Astral Plane Recordings, The JWA, Natalia Beylis, The New Age Orchestra, Reckonwrong, Tim Olive & Matt Atkins, Sabla + Đ.K., Kate Carr, 89.SYM, Athenian Truckstop, Stephen Prince, Emma Houton and more
Good day. Nearly May. What business has it, being May so soon? That just reminds me that it’s now 17 years since I bought this CD compilation.
The first release from Astral Plane Recordings, Heterotopia, featured in Bandcloud #41 in late 2014. Nearly eight years on, the label, which has put out more than 30 releases in that time, is coming to a close. I believe the title of this final compilation comes from Yu-Gi-Oh!, though I can’t work out what the card does. The album brings together some “longtime APR artists and friends”, including Bandcloud favourites CHANTS, Maral, LOFT, Amazondotcom and Dane Law to name a few. Ominous repeated melodies, disembodied thrum, airy themes over clattering percussion, the range is varied yet coherent. It’s a fitting farewell.
The JWA has resurfaced more recordings from decades gone by, originally recorded in the artist’s bedroom and left forgotten for 30-odd years. The music sounds timeless and current, with elaborate repeated phrases floating through channels like the album cover’s spaceman as he drifts through different worlds. The lengthy ‘Woonsocket (Pastoral Theme)’ and ‘Dovewillowtail (Sunny Donegal Mix)’ are my favourites, the former sounding like a precursor to Lukid’s ‘USSR’, and the latter sounding like my nightmares.
A 30-minute ode to a deaf cat. Lovely lilting piano from Natalia B.
God, I love me some proper dreamy 90s house. And it doesn’t get much dreamier than this. Five tracks, largely in the eight-minute range, with steel drums, ambient wash, swirling winds and classic 90s percussion, or just a single 40-minute “full satisfaction”. Let’s dream together. That’s nice.
Reckonwrong returns after some years without release with a truly baffling track. It’s like several tracks in one, but with the same themes and melodies. It builds slowly (as you can see in the waveform above) and continues to ebb and flow, drift and meander. It’s haunting, I might even say catchy, but definitely one to catch your attention. Brilliant.
Steep Gloss is always good, and this collection from Tim Olive and Matt Atkins is properly clanky. Phone lines and machinery, banging and dragging, the sound of fire or broken tapes, drum kits and dial tones, feedback and drone.
I was really annoyed at first because I saw this on sale as a tape from Boomkat, albeit with a download included. I love a good tape but there is only so much space. Then I found this Bandcamp page. Phew. Boomkat described it as being like “mid 90s Mo Wax x Chain Reaction”, which immediately grabbed my attention. It’s almost like Dissipatio above, if it were refined and crafted into something with beats and rhythm, rather than the beautiful chaos that it is.
Returning to Dissipatio, I can only guess at what was used in its creation. Kate Carr has done me a favour by listing the instruments used in the title of this work. Sold!
I’ve no idea who 89.SYM is (I believe it’s a dude in New York) but this short release is enchanting and hypnotic. Rhythmic and pulsating yet ambient and effervescent, it blows along like a chorus of birds on a sunny day. I’ve used the word drift a lot this week but it fits here too.
Athenian Truckstop is a zine put together by perpetual waste and repair and moduS ponY, and the latest edition is entitled Ocean Music. The music that accompanies the zine is suitably aquatic and relaxed. Globby, bouncing sounds meet humming drones, while unhinged carnival sounds lend a more unsettling air. There are hints of rootsy guitar accompanied by the sound of gulls, seaside life rendered truly idyllic.
A Year In The Country is one of those labels I like and appreciate but never spend enough time with, so this week when they announced a sale on some old stock I had a listen to some stuff. This most recent release really got under my skin. AYITC started when, having left city life behind, Stephen Prince established the project in 2014. Eight years later it’s still going strong, steadily releasing albums and compilations that speak to anxieties about the land, its history and its future. This album imagines a song that lasts through the centuries, sung in the same place at different points in time. It’s recorded at a surprisingly low level so it really demands your attention.
This is a rather lovely album of evocative songs in a similar vein to Julianna Barwick, minus the reverb. Imagine that first Fleet Foxes album, but it’s a solo artist singing with their own recorded harmonies. Maybe? Apologies if that’s a terrible analogy, but my frame of reference is frighteningly narrow when we’re not talking about club beats and ambient wash.
You may know Strict Face for his club-ready bangers, but he’s got depth and it’s shown perfectly in this radio show for his SLG Intl. crew. It features a bunch of field recordings (including one in Dublin from last year) as well as spoken word, traditional songs and even a breathily jazzy cover of ‘Killing Me Softly’.
New perila! Wavering piano recordings and hissing misty sounds. What’s not to love?
Sneaky drop on Dauw from H Takahashi, who has previously released on stellar labels like Entertainment Systems, Where To Now?, Constellation Tatsu, Not Not Fun and Muzan Editions. It fits in perfectly this week because its opening track is entitled ‘Drift’! The music is characteristically bright, light and beautiful. It seeks to represent and respond to the social upheaval of the pandemic, marrying it with notions of the Paleozoic era: “starting from a time when life flourished in the sea ,before the arrival of life on land, to the gradual arrival of plants and insects on land and the end of an era due to change.” It’s name your price for the next two weeks too.
Laura Cannell is known for her fiddle work but here she demonstrates her affinity with the organ. You may recall Áine O’Dwyer’s Music For Church Cleaners, which was recorded while the cleaning staff of a London church were working. Unlocking Rituals, meanwhile, was recorded on Monday mornings in a rural church that Cannell would open for the public. She would then play and record, “to keep the organ in good health and stop the bellows from drying out”. The first two tracks available are quite different, with one offering the instrument’s more gentle tones, the other defiant, not quite brash, but definitely dynamic and expressive.