Recent listening 7/2020 🎛🎶

I guess I’m doing this kind of round up every 3 months then.

Huron – Happy Transmission (Rad Cult)

A beautiful set of wandering synth sounds that at times made me think of Boards of Canada minus the rhythm section. Quietly diverse, but not just all over the shop. And, yeah, do judge it by its cover. Really good fit.

Part of the steadily increasing proportion of stuff I buy from fellow music makers in online forums, Slack workspaces, Facebook groups, etc.

The Japanese House – Good At Falling (Dirty Hit)

I first got into this one woman band via this song, which isn’t on the album.

The album is in a similar vein, with a lot of processed vocals pitched and stacked and mangled, sorta new wavey electric guitar licks, and such. It struck me the arrangements are a lot like melodic IDM artist Lusine, just with full songs on top.

The album does get it a bit samey, but I love the highlights. I’ve listened to tracks like We Talk All The Time and Lilo so many times and am not sick of them.

Polygloss – Coronal (self-released)

I’ve listened to this a lot in the last month or two and it’s really taken me to some weird places, in the best of ways. It’s some guy I follow on Twitter for laughs and music nerdery – he just casually self-released a really tight album on one of those days when Bandcamp were waiving their fees.

Not sure I’ve got any useful descriptors for this. Synth music, quite spare and sometimes genuinely odd, but never in a way that’s hard work or sort of willful about it.

Klara Lewis – Ingrid (Editions MEGO)

Buy on Bandcamp.

A single long track developing from a cello loop over 20 minutes. I read comparisons to The Disintegration Loops, but this is more your classic crescendo from quiet to a roaring wall of noise, via slowly evolving spectral weirdnesses. It’s great imo.

Kmru – Saal (self-released)

I probably found this in this reddit thread promoting Black artists who make ambient music, one of several such lists that popped up in response to the death of George Floyd. I don’t see how buying Kenyan music supports the BLM cause, but I really liked these two tracks and wanted to buy them regardless.

Two ten-minute drone tracks that are a nice mix of field recordings and near-static tones. Quiet and quietening, IME.

Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – Basalt Sphere (self-released)

This moody 20-minute long track reminds me of gamelan, gongs, chimes, and sometimes like something really big is starting to fall – a bit of a glacier, a large rock, a building. Tiny ghost vocals lurk in the mix and small changes really shift the rhythm of the elements. I love this kind of thing that can sound like not much is going on, but also sound like it never really sits still.

This New York synthesist’s looooong and slowly evolving tracks have been exciting me for a few years now, 2016’s Cognition – Observation and this 2014 video of a performance in San Francisco being particular faves.

Lowe’s been going hard out on Bandcamp in the last while, uploading his back catalogue and unreleased stuff alike, and I’ve been enjoying this one, Basalt Sphere, and Phosphenes in recent months.

Hadi Bastani – Emergence (Flaming Pines)

Yet another one I’m going to struggle to describe. Instrumental electronic stuff, with a real mix of sounds, from a moody building drone a little like the above Ingrid, through what sounds like scraping metal and feedback, to Raster.Noton-ish pulsing drum machine stuff, to gentle guitar arpeggios. His notes say “It brings together a host of field recordings, found object recordings, live improvisations, recycled sounds, synthesis, and voices, produced in Tehran and Belfast over the span of 10 years.” It’s really pretty diverse and I found it super-engaging.

I was paying special attention to Flaming Pines’ releases leading up to our Montano release on the label, and I’m very glad I listened to this one.

Hawthorn – Evening Dreams of Space Flight (self-released)

Impressive little debut EP (though that huge final track brings the total play time up to almost 40 minutes. I do my best to avoid the pretty empty word “cinematic” when describing instrumental music, but it’s probably apt here. Any of these tracks sounds like it could be a contemporary soundtrack piece.

The third release in this round-up that’s from someone I “know” online, in this case from the Disquiet Junto Slack.

n-So – Out of the Valley (Moderna Records)

Dramatic piano pieces, adorned with synths and other electronics from time to time. Sometimes I think it threatens to get a bit OTT for me, with its rich harmonies and such, but it never really tips over the edge. I’ve found I can put it on when I first wake up or put it on when I’m trying to sleep at night, and it always sounds good.

Fourth release from someone I “know” online, this time lines.

Supermalprodelica / Kerozen – Saint-Arnoult (Scum Yr Earth)

Quiet lockdown noodling from France. The quietest end of techno, I guess. Soft and pleasant loops and pulses that I found really restful.

I have no memory of how I found this – I seem to be only one of five people who’ve bought it, and one of the others is my bandmate Adrien who is there because of me. 🤷‍♂️

Stem-splitting software

So one thing that makes me feel generation-gapped is the whole Melodyne world of music tricks. I know what it does, but I just can’t muster up any enthusiasm to go there. The closest I’m getting is the new generation of cheap or free apps to split a song into what remixers call “stems”, being the bits of a song like its vocals, drums, bass, and “others”.

Spleeter is one such app that’s available for free as a command line thing here: There’s instructions on how to install it on your computer out there, and a web implementation where you just drag and drop files into your browser here:

A couple of months back my buddy Tim Koch linked me to another one I’ve already forgotten and instantly dissected Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams for me, at my request. Even from a Youtube ripped MP3, converted back into MP3s, the results were pretty good. These algorithms are weird things. So clever, so quick, and I feel like maybe twenty years back when I was first mucking with Autotune and such things I would’ve been absolutely delighted. I can imagine my younger self sitting there for hours splitting up tracks, slicing and dicing component parts, reusing them in unintended ways, etc.

But I have to admit right now I’m barely interested. It’s fun to check how well they work, but I have no appetite to do a live dub of, say, some obscure 90s number, nor to speed up split out break beats (literally not that, not break beats) from some cluttered funk tune to find some undiscovered Amen replacement.

Still, I was interested enough to make this post, I guess.