Alis - Things Next Door [Astro:Dynamics]
Alis first came to my attention through her excellent release Azimuth on the leftfield British house label Don't Be Afraid. It was a collection of synth drenched floor ready beats with her voice being the stand out instrument. Noted Creme affiliated artist D'Marc Cantu was the single remixer on that release, indicative of the direction that Alis was aiming for. Her next and most recent release for Astro:Dynamics is a completely different batch of sonics. With the exception of her vocals, it isn't even recognizable as being produced by the same artists. This one is an eyes down, heady set of ambient pop that's closer to the works of electronic songstresses like Julianna Barwick and Tropic of Cancer. Through use of loop pedals these works have a much looser and more improvised feel than her previous works. 11 utilizes short cut up loops of her vocals that sound like the destroyed, ghosted remnants of a forgotten techno anthem. 020 and Leslape refine her vocals into an instrumental quality and smear any vocabulary into an ethereal mush. The last cut Things Next Door takes things even further into pure abstraction that transforms her voice into phonetic drone.
Blue Krishna - Repeat Until Death [Nostilevo]
A product of the sun caked mush that is the LA underground tape scene, Repeat Until Death combines Sun Araw's distorted tropical heat with PiL's death disco. Nostilevo are one of the most interesting tape labels based in Los Angeles, churning out a series of noisey, degraded wave inspired music that uses the intrinsic sound qualities of tapes to amplify the experience of the music. I got the feeling that Blue Krishna's effort wouldn't be as interesting if it were better produced, but that's not to say that the music is of a sub standard quality underneath all the noise. Rather, in composing the tunes they had this very specific medium in mind and wrote around the boundaries, playing up to the strengths that are possible within tape releases. Repeat Until Death is a collection of post-punk inspired electronics that begs to be heard out of a blown out second rate car system while driving down a sunset, palmed tree laden drive intoxicated by Malibu, amphetamines and rotten coconuts. Reverberated vocals are combined with heavily over driven electronics and a tape hiss that sounds like it was compressed specifically to add an extra layer of murkiness throughout the whole thing. If you're into the Minimal Wave label or classic Olde English Spelling Bee records, this one is for you.
Cane Swords - Temple Swords [Field Hymns]
Featuring one of the best album covers I've seen all year, Temple Swords is a bonkers piece of cosmic synth music from the Field Hymns tape label.The first cut Tempel Travel Thugee seems to batter and ruin your mind, refreshing your inner pallet so it can rebuild it up again with the relatively quieter vibes of the next few tracks. The fact that the word Temple is in the album title should be a clue about how to approach this release. It's one of ritual and liminality. This is music for holistic introspection and contemplation, a way to think about life and the perception of ourselves. A lot of modern synth music is in the tradition of the best new age music of old that aimed for relaxation and meditation. This seems to aim more for the kind of cosmic komische music that was more intrusive in it's intention, think Irrlicht era Klaus Schulze. It's music to listen to in the pitch black and give your full intention to, not one to quietly cat nap while it's playing at a neighbor friendly volume on speakers stained by incense and lemongrass. This is the dark shit and it invites you inside.
My Panda Shall Fly - Higher [Sonic Router]
Sonic Router have long been a gold mine for the best that British inspired dance music has to offer and has since expanded into a label that has continued a similar musical aesthetic that they comment on as a website. They have a nack for seeing the potential in lesser known artists and given them a podium to showcase their work. Some of the most interesting artists working at the moment (Archie Pelago, Wanda Group and October for example) were all bigged up by them at early points in their career. It feels like they've caught another one with Higher, the fourth release by London's own Suren Seneviratne aka My Panda Shall Fly and it's is a wicked 6 tracker of techno inspired beat music. It has a similar vibe and sound to the music that the Brainfeeder label churns out but glazed through the Actress soaked haze of 4am South London. Sonic Router couldn't of picked a better medium to release this music on because the analogue warmth of tape hiss perfectly suits the ramshackle style of the beats. Seneviratne encourages a sloppy rhythm and lets the music seemingly fumble over each other. This is confirmed by the standout cut Crac, a song that's crying out for some bars by wonky bars DOOM.
Pulse Emitter - Equinox [Constellation Tatsu]
Pulse Emitter has consistently been one of the most talented and interesting producers making the kind of closed eyes, early morning komische music that has thankfully made a big resurgence over the past decade. With countless releases on various formats he's earned his soporific stripes and can now be filed under that enviable category 'buy on sight'. His most recent release for the always excellent Constellation Tatsu imprint is unsurprisingly a beauty. With five cuts that indulge in the kind of ambiance that he's become known for, it's a perfect wistful journey that could send you to sleep like a baby or wake you up in that early hour of the morning where everything seems like it has a deeper, existential meaning underneath. Equinox is part of Tatsu's winter batch along with some lovely releases by Hakobune and MJ Guider that are as worthy of your special time as this one.