Rounding the Fringes - May 1

Cryotasium - Simulacra

Released: April 7

Listening to this latest release on Fish Prints, I almost immediately got a flood of memories of playing old-school RPGs during the era of the original Playstation. The pads just have this quality to them that put me in the crawling through dungeons and weird landscapes awaiting the next battle. Maybe it's the deep late 90's to early 00's feeling the pads have throughout as well as the strange swirling sound effects that pop up from time to time. The first track sets this up but once the second track "My Travels Through Lost Sanctuary" started, it really set in with the string-driven pads and the slightly ominous choir that joins in.

The EP is rather short at just four tracks, but the same theme persists throughout with each track giving us a view of different landscapes to travel through. The third track, "The Plaintive Plains" is probably the most calming of all as it starts out softly with a steady piano chord progression that slowly builds up to a full arrangement with pads and organs that cast an ever so slightly sinister vibe. Now that I've listened to it several times, I feel like I may need to fire up my emulator to continue scratching this itch I now have.


Night Sky Pulse - Superlunar Lounge

Released: April 15

Through typically staying well within the realm of ambient and beatless sounds, See Blue Audio does not shy away from doing some different things and this latest release is an exemplification of that. John Sellekaers (a.k.a. Night Sky Pulse) brings us something with erratically energetic beats and a penchant for combining those beats with perfectly ambient pads and odd melodics. "Zelda Zonk" starts us out with a glitchy beat and errant pieces of synth work that focus on intensifying the semi-randomness of the beat rather than overpowering it. The next track "Heat" takes a notably more jazz-inspired inspired approach with smooth melodics and a live-sounding set of percussive that still keeps that glitchy feel.

As the album continues, Sellekaers keeps alternating between these two motifs while occasionally throwing in some more unexpected influences such as on "Overgrowth" which takes on a definitive trip-hop feel with heavier percussion and darkly-tinged pads. The variety makes for quite an interesting listen that bounces around through a wide array of electronic sounds. I particularly enjoyed the insertion of jazz influences found throughout as it seemed to add just the right amount of character.


Coagulant - Sublimation Overtones and Abstract Environments

Released: April 15

This newest release is a supremely atmospheric work comprised of layers upon layers of field recordings soaked in reverberated feedback. The album takes us through deeply ambient territory through three long-form tracks that vary in intensity and tone. The first up is "Noise Transient Light I" which takes the concept of heavy layering to a new level. It's almost impossible to tell where we are as the ambiance is reflective of an industrial district in a megacity but is given this ultimately surreal quality that makes it difficult to get a grip on the surroundings. "Ultrasonic Chronoscope" gives us reprieve from this intensity as it provides much smaller, sometimes almost imperceptible sounds until "Confluence Without Patterns" takes us back into the world of deep layers and feedback.

Listened to in its entirety, Sublimation Overtones and Abstract Environments is strangely hypnotic. The depth of the layers creates something akin to a wall of noise but one that is soothing while still being a bit uncomfortable. The absence of any pieces to hold on to forces you t to simply be pushed through the landscape, slowly observing all around you even though there is little familiarity to latch onto. It is the perfect experience for a pair of good headphones in a dark room.


Salvatore Mercatante - SM Synthesis

Released: April 15

The last time I listened to an album from Salvatore Mercatante, it was his collection of sonic experiments released on the Noci Miste label titled POST. When I listened to this new one though, things were undeniably different. While that playful penchant for experimentation is still there, this album sees Salvatore's work wrapped up in a much more slick format with pulsing beats and a bit more inclination towards dance sensibilities without being out of character. Even with this newer direction, Mercatante manages to slip in those weird bits in the form of interludes such as "slw3" which is cleverly sandwiched between the steady beats of "Diety of One" and the solid-thumping electronic rhythm of "huck."

Then again, there are even those moments in which he takes a full-length track to completely through these beats out the window such as on the difficult beats of "Ca Tine," a track that feels as though it wants to be another "huck" but fights itself every step of the way. Overall, it's an interesting switch in direction for Mercatante and one that works quite well, showing off his range in compositional ability.


Lleanto Boy - What’s Left of Me

Released: April 15

Despite being short, this latest EP from Uruguay-based Lleanto Boy manages to be extremely eclectic in its composition with influences seemingly pulled from all corners of the electronic world. Starting out with the title track, we get some quiet glitchy drums and deep atmospheres that slowly cook up over the course of the track. Then, in an almost disorienting turn, "Kompetion" kicks off with a loud and somewhat boisterous IDM beat that reminds me very much of the Kid606 style of weird dance music. "Does That Inspire You"closes out the album with something that feels almost hip-hop inspired with these weird bits of heavily manipulated vocal sampling happening around the beat. It's quite interesting to see how much Lleanto Boy is able to jump around in genres on one EP with much of it working together quite well. While there are those variations, there's never anything that really makes your head snap around or feels out of place.


Korb - Ultraterrestrial/The Softest Machine

Released: April 20

This two-track single released through Woodford Halse is quite the combination of tracks. Up first is "Ultraterrestrial" which felt very much like a callback to an earlier time in electronic music when names like The Crystal Method were the standard-bearers. Maybe it's that busy rhythm that verges on the edge of breakbeat territory but I love the early 00's action thriller movie vibes I get listening to it. So much so that I had to play it back more than a couple of times. Then, with "The Softest Machine," the energy gets taken down a few notches with a sparse but still there beat played out on a single piece of percussion and some of the most chilled electronics I've heard along with a guitar thrown in just for good measure. A fun little romp overall, I just wish there was a bit more of it.

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