Daphne X - Transactions in Time
Released: May 20
Utilizing a combination of strange and rather minimalistic sounds, Daphne X's recent release through Czaszka is an engaging assortment of five tracks that create mild and sedative atmospheres. Each track is almost like its own meditative chant with a specific repetition to it, all of which are seemingly rather complex in nature. Even on the most intense of all the tracks here, "Mirror Light," the sounds are slightly more abrasive but still maintain an air of introspection that permeates the entire album.
The use of repetition with variations makes each track its own special little trip. In some cases, the variation is so subtle that it almost passes the listener by. Such is the case in "Immortality for All Birds" where the gentle crescendos and decrescendos create an ebb and flow while the sparse bits of percussive textures coordinate with the pulsating rhythm played out by the synths. But then there is the wild variation of the title track "Transactions in Time" which begins with beautiful droning rhythms that remain consistent until nearly the end. In the end, the sounds have morphed to such intensity but still call back to the original sound. Transactions in Time is otherworldly in something akin to a spiritual manner, creating patterns that function as electronic mantras for the mind.
Christian Schwöbel - Dystopian Pulse
Released: May 27
Much like the name of the album suggests, Berlin-based electronic artist Christian Schwöbel's latest release masterfully creates a sense of an impending, well, dystopia. Schwöbel combines elements of dark ambient and harsh noise in a dynamic and evolving manner with neither taking over the tone of the album completely. The evolution of each track on this short EP is particularly interesting as some tracks seem to start from the same place while others attempt to flip the dynamic.
"Hubris" begins as a rather soft yet menacing sound with deeply reverberated pads. But, by the middle, morphs into a pounding rhythm of bursts of crunchy noise that eventually envelop the entire track in a seeming noise that slowly fades into obscurity. "Dirt" flips this on its head, opening up with a bit of guitar feedback that soon fades to give rise to dark pads and a clean plucked guitar playing out a sad melody, like the world itself is dying and giving out its final wail. Dystopian Pulse is the soundtrack for the pre-apocalypse.
Harm Signals/Envelope Muse - Terror Forms
Released: May 27
This recent split between Harm Signals and Envelope Muse presents an interesting duality. Namely because while the two's music has some tangential relation, Envelope Muse has always created things much closer to the realm of dark ambient while Harm Signals has always had a louder and far more aggressive sound to his creations. And while this album plays out rather close to this reality, something interesting happens and it sounds as though each other's influence has rubbed off on one another.
Harm Signals takes some time in the begging to give some, not softer, but more subtle tracks before hitting us with this intensity of a thousand angry suns in "A Blight on All Mankind." Equally, after the slow burn of "Death Specification" and "Deviation Distinction," Envelope MUse comes forward with something seemingly harsher and more scathing than we're used to from him. But this turn of events only seems to give us a split that is more cohesive than one may expect but with all the brutality that could be predicted.
Marie Wilhelmine Anders - Echoes
Released: May 27
Despite the short runtime of this EP, Anders does not fail to deliver a beat-focused experience that treads the line between atmospheric ambiance with subtle melodies and a variety of rhythmically-oriented styles spanning from trip-hop to drum-and-bass. "Through the Broken Edge of Tiles" takes us in gently with soft pads and a complex but calming beat that plays well into the territory of the cinematic, reminiscent at times of the late 2000s. "Winter" continues along this path with a more broken beat approach and a heavier focus on the swells of the pads and clever use of panning on the melody. "A Tide of Song" finishes our short journey with a full embrace of atmospheric drum-and-bass sensibilities. A sweeping, if not brief, sonic experience that pays homage to the recent past of electronic music.
Sullivan Johns - Assembled Parts
Released: May 30
Distilled to its most basic form, Assembled Parts is practically a master course in minimalism. Slow and beautiful droning tones appear throughout each individual part with a single tone carrying much of each track. But, not content to simply let this be it, Sullivan Johns takes small pieces of other sounds and cleverly stages them in the background, in a place where they are unable to take center stage, yet have the power to change and define the track itself.
The most prominent and masterful use of this technique comes in "Part 2" as a higher-pitched tone plays in a back and forth manner, the sounds of children playing and happily screaming can be heard in the background, also panning surreptitiously right and left. This uncanny addition seems to change the entire feeling of the track as the tone strikes an uneasy tone but the happy vocalization of children playing outside seems to contrast sharply. While no other addition provides such a stark contrast throughout the album, the littlest pieces added continue to enhance and alter the experience in unmistakable ways.
Numinor, My Brother - Scorpius
Released: May 30
Defining his sound as ambient post-rock, Andrew Trent of Austin-based Numinor, My Brother walks the thin line between the two genres quite well on Scorpius. While guitars are present throughout, there are multiple times in which one might be forgiven for believing that they are simply listening to a purely ambient album. Most notably, "Solar Sails on the Event Horizon" appears to have little to no guitar opting instead to go full-on space-age synth ambient with drifting pad textures and a solitary key-like synth playing out a lonely melody. Furthermore, on tracks where the guitars take a more prominent role, Trent also displays his affinity for slightly funk-inspired bass as can be heard on Como las Estrellas de Escorpio. Though the inspiration is only modest, it definitely leans towards pushing the bounds of what post-rock is, but is rather welcome.