Rounding the Fringes - July 10


Sermons by the Devil - Dope Fiend

Released: June 19


What I always enjoyed about Sermons for the Devil's albums is the generally chilled-out nature of his work. He almost always manages to create something that straddles a line between something to have a relaxing smoke to and something that is a bit otherworldly and slightly creepy. This latest release is no exception and even leans a bit further in the latter direction. For a good bit of the tracks, he integrates some odd downtempo rhythms with his regular wavering freeform synth line while in other songs he does away with rhythms altogether and has those synths carry the entire track. "Buddha is my Co-Pilot" is probably my favorite example of his slight directional turn with its freeform synths coming out over a beat that seems to borrow from downtempo and hip-hop in almost equal amounts. Light one up and enjoy the ride for a bit.

 

Odious Wretch - Split w/ Ixian

Released: June 17


The ongoing side project of the same mind behind VEIDRIK, Odious Wretch takes noisy textures and mind-bending sonics to a slightly more quiet place compared to the former. In this split with fellow noise musician Ixian, this theme is continued in the form of twisted and indecipherable vocal segments that intersperse with smoldering pieces of noise until the climax of his contribution "Vestiges of a Life Unlived." From here, Ixian takes over with another 15 minutes of smoldering noise that dispenses with the vocals and instead gives us something that is akin to a weird, twisted, pulsating mass complete with oscillating bits of high-end noise resembling a digitized scream. It s a rough rise, but one that is well worth it.

 

The Liquid Clear - Proportion

Released: June 17


Listening through Proportion for the first time, I was a bit thrown off and also incredibly impressed with the variety of sounds and moods that are present throughout the whole album. It's definitely one of those works that you can't get a firm grasp on from just the first couple of tracks. The first two tracks are rhythmic, chill, and may well even seem a bit happy with "Named" being a guitar and synth-driven little number. But it's on the third track "Minder" that you begin to see that there's a bit more going on here as it starts out with a single lonely-sounding synth that is then joined by some oddly warped vocals. Hmm...


"Kall" and "Pattern" are two more of these oddity little tracks that sandwich the slow but rhythmic "Worth." But really, it seems as though "Pattern" serves as the final turning point in the album where things go in a darker direction. Then we get "Icka" a bit later with goes heavy into the direction of industrial with a crunchy and distortion beat and some snarling vocals on top. Then, at the very end of the album, Liquid Clear takes us out with a thirty-minute-long piece of dark ambient that slowly morphs into something even darker, more sinister, and noisier at the very end. It may sound like this album is a bit all over the place but in the context of its progression, it makes perfect sense.

 

Toàn - Phonolite

Released: June 14


If I were to describe Phonolite in a single word, it would be delicate. There's just something about the compositions and the sonic balance at play on this album as if it is the sum of many different softly spoken whispers that merge together to create something never goes above a whisper itself. Toàn utilizes such a vast array of sounds and instruments that it is difficult to place all of them but it seems one of the most prominent throughout is the gently played piano that finds its way into almost every track. Even beautiful vocalizations find their way into places such as on "Calcedoine" when they come in between the piano and pads for a few brief and beautiful seconds.


Though it is easy to point out the most obvious bits of instrumentation, the thing that really makes this album seem to be the little pieces of sound that you barely notice on the first listen. Coming from a jazz background, Toàn looks to be quite familiar with giving his sounds plenty of room to breathe. But rather than just resting, he fills these empty spaces with the smallest of sounds. Maybe this is a light click or thump, or perhaps a bit of gentle wind-like ambiance, or perhaps just even the sound of the room itself slightly amplified. It takes those pieces of silence and turns them into something even more profound.

 

Euthagnosis - Hidden Behind Revelation

Released: June 9


A short but quite unnerving little bit of doom metal-inspired noise, Hidden Behind Revelation feels like the soundtrack to a dark ritual. Primarily synthesizer and drone-driven, Euthagnosis incorporates vocals in a distressing way with a bizarre combination of chants and sullen wailing. The best example can be heard on the final track "To Share Our Obliterating Light." Multiple voices are present here with several joining in on a singular and indiscernible chant while another simply wails in a wretched tone. Even as I listen to quite a bit of noise, this track made me feel particularly uncomfortable as the weird tone of the wailing voice struck me in a way I couldn't shake. For a little less than nine minutes of music, this little EP goes a long way in creep factor.

 

Mathoms - The Woe Trumpets

Released: July 1


The Woe Trumpets is something a bit paradoxical in terms of its subject matter. In essence, it is a critical look at the cinematic phenomena of disaster movies with their loud and overbearing nature. But it does this by amplifying and focusing on the quieter moments of these films. So what we get is something subdued yet foreboding, as if all of the calmness or quiet it espouses is overshadowed by the chaos that comes either before or after. With some of the tracks, this suspense is the entire focus such as the cinematic sweeps and stings of tension in "Fixed Future" in which the name itself seems to be a direct reference to unavoidable disaster.


All of this album centers around the before and after of catastrophe, never the moment itself. Listening through the first time, it just kept calling to mind that famous quote from Alfred Hitchcock - "There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of the bang." While there are stark differences between the genres of horror and disaster, it seems they do share this element here. For every seemingly serene moment on this album such as "Cycle of Unwinding" and "Artificial Sun," there is that underlying notion of anticipation of impending catastrophe that presents itself further in the other tracks such as "Solastalgia" and "Exit Mundi."


Additionally, The Woe Trumpets is also an audiovisual album comprised of found footage compiled by Josh Hite. This film has already been screened in a small theater in Manchester and with any luck, we will be able to watch it online at some point in the future.


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