Constantine – Hades


[ Bedouin Records, 2017 ]

A massive, dark wave rises over the horizon on the debut LP by the Greek composer Constantine Skourlis. Named after the mythological underworld, with track names such as “Cosmos” or “Emptiness”, it wants to describe something epic and beyond our grasp. The first three tracks seem to come straight from the Void: endless reverb and doomy strings emulate a gargantuan cavern create an atmosphere of being lost in the vastness of space, the final track, “Erebus”, appropriates Tim Hecker with noisy, destroyed comptuer textures corroding on top of thickly layered, yet airy pianos. An experiential, cleansing experience. Recommended to listen to with headphones on.

Pure Matrix – Drain

Whoa, an album with a cover featuring shibari bondage that isn’t harsh noise!? Well I never! What we get here instead is a Kosmische asteroid made on Moog and ARP 2800 in New York’s Queens, but could easily pass as one of those monumental analog electronic revivals from mid 00’s/early 10’s Ohio released on half-forgotten homespun labels like Wagon, Rubber City Noise or Hanson Records. The relation between the artwork and the music on the cassette is not accidental: there is constant, slowly growing tension in the cold, alienated raw synthesis which never fires off anywhere – like a skilled, experienced dom tormenting and edging their slave to get close to release, but never quite allowing a full orgasm. Drain does the same, making you think there’s some sort of breakthrough waiting, but it never comes. Leaves you frustrated, but still listening somehow. But that’s how orgasm denial works, kids.

AUN / Rainbow Island – Split

Here’s the first cassette from an interesting conceptual label Körper / Leib: a split tape between the Montreal dark ambient duo AUN and Rome’s psychedelic weirdos Rainbow Island. What might strike you when looking at the “artwork” is the wall of text occupying the space where other cassettes present fancy graphics. Well, it’s all in the label’s manifesto:

Körper / Leib shuns from the graphic-visual dominance in favor of lexicon. Körper is the material shell, Leib is the music itself.

Thus, instead of usual psychedelic distractions we get raw data, or rather – psychedelia in the form of written word, where the trippy qualities of both projects’ music are described in evocative language, also giving some useful information regarding the musicians’ equipment. Floating, shining drones and bubbly synthetic soundscapes that will eagerly assist any sort of trip you’re having. Recommended!

OOBE – Stealth

The second album by the Torino based producer Yari Malaspina, who took on the mystical alias OOBE, released on a London label Cleaning Tapes, is a journey into the zones occupied by Huerco S. and Andy Stott, covering the thumping, booming techno beats with a thick coating of digital dust and distant sensual wails. It’s stealth music, but it’s something much more than ambient. More like some sort of codeine boogie (thanks for that, Boomkat!). Clearly a serious progression since the hit-and-miss stuff of OOBE’s 1080p release, Digitalisea. Worth checking out for the behemoth of an opening track. Highly recommended!

Wanda Group – Earth Insider

Taking a moniker that would immediately rouse associations with the more avant-garde spectrum of various African music groups (not to mention that the Bandcamp page of the project states its origin as “Algeria”), Louis Johnstone’s Wanda Group project makes sure is as detached, both on the visual and the musical level, as possible from the human factor. In other words, just like Wanda Groups’s album artworks feature nondescript collages of caverns, stones and rocks formed into completely random and imagined passageways into the bowels of the Earth, the music is equally murky and unexplored, drowned in hiss and dark, mysterious ambience, sometimes letting a sudden moan of a hissing drone or a minimal, thumping rhythm. But these seem more like a residue than an intentional sign of human intervention. Chance reigns. Dive into the miasma. Highly recommended!

Stara Rzeka / Innercity Trio / ARRM – Split

This cassette, released by Warsaw label Wounded Knife (the owner is a throughly cool guy with an amazing beard) is a split between some heavyweights of Polish experimental music including the solo projekt of Kuba Ziołek Stara Rzeka (which translates to English as “Old River”), the Bydgoszcz based Innercity Trio and the psychedelic rock unit ARRM (who have changed radically since their no wave beginnings on the SQRT label). All three projects present a different take on the meaning of psychedelia, Stara Rzeka crafting a dense, primordial tapestry of found sounds, noisy ambience, creepy echoes gradually transforming into primitive ragas which seem to repeat forever until they get lost in the droning white light. Innercity Trio play cavernous, beatific free jazz which seems to be emanating from a lost mine, and ARRM portray a vast vista of barren ground and hot winds of American deserts through slow-paced, echoing drone rock reminiscent of late Earth or Barn Owl. Highly recommended!

K. – No Longer Trust These Eyes of Mine

The new Warsaw label Jasień debuted earlier this tape with a cassette (re)issue of Jakub Lemiszewski’s 30 Minut and have been gradually building their image and presence since. One of their newest offering is the crystalline dark ambience of the mysterious drone explorer known simply as K. The title might suggest hallucinations, suggesting a sense of betrayment from one’s own organs. The tape tries to translate these false visions into smeared, hallucinatory sounds that stretch way beyond what the track running lengths might suggest. Recommended!