Loto Retina – Fiction

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[ Orange Milk Records, 2017 ]

More crystalline internet musique concrete from the always boundary-bending label Orange Milk. Fiction is an ADHD infested mirror hall was constructed by the French glitch conoisseur Loto Retina. The album is yet another pristine labirynth of MIDI deconstructions, momentary microgenre outbursts and snippets of wordless vocals mixed with self governing rhythm patterns. With generative titles like “Canal Xylo Sat1” and “Tension Chrono” it reminds one of the cheerful randomness of Autechre, but Fiction is far more abstract than that: it’s more like a music making software using deep learning via neural networks to create electronic music. The effect is eerie, yet aesthetically pleasant. Sounds from the other side. Recommended!


Nico Niquo – In a Silent Way

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[ Orange Milk Records, 2017 ]

Hey there! You know what? The second full-length by Nico Callaghan a.k.a. Nico Niquo is out and it’s just as lovely as the debut one, except better. How? Probably because it fuses together the two schools of ambient music: one is the more rigid, sequencer-driven one, relying upon clear time signatures and mathematical precision, the other being ethereal, rhythmless tracks that rely purely upon atmosphere. In a Silent Way sounds like R Plus Seven that got its ADHD medication and manages to become slower and more coherent while retaining the relaxed, calming atmosphere. Recommended!


Euglossine – Canopy Stories

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[ Orange Milk Records, 2016 ]

Tristan Whitehill a.k.a. Euglossine is the kind of Florida Man that doesn’t punch holes in fences while on PCP or strips naked in the middle of an interstate, but breaks the stereotypes by making music that is both awesome and confusing – in a good way. While last year’s Complex Playground was an outsider smooth IDM jazz masterpiece masquerading as easy listening muzak, the newest release is much more dancier, approaching club aesthetics at times. Whitehill’s balearic guitar blossoms in the distance while hard-hitting synths push forward ever-shifting rhythms and drum patterns. Music for sensory overload. Recommeded!


Drose – Boy Man Machine

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[ Orange Milk Records, 2016 ]

Black fumes exploded in my face when I launched this album on an Orange Milk Bandcamp page. Among the colorful, glitchy psych output of this label Boy Man Machine, an album by the Columbus, OH based Drose (led by Dustin Rose) stood out like an enormous, rusted anomaly. Channeling the tortured chords of early Swans, sinister electronics of Throbbing Gristle and the legacy of sludge and doom metal Boy Man Machine is a sparse, unsettling soundscape of dark, underlit industrial buildings and rusted machinery. A blackened look at modern technology usually offered by the Orange Milk Industries. Recommended!


Foodman – Ez Minzoku

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[ Orange Milk Records, 2016 ]

The new era of hyperactive musique concrete is upon us, with Japan’s Foodman (sounds like a silly superhero’s name, doesn’t it?) using footwork as a blueprint for craaaazy sonic cut-ups that feel like being generated by a mad scientist’s computer which has gone mad itself. On Takahide Higuchi’s newest album the “footwork” aspect appears to be stripped to its raw basics, sometimes even abandoned completely, reduced only to its most skeletal structures and rhythms, mostly becoming a strange maze of warped samples, odd time signatures, spoken word snippets (both sped up and slowed down) and colorful splashes of synth wizardry. Ez Minzoku is utterly weird – like a garden gnome making dance music, as someone on Bandcamp pointed out.


Event Cloak – Life Strategies

Grey is one of the most underrated and underappreciated colors on this planet. Despite its seeming dullness, it’s a greatly relaxing color that can really soothe, especially when combined with sunlight or the blue sky. Maybe that’s why brutalism was so widespread in the 1960’s and 70’s – so it could stand out agaisnt the the soot-stained evening gradients of endless urban sprawl. The abstract grey organic architecture also adorns the cover of Montreal native Nick Maturo’s newest album, Life Strategies, released under the Event Cloak moniker. While bearing a somewhat vaporwavey name, this Event Cloak release goes far beyond the trappings of the genre, instead becoming a series of crystalline, updated prog electronic new age dream somewhere between R Plus Seven  and EpitaphRecommended!


CASSETTE MANIA #2

Another round of cassettes. This time it’s a mix of relatively new tapes and some minor blasts from the past (2012). This one’s a little more eclectic and psychedelic, too. I’ve decided again to stay with the mystical number seven – 7 tapes for each episode of the series. Let’s go!!!

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Karl Fousek – Relative Position of Figures (Phinery)

The Montreal experimental synth game is strong, with many players trying to one-up each other in homegrown analog electronics. Karl Fousek takes the challenge, too – and goes the more abstract way with both sides of his cassette, released with an elegant, grid-like artwork by Daniel Everett. The first side, “Isotopies” is a collection of shorter, Stockhausian drafts and experiments in whacked-out musique concrete – rarely any track is longer than 1 minute. Things get more interesting on the flipside, titled “Symmetries”, which are a gathering of crystalline analog musics by the way of melodic M. Geddes Gengras or Venndiagram. Karl Fousek seeks nirvana in maniacally repeating sequences – and gets dangerously close.

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Ki Oni – Autumn, In Reel Time (Inner Islands)

Inner Islands label seems to have some sort of a positive schizophrenia (is something like this even possible?). At one hand, they love slow New Age tinged drones filled with meticulous field recordings and general site-specific aesthetic (much like the legendary Jeweled Antler collective). On the other hand, they want to be DJ’s and drift off to looping techno seemingly inspired by Axel Willner’s The Field project, a Swedish glacial gentle giant enveloping you in giant, looping  melancholic melodies poised to hypnotize you. Ki Oni take very much the same path, setting the ambient techno aesthetics below the reverb-o-mania and angelic drones hovering above the mid-tempo beat.

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dogeeseseegod / The Zero Map – Split (Emblems of Cosmic Disorder)

This cassette struck me initially with its sprayed golden cover, hiding the tape beneath with a semi-opaque golden curtain. Two sides of desperate caveman drone/noise clatter, with the first side striking the more ritualized, ancient temple of a forgotten civilization vibe, with the other becoming a torrent of modified recorded noises of everyday occurences, including what sounds like a no-fi recording of flowing water, filtered through some pedal effects to create some deafening wall noise, like a no-budget version of Daniel Menche’s “Kataract”. Uplifting and upsetting. Mad props for the label name, too. Really cool!

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Moss Lime – July First (Fixture)

There’s something adorable, if not downright magical, in listening to French girls sing in English. The beautiful accent makes it all the more lyrical and romantic for some reason, even if the musical background is inspired by the gritty sound of late 70’s British post-punk. But the Lyon based trio Moss Lime manage to spice it up with some sunshine, especially with an interesting cover of Alex Gaudino’s “Destination Calabria” turned into a bouncing tropicadelic jam. Vague vapors of Royal Trux can be felt throughout the tape, with occasionally sloppy and detuned guitars cutting the harmony like a rusty scalpel. Watch out for hints of psychedelia slipping through the cracks in melody, too.

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Soft Eyes – Lazy Life (Under the Gun)

Lukas Goudreault, of MMOSS fame, smokes a few bowls of good ol’ natural green and goes psychedelic, in a mellowed out, lo-fi way. These are mostly guitar-based (with a very little and very rudimental analog synthesizer added here and there, think Damaged Bug lite) hippie meditations somewhere between drone-based folk improvisations to totally wasted, dripping setting sun acid rock solos. The album artwork seems to me like a distant cousin to Wildildlife’s “Six”, and a lot of that tropical, stoned atmosphere is kept here, too. Although in a much more relaxed and hazy way. Like WAY hazy, bro.

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Prayer – Second Species (Constellation Tatsu)

A minor blast from the past with this 2012 tape from the then relatively fresh Constellation Tatsu (one of the first pages to put all their releases on Bandcamp, by the way!). Like a thin cover of snow on the cold fields, this tape is synthesized slowcore, like a set of Low songs translated into slowly undulating drones and basic, skeletal ambience. It’s as simple as ambient music can get, barely noticeable organ miniatures looped and stretched into snippets of infinity. This is an example of learning to speak Eno perfectly, except in this case it’s music for bedrooms, not airports.

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Pajjama – Starch (Orange Milk)

OK, I gotta admit: a lot of stuff on Orange Milk is pretty goddamn weird, but this cassette is totally fucking bonkers. Which is funny, because it’s pretty damn melodic and cohesive. It’s just so ridiculously epic and overblown using 8-bit-ish sounds and chiptune approximations to achieve an emulation of 70’s prog rock ensemble. As the blurb on the label’s Bandcamp page says: “I have a hard time resisting the urge to call Pajjama an epic Norwegian prog rock outfit.” It’s like a warped prophecy of vaporwave taking its cues from cheesiest prog and lounge funk instead of corporate synth-pop. At times it sounds as if synth-era Popol Vuh or any of the great Berlin masters was commissioned to make a soundtrack for a sci-fi animated comedy film. And it turns into a techno/krautrock fusion at the end. Flip the sides, it’s the same mind-warping piece. Craaaazy.