Album Review

Concern – Misfortune (Isounderscore, 2012)


ConcernGod, Weak And Quiet (Isounderscore)

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A bittersweet moment, this is Gordon Ashworth’s final release as Concern, but it’s such a stellar album that it stings a little less. Made almost entirely with a 15 string box harp, with the exception of some field recordings thrown in to spice it up, Ashworth looped & processed that shit until he turned his 15 strings into a solo Crimson Grail of box harps. This is like the Swedish massage or acupuncture of drone, thousands of little pins & slaps layered and sequenced to give you an overall good time. The first side long track starts with an incredibly lush strum, tender & sharp, that bleeds into samples of indistinct human chatter, a shy social anxiety building as everything tucks itself away into a corner, nervous nondescript fumbling & fidgeting to keep busy while the drones flutter, then a huge blissful shimmering cloud of hand-wringing uncertainty, slightly transparent and hovering right in front of the sun. The first of the two pieces on the B side stretch out the stress and worries, all encompassing but still a heavenly textured euphoria, until the closing track that reaches a relaxing peace, a reserved chillness, obtaining freedom of all concern (yep). An arc in an album I strive for in life, the last track my primary goal. This album is absolutely fucking beautiful and definitely some of the most amazing & unique drone this year. I always expect the best from Isounderscore and, big surprise, Misfortune is another winner.

Album Review

Nicholas Szczepanik – The Truth Of Transience (Isounderscore, 2012)


Nicholas SzczepanikI (excerpt) (Isounderscore)

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The other side of Szczepanik, the perfect foil to We Make Life Sad, both marking his first foray into vinyl territory. Where that one was a bunch of short looped pieces full of half-forgotten memories and lo-fi crackle, this has two side-long pieces that let Szczepanik work his magic on subtlety and the slow burn. The first side has a wonderful long form rhythm, it starts out menacing, all horror movie suspense style, with percussive gong-like warnings and imitation bowed cymbals, turning into a loud and blissfully unnerving swirl that eventually fades to nothing, changing into something quiet, delicate, effortlessly building into a heavenly choir of tones, stunning and overwhelming, but restrained. The B side is all or nothing, beginning with a barely there minimalism, completely ethereal, that imperceptibly grows, a seamless pairing of the bliss & unsettling sounds from before, a glorious wall of beauty & fear, but calm, serene, something you welcome and celebrate, this is the sound of enlightenment that Kubrick should have used in 2001. Transience has all the makings of a perfect record and there’s nothing standing in its way to take the crown in 2012.

Album Review

Rale – Some Kissed Charms That Would Not Protect Them (Isounderscore, 2011)


RaleSide B (excerpt)

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Isounderscore is a tightly curated label, this being only the fifth release in 2 years, and each one being a total fucking winner. So that means whenever they put something out, you know it’s going to be fucking top notch. Rale’s new LP is no different. William Hutson has been hiding on the West Coast, releasing a little here and there, staying mostly below the radar. But I think Some Kissed Charms The Would Not Protect Them is going to be the one that will undeniably prove his holy awesomeness to everyone with blinders on.

Some Kissed Charms is a mostly minimal, mostly synthy drone monster, spicing things up with some noise & field recordings (I think?) on two side long pieces. The A side is a heaving sweetheart, giving you massive swells of dense intimidation, never breaking any volume records or shattering eardrums, but glowing bright & loud enough to make your knees quake a bit. But in between those swells are loooong drawn out bouts of nothing. Literally, multiple minutes go by with nothing but the texture of vinyl and your surrounding white noise, making each listening experience entirely different from the next. Walking home late at night with this on the headphones, for example, is a fantastic way to listen to this, as the occasional car passes by, mimicking the rise & fall of the drones on the record. Too fucking cool. Eventually the silent spurts turn into a high end unnerving ambience, along the lines of bowed metal, then some distant helicopters get mixed in, each successive “in between” lull adding a little more, but always the waves of beautiful hypnotic clarity continue to wash up, and ending just as the B side starts, creating a smooth transition to the otherwise intrusive physicality of flipping the record.

The B side is starts out rearing its head in the same slow pulsing way as before, but the repetitive swells don’t last, instead going for a minimally textured glitched bubbling weave, like melting icicles on top of a blanket of thick tones. Rather than letting your environment paint a picture for you like on the A side, Rale does all the heavy lifting, conjuring images of watching a thunderstorm roll in on the beach, the dripping ice turning into rain drops piercing raincoats, wind whipping tarps against the sand, blowing a soothing grit into the mic, breathing in the salted air and waiting for the storm to reach shore, only to find that it just misses the coast and you see the tail end of it, safe from the expected destruction, the rain still pelting your face, worse than before, but enjoying it without fear and wallowing in the glory of the lightening sky, the majesty of nature beautifully overwhelming.

So Rale’s new record is pretty fucking astounding. If this can’t convince people of his greatness, nothing can. BUT ACT FAST, only 300 copies were made, and they are insanely awesome to behold. Just like Acre’s Isolationist, that image up there looks like ass compared to the real deal. It’s a bright neon blue jacket with silver foil stamping, artwork done by none other than Brandon Nickell himself. Hot. As. Fuck.