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.


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!


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!


Forma – Physicalist

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[ Kranky, 2016 ]

The new LP by the Brooklyn based synth trio Formacalled Physicalist. With an artwork done by Robert Beatty, the new release is fully informed by progressive electronics and Berlin school while retaining a unique balance between psychedelic and work-friendly. While most of Physicalist stays close to the more kosmische side, with deep cosmic drones and huge, spacious ambience, there are much more rhythmic moments, the ones when the listener can fall into the bliss of a simple endlessly repeated pattern (“Sane Man”, “Maxwell’s Demon”, “Physicalist”) or the moments of modern classical wonder, like on “As If Pianos Grew on Trees”, where the synths are replaced by pianos. Physicalist is a work of art, the one that slowly grows on the listener, but once it does, it stays. Highly recommended!


Bastian Void – Nippon LP

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[ Moss Archive, 2016]

Nippon LP (actually, here it should be actually called Nippon CS after a cassette, or even Nippon DL, since it’s also a downloadable digital file) is both a travel diary and a tour release spanning both Bastian Void’s HQ in the USA and Japan, where he was touring and where he came up with the idea of releasing his dancey synthy music in digital form to be available in the form of download codes during his shows. It’s a lovely retrofuturistic release, spanning both Berlin school ambience and the more cinematic, rhythm driven soundtracks, all packaged into an 80’s throwback minimalistic artwork. Nippon LP is like a nostalgic homage to the country obsessed with new technologies and calm, meditation approach to life. An intriguing release, for sure.


Corum – Coastal Vudutronic Voyage

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[ Moon Glyph, 2016 ]

Half-imagined observations from the deep water horizon: the new cassette by Grant Corum from the tropical-heavy psych electronic unit Million Brazilians rev0lves around the feverish, delirious areas of melted electronic psychedelics a’la Dolphins Into the Future or Ramzi. Coastal Vudutronic Voyage feels equally dreamy and busy, yet even more ornamental and multilayered at times, like a cleaner version of The Skaters or the digital version of synth-driven Popol Vuh. Who knows? Corum is like a journey through a foggy digital jungle that might start glitching and disappearing at any moment due to server overload – it’s fragile, yet flowery and dense, prone to glitches and cacophony, but at the same time very unique – and trippy. Recommended!