Padme – Wisdom From the Stars

One of the early entries in the SicSic Tapes catalogue. Heavy, deep, intensely cosmic and lengthy synthesizer excursions into the world of stretched-out, minimalized progressive electronics and ominous ambient soundscapes from the 70’s. Crystalline emanations from the crystallized world.

Various Artists – Bent Minds (Night People, 2012)

Ridiculously retroid and industrially EBMic, this free compilation of songs from the Night People label’s newest batch of releases will fill you with a futuristic sense of passion and the feeling of nostalgia behind the Depeche Mode-filled times, where everyone had a phrase of wearing trenchcoats and being gloomy all around, artistically. Deep vocals, minimal synths. Night People have shifted themselves into definitely colder and more electronic areas – and it’s doing them much good, it seems. Great compilation, and make sure to grab some of the releases after the listening!

Bent Minds (Mediafire)

Review: Oneohtrix Point Never / Rene Hell – Music for Reliquary House / In 1980 I Was a Blue Square

(LP, NNA Tapes, 2012)

American future-gazers Daniel Lopatin (that’s OPN) and Jeff Witscher (Rene Hell) have harnessed the vintage electronic techniques and redefined them in thrilling and unexpected ways. Oneohtrix Point Never started with massive, stripped down analog drones that gradually worked their ways into kosmische musik worship, to later become more experimental, plunderphonic, using samples and creating collages. Rene Hell made a sharp break with the anemic ambient or noise projects to create a completely new entity: stylish, sleek, modern and actually adventurous. His style was like the IDM for the analog synth revival, flickering with mangled samples, tight rhythms often bordering on techno and rolling krauty synth lines.

It’s actually strange that the idea of a split release between the two didn’t come up earlier. On both sides, the musicians present their own, idiosyncratic approaches to electronic music, reinforcing their image and sounds, as well as experimenting insome new areas. Dan Lopatin continues his romance with creating new patterns entirely out of samples on side A, entitled “Music For Reliquary House”, after a performance he did in a New York museum of art. This is Lopatin at his most abstract and abrasive, often falling into a flurry of brutal, shard-like glitch clusters that mess up the entire recording and add a special, cracked-like, distorted quality to the constant stuttering in unknown languages. Sometimes he will reach back to his soothing beginnings and throw a dreamy, angelic drone to serve as the background to the pointilistic carnage piercing the listener’s ears with high-pitched precision.

Rene Hell’s side is definitely more melodic – and if I never thought it would be possible to call Witscher more melodic and song-like than Lopatin, Jeff’s compositions do actually possess a sense of melody – and some breathtakingly beautiful melody at that. Take the opening “Meta Concrete” as an example, with a cinematic piano line constantly pierced by jarringly modern electronic glitches, which sounds like a soundtrack to an upcoming film by Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze, this time set in a near future, with an obviously sci-fi twist, but still retaining the somewhat unreal, surrealistic imagery. At other times, Witscher will indulge in MIDI madness, like on overtly sterile and glitch-ladden “Bridge”. However, despite being constantly and relentlessly attacked by brutal, bare-bone power electronics, Rene Hell’s side always stays surprisingly modern and beautiful, soaring bold and proud with melodies and intense synthesizer sequences.

The split LP between Oneohtrix Point Never sees both artists switching roles, this time it’s the latter that takes role of the “relaxing”, more “conventional” and “song-like” part, providing a slower breath and a bit of rest from the glitchy, musique concrete fragmentation of the former musician’s side. An adventurous listen, where two visionary creators pay homage to their avant-garde forefathers. Recommended.

EUS, Postdrome & Saåad – Sustained Layers

When I first recommended the work of Romain Barbot aka Saåad to my friend, he was grateful to me for giving him some “sunless ambient, just like he needed it at the moment”. If Saåad himself can be described as “sunless” (at that comes from a hardcore listener of drone doom, black metal and ambient music), imagine a psychedelic dark ambient supertrio consisting of three such guys. This collaboration is intensely drippy, creeping and satisfyingly heavy and disturbing. A portal to the unknown opens, as suggested on the cover. Good luck, Traveller.

Appalache – Fue

Sunburned, lonesome stoned guitar ambience from the endless plains of Mojave desert and reverbed impressions of the ragged hills of Zabriskie Point under the full moon glare recorded on the other side of the world, namely in Paris by the third eye bluesman Julien Magot. Atmospherically heavy, with the longing, hollow melodies reminescent of Barn Owl (hell, they even mention BO in the liner notes!).

Psychedelic slowcore for the beginning of Fall.

Videobend – Contrast

Dark, cavernous and crystalline drones drenched in eerie noises and sound effects. Like the crossbreeding between white noise, TV snow and dark ambient soundscapes, this excursion into minimal yet very atmospheric kind of ambient may have fall into a limbo-like state, so you better listen to this when you have some free time so that you can melt without worrying about coming back to your “regular” form anytime soon.

Glass House – Glass House

First of all, kudos for this project for having a PERFECT name. I don’t know how no one in the whole drone/ambient scene didn’t come up with such a name before, but here it is – a NYC/Philadelphia group carving cosmic vibrations from the distant future, so distant it is covered with a static of fading memories and lonely, emotional (even though it’s basically just dense textures with little melody) soundscapes. This is the soundtrack to a dream that may or may not happen – like dreaming of better places, where everything is good and everyone live in glass houses. Such an idea has a potential to possess a darker, more sinister edge – just like this album, where some darker undercurrents run below the massive, monolithic drones. Recommended.