The veritable tsunami of new music continues – here are some examples of what has arrived recently together with some older selections from my vast archive of music. Featuring Tim Hecker, Iztok Korem, Son of Buzzi, Tomasz Stańko, MalClango, Blowers, Sam Prekop & John McEntire, All Hands_Make Light, Devin Gray, Neon Kittens, Salem Trials, and, Sunburned Hand of the Man.
Tim Hecker – Monotony – No Highs (Kranky)
The latest by Canadian composer Tim Hecker serves as a beacon of unease against the deluge of false positive capitalist ambient currently in vogue. Whether taken as warning or promise, No Highs delivers – this is music of austerity and ambiguity, purgatorial and seasick. A jagged anti-relaxant for our medicated age, rough-hewn and undefined.
Morse code pulse programming flickers like distress signals while a gathering storm of strings, noise, and low-end looms in the distance. Processed electronics shiver and shudder against pitch-shifting assemblages of crackling voltage, mantric horns (including exquisite modal sax by Colin Stetson), and cathedral keys. Throughout, the pieces both accrue and avoid drama, more attuned to undertow than crescendo. Hecker mentions “negation” as a muse of sorts – the sense of tumult without bombast, tethered ecstasies, an escape from escapism. His is an antagonism both brusque and beguiling, devoid of resolution, beckoning the listener ever deeper into its greyscale alchemies of magisterial disquiet.
Iztok Korem – 07 – Praznina / Emptiness
Emptiness is the second solo record by multi-instrumentalist Iztok Koren, a member of the bands Širom, Škm banda and Hexenbrutal. A result of an outpouring of pent-up creative energy, the album came about after a last-minute force majeure cancellation of a Širom trip to Sarajevo, where the band was to make music for the theatre show Bordel Eden by director Mirjana Medojević. The musician decided to channel his blocked creative flow into new solo material and ended up recording Emptiness in a single day, 7 May 2022, at a secluded hut in the hills of the Zasavje region. The music from Emptiness was eventually used in Bordel Eden. All the tracks on the record were performed by Iztok Koren without overdubs, using a banjo, a three-string banjo, a guembri, electric guitar, modular synthesizer, effects pedals, contact microphones, percussion, a steel drum and a balafon.
Son of Buzzi – Im Nachtzug nach Hamburg – Die Hand der Riesin
Die Hand der Riesin by Zurich based guitar-sound collage artist Son of Buzzi will be releasing on vinyl April 7 through Ramble (AUD), Cardinal Fuzz (UK/EU), and Centripetal Force Records (USA). An intimate and minimal recording of music for 6-string guitar, 12-string guitar, electric guitar, upright-bass and no-input mixer, Die Hand der Riesin draws on 60s fingerpicking, field recordings, drone, ambience and avant-electronica. The result is a a stunningly delicate and gentle set of gorgeous compositions.
Tomasz Stańko – Dark Awakening – Twet
His second album as a leader from 1975 with Tomasz Szukalski, Edward Vesala, Peter Warren
MalClango – H.A.M. 9000 – Sparagazzarre
Italian math-core; post-hardcore; instrumental-rock. 1 drum kit, 2 basses, 3 gorilla masks. Furious melodies and wild polyrhythms. MalClango make fun of music by stripping math rock down to its underwear.
Blowers – Let’s Age – Blown Again
Chaputa Records (Portugal) and Spooky Records (Australia) are pleased to announce they’ve teamed up again to release the second album from Blowers (from Melb/ Naarm, Australia) ‘Blown Again’. Hard edged punk with attitude.
Sam Prekop & John McEntire – A Yellow Robe – Sons Of
Sam Prekop and John McEntire are two artists, who together and as individuals, have expanded the definition of rock. Each is acclaimed for their singular musical voice and for their sonic innovations. Beyond their work together in The Sea and Cake, Prekop has garnered acclaim for his solo releases in ensemble or on modular synthesis, as well as for his visual art and photography. McEntire is one of the most celebrated engineers, composers, and drummers in forward-thinking music. With nearly three decades of experience working together, this is their first full-length collaboration as a duo. It was something they both have wanted to do for a long while, and a natural fit for two artists drawn to incorporating electronic music into rock and jazz contexts. Sons Of finds two master craftsmen working at the nexus of pristine production and skillful improvisation, forging compelling narrative arcs into glistening metropolises of infinite pulse.
Sons Of is as sonically curious as it is inviting. The elaborate array of synthesizer modules, samplers, trigger pads and effects which the duo implement all serve as potent tools in unearthing unique textures and untapped worlds of possibility. Over the album’s four pieces Prekop and McEntire apply their intrinsic understanding of pop architectures to create dynamic movements. Their sound is one of transformative fluidity, each passing beat marking a sense of familiarity while the surrounding atmospheres are in constant flux. A steady pace to the tracks allows space for new sounds to breathe and evolve. Ever-shifting tonalities and magnetic grooves propel the music with persistent momentum without feeling hurried. Throughout the album, the duo exudes a spontaneous ease, unafraid to settle into a particular cadence or veer into entirely new directions on a dime.
All Hands_Make Light – The Sons And Daughters Of Poor Eternal – Darling The Dawn
Two acclaimed and fiercely seasoned iconoclasts of Montréal independent music join forces: this project is the newly minted orchestral-punk electro-shoegaze power duo of Ariel Engle (La Force, Broken Social Scene) & Efrim Manuel Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion).
“Darling The Dawn” is their radiant debut long-player: singing & modular synthing in glorious blown-out tangles & tendrils of melody & drone, with contributions from Jessica Moss on violins & Liam O’Neill (SUUNS) on drums, mixed by Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes).
Blowers – Roid Rage – Blown Again
Devin Gray – Tough Love – Most Definitely
Brooklyn-Berlin based American drummer-composer Devin Gray made his widely lauded leader debut in 2012 with the release Dirigo Rataplan, which included a crew of heavyweight veterans Ellery Eskelin, Michael Formanek and Dave Ballou. Now in 2023 he gives us Most Definitely, a first showcase of his unique solo performances. Years of bandleading and sideman experiences have led to his growth as a continually forward thinking creative artist.
Throughout the tracks are electronic twists and turns which push the envelope of musical possibilities from a solo drummer setting. On standout tracks; Hunker Down, and Soldier on, Milford you can really feel Gray’s personality delivered directly as if you are between the microphones and his drums. Gray says, “The electronic integration really ramps up the excitement of this music for me, making it an honest modern musical offering, of which it Most Definitely is.”
Neon Kittens – Once More With Felix – Soul Doesn’t Come Easy
First new songs recorded during the sessions for their second album, earlier this year.
Blowers – Natural Loser – Blown Again
Salem Trials – Panzer – Panzer
‘Panzer’ is taken from the album ‘Scream Not Working’ which has just emerged.
Sunburned Hand Of The Man – Glass Boot – Rare Wood
The experimental rock band from Boston, Massachusetts. They are a loose collective known for their frequent line up changes and large discography released on a variety of labels including Eclipse Records, Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace!, and their own Manhand label.
This album was released in 2004, the first real, widely distributed CD release by the group, all previous albums were released either on CD-R or vinyl.