Posts Tagged ‘Not Not Fun’

Les Halles

Two years on from his equally diaphanous record Transient, French ambient artist Baptiste Martin returns with a new collection of air-cooled bliss. This time he’s moved out of the solely practical realm and into building his works via samples – bumping up his arsenal with Slovikian fujara flutes, PVC panpipes and a library of chimes. While this all sounds like it could devolve into a drug store impulse buy New Age CD on paper, in practice Martin is working much closer to the spiritual realms of meditative divination rather than the “free with incense” version. His compositions not only tap into the ether with a rippling calm, but his stacked drones sparkle with a complexity that makes them just as interesting to pick apart as they are effective at blocking out of the world around.

Part of the constructed quality of his meditations stems from Martin’s insistence that he’s building landscapes free from human hands. The pieces are all labeled as either Horizon, Distance or Mirage and each category conjures up a corresponding sonic simulation – with the Horizon pieces creating a palpably close feeling and Distance and Mirage working their way further from scope and into formless abstractions respectively. The artist has been steadily building a repertoire over the years with an excellent bounty of labels (Constellation Tatu, Noumenal Loom, Carpi) but his work with Not Not Fun seems to find him reaching new peaks. Highly recommended for those looking to melt away some of the sludge of 2018, but seconded for those of you who appreciate ambient’s shimmering sway.



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X.Y.R.

Instrumental synth has enjoyed somewhat of a heyday of late and its usually fallen into an even split of Italo-horror and prog-dipped players. Though, to be fair, the genre’s been shot through with no small amount of new age hippie float as well. That’s where the aesthetics of X.Y.R. diverge a bit from the pack. While Vladimir Karpov certainly has some tether the the darkness that drives the Italians, and an appreciation for the anesthetic float of the New Agers, he doesn’t go full bore in either direction. Rather he taps into the creeping womb of unease that floats in an altered state of consciousness, calm on the surface but reflecting a deep sadness and even menace in the waters below.

Labryinth, the artist’s LP debut, floats in a drugged haze. The songs feel like they’re trying to push through to a clearer picture, but are constantly dragged back by the limitations of the mind, fumbling through a fog of chemicals and confusion. On one hand, it feels easy to succumb to the languid pull of enveloping darkness. On the other, “why hell is it so dark all of a sudden?” screams the last shred of rational brain. “Is this euphoria or death creeping in with narcotic fingers?” The resulting album is hard to quit. It fizzes at the edges of vision, a salve and singe all in one. Karpov is a budding talent to be sure, and if this is the door to his dimension, then its going to be a an interesting ride.




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Robedoor

Somehow it feels prescient that Robedoor have returned with a load of anxiety crusted psychic fallout in the midst of 2017. What could convey the looming cloud of dread and disgust better than L.A.’s preeminent purveyors of noise rattled knuckle biters? Britt and Alex Brown took a devil’s sojourn of four years between their last noise nugget and New Age Sewage, ostensibly so that Britt could focus on his noise/dance empire of Not Not Fun and 100% Fun, but it seems like old times on the new album.

The record is, well let’s not say cleaned up, but somehow there’s a clarity to their vision of hi-bias distortion paranoia. It’s booming through louder than ever, but while the tape hiss may have tempered, the fountain of filth keeps flowing as steadily as ever. Sickly swaying through a wasteland of rusted metal beats and radiation vibe synths, the record is slightly less evil than they’ve felt in the past, but no less apocalyptic. This time around they seem to be less the purveyors of ritual blood lust and more the reflecting pool of what they see around them. In any year, Robedoor feel like a scream into the abyss, but this year, we’re screaming with them.




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Les Halles – “Thresholds”

Not Not Fun has skewed more mutant disco in the last few years but its good to see there’s still some melted psych odysseys to be found among the band’s varied stable. French musician Baptiste Martin has been crafting psych landscapes for a few years in relative obscurity on labels like Constellation Tatsu and Noumenal Loom and now he’s bringing a double shot of languid washes to NNF. “Thresholds” melds drifting keys with Amerindian flute samples and views them through the undersea ripple of a Jacques Cousteau nature doc, bobbing and lolling in the waves and peering at the sun through the refracted surface above. For those looking to cool down summer days or just melt into the deep green of leaves against sky, this is probably a best bet for the next couple of months.



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