Album Review

Dama/Libra – Claw (Northern Spy, 2014)

dama libra - claw album cover
Dama/LibraStravinsky (Northern Spy)

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Holy fuck this collab is immeeeense, Silkworm vet Joel Phelps and G. Stuart Dahlquist formerly from Sunn O))) and now Asva got together and made something way more than that math has any right to add up to, Phelps’ vocals that sound so much better with Asva style gloom than any of Asva’s previous collabs and any of Phelps’ previous stuff, including Silkworm, so yeah I’m saying this is maybe the best work either guys have been involved in (well not including Sunn O))) because come on), this is a droning brooding hulk of avant doomed orchestral majesty, the darkness offering an easy passage to the other side, soft, smooth, and easy to swallow, but still heavy and fuckin weird, the organs sounding like a dungeon’s lobby music, guitars, drums, pianos, and everything else within reach aching & bellowing from the deep, crazy samples of thunder cracks and cheering children, resonant, moaning vocals floating out from misty crypts and hallowed cathedrals, at once beautiful, powerful, & super emotional, then it ventures into catchy indie pop territory with steel drums and shit that manages to come off as anything but cheesy, an inexplicably enjoyable record that is seriously fucking bizarre in the best possible way, eerie and dark as fuck but something you could probably toss on while the normal friends visit and you wouldn’t get too many weird looks, I honestly have no idea how this record got made or what went through their minds when making it, this is the most original music I’ve heard in a long fucking time, and I’ll be pretty much devastated if these dudes don’t put out any more records together.

Album Review

Mamaleek – He Never Said A Mumblin’ Word (Flenser, 2014)

mamaleek - he never said a mumblin word album cover
MamaleekAlmost Done Toiling Here (Flenser)

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This is Mamaleek’s fourth record. The first self released self titled album was absolutely insane experimental shoegazey black metal, then Fever Dream added some jazzy shit to the mix, then Kurdaitcha went Middle Eastern, but they always managed to fuck you up in different ways while still sounding like the same band. This new LP mixes everything they’ve done in the past and spits out a brilliantly unique and otherworldly black metal that should suite all fans of the fucked & twisted, sitting well with now label-mates Wreck & Reference and Botanist, sharing Botanist’s borderline poppy melodies that’ll get stuck in your head while the roaring gritty ferocity of W&R beats your bones to a pulp, along with mesmerizing mournful foreign sampled singing, blown out beat machines, obliterated vocals, and beastly buzzing guitars that favor distortion over tremolo, this is raw as hell and fuckin EPIC, lo-fi not in the shitty production way but like this was buried & baked in a desert for a hundred years and only just now unearthed, these guys are fuckin demons, thrashing in a new style of black metal that nobody else is doing or even can do, the best kind of blackness that you instantly fall in love with and makes you rethink all the other run of the mill shit you’ve been digging lately, this is what everyone else should hold as their standard, the fucking pinnacle of wretched heaviness.

AGB Radio

AGB Radio (July 28, 2014)

Back with a new episode after a break from last week due to traveling. 100% new shit this week and it’s all amazing. Panopticon’s LP will definitely be a year end contender.
 

AGB Radio 2014/07/28

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/Background music/ Rain Drinkers – Field Of Ash (from Wood Violet)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:34 Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – Side A (from Songs Of Forgiveness)
00:20:31 Mårble – Fantom Palms (from Two Women & Tiger)
00:24:51 Dragging An Ox Through Water – I Don’t Understand What You Like About It (from Panic Sentry)
00:29:57 Talk break
00:30:39 Twilight Fauna – Roots Stained By Time (from Hymns Of A Forgotten Homeland)
00:39:37 Steve Roach – Perfect Sky (from The Delicate Forever)
00:53:20 Widesky – And The Stars Emerging (from Silhoutte, And The Stars Emerging)
00:59:18 Talk break
01:00:44 Sons Of Magdalene – O, Death (from Move To Pain)
01:06:23 Surachai – 20 (00) (from Ritual)
01:09:59 Panopticon – Chase The Grain (from Roads To The North)
01:21:53 Troy Schafer – Side A (from Untitled No. 1)
01:27:47 Talk break
01:29:08 James Blackshaw – Part VIII (from Fantomas: Le Faux Magistrat)
01:39:29 Planning For Burial – Cantspeak (from Planning For Burial / Troubled By Insects Split)
01:42:04 Naked Island – Play It As It Lays (from Naked Island)
01:59:28 Talk break

AGB Radio

AGB Radio (July 14, 2014)

Fuckin Mamaleek, you guys. Number one black metal record this year, easy. Also, that Gog song has one of the best titles.
 

AGB Radio 2014/07/14

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/Background music/ Matt Baldwin – Golden Twins (from Golden Twins)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:47 Mamaleek – Poor Mourner’s Got A Home (from He Never Said A Mumblin’ Word)
00:10:38 Braeyden Jae – An Arm Pulled Through (from Heaven House)
00:17:36 Dama/Libra – The Chant (from Claw)
00:24:09 EUS – Reviraje I (from Reviraje)
00:27:09 Talk break
00:28:21 Foie Gras – Ascetic Vows (from Held)
00:34:52 Telecult Powers – A Wish For Ouisch (from Black Meditations)
00:41:58 Auburn Lull – Static Partition (from Hiber)
00:45:52 Taiga Remiains – Skin, Leaves (from Works For Cassette)
00:55:36 Talk break
00:57:04 Schemawound – Your First Wormhole (from A Young Person’s Guide To Time Travel)
01:04:04 The Tobacconists – A Secret Place (from A Secret Place)
01:09:38 Peter J. Woods – Impure Gold (from Impure Gold, Pt. I)
01:14:26 Trepaneringsritualen – Feral Me (from Papist Pretender)
01:18:30 Gog – Before You Go We’d Love To Tear You To Fucking Pieces (from Gog)
01:25:52 Talk break
01:27:04 Blood Bright Star – Pale Sphere Apparition (from The Silver Head)
01:33:25 Ben Chasny – Black Sand (from Black Sand / Wedding Song)
01:38:22 Keaton Henson – Nearly Curtains (from Romantic Works)
01:40:55 Sublamp – Bramble And Thorn (from Lianas)
01:58:03 Talk break

Album Review

Ian William Craig – A Turn Of Breath (Recital, 2014)

ian william craig - a turn of breath album cover
Ian William CraigTEAC Poem (Recital)

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Since Craig’s A Forgetting Place snuck into last year’s Top Drone list at number 4, he’s already released an incredible digital release (Theia And The Archive) and now he’s prepping his debut vinyl for Recital and holy mother of god this record is going to tear everyone’s soul to shreds and sit itself upon the Throne of Drone, reigning all from here on out. Craig is trained as an opera singer, and he takes his incredible voice and fucks it up with some Basinski style tape madness, going over the top with an emotional rollercoaster, this dude sings so fucking sweetly if he collaborated with Julianna Barwick world peace would be inevitable, he sends it straight to the stratosphere, soaring euphoria, and then cracks it into a million pieces with decaying texture and warbled beauty, this is the sonic equivalent of a Turner painting, horror and melancholy in stormy waters amidst the sun shining bright with hope & purity on the fringe, crumbling crackling harmony turned inside out, bursting with life and on the edge of death, I feel absolutely fucking devastated listening to this, it’s the most heart-wrenching, overwhelming, fucked up, perfect, warm, somber, delicate, monster of a drone record, I know I tend to dramatize things when I get excited about a record but for real this is the best fucking thing you’ll hear all year, maybe for the next 5 years, I don’t know, it’s just a goddamn masterpiece. And you may remember me saying in my review of A Forgetting Place that there was one song, “On The Reach Of Explanations,” that could have comprised the whole record and I still would’ve been just as psyched because that song is just un-fucking-believable, well that song made it onto A Turn Of Breath which means I can spin that track until the grooves wear out and I’ve passed out from heavenly bliss overload. So yeah, this new one has a couple of “old” songs but Craig has never had a physical release so I’m totally game. Only 500 copies getting pressed up (including 125 deluxe editions) so seriously do not waste another minute in pre-ordering this. 100% necessary for everyone.

Album Review

Lawrence English – Wilderness Of Mirrors (Room40, 2014)

lawrence english - wilderness of mirrors album cover
Lawrence EnglishThe Liquid Casket (Room40)

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Lawrence English is one of the artists that continuously/impossibly tops himself with each new release and Wilderness Of Mirrors is just fucking jaw dropping. Way more dynamic and aggressive that his recent efforts, this is the drone that smothers all competitors, it’s dark and audacious, intense sounds coming from midnight forest jaunts, swirling static that cuts deep alongside delicate chimes and melodious humming, balancing perfectly the reassuring soft tenderness & sky high soaring bliss with nightmarish gravitas & densely melancholic cacophony, English unleashes a visceral chaos peppered with the sweetest fucking drone, delicate minimalism, and moments of sheer triumph, all mixed together this is full blown euphoria that is unrivaled, dude is at the top of his game on this record and his game can’t be fucked with. This is all time Top Ten stuff. Immerse yourself.

AGB Radio

AGB Radio (July 7, 2014)

So much new stuff I can barely take it. Upcoming Ian William Craig vinyl on Recital is like a gift from the gods. And yeah, I’m into the new Wolves In The Throne Room record.
 

AGB Radio 2014-07-07

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/Background music/ Günter Schlienz – Lament (from Contemplation)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:37 Tecumseh – Darkness Swallowing The Air (from For The Night)
00:11:28 Hildur Gudnadottir – Strokur (from Saman)
00:18:51 OOIOO – Don Ah (from Gamel)
00:28:44 Talk break
00:30:00 Mamman Sani – Taaritt (from Taaritt)
00:37:05 Demdike Stare – Procrastination (from Testpressing #005)
00:43:41 Smokey Emery – 02 (from Soundtracks For Invisibility Vol. III: Qui Mal Y Pense)
00:55:56 Talk break
00:56:55 Tarab – Untitled 5 (from I’m Lost)
01:08:44 M. Geddes Gengras – Threshold (from Ishi)
01:26:34 Talk break
01:27:31 Ian William Craig – The Edges (from A Turn Of Breath)
01:32:39 Zac Nelson – War Mist Regard (from Vulgar Divination)
01:46:32 Wolves In The Throne Room – Turning Ever Towards The Sun (from Celestite)
01:57:50 Talk break

Interviews

Questions For Saåad

saaad interview photo
 

Saåad is the French drone duo comprised of Romain Barbot & Grégory Buffier. They’ve been making some of my favorite sounds for the past couple years and the Deep/Float LP released on Hands In The Dark this past April is easily one of the best drone records this year. I have no idea what they have planned as for future releases, but in the meantime, they were kind enough to take some time to answer these questions for me.
 

What is the best way to die?
Romain: Painlessly, during my sleep while dreaming. It could be a good option…

Grégory: While sleeping or on stage, the later the better I hope. I’d like to compose my own requiem, play it and pass away, draped in a melody shroud.

How do you think you’ll die?
Romain: Probably of a heart attack or cancer. I’m not scared of death, but I’m scared of being sick.

Grégory: I’ll die of a heart attack or I’ll just fade away…

What makes you happy?
Romain: The love of my fiancée, my family & my friends, making music, creating & building things, freedom, coffee, Toulouse’s sun, Italian vanilla ice cream, jams with friends, my cat, weed, listening to music, duck breasts, homemade burgers…

Grégory: The feeling that each day is a rebirth, being wide awake, simple things of life, contrasts and shades, the scent of flowers, harmony and euphony, the ineffable in music, composing, listening to baroque music, tears and regrets that make me feel alive, the sweet intoxication of alcohol and weed, the love of my family and friends, my sweet girlfriend, eating good cheese and delicatessen, and freedom of course.

How can you die happy?
Romain: By accepting it and making peace with yourself and surrounded by your loved ones. I will survive through them, and I guess that I will be happy if I leave them happy. Mortality is a beautiful & natural thing when it comes in its time. Eternity is one of the most frightening concepts invented by humanity. Maybe that’s why I’m not interested in religion.

Grégory: By accepting it smiling, listening to my favorite pieces of baroque music if I have enough time, after having reached wisdom and knowing that death is just an illusion.

How close have you come to death?
Romain: In New York, I was with my brother & my best friend, we saw the girl next to us falling from the sixth floor. We saw her disappearing into the darkness without a scream. It was really dark, we didn’t see her crash, we just heard it… and it was a terrible noise. By a miracle, she survived with only a broken shoulder! But we thought she was dead.

Grégory: I’d say the day when I climbed up the basilica on Pillar Square in Saragossa, Spain with a friend of mine. The towers were being renovated, the scaffolding was quite narrow and it was windy but we climbed up all the same. Then the wind got stronger and stronger, we crawled and clung to the wall. I felt a bit dizzy but I wasn’t scared. We waited for 10 minutes until the wind stopped and we went on. We managed to get to the top. The view was great. It was risky but it was worth it.

What does kindness mean to you?
Romain: Listening to people, giving and sharing without expecting anything in return. A softer version of sacrifice.

Grégory: Sharing, giving, listening to people, empathy, altruism…

Where do you find love?
Romain: I think love can’t be found. Love is a rent, it is never acquired. It builds up and has to be cultivated.

Grégory: Close to a soul that wraps my body with true love, next to my close friends and in music which makes me exist.

When were you most afraid?
Romain: I’ve been harassed for a few weeks, it was so fucked up & scary…

Grégory: I have no idea. I don’t know if I have ever been afraid.

How do you listen to music?
Romain: I’m lucky to work at home so I listen to music all day long from my computer. When I don’t work I prefer listening to my old records or cassettes in my living-room, comfortably seated and ready for music. When I don’t listen to music I make music. I have made more music than I have listened to recently.

Grégory: It all depends on the music I’m listening to. If it’s classical music, which is most of the time, I can’t do anything else. I just listen, attentive to what’s going on. I like being comfortably seated in my living-room and alone. I can talk to myself sometimes… I also like music while driving.

Album Review

D. Burke Mahoney – Sonora (Cathedral Transmissions, 2014)

d burke mahoney - sonora album cover
D. Burke MahoneyTidal Currents (Cathedral Transmissions)

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This underrated dude is quickly proving to be one of my favorites in the current drone world. His newest outing comes from the appropriately named Cathedral Transmissions, and it’s a fuckin grand slam of a record, with four long pieces (ranging from 11 to 18 minutes) of gorgeously minimal drone, that wavers between modern classical and flat out hypno-wave tones, tossing in some field recording-esque texture, this thing goes all the way to the depths of your soul and just chills, hovering inside you while the thick warm hum smothers your every fiber, and the last (longest) song is almost like Basinski doing an ambient techno track, with the beats stretched wayyyy out and super fuckin murky, it’s fucking incredible, Mahoney wields subtlety & patience with such perfection it’s like he’s been doing this forever, but he’s only got a handful of releases and a bunch of one-offs on various comps & podcasts & such. Hopefully that’ll change soon because he clearly deserves the attention. And Sonora is wonderfully packaged in a cardboard envelope with artwork by Jessica Bell on the front. Super sweet. Super limited (45 copies). Definitely worth adding to your collection.

UPDATE: Looks like this one’s already sold out. Sorry about that. But there’s always digital, and it’s a fuckin steal at £2.

AGB Radio

AGB Radio (June 30, 2014)

Holy fuck the new Lawrence English is insaaaane.
 

AGB Radio 2014/06/30

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/Background music/ Anthroprophh – Precession (from Precession)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:41 Lawrence English – The Liquid Casket (from Wilderness Of Mirrors)
00:07:02 Ignatz & De Stervende Honden – Drinking Tea And Bloody Marys (from Teenage Boys)
00:14:21 Smail Chaoui – N’sani N’sani (from 1970s Algerian Folk And Pop, Vol. 2)
00:18:49 Scott Tuma – Evenin’ Dangle (from Cracker Where Am I)
00:22:00 Dusted Lux – A Horse In The Orchard (from Neverended)
00:28:12 Talk break
00:30:04 The Soft Pink Truth – Maniac (from Why Do The Heathen Rage?)
00:34:46 Muslimgauze – Kabul (from Chasing The Shadow Of Bryn Jones, 1983-1988)
00:48:02 Noveller & Thisquietarmy – Reverie III (from Reveries)
00:57:33 Talk break
00:58:32 Malayeen – Samia (from Malayeen)
01:16:00 Nadja & Uochi Toki – Saturn, Jupiter (from Cystema Solari)
01:25:43 Talk break
01:26:43 The Knife – Silent Shout (Shaken-Up Version) (from Shaken-Up Versions)
01:33:46 David Newlyn – Walking In The Dark (from Disintegrating Suburban Dream)
01:39:48 ASC – Slow Autumn (from Truth Be Told)
01:44:33 Caustic Window – Phlaps (from Caustic Window)
01:48:23 White Manna – Hexagram Of Goo (from Come Down Safari)
01:51:31 Geoff Mullen – New England Reverb Part 3 (from New England Reverb)
01:59:17 Talk break

Album Review

Gog – Gog (King Of the Monsters, 2014)

gog album cover
GogThe Lies, They Want To Give You Something (King Of The Monsters)

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Muther. Fucken. GOG. This dude rules all. Everything he’s done has been the highest caliber black drone metal and his newest self titled release on the ever trustworthy KOTM takes shit to the next level. Things are way rowdier than before, less drone (but also more drone?), more songy songs, even pianos & vocals (with Francesca Marongiu of Agarttha & Architeuthis Rex lending her incredible voice to one track), the heavy doom is amped up, cranked to 11, and absolutely mono-fuckin-lithic, serious blown out darkness spewed from a core of pure fury & pain, the black metal blacker and metaller than it’s ever been, Gog transformed into a dynamic beast capable of droning silent voids of non-existence and unholy squalls roaring from the depths of despair, listen to this at maximum volume and be prepared for a true pummeling, this is a wholly unique record, and as a Gog fan, I can safely say it’s my favorite thing he’s ever released. Only 300 copies pressed, and if you’re unfamiliar with Gog or KOTM, know that this will not stick around long.

AGB Radio

AGB Radio (June 23, 2014) Gilead Fest Special

Gilead Media Fest 2014 - Cosmic Badger
 

Gilead Fest is coming!! This thing is going to be insane. Gilead is one of the best metal labels around and this festival is sure to be fucking great. In honor of the upcoming brutality, I did a special episode going through every band that’s playing the fest and in the order that they’ll be playing.

The only caveats are 1: Wolvserpent didn’t get a standalone song because they were the background music for the whole show, 2: Alraune didn’t get played at all because their album isn’t out yet and the only release they have to date (a self titled EP) isn’t available digitally, and 3: Thou & The Body each had separate songs but not one of their collaborative pieces because I didn’t have time.

A few tickets are still available, they’re cheap, the lodging is cheap, it’s in the north (Oshkosh, Wisconsin!) so it won’t be too hot, and Adam has blacked out all the windows in the venue for maximum carnage. Don’t miss out on this. It’s going to be the fucking bessssst.
 

AGB Radio 2014/06/23

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/Background music/ Wolvserpent – Within The Light Of Fire (from Perigea Antahkarana)
00:00:00 Intro
00:01:19 Oozing Wound – Welcome To The Spaceship, Motherfucker (from Retrash)
00:04:14 Inter Arma – ‘sblood (from Sky Burial)
00:10:35 Hell – Deflagratio (from Hell I)
00:15:43 Ash Borer – In The Midst Of Life, We Are In Death (from Ash Borer)
00:27:26 Talk break
00:28:15 Protestant – Jan Palach (from Reclamation)
00:30:59 Hexer – I:III (from Hexer)
00:33:49 Owlfood – Collective Memory, The Trail Of Eyes (from Destroyers Of The Moon)
00:37:04 Sea Of Bones – Black Arm (from The Earth Wants Us Dead)
00:44:05 Geryon – Lament (from Geryon)
00:47:12 Kowloon Walled City – 50s Dad (from Container Ships)
00:50:35 Mutilation Rites – Realms Of Dementia (from Empyrean)
00:55:00 Talk break
00:56:15 Bastard Sapling – Prophecy Born From Dismal Terrain (from Dragged From Our Restless Trance)
01:01:21 The Body – Hail To Thee, Everlasting Pain (from I Shall Die Here)
01:07:00 Northless – Wither And Escape (from World Keeps Sinking)
01:10:15 Generation Of Vipers – Gates Of Steel (from Devana)
01:13:31 Seidr – The Pillars Of Creation (from Ginnungagap)
01:23:51 Talk break
01:25:30 False – The Key Of Passive Suffering (from Untitled)
01:38:00 Uzala – Burned (from Tales Of Blood & Fire)
01:42:11 Loss – Shallow Pulse (from Despond)
01:49:10 Barghest – Thought Disease (from The Virtuous Purge)
01:52:46 Thou – In Defiance Of The Sages (from Heathen)
01:58:18 Outro

Album Review

Halfway Through 2014: Look At All These Killer Fucking Records I Missed

No need to rehash the stuff I’ve already written about with a mid-year best of list. Once a year is plenty. And sometimes (ok all the time) it’s hard to keep up with all the supremely excellent releases that come out. And sometimes it’s easier to just bang out a bunch of mini(ish) reviews all at once so I don’t feel like I’m trapped under a stack of promos that’s ready to cave in on me. So here’s the awesome shit that came out this year (one was originally released on CD last year but put out on vinyl this year so whatever) that I didn’t have time to get around to. Each and every one of these is fantastic enough to have deserved their own individual review but oh well, so it’s likely more than one of these will end up on my year end Top Drone list. And while some of these records have already gotten more than enough coverage elsewhere, they’re all just too good for me to ignore. But I’m sure you’ll be able to find some stuff in here you haven’t heard yet.

Also, if record on here was self released, chances are it’s available for pay what you can on Bandcamp, so get excited.

The technically unranked list of 20 is below the jump so as not to clog up the front page.

 
 

Read the rest of this entry »

Album Review

Ben Vida – Slipping Control (Shelter Press, 2014)

ben vida - slipping control album cover
Ben VidaPart 8 (Shelter Press)

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Shelter Press doin a fuckin number on 2014, this new Ben Vida record just adding to the awesomeness, and while anything by Mr. Vida should be on your radar regardless, Slipping Control gets extra points for including Tyondai Braxton and Sara Magenheimer on vocals. What started out as the book Tztztztzt Î Í Í…, which was “composed to act as a score, a sound piece and as raw data for electronic control source” turned into this record of brainwarping levels of insanity, full blown electronic scatter glitch that ping pongs in your skull like misfiring neural synapses, laser sharp and reverbed wire snap, and then Ty & Sara come in with their wordless stuttering, either solo or with electronic accompaniment, and it’s just fucking brilliant, with fleeting rhythms that pull you in for sweet moments of focused repetition before being twisted, layered, and chopped into its alien bio-mechanics, these are sounds that come from an intentional randomness that transforms the way you hear the world around you, the hums and scratches in your life being re-imagined and given new life. This is, unsurprisingly, supremely excellent work from Vida. Wholly worth your time.

Album Review

Rvnes – Rest/Relief (Jehu & Chinaman, 2014)

rvnes - rest relief album cover
Rvnes – Relief (Jehu & Chinaman)

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Rvnes is new, but Malte Cornelius Jantzen has been around for a bit as S N DY P RL RS, whose LP on Umor Rex is fantastic. But S N DY P RL RS is no more and Rvnes has risen in its place. Glory be to Rvnes, this debut is easily one of my favorite drone records this year, two side-long pieces of deeeeep minimalism that sounds like it’s nearly motionless but feels like it has an entire universe of detail (which is proven by the waveform that’s way more dynamic than you’d expect), it’s the subtle pulsing, the delicate shifts in tone, the silence hovering between moments of resignation & peace that take what could be nothing more than a simple sleep to a beautifully perfect transcendence, this is full of a dense & delicate precision, a softness that almost diverts attention from the intense melancholic sobriety, but fully embracing this allows for all intricacies to be teased out, the borderline bliss alongside the bittersweet void, this is absolutely fucking awesome and deserves way more praise than it’s likely to get. Only 30 tapes were made, so seriously do not waste any time picking this up. Also it was mastered by the master himself Nicholas Szczepanik. It doesn’t get much better than this.