Posts Tagged ‘drone’

John Kolodij

Just after a split release with Ezra Feinberg, John Kolodij embarks on his first true solo release away from the High Aura’d name. The release, which sees light thanks to Jazz imprint Astral Spirit’s more freeform sister label Astral Editions, is an album of two minds. Representing multiple sides of Koldij’s oeuvre. Each half contains a sidelong composition and on the a-side we’re thrust into the depths of “First Fire.” Built on gnawing drones and frothing static, the track is menace come to inhabit the recesses of the mind. Anxiety is at the forefront and its all encompassing with Kolodij’s drones rising up like insurmountable edifices in the dark. Here his collaborator Anna Rg provides just a touch of violin, but its lost in the onslaught of darkness that permeates the track.

It’s the second side that brings back the light. After the hurricane of howl that side one brings, Kolodij swings pastoral for the flip, paring field recordings with banjo, guitar, and a much less imposing drone for one of his most calming offerings to date. With a light lope of repetition, “At Dawn” makes good on the promise of its title, feeling like the world just waking — a dew dusted respite from the chaos that comes once the light reaches the top of the mountain. Rg’s fiddle returns and here she’s given much more space to maneuver, driving the song with a refreshing breeze of sound that’s cold, but forgiving. On the whole this is a nice addition to the High Aura’d helmer’s catalog, but if it is indeed a new dawning of works under his given name, it works well as a statement of purpose.




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Spires That In The Sunset Rise – “Sax Solfa”

2020 seems like an awakening of psychedelic lay lines of sort. At the very least, its some sort of convergence of the psych-folk and cosmic foreces that were rumbling at the beginning of the ’00s. Following news that Farmer Dave Scher is back in the fray this morning there’s a new video from RSTB fave Spires That in the Sunset Rise. The band’s been bubbling under for a few years, though they did pop up on Astral Spirits last year for a short tape, but this one hearkens back to their Secret Eye Records days when I knew ’em best. The energy in “Sax Solpha” quavers on the air — voice, sax, synth all come together into an undulating chorus of fervent energy that feels like it’ll burst the thin membrane of reality and let the sounds spill over into tracers of color and chrome in all directions. The barrier holds tight just long enough for the song to come trembling to a close after six or so minutes of dizzying delight and with the last few notes, our collective worry seems to flutter into the still air for just a moment. The band’s got a full LP on the way, Psychic Oscillations out 10/9 on FPE records.

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rootless

Jeremy Hurewitz’ rootless has been kicking around for a few years, but with his latest for Flower Room, he’s created an album that explores deeper dimensions. The guitarist has popped up on notable labels like Cabin Floor Esoterica, Aural Canyon, and Null Zone, but as the first Flower Room release outside of Matt Lajoie and Ash Brooks’ universe of Northeastern sounds, he’s capturing a meditative aura that’s impossible to deny. Hurewitz connected with multi-instrumentalist Luís Pérez Ixoneztli for his latest. Luís is the overseer of a collection of priceless, one-of-a-kind, indigenous instruments from Mesoamerica (many of them pre-Colombian), and they add a deepened mystery and spiritual aura to the works of rootless. Beside Jeremy’s gorgeous stringwork, Pérez Ixoneztli lets ancient pipes swirl into the mix, floating on a misted haze that’s eloquent in its pre-dawn glory. Per Flower Room’s description these range from “ocarinas and small whistles to dried cocoon shells strung together and used as shakers. The collection includes clay flutes that are possibly over a thousand years old.”

The winds take this record far beyond the standard fingerpicked fare. The deeper the album dives, the more it begins to resemble ritual and rite. The title track especially strays far from the meditative guitar path, pushing into the arms of Pérez Ixoneztli’s spectral mix of instruments and Hurewitz’ intimidating ambient growl. The stitches begin to unravel in a wonderful way, letting the knotted riffs give way to drone and dust and hazed memories that seems to flit in and out of consciousness on the final track. In many ways rootless has always lent a more experimental edge to the fingerpicked canon, but here, Jeremy finds his peak with the aid of Luís, creating a paring that I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing extend beyond this record, though this is more than enough to dig into for the time being.

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Ezra Feinberg & John Kolodij – “Castle & Sand” / “Beyond The Fragile”

It’s already been a great year for Ezra Feinberg, with the release of his LP Recumbent Speech, but it seems he’s not done yet. Today Feinberg announces the release of a new split with John Kolodij (High Aura’d). Ezra offers up a rain-soaked vision on “Castle & Sand” which finds them trading isolated, patient riffs with a rippling piano part that doesn’t sound too far away from the environments on Ezra’s last LP. The song stings the air with a quiet desperation that’s a not an unwelcome accompaniment to life lived in solitude. Drones thread the entire LP, and elsewhere the guitars slide away completely. Shimmering tones float under woodwinds that dodge around the listening space while on the flip Kolodij pushes the drones past subliminal and into rising water panic. Feinberg and Kolodij have tended towards headphone records in the past, but this one is primed for listening in a personal bubble. They balance darkness with light in equal measures, creating a record that’s part new beginning, part tidal breath. The LP is out August 28th on Whited Sepulchre.





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Alison Cotton – “Shirt of Lace”

On her latest record Alison Cotton (The Eighteenth Day of May, The Left Outides) continues her descent into some of the more secluded reaches of psychedelic folk. As the title suggests, Only Darkness Now is stark, hushed, and somber, but the true moment of clarity appears as the record draws to a close. Cotton covers outsider folk icon Dorothy Carter’s “Shirt of Lace,” completely recasting it as a dip much farther into the bell jar than Carter dared to go. The original is by no means an upbeat affair, but Carter’s dulcimer gives the song a stately brush of English folk. For her rendition, Cotton balances synth drone that resonates in the listener’s bones with her own spectral delivery. Draped in a cavernous capture, Cotton’s voice seems to pierce the veil between another plane and our own. The song is still echoing the English folk traditions, but now it seems to be caught between the echoes themselves. The album is out now Bloxham Tapes.



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Ulaan Khol

Stephen R. Smith checks in with his third LP of 2019 under a third alias. This time up he’s landing blows under the Ulaan Khol name, following March’s release under his own Steven R. Smith banner and February’s Ulaan Passerine release. Much like the latter, the Khol arm of his Ulaan empire is fraught with tension, anxiety, and charcoal scraped doom. His collected works have taken on an extraordinarily cinematic quality lately, soundtracking the imagined panoramic sounds of squalid earth and desperate civilizations sifting through the remains of our indulgences gone sour. Perhaps more than any other artist, Smith seems like the one to truly soundtrack the dire crumble of our natural environments. His soundscapes scar the skies and dampen hope, but as fraught as they are with the grit-toothed moments of overwhelming darkness, there’s a strident beauty to Smith’s world.

The driving crescendo that breaks through the smoke on “Above the Arbor” is triumphant, even in the face of such tension. The bilious clouds of smoke that rise from his sonic ruins form ashen monoliths against the reddened skies. The songs are harrowing, but the imprint they leave finds beauty in atrocity. As each arm of the Ulaan (Markhor, Passerine, Khol) universe seems interconnected, its hard not to see this as a continuation of the ravages laid down since at least 2012 within the scope of Smith’s works. Seven years later, the stakes seem just as high as they always were and the consequences are documented on Collapsing Hymns with little room for relent. Naturally, this one comes highly recommended. Smith’s done up the packaging nice as well, the limited cassettes come housed in a stamped wooden box, making this a nice curio of the collapse for you collecting needs.



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Ash & Herb

Flower Room, the resident home of Matt LaJoie and Ash Brooks’ musical musings, often boasts a treasure trove of small press releases that are of the blink and you’ll miss ‘em variety. In between larger statements the pair populate the label’s Bandcamp with live documents and offshoots in every direction under the Ash & Herb, Starbirthed, ML Wah monikers, among many. One of the latest gems arrives via live recordings from Ash & Herb’s Spring 2018 tour, and makes up the third installment of their live “In Now Time” series. While it’s not a full-on psych-folk boogie breaker in the mold of their outstanding “Salt Lick” single from February, it does capture the band’s narcotic float quite nicely. The set was recorded in a living room in Columbus, OH, but the sounds feel like they could have filled up a void twice that size.

Apparently, their set for the tour was using a cassette backing track that they tossed for the night and untethering from the percussive yoke lets the band wander all over the inky night, swirling like smoke signals into the wanting sky above. Ash’s vocals zone out into wounded, wooded rites of passage, giving the set a heavier, darker turn for a spell, before they bloom into a two-part psilocybin sojourn. “Fruiting Bodies” sparkles to the point of shimmer and closer “Cap & Stem” settles the whole set into a steamed calm as it pits a bit of twang against the dominant drones. Ash & Herb have a huge catalog to contend with but its been great to keep track of the current modes with this live series and it’s highly recommended digging through vols. 1 and 2 as well. Pair this one up with a recent Starbirthed tape and the night’s set to transcend expectations.



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Pelt – Pearls From The River

VHF records has a wealth of greatness in their roster, but quite a few have never been under the needle due to timing. They’re kicking out a couple of new reissues this year and one of the best up is Pearls From The River by Pelt. Featuring the classic lineup of Jack Rose, Mike Gangloff, and Patrick Best, the record is a sister album of sorts to their LP . The record never made it onto LP at the time of its release in 2003. It’s a proper Pelt drone-out, exploring Indian ragas, drones and clangourous fingerpicked guitar. Around the same time the members began to splinter in various directions, with Jack beginning to work solo more often, The Black Twig Pickers emerging, Gangloff and Best both working with Dredd Foole, etc. Still the band gives this record their all, haunting the strings with a spiritual sobriety that’s meditative, engulfing the listener in a womb of sound. Its a record that’s not quite gotten its due, but deserves a second look.

The band would take a year off before issuing another album, but this would more than holdover fans. The new issue is a deluxe gatefold by VHF, with an expansive run of liner notes from Byron Coley (who else?). Any later term fans of Rose that haven’t spun through the Pelt catalog would be wise to take a listen to this and work their way backwards. Lots of greats in that discography to be sure.



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Föllakzoid

Seemingly going backwards, sideways, or completely untethering from this reality, Chile’s Föllakzoid follow up their 2015 album III with I. I suppose the reset makes sense, though. This is not Föllakzoid as it operated in the past. There’s still a kosmiche touch and a sense of reverberating dread that devours wonder on their latest, but rather than constructing these in the linear sense, the band shifted strategies. Recorded in bits, the band left the assemblage of the album to Uwe Schmidt, more commonly known as the producer Atom™. The band recorded the album as 60 separate stems and Schmidt organized them into four coherent movements. The tracks push the clock, even for Föllakzoid’s typically lengthy impulses, but where they were once creating nebulous galaxies, now they’re creating dense black holes of sound that seek to absorb the listener and disorient the journey.

The Atom™ stamp seems to push their sound further towards the trance end of the spectrum. There’s no more rhythm than the band usually employs, but the rhythms he’s arranged are less likely to scrape through German progressions left from the ‘70s than they are to riffle the Raster Norton and Editions Mego fallout bins. While this is likely the furthest from Terra Nova that the band has traveled, I have to admit I was a fan of their particular niche of Krautrock. This still scratches the same itch in a way, but the darkness has devoured the gauze and I miss it. Still, if you’re looking to lose yourself in the veil of rhythm, this is your best bet.



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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

After two albums that scratched the itch of pop (albeit buried beneath a wash of shoegaze acoustics) Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is heading to a more serene perch for his latest release. Along with a litany of collaborators, including Mary Lattimore, Chuck Johnson, Gregg Kowalsky, David Moore and Meara O’Reilly, Cantu-Ledesma has crafted a statement of glittering stillness. There’s no foam or froth, no static this time around. Instead he’s focused on finding the spaces that form between the sparkles off of the waves, the peace that’s found between the ripple of leaves. There’s an inherit lonesomeness to Tracing Back the Radiance, but its hardly ever somber, rather JCL revels in the temple of solitude, dragging his fingers along the stones to feel every fine edge.

At first blush the record is awash in glistening tones, a wave of muted energy that brings everything to a hush around the listener. It seems simple, but the layers unfold the further the listener lets themselves recede into the wave. The overlapping tones gently push away trouble, without seeking to solve the roots. Tracing Back The Radiance is a respite even within the crush of city life. Head further to the hills and it acts as nature nodding back in rippling harmonics. Jefre’s been cooking up some great records over the last few years, and this marks among his best, if only for its attention to finely tuned details and his dedication to quietude as an all encompassing aesthetic. Coupled with his contributions to MexSum’s Surf Comp from the first half of 2019, I’d say that he’s having quite the year. If you need to let the nagging bite of this year’s constant noise cycle die down a touch, its recommended you let this one seep into every pore.



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