Rounding the Fringes - April 2

Obsidian Shard - The Marble Admiral

Released: March 11

Histamine Tapes is well known for bringing us releases with an off-kilter feel and this latest anonymous album is no exception. As it begins, I got a very ambient vibe in the first several seconds that was ever so quickly dashed away with the first glitchy hit of percussive textural noise. Not an intensive noise, but it is just enough to make you fully aware that this is no ambient album. Each track is defined by an erratic quality that morphs and shifts these found sound rhythms into wonderful mishmashes of sonic goodness that maintains a surprising bit of cohesiveness despite the almost random nature of the sound.

The found sound and plunderphonic aesthetic of the album make for an interesting game of asking yourself why so many little bits and pieces seem familiar among the chaos. Pieces of sound vary widely in recording quality with some sounding as though they were recorded on 1960s reel-to-reel while others sound crisp and brand new. Regardless of quality, each sound is dragged through seemingly complex FX chains that mangle them beyond recognition. It's an aural journey that perfectly combines chaos with just the smallest pieces of calm.


Decommissioned Forests - Industry

Released: April 1

From the beginning of the project, Decommissioned Forests has put forward a sound that borders the realms of noise, electronica, rock, and spoken word. This peculiar blend of sounds shines through on their latest release with the vocals being put right out in front for every track and putting forth some of the most haunting prose I've heard. Lyrics that speak a certain kind of dread and despair can be heard throughout but especially stand out on certain tracks such as "Spectral Kleptomania," "Drop Brick," and "A Comforting Uncertainty." With lyrics speaking of punitive mantras and having the air stolen from you, vocalist Max Rael's words echo evocatively against a synthesized backdrop.

While Rael vocalizes, Howard Gardner and Daniel Vincent weave together dark analog synths and cold textures to set the tone of the lyrical content. While mostly darkly harmonic, they craftily include pieces of sparse percussion on tracks like "Dust and Other Pointless Ephemera." Thin snares and hats punctuate the industrial background conjuring up images of bleak cityscapes and abandoned factories. The cold atmospheres strike with the same subtle intensity as the words here, giving the album a sense of darkness that is somehow comforting despite its subject matter.


Haunted Ghost - Inside Magic

Released: March 25

Inside Magic represents a beautiful space in which introspective ambient music seamlessly combines with vaporwave aesthetic to create something otherworldly. The combination of natural field recordings and deeply melodic synths creates an atmosphere that is deeply reflective and soothing to the mind. Haunted Ghost provides a wide amount of variety throughout the album in each track with some leaning heavily into this blend while other steer closer towards the drone side of things without the album feeling like individual pieces and coming out as a wonderful cohesive whole.

Opening up with "Found Tapes," we are introduced with lustrous melodics that play out atop drawn out pads that strike a nearly ethereal while remaining grounded. As the album continues with "Luminous," these bright melodics fade away tempoarily and give us a purley atmospheric drone with a rich choir sound that harkens back to the era of the first Halo with that characteristic airiness in the voices. This motif is brought back later with "The Weight of Paradise" minus the choir and the addition of lush pads that surround the listener in a pillow of aural peace. We finally end on "Lost Footage," a track that feels much like a faint callback to "Found Tapes" with a slower and more languorous tone that is punctuated by a faint recorded voicemail that ends the album on a enigmatic note.


Gary Rees - Evanescent

Released: March 30

Listening through this latest album from Rees on Triplicate Records, there's really no other word I can use to decribe it than, well, fun. There's an incredible amount of variety in compostion throughout the album and it all seems to borrow from so many different source that it is difficult to take account. There are elements of jazz, downtempo, and even little touches of pop thrown in for good measure to create a head-turning experience that just forces to you pay attention.

Zoning in on more specific influences are track such as the title track, "Evanescent." It's a mezmerizing little piece that leans heavily on jazz influences with the drums and general rhythm but then brings something else into the mix with its lead melody that is difficult to place. "Free Fall" seems to follow a very similar motif with the rhythms and the keys playing out distinctinvely jazz inspired chords alongside a walking bassline. But then it brings in some unmistakebly downtempo inspired drums that take things in a new direction temporarily. On the other side of the coin, there are tracks such as "Palimpsest" that bring the tempo up and give us minor synthwave vibes that blend into an IDM-ish soundscape that keeps the rhythm steady and familiar, forgoing any glitchy weirdness in favor of concrete melodies and tight composition. The entire album is quite an experience guaranteed to have at least a couple of tracks that leave a lasting impression on everyone.


Various Artists - ‘Shade Rather Than Light’ Anthology Two

Released: March 11

Earlier last month, See Blue Audio released volume two of their anthology series chronicling the last two years of releases on the label. Most, if not all, of these fantastic albums and EPs have been featured right here on the blog as we follow the work of many of See Blue's artists rather closely. Of course, some contributions of the best known names such as Steve Hadfield, Simon McCorry, Fragile X, f5point6, and Rhombus Index make an appearance here. But there are also some new names showing up such as Violet Mist, Isolated Community, as well as Sulk Rooms which is a new project from Thomas Ragdale. Despite the contributions coming from vastly different releases, the tracks blend together amazing well and are practically seamless. Even better, at the end we are treated to a full mix of the album created by Fragile X that really shows off his skills as a DJ and the general cohesiveness of the past two years of See Blue Audio's musical output.

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