Centrul Isteric - PASS/PORT
Released: October 27
Being a side project of Gili Mocanu (a.k.a. Somnoroase Păsărele), you can hear a few similarities between this EP and his other work under the name Somnoroase. The big difference here is that PASS/PORT seems to contain a much more erratic, yet still rhythmic, nature than his previous SP release COSMS. Where that album had a more meditative quality, PASS/PORT aims to shake the listener out of anything resembling meditation and into a soundscape of complex layers of loops that only grow in complexity as each track move along. Very notable here is the use of vocal snippets cut from old television shows and movies and the odd way in which they are used. In the first track "Death I Pass," the vocal snippets begin around the middle of the track and start shortly as if they are stuck on a loop. Eventually, these loops move forward, only to get periodically stuck in a loop of the next segment. It is truly an odd effect as you hear impassioned rantings that repeat, giving a somewhat jarring quality to the composition.
Isolated Community- Cold Sleet on Old Slate
Released: December 17
An interesting aspect of this album is the manner in which it really reflects the surroundings of its creators. Taking inspiration from the bleary coasts of Northern England, each track sets a stage of grey ambiance, not a colorless world but a quite muted one. The opening track "Rumbling Kern" is a fantastic introduction into this world as a slightly manipulated field recording of the cold and blustery winds of the countryside seem to define the track as dark synths join in, creating a harsh yet mysteriously inviting soundscape. This sense of mystery continues to define the album from this point on, especially in the airy and eerie keys of "In and Down" and surprisingly lighter pads of the title track "Cold Sleet on only Slate." Both tracks change the tone only slightly as the former opens with dark synthetic rumblings that slowly take a backseat to the minimal and somewhat discordant chords of a seemingly aged piano. The latter, however, takes a lighter approach with thick pads and heavy strings that create an even greater sense of mystery in this not quite bleak landscape.
Szlazak - Aethertalk
Released: October 27
Lying somewhere between the realms of experimental ambient and dub techno, Szlazak's later album is a journey into minimalistic soundscapes and softly squashed drums. Opening up with "Siren," we are given a firm introduction to the motifs of the album with airy pads and tinkling synths droning alongside the complex rhythms of the minimal percussion that centers around its compressed and saturated kicks. If there was one thing that I would consider to be the defining feature of this album, it is Szlazak's (a.k.a. Nick Edwards) unique rhythms played out in these dub-inspired drumkits that focus heavily on the deep kicks and heavily reverbed percussion. "Outersphere" leans even heavier into this theme with an added complexity to the rhythm that sees it morph and shift in odd ways throughout the runtime. However, the title track "Aethertalk" subverts this just a bit to close out the album by taking focus away from the drums for a moment to give those ear-candy like synths more room to breathe. The drums are still there, but they have been muted for this track, relegated to a supporting role in the soundscape rather than the central focus. It makes for quite the closer.
THE IDE OF EARTH - Lungs in Coal Minor
Released: December 15
In what is probably the longest release from Bent Window Records, THE IDE OF EARTH takes the listener on a long and brutal journey through fourteen tracks of surprisingly varied harsh noise drone tracks. Despite being virtually tempo-less, many of the tracks contained within have a slow and grinding quality to them. Most notably tracks such as "Vile Fingers," "Grieved Soil," and "Corporate Isthmus" have this slow grind feel to them while also being some of the more muted sounding tracks of the album. This isn't to say that they are not harsh, just that they seem less harsh than some of the other tracks such as "Headset Demon" and "Naked Alarm" which both sit in the higher-pitched and nearly headache-inducing range. Even the opening track for this album "Intensely Idle pt. 2" is a full-out aural assault of an introduction. This makes the dynamic of the entire album that much better though as it takes the listener through moments that are more and less extreme, giving something of a roller-coaster effect. It's like you're almost given a break periodically until you realize you're still in the heart of it all.
Territorial Gobbing & Diurnal Burdens - Disappearerest
Released: December 15
While I am not sure who one half of this duo is, Diurnal Burdens is none other than the head of the Steep Gloss tape label. He spoke about some of his work under this pseudonym and I was thrilled to finally have heard his work. You can read our written interview with him in which he tells us a bit about it here. The album itself is very much reminiscent of what can be heard from Steep Gloss regularly. Both artists bring their own unique flavor to a melange of found sounds, beeps, tape loops, and clever uses of feedback. While it may sound like the soundscapes could get cluttered and busy, at no point does it ever feel overwhelming. Rather, each track is sparse and atmospheric, ever tottering between moments of silence and soft sounds. Even the sources of sound bring a rich variation to the album, even featuring the use of cutlery scraped and clacked together on "formica table hole." All these strange elements make for a fascinating collage that is present throughout the runtime of the album.