My top listens in September🎶

Joy Orbison – Still Slipping (XL Recordings)

So Joy O seems pretty eager to say this isn’t an album, but it is 14 tracks of original music that are a great listen. The whole thing is scattered with vocal recordings from people in his life, and someone early on says “The second you just change the language to mixtape, nobody cares.” Whatever it takes to get the thing out!

There’s a lot I love about Joy Orbison. One thing is that he’s definitely making dance music and he’s using interesting textures and sounds that you don’t often hear in dance music, and which totally take me back to mid-90s electronica. It might not be the first time around for me hearing these nerdy sounds, but in the context of this kind of low-key bass music they just work better, hit harder, whatever.

Music for Dogs – Spoor (Cached Media)

It’s a jazz duo, I guess, but I’d be pushed to call this a jazz record. Blippy electronic drums, most tracks are kind of sketch-like, and then every now and then … a clarinet solo. I really like it. One of many things I stumbled upon via Adrien’s recent BNDCMPR playlists (Ambient and Beats). The funny thing is I probably got him on to Cached Media, but I missed this release when it came out in February.

Longbrows – Manywhere (self-released)

The latest Longbrows release is, like his last, field recordings tweaked and worked into musical compilations. This one’s a travelogue, with each track a kind of relatively abstract vignette of a different place and time. Often the recordings themselves capture some musical moment, or else the tones of the field recordings are drawn out in a harmonic or melodic fashion, so it’s perhaps not as abstract as I make it out to be.

While most of it is definitely beatless, just to mix things up, High times in the low countries is almost like an 80s hip-hop instrumental, with rhythms of horses on cobblestones, bell melodies, and a dog worthy of a song by The Baha Men.

Place: Georgia and Place: Columbia (Place:)

So I’ve been getting very into a producer called KMRU over the last year or so, and I saw he was selecting tracks for a compilation called Place: Nairobi. At the time it hadn’t come out yet, but it got me checking out the Place: website and Bandcamp page. The folks behind this series describe “Place:” as follows:

A location specific electronic music compilation series where all proceeds are donated to local groups working on environmental causes in that area.

The series seems pretty switched on, from what I can tell, but also not very well supported, if the little fan icons on Bandcamp are anything to go by. 🤔

Anyway, yeah, compilations of electronic music from specific places. Largely what I’d call either techno or ambient, with a scattering of electro. I got to wondering about how neither compilation sounds particularly of its location, to my foreign ears. But I imagine if you had, say, metal compilations from around the world it would be similar: you wouldn’t necessarily spot the country of origin from just listening. Arguably this will be more exaggerated with instrumental music.

Christoph El’ Truento – Foraging (Cosmic Compositions)

When I started I unsurprisingly revisited a whole lot of local ambient music, and this Truento release from 2019 floated to the surface. I think of Chris’s stuff normally in the context of hip-hop – maker of many beat tapes and producer for Home Brew, @Peace, etc. – even though I know his El’ Truento output ranges all over the place.

This is a warm and bright collection of interesting instrumentals. Among the soft and wandering synths psychedelic touches abound, from reversed stuff, roaming guitar lines, to flutes and inscrutable recordings. It is not washed out drones, earnest acoustic felted piano, or anything you might call noise, so it steers clear of a lot of the most common tropes of contemporary ambient.

Jörgen Kjellgren – Hollawood (The Slow Music Movement)

4-track EP that’s basically nice guitar instrumentals in Americana territory, with some interesting electronic texture.

I don’t have that much more to say! But I listened to it a lot. Genuinely calming.

Perila and Ulla – Silence Box 1 (Silence Box)

This is a nice mix of delicate instrumental bits with field recordings, often sliced abruptly or otherwise almost dumped on the track in slabs of sound. Perila comes from a background in doing ASMR stuff, which I never picked from her solo releases, but it makes some sense here.

I was writing about Ulla in July. Her and Perila also have a collaboration called LOG that I’ve listened to a bunch. Not sure what’s going on with these Silence Box releases – they’re all by the two of them, who are as far as I know from Russia and USA respective, and the Bandcamp page says the label is from Portugal. But anyway, this is the one that caught my attention and I listened to it repeatedly.

Szymon Kaliski – Out of Forgetting (Audiobulb)

I can’t remember why this 2013 release (recorded in 2009) went on my Bandcamp wishlist in the last couple of months, but it’s been a very enjoyable listen over the last month. It’s relatively short – 7 tracks – so I probably listened to it more than some of the albums that came in higher up the chart (Longbrows and Joy Orbison’s have twice as many tracks).

Anyway, it kicks off with glitched up piano stuff, which I’m pretty partial to. I feel a bit like I’m often saying this about music I like, but in the end each track is its own thing, like the person making it was just focused on making that one piece of music the most that track it could be.