Constantine – Hades

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[ 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.


TVLab – Music for Rural Bedrooms

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[ Peace Tunic, 2017 ]

Music for Rural Bedrooms is the debut tape by the very fresh Connecticut based label Peace Tunic. Both the music and the artwork were created by David John DiBella who goes by the truly Fangs&Arrows friendly alias TVLab. The tape has a lovely, lo-fi glaze over its progressive electronic atmosphere and the air or amateurish, unpolished joy of creation. In fact, the somewhat hypnagogic tunes here remind one of the golden era of microscopic tape labels and hazy drone/ambient cassettes coming out by the hundreds of the 2000s/2010s. The psychedelic, lazily tropical atmosphere is strongly reminiscent of classic Brother Raven works, with similarly over-enthusiastic approach to knob fuckery and skeletal structures. Lovely.


Artykuły Rolne – Dobrze to już było

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[ Self-released, 2016 ]

Last year’s album by the Polish noise rock unit Artykuły Rolne (which could be translated as “Agricultural Commodities”) is a shackled beast, which is struggling to free itself and sometimes spews scorching fire. The amount of energy and layers contained on this LP could be given to a few albums by a few bands, and the sheer, cosmic lysergic energy is conjured by heavily effect-laden walls of guitar noise and heavy, doomy drumming. When you name one of your tracks “Kosmos”, you gotta go huge. And goddamn, they do. This amount of heady, wide-eyed psychedelia is rarely to be seen. It’s almost like an anomaly. There should be more anomalies like this. Highly fucking recommended.


Various Artists – Mono No Aware

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[ PAN, 2017 ]

The year 2016 might have seemed for some as some sort of end-of-the-world year with all the major changes going on in the US, Europe, or globally in general. The media were keen to fuel the panic with nearly apocalyptic images of protests, terrorist acts and riot, leading many to believe the next Big War is coming. Meanwhile, the team of the Berlin-based electronic label PAN asked themselves a simple question: What is ambient music in the 21st century? With the help of the musicians who released albums on PAN they answer this question: Well, ambient is still mostly about calmness and atmosphere, but in 2017 it’s stylistic influences are much wider than in the 1970’s when Brian Eno coined the term. The compilations title refers to the Japanese philosophical concept regarding being aware to the passing of all things. The ambience on Mono No Aware is “contaminated” by noise, musique concrete, grime, even ASMR aesthetics. It’s indeniably futuristic but also very traditional at the same time, keeping faithful to the original concept or answering to the question of what ambient music is. Featuring tracks by Helm, Yves Tumor, M.E.S.H., Jeff Witscher, SKY H1, ADR and many more, Mono No Aware is an ecletic, yet coherent collection of the 21st century ambient music. Highly recommended!


KURO – KURO

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[ Rocket Recordings, 2016 ]

A primordial fog rises above this genre-bending dark masterpiece by the Bristol based duo KURO. With its minimalistic artwork (and name) referring to the masterpieces of Japanese psychedelia and avant-garde, the thickly layered drones bring to mind the music of Tetragrammaton or Yoshi Wada (although not that minimalistic) with an occult twist. Referring to ancient cults and religions, KURO creates a dense, thick atmosphere that sounds like a preparation for a conjuring of a forgotten deity about to emerge from a trans-dimensional portal. This is a work of psychedelic beauty to get lost in. Recommended!


Mchy i Porøsty – Hypnagogic Polish Music For Teenage Mutants

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[ Recognition, 2017 ]

Polish visual and audio artist Bartosz Zaskórski explores the half-forgotten, dusty memories as Mchy i Porøsty (Polish for “Moss and Lichens”), exploring the strange zone between being awake and asleep and trying to rebuild full compositions out of snippets of remembered moments from the deep past. The newest album by Mchy i Porøsty is as hypnagogic as it gets, erasing all semblance of clear melody or structure under a heavy shroud of faulty memories and the dust of past experiences. Distorted tape loops emerge and disappear under hazy drones and meticulous musique concrete in the vein of Wanda Group, except with some occasional thumping rhythms and a somewhat industrial air about it. Like drinking several beers in a car on a foggy parking lot and slowly drifting off to unconsciousness. Recommended (the album, not the drinking)!


Heavy Birds – Drag

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[ Moon Records, 2016 ]

Some heavy Velvetian vibes from this New York City three-member unit Heavy Birds presenting their technicolor voyage Drag, issued on their label Moon Records. Maybe I should be paying more attention to band names – because after a few listens, the name Heavy Birds sticks very well with this bunch. It’s flying, in a classic, psychedelic sense of the word – but at the same time too heavy to actually take out. Lots of cavemen riffs and opiate atmospherics clash with the heavy, slow drumming that make the album actually impossible to take off. I don’t know if that’s the Velvet Underground influence, but there is actually a seedy, almost criminal take on the music here. A heavily inebriated psychedelic rock that was conceived in some evil minds. Recommended!