26 December 2012

02 September 2012

Josh Varnedore - sun chapter (2012, Dynamophone)

Josh Varnedore wants his music to be loved and cherished. On three tracks he collaborates, with Hammock, another one with Hideki Umezawa (Pawn) and a last one with Amman Abbasi. Three names which tell a lot about "Sun Chapter".

It's ambient music but it's inviting, fresh and closely related to dreampop. The only problem is that it is not particularly original and not extremely memorable.

29 August 2012

My Autumn Empire - ii (2012, Wayside & Woodland)

Second solo album for Ben Holton (Epic45), exploring a much more straightforward folk-pop approach, à la Elliott Smith and Sparklehorse, with the previous Hood references mostly swept under the carpet.

It's charming but mostly it is sleep inducing. I'm a little bit at loss when I come to compare this record with his previous one, "The Village Compass" as there is nothing in the same vein. Nostalgic UK autumnal folk influences have been replaced by nonchalant late summer US (indie) pop references.

28 August 2012

Pastoral - pastoral (2012)

I recently reviewed the "Believe you me" EP by Drops, solo project of Liam Hennessy, writing that it sounded close to an American indie influenced version of Umber, solo project of Alex Steward, both from Nottingham, UK.

We are now one step further with a purely American instrumental solo project. Pastoral is Zachary Thachet, from Huntington Beach, California and his debut EP sounds as warm, as positive, as euphoric than the two others, even more. 

Federico Durand - El libro de los árboles mágicos (2012, Home Normal)

Fourth album by Federico Durand, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I have the feeling that I never stopped listening to his music since I discovered "La siesta del ciprés", "Elin" and later "El éxtasis de las flores pequeñas".

While starting to listen this new album, I had no special expectations, just the certitude to expand his lovely atmospheres and to welcome a few more of his sensitivity and aesthetic experiences in my daily aural environment.

25 August 2012

T̶o̶n̶g̶u̶e̶ - demo (2012)

Ryan from Megan & Amelia/DEERS!/Matsuri, Andrew from Matsuri/Ten Thousand Leagues, Conrad from John Cota and Nik from Calculator are forming T̶o̶n̶g̶u̶e̶.

This is their first demo and they belong to the post-hardcore genre and are potentially my favorite discovery in this category since Ohana. They are the grandchildren of bands such as Hoover, Bitch Magnet, Slint, Four Hundred Years or Rodan.

24 August 2012

Bart and Friends - there may come a time (2012, Matinée)

I was surprised to read that it's the first EP of Bart & Friends on Matinée, as they sound like they have always been there. After having been silent during most of the 00's, they now multiply releases in the 10's.

23 August 2012

Tawny Peaks - tawny peaks (2012)

Tawny Peaks are a band from Montclair, New Jersey, formed by  Charlie Perris (vocals),  Molly Grund  (vocals),  Jonah Fried ( bass, vocals),  Sam Skinner  ( guitar, recordings & production) and Dexter Loos (drums). 

This is their first self-recorded, self-released album, offered graciously as a free download on their bandcamp page.

In my book, indie bands with vocalists on one side and musicians on the other side don’t really work.

I was wrong.

Pausal – forms (2012, Barge)

The trouble with ambient drone music is that it is quite simple to start repeating yourself after a few compositions and through the process, you may lose a part of your appeal, as, not matter the level of quality you'll achieve, you will start to fail at surprise listeners.

To this situation, Alex Smalley and Simon Bainton brought the option to broaden their sound, giving rise to backwards influences.

There are ten compositions on this second album but they are regrouped into sets of two and three, so we end up just to have four tracks.

Seaworthy - sleep paths (2012, Slaapwel)

First Wim Maesschalck came with the the concept behind Slaapwel Records, a small record label specialized in music to fall asleep to, then artists belonging to the ambient instrumental scene adopted the idea. "Sleep Paths" by Cameron Webb's Seaworthy project is the eleventh release.

As a listener you're left with sleep-inducing records which don't need to keep your attention but just wish to quiet you down and disarm your brain. Suspense, tension, entrancement and surprise are out of question, so it is works conceived at first for fans of these artists and to those interested by the idea.

20 August 2012

Eiji Mitomi - planet (Childisc, 2007)

I listen to "Planet" ans I ask myself, where I've been these past five years?

Eiji,Mitomi is a musician, guitarist, composer from Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan. This is his third instrumental solo album for Nobukazu Takemura's Childisc Recordings.

19 August 2012

Unrecognizable Now ‎– two rooms (Kesh, 2012)

Since his debut album on 12k, "Monocoastal" (2010), Marcus Fischer has been quite busy with a bright second album on Tench, "Collected Dust", and successful collaborations with Taylor Deupree, The OO-Ray, Devin Underwood and Cory Allen.

He also found the time to record a new album with Matthew Jones for their project Unrecognizable Now which as been on the quiet side since an EP in 2008.

18 August 2012

Orca Orca - make live (2012)

If we were 20 years ago, "Make Life" would have been released on an obscure but reputed lo-fi tapelabel (Blackbean and Placenta, Cactus Gum, Studio Muscle or Shrimper maybe?) and I would be writing this review for some hard to find printed black & white indie fanzine.

Today, "Make Live" is available to everyone for free on Bandcamp and I'm publishing this on my Blogspot, both virtually available for anyone. I see this as a huge progress, and it helps to makes indie and the whole d-i-y. attitude as an even better alternative to mainstream art, while avoiding a sometimes too elitist or arty attitude. 

17 August 2012

Drops - believe you me (2012, Heat Death)

A few months ago I discovered the lovely summer intimate pastoral songs of Umber, solo project of Alex Steward. 

Liam Hennessy, of Drops, coming from Nottingham//Sheffield, might just be his sibling or best friend as both share a lot of similarities through their solo projects. 

A quick Google search confirmed this bet as it appeared they are indeed close friends.

16 August 2012

Outerhope - no end in sight ep (Number Line, 2012)

Outerhope is an established Filipino indie band from Manila. Composed of siblings Mike (guitar/harp/vocals) and Micaela Benedicto (synth/piano/vocals) they released so far two albums, one released in 2005 and the other one in 2009.

They just released a new EP available for free on the netlabel Number Line records.

15 August 2012

Bee Eyes - honeymoon ep (2012)

Bee Eyes is a polymorphous indie band from the Philippines and more precisely from Metro Manila. A four people band with the usual setup of two guitars, vocals, drums and bass. They play indie lo-fi songs which could have been recorded during de early nineties, somewhere between USA and UK. 

14 August 2012

Jedadiah Bernards - two poems/piano - (2012, Vintermusik)

This is official debut release of a young musician from Portland, Oregon : two short concise piano pieces for a total length underneath four minutes.

The contrast with the capharnaum which is his Soundcloud page is surprising.

13 August 2012

Josh Mason - temple bell (Sunshine Ltd., 2011)

Moving slightly forward in my exploration of the quite under the radar but inversely proportionally precious Sunshine Ltd label, after having enjoyed records by Jared Smyth and David Andree, I now discover the works of Josh Mason.

12 August 2012

Vio/Miré - four songs (2012)

Four new songs by Brendan Glasson, alleviating the wait for a new album, next to the superb "January 2009".

I surrender as soon as "Foxes" starts, as I know his songwriting escapes categorization and makes trial at criticism futile.

Each song is a grower and turns out to be dear.

11 August 2012

Eyedress - half japanese (2012, Number Line)

Idris Vicuña plays guitar for Bee Eyes but when he is busy with his solo project he almost totally forgets the guitar and embraces an immoderate love for all things synths, keyboards, beats and related to electro chillwave.

He released an instrumental album last June, called "Nature Trips" but forgot one important element, the vocals, and I find it indigestible.

10 August 2012

Kane Ikin - sublunar (2012, 12k)

First solo full-length release from Kane Ikin, who is also one half of Solo Andata, and who recently recorded one album with David Wenngren (Library Tapes). "Sublunar" follows the "Contail EP" (2011).

At first the moist, dense and warm atmospheres of the record made me think of Pan American, but the nearly absence of regular beats and melodies as central driving force made me realize it was somewhat a misdirection.

09 August 2012

Stephan Mathieu - coda (for wk) (2012, 12k)

New CD-EP (one single track of 20 minutes exactly) from Stephan Mathieu on 12k.

Sounds source have veen two antique mechanical-acoustic gramophones, fully processed and transformed digitally on a computer later. 

08 August 2012

David Newlyn - deterioration (Flaming Pines, 2012)

David Newlyn is a musician based in Durham, England. 

This new album has been recorded on micro cassettes, phones and cameras, using fields recordings taken while visiting the Belgian medieval city of Bruges. 

You never identify precisely those outdoor sounds but you can feel these through the music, as they create the atmosphere of the songs, so I imagine myself easily walking through quiet and dormant small roads between old buildings and along canals.

07 August 2012

Linear Bells - summer haze (2012)

Linear Bells is the project of David Teboul, a composer and sound artist based in Nantes, France. 

On "Summer Haze", he produces instrumental music which tends to be layered and finely textured ambient soundscapes. 

06 August 2012

Waves on Canvas - into the northsea (2012, Psychonavigation)

I have bad reasons for listening to "Into the Northsea".

Three singers related to the glory days of 4AD, Louise Rutkowski (This Mortal Coil), Pieter Nooten (Clan of Xymox / Michael Brook) and Ian Masters (Pale Saints / Spoonfed Hybrid) are contributing each one to a single song.

05 August 2012

Picture - true EP (2012, Cascine)

New pseudonym for David Kyhlberg: The Morning Paper, Sail a Whale and now Picture; and a first EP.

Which I found mind-blowing. I see parallels with the work of Stumbleine but David is much more belonging to the dreampop, shoegaze & twee scene, uses his own voice and shows an immoderate love for all sounds Fairlight CMI. You may call this dubtstep, chillwave, but mostly it is simply wonderful and heavenly, even if you're bathing into light and warm melancholic feelings.

04 August 2012

Marcus Fischer + The OO-Ray - tessellations 12" (2012, Optic Echo)

Sometimes collaborations between two artists you enjoy as seen as happy events you'll discover full of expectations. But the hopes are rarely met, and if it turns good it is sometimes by chance or by concessions.

Very rarely you can find complementarity and even less ofter symbiosis.

But as soon as I read that Ted Lateras (The OO-Ray) and Marcus Fischer were working on a record together it was bingo, I had the intuition it could be only very very good.

03 August 2012

Max Fotheringham - in all amber EP (Higher Living, 2012)

First release from Brussels-based singer-songwriter Max Fotheringham. Second release for the Belgian netlabel Higher Living Records. Bedroom folk solo recordings related to insomnia.

During the two first minutes of "Broken Banks" you get the impression that it will be very conventional and then at 2:00, his voice, progressively goes almost falsetto and you suspect the ghost of a whisper, and an electric echoed guitar joins injecting some welcome melancholy for the instrumental second part of the song. Your finally free to drift. 

02 August 2012

S.R.Félix - ep (My Little Cab, 2012)

There are plenty of interesting instrumental ambient records released monthly if not weekly, and it is simply impossible to keep up with these. As a listener, I'm looking for an identity, a particular perspective, and mostly for depth, sensitivity, warmth and melancholy.

This is the debut EP of Simon René Félix, an ambient folk musician from Lille (France). He is embracing the warm, quiet and atmospheric side of the genre.

31 July 2012

Kate Carr - return to new caledonia (Flaming Pines, 2012)

New EP for Kate Carr, "Return to New Caledonia" has been conceived using field recordings taken during a holiday trip in New Caledonia.

But we are far from atmospheric soundscapes, as the final result is mostly abstract and keeps a distance with colored emotional perspectives.

The Front Bottoms - the front bottoms (Bar/None, 2011)

The Front Bottoms are supposed to be just a two-piece acoustic-dance-indie-punk band, based out of Bergen County, NJ, one among many others, anonymous, efficient but not particularly remarkable, but no, their first album fro Bar/None records really simply stands apart.

29 July 2012

The Green Kindgom - incidental music (2012, Tench)

Seventh album by Michael Cottone, each one strangely on a different, but always respected indie label.

And I just noticed he is n°11 of my top artists on last.fm. Well I didn't realized he took so much importance in my aural life. Which is why maybe I feel directly connected to this new record,  not really able to start to criticize, much more in a discovery process of new developments which will join his previous corpus.

28 July 2012

S ND Y P RL RS - rex (Umor Rex, 2012)

It has been a slow process, the transformation fo Songs for Sunday Parlours into Sunday Parlours and next into S ND Y P RL RS, but it's the change of style which has been dramatic, from warm melancholic acoustic songs towards spectral and desperate electric soundscapes tending towards drone and dark ambient, where the vocals are mostly just whispers, for a result I would describe as Flying Saucer Attack sharing his sadness with Zelienople under the quietening effects of sleeping pills, or Roy Montgomery inside a barely lightened cave.

25 July 2012

Good Night & Good Morning - narrowing type (2012, Own Records)

"Narrowing Type" is both a demanding and rewarding album. Demanding because it is austere, like a July Skies, like a Bark Psychosis, like a Movietone, like a This Invitation record.

16 July 2012

Gifts - winter ep (2012)

Well, not so utterly extraordinary, but take the time to sit down, have a look on the lyrics and let the songs shake you. It is emotional, it is intimate too, it is haunted, sincere, humble and intense and the guitars are beautiful. 

24 June 2012

Purr - outlook (2012)

Purr (not to be confused with the French trio of the late nineties) is the solo project of an ambient musician from Melbourne.

And I find myself once again interested in this Australian ambient atmospheric scene, strangely translating the big open spaces and the immensity of their continent. 

21 June 2012

Tokyo Gardens - "Those Days" / "Today / Out Tonight" (2012)

I admit, I'm compulsively checking various blogs regularly in search of such gems.

Well nothing too spectacular, just reverb-drenched, melancholic lo-fi songs, with nice guitars and whispered vocals.

28 May 2012

High Highs - ep (2011)

Brooklyn based but with an origin in Sydney, Australia, High Highs is a duo formed by the songwriter Jack Milas, and the electro-pop producer Oli Chang, which is now a trio as the drummer Zachary Lipkins recently joined them.

21 May 2012

Swartz et - nighttide (Utter East, 2010)

Years ago, I've been listening to two previous projects of Steve Swartz, Au Revoir Borealis and For Wishes, enjoying certain tracks but without feeling overwhelmed and deeply captivated. Still behing the invisible limit.

His debut album as Swartz et appears rapidly to be something much more vital and deeply personal. It is not intended to seduce as a first motive, just like if stepping down from indie ambitions would finally have led to the real need to write and record music, reching authenticity and grace.

18 May 2012

Ambassador Engine - your birthday means the end of us (2012)

Ambassador Engine ends like it started, with this single track, "Your Birthday Means The End of Us", as an au revoir. A temporary hiatus as he is already recording under the name Grammatica.

This ambient instrumental resumes perfectly what I enjoy about Ambassador Engine.  There is this soft and tired melancholy, these intimate slowcore echoes which are the backbone of the scenario. 

17 May 2012

Seaworthy - bellows and breath (2012, Preservation)

New album by Seaworthy on Preservation. While still exploring the ambient soundscape sphere with solid ties to field recordings and a deep melancholic lucidity,  this time, Cameron Webb left his guitar aside and explored the full use of harmonium as new major element of predilection and signature, even if the acoustic guitar is still a recurring instrument.

11 May 2012

Black Sea Storm - 2009 (2009)

"2009" is the last of a series of three EP recorded by Ali Ozkan before he decided to stop singing in English and moved towards Turkish lyrics.

Even more than on  his previous EP's it sounds like a solo project trying to emulate the dimensions of a band, but without escaping totally the inherent limits.

10 May 2012

Charge Group - charge group (Own, 2012)

What you won't remove from them is the fact they are full of life and energy, full of sunlight and full of big open skies at night, full of the ocean and the desert, full of urban atmospheres and long highways separating them. 

This second album by Charge Group is of a vibrant intensity with both feet deeply anchored on their territory, with lungs full of vivacity.

08 May 2012

Ambassador Engine - halves (2009)

At first it was released as a split album with the equally obscure project M. Pyres and now it is offered as an EP on archive.org.

It is the second release by Aaron Landgraf that I discover. I gind it relatively less striking than his debut album I previously reviewed.

07 May 2012

Stumbleine - all for your smile (2011)

Shoegaze, dubstep, chillwave, I still don't know how to classify Stumbleine.

Discovering this EP backwards, after enjoying the "Rose Tinted" EP is everything but not a deception as it just shows the project of this musician from Bristol with just more emphasis on the guitar role. Besides that, the style is already fully present.

06 May 2012

Epic45 - fragment #3 (Monospone, 2012)

Through the ten last years, my interest for Epic45 grew slowly, and if I was relatively skeptical at first with their records, as I was much more into July Skies, the project of one of their friends, they managed to turn me slowly into a fan. 

If I was seeing them mostly at first as post-rock followers of Hood, they slowly developed their own identity and sensitivity, and along the way, they became essential too.

05 May 2012

Young Readers - family trees (2012)

Young Readers is the solo project of Jordan Herrera, from Enid, Oklahoma. He is writing slow melancholic bedroom indie folk songs, using acoustic guitar and some bass, violin and organ in the background.

It is well done but also very conventional and half of this EP is simply too saccharine for me. I'm surviving and still there for the review because the three other songs are striking this Hotel Alexis / Sparklehorse (their softest side) vibe. 

04 May 2012

Stumbleine - rose tinted (2011)

For sure I should hate of at least dislike Stumbleine, but one track and I'm down.

Ultra-processed vocals over slowed dubstep beats but with a nice melancholic pervading mood which reminds me in a row of Bark Psychosis, Massive Attack, The Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valmentine, Disco Inferno or Slowdive, even if it is totally a different style of music.

03 May 2012

Minus Pilots - hitting up the heavens (2012, Eat Sleep Repeat)

The artwork seems to be borrowed from some sci-fi comic strips from the seventies (Moebius, Jodorowsky, Mézières, etc.). There is also this strange use of vinyl static noises all throughout the album.Two aspects which give an exotic aspect to the album and distract the listener.

02 May 2012

Ambassador Engine - substraction, elation, hydration. (2008, Act So Big Forest))

Sometimes it's not easy to write about the music you're listening to, because words can be insufficient. 

Particularly with instrumental music when the dimension is intently intimate, introspective and delicate. 

Even if the musical style is really different, "Subtraction, Elation, Hydration.", with no traces of shoegazing, Ambassador Engine reminds me of Pasture, even if its is much more acoustic and unprocessed, because both of these artists stand apart from everything I could think of and ache me so deep inside.

01 May 2012

Cub Scouts - "pinocchio" ; "evie" & "do you hear" (2012)

It takes just 20 maybe 30 seconds and you're already sure it's a big fish. It's indie, it's indie pop, it's clever. It could be from Sweden, from a cousin band to Sambassadeur or Days, or a transplant from another era, some young nephew of missing bands such as Brighter, Human Television or The Go-Betweens.