Updated: Sep 4, 2021
Fading Tapes - Golden Papaya
Released: August 5
One of the most recent releases from the Dub Cthonic label based in the UK, this EP is awash in subtle reverbed textures and pads with meandering guitar parts soaked in heavy delay. This motif is further enhanced by the addition of percussion that less often keeps a rhythm of any sort and instead opts to add to the ambiance with jazz-influenced randomness. This jazz feel can be heard prominently on "Under the Red Turtle" whereas the more random nature can be heard on the very next "Beans at Dawn."
Despite being short, I felt this EP slightly under-stayed its welcome. The first track that bears the name the EP gives us a long, wandering soundscape that becomes washed under the wave of reverb that begins around the ten-minute mark but slowly recedes to bring us back to the sound we were introduced to in the beginning. However, the next two tracks clock in at roughly half the length of the first. The only real fault I can find with what is here is that I just wish there had been a bit more to hear.
Leifendeth - Asbestos
Released: July 30
Dan has been creating music under the moniker of Leifendeth for over a decade now and has firmly established his sound in a definitive and even forceful way. So it is no surprise that he has a wonderful back catalog of music that is ripe for remixes, reworks, and re-edits. For this recent release, this is what he has given us coming complete with appearances from fellow underground artists Baying Ridges, Melodywhore, Armageddon Speaking, and Braphonyte 7.
Comprised mainly of remixes and edits, this album even comes with a fresh new track, "Rust and Fog." Dan gives us a variety of tempos and moods starting off strong with "One Last Try Before I Die" with a quick tempo and a powerhouse of a lead synth. It's a track that would definitely find a place in my playlist for a racing sim. Sadly, this is not one of the tracks that get a remix on this album, although we do get a great remix of Asbestos by Armageddon Speaking and two amazing remixes of Urban Decay by Melodywhore and Braphonyte 7. The first remix gives us something a bit slower but grittier and the second goes all-in on speed and huge synth pads.
All-in-all there's some fantastic music in here, virtually all of which would find a place on your gaming playlist.
Andrew Heath - Drawings from Imagined Cities
Released: July 23
Drawings from Imagined Cities can be best described as a dream. The kind of dream that seems to begin when you just fell asleep and continues on until you are fully slumbering. Andrew Heath uses a variety of techniques to give us the quiet lull of semi-conscious dreaming including field recordings of birds, leaves rustling, and soft wind to provide a backdrop on top on which sincere and slightly plaintive pianos drift through the ambiance along with the occasional guitar that more or less follows the lead of the piano.
The conceptual basis of the album is further cemented by the addition of mechanical or light industrial sounds throughout. It is through this that Heath further cements that this is about places that do not exist outside of the realm of dreams. On tracks such as "A Weight of Darkness," this can be heard prominently, giving the impression that we may be passing through a slight steampunk kind of world that is bereft of joy and filled with cold machines. As for other tracks, we get much more natural textures such as the chirping birds and rustling grass of "Let Me See the Trees Again."
Overall, this is an incredibly intimate-sounding album. It is almost as if it is whispering its ideas into your ear, only for you to remember them later and through a veil of mystery.
Georg Oskar - Walk on the Water
Released: August 22
Predominately a creator of fine art, paintings, drawings, and the like, Walk on the Water is Icelandic artist Georg Oskar's first foray into the world of music. And, much like a painting, Oskar's composition is deeply layered and quite ambiguous at times. Consisting of deep pads and a bright piano somewhat buried under, there is a running dialogue between characters throughout the track that is difficult to make out. However, whatever the subject matter is here, Oskar is committed to only letting us know the barest of details. And it is this inscrutability that caused me to listen to this track over and over, trying to unravel its mystery.
Sweet Freeze - Flood the Engine
Released: August 6
The latest release from Kate Sattler's Sweet Freeze project is a textural joy of layered guitars and vocals with strange found sounds placed in an otherworldly sounding lo-fi format. Filled with soft and sweet vocals layered over a plethora of equally soft guitar textures, Sweet Freeze provides us a unique indie-folk electronic experience that is also not afraid to break the soft and sweet approach when it so desires. This can be heard on the opening track as it starts ever so soft and quiet, yet with a strange sense of determination, only later to explode into a bit of distorted vocals and guitar noise until abruptly returning to the soft intro we heard early on. Truly an intriguing foray into more experimental forms of indie and folk.
Envelope Muse - Bones for Children
Released: July 3
Blending the lines between ambient and noise music, the most recent EP from artist Envelope Muse is a dark and menacing journey over the course of four tracks that begins softly and takes a sinister turn. From the first track, we gather there are a number of children playing from the sounds that play over the slightly ominous pads. By the beginning of the next track, we now feel the turn towards darker times as reversed words play a discordant melody over intense drones, almost as if some kind of ritual is occurring. The track ends with a growing wave of noise as we are hit in the face with a cacophony that begins the third. The final track takes us back to the eerie use of vocal sampling that seems to race all around the room in startling fashion. I don't recommend that you listen to this one with the lights off.
Exit Chamber - Shift Waves
Released: August 7
His first release in nearly a year, Exit Chamber's recent single is a slight departure from the space-themed releases that the Edinburgh-based musician is known for. Rather than placing us in the depths of unknown space, we are placed firmly on Earth (or at least something that resembles it). The track is deep in its pads and light in its accompaniments, providing a space-like feel that remains more grounded than previous works. Through the ebb and flow of gentle pads and plinks, we stand and stare out on a world that resembles ours though we can't be sure that it is. But it is beautiful.