en creux, Daphne X, the concept horse, Polytunnel, DJ Voices, Exotic Cipher, Other People, NikNak, Gabe & Jude, JakaJako & Rødhåd, SELVEDGE, emkay & Stuster and Lee Yi
I had one of those weeks where two days were lost looking after a sick child*, so I didn’t even start hunting for tunes until last night. Hopefully I’ve still managed to find something you might like.
*He’s fine now, back to his best.
Triple-whammy from czaszka (rec.), who dropped these excellent releases last Friday.
en creux has a fascinating way of working, taking tiny sounds and amplifying them, so what initially sounds like a crackle of electricity rises to sound like thundering rain on a flat metal roof, or tiny movements growing to sound like the breath of a monster.
Daphne X, meanwhile, uses electronics to create melodies and atmospheres, at times swirling and hypnotic, at others delicate and minute. The release’s title, Transactions in Time, makes me think of the bargains we make with ourselves and with the universe.
Finally, the concept horse deals in strange soundscapes. I’ve recently mentioned the approach artists take where they title a track after the instruments or equipment used. The first track here, ‘for hands, gong & thin chain’, follows that pattern. It’s an outlier, as other tracks have titles as vague as ‘music ii’. The music rustles and crackles, breathing with the very atmosphere implied and expressed by a title such as ‘synagogue hum’.
Irish artist Polytunnel just dropped a super release on Seventh Sign, with past releases from esteemed artists such as Marcellus Pittman, Terrence Parker and John Beltran, to name a few. I’ve previously praised the crisp electro he’s released, and this builds on that framework by adding in gorgeously warm synth sounds to his excellent percussion. It’s both glacial and balmy, music for islands white with snow and sand. Each track has its charms, but ‘Clokked’ is the winner for me.
The latest release in the Mixtape Club series comes from our friend DJ Voices. Inspired by a youth hearing dance music in cars and on trips, and many hours spent alone listening to those same sounds, this mix seeks to provide you with “something literally transportive with plenty of dreamy sounds to zone out to”. Not that we recommend zoning out on the road, do stay focused. I don’t know a thing on this mix but Voices really achieves her goal, the sounds really hurtling forward with no other word better to describe them than “driving”. Somehow a lot of the music sounds as if it could come from 1992, and yet as I look through the tracklist a lot of it seems to be from the past 18 months.
I can almost guarantee this release/mix will sound nothing like you will expect from its title. It’s more ASMR than PLUR, with tangible sounds and whispered vocals uttering sweet nonsense throughout. I can’t explain it but I can appreciate and applaud it. “Since the very beginning of the record, the listening experience is akin to a prolonged Wet Willy.” Well now.
Remember that Kilkenny Electroacoustic Research Laboratory Anthology Vol. 1 release I shared a little while back? This is the Polish version of that set. Although from what I can tell these artists are indeed real and even googleable. Each track is dated and yet each track sounds like music that is being made today. Whether that means that these artists were incredibly forward-thinking or that today’s artists are incapable of moving beyond what’s already been done is unclear. Perhaps the truth is somewhere in between. To be trite, at least we have this wonderful music to enjoy.
Wilco have a song called ‘Muzzle of Bees’. I never thought about what that might mean until I heard this track. If en creux makes music that sounds like rain, NikNak has created the sonic equivalent of a swarm of bees. It’s meant to represent the doubt that plagues us, and the light that guides us from that doubt. “[P]eace can be found from the remnants of those whispers, thoughts and self-doubt.”
Gabe & Jude is an alias of Martyn, and these tracks are beautifully squelchy and chonky, not unlike some of Shed’s work as Head High or WK7. The blurb notes that Tunlaw is an area of Washington DC where, as legend has it, walnut trees were cut down to make guns for the Civil War. To add some pizzaz, Walnut was reversed and the area was named Tunlaw. The track of that name has a scuzzy bass line alongside dream-like synth melodies and awkward vocal chops. ‘How Do We Merge Everything Into One’ feels brims with unresolved tension, building with uncertainty and harsh sonics. It makes me think a darkened version of ‘All Nights’, his collaboration with Mike Slott, which still sounds incredible.
In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to Rødhåd before, but I’m obsessed with JakaJako right now so I’ll listen to anything with her name on it. This release is an incredible collaboration that follows on from her recent Metamorphose album (although I’m not sure which was recorded first, if it even matters). It’s similarly blissful and full of glissando melodies, a glorious sheen covering everything. This one is definitely more club-focused, however, with the likes of ‘Lilium’ truly reaching for the lasers. It’s rare I’ll just send a track to friends but for this one I had to make an exception. If you played it blind for me I would easily believe it was from the late ’90s and in the middle of some Euphoria compilation. So many trance-leaning tracks these days sound the same and reek of pastiche, but this one gets it right.
Long-formy droney bits here from Selvedge, made at the same time as his recent album The Real River. Harsh, comforting, unsettling, calming. Scorched.
emkay and Stuster are two Finnish artists and OO Recordings is a label based in Helsinki. This split release showcases their talents across two sides (literally, there is a tape to be had). emkay opens up with tracks that merge quirky, playful vocals with chunky sounds (more of them) and gated trancey riffs. It’s a rich palette, with one track sounding somewhere between Balearic tech house and Throbbing Gristle. Stuster’s approach is at a lower tempo, going for a thundering head-nod acid sound. A really great introduction for me to these two artists and a cool label to follow.
In case we don’t have enough sorrowful ambient, here’s a gorgeously wistful release from Málaga-based Lee Yi. Another to-the-point title, the music within offers a Proustian connection to past moments, a palpable haze sitting between you and the music as it burrows into your psyche and returns you to your memories. Plucked guitars muted and submerged in reverb, the sound of wavering tapes and broken dreams. Try not to cry, I dare you.