Album Review

Nicholas Szczepanik – Not Knowing (Desire Path, 2014)

nicholas szczepanik - not knowing album cover
Nicholas Szczepanik – Not Knowing (excerpt) (Desire Path)

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A few years ago, Nicholas Szczepanik put out a subscription series of 12 mini-CDs called Ante Algo Azul where he “experimented” on different styles & sounds. The first release from that series was Not Knowing (For Eliane Radigue). This new release on Desire Path takes the original 18:00 piece and expands & elaborates on it creating a full 53 minute record of the most perfect drone you’ll ever hear. The first part of “Not Knowing” is the same as the original (as far as I can tell), which is to say it’s a super minimal pulsing that sounds like a comatose heartbeat. And then shit gets fucking glorious, softly, slowly shifting gears to an angelic harmony that could tear down the walls between warring nations with everyone embracing their newfound family, swirling cascading strings that fill your heart with the joys & pains of life, strongly reminding me of Szczepanik’s magnum opus Please Stop Loving Me. The contrast on Not Knowing, gracefully moving back & forth between long form minimalism and refined euphoria, is something I haven’t heard Szczepanik do yet, and he’s already proved himself a fucking master. The highs are incredibly high, tearful & magnificent, glowing & intricate, and the lows are delicately hypnotic, with a precision in tonality that’s breathtaking. This is absolute fucking perfection. This has everything I ask for in a drone record, and more. As much as I love Please Stop Loving Me (#1 drone record of 2011 yo), I can easily say Not Knowing is hands down a more mature, accomplished, and impressive fucking record. I have a hard time imagining Szczepanik ever topping this.

Also, you might be thinking that since Not Knowing is one long track, what the fuck is Desire Path, the label who’s literally 7 for 7 on their releases and exclusively works with vinyl, doing releasing this? They started the Tangents series, where they’ll release CDs of long form music that can’t (shouldn’t) be on vinyl. And this is the debut release in that series, strictly limited to 500, but given the deluxe treatment as Desire Path always does.

Album Review

Federico Durand – El Idioma De Las Luciérnagas (Desire Path, 2013)

Federico Durand - el idioma album cover
 
Federico DurandEl Espejo De Mil Años (Desire Path)

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I first heard about Argentina’s finest Federico Durand through his superb collaboration with Nicholas Szczepanik under the guise of Every Hidden Color. This debut LP of Durand’s (translated to The Language Of The Fireflies) takes that pristine sound from Luz and amplifies it to a level of pure magic. This is a record of subtle complex sounds, finding wonder in the smallest audio spaces and turning a regular peaceful morning into a world of bright white bliss. Intimate field recordings of wildlife chatter and drifting chimes are in perfect company amidst minimal tonal shimmer, delicate softness, humble piano twinkling, and emotional dreams. This is a damn near perfect drone record, kicking introverted euphoria into uncharted territory. As is all things with Desire Path, El Idioma is limited, so don’t sleep on this.

Album Review

Mary Lattimore – The Withdrawing Room (Desire Path, 2013)


Mary Lattimore – Pluto The Planet (Desire Path)

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An exquisite debut from Mary Lattimore, working a wonderful magic on her harp, doing for the harp what Fahey & Basho did for the guitar, offering one of the most serene & lovely records, for drinking tea and watching the sun rise in your green room, subtly layered & picking so soft it’s barely audible, whispers silenced in the breeze, matched perfectly with exotic electronics conjuring peepers & nightowls, so peaceable that the necessary Bell Jar breakdown in the middle of the A side almost undoes everything that precedes it, but it recovers, restores a beautiful order, and nearly forgotten in sweet bliss by the end of the whole thing, drowned in a minimally lush majesty. Desire Path keeping their flawless batting average up with this one, such a stellar record, and all the more exciting since it’s her solo debut. Available on April 1 and only 300 pressed, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Album Review

Charlemagne Palestine & Janek Schaefer – Day Of The Demons (Desire Path, 2012)


Charlemagne Palestine & Janek SchaeferRaga De L’apres Midi Pour Aude (excerpt) (Desire Path)

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This right here is a seriously epic collaboration. Yes. These two dudes work insanely well together, and just look at the list of sounds here: shruti box, harmonica, carillon & desk bells/chimes, prayer bear (um, what?), sine waves, melodica, and, best of all, lots of voices. Two side long tracks that bring the fuckin drone. The A side starts out with an incredibly rich drone, warm & inviting, mostly blissful, that soon has Palestine’s vocals bleeding into it, groaning & howling, turning into some ceremonial Eyes Wide Shut shit, dark and creepy as fuck, layers and layers of voice, some conjuring good spirits, others warding off the evil ones. The other side starts out with some location recordings, people talking at a festival or something, then the drone comes in, this time the most unsettling harmonium/sine wave drone imaginable, a dense disharmonic wall of unintelligible fear and dark swells of demonic scum, more voices come in, speaking a foreign language, exorcising the evil, and the drone fades, turning into bells & pleasantries, eventually ending on a bright note with euphoric harmoniums and bright pure bliss. This is the fucking best. Honestly, Desire Path is literally the most potently awesome label right now. This is only their fourth release and the other three have been absolutely untouchable. Slow and steady wins the race, and Desire Path is miles ahead. As if you needed any more incentive to pick this up, it comes on flame red vinyl and is accompanied by a motherfucking demon mask.

Album Review

Benoît Honoré Pioulard – Plays Thelma (Desire Path, 2011)


Benoît Honoré PioulardMalick (Desire Path)

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Pioulard taking a step away from the lo-fi dreamy popness on those amazing Kranky records. Still 100% sun soaked beauty but now losing its shape a little, turning into a more abstract field of waving drones, harmonium & guitar humming sweet, gliding effortlessly through harmonies, wrapping everything in dappled gold. Warmth abound, everything soft, slow, & absolutely perfect, something that resonates with me way more than anything he’s done before. Another contender for droner of the year for sure. Totally fucking gorgeous. Would truly love it he continued in this direction, as Plays Thelma only clocks in at a criminal 23 minutes. And only 300 copies pressed. Pick one up while he tours with A Winged Victory For The Sullen who for some stupid fucking reason are SKIPPING BOSTON SRSLY WTF.

Album Review

Kyle Bobby Dunn – Ways Of Meaning (Desire Path, 2011)


Kyle Bobby DunnCanyon Meadows

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Kyle Bobby Dunn is making his way up the charts, through the ranks of hundreds of new droners, getting press & praise everywhere he goes, and making me giddy every time a new album comes out. A full length is up next on Desire Path and it is certain, outlook is good, signs point to yes, without a doubt, Ways Of Meaning is my favorite KBD record yet.

This new album continues what Dunn does best, overwhelming beauty without relying on crescendos or building to grandeur, understated & impeccably paired tones, but it progresses beyond the straight-faced neo-classical sounds from before and works toward something warmer, more light hearted, attention grabbing, and overtly pleasing. Meaning is primarily guitar & organ based, giving it an exceptionally church-like vibe without any of the religious or epic connotations. It’s easy to imagine how incredible these drones would be resonating through a church, making me hate myself all the more for missing Dunn’s performance at the First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn last year.

The album works insanely well as a whole, one cohesive life-shroud of smothering brilliance, but each individual song is astonishing on its own. “Canyon Meadows” is one of the most gloriously uplifting drone pieces I’ve heard in a long time, it perfectly embodies an open field untouched by man, blues & greens saturated by golden hour, subtle shimmering & glistening sun on stillwater, the incomparable feeling of napping in a warm sunlight bath after days of dreary rain. Everything about the song glows hope and happiness.

This is the most delicate bliss I’ve ever experienced. 100% shining purity that doesn’t need to be cranked to 11 to get the job done. It swirls softly & effortlessly turns hearts into puddles of droney delight. To say this album is absolutely gorgeous is an understatement, and even though I always have high expectations for a new KBD record, this one still surprised me. I can’t stress enough how incredible it is. If your lazy ass is thinking “Ok, I’ll get around to it,” FORGET IT. Make this a priority and don’t sleep on it. You’ll be a sad sad person.

Ways Of Meaning officially comes out on May 3rd, with Desire Path giving it not only the usual LP & digital niceties, but also going full on “special art edition.” If you remember what they did for Solo Andata’s Ritual art edition (and minimally glamorous box set!) then you’re probably wetting your pants right about now.

Album Review

Solo Andata – Ritual (Desire Path, 2010)


Solo AndataCarving

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You’ve no doubt seen plenty reviews and heard quite a bit of well deserved praise for Solo Andata’s new LP on Desire Path. And that kind of popularity is just the sort of thing I tend to shy away from at AGB. But you know what? Fuck it. Ritual is too goddamn good to pass up here.

These two dudes have made a seriously creepy fucking record. Granted, when you have an album called Ritual and you make some cover art like that up there, I suppose it’s to be expected. But still. There’s some weird shit going on here. The opening track is all cicadas and nighttime forest field recordings, setting the tone of wandering alone in the middle of nowhere hearing specters & haunted wind. It’s eerie as fuck, the kind of sounds that if I were to hear alone in the woods, regardless if the sun was up, I would immediately call the cops and start walking in the opposite direction.

The rest of the album is what would happen if you kept walking towards those sounds. You’d stumble upon a cloaked cult doing all sorts of crazy pagan shit, chanting while making crystal bowls sing and tearing out goat hearts to make goat heart stew for the black demons. The sounds they conjure are an anti-harmony ambience, an avant neo classical horror à la Eyes Wide Shut. Bubbling organics, rotting flesh, golden gongs, slowing heartbeats, piercing bowed cymbals, echoing footsteps, floating lights, shuffling dry leaves, a general hushed dread that’s utterly inescapable.

Strangely enough, despite the ominous nature of Ritual, it’s a very pleasurable listen. Yeah, it’s a bit nightmarish, but in a really beautiful way. Half doom, half chill ambient, with a solid drone core, it’s impossible to go wrong. Solo Andata “effing killed it” with Ritual, most likely in both the literal & metaphorical sense. You seriously want to pick this sweet piece up. Too bad you already missed out on the $600 edition.