Rotations (Feb 2)


2 Feb 2008, 23:39

2008 is slowly picking up, as labels start trickling out their strategically targeted releases. I, of course, am still behind, listening to other people's Best of 2007, and in many cases agreeing with their assessments. I hope that an album or two on here randomly catches your deficit disordered attention, and you discover a new artist, or perhaps even a whole genre! Enjoy!


Grails - Burning Off Impurities (Temporary Residence Ltd)

This must be one of the most interesting compositions that I've heard in a long time. Perhaps my surprise may be attributed to my lack of familiarity with instrumental psychedelic rock. Regardless of the circumstances, I find the album refreshing, intelligent, skillfully executed, and captivating. The four member band from Portland, Grails, has more than half a dozen of releases on labels such as Important, Neurot and Robotic Empire; and the experience of such musicianship is splattered across an entire album. Burning Off Impurities is a composition that perfectly blends elements of world, classic, psychedelic, and post-rock, where instruments are masterfully played and include piano, banjo, sitar, and of course, guitar. I especially like the non-intrusive percussion that guides the music through the roller-coaster of emotion. Influenced by range of artists from Black Sabbath to Led Zeppelin, the band, however, tends to stay closer to the American folk sound. You have to forgive this reviewer's desire to pinpoint a genre - and so once again I must remind myself (and you as well) of what matters the most: great music. And that's precisely what Grails accomplishes on this stunning album, barring all classification aside. I am very excited about this discovery, and recommend you check them out as well. Favorite Tracks : Silk Rd, Origin-ing and Burning Off Impurities.


Sennen - Periphery // Automatic Writing (Zabel Muziek)

Here's a two for one, fellas - an EP from 2004, Periphery, and a mini-album from 2007, Automatic Writing, both released on the same label, Zabel Muziek, by Sennen, a four-piece instrumental post-rock band from The Netherlands. I'm going to start off with the most recent release and work my way backwards, since that's the order in which I discovered the band. In Automatic Writing, the band employs pretty complex rhythms at times switching between 3/4 beat to 5/4 and unexpectedly back to standard 4/4, and it makes the guitar and trumpet melodies, which effortlessly blend and glide in their own universe that much more interesting. The naming of the album, as well as its flow, imply a creative process in which the writer records his thoughts and feelings with the stream of consciousness. And it's an absolute pleasure to be on the receptive end. When purchasing the mini-album directly from the band [which, by the way, is available for free under the "creative commons" license], I couldn't help but grab their earlier EP (it was an easy sell for only €10 for both). Periphery, on the other hand, feels like a totally different album: it's opening, for example, is a slow build up of a rhythmic march along the paced strummed melody and a reverbed multi-layered tremolo picked guitar... until it all explodes. The three tracks work very well as one intelligently designed piece, and the EP does not disappoint one bit, even as an earlier production. I end up always listening to both in succession, and I recommend you do the same.


Kiln - Dusker (Ghostly International)

Kiln returns to Ghostly with yet another album (I lost the actual count of their total releases). A trio out of Michigan (Clark Rehberg III, Kevin Hayes, and Kirk Marrison), pleasantly satisfy my headphone cravings with hypnotic electronic music that bounces, swirls, and clicks in stereo rotations, fuzzy noises and faint, tranquil, and rhythmic beats. The mood of Dusker is upbeat and perfect to turn the gloomy weather into just another whim of nature. Although the sound feels light and airy, there's actually a lot to be processed there. Think of the feel and ease of sailing, yet the complexity of its operation. I've used the album almost as a tool, to calm the dark waters of the chemical imbalance in my brain; to take a deep breath and know that the world still turns, while Kiln is at the steering wheel. Recommended if you like Four Tet, Loscil, and Vladislav Delay. Favorite tracks: Templefrog and Tigertail.


Wisp - Honor Beats (Sublight)

Out of Niagara Falls, NY, Reid W. Dunn pushes the beats further to where Squarepusher's work would be today. I know that this may be a repeating and unfair analogy - each artist should be seen in an original light - but this comparison should be considered a very highly paid compliment to Wisp. That being regurgitated, Honor Beats is a very complex, intelligent, micro programmed, post-IDM boarding breakcore slash abstract drum'n'bass album, with every track at absolutely top notch production. It is definitely a leap forward from Dunn's past NRTHNDR album, and at only eight tracks it is a treasured gem in my collection. In terms of original and ground breaking electronic sound in the same genre, only three artists come to mind [I hope this comment will trigger a flood of comments and recommendations] - Venetian Snares, The Flashbulb, and Wisp. In all of the above (including Squarepusher once again), it's more than just a chaos of unleashed and mental beats - there is a strong sense of music theory behind each track which makes the experience that much more... well... musical. Recommended as per above mentioned names. Favorite track: Lyftgeswenced.


Harmonic 313 - EP 1 (Warp)

Mark Pritchard returns to Warp, this time with another solo project, throwing a "1" between the double integers of his more known collaboration with Dave Brinkworth, Harmonic 33. Pritchard's Harmonic 313 sound is not a far departure from the previous sci-fi space-hop within the frequency of music of the spheres. This time, the planetary travel has a Detroit flavor, filtered through an eight-bit spy thriller arcade game. This six track EP 1 of sequentially numbered Problems solve the microchip soldering details of abstep [my clipping for abstract dub step] and bleep-hop. Pritchard's discography tentacles through years, labels, and monikers, with most recognized collaborations under names like Global Communication, Jedi Knights, Reload and E621. I really loved the earlier 2002 release, Extraordinary People on Alphabet Zoo, and although this EP feels like just a teaser to the [hopefully] upcoming full album, I'm happy to add it to my collection. RIYL: RJD2, Bonobo, Fingathing and The Herbaliser. Favorite tracks: Problem1 and Problem 2.


The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation - Doomjazz Future Corpses! (Ad Noiseam)

Must be a gloomy kinda day for me. The irritating questions from those who should know better, and the music from The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation didn't help at all. Perhaps just another alias for Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, or perhaps a brand new outlet for the two member group consisting of Gideon Kiers and Jason Köhnen, created to channel all of their semi-improvised, experimental, and free-form ambient doom through one of my favorite labels, Ad Noiseam. Köhnen is most notably known for his Bong-Ra moniker with drilling breakcore releases on the same label. But on the Doomjazz Future Corpses!, which was recorded live in Amsterdam, you won't hear any beats. Instead, the cinematic soundscapes resemble a haunted house in which a cello moans, a trombone sighs, and the saxophone wails, all to the accompaniment of the warm drony bass and the cold oscillating instruments. The acoustic "mutant jazz" treatment around the low vibrating hum make me imagine an abandoned ship pier, in which the wind plays music with the metallic doors. And with each long passing minute I descent deeper and further into the darkest caverns of this spooky corridor. I withstood this punishing (in a good way) and at the same time amazing experience, but I would not recommend it on sunny days. I would have absolutely loved to witness it live!


Totakeke - Elekatota - The Other Side of the Tracks (Tympanik Audio)

Tympanik Audio, a Chicago based label, catches me a bit off guard with their first 2008 release from a New York producer, Frank Mokros, aka Totakeke. A dark, yet in places soft and sad downtempo album of intelligent rhythmic industrial, that smoothly flows from one track to the next with gloomy ambient pads and percussive, minimal, arpeggio-heavy synth lines. Mokros has previously appeared on a 2001 split with Radial on Ad Noiseam under his Ativ moniker. He also dropped numerous releases as Synth-Etik pumping more rhythmic noise for the German based Hands Productions. His most recent contribution includes a track for Tympanik Audio's first entry into the music biz with a well put together Emerging Organisms compilation, sprinkled with many great artists, like Architect, Hecq, Displacer, Ab Ovo and Phylum Sinter across two disks. For the likes of before mentioned artists (so grab the comp if you can). Favorite tracks: Carrier Signal, Gift Of Nervous Methods, and Fragile Thoughts.


Mono & World’s End Girlfriend - Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain (Temporary Residence Ltd)

This album is probably the saddest thing I have EVER heard. By the time I get to the sequentially titled Trailer 3 (of a five part album), I'm almost shaking with grief, unable to comprehend how mere music can possess so much power of movement. I challenge anyone to sit through this marvel and rebut my pronouncement. Mono is a Japanese instrumental post-rock band, which appeared over and over on my charts throughout the years. With multiple releases on Temporary Residence Limited, Mono has developed their own staple sound as well as a group of loyal followers (including yours truly). On this collaboration they are joined by Katsuhiko Maeda, who releases under many names, most notable of them, world's end girlfriend with excellent albums on Midi Creative / Noble. Maeda's sound is an unclassifiable potpourri of modern classical, experimental post-rock with a touch of electronic glitch, and he has also numerously appeared on my rotations. But on this album, Maeda leaves his micro processing behind to join Mono and create an acoustic requiem which grabs at your heart and does not let go until it squeezes every last tear. I have officially found music for my funeral. Yes, I want everyone to weep freely to this nonreligious, palmless prayer.


Opitope - Hau (Spekk)

Next month, I am going on vacation; and in preparation for my relaxation on the beach I am selecting the albums that will take me beyond the waves and the sun. Opitope's debut Hau, released on Nao Sigimoto's Tokyo based label, Spekk, is already at the top of that list. In their minimal ambient soundscapes, the Opitope duo, consisting of Tomoyoshi Date and Chihei Hatakeyama, design an album which cycles through the never ending period of seasons, attempting to express the feeling of sorrow that comes with any ending, eventually evolving into hope. Hatakeyama has previously released on Chicago based Kranky label with his experimental ambient album, Minima Moralia. Hau is an emotional piece which swirls with pads and bells around the field recordings, faint melodies, and a symmetrical structure; the sound reminds me of a process of nature unfolding its beauty to a patient observer. I am looking forward to absorbing this beautiful music in a more natural environment. Recommended if you enjoy Hammock and Library Tapes.


Elegi - Sistereis (Miasmah)

Miasmah started off as a free net label back in 1999, run by Oslo based Erik Skodvin (Deaf Center). Last year, the label turned it up a notch with CD releases, kicking it off with an amazing Silva compilation, and full album followups from quickly gaining ground artists like Encre, Rafael Anton Irisarri and Gultskra Artikler. Elegi is an alias of Tommy Jansen (one half of Cordion), and Sistereis is his debut release, in which Jansen explores the dark pathways of echoed memories on his deep-sea wreck-diving journey into the ship graveyards. The dying instruments cry out in moans, the floor boards creak, bowed strings sigh, and the clock is wound with withering fingers. Listening in the dark, the experience is truly haunting and at once unforgettable. Jansen crafts a kaleidoscope of experimental folk and dark ambient sounds which crawl under my skin, and prickle with goose bumps from within. Defying classification, but clutching strongly to the acoustic doom movement, the album is recommended for the likes of Svarte Greiner, Swod, above mentioned artists and Porn Sword Tobacco. Favorite track : Spill For Gallerie.


Evan Bartholomew - Secret Entries Into Darkness (Somnia)

In the second installment of his Somnia series, a Portland based modern classical composer, Evan Bartholomew, continues his meditative descent through Secret Entries Into Darkness. The minimal ambient sound slightly curves around the deep entrance, brushing the wet moonlight on the cave's bold stone, before it breaks into sheaths of white, and vanishes with echoes. Unlike its predecessor, this journey in this follow up is more rhythmic and darker, sustaining an eerie and desolate feeling, as the composer dissects the abstract lines between the realms of life and death during our weightless dive into Xibalba. In his streaming hypnotic voyage, Bartholomew perfects his production and the art of revealing his soul to the listener through music. The gravity of the emotion is immediate and heavy; for when the album ends, we are left alone and helpless, at the bottom of the void, only to be born again. Once again, the album is signed, numbered, and limited to 777 wax sealed copies packaged in sewn, soy ink stamped, recycled paper. Recommended if you like Steven Reich, Brian Eno, and Philip Glass. Absolute favorite track : Soft Spots In The Tyranny Of Matter.


Deaf Center - Pale Ravine (Type)

Norwegian based, Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland produce a cinematic album as inspired by the "old silent 8mm film reels and historical architecture". Skvodin's releases should be familiar to you under his Svarte Greiner alias on Type Records, as well as Xhale and Solitaire Albread monikers with numerous releases on Miasmah. Totland has also contributed to Miasmah under Supine alias, and collaborated with Serein netlabel owner, Huw Roberts, as Nest. So it seems that the duo has their hands full, yet Deaf Center already scheduled a 7" in the pipeline for Type Records. Getting back to Pale Ravine - this is a true modern classical marvel, with slight undertones of ambient bliss; an album that excretes melancholy and drenches the soul in sadness; an acoustic phonography reserved for lazy Sunday afternoons, or early morning Saturdays. Either way, for either day, the world of Death Center is not unlike an archive of old and treasured films, left carelessly to age somewhere in the attic, only to be rediscovered once again... and celebrated once again. RIYL : Marsen Jules, Clickits, Goldmund, and Helios. Favorite tracks: White Lake, Thunder Night and The Clearing.


The Ansion - That Is The Way Of Things (skean dhu)

When Jon Innes is not playing live, he can be found in his Ayrshire (Scotland) studio layering guitar shoegaze with laptop electronica. Innes' composition is undoubtedly fueled by heartbreak with open ended track titles like Her Resistance To The Mind Probe Is Considerable. Paced reverbed piano chords are complimented with vocoder lines over tight and dry 909 kit (that snare is just right) - what an amazing combination! The concoction of instruments and borrowed styles that synergize together, remind us that at the center of each track lies pure music that makes you feel - and that's the memorable component that we take away forever. That Is The Way Of Things effortlessly flows from genres and is an unbelievable trip when absorbed as a complete album. I'm looking forward to more output from The Ansion. Check out his page and buy the tracks directly from the artist! Recommended for the lovers of Ulrich Schnauss' ambient layers, Eluvium's melodies, and The Album Leaf's approach to drum machine intelligent post-rock. Favorite tracks : Die, You Big Fuck Off Spider, Die and as already mentioned Her Resistance To The Mind Probe Is Considerable.


Death In Public - Instrumental In Silence EP (self released)

A two member band out of Lancaster, UK, had everything lined up for an EP but the drummer. But that didn't stop Julian Dicken and Josh Longton from going forward on this instrumental release falling somewhere between post-rock and post-metal. Armed with a drum machine, the duo added solid beats to mellow atmospheric shoegaze and explosive attitude grinding chords using everything in their arsenal - including drilling snare rolls (try that with a drummer). And in my humble opinion, it is exactly the element of a unique programming approach that made it stand out among the dozen of promos that line my studio floor. Taking a slight detour, I turn my attention towards their latest single, Biometrics [specifically Motion Sickness track] in which Death In Public have evolved a bit with slightly tighter production, deeper bass, a real drummer, and a vocal line. Yet continuously being biased towards lyrics, I'll just anxiously await an instrumental full length. Thumbs up for the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai and Pelican. Favorite tracks: Everything Is Tired In Its Own Way and Motion Sickness (from Biometrics EP).


The Pirate Ship Quintet - The Pirate Ship Quintet EP (Sound Devastation)

At only three tracks, The Pirate Ship Quintet's first self titled EP, progresses the future of post-rock with an incredible dynamic acceleration. Super charged with emotion, one can not help but anticipate the explosive breakdowns as they crescendo with a cello, piano, and brass. The British eight-piece "quintet" [don't ask - see their myspace explanation] is quietly straying away from limelight, but I can already predict their effect on the scene as they pick up where others have left off to carry on the baton of the genre. It is no coincidence that TPSQ shows up on my rotations within a week from Yndi Halda. Both bands seem to be at the top of my instrumental and orchestral (if you will) post-rock album lists. But the quintet is a bit darker, at times almost post-metal, with abruptly collapsing walls of sound and the following void that's filled by a sobbing cello in the corner or a lost trumpet in the woods. Recommended if you like From The Sky, Mt., Blueneck, 65daysofstatic and of course Yndi Halda. All three tracks get 5+ stars from me.


VA - Ranking Records Exclusive Studio Mix (Electronic Explorations)

This was a double surprise! Not only did I find a great podcast, Electronic Explorations, [nah, let's call it for what it is - a radio show broadcasted on the intarwebs], but also an amazing record label, Ranking Records. Rob Booth is behind his weekly 90-minute show that covers everything from electronica, IDM, techno, and of course dubstep. Inspired by Mary Ann Hobbs, Booth set out to craft a show for the music that he loves. This absolute random find just happened to be on its 7th episode for Ranking Records; yet as I write this, I'm downloading and anticipating the show featuring one of my favorites - Boxcutter. Now on to Ranking Records. What can I say? The 30-minute mix embedded in the show completely revived my love for dubstep, and now I have no doubt that it will have a promising future ahead! Based in Leeds, UK, Ranking Records has breathed a new life into the genre - with only two 12" behind its belt (and I'm sure many coming in the future), the label delivers fresh, intelligent, and groovy beats, with a solid deep bass. The sound is jazzy, spacey, [dare I say] psychedelic, and continues to evolve throughout a perfectly mixed session. This is what I want dubstep to be. This is how the future is shaped today. I am an immediate fan of the label, already smiling towards a prosperous 2008. Artists to watch: Ruckspin, Quark, and Planas. Point your clickers to


VA - Triple Vision Showcase (Triple Vision / KMag)

Hats off to a good friend from Austin, Underfoot, who urged me to pick up the last issue (December 2007) of UK's Knowledge Magazine [which still dusted the stale newsstands at my local bookshop], because of its free included mix. This smoothly flowing upbeat drum and bass compilation was put together by Rotterdam's Triple Vision founder Marco Grijsen (DJ Dreazz). The disk features 26 tracks and remixes from Loxy, Lynx, Noisia, Lomaxand Corrupt Souls, just to name a few. Appropriately titled, it's a showcase of Triple Vision's staple labels - Citrus, Celsius, Fokuz and Disturbd. Skillfully led from light to confident to dark and back, this is the first mix in a couple of years that has already showed up half a dozen times on my rotations. I may be bold enough and proclaim every track on the CD a winner. I am immediately overtaken by that "never enough" feeling, and start salivating for the the latest in drum'n'bass releases, as available from Triple Vision's online store. So pick up the disk if you can still find it; it is well worth the $14 import tag, plus you get a free magazine attached to it!


  • Schrollum

    nice music you got there. also fell in love with the doomjazz corporation recently. perfect record for going to sleep... I guess I should also check out that mr. bartholomew

    4 Feb 2008, 22:24
  • twoism2

    Kudos on the Grails review!! They remind me of some psychedelic western soundtrack or something. Like you said extremely difficult to describe which is a mark of quality unique music. Didn't realize that the members of Deaf Center have recorded under so many different monikers (Xhale, really? I didn't know that). I also had just stumbled unto deaf center just this year. Not a week has gone by where I don't at least listen to pale ravine or neon city ep. Especially good for headphones and freezing cold snowy weather!! The new belong ep colorless record is incredible, you can check it out here: Nice job as always on the rotations! -Two2

    5 Feb 2008, 8:31
  • onecaseman

    Nice one. Covered a lot of what I was hoping would get covered.

    5 Feb 2008, 21:02
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