Dressing, Yr lovely dead moon, Hiroyuki Usui, Arianne Churchman & Benedict Drew, nimf, Sophie Sleigh-Johnson, Sunhiilow, Patricia Wolf, Gurun Gurun, Cedrik Fermont and more
After featuring its score back in May 2020, I finally got to see the film In Fabric this week. It’s a spooky ghost story about a haunted dress. The music is cosmic and hilarious and sinister and magical, and fits the film perfectly. I also watched a 2011 documentary about The Doors but I doubt that’s of as much interest round these parts. I listened to some of this K-S.H.E. compilation in the car and it was pretty spellbinding (though not to the point that I was driving unsafely).
Downright nasty scuzz. Four long-ish tracks of lumpy feedback and strange, scratchy sounds. One of three releases on new Irish label Krim Kram. I’m also quite taken with the similarly scuzzy but more ostensibly “song”-oriented Hand Signals from Bren't Lewiis Ensemble. Intrigued to see where this label goes.
Yr lovely dead moon - Sun Dance
Yr lovely dead moon combines a spoken word art sensibility with a dark electronic impulse. This latest track, which heralds an album entitled Don’t Look Now!, manages to work at a lumpy pace but with enough percussive activity to keep it moving steadily. Her vocals are at turns hushed and expressive, whispered and crooned, while the music that surrounds her is a combination of scratchy noise and deep and sultry jazz. There’s also a remix from aya, which rolls with a terrifying stomp, repeating the words “I don’t sleep” over almost industrial mechanical sounds.
Brad Rose tweeted about this collection a while back, and I finally got a chance to listen to some of it while working on a jigsaw puzzle this week. It’s hard to define. “Lo-fi” freeform garage rock? Noise blues? There are sounds throughout that could be digeridoos or they could be low-flying helicopters (possibly they are neither). It’s a fascinating soup of sounds, a sort of cosmic gumbo if you will. Rose put together this podcast earlier this year exploring the artist’s history (in which The Doors get a mention, so maybe I was wrong up above).
Arianne Churchman & Benedict Drew - MAY VOL.2
A new volume of sounds for this peculiar month. Neither spring nor summer, or both, it’s as much of a liminal period as October, but in a less obviously sinister manner.
nimf - A Ballad for Looking into Time
This track opens up as if a singer is alone by a fire in a clearing. It builds gently, with strummed lute entering a fused state of electronic wobbles, with the vocals following suit and becoming ever more confusing and less organic. If things ever lined up in a traditionally rigid or grid-like fashion, they split off into different directions and spaces, temporal and physical. It’s dizzying, fantastical, carrying your ears to spaces unexpected and delightful. The closing minutes float like mist, with remnants of what has gone before delicately hovering, dream-like, in the ether. It’s just the first piece in a series (entitled The Oneiricological Sireonscape) and I’m excited for more.
Sophie Sleigh-Johnson - Nuncio Ref!
A truly strange release, this tape features spoken word that’s inspired by terrestrial television throughout the decades, with references to soaps, defunct channels, darts and news bulletins. More scuzz (it’s the word of the week), along with dainty recorder melodies and evil whispers it’s heavily layered and utterly engrossing. If you’re into that kind of thing, of course, which not everyone will be.
Sunhiilow - Waking Through The Dawned Shades
Wonderful music, it’s out on Sunday and the few tracks available to date are gorgeous. Opener ‘Four Winds’ is an unnerving swirl, a strange experience being caught in the centre of an unexpected weather anomaly. ‘Morning Breeze’ is more restrained but no less unnerving. ‘Esker Rise’, however, offers a hint of brightness, the potential for hope. I look forward to piecing together this journey as I hear the tracks in between.
Another album from our friend Patricia Wolf, this time on Albert Salinas and Philip Sherburne’s Balmat label. It’s more expansive and exploratory than the admittedly mournful I’ll Look For You In Others, it features long drifts of sound, with incredibly human and calming tones throughout. “Under A Glass Bell” features a series of carefully chosen chords that are incredibly healing, to flirt with cliché. Closer ‘Springtime in Croatia’ could easily be a Boards of Canada outtake circa Campfire Headphase, albeit one that really should have made the album.
I’m not familiar with the work of Gurun Gurun, but this album really caught my attention. The band is named after a planet on a 1970s Slovak sci-fi show, and their music is (say the line, Bart!) suitably alien. Uzu Oto is a live album but not a live album. Each track was recorded at a different performance, but then again, if you were to record each track “live”, in a single take, at a different studio, would that be a “live” album? The blurb describes the watching the band perform as akin to “taking part in an expedition by a pack of monkeys to explore the wreckage of a spaceship that was shipwrecked a long time ago”. How charmingly self-deprecating. The music is indeed quite explosive and free of inhibition, though it features more structure and coherence than that description might suggest. One track features Japanese singer Cuushe, and her reverb-soaked vocals float in heavenly fashion over the strange and unsettling experimentation below. Running at almost 20 minutes, it’s a trip. There’s quite a lot of scuzz, particularly on Uzu, featuring sound artist Asuna (who’s worked with Jan Jelenik and Chihei Hatakeyama to name a few).
A slow and strange performance from Cedrik Fermont, who is behind the Syrphe platform. Recorded at IKLECTIK in London last month, it’s a 30-minute piece that does what it says. Entrancing and hypnotic, it appears to feature low electronic hums and eerie droning pitches.
Moog Sound Circus Performances from Superbooth ’21
Finally, another set of live performances. Recorded at Superbooth 2021, a synthesizer trade fair that took place in Berlin, Moog invited artists to perform with the Moog Matriarch in their Sound Circus tent. We have five tracks, from Hinako Omori, Dorit Chrysler, Panic Girl, Marta De Pascalis, and Emme Moises. Omori recently impressed with her album on Houndstooth, and here she offers a truly beautiful piece that floats and squidges with delight. Chrysler turns in her own theremin-led cover of ‘I Feel Love’. Panic Girl’s piece is wide-eyed and open, with a world of field recordings and melodies straight out of ’70s BBC TV. Moises, a sci-fi composer, creates a wonderful world that seems to feature a soaring cello although that could be entirely artificial. Finally, Marta De Pascalis, through whom I found this set, gives a wonderfully psychedelic explosion of sound that ripples and flows like the best exponents of synth-led music today. Each artist introduces their own track, which adds layers of meaning and understanding to the project. While in essence it may be a sales pitch, it’s rich and entertaining throughout.