French producer Xavier Thomas, aka Debruit, returns with Outside The Line, an intersection of coldwave, African rhythms, and early ‘80s electro and hip-hop. A deep breath, and then it begins....

Jan St. Werner - Miscontinuum Album Review
Miscontinuum is a surreal, subjective sound opera; an abstract tone poem; a stream-of-consciousness dream monologue on the nature of time and memory.
"Every memory is just a loop. Returning again to places I once was, before, things are never as I remember them. Every home is also a burning house. Loop... and if one could draw this loop differently, then what? Different lengths? Four different lengths? Changes history's courses - places, people, and events; all of them never were. Could they be made anew with this loop? I doubt it. Is this really happening?" - Intro to Miscontinuum
Miscontinuum, from Mouse On Mars member Jan St. Werner, is the third installment in his Fiepblatter Catalogue series, was originally conceived as an operatic performance and radio play, with a very surreal, stream-of-consciousness libretti written by Oval's Marcus Popp, and recited, wonderfully, by Earth's Dylan Carlson, in his reedy voice. The text revolves around the misconceptions of time and memory, inspired by unique acoustic phenomena derived through digital phasing and musical time-stretching techniques, which is punctuated with St. Werner's tapestry of hypnotic electrical pulsing. Imagine, if you will, if Philip Glass had written an opera based on a text by Haruki Murakami, rather than illustrating Einstein standing on a beach; with Terry Riley on the keys, if it had been recorded thirty years later, and you're getting close to imagining Miscontinuum's minimalist electronics.

 

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.

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?

Doomsquad - Kalaboogie Album Review
After the decline predicted and lamented by Explosions In The Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the 2000s, the Canadian band Doomsquad provide a ritualistic dance party for the new world. Doomsquad provide a new skin for the old ceremony in the form of technological shamanism, where shakers and bone rattles meet Moogs and psych-out guitars in a forest clearing. The main challenge confronting a band that combines multiple genres is that their music inherit the strengths and weaknesses of each, similar to crossbreeding in Nature. Doomsquad’s latest record, Kalaboogie, may be judged by the standards of modern day dance music as well psychedelic and epic indie rock, and they risk losing the listener at every turn. The good news is that, rather than succumbing to the weaknesses, like some poor, mangy rabid mutt, Doomsquad have contributed something to each genre they work in. Kalaboogie, may be made of pre-existing parts -- trance music, triumphant indie rock, industrialized dance music and doomy, decadent mid-tempo disco -- but it is its own beast, its own spirit, inhabiting its own world.

Good Romans - Open This Door, Never Look Back
When most people think of jazz, they either stop at Duke Ellington's sophisticated big bands, or possibly make it as far as the edgy, revolutionary architecture of bebop, if they're hip. This extremely limited viewpoint overlooks the fact that, in its essence, jazz is essentially improvised instrumental music. On Open The Door, Don't Look Back, the Finnish duo Good Romans strips the influence of jazz down to its bare RNA, pointing out its role in nearly every underground, avant-garde movement since. They manage to trace a very tenuous line from Django Reinhardt to Supersilent, which is a very abstract journey, if you missed the connecting steps. Using a very concise palette of electric guitar, drums and abstract electronics, Good Romans take you on a guided tour through nearly every genre that jazz has touched, from instrumental post-rock ("Smiling No"), to harsh freeform noise ("Moha Rave") and droning ritualism ("Hardanger"). They cover a lot of ground, but there is smart sequencing here, with miniature soundworlds strung together like a string of pearls. Some of the cuts are harsh, like a splash of cold water. This seems intentional: the intention is to shock, to make you pay attention and make you listen to some sounds you had not previously thought of as music.

Camp Counselors Huntress Lefse RecordsListening to the vocals on Huntress, the latest release from Kyle J Reigle (who also records as Cemeteries), is like listening to the white puffs of breath that escape blue lips in the depths of winter. It's a plaintive sound: one that knows it'll only hang on the air until the next icy gust of wind blows it away. And, in fact, most of Reigle's lyrics are gone before you can quite grasp what they're saying. Using wintry language to talk about Reigle's music is fitting, as he's a native of Buffalo, New York—no stranger to the occasional blizzard. That might be why it's tempting to draw comparisons between Camp Counselors and those others denizens of the north, Iceland's Sigur Ròs. Both artists imbue their compositions with spare, fuzzed out electronic storms of sound that evoke empty snow-filled fields under starless skies. But where some Sigur Ròs' tracks verge into the rock realm, Reigle's work never gets as hard-edged as his Icelandic brethrens'. In fact the guitars he used on Wilderness, his previous effort as Cemeteries, is absent here, which removes pretty much all rock leanings and leaves behind an all-electronic soundscape that grooves, but is never in danger of shattering any ice.