Album Review

Ben Bennett – Spoilage (Experimedia, 2013)


Ben BennettEverything / Everything / Everything (Experimedia)

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This is the definition of hard to peg. Minimal power electronics? Noisy jazz punk? Funky field recordings? Not quite any of those but kinda all of them. Bennett takes whatever the fuck he can get his hands on and makes the craziest racket ever. This dude doesn’t know what acceleration means, he’s only got 3 speeds: silent, quiet, and brain boiling, and he jumps in between them with super precision, but there’s something about the brain boiling mode that, even though it’s chaotic as fuck, still has a maximal minimalism, knowing that whatever you’re hearing is basically just a handful of everyday items and Bennett is going to town on them, it’s fucking raw & primal, without being simplistic or boring. And I’d swear there’s some electronics or effects going on here but apparently that’s not the case, this is pure analog in all its caustic glory, and maybe you could chalk it up to lo-fi recordings, but he goes from blown out in the red explosions to painfully detailed squeaks & scratches in half a second, so fidelity ain’t the answer. This is just the sweetest fucking noise and Bennett is a master of his tools, which are almost impossible to guess. Some are decipherable… Are those pots & pans? Oh, yep, he mentions a “camp cook set.” Some aren’t… I bet this is a percolating coffee maker. Haha nope, it might be either a “mason jar ring with latex glove stretched across it” or “the narrow part of a balloon.” Then there’s the truly bizarre moments, like the track that literally sounds like a motherfucking freight train. I have no idea how he did that, but it’s insanely awesome. Maybe he used his “pizza cutter” and “wheelbarrow.” Clearly the “how” isn’t the reason to check this out, though. Just know this is some fucked up shit that sounds incredible on the turntable. Don’t miss out.

P.S. “All proceeds from digital sales of the album will go to Living Energy Farm, a project to build a farm, community, and education center without the use of fossil fuels or electronic media. More info at livingenergyfarm.org

Album Review

Superstorms – Superstorms (Experimedia, 2012)


SuperstormsPart 2 (Experimedia)

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Fuuuuuuuck, this is it, this is one of my favorite records this year. Superstorms is the new project of Michael Tolan (involved with Tusco Terror, Trouble Books, Moustache Mountain, Talons’) and this album is drop dead fucking gorgeous. It’s harsher than Tim Hecker at his harshest, it’s October Language smashed into a noise wall, it’s the best fucking thing ever. Crushed bits and burnt clouds, a blurred fury dipped in bliss, sunsets viewed through a grit lens, a trillion grey sky pixels fractured with the glow shining through, brittle static & warm drones blown out, scratched out, washed out, a euphoria for the pink noise lovers, devastatingly beautiful and everything I want in a record. Superstorms is a goddamn triumph. The kind of record you give a permanent home on its own dedicated turntable. Too limited at only 300 (vinyl) copies but absolutely essential. Do not miss this.

Album Review

Damian Valles – Nonparallel (In Four Movements) (Experimedia, 2012)


Damian VallesMovement III (Experimedia)

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Oh man, this is the besssst. Damian Valles, the multi-talented Canadian curator of the Rural Route series on Standard Form, has done some incredible reappropriating on Nonparallel. He’s taken a hefty collection of old classical Nonesuch LPs from the 60s & 70s and Jeckified them. Ripping the crackle straight from the dusty grooves and bathing the vintage strings in a dark glow, he gives a whole new meaning to neo-classical. And the drones Valles spins are some of my favorite kind, lush as fuck, with pops & clicks turned into a dozen muted typewriters, warm tones with buried melodies, vaguely threatening in the most blissful way, earthy & rich, layers and sheets of suffocating ambience, classical pianos melted in a cauldron of dark drones, something wholly original born out of forgotten thrift store relics. A fucking winner if I’ve ever seen one. Available in your favorite format at Experimedia very soon, but lets face it, if you pick this up on anything other than vinyl, you’re doing it wrong.

Album Review

From The Mouth Of The Sun – Woven Tide (Experimedia, 2012)


From The Mouth Of The SunColor Loss (Experimedia)

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Aaron Martin & Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper, TX) joining forces as From The Mouth Of The Sun, creating a refined beauty, not sounding like the radiant beast above us, but rather some further introverted giant. Unbelievably amazing, Martin & Rosenqvist an absolute perfect pair, masters of both acoustic & electronic, making strings & pianos melt, altogether clean, untouched, manipulated, processed, seamlessly perfect. Songs as tender as can be, with a serene sullenness in the Jasper crackle and Martin’s neo-layering. Not glowing or massive but still emotionally dense and overwhelming in its splendor, balancing the light of hope and the dark nightmares of reality. Woven Tide is so tragically good, it would almost be offensive if either of these guys decided to collaborate with anyone else. A true gem.

Album Review

Lawrence English – The Peregrine (Experimedia, 2011)


Lawrence EnglishHeavy Breath Of Silence (Experimedia)

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As someone who counts Kiri No Oto as one of their favorite records of all time (btw humungo props to Digitalis for pressing that on vinyl earlier this year), it takes a lot for me to admit that I might already like The Peregrine more. Not sure yet. Needs some more time in the oven. It’s a step away from Kiri No Oto, something a bit brighter and with more cheer. Just a bit. Like a less dynamic Love Is A Stream. It’s filled with flourishing harmonies, soaring through gray glades, warm as golden hour in June. Like the finest grade sandpaper, with a tooth so smooth, the grit almost disappears and you’re left with drone as glorious as humanly possible. An impenetrably dense wall of a dull roar, working perfectly at low volumes, not insistent on being maxed out, but if it’s not resonating in your core, you’re doing it wrong. The most intensely pleasurable listening experience you should have all year.

A pertinent quote from Lawrence English about J.A. Baker’s book “The Peregrine,” of which this album is an homage to: “He expends as much attention on the shape of clouds or the murmur of a river as on the bird, which inspires him to write.”

Album Review

Lüüp – Cream Sky


LüüpCream Sky

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Lüüp make some charming folky weirdness in a way that the “new weird folk” or whatever the fuck it was called could never possibly come up with. Lead by Stelios Romaliadis, the new Meadow Rituals album on Experimedia is filled with almost 20 people bending genres in a way I’ve yet to hear. There’s no map for the place they’ve gone, somewhere off in the New Age classical folk drone land.

Not all of the tracks appeal to me, there’s lots of vocals & flutes giving off a fantasy vibe that just doesn’t rub me the right way, but “Cream Sky” is a perfect example of where they dance line, staggering ever so closely to the dreaded cheese zone but ending up with something totally fucking great. There’s plenty of classy instruments, making a warm and airy atmosphere, then tossing in some reversed sounds to spice things up. The deep resonant vocals eventually come in, flowing like silk through the forest, a wondrous & light hearted dream, and finishing with looped hand claps and mouth clicks. Super cool stuff, especially when heard in the context of the whole record.

Album Review

Aaron Martin – Worried About The Fire (Experimedia, 2010)


Aaron MartinBeaver Falls

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I feel like Aaron Martin may be a name everyone knows but maybe not too many people actually listen to? Or maybe just not write about? I don’t see his name popping up as often as it should, I guess because he’s not one to ever get a lot of hype. I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT. This Kansas dude is fucking knocking it out of the park with every album. His latest full length on Experimedia is no different.

Worried About The Fire is a dark & beautiful drone fest with dozens of sound makers: cellos, violins, saws, bowls, free reeds, and presumably anything else within arms reach. Martin dips into the processing world, too, manipulating the analog, bending it in ways that still fit the natural aesthetic that embodies The Fire. There are purely acoustic tracks like “Water Tongue” with its building string layers that are unbelievably beautiful, so elegiac and somber. And then there’s the highly fucked with “Marked In Dust” that buzzes like a generator, pulses like a swarm of cicadas, and flurries like spiraling snowflakes.

For what’s primarily a drone record, the songs are incredibly short. All but one are under four minutes long, making it feel more fast paced than is typical. This sounds like a Constellation release that’s a cross between Zomes’ self titled and Et Ret’s brief ambient violin loops on Gasworks. And seriously, Constellation, Zomes, and Et Ret are three of my favorite things ever, so that comparison is giving some high fuckin praise. My opinion with drone is make it as long as humanly possible, or take The Fire approach, take something that is usually static and make it dynamic enough that a three minute piece is still endlessly interesting.

I love this record because I’m never entirely sure what it is that I’m feeling. It’s not confusion, just a difficulty in pinpointing the emotions. It’s almost but not quite warm, cold, blissful, and unsettling. It walks a fine line of creation that results in something that’s inarguably gorgeous but open for interpretation in every other way. Just make sure your interpretation stems from the vinyl experience.

Album Review

Charles-Eric Charrier – Silver (Experimedia, 2011)


Charles-Eric Charrier12 From

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What’s the world coming to when it takes a guy like me 3 years to review a release on Experimedia? Shameful, I know. Well, it’s time for that to change because this label is consistently killing it with the most awesome freshness in cool shit. And Charles-Eric Charrier is the first in hopefully many more, because this dude has got something special goin on.

Charrier is one half of MAN along with Rasim Biyikli, and he’s done a thousand and one collaborations with every cool cat around. Silver has him taking a beautiful blend of psych & free jazz, creating a hypnotic and constantly morphing spiral of jams. The opening track is prime Western groove material, with dusty percussion that skitters like tumbleweeds and meandering guitars set in slow riffs getting their buzz & grit on under wide open blue skies.

The second piece is more evil, a possessed hermit whipping out his busted vintage synths & radio transmitters, making swampy electro drones and garbled alien space blasts, all while some mad genius in the back swaggers on the drum kit. A fucking journey and a half, going places I didn’t know existed with mournful trumpets and stuttering guitars, back and forth unsettling tension and smoothed out relaxing tones.

And that’s just the A side, from there it goes in all directions jazzier, noisier, etc, etc. It gets more frantic, numerous staggered layers of piano, acoustic guitar, electronics, and hidden percussion, slowed down single bass strings resonating with fluttering Americana, lush cymbals & dry shakers, hollow toms chugging down the railroad, steel plucking in the heat of the night, blistering battles of scratching stars & bats terrorizing the valley, the kind of jazziness that’s right up my alley aka not too heavy on the jazz.

Silver is definitely a winner on all accounts. Charrier’s got some twisted vision of contemporary free jazz that I’ve yet to see elsewhere and I’m all for it because this record is fuckin HOT. Some seriously top notch shit, obviously it should’ve been called Gold.