Rounding the Fringes - April 7


Chorchill ft. Apel Okuyan - Modern Tavla

Released: April 1


Of all the board games I've played as a child and as an adult, Tavla (better known as Backgammon to western audiences) is one of the few I have never played. However, the Learning by Listening series seeks to remedy this. Now if only I understood Turkish...


At any rate, the mix of clear instruction in Turkish and the odd synthesized sounds produced by veteran electronic musician Chorchill. The layers in the musical backdrop may be a bit minimalistic, but the result is entrancing nonetheless. Small, discrete bits of percussion underlie odd yet warm and uplifting synth lines. There's nothing here that overwhelms or throws the listener off, however. It's all seems to serve the purpose of providing the perfect ambiance for the spoken text that defines the album, even taking its time to fade away into the realm of barely perceptible when Okuyan resumes his informative speaking. The timbre of his voice is rather captivating, despite not knowing what he is saying at all. It makes for quite the sonic experience, even if it left me feeling a bit like a confused tourist.

 

Steve Hadfield - Rhubarb and Custard

Released: April 1


After a bit of a musical hiatus, Leeds-based artist Steve Hadfield returns with a wild and frenzied release on Bricolage that serves as the follow-up to Bangers and Mash. Really, things are just all over the place in the best way possible and Hadfield enjoys playing with a slew of fluctuating tempos and rhythms throughout in a manner that will keep you guessing as to what is happening next.


Much of the aesthetic here feels very much like rapid-fire breakbeats running headlong into IDM sensibilities with tracks like "Ghost on Toast" and "Rhubarb and Custard" with shifting unstable rhythms sending accompanying synths with similar goals in mind off into wild directions that are both enjoyable and unpredictable. Then we hit this weird little time warp of a track called "Petit 4/4's" that momentarily brings things grinding down in tempo until the high intensity of the final track takes us back to the mad dash of rapid yet slewed tempos and grimy almost 8-bit-esque synths. It is truly a fun ride that has seemingly even more energy than its predecessor. I just wonder how that is actually possible.

 

Ghost Signs & Veins Full of Static - For The Reverend Jason Molina

Released: April 1


Far from being your run-of-the-mill drone album, For The Reverend Jason Molina has a particularly eerie quality to it that is hard to place. Rather than simply letting the listener soak in long drones that envelope you in a sea of sound, there is a staggering and discomforting quality present. Drones that seem to go on into infinity suddenly falter and break the expectation of serene peace you may expect. This motif becomes especially apparent in the first two tracks "No End to the Desert" and The Hidden Merica" as these pads suddenly cut out, seemingly from under our feet.


At the halfway point, the album seems to turn on this established theme and instead gives us the full ethereal feel of lush pads playing out long sustained chords in beautiful fullness. While the faltering is gone, the ghostly aesthetic remains as though we have crossed some invisible threshold that was previously restricting. Now we can see the broadness of the desert landscape we have been set in and can fully envelop ourselves in it without hesitation. It is quite the turn that brings this long-run EP to a fantastic conclusion.

 

Kirill Shirokov & Fesikl Mikensky - cyborgs, tenderly

Released: April 1


A dark and somber journey through a confusing space, cyborgs, tenderly teeters constantly on this border between musicality and slow-moving noise. Throughout the two long-form tracks comprising this release, there are moments of long sustained notes with the gentle sound of soft notes coming from a music box playing unrecognizable and buried melodies that lull you into a false sense of security. This sense is dashed all too suddenly as a large wash of noise overpowers you only to completely drop away seconds later. This even is then followed by minutes of the soft (or sometimes harsh) hum of electronics and bizarre recordings that are unplaceable. Perhaps they are footsteps? Doors creaking open? I'm not sure. I can't really tell where I am. However, I rather enjoy the sensation in this context.

 

Orca, Attack! - You Won’t Remember This

Released: April 1


The first time I heard work from Orca, Attack! was on the very first Learning by Listening tape from Strategic Tape Reserve. So I was quite excited to hear their latest work in contribution to the Cassingle series. I was not prepared for what I experienced. You Won't Remember This is a far cry from my first encounter with this musical duo and I found it genuinely intriguing to see this broad display of range. The title track is an instant attention grabber as it begins with indie-folk vibes that quickly take an electronic with soaring pads and tight percussion that blend in perfectly. The next track "World Map" takes us in an even stranger direction as warm electric bass lines mix it up with more airy percussion and springy synth lines. It feels like quite a switch but it actually seems rather on point in the context of their previous work as well.

 

Sinic - Covert Operations

Released: March 30


Despite only starting up earlier this year, noise label Misanthropic Vendetta has been churning out some excellent releases seemingly in rapid-fire succession and Covert Operations is a great example of what they have to offer. Comprised of four absolutely crushing tracks, this EP gives us a surprising range of sounds that vary from crispy yet subdued to an absolute onslaught of pain. "Clandestine Tactics" starts the album off slowly with a crispy high-pitched drone that drops in and out as harsher bits gradually turn up. Then "Guerilla Forces" comes in a brings a brutally insane wall of noise that make the previous track seem tame by comparison. It's a punishing and lasting experience that makes me glad this label is around.







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