2014: The Next 50

VentHappy New Year!  By now we’ve put the old year to bed and are ready for something new.  Here’s an advance look at first quarter releases, including our top picks for the upcoming season and a host of streaming samples!

Note:  If you’re just interested in the sounds, go directly to our News page, where all 50 samples are streaming; but if you’d like to learn a bit more about what you’re hearing, stay right here!

Ambient and Drone
Let’s start with the very first release of the year, a beautiful record on Own.  Wasting no time, this vinyl album is being released on New Year’s Day!  The title of the preview track is perfect for the season:  “Winter to Spring, Further Than First Thought”.  David Andree + Josh Mason‘s Call, Response continues the hot streak for Own, who went on a tear throughout 2013 with a series of great releases.  The artists sent the files back and forth over a series of months, like letters in the snow.  These sounds are bound to keep one warm throughout the January chill.

Next up is site favorite Machinefabriek, who released a couple albums in late 2013 and has already announced some for 2014, including a solid contender called Stillness, accompanied by imagery from Esther Kokmeijer.  This USB/postcard release is exceedingly lovely, as one can glean from the teaser video below.  The release ships January 7, and will soon be followed by Drum Solos on Backwards and the cello-infused Halfslaap II/Stiltetonen on White Paddy Mountain (February).

Somehow Recordings has just become Vent.  After releasing Kate Carr‘s Dark Days on Christmas Day, the reinvented label has announced a busy release schedule for 2014.  The label’s Soundcloud page is the best way to keep track of new and upcoming recordings, as they tend to be released with quick notice and in many cases sell out swiftly.  Already scheduled are Kadzuki Ikegaya‘s Collage and Koen Daigaku‘s Foam on the Waves (both released 7 January), Joshua Caro‘s outside of time, we moved and Yawn‘s Erektrocution (both January) and Abelest‘s electronic A Space Odessey (February).  And if you’re curious about the cover image for this feature, it’s Vent’s new public photo!

Also in Ambient:  Ambient Mechanics’ War and Peace (Uncoiled Loops, 5 January) is dedicated to those who suffered and died during WWII.  Alicia Merz returns as Birds of Passage on 24 January with The Kindly Slumber (Denovali).  Faures impresses with Continental Drift on Home Normal (31 January and already reviewed at ACL); Dollboy stretches the sounds of tuning orchestras on Tuning Loops (Awkward Formats, January); and Porya Hatami returns with the beguiling music box tones of Shallow (Tench, February).  Finally, some of our favorite artists, including Field Rotation, Loscil, Radere, Ruhe and William Ryan Fritch, contribute to Benoit Pioulard‘s Hymnal Remixed on Lost Tribe Sound (21 January), setting the stage for the upcoming release of Fritch’s new album.

Also in Drone:  Synsophony‘s Rabbit Hole (5 January) is a dark, 20-minute excursion into fractured electronics and industrial fog; Rene Margraff (also known as Pillowdiver) comes to Home Normal with the evocative phasen (24 January); Arche offers buried tones and occasional drums on First Cause (Psychonavigation, 24 March); Matthew Collings moves further into the experimental realm with the elaborately packaged Fireworks and the Dead City Radio (mini50 Records, 24 March); Dino Spiluttini and Nils Quak team up for the split release Modular Anxiety, a study in (you guessed it!) modular synthesizer (Umor Rex, 28 January); sitar and cello are featured in the drones of Black Vines’ The Shadows We Cast (Fluid Audio, February) and Ian Hawgood and Brian Green combine forces as Ghosts in the Alleys (Of Our Heart) for the thick tones of During the Minority (Komu, 29 January).  Fabrica releases the thorough Luciernaga retrospective Collected Works 2008-2013 on 14 January; Kyle Bobby Dunn remasters and reissues his first work, Fragments and Compositions Of, on 20 January (Low Point).  We also have word (but no samples) of Petrels’ latest album Mima, set to drop on Denovali in February.  And with Petrels’ move to Denovali, former label Tartaruga is set to introduce us to another winner in Glottalstop, whose debut album Woodsmoke (January) is a cello-based, tape manipulated set that sounds incredibly original and beguiling.

Steve Stoll‘s Orb-like Praxis drops 13 January on Psychonavigation, who is also prepping Lorenzo Montana‘s synth work Leema Hactus for release on 10 February; Kaumwald and Lumisokea offer dark beats on Kaumwald and Apophenia (Opal Tapes, 27 January); heads will nod to Bozu‘s Never Odd or Even (Korm Plastics, 3 February); and Thug Entrancer brings the bop with Death After Life IV (Software, 10 February).

Modern Composition
This winter, the field is dominated by the sound of the piano.  Kamifukuoka‘s Music for Red Curtain (Assembly Field) kicks things off on 12 January, followed swiftly by Takuma Watanabe‘s more orchestral Ansiktet (Parallel Music) four days later and the one-two punch of Carlos Cipa and Sophie Jani‘s piano duet album Relive (Denovali) and Stefano Guzzetti‘s solo At Home. Piano Book Volume One (Home Normal) a day after that.  Otto A Totland rounds out the month with the wintry, close-miked Pinô (Sonic Pieces) on the 31st.  The fun continues in February as Fabrizio Paterlini‘s aptly-titled The Art of the Piano debuts on February 4.  Temporary Residence brings us Hauschka‘s darkly melodic, fully orchestrated Abandoned City on 18 March; and looking way into the future, we find Bruno Bavota‘s The Secret of the Sea scheduled for a late April release on Psychonavigation.  But the hottest MC album for winter should be Origamibiro‘s Odham’s Standard on Denovali, due in February.  This will be preceded on January 17 by a boxed set of the creative band’s last three discs.  Flau is also reissuing an expanded edition of Danny Norbury‘s Light in August on January 13; and for more cello (plus drone and field recordings), check out Anne Guthrie‘s complex Codiauem variegatum this January on Students of Decay.

Rock and Post-Rock
A couple big releases are set to kick off the year in style, beginning with the return of Mogwai.  Lead track “Remurdered” dropped a couple months ago, and the rest of Rave Tapes follows on 20 January (Sub Pop).  From what we’ve heard, the album will continue the dark path tread on the band’s score for The Returned.  Thee Silver Mount Zion‘s Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything drops the very next day on Constellation; it will be interesting to see these two go head-to-head.  We think the post-rock world is big enough for both of them, and the latter’s copious use of vocals ensures that the two will never be confused.  Sunn O))) and Ulver‘s Terrestrials drops two weeks later on Southern Lord, and we’re already in love with the highly orchestrated sound of its first preview track.

Also in Rock and Post-Rock:  Tomorrow the Rain Will Fall Upwards offers two “elegies in dub” with the 10″ release How Great a Fame Has Departed (Blackest Ever Black, 27 January); Tomorrow We Sail releases their long-awaited debut album For Those Who Caught the Sun in Flight on Gizeh (10 February), where languid female vocals are balanced by beautiful post-rock builds and crescendos; and Denovali re-issues Talvihorros’ fine Eaten Aliveinitially released by Fluid Audio (31 January).

That’s it for now; stay tuned to our News page, where more releases will be added as soon as they are announced!

Richard Allen

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