Title: No Cure
Braveyoung // Will the Dust Praise You
Portland ambient/drone project Braveyoung describe themselves as “a punk band, kind of”. That sentiment speaks to the fact that the band is sort of an enigma in the musical landscape. Previously collaborating with noise doom duo The Body on a wonderfully dark 3-track EP, Braveyoung has found ardent supporters in the most unlikely of places, the metal scene. Just Google this EP and you’ll find scads of blogs typically only cover metal talking about how beautiful this EP is. And I’m inclined to agree with them.
Featuring four tracks of gorgeously composed stringed arrangements, the EP is classified by the band as ambient drone, but in my eyes it’s almost more like neoclassical. With a heavy emphasis on tenderly plotted atmosphere, the tracks are understated and build towards gut-wrenching climaxes that feel nothing if not cinematic. I’m seriously struggling with how to put this release into words. It’s just something that you need to experience on your own. So find a quiet spot and revel in the beauty of Will the Dust Praise You.
On a side note, it’s weird to think that this band is best known for collaborating with The Body, a band that specializes in calculated ugliness, when this EP is anything but.
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Title: A Rabbit
Artist: The Big Ship
The Big Ship // A Circle Is Forever
Side note: I essentially came to discover this project through my obsession with horror movies. You see the label who released this album is called Hausu Mountain, named after the psychedelic cult Japanese horror film Hausu (a film for which I owe my love for to my good pal at Unholy Rhythms. Props.) I checked the label out and here we are. It all comes back to horror.
So The Big Ship. First of all this experimental ambient duo’s Twitter handle is EnoWorship, so that’ll give you some clues as to what’s in store here. Most of their sprawling musical numbers extend out towards the 7-minute mark with singing only occurring on a tiny fraction of the runtime. Within that framework the tracks range from gentle, rolling folk themes to soothing ambient synth work to marching electric guitar stomps that skate close to post-rock. And all the while the band is sealing all the cracks with well-plotted atmosphere and pleasant vibes. This is sit-back-and-relax music if ever there was such a thing. In fact I’m on my second run of this thing and I’m one pillow and a blanket away from the best nap of my life. See ya.
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Black Polygons // Accalmie
Cyril Rampal, better known as Black Polygons, just released his proper debut album Accalmie. The shy and secretive French native specializes in minimal ambient output that is light on composition yet intense when it comes to atmosphere.
I’ve featured Black Polygons a couple times here before because I think that he is very effective at what he does. Cyril specializes in perfect little moments. His tracks are typical short (less than 3 minutes), but he captures and capitalizes on the tracks’ strengths before abruptly releasing them. Wringing thick atmosphere out of a few basic elements, Cyril also manages to give the music and intensely cinematic quality. It’s the sort of music that inspires imagination in me similar to the way that artists like The Caretaker or Smokey Emery have. There is not a ton of variety on the album so if you are looking for something super dynamic this isn’t going to be your thing. But if you like your music to feel like a soothing audio massage, then check Accalmie out. It knows the sweet spots.
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Whatever™ // NO AU!
Portuguese mysterioso cassette tape label Exo Tapes have just released their latest in a string of experimental, drone, and ambient works. Label head “J” (Sofa Pits, Mediafired, JCCG) sent it to me last week and I’m just getting around to sharing it today because that’s how long it took me to sort of wrap my head around it. The label has always dealt in music that could loosely even be labeled as such, but their latest tape from Whatever™ pushes that notion to its farthest reaches.
The individual behind Whatever™ has always had a presence in Exo Tapes workings, but it’s always been as an art designer. His work is always a sort of a minimal collage take on found art (have a look). It’s a sort of repurposing of images from various places and making something new out of them. That notion sort of speaks to NO AU!, his first official release for the label. It’s not to much ambient noodlings as it is a compiling of field recordings from a tannery layered over top of each other. There’s more to it than that, but I’ll let you do the digging. It’s a interesting conceptual release that’s soothing as it is interesting.
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Artist: Black Polygons
Black Polygons // “Whisper”
Cyril Rampal AKA Black Polygons just sent his latest track over to me and after just one listen I can confidently say that the man has done it again. If you’re new to the project make sure you go back and listen to his previous EP Landscape before digging into this new track. It will only make you appreciate it all the more.
“Whisper” is the first taste of Cyril’s upcoming album Accalmie (due out February 18th) and it’s got me pretty excited. It’s amazing how he is able to wrangle the minimalist ambient tones and wring a lonely melody out of them. There is also a surprising amount of weight given to this simple arrangement even though it is only a meshing of three simple elements: guitar distortion, ambient synths, and the lightest of percussive beats. The insurmountable wave of ambient music running rampant all over the blogosphere has made it so that it takes something special to catch my ear. Call me crazy, but I think this guy has got it.
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Artist: albino deers
Albino Deers // Albino Deers
I’ve been really fascinated with the French cassette tape label Carpi Records for a few weeks now. They have a gentle aesthetic and release mainly ambient music that is heavy on atmosphere. One of their more recent releases comes from a project called Albino Deers and, in keeping with the internet age of anonymity, there is little information to be found about the identity of the person(s) behind the curtain.
Dealing mostly in looped samples, Albino Deers has crafted an album whose tone has a surprising range. Tracks like “Fleurs” and “Fur, Fur” feel like gently falling bits of snow ala the cover artwork while tracks like “Oliver” and “Decay” are downright ominous (the latter even includes some 1950’s sci-fi synth work). They even found a way to put the crackle of vinyl scratches to good use. Being one who doesn’t dabble in ambient music all that much I was surprised at how rapt I was by the album (perhaps the short runtime helped). I’ll most likely be revisiting this one again in the coming wintry months.
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Title: Ice Wear
XVXV // XV
This how the email went:
Free to increase your TV Size! Kissing hits of 90s/00 are here again!
XVXV XV: http://xvxv.bandcamp.com/album/xv
Magical Jewel. Taste and Believe. XVXV will guide you.
To respond to this message, press 1 now The night it calls only once. Be aware and be yourself. Be with me tonight.
What the? I don’t even know. All I can tell you is that XVXV is apparently from Hong Kong (according to their Bandcamp page, which could be a ruse) and they have a thing for ambient synths and 90’s R&B. It’s pretty icy stuff and is mostly just swirling ambient tones, but there are enough ooh’s, ahh’s, and sighs to give it a slight R&B flavor. Confusing. Relaxing. Figured I’d share. You’ll want headphones handy for this one.
Artist: Black Polygons
Black Polygons // Landscape EP
(Please, I implore you to listen to this. Yes, I know that’s a triangle, but I assure you that this has nothing to do with drag or witch-house or whatever you wanna call it.)
Black Polygons is the musical project of Cyril Rampall. When I reached out to him for more info on the enigmatic project, Cyril responded with only a sentence or two. In fact the only thing he said to me was: “I’m from Paris, and this EP is my third release. Recorded here, at my home.” A man of few words. I can dig it.
Opting to instead let the music do most of the talking, I can tell you that Landscape is a short collection of minimalist tracks that wield a crushing beauty. Featuring mostly sonic tones created with synths and guitars, these three tracks showcase an organic beauty. Like when the wind sweeps through the trees in just the right way to create a natural musicality. Haunting, ethereal, and gorgeous.
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Artist: Low Praises
Low Praises // Waste the Night
It’s a bit shameful that I’ve waited a few weeks to share this album, but I’m rectifying that now. Here is Waste the Night, the debut album from Low Praises. This dynamic duo consists of Jimmy Spice (Liquid Skulls, Poppy Red) and Neil Lord (Future Museums, Niall) and showcases the wonderful byproducts that result from mashing these two creative brains together. Featuring album art by Nicolas Nadeau (Single Lash), Waste the Night is an opus of glistening pop psychedelia that’s as bright as the colors that grace the cover.
Bringing everything in their respective arsenals to the table, it’s as if Jimmy and Neil spread everything out in front of them and said, “Okay what can we make with this?” From there they started stacking elements to create new structures. Some swirling synth tones here, some shimmering guitar lines there, and a healthy dollop of warbling vocals right in the middle. The resulting album is a work of varying temperatures and depths. Feel free to wade around in it, but I would recommend diving in headfirst and swimming around for a while.
Good Amount // Habit
Christian Michael Filardo is prolific as he is endlessly creative. Awhile back he threw out a request for some doom and black metal recommendations on Facebook. Amidst a sea of responses I managed to tuck my own recommendations in there because I knew that Christian was most likely up to something. Well, it turns out that that hunch was right on the money. For the past few weeks Christian has been hard at work constructing a new Good Amount album inspired by all that metal he’s been pumping through his system (think Mount Eerie’s Wind’s Poem). The result is Habit, a work of crushing beauty and relentless dark.
Aligning it with doom metal conventions the album is two tracks with a runtime of over 40 minutes. It’s a beast, no doubt, and one that requires patience and concentration of the listener. And although the album is inspired by black metal, you’re not bound to find any tremolo picking or blast beats here. You see, Habit is very much a tone project (and a very dark one at that). What you will find are Good Amount’s signature synths, his penchant for vocal experimentation, and some pretty heavy guitar distortion that pretty much permeates the entire release. It’s an album with a bleak atmosphere, shrouded in mystery, helmed by a young man eager to try something new.
Habit is out on cassette May 26th via Snorin’ Desert Records. Stream it in its entirety below:
Wreck and Reference // No Youth
It was well over a year ago when I first featured California metal band Wreck and Reference. Their debut release Black Cassette was a great initial step and while I certainly loved it, I could see it as potential groundwork for something much greater down the line. With the band’s newest album No Youth they capitalize on 100% of that potential and craft an album that is as intense as it is relentlessly dark. It has routinely blown my mind since the band sent it my way a few days ago.
Having been a fan of these guys since the beginning, I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled I am to witness them put together an album so expertly crafted. The greatest thing that I can say about No Youth is that with it Wreck and Reference have truly carved out a niche for themselves that is all their own. In funneling numerous genres down into a pool of noise, traces of doom and black metal, spoken word, industrial, drone and ambient noise all get swept up in the oncoming flood. All that is left to do is let the inky, black waters of not only one of the most exciting and versatile metal albums this year but one of the best albums period wash over you.
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Solar Bears // “Cosmic Runner”
There is always music to look forward to, but seldom are the times when I find myself so eagerly anticipating an album that I can barely stand the wait. Solar Bears’ forthcoming Supermigration is one of those times.
One of the things that I love most about the Irish duo’s music is that it is a perfect companion piece to my love for genre films. They create this perfect hybrid of different styles that at times reminds me of horror film scores of the late 1970’s or early 1980’s (John Carpenter, Ennio Morricone, Goblin) while other times their sound is more reminiscent of sci-fi. But wherever the band is pulling influence from, you can always guarantee that the result will be dense and atmospheric arrangements.
Take a listen to this cut from Supermigration that John sent me called “Cosmic Runner.” It’s about as deep space as the title would suggest and it shows that the band is back and in top form as well.
Side note: Did you guys see the trailer for Beyond the Black Rainbow yet? The aesthetic that Solar Bears have honed over the last few years (and of which “Cosmic Runner” is a perfect example) is almost a perfect match to the vibe and the look of the trailer. It’s almost eerie! Check it out!
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Title: Wakeup Call
Artist: Diane Kensington Devotional Band
Diane Kensington Devotional Band // 34 Wordless Mantras
In all honesty I don’t even know where to start with this one. Today has been a very strange day for me and I didn’t really feel like sharing anything, but then I remembered this double-album (I guess you can call it an album) and it just seemed to fit whatever I was going through. I mentally just refer to it as 34 Wordless Mantras when in fact the complete title is: 34 Wordless Mantras For Augmented Ascension Meditation And Silencing Your Inner Monologue NOW! Vol. 1: Deep Listening Party + 32 Wordless Mantras For Augmented Ascension Meditation And Silencing Your Inner Monolgue NOW! Vol. 2: Immersion In “Secret Harmon. So yeah…suck on that, Fiona Apple.
Created by the same mind(s) that brought us Zonotope™ (which is strange enough in its own right), Diane Kensington Devotional Band is an outlet for subconscious expression and sci-fi romanticism. The entire release is a whopping 66 tracks long and they are currently all sitting pretty in my iTunes. I have yet to make it through the whole thing but the decent chunk I have digested has been bizarre yet intensely listenable. Silky tones and pastel colors run rampant and there is so much to dig into here. It really runs the gamut as far as sound experimentation so if you aren’t digging a particular track then just wait a few moments because everything will mutate from top to bottom.
You can purchase the double-album either on cassette or digitally from the bandcamp site. I can’t guarantee that you’ll like it, but hopefully you’ll find it as curious and endlessly fascinating as I have.
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chushi // V0SLF
I might not always understand what chushi is doing, but I’m always fascinated by it. In truth, I don’t even know anything at all about whoever is behind this. So, chushi if you’re out there hit me up because I’d love to know.
Anyways, here is their latest entitled V0SLF. The SLF part of that stands for Seven Legged Face, a label that is just as mysterious. The whole release is around three minutes long and it plays pretty much straight through, so it’s basically pointless for me to choose just one “track” to share. But alas, it seems that I’ve done just that.
If you’re familiar with what chushi does, then you’ll know that they specialize amorphous blobs of dissonant and ambient noise. And as time goes on it seems that the tracks not only get shorter but they also shy farther and farther away from convention. It might sound like I’m being negative, but all of this is what makes the music so alluring to me. I’m fascinated by the trajectory of these releases and I’m always anticipating what is coming next. You can download V0SLF for free on bandcamp or you can also grab it from this link. Give it a shot.
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Troller // Troller
Hailing from Austin, Texas the girls known as Troller have crafted an album that had I given it a more thorough listen when it came out last month it would have landed on my year-end list. And yes, it is that good. Now I usually try to avoid likening one band to another, but in this case I can’t really help but draw comparisons… well a comparison. When I’m listening to Troller I feel myself being pulled downward into the same smokey dreamworld that fellow Austin resident Sleep ∞ Over tapped into with Forever.
Where I see the difference here is that Troller is a bit more calculated in their approach. Instead of letting the music wander around following its own beats, things feel harnessed and controlled just enough here. The guitars create this slow-churning buzz that in conjunction with with the percussion set the foundation for the more ethereal elements represented by the synths and the otherworldly vocals. Everything together is utterly mesmerizing and feels distant yet somehow close enough to lightly run your fingers along.
I’m not sure if this album saw any sort of physical release, but I’d really like to know because I’d love to own a piece of this world. For now you’ll have to settle for streaming it on either their bandcamp or soundcloud.