Rounding the Fringes - June 26

ivoryHAUS - Patience

Released: June 21

The latest single from ambient musician ivoryHAUS takes the listener to the middle of a quiet forest with a nearby brook that softly babbles in the background. Accompanying this serene field recording is the soft ebbing of a cello-like pad that provides a pillowy backdrop for the gentle piano that sits just atop the mix. This track is pure meditative joy wrapped in the warmth of a cool, yet still sunny day.

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NONE - Interdimensional War Poetry

Released: June 4

It has only been in the last decade or so that metal has been able to go acoustic and it still surprises and excites me when I hear it done well. The latest EP from NONE is a prime example of this. The album shows of a great deal of competency in not just bringing a genre so synonymous with distortion into the acoustic realm, but also integrating elements from other disparate genres such as folk and ambient in the process.

The EP is primarily defined by thrashing acoustic guitars and the growling vocals that sometimes border on a spoken word performance done by Nicholas Mendiola. These two elements provide the backbone along with a toned-down and more subdued drum set that gives those black metal drum riffs that the genre is known for. But even with this foundation, NONE knows how to provide a few surprises including a saxophone solo on the fifth track "Never Know." And while it may seem weird to have a saxophone in an acoustic black metal song, it actually works amazingly well. It definitely compliments the album's overall somber tone in an unpredictable way.

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MCMD - Invasion!

Released: March 21

For a track with such a title, Invasion! is a surprisingly downtempo track with a good deal of sonic weirdness. For most of the track, there is a strange background that resembles sounds the people in the 50s thought spaceships firing lasers would sound. The track gets shaken up a bit when we are given a sparse but fairly effective drum pattern that carries us on through. It definitely is an interesting track that sounds much like the point right before the action of an invasion begins.

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S Rever - Structural Adjustment

Released: June 13

This EP looks to be the second entry from New York-based experimental artist S Rever. Primarily composed of pure electronics with some field recordings thrown in for sweetener, this album is quite wide-ranging in the sounds it explores. This can range from long drones resembling the sound vehicles passing on a nearby highway on tracks like "Grey Apartment Building" to the upfront yet highly processed key-like sounds of tracks such as "Modern Communities."

Self-described as being music about the constructed environment around us, the atmosphere of each track seems to remain roughly the same despite any variance in sound or technique: not exactly dark, but also not a sense of peace or wonderment. It all feels quite artificial and slightly discomforting when examined more closely than a passing thought. And in this, it seems S Rever hit the mark perfectly in his explorations.

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Scarless Arms - Mellow Tea Time

Released: June 25

A sublime two-track single from ambient composer Scarless Arms that almost seems to be two separate tea times. The first track "the tea brightened up by honey" is a light and airy piece that is punctuated by the chirping of birds and a natural ambiance that conveys an early morning with a cup of tea, waking up as the world wakes with you. Conversely, the second track "mellow as her moody molten mind" conveys growing dusk with a darker color to the tones heard in the pads of this track. How convenient that we are giving two equally wonderful times to enjoy a hot cup of tea.

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Harm Signals/CutxOutxMyxTongue - Split

Released: June 18

This split EP released on Bent Window Records features two noise artists from opposite sides of the world: CutxOutxMyxTongue from Iowa and Harm Signals from Melbourne. The split is pulled off quite well as the tracks transition seamlessly at the point where the artists trade places as performers. The sound itself is extremely gritty, with less focus on creating a simple wall of harsh noise effect and more on providing lots of different textures throughout. On the second track, cleverly titled "Assholes," we're even given a short snippet of dialogue at the very end in which the title itself can be clearly heard. Though this is the only time we hear dialogue, it doesn't feel the least bit out of place and perfectly compliments the textural assault of the album as a whole.

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Life Patterns - Saturday Morning Fever

Released: June 11

A somewhat surprising change-up from an artist better known for more ambient textures, Saturday Morning Fever is a genuinely fun little EP. The whole thing just constantly reminds me of waking up early to watch cartoons and play video games while my parents desperately tried to sleep in on a Saturday. The first track, bearing the title of the EP, starts out fast and loud with big Nintendo game title screen vibes but a much calmer and almost vaporwave-esque feel takes over for the second track "A Word From Our Sponsors." By the time the third track rolls around, much of the energy has burnt away and is replaced by a gentle and almost wispy ambient mood. It's almost as if this EP plays out just like one of those many mornings.

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