was devised by someone so young– some of these pieces were recorded by Thesiger-Meacham when he was just 14. A deep-listening meditation with a cinematic feel somewhere between Ingmar Bergman and Leyland James Kirby– most definitely worth your time.
Conjoining Currents: Ambient, Electro-Acoustic, Minimal, Noise, øjeRum
Label: Shimmering Moods