Spring is finally here, and what better way to celebrate than with a musical bouquet? Click on the News page to hear over 50 audio samples, or click here for a rundown of the new season’s highlights and top picks!
Spring brings sunshine and warmth, buds on trees, flowers in bloom, sports and shorts and the year’s first barbecues. Soon we’ll be opening the windows in our cars, apartments and houses, letting the breeze in and the music out. Here’s a sneak preview of the sounds we’ll be enjoying from now through the end of the semester and beyond.
Remember to keep checking our News page as more music is added throughout the season!
Our top pick of the season is Joshua Bonnetta‘s Strange Lines and Distances (Experimedia, 25 March), a lavish LP/DVD package based on Marconi’s famous transatlantic radio broadcast. The static-charged music honors the sounds of transmission, while the twinned images match geography and shape.
Eluvium + Explosions in the Sky? Yes, really. Inventions‘ Entity (Temporary Residence, 1 April) teams Matthew Cooper and Mark T. Smith. Of course it is being released on April Fools’ Day, but in this case, we believe them. The set seems more Eluvium than Explosions, with guitars used more for slow texture than swift, cacophonous melody. Meanwhile, after four albums with This Will Destroy You, Christopher Royal King steps out on his own as Symbol with Online Architecture (Holodeck, 8 April), clearing a path with hand tools instead of blazing one with fire.
Fans of the melancholic are directed to Kyle Bobby Dunn‘s ambitious double album Kyle Bobby Dunn and the Infinite Sadness (Students of Decay, late April/early May), which sounds just exactly like its forlorn title. Arche‘s First Cause (Psychonavigation, 24 March) is a cold but evocative collection that incorporates percussion in its final piece. Duane Pitre and Cory Allen join forces for The Seeker and the Healer (Students of Decay, 1 April), making excellent use of piano and sweeping strings. Stephen Christopher Stamper‘s Echoic (Runningonair, 24 March) offers a lesson in memory, digitized from magnetic tape. Alex Cobb‘s dreamlike Marigold and Cable debuts March 28 on Shelter Press. And pedal steel meets tape machine on Imprints‘ Data Streams, due out late April/early May on Serein.
This may seem hard to believe, but Fennesz‘ Bécs (19 April) is the artist’s Editions Mego follow-up to 2001’s Endless Summer. The thick textures and percussion are perfect for snapping out of the winter doldrums. Concern is back as Gordon Ashworth; S.T.L.A. is his return to form on Orindal Records (8 April). Thomas Ankersmit‘s 2011 collaboration with Valerio Tricoli was downright stunning ~ his solo album Figueroa Terrace (Touch, 28 April) promises to be the same.
Pietro Riparbelli‘s Uncodified Signals (Oak Editions, 21 March) can be procured as a digital download or a HUGE angled sculpture; the installation-based music is a tribute to the legend of the Drosoulites. SAÅAD‘s Deep/Float (Hands in the Dark, 17 April) combines field recording and drone, and sounds like a relationship gone south. Paskine‘s NIMROD (Voxxov, 31 March) is described by the label as a sound storm, and we agree; this debut is set to cause some damage. Recent Petrels tracks “The Silver Chimney Club” and “Wat Tyler”, which formerly appeared on Bandcamp, will enjoy a physical release on Denovali in April. And by adding finger-picking to drone, Bill Horist and Jacob Riis foster a sense of diversity on The Cessation Effect (Lava Thief, 7 April).
Our Top Pick? David Bryant (Godspeed You! Black Emperor/Set Fire to Flames) and Kevin Doria (Growing/Total Life) have combined forces as Hiss Tracts, and Shortwave Nights, set for release on Constellation this May, may well be one of the albums of the year.
Thrill Jockey offers a trio of synthesized releases on March 25. Golden Retriever‘s Seer investigates just intonation and the bass clarinet. Jon Porras (Barn Owl)’s Light Divide is described by the label as drone and by Fact as “slid(ing) into dub techno”. Koen Holtkamp (Mountains)’s Motion pumps up the electric guitar and is promoted by a watery 21-minute video. Synth fans will want all three.
Editions Mego and its sublabels continue to amaze us with a seemingly continuous string of quality releases. It’s probably best to just click here and preview all of them, but here’s what you’ll find: a new cut-and-click collaboration between Atom™ & Marc Behrens (Bauteile, 31 March); Brett Naucke‘s Seed on Spectrum Spools, developed around a single synth patch; Klara Lewis’ dark and evocative Ett (April 14); and Outer Space‘s Phantom Center (12 May), which offers deep bass and steady rhythms. But for pure dancefloor excitement, COH‘s To Beat (May 12) is the one to beat.
Psychonavigation presents Johnny Yesterday‘s Allie, Don’t Let Me Disappear, a beat-driven release that occasionally includes dialogue samples (“This was how your day started … started wrong.“). Cold synth and occasional vocals haunt Eostre‘s They Were Made of White Cloth, released concurrently by Soft Corridor and alt.vinyl on April 20. Even more vocal-heavy is Heterotic‘s Weird Drift (Planet Mu, 22 April), but fans will appreciate the Mike Paradinas connection. And while a great deal of press will be spilled over Eno/Hyde‘s Someday World (Warp, 5 May), we’re finding lead track “The Satellites” a little too poppy for our tastes.
Dead Fader releases two albums and a single on April 21. Blood Forest and In Cover are available on Robot Elephant, while Scorched can be found on Small But Hard. Tobias’ A Series of Shocks (Ostgut Ton, 31 March) delves into techno via pounding beats. Dubstep has now been around long enough to inspire “post-dubstep”, which can be found on Downliners Sekt‘s third album, Silent Ascent (InFiné, 7 April). In contrast, the dubtech label has been assigned to Lufth‘s groovy Distanz Und Näh (Oktaf, 7 April). Farben Presents DIN 44 (Faitische, 18 April) is a careful series of Jan Jelinek extractions and reconstructions. And Deison + Mingle‘s Everything Collapse(d) (Aagoo, 29 April) presents a wide variety of electronic textures and is sure to please fans of multiple genres.
Lilacs & Champagne will be returning with Midnight Features Vol. 1: Shower Scene (Mexican Summer, 7 April), wandering even deeper down the rabbit hole of 70s soundtracks. Favorites Oneohtrix Point Never will be thrilling Record Store Day groupies on April 19 with Commissions I on Warp. And we’re excited to hear Roll the Dice‘s huge comeback album, Until Silence (Leaf, 2 June), on which the duo is joined by a 26-piece string section. The resulting sound is likely to be massive. But until we hear RTD samples, our top pick is Teebs‘ Estara (Brainfeeder, 8 April). We love the artist’s debut album, as well as his collaboration with Prefuse 73, so our hopes are high for the latest effort.
On March 21, Oak Editions releases Nicola Di Croce‘s Field Notes, which integrates a wide variety of field recordings into an even wider range of instrumentation, and Orla Wren‘s Soil Steps, a collection of field recordings rearranged to tell a sonic story. Sketches for Albinos’ Fireworks and the Dead City Radio (mini50 Records, 24 March), combines dialogue, filmic samples and classical themes to create a sonic patchwork, while Hydra’s Dream uses vocals and dronelike textures to tell the story of The Little Match Girl (Denovali, 28 March). Electronics, ambience and Frisian poetry converge on The Alvaret Ensemble‘s Skeylja (Denovali, 21 March), which enlists the aid of Icelandic chanteuse Kira Kira and other international luminaries. Want more Kleefstra? Piiptsjilling‘s Moarntiids (Midira) arrives this June. Midira is also preparing the sophomore album from B/B/S (Aidan Baker, Andrea Belfi, Erik Skodvin). Coltre/Manto (31 March) moves from collage to krautrock, and promises to be a belter. We’ve only heard a few of these in full, but the consistency of Di Croce wins our Top Pick.
After playing percussion for Kreng, Eric Thielemans presents the positive Sprang (Miasmah, 4 April), filled to the brim with blocks and drums and mystery percussion. Meanwhile, fellow percussionist Alessio Riccio adds strange vox and instrumentation to Ninshubar (Unorthodox, 8 May), and a new Miasmah “mini-super group” of Rutger Zuydervelt, Gareth Davis and Leo Fabriek debut as Shivers on June 20. The title provides an indication of what to expect. Kemialliset Ystävät returns to Dekorder with Alas Rattoisaa Virtaa (12 May), a follow-up to last year’s lovely picture disc on the same label. Florian Hecker returns with the bizarre Articulação (Editions Mego, 31 March), an abstract electronic work that ignores every rule of accessibility. The same principle holds true for Marcus Schmickler & Julian Rohrhuber‘s Politiken der Frequenz (Editions Mego, April 14), which adds dissected dialogue. Frequencies of Existence: 5 Years of Alrealon Musique Part 3 completes a triptych of anniversary sets by the label, and includes new music from FluiD, John 3:16 and Philippe Petit. This will be followed on April 20 by Re-Fused, a remix album covering work from The Use‘s last outing. Richmond Tape Club goes for Round Two on April 15 with five 20-minute cassettes from Anduin, Steven Vitiello, Brandon Hertado, Matt Boettke and Mutwawa that combine to create a cornucopia of sound.
Pre-orders have begun for William Ryan Fritch‘s generous Leave Me Sessions subscription series, offering nine releases for the cost of three. On Emptied Animal (Lost Tribe Sound, 22 April), the artist presents dual versions of five tracks, allowing listeners to choose between instrumental and vocal; on Leave Me Like You Found Me (20 May), he deconstructs classic rock tracks and reassembles them, providing a soundtrack to a film about a couple who tries to get back together. Each of the physical copies contains a download code for a bonus EP. The subscription series is easily our Top Pick.
A Winged Victory for the Sullen returns April 28 with Atomos VII on Erased Tapes, recorded with the help of Ben Frost. The EP is a teaser for the duo’s sophomore album, Atomos, arriving later this year. Meanwhile, Frost’s own Aurora is scheduled for release May 26 on Bedroom Community; for now, a teaser video is all we have. Głowicka and Walentynowicz join forces for Red Sun, a sharp study in dissonance and decay on BÔŁT/ARTEksounds (1 May). Another great pairing: Maxwell August Croy and Sean McCann on I (Students of Decay, 29 April), a string-heavy excursion that might have been our Top Pick had it not been for Fritch’s nine-part opus.
A third of Spell, the new album from House of Cosy Cushions (Outcast Cats, 24 March) may contain lyrics, but when the music is this solid, we don’t mind. The highlight track is the percussive “Black Bat Dance”, which introduces off-kilter strings midway and horns at the end. Hallock Hill offers the quiet piano sounds of Kosloff Mansion (Hundred Acres Recordings, 7 April), while upbeat solo pianist Bruno Bavota welcomes the next change of seasons on The Secret of the Sea (Psychonavigation, 21 April). We’re also looking forward to Erik K. Skodvin‘s Flame (Sonic Pieces, June) which promises to be a blend of modern composition and dark ambience.
Rock, Post-Rock, Folk and Jazz
Charles-Eric Charrier enlists the aid of a full band on Petite Soeur (Gizeh, 7 April) and produces his best work to date. By using instruments from both East and West, Charrier produces a sound akin to that found on last year’s Esmerine album. The surprise guests include charango, clarifolk, derbouka and afuche cabeza, and the originality of the overall sound makes it our Top Pick in this wide-netted category.
Norway’s Hubro label has a full release schedule this season, beginning with Håkon Stene‘s Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal (21 March), a collection of pieces by Gavin Bryar and others, lush with piano and percussion, guitar and cimbalom. Moskus offers Nordic jazz on Mestertyven (April 11), and 1982 returns with an expanded roster on A/B (2 May), featuring wind instruments and many creative trumpet improvisations. But those who want drums and drums alone should immediately check out Man Forever/So Percussion‘s Ryoden (Thrill Jockey, 8 April) for a pure percussive blast.
Datashock‘s desert-minded Keine Oase in Sicht debuts May 12 on Dekorder. Mariano Rodriguez‘ finger-style Praise the Road (Grass-Tops, 15 April) presents the sound of the open road, just in time for spring. The same holds true of Glenn Jones‘ delightful Record Store Day release, Welcomed Wherever I Go (Thrill Jockey, 19 April), which includes a collaboration with Cian Nugent. Over the past couple years, Her Name Is Calla has wandered far from its post-rock roots, but fans are still excited about the release of Navigator (Function, 5 May). Those who prefer their post-rock tinted and instrumental are directed to Watter‘s Western-inflected This World on Temporary Residence (27 May).
A happy spring ~ and happy listening ~ to all of our readers!