31 December 2011

Swimming - ellipses (Audiobulb, 2011)

"Ellipses" is the debut album for Swimming, aka Devon Ferrucci, from Arcata, CA. His music seems to go through a lot of processing and reworking, with fragments and layers of guitars, keyboards, occasional whispers and hums, lots of beats and percussion instruments, denoting a true sense of imagination, a natural inclination for complexity and an idea of perfectionism mixed with sincerity.

29 December 2011

Au Palais - tender mercy ep (The Sounds of Sweet Nothing, 2011)

"Tender Mercy" by Au Palais is a very addictive song and I was indeed unable to resist and directly I connected it to another similar experience I had with "Lately" by Memoryhouse.

Both bands are duos, except Tender Mercy is a sibling duo, brother and sister, David and Elise Commathe are behind it, both are also coming from Toronton, Canada, and enjoy ethereal - 4AD tagged (This Mortal Coil / Cocteau Twins) - dreampop, thought Au Palais like it colder, darker and with more propulsive beats.

28 December 2011

Squanto - on being lumpy (2011)

2011 hasn't been a bad year for slow melancholic slowcore albums, with Talons', Owen, Rivulets, Saso, Idaho or Deep Waters and I'm lucky enough to close the year with one promising discovery, "On Being Lumpy" from the until now totally unknown to me songwriter Ben Lovell who releases his music under the name Squanto.

27 December 2011

Rivulets - yearlings (2011)

There are five years between "You are my home" (2006) and "We"re fucked" (2011) so it doesn't come as a surprise that a few songs were written and then lost inbetween.

But not irremediably and at the occasion of a tour, six of these songs see the light of the day as a tour CD.

26 December 2011

Ferran Fages - lullaby for lali (Etude, 2010)

I'm a total new to Etude Records and to the discography of Ferran Fages but sound samples from his record I came across by pure luck made me want to experience it completely. I'm not regretting it.

The atmospheres, textures and compositions along his guitar playing remind me of 90's records by Gastr Del Sol and Dirty Three, but with a more lo-fi, intimate and personal approach.

25 December 2011

Black Sea Storm - kayip bir ask (2011)

Black Sea Storm is the solo project of Ali Ozkan who was previously active in the projects Channing Cope  and Shere.

It's the second EP from Black Sea Storm that I am reviewing and similarly if the music and melodies are close and similar to what he did with Channing Cope and Shere, the use of Turkish language instead of English for the vocals is creating difficulties for me.

24 December 2011

Grand Hallway - winter creatures (2011)

I am a fan of Asahi's album "Head above water" (2002) but next I never really enjoyed what Tomo Nakayama did after with his project Grand Hallway: too orchestral, too sirupy, too melodic for me.

But the third album of this Seattle band, "Winter Creatures" is an intrinsically different affair.

23 December 2011

David Sylvian & Holger Czukai - flux & mutability (1989, Virgin)

This is the second collaboration between David Sylvian (ex-Japan) and Holger Czukay (member of Can) and through the years I've stayed quite fond of this release.

There are two tracks, "Flux (A Big, Bright, Colourful World)" and "Mutability ("A New Beginning Is In The Offing")", which are close to the Brian Eno ambient works, but developing their own aesthetics. 

22 December 2011

Astatine - warm machine ep (2011, Orgasm)

Second solo EP for Stéphane Recrosio, one of the members of Acetate Zero. If he was exploring indie lo-fi landscapes on "Free Jazz Valentine EP", here he is exploring a more experimental side for a release limited to 36 copies.

With "Words in decay", we start in the Acetate Zero courtyard but transplanted in the New Zealand landscape as the Jefferies brothers influence could not be denied, a delicate lo-fi song at the acoustic guitar, intimate and desperate.

Minamo - documental (2011, Room40)

If I'm counting right, this is the eleventh release by this Japanese quatuor and if I haven't listened to their whole discography, I have a lot of respect and consideration for their music and "Documental" won't change my opinion.

The opening track "Draw the line" is simply superb and is the highlight of "Documental". Digital waves of sound mixed with intimate guitar playing and reverberated sparse piano sounds, for a contemplative and melancholic effect. Eleven minutes of relief.

20 December 2011

Herzfeld – The Sack (Duophonic, 1994 / Disques Persévérance, 2011)

Malcolm Eden was the singing and playing guitar in McCarthy, between 1985 and 1990, writing political lyrics under communist and far left influence. 

After the end of McCarthy, he formed Herzfeld, who released an EP and a 10-inch album on the Duophonic label, while other members formed Stereolab.

19 December 2011

Devil on the Beach - ep (2011)

This is the solo project by Neil Weir, from Minneapolis. You don’t have to be a devil to know he is a fan of all works by Robin Guthrie and has probably exhausted the shoegaze catalogue - with a My Bloody Valentine option on the sounds of some guitars.

18 December 2011

Johannes Heldén – Title Sequence (Ideal, 2010)

Second album for Swedish ambient musician Johannes Helden,  eight years after his first one, 'Sketchbook" on Trente Oiseaux.

Nothing really new under the sun as it resumes and uses many conventions of the style. Luckily, he has got a clear vision of his style of music so it doesn't sound like belonging to the 90's blooming ambient scene but much more like an updated version, with an obvious knowledge of works by Gas or William Basinski.

12 December 2011

Daisuke Miyatani - kioque (2011)

Four years afer his debut album "Diario", on Ahornfelder, Daisuke Miyatani is back with a second, self-released album, "Kioque", which is a 53 minutes collection of 23 tracks, from 11 seconds to 6 minutes long.

It's like a collection of tiny fragments, loosely connected, potentially revealed by light breeze and sunlight. 

11 December 2011

Cold Mountain Child - high peak hearth songs (2011, Diamond Wave Press)

"High peak hearth songs" could be stashed in a stack of records from Lullaby for the Working Class, Scud Mountain Boys, Lambchop, American Music Club or Hotel Alexis and you wouldn't noticed a difference. 

It follows a two years hiatus, were David and Tyler were living in different towns, different countries, until they both return to live in Kalamazoo, Michigan. 

10 December 2011

Astatine - free jazz valentine (2011, Orgasm)

The only thing which competes with the quality of the Acetate Zero discography is their lack of recognition mainly due to an absence of self-promotion. Their last album as example has been only released on vinyl. 

At least they achieved a certain form of underground recognition and most diehard fans of 90 indie styles of music such as slowcore, lo-fi or shoegazing know them. 

Narrative - sleeping pavements ep (2011)

Second EP for Lewis Gorham, in the continuity of his first one, simply intensifying the quality of his first opus.

Even if this territory of ambient / atmospheric  style of music, mixing and processing field recordings layers of digital sounds with instruments, is well populated by other artists, Lewis Gorham's approach surprises by the warmth, a feeling of shoegazing intimacy and a lasting impression of deep personal melancholy.

04 December 2011

Illuha - shizuku (12k, 2011)

Illuha is a project of Tomoyoshi Date and Corey Fuller, both residing in Tokyo. They met through a common friend, Chihei Hatakeyama, and began collaborating in 2008.

Their debut album, "Shizuku", has been recorded in a church, at Bellingham, WA. While I know their solo releases, "Otoha" for Tomoyoshi and "Seas Between" for Corey Fuller, I'm positively surprised by their artistic organic collaboration. "Shizuku" shows a deep mutual understanding through the exploration of subtle moods.

27 November 2011

Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer – in a place of such graceful shapes (12k, 2011)

During the last days of autumn in 2010, Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer started a long distance collaboration project, exchanging sound files,but after a few rough sketches, limitations and frustrations occurred and a plane ticket from Portland to New York for Marcus solved the problem.

During four intensive days in February 2001, while winter was in full force, they conceived most of the guidelines of this project, from music to pictures.

13 November 2011

Loom - epyllion (2011)

There are, songwriters which never confirm their first promising steps and just run onto a sandbank, and are, finally, more or less, quickly forgotten as false alarms.

But usually, many of them exchange, at least, a part of their charm and innocence for a more produced, more traditionally composed full length. While the initial effect might be diluted, it's still easy to go on as a listener.

05 November 2011

He died while hunting - we used to dream awake (2011, Tipostal / Totokoko)

There are some bands you are condemned to enjoy, condemned to like, because they come from your area, because the musicians are nice guys, but mostly because, two thirds of their artistic references are also yours (Carissa's Wierd, Low, Pedro the Lion, Idaho, ...) and more importantly because they manage to sound good and adopt an approach you can compare esthetically to other European (very rare and precious) indie bands (like Anois, Komeït, Apeiron, My Autumn Empire, Acetate Zero, ...).

03 November 2011

Craig Colorusso - sun boxes 7inch (2011)

Sun Boxes in an installation, created by Craig Colorusso, of twenty speakers operating independently, each powered by the sun via solar panels, each one plays repeatedly a different guitar note loop of a definite length. These guitar notes collectively make a Bb chord.

02 November 2011

Nobuto Suda - day when spirits of the dead's wraps you and me (2011, Absence of Wax)

New release by Nobuto Suda and the second one I discover (having started with "The locus of the life".

Released on the netlabel Absence of Wax, "Day when spirits of the dead's wraps you and me" is an instrumental dronelike track of 14 minutes.

01 November 2011

Chris Watson - el tren fantasma (2011, Touch)

Each Chris Watson release is a mystery, through which finally you realize you are using just a small part of your hearing, and so it is stimulating as you're taken as passenger and listener of his own quests and explorations.

He is not someone pretending to a career or to a reputation through his record, and his record are always a conjunction of both attraction and elaboration of soundscapes through the use of field recordings.  

31 October 2011

Tomoyoshi Date - otoha (2011, Own Records)

Second solo album for Tomoyoshi Date, after "Human Being" on Flyrec, without forgetting two albums with the project Opitope he shares with Chihei Hatakeyama and one with Corey Fuller under the Illuha name.

Born in San Paulo, Brazil, having lived in the USA and now residing in Tokyo, Tomoyoshi Date writes soft and delicate instrumental music documenting peacefulness, quietness, deep emotions and introspective states of mind. 

29 October 2011

Bob Holroyd - afterglow (2011)

I have no other example in mind about such a drastic change of style for a musician. If the process was opened on his previous album, "Beachcombing", mostly with the opening track "Glow", on "Afterglow" we are decades, light-years away, with a radically different scenario. 

28 October 2011

Bob Holroyd - beachcombing (2011)

Up to now, to be honest, I had strictly no interest for the music of Bob Holroyd, mixing ambient, electronica, new age, fusion, chillout, world music and trip-hop elements into his music. But apparently 2011 is a year of change for him. A change in two steps, with "Beachcombing" opening the year and "Afterglow" closing it.

If one track has got to be reminded on "Beachcombing", it's the opening one, "Glow" which explore in a similar vein the works of artists such as Hammock, Amman/Josh and Josh Varnedore. 

25 October 2011

Travels - the sun shines down on me EP (2011)

Three albums, now they are back with a five songs EP. Mona Elliott and Anar Badalov are back.

One cover of Daniel Johnston, "The Sun Shines Down on Me" and four originals of Travels doing their core business. The cover is relatively straightforward and not so interesting. 

23 October 2011

Lexithimie - stroll into the shade for a moment (2010, Sentient Recognition Archive)

Lexithimie is the solo project of Alexis Béchu, with releases on Hibernate, Audio Gourmet or Resting Bell. He produces ambient drone music, processing piano, cello, chord organ, digital-recorder, and sine waves sounds.

This release has been conceived around the idea of a "shaded place surrounded by light", with the title borrowed from the book “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad.

22 October 2011

Thomas Mery - les couleurs, les ombres (2011, Own Records)

It is a long fight. It's a long trail and the end is nowhere near.

Second solo album for Thomas Méry, but as with his previous EP, "Des Larmes Mélangées De Poussière", singing and playing guitar, he is backed up again by Stéphane Bouvier (bass and clarinet) and Jérôme Lorichon (drums trumpet, waves and piano parts), which were his bandmates on the two Purr albums.

09 October 2011

Fennesz - seven stars (2011, Touch)

Four tracks, eighteen minutes, a new EP by Fennesz, nice, pleasant, but not considerable,  it is suble but in the comet tail of his previous works, without unsettling sparkles or breathtaking instants.

08 October 2011

Mark McGuire - get lost (2011, Mego)

For someone born at the eve of 1987, Mark McGuire has got already a plethoric discography behind him, solo, as member of Emeralds or through other ephemeral alternate projects. 

"Get Lost" is his third album on Mego. I tried to listen to some of his records previously but never was convinced to explore these completely.

02 October 2011

Lawrence English - the peregrine (2011, Experimedia)

Two long drones, each one in three parts,  for a total length of 34 minutes, "The Peregrine", new album by Lawrence English,  is based on a book written by J.A. Baker about this bird of prey.

What seduced him in this book was the focus of the writer on landscape and environment, and indeed as a result, it is also what he explores here, conceiving it as an homage to the book which as his primary influence, profoundly nourished his sensitivity in the process.

27 September 2011

Tenniscoats - toki no uta (2011, Majikick)

A minimalist record, which seems to have been recorded live, on the flow, the acoustic guitar of Takashi, the vocals of Saya and a few other instruments which could be toys.  

25 September 2011

Talons' - kamakura ep (2011, Functional Objects)

An instrumental EP of songs inspired by a Japanese seaside town. 4 songs based around 2 acoustic guitar lines. Recorded at home in Chicago, March-May 2011.

I'm just surprised Mike Tolan didn't release this EP under his Moustache Mountain alias but probably it can be seen as a reference about his "Lost time" release on Powershovel Audio, one of the tracks is dedicated to Yuichiro (Fujimoto) who is the headmaster of the label and certainly an influence too down here with his precious solo albums.

Carissa's Wierd - tucson / meredith & iris (2011, Hardly Art)

7 years after "Songs about leaving", after their split, solo careers and new bands, they are back with their original lineup. A few reunion shows have lead to the recording of two new songs finally released as a 7inch on Hardly Art, a Subpop sublabel.

24 September 2011

Charge Group - escaping mankind (2009, Own)

This album shouldn't be downscaled to what it's not but instead should be upgraded to its real dimension, with Matt Blackman designing his sceneries after the endpoint of Purplene, and in certain ways we are in a similar scenario than the one chosen by Jeff Martin with Idaho.

21 September 2011

Coate - spring ep (2011)

Coate is back, with this spring EP, announcing the coming back of this season in New Zealand, while it's now autumn here, on the northern hemisphere. Spring resumes perfectly the burst of energy and urgency contained into these two songs relatively more uptempo and closer to the twinkle emo melodic scene than their first album.

18 September 2011

Saso - exitudes (2011, Melted Snow)

With "Big Group Hug" (2001), "I can do nice" (2004) and "The Middle Ages" (2006), after a five years hiatus, they are now releasing a fourth album.

But in a really strange way, "Exitudes" is much more the follow-up to "I can do nice" than the continuity of "The Middle Ages". Their two first albums have had a strong impact on me but the first one disappointed me totally as they were moving towards a definitely mainstream approach. Here they are one hundred percent back to their old ethics and I'm back too as a fan.

14 September 2011

Owen - ghost town (2011, Polyvinyl)

Mike Kinsella still has got to record a bad album, and maybe even a bad song, and this sixth album is another confirmation where he even surprises long time fans by the high level of quality. "Ghost Town" is for a part known territory and for another part new light and the next chapter of his life as a man.

11 September 2011

Darling - keep out 7inch (2011, Cardboard Sangria)

Their debut EP from a 2007, was truly a gem and still is, "Ground is sound". But since then, I've never been really charmed by their second EP or by their first album, as they were moving backwards, much more in the middle of the indie rock genre, giving more importance on melodies and less on a lo-fi melancholic approach.

08 September 2011

Hilo - this is destroyer (Cambodia, 1999)

I rediscovered accidentally Hilo, a band I first listened to around 2001 an which surprised me through their similarities with the Rodan / Sonora Pine / Shipping News / June of 44 family and indirectly with Slint too.

Jonathen Swafford, Brian Ulrich,  Jenifer Bair and Patrick Ginley were releasing their first album "This is the destroyer", from their home base of Akron, Ohio, which since then gave us Trouble Books or 'Talons too.

06 September 2011

Rivulets - we're fucked (Important, 2011)

Five years after "You are my home" (2006), now there is "We're Fucked", new album by Nathan Amundson.

I've been critical to the previous album but without condemning it. "We're fucked" is the polar opposite. And yes, as someone (TheBlueRogue) posted on my last.fm page, anticipating my review "We're Fucked is pretty great, isn't it? It's definitely become my favorite Rivulets album".

04 September 2011

Pascal Savy - liminal (2011, Feedback Loop)

Last year I tried to listen to Pascal Savy's album "The Silent Watcher" on Audiomoves, but felt rapidly disconnected and didn't insist much more. I was uncertain about this new ep, the nice artwork invited me to try and this time I can find my marks as a listener and let the music flow.  

03 September 2011

Penpal - postscript ep (2011)

American trio, started in 2008 as a duo by two guitarists, Steve and Brett, former members of Marquette, now joined by Josiah.

Their first album has been highly noticed among other midwest emo revivalists, as they were doing already much more than simply emulate American Football and consorts. They are back with a new EP, featuring three sophisticated math-emo-pop songs.

31 August 2011

If This Is A Man - random acts of kindness have saved lives (Raamb, 2011)

Not much info about If This Is A Man, solo project of Jon White, recording songs in his bedroom, in the middle of England, Staffordshire, who at first is a fan of Radiohead, The Beatles, DJ Shadow, slowly contaminated by more underground stuff, would it be shoegaze (My Bloody Valentine), slowcore (The Red House Painters) or lo-fi (Daniel Johnston).

25 August 2011

Algernon Cadwallader - demo (Be Happy, 2006)

Of course it sounds a lot like Joan of Arc, American Football or Cap’n Jazz. More dynamic and rapid than American Football – but definitely similar -, more melodic and joyful than (early) Joan of Arc and more refined than Cap’n Jazz. If fact, Algernon Cadwallader sounds like Algernon Cadwallader and never try to go out of this triangle.

24 August 2011

Brave Bird - ready or not ep (2010) & it's my pride that i swallow (2011)

From Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, supposed to be one more of these local emo/punk/twinkle bands, but this EP proves they are so much more than that.

At first approach they doesn't sound so different from resurgence emo bands, such as Algernon Cadwallader or Dads, but as soon as you start to dig below you realize they much more belong the category of Penpal, Coate or Mountains for Clouds.

22 August 2011

Dads - brush your teeth, again ;) (Get Into It, 2011)

Their music is identified as twinkle (emo). 

With screamo, emo.... so nineties and progressively devoid of their initial meanings and with the passing of time changing perceptions, it is often safer to invent and adopts other tags, in order to revive a certain innocence and authenticity, a right balance between spontaneity and elitism.