Reviews

Sister Grotto, ‘Blindside’

August 16, 2016

Sister Grotto, ‘Blindside’ Heavy Mess, 4.19.16 In an interview this past April, as she told Decoder about the long process of unearthing her voice as an artist, Madeline Johnston pinpointed a moment when she realized her music “could find a home in a larger body.” She was talking about hearing Married in Berdichev live — recognizing... 

Klaus Johann Grobe, ‘Spagat der Liebe’

August 10, 2016

Klaus Johann Grobe, ‘Spagat der Liebe’ Trouble in Mind, 5.6.2016 Toward the end of their debut LP on Trouble In Mind Records, Im Sinne Der Zeit, Swiss rockers Klaus Johann Grobe — Sevi Landolt and Daniel Bachmann — cleared their monolithic bass-and-keys drive into breathtaking, wide open spaces. The trend begins around “Aufstand,”... 

Icepick, ‘Amaranth’

August 3, 2016

Icepick, ‘Amaranth’ Astral Spirits, 1.22.16 In a poetic doubling of firsts, Icepick, the first project to release a cassette on the outward-bound Monophonus Press imprint Astral Spirits, returned earlier this year with their and the label’s debut vinyl offering, Amaranth. If you started collecting the Astral... 

Garde Forestier, ‘S/T’

July 29, 2016

Garde Forestier, ‘S/T’ Field Hymns & Cocktail Pueblo, 6.15.16 Garde Forestier of Tours, France seem intent on presenting themselves as nebulous. Their self-titled debut cassette is a collection of brooding loops that meander through a twilit wilderness, fitting for a moniker that translates to “Forest Ranger.” They... 

Boy Harsher, ‘Yr Body is Nothing’

July 26, 2016

Boy Harsher, ‘Yr Body is Nothing’ DKA Records, 6.20.16 The mesmerizing debut LP from the Northampton, MA-based cold wave duo Boy Harsher is a terrible kind of beauty. Highly danceable fantasy narratives of desire and nuanced discomfort manifest in the ten dark tracks on Yr Body is Nothing. Originally formed under the moniker Teen Dreamz,... 

Joanna Brouk, ‘Hearing Music’

July 19, 2016

Joanna Brouk, ‘Hearing Music’ Numero Group, 5.6.2016 Hearing Music is more or less the only accessible collection from Missouri-born and later California-based composer Joanna Brouk, outside of a modestly successful string of self-released cassettes in the 80s and a re-issue of one — Sounds of the Sea — in the early... 

Common Eider, King Eider, ‘Extinction’

June 23, 2016

Common Eider, King Eider, ‘Extinction’ Cold Spring, 4.11.2016 With Extinction, Common Eider, King Eider continues to evolve with another step away from the template they set out on their folksy 2007 début How to Build a Cabin. The four piece, led by former Deerhoof man Rob Fisk, maintains its connection to the earth and its dusty contents... 

CHANTS, ‘The Zookeeper’

June 9, 2016

CHANTS, ‘The Zookeeper’ Astral Plane Recordings, 4.29.16 Jordan Cohen’s draw toward a fragmented sound developed slowly. In his older work, such as 2015’s We Are All Underwater (Hush Hush Records), Cohen — a.k.a. CHANTS — dealt with composition vertically, looping and piling parts on top of each other,... 

Beacon Sound Choir, ‘Sunday Morning Drones’

June 1, 2016

Beacon Sound Choir, ‘Sunday Morning Drones’ Infinite Greyscale, 3.18.16 Sunday Morning Drones is a lush slab of vocal drone from Peter Broderick and a collection of 30+ singers, dubbed the Beacon Sound Choir. Whether you play it at the proper 45 RPM or the accidentally amazing and stretched-out 33 RPM, this two-part record of bellowing bliss... 

Aglaia is Always Wrong, ‘Forgetful Diver’

May 24, 2016

Aglaia is Always Wrong, ‘Forgetful Diver’ More Mars, 2.29.16 Almost a decade into his career as a sound artist, there’s still precious little information to be found on whoever is behind Aglaia is Always Wrong. We know he’s male, based in Greece and a member of the free-rock duo Svounia, otherwise… well, that’s about... 

Yeongrak, ‘Brainsoutclock’

May 4, 2016

Yeongrak, ‘Brainsoutclock’ End of the Alphabet Records, 4.4.16 I first came across producer yeongrak near the end of 2014 when music critic Adam Harper included him in one of his System Focus columns for The Fader.  At the time, yeongrak was exploring an interzone somewhere between noise, beats and footwork — sped-up sandpapery... 

Ocean Viva Silver, ‘The Sleep in Opera’

April 28, 2016

Ocean Viva Silver, ‘The Sleep in Opera’ The Sublunar Society, 2.8.16 The Sleep in Opera from French artist and experimental composer Ocean Viva Silver (Valérie Vivancos) is an ambient sound exploration into the soft hums of bodily relaxation. The conceptual album is devised wholly of field recordings made from a series of sleep happenings... 

Harry Knuckles, ‘Tónmennt’

April 21, 2016

Harry Knuckles, ‘Tónmennt’ FALK, 2.2.16 Tónmennt, attributed to Harry Knuckles, is reportedly the full-length debut from Reykjavik-based recorder Frímann Ísleifur Frímannsson… reportedly because there’s only a fairly thin thread to follow through the project’s backstory. I can say with certainty that... 

Joe McPhee, ‘Zurich (1979)’

April 13, 2016

Joe McPhee, ‘Zurich (1979)’ Astral Spirits, 1.22.2016 Joe McPhee knows two modes in the solo. He knows the warrior and he knows the sputter. He can occupy everything in between too, percussively amalgamating pieces of phrases, here and there. He is the truest definition of the jazz multi-instrumentalist, having occupied the flugelhorn,... 

John Bellows, ‘L O N G EP’

April 11, 2016

John Bellows, ‘L O N G EP’ Planted Tapes, 1.15.16 About once a year, I try to review a singer-songwriter and find myself working through a tangential monster of a preface having to do with the viability of the form and the lack of lyrical appreciation in today’s culture, based on an imagined transformation of the culture... 

The Body, ‘No One Deserves Happiness’

March 31, 2016

The Body, ‘No One Deserves Happiness’ Thrill Jockey Records, 3.18.2016 Some five or six years ago, I walked into a DIY spot full of unfamiliar crusties in a still unfamiliar midwestern town, expecting to see a punk show with all of the discomfort that comes with it; scenesters, dudes smashing into each other, drinking cold beer in even... 

Blind Alfred Reed, ‘Blind Alfred Reed: Appalachian Visionary’

March 25, 2016

Blind Alfred Reed, ‘Blind Alfred Reed: Appalachian Visionary’ Dust-to-Digital, 2.19.2016 Dust-to-Digital’s expansive new compilation of Virginia-born and West Virginia raised Blind Alfred Reed (1880-1956) is subtitled Appalachian Visionary, an appropriate sobriquet whatever his ocular condition. As a West Virginian, I’m particularly fond of our... 

Suspect, ‘Faux Empath’

March 17, 2016

Suspect, ‘Faux Empath’ Night-People Records, 1.24.2016 With its grisly imagery and blood spattered cover, it would be easy for one to assume that Faux Empath, the first tape from Chicago artist Suspect, is an enjoyably “experimental” release that follows in the rich history of “experimental”  artists... 

Sapropelic Pycnic, ‘A Love Supreme’

March 14, 2016

Sapropelic Pycnic, ‘A Love Supreme’ No Index, 1.5.2016 The first irony of covering John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme is that, for me at least, that work hardly served as an introduction to Coltrane. During my first explorations of jazz music, it was Ascension and Meditations that acquainted my ears with his uncanny vision. From this... 

Shapes / Melfi, ‘Split’

March 4, 2016

Shapes / Melfi, ‘Split’ Umor Rex Records, 1.8.2016 The day I am writing this review is also the six-month anniversary of my cubicle job. I stepped out of the classroom after nine years last May and, after a final summer vacation scouring Indeed and Glassdoor, landed a gig as a technical writer for a mortgage company. I offer... 
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