Monthly Spins: June 2017

Last year at this time the cicadas crawled out of the earth and filled our ears with the cacophony of their singing. This is supposed to happen every seventeen years or so but for some reason the sonorous bugs are not staying asleep and dormant as they are supposed to and are back buzzing away again against all scientific facts and logic. Nothing is as it appears anymore, and as welcome as the buzzing might be there is an ominous sense that something is not right on the Ponderosa. Not to worry because we’ve discovered some wonderful new and sort-of-new music that will drown out all that unreal noise and hopefully soothe any sense of foreboding you might have from all the absurdity and buzzing going on.

Kaboom Karavan: A Short Walk With Olaf
File Under: bespoke sensei, visionary illbient
Here we have a Belgian wizard (Bram Bosteels), but not a wizard of knobs—this one is a true sculptor who makes bespoke instruments to create his sound visions, as well as detuned and disassembled guitars, keyboards, you name it. There might be a saxophone, or it could be a balloon attached to a pipe—either way it is so distorted that it comes across more like an amplified snoring lion who’s just eaten an entire gazelle. Yes, the name is a bit dopey and doesn’t really add to the majesty of the music, but damn if this isn’t some complex and beatific, wholly inventive shit that floored me on the first listen. His other albums (just as worthy as this one), are Hokus Fokus, and Barra Barra. Bosteels has written several scores for world-class dance performances, as well as sound installations and other collaborations of note. A real discovery here.

Available from Bandcamp




Show Me The Body: Corpus I
File Under: Nocore, rock, no wave
A sprawling mixtape from a band almost single-handedly reinventing the Trumpian-era New York hardcore sound. There’s a lot to like here. Bringing in Moor Mother and a dozen other players gives the tape range and proves the band still adheres to its DIY roots. As on any mixtape not all the tracks work, but with a little playlist filtering you can put together something akin to a brand new Show Me The Body album.

Available from Tidal




Kelly Lee Owens: S/T
File Under: Beguiling electronic debut
For a first record Welsh-born, London-based Kelly Lee Owens has garnered the voice and backing of Jenny Hval and their sensibilities are not that dissimilar. Throw in a bit of Arthur Russell and some dance floor worthy grooves. Owens is a fresh new voice in the world of electronic music although she collaborated with Daniel Avery on his own debut. Take it for a spin.

Available from Bandcamp




Hannah Georgas: For Evelyn
File Under: sophisticated pop
Most pop music is too corporate-slick and contrived to move me. But a great pop song I’m usually a sucker for and this is the case for Hannah Georgas’s For Evelyn, her third full length and best effort to date. I listened to her first two records but they were unfocused and failed to resonate. This one is dedicated to her recently passed grandmother, whom she was very close with and that sense of loss comes through, especially on the more haunting break-up pieces that are full of hard truths and sometimes self-inflicted mirth.

Available from Tidal




Leftfield: Leftism 22
File Under: BDM pioneers reissue
This remastered and reissued masterpiece sounds as intense and timeless as it did when it first arrived 20 odd years ago. Perhaps you raved to this in 1995 or left orbit wearing headphones. If you’ve never heard it then you should, and if you haven’t heard it since the 90’s then please listen to this punchy redux. Besides digital downloads there is a 2 CD package and a three vinyl record package also being released.

Available from Tidal




Microphones: Early Tapes 1996-1998
File Under: Lo-fi, DIY indie, post-rock
Phil Elverum is Microphones with a wildly rotating group of collaborators over the years who then transformed into Mount Eerie, continuing the progression. This is a collection of previously unreleased early work recorded between 1996 and 1998. Essential for all fans and newcomers alike.

Available from Bandcamp




Hypochristmutreefuzz: Hypopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia
File Under: Belgians are different
Is it hiphop? Not really. Or is it rock? Maybe. Avant-garde something or other? Perhaps. Prog? I’m still on the fence. What we know for certain is that they're from Belgium. I'm guessing here, but I think the monks put some special herbs in their ale. It’s the beer, man.

Available from Bandcamp




Anamai: Sallows
File Under: experimental folk (see Grouper/Julianna Barwick)
Very freaky folk (they’re actually from Toronto), and demented blues filtered through a swamp full of frogs and other creatures. Holler music. Snake handling. Halleluiah!

Available from Bandcamp




Elegi: Bansull
File under: experimental, dark, ambient
Shades of UK's The Caretaker here but not as relentlessly conceptual. Indeed, what they do share is a keen, intuitive understanding of how nostalgia is like a skin we wear, while the termites work within. Some might even call this a form of classical music, albeit one filtered through a noir/horror sensibility. Like a sudden immersion in water, Norwegian Tommy Jansen’s intricate sound envelops you in layer upon layer of scratchy 78’s, the clickity-clack of film running through a projector and dozens of intricate juxtapositions. Just when you think there’s a melody…it wanders off without succumbing to your own expectations. It just goes…and goes…and goes…

See also, the stunning full lengths called Sistereis and Varde.

Available from Bandcamp




It It Anita: Agaaiin
File Under: New Weird Belgium, rock
Liege is the city of origin here and rock is the subtext and glue. With the opening caterwauling screech and propulsive new wave/hardcore cut “25”, It It Anita launch themselves into a sprawling set of rockers.

Available from Bandcamp




Jacaszek: KWIATY
File Under: classical, cabaret, electro-acoustic, dark jazz, vocal
KWIATY (flowers) is Polish composer Michal Jacaszek’s new album and here he takes a decided turn toward the vocal, giving three different women a star turn at the mike, including Hania Malarowska and supporting her are Joasia Sobowiec-Jamiol and Natalia Grzebala. Using the English Renaissance poetry of Robert Herrick as his source material, Jacaszek weaves through vocal washes, Cabaret and chamber jazz as if recorded from an old 78.

Available from Bandcamp




High Plains: Cinderland
File Under: ambient, classical, electronic
High Plains is the collaboration between electronic composer Scott Morgan (aka Loscil) and cellist Mark Bridges. The two met and decided to record together in a converted schoolhouse in rural Wyoming. After the first couple of listens I kept hearing snippets of music in my head and finally remembered what it was—the stunning Music For Egon Schiele by The Rachel's and that is what this recording most reminds me of with it’s sparse beauty and evanescent grandeur.

Available from Bandcamp




From The Archives
Once a month I am usually reminded of some long lost or merely forgotten album I haven’t dusted off in some time but one that remains an essential recording evoking memories of specific times, places, moods. This Month is no different. The wonderful High Plains album brought this back to the fore of my mind after not hearing it for five or six years.

Rachel's: Music For Egon Schiele
File Under: sublime, new classical
Originally composed by pianist Rachel Grimes and her band for a 1996 dance/performance, Music For Egon Schiele delves into the tragic life and creative force of the Austrian painter. Definitely a recording way high up there on the list of the most moving and sublime, and one I’ve gone back to over and over since I first discovered it. I remember when I lived in Nevada for 8 years I used to always play this when driving through the desert at the Valley of Fire. It was a day trip, and one I preferred to take visiting friends to see in place of the Las Vegas strip. Usually dark when we returned home it was then time for a little Stars of The Lid as the giant city of lights grew from a small dot on the horizon surrounded by the black desert into a gleaming spaceship.

Available from Tidal


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.

COMMENTS
dysonapr's picture

Always something novel to delight.

Christian Goergen's picture

To begin with some german wisenheimerishness. But it helps searching.
Thanks for digging for truffles. Sadly Belgium is not the Perigord.
It's raining. My work is done and I' m idling away. Amazon unlimited provided me with all of your recommendations. Nothing grabbed me, except the old Leftfield album I bought soon after its release.
I must stop. The music for egon schiele calls me. Thank you again, you saved my day.
Christian Goergen

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