Monthly Spins: March 2017

There’s an old Greek proverb that goes: now that you’ve eaten the donkey you might as well go ahead and eat the tail. We stagger into March riveted by a new gathering of sounds, once again drowning out the fetid squawk of competing propaganda. Ah, what a relief it is to strap on the headphones and vaporize the outside in favor of the inside, or maybe you use your car as a speeding capsule (the-sculpting-in-time-machine) that adds its own netherworld of field recordings to whatever you might be consciously playing. We’ll wait then, until the wheels fall off before succumbing to "what’s going on out there" vibrations. Meanwhile… let the music take you…

Also, I would so appreciate comments, feedback, listening suggestions, thanks.

Dadub: Way to Moksha
File Under: hardcore, ambient, electronic, wardub
A four track longish EP by the Italian born, Berlin-based duo of Daniele Antezza and Giovanni Conti who are the main sound engineers and master all of the releases at Stroboscopic Artefacts. Way to Mokshaa is much more than polyrhythmic, ambient techno with its cascading pulses and layered combinations of driving syncopation mixed with ambient washes that come and go organically. This is absolutely menacing, tribal, atavistic, a war-dub signaling an impending pre or post-catastrophe call to resistance. It’s no accident that this sound emanates from two Italians who’ve lived through a decade of Berlusconi, years of forced austerity and a democracy teetering on failure. I want to also recommend their EPs: Monad VII, Preternity, Untitled, Transmission Lab. A review of their full length follows.

Available from Tidal

Dadub: You Are Eternity
Now that we’ve introduced the lads let’s take a closer listen to their full-length You Are Eternity. The full length is a more languorous and yet sinister, cinematic journey that begins with the Fourth World worthy "Vibration", which eases off the wardub to settle the listener into an organic series of counter rhythms with overlays of static wash and vocal tape delays. The 2nd track, entitled "Truth" keeps the tribal vibe while offering recordings taken during congressional hearings post-collapse of Allen Greenspan. The album waxes and wanes and shift pitches until we get to the track that gives me a little chill whenever I play it which is called "Unbroken Continuity". If you asked me for the perfect soundtrack for what it feels like to be a rational, thinking person living in America at this moment it would be this track and this album.

Available from Tidal

Saåad: Verdaillon
File Under: French cosmic ambient
Gregory Buffier and Romain Barbot are a team that evolved out of the Parisian post-hardcore world and have brought us now several releases of fractured, ambient drones although nothing they’ve done sounds quite like Verdaillon, whereupon Saåad gained access to the massive Puget organ in the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade and worked their magic into this potent cocktail of cosmic ambience.

Available from Bandcamp

65daysofstatic: No Man’s Sky: Music For An Infinite Universe (Original Video Game Soundtrack)
A heat seeker band from Leeds that conjure up post and math rock associations, but three full listens in to this and I couldn’t figure out WTF they were up to with this record, I mean it's epic and sprawling and cohesive, but what is it? Then a quick search showed me "Original Video Game Soundtrack" and it all started making sense. Don't get the wrong idea. Game soundtrack you say? Ugh. Barf. But retract yer claws and give it a full listen because this is a beautiful and complex ride. I already said epic so we'll leave it there. 2 hours and 30 minutes of music here and according to Discogs is available in a four LP set, or two CDs as well as digital versions.

Available from Tidal

M. Sage: Data in the Details [Geographic North]
File under: electronic
First section entitled "Data in the Details (heads up extended edit)" consists of alien transmissions from a Fourth World planet, a sort of DNA as Morse code-unknown. The 2nd track, "...(Mover Izusu Dub Edit)" was received later and from a long, lost civilization, that managed to capture some of our own incoming shortwave signals of Javanese gamelan music—a polyrhythmic, deep space cargo cult, if you will.

Available from Bandcamp

Nerftoss: Prospect Endless
File under: electronic
John Jones aka Nerftoss constructs Prospect Endless with some keyboards, lots of effects, samples, feedback, a little bit of komische here—some spoken word samples over there, and you’ve got yourself an entire album of technochronic, ambient exploration.

Available from Bandcamp

Sundayman: Scene Missing
File under: electronic pop, analog synths
Greek Thomas Dolby? Analogue vintage synths and propulsive, driven beats with unexpected sonic experimentation.

Available from Bandcamp

Furthers: Pineal Dreamer
File Under: ambient dreamcore
Very rare I get to introduce musicians from Ukraine but this month we have Furthers, a musical duo from Kiev who worship in the great conifer forests of the Eastern regions. Truly stunning through and through.

From their Bandcamp page: "We name this recording Pineal Dreamer and dedicate it to visionaries and dreamers, to all who draw their dreams and hallucinations from the gifts of the pineal gland. Shamans, dancing in the coniferous forests of their souls, and all kinds of unseen creatures that came to us from the recesses of our subconsciousness."

Available from Bandcamp

Spartan Jet-Plex: My Time
File Under: singer songwriter
Sometimes a woman in a living room with a guitar, synthesizer and a simple home setup is all you need. Nancy Kells, a Virgina-based songwriter and teacher has quite an extensive catalog worth checking out on Bandcamp. Add in some overdubbing and a scattering of other effects. Yes, they’re raw and lo-fi but there is a beauty in that and essentially why Bandcamp is so truly democratizing. Some voices call out to you in their fresh goodness and compelling simplicity and Nancy Kellis is one of those voices. Lyrically these songs stand out in their emotional resonance, simplicity and for their poetic power. It may not task your audio systems but it might move your heart.

Available from Bandcamp

Halt and Catch Fire (AMC) 4 seasons
We've seen some docs and films now dramatizing the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates side of the incipient personal computer world. Beginning in 1980 is the excellent AMC drama Halt and Catch Fire (title refers to a computer sequence that starts a process that cannot be stopped). You've got a Machiavellian visionary named Joe MacMillen (Lee Pace—astounding), a brilliant young female programmer Cameron Howe (McKenzie Davis) and hot shot engineer Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) that together create a rogue division within an already existing Texas computer company.

The story follows through the rapid advancement of both hardware and software and the vicissitudes of the boom or bust world fueled by near messianic visions of the future. Very strong female characters, in fact (a knock out bravura piece of work by actor McKenzie Davis), and although it is a mere fantasy compared with the actual reality of Silicon Valley, by season four the women are running the show and we’ve progressed to CES 1990, right at the beginning of the next revolution to come.

Fleabag (Amazon)
Creator/Writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, 6 episodes
Relentlessly rueful 30 minutes, so dense with self-deprecating mirth that I paused the first episode and started it again because the blistering rejoinders were coming so fast and furiously. With quick, sharp edits and frequent fourth wall dialogue breaks that add counter point—not even on Girls have you seen female sexual desire explored with such complexity and humor.

Peaky Blinders (Netflix)
Let’s be honest, Netflix releases an avalanche of sometimes mediocre stuff (Marco Polo), but then again there are the stand-out successes like The Crown, House of Cards, Narcos, Bloodline and you can add Peaky Blinders to this stellar list of must watch miniseries. David Bowie was so taken with the drama that he asked to meet the cast and writers and petitioned to have some of his own songs added to the upcoming-to-be-filmed scenes. With a cast of Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Paul Anderson, Helen McCory, Annabelle Wallis and a slew of other wonderfully cast UK and Australian actors, the show takes place in and around the 1920’s just after WWI in the UK and is based (like Fargo Season 2) on an actual family of gangsters with a proclivity of hiding straight razors in the brim of their hats to better blind their enemies. Stellar acting throughout and with a post-modern rock and roll soundtrack to die for.

Joe Surdna is a practicing artist and writer who has published in Playboy, GQ, Zoetrope and has worked on several alt-weeklies as an entertainment reporter focusing on art, new music, and film reviews.

migelm's picture

Great stuff here!

keithsonic's picture

Just listening to Harald Gramberg Indeed free on Bandcamp which is quite awesome. In addition to the esteemed Stroboscopic mentioned by Michael checkout Tri Angle and Pan records, always reliable for electronica. Other recent finds are Second Woman, MJ Guider and Karen Gwyer. Also just working my way back through The Necks after great new album Unfold.

dysonapr's picture

Artists I'd not heard of, to add to my Google Play Music library for "auditioning".

garrettnecessary's picture

Loving the Spartan Jet-Plex record.

Joe Surdna's picture

Thanks for leaving comments and esp to Keithsonic for the recommendations to add to my list. Really appreciate it. Sharing is the best part of music and something I have always been very passionate about.