Rounding the Fringes - July 29

Fantasma do Cerrado - Mapeamento de Terras a Noroeste de São Paulo de Piratinnga

Released: July 7

On Mapeamento, Brazilian experimental artist Fantasma do Cerrado combines experimental textures and noises together with a seemingly more traditional approach to the folk music of Brazilian culture (while I'm not entirely familiar, I believe it is referred to as musica sertaneja). Along with this unique combination, the album thematically focuses on various places throughout the countryside of Brazil. Not famous places, but rather those small and sleepy villages, ruins of old mansions, remnants of days gone by, and the strange wilderness found along the way.

The musical focus of the album is on the guitar and the vocals, both of which are drowned in a highly reverberated sense of space and an intriguing fuzziness as if they are trying to define themselves through the haze of old memories. But there are also numerous moments where these instruments give way to noises and oddities that seem to shift the course of the song altogether. On Estrada de Elisario (dia), this happens in the form of a rising noise that leads into a completely different section within the song filled with quickly picked guitar and hazy tape-like sampling. It's quite a relaxing yet invigorating ride.


Degradation - Leadlined

Released: July 15

A sordid little journey through a noisy reflection on history and status, Leadlined packs in a wide variety of tones and motifs over the course of eight tracks. Some of these tracks are intense and searing pieces of noise that sound as though something is being audibly tortured. "Rote Response" falls into this category with loud and prominent screeching and undertones of chant-like mumbles that are far too distorted and manipulated to be well understood. Then there are those more slow-moving tracks such as "Chinook" which starts off low and rumbling with the distorted sound of an approaching helicopter that eventually devolves into a burning wall of static that suddenly drops away from us. Capping off the album, however, is the nine-minute title track that seems to cleverly combine all these themes together in a slow burn that takes us through dark ambient textures, incomprehensible speech, and momentary bits of piercing electronic screeches. It packs in enough harsh atmosphere for the connoissuer of harshness while giving enough space for those not well-adapted yet.


Sunwarper - Glass Tourists

Released: July 15

If Sunwarper's last single saw him go in the direction of synthwave with a slightly pop appeal, this one seems to be going somewhere in the direction of lo-fi hip-hop and chillwave. First up, there is the spacey and chill title track that takes hazy synths and pads and backs them up with a relaxed rhythm that goes heavy on the delay. Then there was the track that kind of blew me away despite being relatively short in length, " Days in the Rays." For this track, Sunwarper is really putting that new drum machine to work with a chill hip-hop-inspired beat and a mellow guitar riff that quite honestly feels like a lazy day at the beach. Finally, we get two alternate versions of the title track, one a remix by Kh3rtis and the other a live performance. The Kh3rtis remix really stands out here as there are some subtle changes to the drums, giving the track a more upbeat feel without pushing the energy too far.


Stone Jaw/Midden - Split

Released: July 18

Deep dark drones and the smallest bits of extemporaneous sound define the first half of this split between two ambient artists from opposite coasts of North America. "To Hear the Voice of the Whispering God" is just over fifteen minutes of static-infused drones that incorporate all manner of sonic oddities into its strange landscape including clicking, rattling, and barely perceptible voice. The second half, by contrast, is like day versus night. The lightest and airiest pads float effortlessly on both tracks "Innenwelt" and "Umwelt," giving the sensation that the sun has just risen and we are in the midst of the much sought-after golden hour of the morning with all of nature glimmering in the fresh sun.

While the two halves of this tape seem so different, they are tied together quite well by the theme of nature. For all the droning static and the lightest of pads, there are also in the background those natural textures of flowing water, crickets, and soft winds. It is rather introspective and amazing in the way this theme is communicated so subtly.


Maximum Ernst - Elimination Prince in Grim Limbo

Released: July 18

Listening through, the thing that really stood out to me about Elimination Prince in Grim Limbo was just how rhythmically driven almost the entire album is. Now, to be clear, these are not what you would call accessible rhythms. These are harsh, gritty, and obscure rhyths that carry along a persistent feeling of numb angry energy. Even the opening track "The Reel Inn" starts this off with gusto as the distorted drums beat a warpath through the track. There are some exceptions on the album though, kind of. "Nothing Escapes the Tape" puts the focus on the bizarre vocal sampling while the percussion underneath seems to beat so hard and fast that it's barely perceptible as more than noise instead of a rhythm.

The whole album is just weirdly fun to me though. It's almost as if it's just constantly expelling noise at you while maintaining a weird sense of musicality that doesn't allow it to be pure noise. The strange pieces of melody and harmony that are sprinkled throughout keep this facade of more than noise going although they really seem to only function as extensions of the rhythms for the most part. If you can at least partially wrap your brain around what is going on in here, then you're definitely going to enjoy yourself.


LLWCHほこり - AURՈսկի

Released: July 19

The anonymous artist behind this album has a long-held belief that everything generally sounds much better when it is slowed down. So, taking the greatest hits of Carnedd Aur (who has released albums across many labels including Wormhole World, Superpolar Taips, and others) this idea was put to the test resulting in some of the lushest pieces of slushwave music I've heard in a while. How slowed are these tracks? I'm not quite sure, but most of them have a runtime right around fifteen minutes long. The best part is that the long-standing belief seems to be true after all since this is a rather fun album to get lost in. At the very least, it will definitely become a prominent piece of my study time playlist going forward.

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