Diana Rhodes - field communications
Released: June 17
Occupying a comfortable space between lo-fi and vaporwave, field communications gives off that perfect feeling of late-night channel surfing at a time when only the most skilled of insomniacs were still awake. Most of the album features laid-back grooves and prominent backbeats but doesn't shy away from venturing outside of the comfort of slow to mid-tempos as can be heard in the vaguely early 90s dance-influenced "skate club" with its rather appropriate dash of funk sensibilities. Even with this track being something of an outlier, it still fits in quite lovely with the rest with the heavy haze that seems to hang over the whole album. Every track sounds like it's just this side of audible through the seeming static that adds just the right amount of fuzziness to take me back. Quite lovely, indeed.
far away nebraska - Calma Fragile
Released: May 11
Calma Fragile is nothing short of serenity put into an audible format. While much of the album is comprised of soft pads, far away nebraska also shows a certain affinity for odd and somewhat broken melodies. "Bliss" begins with soft yet full pads that are later joined by what sounds like wind chimes being struck with surprising regularity (until the end in which things become increasingly broken) as the pads surrounding them morph and mutate in a way that brings a new level of emotiveness. The track which follows bears the name of the album itself and is a beautiful example of far away nebraska using only the serene and smooth pads to convey a message, temporarily discarding the extra ear candy that is the fragmented melodies.
Audio Obscura - Tomorrow Will Offer Fresh Narratives
Released: June 24
In modern underground electronic music, the theme of hauntology has been a rather persistent influence. However ingrained it may be, Neil Stringfellow (as Audio Obscura) uses Tomorrow Will Offer Fresh Narratives as an opportunity to critique this artistic motif in an intriguing effort of anti-hauntology. What has resulted from this effort is an intricate blend of aural oddities that defy genre labels while seemingly borrowing effortlessly from many.
A recurring theme of this album seems to be its ability to run through a gamut of different emotions and sentiments, often even within the bounds of a single track. From the opening track, "I Still Believe in the Music of the Future," this theme begins. The track opens up with a recording of a child's voice saying the title and is quickly followed by an almost bell-like melody that induced a sense of wonder until it is overtaken by a heavy percussive rhythm that suddenly casts a shadow over the whole track. Similarly, "The Blank State" moves similarly yet omits any sense of real darkness but instead just comes across as pure strangeness with a sense of curiosity behind it. The album has many other instances of this and never fails to intrigue throughout its entire runtime.
poison dart frog - Pumiliotoxin No. 1
Released: June 10
Pumiliotoxin No. 1 is the full-length debut from Lousiana-based artist poison dart frog and it makes for a rather unique blend of vaporwave with elements of trap music and plunderphonic style sampling. The influence of trap music isn't so pervasive as to overpower the grounding influence of vaporwave, but it makes itself known in a few of the tracks here with "Why am I poisoned?" and "Poison Mists" being two standouts that include big booming 808 basses and accompanying percussion elements. Conversely, other tracks integrate the trap influences seamlessly and drown them in the delay and reverb you would expect while giving it just that little bit of uniqueness to stand out.
Bagaski - Praeludium
Released: June 17
Praeludium is the third album in a trilogy by Bagaski. However, this doesn't really mean that it's a conclusion. Rather, it feels as though the series has looped over itself and taken us right back to the beginning, which makes sense considering the title of the album is just an archaic version of the word prelude. This theme reflects heavily in the music contained with many of the tracks feeling much more stripped down than its predecessors in the trilogy.
Opening up with "Juxtapose," we are introduced to the album with a simple swirling synth playing out something akin to a melody as filters sweep up and down. "Acider II" follows suit by way of a thin pad playing out a haunting harmony as another synth plays out a line notably acid-bass inspired. And this is essentially what Bagaski takes us through for the album - pieces of the sounds that become the next in the series, representing an evolutionary tale played out of order. Of course, some of the arrangements become more complex and tense such as the cinematic percussion-driven "Treptow" and the deep bassy rhythms of "Sunbath." But for the most part, Bagaski is showing us the simplicity of sound in the sparse arrangements that represent the eventual shift into the next phase with Final and Dash.
POLIVOKS - Vol. 4
Released: June 10
Though the album's name is Vol. 4, don't expect to find one through three anywhere. Instead, just enjoy the quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) seething that is this album in its entirety. Elements of dark ambient, industrial, noise, and creepy vocal sampling all combine to create something that is entrancing yet unnerving. Rhythms are almost entirely absent here, save for the few fleeting moments of dark percussive textures on "Satanic Cyanide" and the vocal sampling varies but maintains a creepy low fidelity quality to it. The most extensive bit of vocal usage comes on "Discovering Electronic Music" which plays out like a twisted tutorial. But tracks "Ghost Tape #10" and "Not Human" use the vocals to a much more sinister effect, being completely indecipherable and tortured sounding. It all makes for quite a disconcerting experience