Hypnotic new tracks from Stellar OM Source's latest RVNG Intl release, Nite-Glo, plus a track premiere for "Big Metal" by Portland's HITS (featuring members of the now-defunct Explode Into Colors and !!!, who crafted their record at Andrea Zittel's A-Z West compound in Joshua Tree....

José González's music has always maintained a timeless quality. In the realm of contemporary folk, there is no competition for his soothing yet soulful tones and melodic, plucking guitar. On Vestiges & Claws, the first solo album he's released in 7 years, a new kind of electrifying energy is at play. Melding the intimately personal with the overwhelming impersonal, González takes us on a journey with him, creating the kind of depth that elevates a folk album from pleasant background music to a collection that will stay and grow with you -- as it has evidently stayed and grown with him -- for a long time.
Jose Gonzalez - Vestiges And Claws Album Review  

Album Covers of the Year 2014
In contrast to modern patterns in music consumption comes our annual Album Covers of the Year feature, where, instead of forgetting album artwork even exists, we hyperextend ourselves to assert that it is an artform that is vitally connected to the spirit of the music. This feature, which is divided at times into thematic elements and at times into artistic medium, incorporates interviews with not only musicians, but also artists involved throughout the artistic process. We pride this list in being diverse and multi-faceted, as well as philosophically exploratory. See all of our entries from previous years or get started by choosing a category below. Happy travels through the artistic universe we've crafted for you.

To trace one's own path from infancy to adulthood can sometimes mean ascribing new meaning to past events. It can mean uncovering moments that seemed innocuous at the time of their happening, only to discover later that they were, in fact, profoundly moving. Nature and ritualistic dance, two prime inspirations for Southern California artist Nathan Hayden, came to him down the pipeline of experience, in the form of significant life events he can now place importance upon as an adult. These moments, coupled with Hayden's curiosities towards the world-at-large, make him an artist that is ever-synthesizing and ever-seeking, eager to experiment and follow his many multidisciplinary whims.
Nathan Hayden Artist Interviewwhat was meant to be here was no longer, 2014, ink on industrial felt
"I'm just trying to access the possibilities of other things, and in the same way that I look at art throughout history and nature for little pieces of those other realms, I'm hoping that I can be a part of that process and for people to get a peek into other realms by looking at my stuff, that might bring about stuff that I can't even imagine." - Nathan Hayden

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.

 

"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...

Seer could be seen as a New World Symphony of a vast, prehistoric continent that exists only in your mind. Or in a galaxy far, far away. Music has been attempting to describe nature for as long as there's been music -- attempting to evoke a babbling brook or the spring rain, through a keyboard or the beating of stones. The story of music could be seen as man's attempt to get closer to nature, to describe what it is to be human and what it will be, in ever-increasing detail and complexity. It could be because of this drive that many would-be world-builders took to the emerging field of electronic music, where it became possible to work with the building blocks of sound and with recordings of the natural world, to construct abstract movies of the is as well as the never-was. This was the dream and the vision of the tape-manipulators and the inventors of singing electric machines -- to create a new musical language, unfettered from musical prisons; the imagination set free. The lovers and writers of science fiction recognized this pioneering, visionary quality of early electronic music, and, very soon, the sound of old synths quickly became synonymous with classic sci-fi cinema. And because of this, it becomes almost impossible to listen to a record like Seer and not hear it as a film score. The question is: What kind of movie is it?

Linda Perhacs - The Soul of All Natural Things
I spent a long time thinking about how to write this album review of Linda Perhacs' new album, The Soul of All Natural Things, the follow-up to Perhacs' 1970 album Paralellograms and her first new record in 44 years. Paralellograms is a cult classic, and cult classics capture the imagination in part because they stand alone. After approaching the new album warily, I am relieved to say that my image of Perhacs is still intact. Perhacs has slowly reemerged in the music scene as of late, due in part to fans such as Devendra Banhart and Chris Price, and has been working with a number of contemporary collaborators, including Julia Holter, Ramona Gonzalez of Nite Jewel, and Fernando Perdomo. Ramona Gonzalez's voice sounds great next to Perhacs's and accounts for the hymnal quality of some of these songs, particularly on "River of God", and I suspect that Julia Holter brought the electronic noise into this album as well.

This past winter season has been sheer insanity in North America, with overwhelming snowstorms galore, polar bears being taken indoors, and more, more, more. What better time, then, to use music videos to explore the beauty of wintry landscapes? In Dan Huiting's work for White Hinterland's "Ring The Bell", Casey Dienel can be seen tunneling through ice caves and fascinating skull-lined passageways; Joe Baughman's work for S. Carey's "Fire-scene" is a naturalistic treat that shows off the diversity of the Pacific Northwest, as he captures what winter looks like in the desolate spaces where the waters and deserts of Eastern Washington State merge.