Review: Libramar – Parts of Caves (self-released…?, Sep 25)

I first started getting into the No-Neck Blues Band during my last few years of high school, a time when I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by friends and acquaintances who were as passionate about music listening and discussion as I was . . . which meant that, occasionally, I was faced with the challenge of answering an always-difficult classic question—”What do you like about this?” It’s often hard to elucidate what it actually is you enjoy about something, especially when you’re new to it and don’t know nearly as much as you think you do (I definitely was, and still am, one of the distinct species of “that kid”), but I eventually found an explanation for the appeal of No-Neck’s loose, idiosyncratic musical messes in a sort of spatial analogy: many of their recordings begin in disconnected, disparate disorder and gradually, fluidly progress into something more coherent, an approach mined by many, granted, but few to the cathartic heights of the Band. I deploy this (characteristically) long-winded introduction to give me the tools I need to express my appreciation for something newer and less familiar: Austrian duo Libramar’s second tape in a pair of debut documents, volume one of Parts of Caves (the other, released on September 23, is volume one of Dronau Canal). To record this ramshackle sheaf of tracks, Roy Culbertson III and Lucas Henao melded minds in a Vienna “dungeon” with a collaborative arsenal of synths and other electronics, percussion, and field recordings, drawing from both abstract textural sensibilities and metered tribal/ritualistic sonics to sculpt invocations of psychedelic occultism. The No-Neck comparison is probably most earned by opener “The Cage Holds It All Together,” a lengthy sprawl in which my “picking up the pieces” image is also found; though Culbertson and Henao remain eternally reticent in their use of rhythm, dynamic progression, and harmonic resolution, the tiny fragments that are present work miracles. They even somehow manage to keep me spellbound through the last second of the ultra-minimal “Beat Leftover,” and its effectiveness as a closer is a testament to the singular accomplishments made here.