Tuesday, March 30, 2010


An Index of Birds (Silber, 03.2010)

For: Low, Spokane, Unwed Sailor

Byline: Sounds of an out-of-print classic that is very much available. Gorgeous slowcore/post-rock album with its roots firmly planted in forgotten nineties subgenres languishing on used CD shelves somewhere in the midwest.

I can understand the obsession with vinyl. On a nice pair of speakers the music really does sound warmer and richer, the artwork on a nice gatefold record is something worth cherishing forever (Crawf showed me the Torche's Meanderthal LP... AMAZING!), and the act of purchasing and owning a tangible recreation of an album lives up to the hype spun by independent record stores. I, on the other hand, do not have a record collection. Not because of a conscious choice, I just never got around to dropping the money on a nice turntable and speakers. I do own three records to date, Neil Young's Everyone Knows This is Nowhere (a wedding present), Thursday/Envy Split EP (don't judge me, released on Temporary Residence, limited edition), and a Woody Allen stand-up album I bought at a thrift store in Idaho (don't ask me why). What I do have is a pretty rad CD collection. I am a CD advocate, for many reasons. It was the medium of my generation, the artists who adapted could do wonders with the mini format (The Magnetic Fields 69 Songs Box Set!? Get outta here!), and of course with the relatively cheaper format of releasing albums on CD guaranteed a bunch of crazy crap would eventually be released (although the LP owns the title of worst album covers. Nineties graphic artists just got cheap and lazy)

What I'm getting at here is that I can't divorce some great records with the way I bought them, from dusty (inexplicably sticky) racks of used cds in the dank basements of record stores and pennies on the dollar for garage sale steals. These have been my most treasured possessions, even though they aren't on vinyl. After listening to Carta's An Index of Birds I can imagine this album being one of those finds. Everything from the creepy severed doll head album cover to the subdued color pallate, this is one of those albums I can see myself thinking "this looks intriguing", buying it for 4 $, brining it home and being blown away. So, if you don't find it in a dusty corner of a record store, consider yourself luck you found it here, on a dusty little corner of the blogosphere. Released on Silber Records, which has never let me down, An Index of Birds is a hushed, fragile, mostly instrumental record that marries charming ambient pieces centered on looped acoustic instrumentation with the decided post-rock march towards a climactic end. Carta take the prettiest moments of Low, the downcast shuffling rhythm section of unsung slowcore heroes Spokane, and the maritime steadiness of Unwed Sailor and processes them through the post-classical sensibilities of Rachel's or this years amazing Slow Six. Gorgeous stuff, granted some of the more ambient tracks feel like segues, Carta knows how to write songs. Instrumental song-songs that have a purpose, direction, and determined end in sight. Although used sparingly, Carta uses vocals to counterpoint the general luminescence of their recording as a whole. The imagery on "Small Lights" creeped me out a little to tell the truth, and while "loud" isn't beyond my list of adjectives, "Back To Nature" and "The Late Alfred M" do not hold anything back when voicing disappointment or near-threatening visceral song writing. The female vocals on "Descension" courtesy of Lorealle Bishop, posses the smoky, breathy emoting of Ida's Elizabeth Mitchell. A standout moment on the album.

An Index of Birds, is a rare find these days, nostalgic but wholly original. A period piece of a faceless generation. A lovingly crafted musical statement. Silber Records, you're doing it rite.

Ryan H.

Fenn O'Berg

In Stereo (Editions Mego, 03.2010)

For: Christian Fennesz, Peter Rehberg, Jim O'Rourke

Byline: The mighty laptop supergroup (see above) returns with its first record in eight years and first working entirely in the studio, which results in fewer rewards than you might hope. Originally published on www.inyourspeakers.com. Used by permission by In Your Speakers, LLC.

(Read the full review here.)

Jim O’Rourke once called the music of the Austrian imprint Mego a new form of “computer punk.” Featuring an impressive roster of artists—including O’Rourke’s own dreamy, sample-warping laptop music, the transmorphic, guitar-driven beauty of Fennesz, and the relentlessly aggressive, pummeling work of Kevin Drumm—this description made sense. In a world where computerized music is often reduced to simply a tool for dance or hip hop production, Mego’s artists seemed to be out to do precisely what the punks did with their style—take what was already there, and refigure musical familiarities into a new setting. The aim wasn’t to necessarily reinvent the language altogether, but to basically challenge the very understanding of what language specifically is and what its signifiers can mean when channeled in a different way. The results, though not always as outwardly aggressive as Kevin Drumm, were at least jarring and unexpected - a music that wasn’t quite environmental enough to be ambient but at the same time rarely straight forward or transparent, and absolutely never something you could call “ordinary.”

So why does In Stereo, the third album from this computer super-group and latest release on the resurrected Editions Mego, sound so ordinary so often? Is the fact that there’s really not much new and exciting going on with this record an indication that the sound of Mego has gone the way of punk music’s history? It’s easy to forget that the label was founded nearly a decade ago, so to think that this style has perhaps run its course isn’t terribly far-fetched. Still, these are very weird questions to be asking of a style of music not many people know a lot about. In fact, as difficult it is to write a fabulously favorable review for In Stereo, it is equally difficult to brush the album off entirely. The problem is that it’s so tough to know what’s going on in a record like In Stereo, and as such, it’s the kind of album that poses a lot of questions. Why did it take three people to create this? Who (the monster that is “Fenn O’Berg” consists of Christian Fennesz, Jim O’Rourke, and Peter Rehberg) does precisely what on the recording? How was this thing exactly made? Where do the sounds come from? Do we need to know to enjoy the music?

Regardless of what’s unknown about the production of In Stereo—what is known is that what we hear sounds a whole lot like... you know, electronic music. There are blips and bloops, static swells, and the whole thing just sounds real digitized. The trio sets up some great dirges that build into powerful crescendos, but these journeys take a long time to accomplish anything you might call an “event,” and when they do, the way there isn’t always something you might call a truly special trip. Opener “Part III,” sounds like a series of cosmic teapots successively getting ready to blow as nervous ticks and tacks skitter in the background. This goes on for about five minutes before the tense buildup of kinetic energy just fizzles out.

At the same time, however, it’d be criminal to forget some of the album’s truly great moments, like the nice addition of acoustic instruments into the music, most noticeable of which is the shocking entry of drums in “Part I” (which is actually, curiously, the album’s third track—it would have made an excellent overture to the album), but also includes piano and guitar, which are often cleverly disguised within folds of reverb and hum throughout In Stereo. And of course, with the laptop-heavyweights hard at work here, the record is composed and executed with a tremendous amount of care and expertise. In Stereo happens to be the band’s first attempt at a studio sound, rather than piecing together live edits. As such, the attention to sonic detail is simply stunning. A word of advice—don’t even bother listening to this on speakers. Plug this one straight into your best headphones and marvel at Fenn O’Berg’s mastery of the audible field—truly, the album’s saving grace. Sounds extend beyond simply “left” and “right” channels, as the album opens up a space that is over and above, underneath, behind, in front of, and all around the listener’s standard range. Somehow Fenn O’Berg’s textures feel like moments of privileged listening, like a majority of these sounds would be inaudible in any other setting than the one these three have so meticulously created.

What’s unfortunately lost, perhaps a result of scrapping that live state of improvisatory inspiration, is a sense of adventure and chance. There are small, rewarding surprises to be found in each track for sure, but upon repeated listens, these moments end up making too much sense to offer listeners something fresh to get excited about. In short, the album fits well into a genre that was created as a way for artists to specifically not fit well. Ultimately, In Stereo ends up doing only the things it should to be a decent electronic record and nothing more. It’s what the album doesn’t do that holds it back, which is only disappointing knowing what these three are all capable of—individually, but especially as a band. In a weird way, the biggest let down about In Stereo is that it’s just what you would expect.

- Craw'z (3/30/2010)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Silk Harbour

Discolored Paintings (Self-Released, 2010)

For: Múm, Brian Eno, Gas

Byline: Creepier than it sounds like it might be. It’s a good thing.

How can I use the word “underwhelming” and make it sound like a compliment? I’m going to try really hard here.. check it - Silk Harbour’s album is totally underwhelming.. ...m..MANNNN!!

OK, it’s really hard to make that sound nice, but take note - this descriptor is meant in the best of ways possible. Look, almost all ambient albums are “growers” by default, and Discolored Paintings - the debut disc from the mysterious Josh Todd (aka Silk Harbour, whom I suspect is from the UK due to the .co.uk suffix of his e-mail address - NO MYSPACE ¡Viva la revolución!) - is one of these inside and out, through and through. Prepare to not be blown away - be as patient as the music when listening, for the rewards shall be many and they shall be great. The majority of the record is hushed, understated, controlled, reserved, and slow-blooming - and these are all the best things about Silk Harbour’s distinct sound, which makes its way from Eno’s ambient series, to Múm’s pastoral, chiming glockenspiels. Discolored Paintings is full of warm tones, hushed and subtle melodic motifs, backwards synths, choral bliss, and beautifully arranged strings. But there’s a dark and eerie side to Silk Harbour as well - Discolored Paintings is perhaps best enjoyed during the late hours on the shores of a still, black sea. Colors are mixed deep, dark, and murky. Synthetic harmonies swell into thick fogs where Silk Harbour’s delicate, unsettled touches of staccato jabs can easily play pranks on the mind - are there creatures to be found hidden deep in the abyss? “A Horizon of Broken Teeth,” is the straight-up creepiest. A desperate, pseudo-digitalized voice gasps a note of unintelligible lyrics beneath sonar blips, tumefying, stormy electronics and galloping drum samples. All told, Discolored Paintings adds up to a strong affair, despite the minor flaw of being slightly inconsistent style-wise. The album’s title track comes last, and the song bizarrely drops a chill-wavy/hip-hop beat (complete with a slick hook) into the album’s final minutes. Ironically, it’s one of the cooler tracks on the album - it's just that it sits a little strange among the record’s otherwise constant bulk of measured ambience.

-Craw’z (3/26/2010)

Free Download of Discolored Paintings

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Okapi & Aldo Kapi's Orchestra

Love Him (02.2010, Illegal Art)

For: Kalikak Family, Faust, The Caretaker

Byline:According to an intricately crafted backstory, Italian turntablist Okapi’s latest album is made up of hundreds of samples lifted from the life-work of Kyrgyz composer Aldo Kapi. But that is one big lie. Originally published on www.inyourspeakers.com. Used by permission from In Your Speakers, LLC.

(Read the full review at www.inyourspeakers.com)

While Aldo Kapi may be fake, Okapi is the real deal. While he doesn’t have the pre-recorded oeuvre of a Kyrgyz composer to plunder, he does the sum of the recorded 20th century to freely sample from. Okapi extracts moments of sweeping orchestral swells and passages to underpin his avant-garde sample-based compositions. The recurrence of these snippets of classical music is one of the few constants in Okapi’s shifting-sand soundscapes, a checkpoint to catch the listener up after his most scatter-shot noise collages. When confronting his subject head-on Okapi emerges with flashes of lucidity: bowed strings over a frantic break-beat or plucked violins and horns put through a blender. At its most abstract, however, Love Him turns into somewhat of a gimmick, a contest of Okapi against himself to see how many anachronous and forgotten genres he can cram into a 4-minute song. Balkan punk, 20’s commercial jingles, homemade sound effects, kitsch vocal samples, sweeping ballroom pieces, and 8-bit glitch breaks all compete for top-billing during their brief moment of arrival before they depart back into the ether.

Love Him, for all of its overreaching aims and fraudulent claims, still has songs, real songs that are tightly structured and incredibly enjoyable experiments. “Ti Chiamero ’10” is one of those songs. Starting with a glitchy microhouse beat that broods under a sea of squiggly pitch-shifted horn-blasts and a recurring piano-line, sort of like an absurdist Pantha Du Prince, a gypsy violin sweeps in, stopping the piece dead in it tracks with a swirling air of Arabian Nights sensuality. For all of the coherency of tracks like “Ti Chiamero” there is an album full of tracks like “The Next!” that are simply thrilling genre mash-ups for the sake of thrilling genre mash-ups. “The Next!” starts with a wound-down orchestral swell that breaks into a post-industrial rave up. The title track “Love Him” is another song-song that imbeds itself deep in your subconscious. Swelling strings, electronic blips and bloops, and skittering electronics swirl and build into a teetering crescendo before an auditory cue pops the tension and the sound drops out only to slowly build back up again.

In many ways Love Him retains this “false summit” approach album-wide, building giant monuments to melody and rhythm only to dash them to pieces and run off with some wild hair of a new musical idea. Few musicians could withstand this haphazard race from genre to genre without relegating them to the “sound collage artist” dungeon. Okapi, on the other hand, engages his material enough to allow his pillaged pieces to make definite musical statements before being bulldozed beneath a million voices clamoring to be heard. Okapi also has a strong sense of when to let songs be songs, and when to let his proclivities for madcap sound effects and avante-turntabilism reign supreme.

Ryan H.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Valgeir Sigurðosson

Draumalandid (Bedroom Communities, 03.2010)

For: Nico Muhly, Max Richter, Daniel Bjnarasson

Byline: The eminent producer/composer's soundtrack to the Icelandic documentary Draumalandid is a gorgeous study of a composer juggling tension and beauty, and a peek into what a true Sigurðosson solo album might sound like. Originally published on www.inyourspeakers.com, Used by permission by In Your Speakers, LLC.

....When engaged as the vision of Sigurðosson, Draumalandid bridges the gap between the electronic heavy Björk-era compositions with the orchestral maneuvers of his Bedroom Community compatriots of the last few years. Every member contributes graciously on the album ranging from Nico Muhly composing for the large orchestra, Sam Amidon contributing vocals on the first track and acoustic guitar throughout, and Ben Frost laying down some menacing cello dissonance on the sweeping closing tracks “Nowhere Land” and “Helter Smelter”. Sigurðosson builds from the ground up, playing simple, rhythmic melodies on strings or piano that lay the compositional groundwork in which Valgeir and friends fill with flourishes of electronics, woodwinds, various percussion instruments, and tonal varieties that range from sad to beautiful, elegiac to terrifying.

“Dreamland” and its fraternal “Draumalandid” (“Draumalandid” translates to “dreamland” in English, but you already guessed that) share a repeating motif built around weaving violin lines that are evocative of the muted grey-green vanishing point where Iceland becomes one with the winter cloudscape. “Beyond The Moss” allows the tension that runs concurrent with the prettier passages to break completely free, creating a world full of creaks and moans, light brushing drum strokes and interpolative flares of flurried cello strings. The beauty and tension that personify the album and its environs are often fought out in the small segues that break up the album. On the side of beauty we have “I Offer Prosperity and Eternal Life” with its heaven-curved ascending chord progression and barely-there piano line; and on team terror we have “Economic Hitman” whose upper register strings hold the anxiety of a Hitchcock thriller.

If an economy falls and no one wants to hear about it, does it still make a sound? Valgeir Sigurðosson juggles the tensions of runaway economic and environmental blight that mark Iceland with the country’s inherent splendor. On an album with vocals being conscientious objectors, Sigurðosson speaks for both. Although a movie soundtrack, the music on of Draumalandid both stands alone and speaks to the collaborative nature that has marked every Bedroom Community release.

(please read full review here)

Ryan H.

Monday, March 22, 2010


I Hope I Can Feel Something Like That One Day (Self-Released, 03.2010)

For: The Books, Okapi, Chris Rehm

Byline: A deeply human tract on memory through shared experience. Download this now.

The collage has often been seen as a derivative art-form. An attempt to force meaning out of a random series of images (pre-drawn, pre-recorded, pre-photographed) in which the "artist" has simply re-contextualized them by juxtaposing the images to each other in order to elicit some sort of subjective connection from the audience. Something you do on high school notebooks but then move on from once you discover "real" art. But then you have Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs, Ben Frost (the other Australian Ben Frost) who see the collage as an end in itself. A piece of art with its own intrinsic worth and possessing an internal logic that is immediately apparent. You can add New Orleans experimental/sound-collage artist DTH to that short list. DTH sifts through eras of pre-recorded voices, old home videos, last wills and testaments, man-on-the-street interviews, etc... to produce a coherent, touching statement of tangible humanism. The Books come immediately to mind, and in many ways DTH is in good company with them. Combining rummage sale of collected voices with strummed acoustic guitars, pillaged symphony scores, a lilting violin note or two, glitched out electronics, and the generally percussive nature of his editing style, DTH's characters feel like real people, aunts and uncles who died of cancer, little sisters on Christmas morning, classmates and survivors. Never expository, this collection of field recordings and people speaking directly into the microphone for the express purpose of telling their life story hearkens to the idea that once something is externalized, put on tape, written down, filmed, etc... it is no longer yours completely. Once it is out in the public domain you no longer have control of something that seems so personal, like your voice or your story. They are simply small parts of the collected human history now on tape and made available for complete recontextualization and interpretation. DTH has done something complimentary to these people and their life events, he turns them into something beautiful and emotionally true to the event being described. The emotionally transparent songs on IHICFSLTOD range from exultant, to nostalgic, and move from bitterness to acceptnce, all while wrapped in the aural warmth of coming across an old family 8mm film. This album struck an unusually emotional chord with me. And at one point seriously creeped me out. There is a moment on the second track "I'm Squeaking Everywhere" where I swear I heard my own voice. I occasionally do interviews for In Your Speakers and SLUG and through transcribing those interviews I have become acutely aware of my own voice and how much I hate it. I swear, I heard an "um" and (all to frequent in my interviews) that has the same tonal frequency as my own. Not to mention the kid in the Christmas morning segment is named Ryan. Probably not me though, I don't have a sister and I never got a cat for Christmas. But still DTH, do you have a tap on my phone?

Ryan H.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

King Rhythm

Hardships and Head Trips (Catalyst Act, 03.2010)

For: B. Dolan, Atmosphere, The Slew

Byline: Straight forward aggressive hip-hop reverberating in a cloud of noise rock and cracked beats. Summer time hip-hop comes early this year.

Summertime really is easy when the living is easy. A time when you plan impromptu road trips while packing great cruising albums to listen to as you drive with the windows down bobbing your head to the entrancing beat with no end in sight. Might I suggest, as you start to plan any outing, to add King Rhythm's Hardships & Head Trips to that quintessential album list. King Rhythm is a hydra of disparate styles that come together to make a distinctive progressive hip-hop statement. Hardships & Head Trips incorporates psychedelic funk, scuzzed out guitar licks (reminiscent of Kid Koala’s totally not rap-rock, rap-rock project 2009 project The Slew); all while maintaining an edge on classic soul standards. Rhythm’s beats are reminiscent of Dan The Automator and Kid Koala’s production work on Deltron 3030, but incorporate oddball musical genres that make broad overtures to Cincinnati’s rap duo Atmosphere. Though all the tracks make cohesive statement, making listening to the entire album quite easy, "Current Floor aka Kid do the Brick" and "Mad and Hating (for Syd)" are personal favorites. The songs are a source of energy and determination, and you cannot help but start moving first with your head and slowly the rest of your body following suit until it is in one fluid movement with the beat. King Rhythm's album is definitely a requisite for your warm weather soundtracks.


Friday, March 19, 2010

The Knife

Tomorrow In A Year (Mute, 02.2010)

For: all brave explorers

Byline: The polarizing double-album based on the life and observations of Charles Darwin. The most heady and ambitious album of the year.

If you saw this, last year you may have gotten some idea in what direction The Knife were heading. But nothing, I expect, could have prepared us for this. Tomorrow In A Year is brave. Very brave. Even for a band who has laced their brightest pop moments with a sense of misanthropic dissatisfaction with the genre, who would have guessed the follow up to Silent Shout would be a sprawling opera that charts Charles Darwin's theory of evolution from single celled organism to fully fleshed human beings in just over 90 minutes? Granted this album has been discussed to death, hailed and derided, probably burned in effigy somewhere in the deep south, so why now, should I take up the cross of trying to review this record? Well, I have listened to it thrice and I need to be validated. I need to tell someone about this, even if just discussing it conceptually. This is a record that deserves to be heard. By everyone. Just make sure you have an hour and a half to kill, and really nice headphones/speakers. This is not a car album, nor does it lend itself to any type of portability, don't take this jogging with you. Every song demands to be played in the sequence it was designed for. Tomorrow In A Year is a journey. So let's begin.

First, conceptually, you will probably not find a richer album this year. The music traces the evolution of humankind, sticking closely to Darwin's Theory of the Origin of Species recounting instances from both his observations and personal life. The album starts with scattershot of buzzing electronics, aleatoric percussion, oscillating cicada-like drones before we feel a faint pulse of life, the vestiges of a tiny single celled organism struggling through the primordial stew before Kristian Whalin's gorgeous mezzo-soprano voice announces a call to life. Kristian Whalin's voice is the vehicle that carries the narrative for the first half of the album and is an important accompanist in the conquered new world of the second half of the album. But for now we living amongst cells dividing, rocks crystalizing, primeval amoebas growing vestiges. Liquid crawling synths frequently visit the upper register in washes or blips, while low-end frequencies spawn and multiply below in a tide pool of pregnant tonal variations. For as "atonal" as this half of the album is there are wealths of downright enjoyable moments, sounds, seconds, mutations that make this a singular listening experience.

We visit the pliocene epoch for a brief, transitionary moment, where Swedish singer-songwriter Johnathan Johansson narrates the receding of the glaciers and the bubbling up of vertebrate life in an expressive lilt. With "Variations of Birds" we get our first taste of noisy, chaotic, confusing pro-backbone life. Angry dissonance of manipulated feedback alternately oscillate and squeak, while Johansson's voice floats over the squalor. The lyrics up to this point seem to be coming from a narrator coming to these revelations/observations at the same time we are grasping the conceptual thrust of the album. Darwin, our subjective narrator, states, "so that there are more than three types of birds that use their wings for more than flying/The Steamer has paddles/the penguin has fins/and the ostrich spreads its plumes likes sails to the breeze". The next few songs find The Knife tracing the evolution of the bird from studio mimicry of field recordings of Amazon birds to a swarming, overwhelming drone of flapping wings and insect buzzing in "Schoal Swarm Orchestra".

With that we are off to the holocene and beyond. "Annie's Box", written for Darwin's daughter Annie who died when she was 10, is a lamentful, elegiac opera piece sung by Whalin that is infused with the albums first sense of raw humanity. Sadness. One emotion that is communicable between every race and (evidence points to) species. This is an interesting move into a world populated by humans, a personal grievance over losing someone so close. After this announcement we are introduced to the natives. A pounding timpani roll introduces the first of the albums beat (in a primal sense) driven songs on "Tumult". The terse percussion creeps closer like suspicious tribesmen or AK-47 carrying soldiers, suggesting that the second most shared emotion is fear. Especially the clannish fear of the unknown once we separate into colonies. "Colouring of Pigeons" start a three song stretch of songs by The Knife as we know it. Punctuated by Whalin's percussive "ohs" and "ahs" a tribal beat drives the song into familiar territory before a low-end synth rips across the headphones announcing that the siblings Dreijer were in fact at the helm of this project the whole time. Karin Dreijer-Andersson's unforgettable voice comes in at about three minutes thus starting the third act. An unspecified time that seems to both in awe and in possession of sage-like wisdom that either seems to be witnessing civilization growing rapidly around them, boldly conquering and dividing itself like a single celled organism, or a narrator at the end of the very last epoch of humankind explaining to us the last days in the history of this race. Followed up by "Seeds" and ending with "Tomorrow In A Year", this suite effectively completes the arc.

And there we have it. Conceptually the album is massive, but even more so musically. After listening to the album three times all the way through I don't hesitate to say this is The Knife at the top of their game, making the album they always had the potential to make. Who knows, this could be the best album of the year or will be recovered as a faithful history of our race by a group of interstellar explorers after our civilizations demise.

Ryan H.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Keith Canisius

Waves (Darla, 10.09)

For: M83, Cocteau Twins, Panda Bear

Byline: The warmest shoegaze/dream-pop album this side of the analog divide. Totally underexposed and more than worth your attention.

Waves by Keith Canisius could be one of the most slept on albums of the past year. I'm not saying that because The TOME is late aboard the Canisius train but because of the relative dearth of coverage on the interwebs. This is downright criminal for something as good as the Danish Canisius to languish in obscurity when this album deserves to be heard. Keith Canisius was first brought to my attention by his remix of Aarkitca's "Autumnal" off the In Sea Remixes album. I listened to that track an unhealthy amount of times, being thrilled with Canisius' keyed up vocals and 80's shoegaze guitars, ethereal wave synths, and ironic-aware Top Gun riffage. It is safe to say that what I loved about that track shows up in spades on this album, but what really struck me about Waves is the multi-faceted directions he takes his influences. Canisius filters the thick synth pad and ambient guitar work of 80's shoegaze bands and delicate melodies of dream-pop through the nu- gaze of M83's reliance on heavy electronic manipulation. The result is something warm and hazy, like the obscured sun on the album cover. When separated, these two influences unfortunately play a little to close to the script, with the near Cocteau Twins sounding "Diving Day" and the Mew backwardness of "Eternal Moments". When Canisius takes complete ownership over his songs and combines both generations take on wall-of-noise ambience, they swirl together to create something wholly forward-thinking like any of the new "wave" artists spawning every month on the internet and aurally nostalgic like an 8mm film. Every track is saturated with layers of stereo-lapping synth warmness and meticulous attention to detail. "Oceans Oceans" is hands down the catchiest track on the album with a hook that has the shelf life of a twinkie bar. Title track "Waves" shows that the reach of Animal Collective, especially Panda Bear's Person Pitch has extended beyond our shores and is infecting (in the good sense) the output of European artists. In many ways, Waves has a lot in common with that album, both share a timeless sense of wanting to capture past moments and both sound ridicoulsy inviting, like you want to spend the rest of your summer vacation in the bath-water warm soundscapes of each track. The fortitious timing of this album couldn't be any better (even if it is several months late) as spring is finally here. These things have a way of just happening.

Ryan H.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Witches (Waaga, 02.2010)

For: Boards of Canada, Manitoba, BRE'R

Byline: An intriguing release from the freshly minted Waaga label’s crew of experimental musicians, Bryce Isbell's debut album combines a wealth of sonic variety with a nearly obsessive attention to tonal texture and volume. The result is a vast expanse of ambient space floating atop vintage Boards of Canada electro-beats.

There’s no question the songs of Denton’s Bryce Isbell (aka FUR—all caps now, mind you), is meant to take the listener to another place, as is often the case with good electronic music. There’s a certain skill required to create music that feels truly three-dimensional—physically deep, thick, and open. The keys here are texture, layers, and volume. FUR’s technique is to combine a wealth of sonic textures with a near obsessive attention to detail on each and every one of these tracks, massaging and stretching synths and percussive elements to mold around one another. The end goal is clearly met—on Witches, FUR has successfully created a visual, environmental ambience with each track. When listening, however, some inevitable questions definitely remain—where exactly are we, and what are we doing here?

And these are valid concerns. One problem is that little of the album relates back to its referenced titles. One may listen to a track like “Swimming” and hear the trudging beats that juggle dizzyingly back and forth, the screeching hisses of steam, the lightly chimed major chords and…we’re swimming? “Friends of Friends” is another odd one - an opera singer’s voice is sampled and placed amid police sirens. Make no mistake, it’s a cool effect, but where are we now, and why are these two in the same room? “Tunnels” provides another puzzle: the act of being in an underground corridor is transformed into a grandiose action-film chase scene. “Lackadaisical” is a whole other story... maybe not such a good idea to actually call one of your songs "lazy," especially when the track is anything but: relaxing, mellow, laid back? Yes, yes, and yes - but it's also a masterfully moody and meditative piece of work, full of atmospheric, bendable synths, and an Air-like groove that floats right along.

The misnaming of tracks is but a petty crime, though. The real issue here is whether or not it’s worth finding yourself within these ambient environments at all. The good thing is, for much of the album, exploring these soundscapes is an overwhelmingly pleasant experience. Witches feels like the rift between a satellite and its home base. An open air of frequencies that translate collages of static with brief glimpses of holographic images that flicker to life only to disappear again in the starlight. Unfortunately, FUR doesn’t always deliver on this front either. Songs create these soundscapes and let them just sort of sit there. “Blood” is probably the most troubling cut, starting, coasting on, and clumsily ending around a basic major triad, all the while disguising itself as complex with noodling synths that accomplish little in the way of actual sonic progression. The beat (an area where FUR excels in other spots on the album) does little to make the experience worthwhile, a stuttering mess that feels bloated and overwhelmed when sized up with its harmonic counterpart....

...In an attempt to make a broad, sweeping evaluation of FUR, one could compare this album to Manitoba’s 2001 record, Start Breaking My Heart. Though his talent was never in question, the bedroom-electro results of Dan Snaith’s debut pointed more to its source material than it did to his own music. All it took was one more record for the artist to explode out of this shell and really use that skill toward something utterly unique and creative. I have high hopes for FUR—the pieces are all there, you can tell the guy listens to the right stuff, and it’s great to hear a debut that’s this polished and sonically detailed. What’s missing here are real songs. FUR songs.

Please read the rest of the article at www.inyourspeakers.com

Craw'z (03.16.2010)

Monday, March 15, 2010


Endless Falls (Kranky, 03.2010)

For: Stars of the Lid, Tim Hecker, William Basinski

Byline: Loscil's Endless Falls is to rainy spring days as Fennesz's Endless Summer is to summer sunsets.

Loscil may have given away too much by the rainstreaked windshield that adorns their newest release Endless Falls. Aside from the obvious mood of the album; quiet, building drones for quiet, rainy days; the rain obscuring the photographs object creates an effective metaphor for the buried, other-room effect of Loscils subdued output. After trading the perennial moodiness of the pacific northwest for the cut and dry seasons of the high country I have found myself really missing the rain and overcast skies of Seattle. Endless Falls was the perfect background music as I drove Addy around doing saturday errands during an all to uncommon rainy day. All to uncommon for these parts. It is not a stretch to say that this album was made for moments like these, Scott Morgan's drones border on the ethereal, muted tones of gray and green that blend together in some unmarked vanishing point. Rain, bookending the album, also serves as a perfect analogy for the overall effect of Morgan's music. Boomkat's excellent review of this album put it like this, "in the photograph a form of interference displaces the content of the picture as its true subject, and so it goes in Loscil's music. While Morgan's string sections and looping melodic gestures make up the fabric of these recordings it's the muffling and masking of them that draws the true beauty out of this music." Truth. Morgan's looped piano lines pulse up from the ether like sound filtering through a decibel ravaged eardrum. Percussion comes in surging orbs of shimmering electronics like the beats from a house-party next door, barely audible enough to make their presence felt but not enough to fully show their hand. Neo-classical washes of staticy synths and lilting violins overlay match the rhythmic lapping of gossamer electronic production. On the album's last track "The Making of Grief Point" Daniel Bejar from Destroyer (whom Morgan is the drummer for) shows up to deliver a spoken word piece. Loscil's Endless Falls is to rainy spring days as Fennesz's Endless Summer is to summer sunsets. Perfect addendums, immediately transportive masterpieces of time and place. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this ends up on my top 10 this year.

Ryan H.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Danìel Bjarnason

Processions (Bedroom Communities, 03.2010)

For: Nico Muhly, Antonìn Dvoràk, Lawrence English

Byline: Sweeping orchestral arrangements that resist any post- or neo- tags define this incredible new addition to the Icelandic Bedroom Communities roster. Originally Published on www.inyourspeakers.com. Used By Permission from In Your Speakers, LLC

Placing your music in a conceptual and methodical framework that has enjoyed an uninterrupted discourse through the past six centuries shouldn’t seem experimental. Placing an album firmly rooted in classical symphonic ideas of the late 19th and early 20th century out in a market defined by blowing these compositions up and piecing them back together with little more than a sequencer, however, should be. This is the place in the trajectory of neo-classical music that Daníel Bjarnason’s Processions finds us. In a musical culture so determined to push our crucial musical influences under the bus of experimentalism and abandonment of form, a musician who adheres firmly the classics (Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak) would be and should be greeted as a true original, a wild innovator.

As the newest member on the Icelandic Bedroom Communities roster (there are four others: Ben Frost, Nico Muhly, Valgeir Sigurosson, and Sam Amidon) Bjarnason is in good company with artists who are grounded in classical music. Boasting two composers now, Muhly and Bjarnason, Sigurosson’s small imprint has a well founded reputation of putting out music that explores the edges of classical music while adhering with an academic rigidness to the practices of composition. Bjarnason, however, doesn’t seem interested in exploring the boundaries between classical music and experimental electronic like a majority of the Bedroom Communities artists. Bjarason writes music to fill concert halls, to score Lawrence of Arabia-like epics, yet fills a space that is intensely personal and emotionally transparent.

Read Full Review at www.inyourspeakers.com

Ryan H.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

First Dog To Visit The Center Of The Earth

Colossus Archosaur (2010, Self-Released)

For: Black Dice, early-Stag Hare, MZ Mona Mars,

Byline: There is gold down there.

How exactly would a dog get to the center of the earth? I mean like, logistically? I want to know because I am currently working on a big-budget, ID4 meets 2012 meets Air Bud family blockbuster event of the summer screenplay based around a team of scientists who are led by a lovable, irreverent talking dog scientist determined to keep the earths core spinning after a haywire secret government conspiracy test prophesied by Mayans. I am going to call this The First Dog To Visit The Center Of The Earth. Sorry to rip off your moniker like this but there are millions to be made. Nah, I wouldn't do that to FDVCE, his subterranean-molten jams are too tight, too colossus to even think about anthropomorphizing. FDVCE's fractured beats, pitch-shifting, knob-twisting proclivities, odd-ball sound samples (basketballs on "Levitate Teepee Rotate?") and pure tonal expressionism anchored by a bizarre, albeit brilliant, internal logic defy any process to bring this into any sort of natural environment. Not that Colossus Archosaur is somehow inorganic or divorced from any human involvement, on the contrary, we simply don't have a word for this; it's not in our phraseology. Any attempt to plumb the depths FDVCE's hour-and-a-half voyage to the center of the earth would be pure crypto-zoology, an elusive quest led by pseudo-scientists (and pseudo-music critics) to reach some conclusion that "it exists! I've seen (heard) it!" You just have to believe me. The unsettling tonal shifts, keyed up synth lines, ping-ponging electronically manipulated beats keep the trajectory space-bound, while washes of noise, tribal beats, occasional glimpses of a gloriously messed with vocal samples keep the soil-gazing trajectory down to our home planet. FDVCE compositions crawl, then soar, then screech, then roar. Quite simply this is one of the best things I have heard all year.

Moral of the story, FDVCE totally kills it. If you read Crawf's brilliant post on Boy Fruit's album Repulsive, chances are you are totally going to dig this. Definately cut from the same cloth, Crawford put it best when he said, "Boy Fruit’s tendency to produce songs that feel more like singles might be the rowdy, party-crazy teenage little brother to FDVCE’s sprawling segues and conceptually artful nerdiness." Agreed. How cool is it that FDVCE is making all of this sickly sweet ear-candy available for frees on the web? Well, what are you waiting for? Download this! FDVCE and Boy Fruit, for putting out music that totally blows us away we are extending a formal invitation for a Denver-Salt Lake City Mini-Tour to shower us with some of your outer-space jamz? Lodging and breakfast are on the house. So are rad bands to play with. The offer is on the table.

Ryan H.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Home Acres (Polyvinyl, 03.2010)

For: AM/FM, The Velvet Teen, Silver Apples

Byline:The geographically displaced prog-poppers delve deep into tempestuous topics and emerge with the heaviest and ultimately best album of their career. Originally published on www.inyourspeakers.com. Used by permission from In Your Speakers, LLC.

....After releasing 2006’s universally acclaimed prog-pop tour-de-force Some Echoes and their equally lauded, stripped-down acoustic EP Light Works, Aloha’s opening announcement of a bass drum pedal being hammered to the floor, and a driving bassline on “Building A Fire” sound downright explosive. This concentrated repackaging of Cale Park’s most propulsive moments lock the song into a focused canter of laser beam intensity. Guitars come in quick, staccato bursts; barely melodic but hardly atonal, breaking the minimalist percussion show just enough to make themselves felt, and then exiting as quickly as they entered. After an announcement this compelling, “Moonless March” begins to unpack the kinetic interplay between Lipple’s lisping vocals (buried under layers of distortion) and vibraphone arrangements, and Park’s virtuoso percussion. “Moonless March” has been a longstanding crowd favorite; Aloha has been kicking the song around since at least early 2007 and its belated appearance on a full-length album benefits from years of tinkering, making it the album’s immediate standout single. Barely changing tempo from “Building a Fire,” “Moonless March” is Parks at his most jaw-droppingly frantic while still sounding amazingly cohesive....

...Crawling out of the self-imposed Siberian exile is the sentiment on “Waterwheel,” a semi-mystic rumination on existence reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa’s short film Village of Watermills. Watermills, in that film, represent the concept of cyclic rebirth and the transitory nature of life. Lipple posits “two hands on the waterwheel/the cold creek runs through everyone from here.” I can dig that. While we may not have total control over the course of our lives, there are quite a few things that we can control, and while we may not immediately see the direct results of our actions, they do exist somewhere down the line. Moments like these make me glad I am listening to this album for the express purpose of revealing some of its mysteries to others. Even if the world ends (please let it end after March 9th so you can hear this) at least I got a glimpse of something really wonderful.

I wonder if Spring gets off on being withholding. It comes at a time when you are past looking forward to it; it comes when you are comfortably settled within the cool hues of gray winter skies. Home Acres, while decidedly overcast, still retains a lining of the group’s entry-level stabs at making sense of the universe. 2010 finds Aloha a little older and a little wiser, like your smart older brother saying, “look, I don’t have all the answers. I’m just as confused as you are.”

Read the full article here on www.inyourspeakers.com
Ryan H.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Boy Fruit

Repulsive (Cyber Dude, 2010)

For: Black Dice, Mouse On Mars, Coil

Byline: Noisy, funky, extraterrestrial beats: Boy Fruit lays 'em down, you do 'em up.

I’m smiling right now. Know why? I’m listening to a song called “Alien Swing” by Jason Harmon - a.k.a. Boy Fruit - and it’s one of the most demonically twisted, yet utterly funky beats I’ve come across in some time. Boy Fruit comes to us from Ohio of all places. Wait... is that right? Ohio? Do aliens hang out in Ohio? Do they have raves there? If they do, Boy Fruit might have an established residence as permanent DJ for whatever club they get down at up there in... Maumee. I don’t even want to think about what goes on at these throw-downs, especially given the grotesque (yet enticingly amazing) album art shown above, but I’m happy nonetheless bumping their jamz.

Repulsive is the newest installment of Boy Fruit tunes, one of four releases he’s now compiled, all of which you can snag off his website (linked below). I haven’t had a chance to peruse any older material yet, but Repulsive would be an impressive introduction to any artist, so this may not be a bad place to start. The album sounds pitch-bent slightly downward, resulting in a mix that feels like it’s been constructed on a soft foundation of quicksand. Oddball, whirl-a-gig noises funnel dizzyingly around your ears beneath smart, melodic hooks that tightrope walk along a wire of atonality. Synths operate here like vocals, but those of an extraterrestrial mournfully moaning away. It’s all caked together like mud atop dimensionally-shifting tunnels of drone and a trudging groove. Though the whole thing meshes well and seems fully formed, it still drips at its sides and feels unstable... remember that alien thing that killed Lieutenant Yar? This stuff kind of sounds like that guy looked. It’s also similarly slow-moving, dark and strangely sinister in tone.

The coolest thing about Boy Fruit is that though this is indeed weirdo noise experimentalism, somehow the project filters these sentiments through pop music mainstays and forms. “YOY” is a waltz, “Lump Dump” feels inspired by dub-house, and so on. Multiple listens work to unearth questions with few answers - an infinite puzzle that’ll never quite be solved but is impossible to resist from trying. It’s no surprise that this came to us here at the TOME literally within days of another release by an artist called First Dog to Visit the Center of the Earth. The two seem to be somewhat in cahoots with one another, as FDVCE appears to have posted a pic of a couple in bed together on Boy Fruit's MySpace page - the female is denoted as Boy Fruit, the male as FDVCE. Yikes. Expect a run down of FDVCE in the coming days, but for now, just take note that if you like one, you’ll probably love the other. The main differences I hear have to do with function: Boy Fruit’s tendency to produce songs that feel more like singles might be the rowdy, party-crazy teenage little brother to FDVCE’s sprawling segues and conceptually artful nerdiness.

Ohio, though... srsly. Who knew?

--Craw’z 3/9/2010

Free Download of Repulsive

Boy Fruit Official MySpace

Boy Fruit Official Website

p.s. Boy Fruit's MySpace page lists "Cyber Dude" as his record label. Hopefully it's not this Cyber Dude...

Monday, March 8, 2010


In Sea Remixes (Silber Records, 02.2010)

For: Stars of the Lid, German Shepherd, Yume Bitsu

Byline: One of 2009's best releases gets the remix treatment from loads of talented musicians. Drop everything and buy this.

Jon DeRosa's elegiac masterpiece of an ambient-drone record In Sea got me through a very busy semester of school last year. The weight of the music, DeRosa's amazing story, and the therapeutic nature it had on me as I sat up writing paper after paper led to an easy place on my best of 2009 list. Now, Silber Records is graciously releasing a glorious remix album no more than 3 months after its initial release. The remix album is a tricky feat to pull off. First, the source material has to be strong enough to retain its core attributes while withstanding radical tonal and textural changes.

A big check in that box.

Second, the contributers have to alter the original recording enough to warrant another listen to a song you have spun through over a dozen times.

Put another check there.

Those said changes have to alter the song enough to make you look at it in another light, recognizing things that you missed and opening the song to limitless possibilities.

Three for three.

Fourth, make sure Prefuse-73 is on there.

Oh man, so close.

While Scott Herren may be absent, Aarktica's talented friends more than make up for this. Remixes include contributions from Al Qaeda (fellow non-SLC moondial tape contributers) who take "A Plague of Frosts" and underscore it with post-industrial percussion and haunting field-recordings in the vein of Odd Nosdam's eerie "Burner" off Level Live Wires. My favorite remixes are by Planar and Keith Canisuis who take previous wordless songs and sing over them, totally owning the song and changing its very meaning. I have an unhealthy obsession with the Keith Canisuis remix of "Autumnal", I love his decidedly 80's take on the song, transforming the subtle guitar lines into cheesy 80's synth lines and gorgeously-weird keyed up vocals. I don't know very much about this Dutch artist, but I expect to be delving into his back catalogue very soon. Other contributers include but are not limited to: Aidan Baker-collaborator-ThisQuietArmy, the skittering electronic percussion of yellow6, Mason Jones, the pastoral field recordings of Summer Cats. TOME favs Remora, Declining Winter, James Duncan, Ramses III, etc... Not to be missed.

Ryan H.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Past Lives

Tapestry of Webs (Suicide Squeeze, 02.2010)

For: XTC, Liars, Unwound

Byline: Is there life after fronting the Blood Brothers? Jordan Blilie leads 3/4 of The Brothers Blood into the studio and emerges with this churning, grating, downright fantastic record. Originally published on www.inyourspeakers.com. Used by permission by In Your Speakers, LLC.

....Tapestry of Webs is a discordant, grating, gem of a record, one that borrows heavily from Blood Brothers influential mainstay, the turbulent noise rock of the nineties but filtered through the gloriously weird excesses of eighties post-punk. Being free of Johnny Whitney’s shocking counter-points to Jordan Blilie’s commanding croon, the songs are largely constructed around Blilie’s surprisingly strong songwriting and penchant for memorable hooks over a tumultuous sea of swirling guitar attacks and a newly minted horn section. Past Lives benefits greatly from the return of guitarist Devin Welch and the move of Morgan Henderson from bass to baritone guitar. Henderson slathers his deep, rhythmic grooves across each song with an impenetrable swirling drone of cicada-like buzzing. The rhythm section, still helmed by Gajadhar, is augmented by a punch-drunk horn section that gallops along with his start-stop playing.

Past Lives are in their element at their most experimental. “K-Hole” borrows heavily from the churning, chaotic soundscapes of this years Clipd Beaks album, or last year’s HEALTH. Heavy rhythmic breakdowns over clashing guitars are pinned to Blilie’s feathered cap as he propels the song along with a buoyant vocal cadence before breaking into a teeth-curling shriek on the chorus, like the Blood Brothers never broke up. The albums first single, “Hex Takes Hold” is a triumphant hurtle into XTC-meets-"Drums"-era-Liars, taking on a throat-grabbing chorus of backfired prophetic visions and pin-sticking voodoo apparitions. 60’s power-pop holds court in the surprisingly catchy “”Don’t Let the Ashes Fill Your Eyes” down to the Shangri-La-like “oooh-la-la-las.” “Paralyzer” is a kiss-off as much as it is a open-mouthed tongue-in-cheek ode to the 80’s power ballads that make mystical the mere appearance of a woman as a paralyzing sexual Medusa (think “Jessie’s Girl” or “Cherry Pie”). Replace the schlocky guitar theatrics with some serious down-tuned guitar rumblings and Tapestry of Webs is officially not The Blood Brothers 6th studio album.

Ryan H.

Read the full review here

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Son Lux

Weapons EP (anticon, 02.2010)

For: Ekkehard Ehlers + Odd Nosdam, Matmos

Byline: Son Lux's combination of weaving classical harmonies around put-your-hands-in-the-ayer hip-hop beats are given the remix treatment by the best in the game: instrumental hip-hop artist/producer Alias, neo-classical composer Nico Muhly.

An album for all occasions, Son Lux took an already well-written song and for his EP, remixed and reorchestrated each song, collaborating with various artists transcending genres. The result: each song on the album, though the same song lyrically, holds itself independent from one another, with a singular, haunting melody keeping each song connected. I will be the first to say, that, personally, remixes are not my cup of tea, but Son Lux's uses of different beats and instruments and making each song unique, definitely won me over.

No matter the mood or occasion I can revert back to this album. If I am mellowed out I can listen to the WEAPONS II or WEAPONS VII. Son Lux's classical use of string instruments in the first song, won my heart and imagination over. WEAPONS III (Polyphonic Remix) immediately reminded me of Matmos, in which the artists creatively utilize the sounds and beats around them to build an entire song. The Polyphonic Remix definitely achieved this goal.

The rumors are true. I am a sucker for hip-hop, hence the paper chain I have made to count down T.I.'s release date from prison (March 26!!!). So when I began listening to the Alias Remix of WEAPONS VI, I was completely captivated, and found myself nodding my head to the beat and waving my hands in the air like I just don't care. Beyond the incorporated use of hip-hop, I am pretty much a sap for classical string instruments and the majority of his songs incorporated such a use, which left my ears yearning for more. If anything, this album definitely left me wanting more Son Lux. My solution? Leaving it on repeat. Best. Idea. Ever.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Slow Six

Tomorrow Becomes You (Western Vinyl, 02.2010)

For: Dirty Three, Daniel Bjnarsson, Sonna

Byline: Western Vinyl tops itself again and releases hands-down the best neo-classical/post-rock album of the past couple years.

Wayne Coyne infamously said, "I play the recording studio" when asked what about his contributions beyond fronting the Flaming Lips. In many ways composer/musical think-tank Christopher Tignor could claim the same thing, but add, "I play the computer". On a first, second, or third listen of Slow Six's third full length Tomorrow Becomes you it is unapparent how much electronic manipulation went into forming the robust neo-classical/post-rock long player. I was totally unaware until I read a pretty amazing interview with Tignor on Textura. What sounds like a pretty straightforward set up: two violins, a guitar, drums, and a Rhodes piano, with minimal electronic percussion; is in fact, put through way more manipulation than a casual listen reveals. Tignor is the author of two (possibly more) recording software devices that drastically change the pitch and hue of acoustic instruments being run as an input through this software. To wit:

"Orbits is a Java application I built for a laptop quintet of mine with the same name. It basically let's you use a Wacom tablet or your mouse to draw around the screen and create a stream of colored dots, each one representing a sample taken on the fly of whatever sound you feed into your computer. In the second half of “Sympathetic Response System” I fed the guitar, Rhodes, and Theo's ambient percussion into it. The direction and speed you draw changes whether these samples play forward, backward, and at what speed, and you can have hundreds of these little sample dots swirling about the screen at once if desired. The goal is to try and subtly bend our perception of the recognizable instrumental landscape by hearing the abstractions side by side with their sources." (from the Textura interview)

Is there an app for that? Cool right? Even with having an inside peek into how this album was created in no ways diminishes the purely emotional impact it had me, the first-tenth time listening to it. Simply put, there is no better band working in this medium right now. Western Vinyl released Balmorhrea's Constellations earlier this year, that while serving as a good reference point (and amazing in its own right), is of a totally different breed than the soaring violin lines, proggy time signatures and post-rock ascendancy caught in the laser-beam singular vision of Tignor. The way the looped violin parts weave around each other creates an unworldly beauty in the gorgeous segues between the more straight forward post-rock tinged songs and the tension filled rhythm-less tracks. While admittedly not a folk artist, "Because Together We Resonate" features an amazing amplified cello bridge that could stand in as a ruddy, colonial jig or an Appalachian Baroque piece. "The Night You Left New York" starts with twin violin lines both plucked and bowed, while the Rhodes plucks chords in a random almost aleatoric nature, this is sets the mood before the drums and guitar kick in to announce the decidedly back-to-basics rock approach Slow Six has introduced on their newest album. This isn't the crescendo-core of Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai, nor is this the apocolyptic melancholy of Godspeed! This is classical music for the new millennium, pattern recognition played back on itself until the abstract disappears into form.

Western Vinyl, can we thank you enough for churning nothing but highly consistent, downright amazing albums these past two years? 2010 has already started off so well. We want to issue a formal thank you.

Ryan H.