Rounding the Fringes - May 10

Frequency Control Centre - Ventral Tegmental

Released: April 22

A new addition to the Audionautic label, Frequency Control Centre makes his debut on the label with two fresh tracks of chill ambiance with plenty of lo-fi and downbeat influences. The synth work is top-notch and driven by beats reminiscent of the early days of Boards of Canada with the proper amount of crunch. The title track "Ventral Tegmental" is punctuated with crisp drums and a smooth rolling bassline that keeps the wavy, airy synths supported as they play around in the upper atmosphere of the track. "Pattern Machine" follows up with a similar motif but even lighter synths. The entire experience is beautiful, serene, and wonderfully composed even it is shorter than I would have hoped.


William St. Hugh - Dominion

Released: April 22

Dominion serves as the debut for Massachusetts-based ambient artist William St. Hugh. The album is extremely ominous-sounding from beginning to end with deep and eerie synth pads punctuated by cinematic stings. The impression I get is that this is supposed to be a soundtrack for something that straddles the border between horror and psychological drama. For most of the runtime, the sounds are soft and almost imperceptible at times, all the way up until the final track, "The World Set Free." For this dramatic finale, the synths (or strings) are let loose into huge dramatic swells that almost overwhelm. This track is end credits material through and through, topping one of the most disturbingly subtle works I have heard in some time.


David Wallraf - Cutting Up Men

Released: April 18

Following in his established motifs, Hamburg-based ambient noise artist David Wallraf presents us with a collection of five peculiarly named tracks on Cutting Up Men. I have to admit that curiosity got the better of me and I began to look into the names. The lingering and slightly haunting "Rachel & Wendy (1972)" appears to be a reference to composer Wendy Carlos of Clockwork Orange fame while the title track "Cutting Up Men (1968)" is an apparent reference to Andy Warhol's book Society for Cutting Up Men. The sound of these two tracks diverges considerably with the latter employing a good deal of noisy and abrasive textures while the former is much softer and even touching at small, ephemeral moments. I am certainly curious to know the backstory of the other tracks here. Hopefully, we will learn more about this mysterious album.


Father Fister - Growing The Flock

Released: April 22

Comprised entirely of four separate tracks that bear the name of the EP, Growing the Flock is an experience of pure noisy brutality. The intensity varies only slightly throughout with each track being a punishing experience with next to no reprieve, save for a few fleeting moments of near silence that breaks the wall for just the tiniest of points. What's more, the entire album gives a strange and darkly cultish atmosphere overall with a particularly intense ending in "Growing the Flock IV" as I swear I can the loudest of pained screaming nearing the end of the track. It is a bit of a frightening experience as well that drives its point home with its very packaging, opting to set aside the traditional cassette case in favor of a single black latex glove... You should definitely feel uncomfortable.


Gods of Something - 最後の日と最後の夜

Released: April 22

Sitting somewhere in between vaporwave and ambient, Okinawa-based artist Gods of Something has created an album with an oddly amorphous quality to it. Some of the tracks incorporate steady but also a bit degraded and warped beats while others take us all the way into an atmospheric ambiance that is joined in with oddly placed vocal samples. The opening track "常に死ぬ" exemplifies the latter with deep and ethereal pads that are carried by a persistent pluck (maybe?) until nearly everything drops out and a voice solemnly tells us about a vague and terrible situation. But then the very next track "私の旅の終わり" takes into beat-driven happiness that seems to contradict its predecessor. It is this back-and-forth that occurs throughout the album that truly makes it a joy to listen to as it never keeps you in one place for too long.


Various Artists - Deep Cuts

Released: March 20

When this one came to my e-mail, it particularly piqued my interest as a compilation from a label/collective I had previously never heard of. ONNO Collective is based in Kolkata, India and consistently brings together some of the best ambient and experimental electronic artists from across the country. This compilation is no exception and while I highly recommend listening to the entire thing, there are a couple of tracks that really stood out to me. "Fifty four nine" by kaaareegar is one of these for its absolutely beautiful vocalized intro followed by a borderline incomprehensible beat. "Love Supreme" by Jagernot is another brain-bending kind of track that makes use of a heavily manipulated piece of melody that slowly becomes more layered and further manipulated. But it's not all weird tracks here, among all the esoteric there are some more closely relatable tracks such as K.O.K.O.'s vocoded RnB crooner "W4ITING4U" which strangely doesn't feel out of place. All in all, it's an incredibly diverse collection of talent from a community you probably aren't familiar with.

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