Review: Arboreal – Deconstruction (Perpetual Abjection, Jun 3)

There are a lot of possibilities in composing wall noise in terms of the kinetic identity the artist wishes to bestow upon their creation; some pieces blaze forward with drive and fury; others are stubbornly stagnant, clawing and fighting temporal progression like an anchor along the ocean floor. Still others, like Deconstruction, seem to move independently of a linear direction, instead expanding outward from a defined center. Arboreal (a.k.a. Polwach Beokhaimook) allows his delicate, crackling structures to worm their way through the soil like the plants that initially inspired the work, fanning out from the stalk or trunk which here takes the form of a contained, choked rattling sound. As you spend more time with the single track on Deconstruction, the emanating static seems to trade prominence with this interior point, the former’s more expansive stereo movements drawing attention away from the latter’s obstinate stasis. Also present is a barely perceptible hiss, which could either be just a remnant of the techniques used to create the wall or even a muffled nature recording; I’m not really sure. What is certain, though, is that it is one of several elements that casts this release as a lushly detailed and intimate examination of organic growth, imbuing this relatively simple framework of sounds with the familiar characteristics of life.

Review: Nate Scheible – Indices (Never Anything, May 27)

For all of its delicate beauty, Nate Scheible’s brand of ambient music always has undercurrents of tension, hints of uneasiness buried beneath the floating drifts of effects-laden keyboard drones and samples. Indices has none of the vocal elements that were explored on Fairfax, the Washington, D.C. artist’s previous tape release, but no less of the woozy subliminity and emotional resonance. “A01” unfurls with bubbling movements drenched in reverb, soft gossamer waves of sound expanding outward atop a base of dusty tape recordings and crackling artifacts, setting the stage for more reserved sketches of this wonderfully diaphanous atmosphere—which, although I’m no synæsthete, is quite in line with the soft pink that was chosen for the cover design. As each of Scheible’s carefully constructed miniatures progresses, they move past beginnings fraught with uncertainty and strangeness—such as the abstract manipulations that introduce “A03” or the stifled chokes at the start of “B02″—into gorgeous stretches of harmony and tonal resolution like a deep sigh and a flop down on the couch after a long day of work. As you can probably guess, this is the perfect tape for me right now. By the time those rustling branches (or whatever they are) that conclude “B03” fade into existence, I am ready to drift away.

Review: Le geneS – Por Fin, la Marmota Accedió a Mutarse (Plus Timbre, Jun 2)

Though Por Fin, la Marmota Accedió a Mutarse was created through the collective trio improvisations of Jose María Pastor, David Ramos, and J.G. Entonado, a combination that already allows for unhindered spontaneity and musical freedom, the album somehow feels even more flexible than simply the freeform conversations of three musicians. “Estrella del Pop” establishes this feeling of limitlessness right away; an industrial-strength drone like the whir of some giant metal fan tears into existence, yet its strength is tempered by unpredictable pauses and a playful coda departure, whose suddenness signifies that no element is sacred. Using a veritable arsenal of modified instruments, custom-built devices, and their own bodies, Le geneS embarks on a tottering stumble through the endless possibilities of the musicians’ sonic chemistry, the results ranging from the whimsical call-and-response flutters that one might expect from a trio affair to the nightmarish vocal experiments of “El Cura de Mi Parroquia Es Ciego” and decaying, ersatz electronics of the nine minute epic “El Lenguaje Estrujado del Embalaje Deshecho.” Eclectic as it is, Por Fin… keeps itself from falling apart with the ever-present drum work of Pastor, who maintains a distinct style while always interacting with the various absurdities thrown his way.

Review: Chaver – Transference (Lower Class Kids, May 24)

I wouldn’t describe Transference as metallic just because of its chugging thrash-worship grooves and raw, vicious attitude, but also because the instruments themselves actually sound like they’re made of metal, all sharp junkyard edges and scraping rust as these ten concise tracks tear across the landscape. German trio Chaver’s sound draws from a variety of sources and influences, but at its heart are the rolling bass throbs and crash hits that are the backbone of tracks like “Ultimate Abuse”; this album is all about the breakdowns. The way the band builds anticipation for these cathartic blasts of chugging rhythm is varied and unpredictable. “Disinclined,” whose first half is a fast, fiery d-beat gallop, falls after a brief respite into a deliberate, halftime lead-in groove that provides a perfect link to the slower-paced thuds that conclude the track; “A Tool” draws its magnetism from metronomic, almost rap-like vocal delivery; and the headbanging unison hits of “Efficiency” require no further elucidation. Aside from the repose offered by “Feckless,” a small interlude between the album’s two halves, Transference is a nonstop barrage of punishing hardcore, and though the definite highlights are the slamming breakdowns there isn’t a single wasted moment.

Transference was originally released as an LP by Injustice Records earlier this year.

Review: Moon RA – Promenade Magnétique (Czaszka, May 29)

Promenade Magnétique is true computer music, every bit a “magnetic walk” through the annals of the software plugins and hardware used by Marie e le Rose to create these six short sound pieces. A faithful yet original homage to classic concrète music, Rose’s “field recordings of artificial landscapes” take on abstract physical forms in their impossible movements and synthetic contortions, almost completely isolated from any pure source material used. Each track is chock-full of detailed progression, never really following any sort of predictable linearity but instead exploring the possibilities of this unfettered magnetic landscape in increasingly complex ways. Rose’s manipulations are restless and kinetic, the tension barely contained even in the most reserved moments like the unstable drone that threatens to burst at any moment at the start of “D,” digital clicks and taps and oscillations expanding into shifting weaves of plasticky sonorities. As is common—yet never any less surprising—in even the most removed of electroacoustic compositions, the artificial soundscapes begin to evoke real-life phenomena in the mind of the listener: “A” adopts the tubular configuration of air flowing through a pipe, “C” mimics the bubbling motion of boiling liquid, “2” vibrates like an agitated metal surface. Despite the modest rules Rose gave herself to create this work, Promenade Magnétique is a formidable and far-ranging work of abstract electronic music.

Review: Matthew Atkins & Adam Kinsey – Lowercase (Minimal Resource Manipulation, May 22)

First, I want to thank anyone who sends me physical items for review. It’s already amazing to receive digital copies for consideration, but the fact that my writing warrants people wanting to pay to ship stuff to me is extremely humbling. I greatly appreciate it.

Lowercase documents a collaboration between British sound artists Matthew Atkins and Adam Kinsey, both of whom are quite active in London’s experimental music and improvisational community. The name of the CD evokes common traits of the titular genre, which often features an emphasis on silence and purposefully sparse composing, but the vivid constructions conjured by Atkins and Kinsey don’t feel restricted by any such constraints. The colorful two thirds of an hour of Lowercase bubble and boil through evolving mixtures of tactile object interplay, fragile granular textures, and field recordings coated in varying amounts of manipulation. The release situates itself in a sound-world that is consistently calming and always a bit familiar, but the two artists never neglect to push this envelope of comfort closer and closer to the breaking point, bending and twisting and stretching the elements they introduce into increasingly elusive configurations. The ever-present balance of the tangible and the detachedly synthetic, the distorted tape groans that conclude part one, the immersive but almost uncomfortably intimate stereo space… it all materializes into an abstract musical language that never quite lays all its cards on the table.

Review: Private Anarchy – Central Planning (Round Bale Recordings, May 31)

Lately, it’s rare that I get to listen to something the exact day it comes out (starting up full-time work again is kicking my privileged ass). It’s even rarer that I sit down to review something on its release date. As you can see, such an occurrence would necessitate a very special case—which is exactly what Private Anarchy’s new album Central Planning is. Private Anarchy is the moniker Clay Kolbinger uses for his one-man art punk project, which began with a small run of self-titled tapes—also on Round Bale—back in 2015, and provides an outlet for the idiosyncratic artist’s penchant for sardonic, rambling lyrics that reach new levels of deadpan and off-kilter instrumentals that are somehow tense and taut while also never seeming to be perfectly in sync. Kolbinger’s various endeavors all worm their way into my dearest musical preferences at varying locations, with Termite Acropolis providing some of my favorite wobbly DIY tape music, Maths Balance Volumes staking out a space in my most beloved outsider experimenters, and Davenport always transmitting the most beautiful of deconstructed folk music; Private Anarchy is no different, and on Central Planning even more so than the debut tape the music becomes truly enrapturing. The new record feels more developed and fully-formed, but still sounds appealingly scuzzy and stitched together, and there’s a bit more optimism to the oddball imagery and bone-dry sarcasm that Kolbinger mutters over his stumbling post-punk contraptions. This isn’t to say it’s any more accessible, however… even the shortest songs like “H.A.” and “The Catalog of Fire” explore bizarre textural worlds through their disorienting guitar interplay, and “Accumulation,” essentially an abstract tape piece whose only rhythmic consistency comes from the looping guitar strums, is PA’s strangest track yet. Private Anarchy’s ability to keep you constantly both bobbing and scratching your head is unmatched.