Page Campbell and Dan Donahue, aka Dream Boat, achieve two impressive feats on their sophomore release, The Rose Explodes. With unflinching lyrics, they convey honest emotion and highlight the uniquely timeless yet unearthly quality of Campbell's voice. With expert instrumentation, they create and fill a space in which that emotion can live and from which it feeds -- a space that has both depth and character without distracting from the album's overall effect.
Dream Boat - The Rose Explodes Album Review
By experimenting with distances, alternating which vocal or instrumental tracks feel close and which seem far, Donahue and Campbell create a musical space that has depth rather than the mere appearance of depth.

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.

Austra - Habitat Music Video
Directed by Matt Lambert, Austra's music video for "Habitat" weaves together three tales of human connection into one beautifully-lit cinematic narrative. Set in motel rooms that have been transformed into flowery love chambers, "Habitat" is a departure from Lambert's more sexually-charged works, but maintains a strong focus on casting and persona; with a deliberate eye, it captures the moments of first intimacy between forbidden lovers. Katie Stelmanis of Austra gives us some insight into the band's collaboration with the director.
Austra - Habitat Music Video

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.

"Dams don't just blend in as part of a landscape anymore. Knowing what I know now, it's impossible for me to look at dams in the same way as I did a few years ago -- or even rivers, for that matter. Dams and hydropower...

Woman's Hour - Conversations LP
Listeners first encounter Conversations, the debut record by United Kingdom musicians Woman's Hour, through striking monochrome visual imagery. Black and white can be seen in everything from their album artwork and press photos to their music videos, serving not only to unify the band's music, but to incorporate their underlying interests and philosophies as well. Responsible for their visual branding is Frank and Jane, a collaboration between Woman's Hour frontwoman Fiona Jane Burgess and artist Oliver Chanarin. This article features a Q&A with Burgess and all-encompassing look at the visual collateral connected to the record, to demonstrate how the experience Woman's Hour is crafting is truly an interdisciplinary and thoughtful one.
Woman's Hour - Conversations Music Video

 

When asked about the influence of late '70s and early '80s electronic music on his own record, A Period of Review, Seattle ambient pioneer and head of the Palace Of Lights label Kerry Leimer told The Ransom Note:
What interests me most about "A Period of Review" is the sense that it really is that period now in review. So many years on, in the constant rush and search for something "new" there's plenty of evidence that alot can be overlooked and never fully comprehended. Especially now, when more work is published than any one individual could ever hope to have even a passing familiarity with, it's always helpful to at least understand the way ideas and aesthetics about expression originate and evolve."
A Period In Review (Original Recordings 1975-1983), a lavishly packaged document for RVNG Intl.'s stunning archival series, rewinds the clock to investigate this period through the works of the under-known/under-appreciated luminary, K. Leimer.

With a lead singer as versatile as Highasakite's Ingrid Helene Håvik, it's not difficult for the band to evoke landscapes as diverse as a country road, a spacey sky, or a western plain. On their debut full-length album, Silent Treatment, the Norwegian musicians pioneer the "adventurous brand of indie pop" they've introduced on earlier recordings, emphasizing unusual vocals effects and genre contrasts. Having unbelievable clarity and the ability to turn on a dime, Håvik's voice carries a lot of power on Highasakite's debut LP. The first lyrics of the album's opening track, "Lover, Where Do You Live?", emerge out of the emptiness suddenly and intensely, against a nearly a cappella backdrop. This pattern sets the tone for the rest of the album, with vocals so solid and controlled you feel as if you could graph their progression visually. Meanwhile, complex instrumentation evolves over the course of each track, varying in degrees of intensity with a wide range of effects. Hollow horns, finely tuned upper register guitar parts, shimmering synths, and big indie drumming create alternatingly dense and sparse instrumental sections through which Highasakite transitions seamlessly.

As soon as something goes up for sale, it ceases to be solely about creativity and becomes a commodity. Nowhere is this more apparent than the much maligned new age genre, with its high ideals and pure intentions. It aims to relax the body, to clear the mind and elevate the spirit. It's somewhat ironic that it would become bland aural wallpaper for high-priced professionals. New age has become about the least cool genre imaginable, doomed to a half-life of Hallmark stores and mall listening kiosks. Now that vaporwave has taken over as the cynical soundtrack for the global marketplace, new age is due for a reassessment. On I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age Music in 1950 – 1990, the wonderful Light In The Attic reissue label turns back the clock to a time before new age was merely designed to shift units. To accomplish this, they turn to the world of private press LPs, self-published records by high-minded altruistic individuals, many tracks seeing official release here for the first time.