Rounding the Fringes - May 24

Tropic of Coldness - Deriva

Released: May 7

The latest from the Brussels-based ambient duo, Deriva is a slow-burn album through and through that envisions the peace of finding a safe harbor after traveling through a turbulent and irrational world. Throughout the runtime, the duo oscillates between long, drawn-out textures and more succinct yet still dreamily played notes of guitar and piano. The opening track "Without This Light" leans quite heavily on the textural elements present in the album with cold echoes and a lightly distorted but heavily reverberated guitar carrying the listener through a strange and misty environment.

In fact, it is this "misty" sound that seems to define much of the album with these accentuated points spread throughout in the form of soft keys and guitar. This dynamic comes to full fruition with the third track "La deriva, poi il porto sicuro." As the hazy atmospherics abate near the end, we are left with a lone piano piece that rings out into the stillness created as it brings back into the sparse haze of the final track "The undecided fourth line.' It makes for a beautiful end to a rather mysterious album.


Dadlur - Voices From A Brutal Blizzard

Released: March 26

Combining ambient pads and drones with a tasteful but unrelenting amount of black metal influence, Norwegian band Dadlur leaves an impact with their newest album. Rather than just giving a full-fledged assault of noise and metal, they cleverly alternate the dynamic of each track, switching seamlessly between moments of heavy riffs and rapid-fire drums to moments of dark ambiance as the pads and drone play out on their own. Even with this, Voices From A Brutal Blizzard is a black metal album at heart.

The album doesn't shy away from using the aesthetics of noise either. For "Wind I" and "Wind II," extremely low-grade bits of windy sounding noise are employed to great effect alongside the mid-range heavy guitars and airier synths than heard in previous tracks. What I loved most about the album is that Dadlur feels no needs to add vocals to set the atmosphere they want. Just the searing riffs, heavy drums, and the recording aesthetic of the origins of black metal.


59 Perlen - Moods

Released: May 6

Working with Shady Ridge Records for a second time, German artist Matthias Rosenkranz brings us another album of chilled-out and house-influenced beats under his solo project name 59 Perlen. It's quite an interesting album, mainly for its quite minimal approach to instrumentation while also including a bit of audio sampling and presumably a few field recordings here and there as well. The most notable use of this audio sampling comes as early as the second track with "Apollo 13" utilizing audio recordings from the actual mission over a layer of deep house drums and smooth arpeggiations. This track even gets a remix treatment from Kh3rtis, giving us something even more spaced out but still retaining a bit of that energy from the original.

While much of the album seems to be firmly centered in the territory of deep house, Rosenkranz moves seamlessly through multiple genres, integrating a few genuinely wild sounds into these compositions. However, whatever bits of experimentation he does throughout, he always keeps it firmly in the realm of house with these solid and driving beats that are varied and interesting while providing a consistent experience over the course of nine tracks.


Sophie Sleigh-Johnson - Nuncio Ref!

Released: May 6

Eschewing any attempt at making the listener feel comfortable, Sophie Sleigh-Johnson takes us on a bizarre and sometimes jarring journey through found sounds and seemingly non-sequitur-styled pieces of monologue and dialogue. Nuncio Ref! incorporates seemingly whatever it has found lying around in terms of sound - feedback, screeching noises, the sound that comes from a microphone when you try to set it down on the ground... all of these sounds are secondary to the vocals through.

The vocals are difficult to understand. Not because of distortions of effect processing, though there is plenty of that. Rather, it's not clear what the subject matter is although it borders on disconcerting many times and is constantly interrupting itself as if it is one person having an odd and esoteric conversation with itself. Even when you do hear other voices, it's difficult to tell if it really is someone else or not. Each track plays out like a short little piece of the overall story with most of them being under two minutes. However, if you listen through continuously, you probably wouldn't be able to tell when one ends and the next begins. It is quite a cohesive piece, if not a slightly bewildering one.


Blood Overdose/New Grasping Machina - I Did This To You/It Can‘t End Like This

Released: May 13

This recent split from two noise artists released through Bent Window gives us two distinct styles wrapped in one package. First up is side A with the anonymous Blood Overdose giving us two tracks of pure wretched noise. The first one, "I Did This to You I," is a bit quieter and more subdued noise. But then the second bearing the same name turns up the intensity giving us the grating and warping sounds of heavily modulated feedback which set us up for something a bit different in the second half of the tape.

New Grasping Machina takes over for the second half giving us an initially subtle piece of sound with a voiceover popping in and out at seemingly random times with the intensity of the noise spiking intensely when the voiceover disappears. This dynamic is made all the more intriguing by the subject matter of the voiceover. Listening to two separate psychologists discussing anxiety and depression treatments as the noise intensifies underneath the discussion gives the track an exceptionally uncomfortable feeling that is weirdly hypnotic at the same time. It's quite a ride to take though.


Death Tape Super Bass - Boring

Released: April 15

With Boring, Milwaukee-based Death Tape Super Bass takes seemingly simple beats and throws distortion on them, and combines them with elements of noise and ridiculous amounts of equally distorted bass to make something that is borderline danceable but also weird enough that you just want to listen. Most of the tracks contain some form of rhythm but there are also a few interesting tracks that eschew any of this and just give us pure noisy weirdness, which is something I'm here for. The intro "Loudness War Casualties" starts us off with this and the final track "Fun Dip Grip" takes us out on a similar but shorter and noisier note.

The tracks are all quite different despite having the same kind of aesthetics, but one of my favorites here is definitely "Box-Spring-Electro" which seems to be a bit more minimal compared to some of the others. However, this minimalism serves it well with its intense and rapid-fire kick drum that persists throughout the track. The repetitiveness could be numbing but is saved from this by the weird breaks and the elements of accompanying noise. This track is followed up by "Thump Thump You're Dead" which has an odd characteristic that I can only describe as video-gamey. The whole album is full of these weird switch-ups and makes for an interesting listen.

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