Rounding the Fringes - June 30

Chelo Agustín - Uncanny Light

Released: June 1

Uncanny Light is something of a concept album that takes heavy inspiration from the subject of space, although it avoids taking the science-fiction angle that other albums take in regard to the subject. Rather, it occupies itself with contemplation and distant observation, looking up at the night sky and losing oneself in the sight. It explores this through a series of tracks that utilize various elements while all being tied together through common themes of isolation and individual triviality.

Opening up with the purely ambient "Diode," we are thrust into a scene that forces contemplation of our lack of true significance with small and spaced-out piano lines barely supported by thin pads and sub-basses. Even in the more filled-out arrangements of "Dark Light" and "Cisnes," this minimal feeling is continued via expert use of the stereo space to create a perception of vastness in the face of human limitation. At the end of the album (a seemingly hidden bonus track), we are given a stripped-down version of "Dark Light" that fully cements the end with the same spacious piano lines that opened the album in the first place, bringing the contemplative nature of the album full circle.


Sugaar Pan - Lotus

Released: May 5

Stepping into the territory of folk music, Sugaar Pan has created a new EP that integrates an intense variety of different instruments into long flowing compositions that seem to permeate through cultures and styles. "Calvario" is one of my personal favorite examples of this cultural crossing with a vocal style seemingly inspired by a blend of east and west influences, at times sounds as though it comes directly from the Persian regions. "Wake of the Lotus" continues this theme as it seamlessly comes in from the previous track, almost as if it is the same track. Then, it adds in some djembe and other percussive elements to lead us to believe that we have been completely transported to a whole new area. This is the overarching theme of the album, though. It seems to travel us across vast geographic spaces to introduce us to the traditional sounds of these places as if we are traveling with them on this journey.


Kh3rtis & Cpektir - Psychonautic Vol. II

Released: June 10

The second collaborative effort between Kh3rtis and Cpektir largely builds off of what Volume 1 previously established. The characteristic styles of both artists can be clearly heard throughout the album, specifically Cpektir's penchant for wide, sweeping atmospherics and Kh3rtis' proclivity for psychedelic spoken word vocal sampling. The first three tracks give us somewhat more succinct soundscapes with "Disintegration" opening up with the distorted spoken word and quickly ramping up into a downtempo banger with tightly knit percussion and synth lines while "Psymon" gives us a looser feel comprising sparse percussive textures and tons of reverbed space in between. The last track, "Watts," gives us a long-form aural journey that is heavily informed by droning ambient textures (presumably the work of Cpektir) and ends with a meditative exercise narrated to us in a calming fashion. All in all, it is a compilation that lives up to and exceeds its predecessor.


In Gloom Hours We Move - Aware 哀れむ

Released: May 28

Anyone who has been out in the natural world at any point in time can attest to becoming seemingly overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds them at times. It is this very concept that Aware 哀れむ attempts to encapsulate for the listener. While synths are present throughout, much of this theme is communicated through the use of profound field recordings, although this is not the case for all tracks here.

One of my favorite examples of the sublime use of field recordings on this album can be heard in "Bird and Thunder." The track starts off slowly with a simple, singular synth playing out pads that straddle a line between peaceful and ominous. As the synth plays, the ambient sounds of an approaching storm are heard in the background in a moment of beauty and foreboding. But IGHWM doesn't solely rely on these recordings throughout to convey these sentiments. "Goodbye, My Brother" almost completely disposes of the field recordings for its two-and-a-half-minute runtime while conveying the same strange sense of beautiful foreboding. It is this tension between the two that seems to permeate and define the entire album.


Death Tape Super Bass - Organ Grinder

Released: May 27

Following up from Boring, Milwuakee- based Death Tape Super Bass brings us another album filled with madcap energetic rhythmic noise produced through the use of feedback, circuit bending, drum machines, and modular synths all of which have been given a healthy dose of bit crushing and distortion. Most of what we are given is rhythmically focused, though DTSB takes the opportunity to give us a bit of pure noisy fun in "Hollandaise in the Sun"(and "Big Man, Small Head" to some extent) and completely abandons any sense of rhythm in exchange for scathing distorted noise. Something that also features a bit more prominently is the use of vocal sampling especially on "Welcome" which features a prominent vocal segment throughout and a fun little breakdown with a longer loop. What they are trying to tell us though isn't quite so clear, but it gives the hectic atmospheres on the album that nice little something extra.



Released: June 6

Part of a continuing series, 0RT0 (V-VI) is an exploration of uneasy textures and movements over the course of two tracks. Each track has a strange progression to it, usually beginning with just a bit of odd sounds and building up into more menacing themes. "Suite V' begins innocuously enough with some bits of delayed pinging sounds and slowly grows into abrasive noise that overwhelms then fades, only to return again. "Suite VI" takes a bit of a different approach in its progression, preferring to slowly devolve into deep and dark spacial anomalies that conjure up images of long-abandoned places being traversed in pitch black. These themes are portrayed to the listener in an almost storylike format with the rising and falling action of an unnerving tale. It makes for a rather cerebral and uncomfortable experience.

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