Innercity Ensemble – III

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[ Instant Classic, 2016 ]

On their third studio album, the Polish band Innercity Ensemble keeps their central idea of improvisation strong, but this time the music is more concise and rhythm driven. Despite a double album (like it was in the case of II), they go for a shorter, yet fuller experience, balancing between tribal trance and jazz aesthetics. What stands out here is the amazing drumming – everything else is subject to it, it’s the rhythm that rules the album. Innercity Ensemble is a supergroup – but not a kind of supergroup that has some big names in the roster and releases something mediocre. They do exactly the opposite: their cooperation on III is so perfect they might as well be one organism. And they manage to express their organic approach to improvisation and psychedelia with truly magnetic power. Highly recommended!


Amnesia Scanner & Bill Kouligas – LEXACHAST

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[ Self-released, 2016 ]

I have a special thing going on with Amnesia Scanner. Ever since hearing their radio play “Angels Rig Hook” in 2015, I feel like through them, I caught a glimpse. A glimpse of something terrible yet inevitable, each chilling line describing of a world yet to come. Amnesia Scanner’s new release, created in collaboration with PAN Records founder Bill Kouligas, is purely instrumental, but much more abrasive and industrial – and, therefore, abstract – in nature. Heavily modified wordless moans interfere with sombre, bass heavy droning melodies and occasional stray snippets of EDM raves, like the fragmented streams from an underground dance music party. It’s a difficult listen, definitely, but the incredibly meticulous sound design (also characteristic for similar atists, such as Arca or M.E.S.H.) really makes up for all the challenging stuff. Like a chrome maze. Recommended!


The Stargazer’s Assistant – The Other Side of the Island

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[ Aurora Borealis, 2007 ]

I love looking at album covers and artwork. To me, these are the elements just as important as the music within, which often helps to convey or visualize the sounds, a sort of an invitation to explore the music. So when I was browsing the Aurora Borealis Bandcamp page (whose amazing logo was designed by Jo Ratcliffe, who also drew the cover for Sunn O)))’s Black One) I was immediately struck by the equally creepy/awesome artwork for The Other Side of the Island for the UK drone group The Stargazer’s Assistant. It immediately reminded me of the darkly fantastic work of the Czech animator Jan Švankmajer and his mastery of clay and his stop motion films. And the album could easily be a soundtrack to one of his films: a dark, ominous, surreal drones filled with mysterious bells or heavy guitar drones, it builds a haunting atmosphere similar to Ginnungagap or RST, bent on providing a wholly enveloping, psychedelic experience. And what an experience it is! Recommended!


Kristen – LAS

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[ Instant Classic, 2016 ]

The eighth studio release by the Szczecin based rock group Kristen is their psychedelic to date, this time turning to minimalism and setting their organic jams on the foundation of trippy loops. While the concept of a simple, looping riff has been done many times before, to name Pharaoh Overlord, Cave or Oneida (and their labelmates Lotto) as some most obvious examples, Kristen’s songs are both smoother and smokier, ornamenting their music with gentle synths and a spacious atmosphere that somehow feels more mind-enhancing than the previous experiments with repetion. Not to mention the phenomenal interlude “Wyspa”, breaking the trance with a heavily layered, droning mass of sound that sounds like La Morte Young jamming with Spencer Clark. LAS was completely unexpected, and it blew me away. Highly recommended!


Fresh Snow – One

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[ Hand Drawn Dracula, 2016 ]

The neo-krautrock unit Fresh Snow might be one of Toronto’s freshest new bands to emerge in the last few years. They offer a highly emotional tone of psychedelia with some fixation on a steady, motorik-ish beat every once in a while. But they also seee no problem in going into a piano ballad or a new wave beat with its retrofuturistic feel. In some songs they can really kick a punch, like the autobahn punk of “January Skies” or the space rock homage of “I Can’t Die”. With some compositions, they like to go to Pink Floyd inspired soundscapes, like the ambiental suite “I Am Smitten With Your Wrath” or “Anytime Minutes”. A quite original psychedelic experience. Recommended!


Faxada – Cohost

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[ Darlings Recordings, 2016 ]

Make Plunderphonics Great Again. Polish soundscapist Faxada proves that the playful and something anarchic nature of sound collages and plunderphonics can be combined with tech-bending psychedelic IDM to create thoroughly fascinating, thickly layered compositions that bring to mind the mood-shifting mastery of Ssaliva or Amnesia Scanner. Faxada, however, manages to be much more fun in the process – whereas the mentioned acts are more disorienting or austere, Cohost is injected with a quirky sense of humor, cleverly juggling samples and found snippets to resemble Gobby at times, with his broken beats and a tongue-in-cheek approach. Fun as fuckHighly recommended!


G.S. Sultan – Redundancy Suite

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[ PHINERY, 2016 ]

WHAT IS THIS MADNESS!? Brooklyn based sound shredder G.S. Sultan plunges headfirst into the wobbly, fluctuating soundworld of glitchy hyper-psychedelia, like an attempt to cram several terabytes worth of data into the form of a single album divided into several tracks. The result is overbearing and chaotic – imagine the wildest, weirdest moments of Astral Social Club playing on a baddly skipping CD or crippled by a severe digital compression, this is glitch with ADHD. Massive drones rise and fall, occasionally towering above the pointilistic, decomposed sea of violent bleeps and bloops, adding to the aural experience. A challenging but intruguing listen!