The new EP from Glasgow based producer Gary Caruth drops tomorrow, and looks set to build on the amazing promise of 2011’s Gestures. This track suggests a bit of a shift in focus with a far warmer electronic palette than before, even straying towards what you might call house music as the layered synths gradually build upwards in swirling dissonance. Subtle beats and hi-hats clash together as fragmented snippets of dialogue bubble up from underneath and strike it through with a sense of humanity. As with all of his material though, it’s a more visceral experience than that described. The EP You Will Soon Find That Life is Wonderful is available from Phonica Special Editions.
“Calico Sunset” by Former Selves // Calico Sunset (Out Now via Bandcamp)
When it’s late and you’re in that place between being a fully functioning member of society and drifting asleep into another plane - this is what you want to hear. Former Selves have released their “Calico Sunset” tape on Bandcamp, and it’s an ethereal wonder on par with some of the works of Julianna Barwick, Grouper, and Emeralds. Haunting sighs wash over lovely synth drones that crest and crash just out of sight, stirring a sense of dream like wonder. It’s stunning ambient work and you can get it now for a name-your-price fee at Bandcamp. Highly recommended.
Some great little tracks on this new collection of previously unreleased stuff by Whistle Peak. Available for a bargain $5 on Bandcamp. This track is an early favourite, has a distinct Liars influence to it which really works. Check them out.
Liz Harris has put together a sombre and immersive mix called ‘Image of True Death’ for Fact Magazine. A mixture of trad folk, gospel sounds and melodramatic ballads it covers a lot of ground in 35 minutes. One to get lost in.
The cerebral loop based music of Glasgow based duo Conquering Animal Sound has little to do with the animal world, but is fuelled by the tension between human and machine. On their stunning debut Kammerspiel the machines were very much in the driving seat, their clicks and hums forging a path towards some semblance of melody with the gossamer vocals of Anneke Kampman trailing in their wake. With their new record On Floating Bodies there is a marked difference as Kampman and her co-conspirator James Scott wrestle back control of their tools and manipulate them into gorgeous ghostly contortions of very human emotions - I wrote that when I interviewed them recently, read it here.
Grouper - The Man Who Died In His Boat
This new release by Liz Harris is actually a collection of tracks initially recorded during the sessions for her seminal 2008 album ‘Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill’. It does not sound like an off-cuts compilation though, as any of these tracks could slot easily into that album. They recapture the weightlessness of the downward strums lapping across ambient waves of subtle drones as her disembodied vocals swirl across the mix. This is Harris at her best, shorn of the noise elements of her early work and striving towards light.
Rick Redbeard - No Selfish Heart
The debut solo album from Rick Redbeard is something of an antithesis to his work as frontman of Glasgow proto-experimentalists The Phantom Band. Rather than accumulating and layering an array of noises he bares his humanity with an acoustic palette, mainly his baritone Scots tongue and meticulous guitar picking. The simplicity of the arrangements are indebted to traditional Scottish folk and find perfect harmony with his lyrical themes of nature. A beautiful and patient debut album.
Föllakzoid - II
Chilean prog-rock? ‘No thanks’ was my initial thought as well, but this record straddles so many generic lines that it sidesteps cliches with ease. It certainly does have a basis in ‘cosmic music’ as the band call it, but it also has the dark propulsion of post-punk and latherings of electronic noise swathed with distant vocals. Above all else, this is groovy as hell. You can stream the album on Bandcamp.
Young Galaxy - Ultramarine
If there’s any justice, this should be one of the big indie albums of the summer. The Canadian band have streamlined their shift into tropical dream-pop that started with their last album, and this is a stunning collection of sun kissed gems. Just listen to the lead single ‘Pretty Boy’ to see what I mean. I interview Catherine McCandless about the album last month, which you can read here.
Devendra Banhart - Mala
I must admit that I’m not particularly familiar with Banhart’s output, this is the first record of his I’ve really absorbed. I’m sure fans might tell me that he has far better stuff and I can see that this record is certainly flawed, but it has an immense level of charm. His bi-lingual shenanigans are a bit out of place but songs like ‘Won’t You Come Over’ and ‘Your Fine Petting Duck’ are so impeccable that it hardly matters. Any suggestions on what album I should listen to next would be welcomed…
L. Pierre - The Island Come True
This idyllic side-project from Aidan John Moffat couldn’t be further from his most noted persona as the drunken confessional mouthpiece of Scottish miserablists Arab Strap (as you might guess from that album cover). Now on album four, L.Pierre is a found sound project which sees Moffat pairing environmental recordings with dusty samples lifted form archived tape recordings, and the results are hauntingly beautiful. Listen to the album and read a great piece about it on The Quietus.
Deptford Goth - Life After Defo
The debut album from Londoner Daniel Woolhouse is, despite its horrendous title, a subtly constructed collection of affecting ambient pop. Pairing spacious arrangements with washed out vocals and a heavy heart, it can at first seem a little intangible but repeats foreground a fascinating emotional distance which becomes intoxicating when broken.
Yo La Tengo - Fade
Probably their most cohesive album in some time, the songs of Fade lock together seamlessly, shifting from one to the next like they could be played in no other context. Depending on what you like from this band will depend how you feel about Fade though, because this is my favourite kind of YLT; downbeat, melancholy, shrouded in the gentlest haze of solipsism. There’s no space here though for guitar freak out showmanship among the sound of a band in perfectly synchronised unity so if you’re after their noisy sprawling instincts this won’t satiate. I would say this sits nicely as a more refined companion piece to Summer Sun, one of their most criminally underrated records.
The wonderfully talented young Russian composer Dmitry Evgrafov (whose first EP I released through my now defunct netlabel) has released a great new album on Bandcamp this week. Pereehali was recorded during the summer of 2012 when Dmitry briefly re-located from his Moscow base to spend some time in the countryside, and this proximity to nature is evident in the gentle intimacy of these solo piano recordings. Much like the artwork, the movements of the soft unhurried motifs evoke the cycle of the seasons in their understated beauty, gently unfurling to create a sense of timelessness and a captivating collection of recordings. Highly recommended listen for fans of modern classical and solo piano.
Old Earth is the work of Milwaukee based drone-folk musician Todd Umhoefer, but the release is being handled a lot closer to home by the ever reliable Edinburgh label Mini50 Records. This traversing of large distance seems like an apt point of reference for the sounds here as well, as Umhoefer’s music takes its roots in punk, folk and drone to create something which seems heavily indebted to those traditions but at the same time is very forward looking and quite unlike any of them.
At just three tracks long, and clocking in at 23 minutes, you might be expecting something which holds more with the conventions of ambient noise but this is more of an atmospheric influence than a compositional one I think. Certainly he has previous when it comes to imbuing his overall process with a sense of something haunted, his last two major releases were record in vacant family homes. I can’t find much information on where this one was written or recorded but it too seems to have the spectre of a lost home hanging over it - a once warm place which has grown cold with absence.
The first track showcases the thick foggy but very rhythmic guitar style which permeates the record along with Umhoefer’s unexpectedly soft-edged vocals. In terms of comparison it seems to strike a balance between Barn Owl and Mount Eerie, but with a more post-punk influence running through as his gutar rattles over unnerving drones. The second half of this track is up there with Elverum’s most beautiful paeans to nature which often echo a similar feeling of loss despite their reverential tones.