Every record is an island. An artist's statements shouldn't always be judged on trends, the label they're on, or what other people are doing. Perhaps they shouldn't even be judged against that artist's own work. It's all too common in the current state of music journalism or criticism to hear, "This isn't as good as their old stuff," or as whatever the landmark release is in that genre. Just look at how every shoegaze record has been measured again My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Still, when a label releases two records on the same day, it's hard not to read into it, or at least wonder if there's some grand vision at work. Especially when that label is Sacred Bones, who are known for collecting skinny post-punk, black tie new wave, tar-dipped goth rock, excoriating noise, and many, many shades of psychedelia under their eye-catching triangle in the circle marker. On November 11th, Sacred Bones released two widely dissimilar records: the motorik futurism of Dream Police's Hypnotized, and the apocalyptic folk goth opera Final Days, from the mysterious Cult Of Youth.

Dream Police - Hypnotized

Dream Police

Cult of Youth - Final Days

Cult of Youth
It's all too easy to fall back on the, "We've seen it all/done it all," perspective of modern ennui. While on one hand, we are seeing more and more subdivisions and chimerical stitching together of genres, the bedroom breakbeat garage popedelica of the world, we are starting to see new forms and structures emerge, thanks to the savvy application of technology. On Clast, Cincinnati producer Kevin Poole, aka Umin, chops and sculpts a variety of stringed instruments into 4-dimensional polychromatic sculptures that unfold over time, in an explosion of color, tonality, and creativity.Umin - Clast Album ReviewClast is constructed from the unlikely source material of a baritone ukulele and guitar. Usually these two instruments conjure images of twee folk music -- something with a hand-knit owl on the cover, perhaps -- but Umin weaves these rootsy threads into a vibrant technicolor holographic tapestry, somewhere between the junkyard raves of the excellent Congolese band Konono No. 1 and the 3D hyperreal casinos of vaporwave's global marketplace.
Ruins, as a word, can mean two things: as a noun, it is a decrepit run-down structure, no longer inhabited. Ruins, as a verb, is to degrade something, to bring about its demise, to fall into ruin. This ambiguity of meaning reveals a hidden face in Grouper's new album, which is much concerned with uncertainty, in marginal spaces that don't necessarily add up or make sense. The word "maybe" occurs multiple times, alongside dream language and landscapes, of cycles and mountainous bodyscapes. Grouper - Ruins Album ReviewToo often, when we talk about music, we talk about it in declarative, categorical terms, as if we were ranking market positions and cataloging guitar solos. This way of thinking and talking about music completely negates the purpose of Grouper's music, and leads to a culture where only the brashest, hypiest, blaring-est musics get heard; the equivalent of everyone shouting to be heard at a dinner party. Instead, Liz Harris' music invites you to lean in and listen closer.

 

The harp, as an instrument, seems to inherently conjure medieval, Celtic, or angelic imagery. When it is joined by swirling synthesizers and bilious clouds of delayed guitars, the brain is left with all manner of interesting juxtapositions, like a tea room melting into sea foam, or some fictitious movie with moonbeams, meteor showers, and unicorns. Mary Lattimore Jeff Zeigler - Slant of Light Album ReviewSlant of Light is the first recorded collaboration between Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler, who first began collaborating in 2013, with a live score for Philippe Garrel's 1968 film, La Revelateur. And while some performers spend decades honing their musical bond, Lattimore and Ziegler seem to immediately comprehend one another, like a pair of musical Gemini twins. Both Lattimore and Ziegler are in-demand session musicians, with the former lending harp plucks to Kurt Vile, Jarvis Cocker, and going on tour with Thurston Moore for years, while Zeigler has slung axe for Chris Forsyth, A Sunny Day In Glasgow, and The War On Drugs. What is first, and most immediately striking about Slant of Light, is how this indie rock lineage has given way to this celestial head trip of a record. It is like a microcosm of the descent into obscure, mind-altering music from the mainstream -- in which every music lover whose parents don't have a hip record collection, has partaken.
There are hardly any electronic instruments on Punish, Honey. Instead, Vessel's Sebastian Gainsborough built an arsenal of homemade instruments, including flutes made out of bike frames, sheets of metal, and "harmonic guitars". Punish, Honey is an industrialized suite: clanking, stomping, sparking, twitching, pounding. But instead of the giving the sensation of a migraine -- which is sometimes produced from hyperfrenetic digital constructions, as with some of the recent work from James Ferraro -- Punish, Honey is like walking through a factory full of mechanized automata, like a textile mill animated by Jan Svankmajer. Like The Sorcerer's Apprentice, if he had brought jackhammers and bellows to life, rather than broomsticks.
Vessel - Punish, Honey Album Review
Kevin Martin has been at the forefront -- and the margins -- of extreme electronic music and bass culture for over two decades. He's worked in genres as diverse as jazzcore, industrial, grime, dub, and dubstep, while staying rooted in the punk/post-punk ethos, making some of the most adventurous and aggressive music across a staggering array of monikers, pseudonyms, and collaborations.The Bug - Kevin Martin Musician InterviewWith this year's Angels & Devils, the highly anticipated follow-up to 2008's London Zoo, Kevin Martin has resurrected one of his most beloved and influential projects, The Bug. London Zoo employed an arsenal of extreme bass weight, grime-y urban vocals, and abstract sci-fi electronic to reflect the paranoid, claustrophobic world of CCTV London, and the album caught the attention of the wider world at a time when the simulacrum of the internet and social media was really building a head of steam. This brought Kevin Martin's dystopian worldview to a wider audience than ever before, right in the midst of the dubstep explosion. While the rest of the world was busy subverting dubstep's militaristic potential into a formulaic commodity, The Bug sounded fresh, distinctive, weird, warped, and wonderful. As electronic music has become increasingly codified and quantifiable in the mainstream, this placed Kevin Martin in a precarious position and raised the question: just how would he build the follow-up to London Zoo?

 

What's in a name? When they say Adult Jazz, are they referring to the easy-listening, dulcet sounds of Chuck Mangione or Kenny G? A brief observation of the knotty tones and convoluted song structures of Gist Is, the debut LP from the Leeds quartet, Adult Jazz, suggests this is not what they are aiming for. So we turn to a second possible definition: that of a grown-up and evolved jazz music. Gist Is is a world unto itself: 9 tracks, subscribing to their own inner logic, as beats, broken synthesizers, horns, and weightless vocals rise and fall, like buried memories, or half-remembered dreams.
Adult Jazz - Gist Is

 

The origins of Craig Leon's Nommos/Visiting lie in the ancient art of the Dogon tribe from Mali, who worshipped a race of amphibious extraterrestrials, known as the “Nommos”, who were said to come from the distant star supposedly known as Sirius B. The strange thing about Sirius B is that it is invisible to the naked eye, and science only verified its existence in the 20th century, long after the Dogon tribe had already established a deep mythology around it. This intersection of science and spirituality, of the ancient and the modern, lies at the heart of this stunning collection from RVNG Intl., packaged with the usual lavish care and attention to detail, in which Craig Leon simulates a soundtrack for interstellar travel for the Nommos, using a battalion of cutting-edge-at-the-time synthesizers and drum machines. Craig Leon - Nommos/Visiting Album Review Craig Leon is not some undiscovered private press new age genius. Rather, he is best known for production duties on some of the '70s most adventurous records, from some of New York's arthouse elite, including Suicide, Television, The Ramones, and Blondie, which places "Nommos/Visiting" at the intersection of punk rock and new wave, industrial music, early hip-hop, and world music. This is no slice of musical soma; this is a transmission from the crossroads.

 

Candide - Don't Let Go EP Album Review
Heavily inspired by an extended trip to Berlin, Candide is the duo of Candice Strongwater and Adam Brodsky, who imported the city's European sounds to their home in Brooklyn, creating a brand of dark and sultry disco that is equally inspired by Rhythm & Sound as Donna Summers and Bee Gees. This could be the alternate soundtrack to the summer of 1977, if the disco clubs had acknowledged the paranoia and dread of the Son Of Sam running rampant, while still losing themselves in the sweltering heat of romantic dancefloor abandon.
M. Geddes Gengras - Ishi Album Review (Leaving Records)
Ishi, the newest synthetic slow-burner from LA-based M. Geddes Gengras, is based on the story of "the last wild Indian" named Ishi, who emerged from the wilds of Northern California in 1911, at the age of 49. M. Geddes Gengras may be best known for two acclaimed collaborations with Sun Araw, but he's quite accomplished in his own right. He's played in some of the noise underground's most famous exports, such as LA Vampires, Pocahaunted, and Robedoor, as well as releasing a slew of solo records, mostly revolving around synthesizers and improvisation. On Ishi, Gengras' modular synths simulate the sensation of wandering through a city crowd for the first time, where the ladies' fashion is like so many colorful birds; where the endless stream of faces becomes a babbling brook. It's almost too much to take in; it's overwhelming, so it just becomes a colorful blur of humanity.