Review: Tuluum Shimmering – Raag Wichikapache / Lake of Mapang

(Cassette, Space Slave, 2013)
With the fresh, broad new look on life and retaining the sacred mysticism and the mastery of ancient-sounding drone from United Kingdom’s Jake Webster, he continues his travel into Eastern-tinged stretched ragaes in the vein of calmest, most ambiental moments of Vibracathedral Orchestra. Or Ravi Shankar, if you will. Or even La Monte Young, if you’re into the more dronier “thing”. Yes, the more dronier description would be appropriate – for this is a true monster of an album, an ever growing manifestation of the lightened mind, the mind exploding with ideas and ideas of construction, creation & unlimited creativity.

This is what Tuluum Shimmering did with his music – he showed the process of changing, the slow, sometimes monotonous and repetitive, but always psychedelic and fascinating, always mesmerizing and entrancing. While on his early releases Jake was basing his compositions on endless loops of overdriven guitar or synth loops, being repeated and manipulated to oblivion, on the newest album he switches to the incredibly smooth, New Age-ian kind of sacred music, where the endless sitar drones soothingly lead the way to the temple of various Indian Gods. Tuluum Shimmering makes the music for the exploration of unknown geographic areas, both musically and physically, by travelling there. I don’t know if he’s even been to India or a similar country, because if he hasn’t, then damn, he nailed the sound of those regions.

Later on, the seemingly endless, slow burning Indian drone session endes, and is replaced by another long jam, this time starting with a calm psych folk session, somewhat like a relaxed and more informal incarnation of Tortioise just jamming in heaven (or just fucking around with their instruments while in the spring garden, lying with their guitars in the grass and playing them, shit like that). It’s also completely different from anything Tuluum Shimmering has done before, in a sense of focusing on a jam itself rather than creating thick, droney, Skaters-like tape manipulations, keeping the guitar flowing gently and effortlessly with the help of the slowly rolling drums.

The second part of the album “Lake of Mapang” is shorter and makes a return to the style of drone TS made us accustomed to. It’s based on traditional instruments, droning endlessly, but instead of the ancient, pagan atmospherics the droning instruments here retaing a sense of familiarity and the homegrown utopia. Especially on the closing track of the entire release (side D) sounds more like an avant-garde, drone-enhanced take on a generic traditional folk tune, expanded and stripped of unneeded elements to enhance the feeling of “tribal” minimalism.

Jake Webster travels through the wildest, most unexplored regions with his colorful, highly psychedelic music. This time however, he seems to be moving closer home and attaching a slightly more academic approach to the music he makes – instead of raw, hypnotic tape loops we get competent, tightly composed pieces that lie closer to the bliss of Golden Retriever than the chaotic trippiness of Skaters. Recommended!

DIY Pyramid – Yoga


Wonderfully heavy, yet somewhat rhythimcal, almost technoidal, but deeply submersed, the harsh, monolithic drones in style of Jefre Cantu Ledesma used in new, almost club-friendly environments. Ever-changing and heavenly long – only the opening “Yang Ying” is a little over 20 minutes long! Considering it’s from Portland, OR, one of the centers of the the trippertronic movement it’s hard not to think about the work of Adam Forkner – aka White Rainbow. But DIY Pyramid is a more harsh, free-spirited effort, more focused on creating a woozy, hazy atmosphere and a network of connected patterns and rhythms. Strange, luxurious atmospheres and sounds connect and interact, creating an off-beat, dystopian view of ambient and, in some way, of vaporwave.

Datashock – Para Dieswärts Dull


In an obvious nod to “Paradieswärts Düül” by the legendary communal krautrockers Amon Düül (the first one), those modern-day psychedelic nomads gather together to give you almost 60 minutes of slowly-rolling, lo-fi and hazy freak rock jams. It’s thick, dense and wanders in all directions at once. Don’t mind the “Dull” in the name, because those caveman improvisations are never dull. Recommended! And stay tuned for the review of Datashock’s newest release, “Live.Love.Data$”, coming real soon!

Review: Hurricanes of Love – Night Tyme Vybes


(Cassette. Scissor Tail Editions, 2012)

It’s hard (if not impossible) to believe that the bard behind Hurricanes of Love, Frank Hurricane, real name: Frank Copenhaven, lives in Brooklyn, New York City, one of the busiest metropolitan areas in the world. Because from the music itself it becomes clear, obvious and apparent that a man like Frank Hurricane belongs on a trail somewhere deep in the wilderness, spewing forth one lo-fi Americana/psychedelic folk gem after another. In fact, there are YouTube videos documenting Hurricane playing beautiful tunes in the middle of the Appalachian trail. His body might be in the middle of an urban jungle, but his soul is deep in the woods.

Hurricanes of Love can be easily described as psychedelic folk (or “freak folk”, if you wish) stripped down to its bare basics: there is simply the Guitar and the Voice(s) on “Night Tyme Vybes”, nothing else. The folk music’s tools of trade, perfect for outdoor, unplugged playing. Every piece from this album could be played at a campfire hundreds of miles from any civilization and they would still sound just as good – if not better, as the songs are generally recorded in extreme lo-fi. Lo-fi to the point where the cracking sound almost drowns out the guitar in the latter part of “The Light Inside Yo Body”, which is the album’s highlight, a monumental psychedelic anthem crafted with acoustic guitar and a few voices.

The albums’s power lies in its simplicity, both musically and lyrically. Carefree, flowing Americana guitar themes meet lyrics that can be extremely catchy (listen to “Front Porch Broski Blues” two or three times and you will find yourself singing “my friend, I hope you’re doing well” to yourself sooner of later) and sometimes deeply profound (like on aforementioned “The Light Inside Yo Body”). Copenhaven’s voice is often raw, unpolished and slightly nasal, going for pure joy that comes from singing simple songs with the heart on his hand without musing over every nook and cranny of the vocal technique. The guitar tones shift from skeletal folky tunes to experiments with American primitivism a’la John Fahey to some delicious Southern slide guitar straight outta the swamps (“Don’t Let No Cracka Bring You Down”).

Hurricanes of Love celebrate the free, communal spirit of playing together as one big family whenever and wherever possible – the city, the woods, the middle of a field, doesn’t matter. What matters is the joy that comes from the music itself – and this joy pours from “Night Tyme Vybes” in buckets. Deep below the radars of the Internet tastemakers, these free spirits roam and explore new dimensions of friendship and love. Because those things don’t follow trends.

Highly recommended!

Review: Jake Blanchard – Archaic Practices


(Cassette, Feathered Coyote Records, 2012)

One doesn’t need to be a MENSA member to guess by the cover and the album title (and the label which released it, let’s not forget that) that we will be dealing with some ritualistic, deeply resonating psychedelia. Jake Blanchard (an illustrator and founder of Tor Press) seems to be reaching into the past for inspiration, and I don’t mean the 20th century. The sounds of “Archaic Practices” are, well… ancient-sounding. But what does this even mean?

The opening “Malediction” answers this question with a head-spinning clarity: the ominous, foreboding drone of the piece sounds in-human, as if it was the primeval, original music made by some sentient creatures that walked the Earth before we even stepped down from the trees. It is the sound of an unknown civilization conducting unknown rituals deep in a cave in the times so prehistoric that no trace of those creatures’ presence was left. The endless, moss-covered drone might bring to mind the longest, most pagan moments of Loren Chasse’s monumental Of project, standing in sheer contrast to his usual introverted field recording/psych folk impressions with the unpenetrable wall of sound.

The following “Envenoming” and “Wandering Djinn” retain the dark ambient atmospherics, unsettling and nocturnal and add deeply echoing, resonating bells and primitive percussive instruments to the washes of overwhelming, bassy sounds the soruce of which gets increasingly harder to describe. Some might hear nods to Starving Weirdos and their kind of cold, alienated “coastal psychedelia”, where they tried to emulate the dread of the ocean and the dark clouds over the coast. It’s equally dark here, but even more suspended and darkened.

However, a final, triumphtant moment of light comes with the closing “Faint Visitant”, which still relies on suspended, droning guitars and thick, psychedelic ambience but throws the feeling of dread, instead going for lysergic wonder and a sense of discovery of something new, intanglible and exciting. There are moments of harsh, distorted guitar feedback in here, but it doesn’t interrupt the blissful ride through multilayered drones much. Those in love with the mysterious, arcane and the occult might feel at home here.

Review: Piotr Kurek – Edena


(Cassette, Sangoplasmo Records, 2012)

Those who already learned to recognize Warsawian trippertronic magician Piotr Kurek’s work as ecletic, clever bricolages of carefully chosen samples and folky instrumentarium might have quite a bit of surprise with “Edena”, Kurek’s newest release, offered on the ever-solid Polish label Sangoplasmo. While the Suaves Figures project was already a hint of the shifting aesthetic, the modular-analog-dusted influences fully bloom on the newest release, going for the retrofuturistic prog electronic journeys with a touch of Tortoise-like sophistication here and there.

The opening track “Becoming Light” is also the most minimalistic one, relying on slow-paced sequences, gradually getting stacked with new levels of complication, becoming little baroque symphonies for modular analog synthesizers. It also bears a strong influence of 60’s experimentalism, going for the hyper-energetic electronic nirvana in the vein of Terry Riley’s 1967 masterpiece “A Rainbow In Curved Air”. Characteristically for Kurek, the sounds here are rich and whimsical, going for the kaleidoscopic, “happy-go-lucky” electronica with a penchant for some masterful sample collages. Like the cut-up female voices and brilliantly sparse xylophone workouts on “Tonal Colors”, effortlessly gliding through a Technicolor rainbow of retro psychedelia.

But the vocal harmonies really get the spotlight in the main track, “Edena”. The looped and stretched vocal melodies blend perfectly with the somewhat haunting, almost Amon Tobin-like atmospherics (of the lighter kind). The synthesizers still make a strong presence, with almost skeletal pulsations creating the basis for further elements of sound. The following “Untitled” has the sourest, sombrest tone of all the tracks on the album, gradually obtaining a dissonant, droning, somewhat depressing tone, a’la Oneohtrix Point Never before he went all plunderphonic.

The last two track come back to the more traditional Piotr Kurek zone, with rich sample play and synthesizer soundscapes creating a fun source to work on. “Goddes Eye” (named curiously similar to Julia Holter’s “Goddess’ Eyes”) confronts heavily trippy Stellar Om Source-like  saxophone/synthesizer solos with vocal collages, blending together deep opera bartione (or maybe even bass?) with normal, somewhat soul-like singings. The closing desires is the most “traditional” track in Kurek style, harkening back to the “Heat” cassette, released on Digitalis Ltd. Quirky strings and microsamples of uttered phrases provide a backdrop for the snakelike melody and a plethora od dusted sounds. The cassette ends with a noisy, heavily electric “guitar” treatment and ominous, calm notes from an old-timer synth.

Piotr Kurek proves once again that he’s one of the masters of Polish trippertronic scene, constantly one-upping himself into new levels. He’s one of those guys who don’t get lazy and fucked up because of the hype they get, but rather get even better and feel the need to create some new exciting shit in order to pursuit their singular Vision. Let’s support those fuckers.

Linear Bells – Winter Haze

Despite the wintery name, this album by David Teboul a.k.a. Linear Bells, was recorded over the period of 6 months. The haze and the cold, frozen and introverted atmosphere permeats the album, opening new areas of sound at a glacial pace; slowing down (if not stopping) the flow of time and rewarding the patient ones, considering the Eno-ian textures tend to make the listener immerse in sound and get hypnotized, losing the track of time altogether. Deep, melancholic and insanely atmospheric.