Another Bandcamp Friday... Alina Jacobs & Salma Zenia, DJ Voices, Anarchist Mountains Trio, Sunhiilow, Altitude Point, Maral, Jawad Nawfal, Stephanie Merchak, Tiro!, Bale Defoe and more
Another Bandcamp Friday. Some new. Some old. You know the money you spend on old releases today has the same effect as it would on brand new things? That seems snarkier than I intended. Sorry this is so late. If you’re reading this next week that’s moot. If not, there’ll be even more links on Twitter this afternoon.
I’m not fully sure what this artwork is. I know what I think it is, but who’s to say. Long-form experimentation and interplay between violin and tenor saxophone. Jazz? Modern classical? Experimental? Daft Punk said lose yourself to dance, Jacobs and Zenia say (through sound) lose yourself to improv. To ease yourself in, the opening track is a kind of mangled remix, I’m told. Sounds dope.
Our pal DJ Voices turns in a rather stunning mix for Myriad, a new series based in Leipzig. Very loosely speaking, it starts off in junglish/dnb territory, slams around through breakneck tempos before switching lanes and settling into a comfortable but no less exciting groove. Some transitions/blends are simply wild. The magic of DJing. Putting two pieces of music together to make something new. So simple. So elusive.
This is some really fun dance music. I know fun and dance music don’t mix right now but hey, you can dance around your living room or your bedroom or go running if you can, or something like that, right? Sample-based, lazily energetic, rumbling sunshine music. Again, maybe it’s too soon to talk like that but it can bring hope? Is that a dirty word? ‘Couch Track’ is perfectly named. One track is almost lofi house but seems to feature real drums (probably sampled but definitely organic in some way, they have seen a drumkit or stick once).
Lithuanian act Five Rituals just released this album, I’m not sure it qualifies as self-titled, what do you think? It’s a riveting blend of electronic sounds and noise and beats. Opener ‘Pulchra Terram’ feels like post-surveillance capitalism Gang Gang Dance, clean and crisp yet deeply circumspect, almost like they’re playing away freely but they’ve got one eye fixed keenly on all around them. There are tough beats and atmospheric electronica numbers. The dubstep-meets-prog sounds of ‘..... ....... .-. .. - ..- .- .-.. ... --.. .--- -... .’, which seems to translate as ‘5#RITUALSZJBE’, reminds me of Sasha’s Airdrawndagger, if it were produced by early ’10s James Blake or Airhead. I played ‘This’, featuring the wild sax work of Sheep Effect, on my show last week. There’s a lot going on but it deserves your attention.
I saw that Jo Thomas was going to be featured on a release by Classical Remix, using some kind of Beethoven simulator. That’s out next month. It led me to her Bandcamp page, where I found this weirdly choppy blast of computer noise. If that’s what it is?
A compilation of experimental ambient sounds from Japanese label PURRE GOOHN. If anyone has any idea what that means please let me know.
I asked one of the trio: Are you really an anarchist? Do you live in the mountains? He responded: “both are influential 💛💃🏻💛” This is just a gorgeous release, with those influences looming large. Yes it’s ambient but look at the track titles and you see what motivates these guys. “Momentary transcendence.” A combination of field recordings, beautiful ambient synth work and guitar.
Sunhiilow featured on a compilation released by IKUISUUS last year that featured in these mails. Her track ‘Waves of Sunlight’ was almost 10 minutes in length, arpeggiated synth sounds deftly portraying a wave of ennui. After a number of tape releases, Beyond the Cycle is her first LP release, also on IKUISUUS. She’s been working with a Moog Mother-32 synth for some time, but I’d be lying if I said I knew what that meant. It’s very ambulatory, exploratory stuff. Slow and meandering, wistful and uncertain.
Altitude Point is a new alias of Joe Farr, who is best known for his hard af techno. This release is quite different. You could say it retains some of the elements of his earlier work yet eschews the nastiness of big, booming kick drums, opting instead for a kind of unnerving restraint. The title track is driven by a constant wait for something to kick off, to descend into fury. It never does. ‘Dust’ is similar in its approach. You can imagine it stomping ahead in a massive room, lights flashing, sweat dripping, but instead it feels like the soundtrack to some illegal scientific testing. Perhaps most interesting is ‘Flight’, which leans heaviest into traditional territory while keeping a foot outside of the club. A frenzied melody repeats over crashing breaks, while heavily reverbed effects give the feeling of a performance deep underground. Not quite Matrix level, but definitely some kind of cave rave. Foggy closer ‘Wash’ is shorter than the rest, more spin than a full cycle.
An interview with Maral conducted by KEXP's Isabel Khalili. If you didn’t already know, Push is one of my favourite releases of last year. Particularly interesting is the mention of the nature documentaries soundtracked by Iranian classical music that she saw on TV in Iran during her childhood. Fascinating!
I don’t want to wait (for our lives to be over) to include this one. Cannell and Ellis are sharing short releases each month, this is the second of the year. The two artists, one a fiddle player and one a cellist, merge their sounds to great effect. Elements of folk mesh with a future-looking modern style.
Music interrupted by life. This one has been in the works for half a decade, stretching back to 2015. Production was halted by the explosion in Beirut last year, then completed during lockdown. Intensely emotive stuff.
Stephanie Merchak offers up four different “Walks”, each stranger than the last. #3 is my favourite, slippery sounds flippering about, shrill overtones darting in and out. Electronic and musical, the perfect marriage of human emotion and clinical execution.
Bazrah continues a run of delightfully squidgy sounds with this three-track EP for WOŁNO. The title track marries that squidge with some buzz-saw synths reminiscent of the blog house days without ever getting too nasty. ‘Spring’ adds similarly rasping sounds over a ragga-tinged beats and vocals. Finally, the irresistible claps of ‘Doh Doh Doh’ are married with blisteringly exciting synth shrieks.
Tiro! from Johannesburg, South Africa, sent through this release. It’s a delight. ‘Archipelago I’ features rattling drums and almost bell-like sounds over a bed of lush synth sounds. ‘Phloem’ kicks with awesome drum machine hits and an ever-growing swoosh that’s almost drone like. ‘Xylem’ is a barrage of sounds that layered together great more levels than a cross-section of soil in your geography class.
Described as “a departure from the usual sample-heavy works in ode to the sounds and machines of yesteryear”. No less rich than usual, ‘I Called’ is a tough groove, its smooth chords offering vast warmth. ‘Enlighten Me’ is crisper, almost syncopated electro sounds with eerie sounds and deep and confusing chords. Definitely a curveball but one that offers great rewards.