Three new releases hot off Constellation Tatsu have arrived as part of their 2016 winter batch: Thousand Foot Whale Claw‘s Cosmic Winds, Havenaire‘s Tremolo and Chihei Hatakeyama’s You’re Still In It.
Thousand Foot Whale Claw are an Austin four piece, and Cosmic Winds doesn’t waste any time in ascending to the stars. The synths are a strange color of the night as they pulsate and swirl in the ether.
Trance-like synths bleed against the side of the music, and the electronics bleep, blink and stutter, acting as the primary control panels on this particular vessel. These synths are fed through the system, lighting up the various parts of the music as and when they arrive with incandescent, sharp and unnatural bursts that sting the eyes just to look at them. The colder parts of the music reflect the icy immensity of space itself; it’s cold and harsh, but it’s also beautiful. You may even find a pearl of a planet, like a secret rose hidden among a bed of thorns. Blurred guitars blend in with ultraviolet synths that send shivers down the spine, ready to activate the primal response of fight, flight or freeze. After all, unknowable dangers may lurk in the black of space, covered as it is by endless shadows. It may be outside the relative safety of this pressurized, confined space, but it won’t protect you forever. The window lets us see out of a glassy eye.
The warmer synths of “Cassini” turn towards a distant Sun, drinking in the heat of a life-giving star. For the first time, the particles fall into a slow, predictable rhythm, and this gifts the music a strong pulse. It pulsates regularly, manifesting as a powerful surge and generating a good deal of momentum as the music travels on and on. “Sun Dogs” largely escapes the stricter rigidity that any rhythm brings (aside from a repeating, roaming bass) and instead chooses an open pathway over which to improvise. And “Black Tears” ends on an ominous note, the panic-struck sound of leaking fuel draining away…
You don’t need a boarding pass on Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight to experience this. It’s an interstellar journey that is definitely worth the trip.
Tremolo is a lighter affair. The music of Havenaire (Stockholm’s John Roger Olsson) glistens and slow-burns with atmospheric, angelic harmonies coated in the textured, sugary style of shoegaze. Despite the smoky haze that usually accompanies the style, Tremolo is transparent music. White noise blissfully overlaps the ambient harmony, and on “Holy Hell”, an ambient track that radiates so much heat it borders on the tropical, a very faint drum can be discerned somewhere in the background. Shimmering notes glisten over the top of a laminated texture, and a loop recurs at its foundation.A steadying hand reassures the music on “Brute Camp”. Things are a little more at ease, a little more sedate. Gradually, the music opens up, eventually producing a sonic avalanche. “Drone 1” begins life in the dirty gutter as it growls and scans the ground with a set of sharp teeth, but the two chords that rise out of its troubled youth are softly spoken and they mellow as they get older. “Mid Waves” is a heavenly piece of music. A cold breath of air pushes against a gently pulsing drone, cleansing everything.
Raindrops are a blurred contrast against the inner comfort of the home, and vague, ghostly shapes that hover past the window were once people.
Slowly moving chords are played via an electric guitar and then fed through an effect system comprised of delay and reverb. Reverb washes away the guitar’s definition until the tone feels dreamy and warm, dressed in a wet, Floridian layer of tranquility, a stone washed and then eroded, losing its sharp edges.
A rainy afternoon stretches out. As slow as the movement of passing clouds on a windless day, the music gradually bruises, darkening in tune and in time with the gathering clouds. The rain falls. A subtle, shuddering bass echoes somewhere far away, mimicking a muted roar of thunder. The rain can also be deeply soothing, and Hatakeyama’s music is exactly that. “You’re Still In It” and “Elementary Particle” are both wonderfully refreshing, as is the sublime, striking cover art. The music’s going through its rainy season. (James Catchpole)