Latest Reviews

Track Review: Sølyst – “Pierbourg”

By Josh Becker; May 1, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

Here’s some krautrock dub from German drummer Thomas Klein. There’s a menacing streak running underneath this music, not unlike the recent Haxan Cloak stuff, but this time with a stuttering glam-rock confidence and a hypnotic obsession with tribal percussive structures. Think Umberto taking peyote with Steve Roach and then partying with Aboriginal desert people, if that makes sense. It probably doesn’t. But still, “Pierbourg” chugs along in stops and starts, seven minutes of shakers and foreboding synths and seventh-inning-stretch rhythms. It’s like a “Welcome!” balloon tied to a “Keep Out” sign or a beckoning light flickering at the end of a dark alley. You’re in danger here, but the music’s so enticing…

Lead is out now on Bureau B.

Track Review: Balago – “Nord”

By Josh Becker; April 17, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

Spanish electronic post-rock outfit Balago just released a new album entitled Darder. It’s a drifting, cosmic affair, perfectly exemplified by the track “Nord,” in which astral synths parry with mysterious piano keys and a beat that almost comes out of nowhere, orbits the music, then leaves just as suddenly. This is space music with rhythmic propulsion–drone with a spine. Think Forest of Evil-era Demdike Stare mixed with The Slaves’ brand of star and shoe-gazing maneuvers. The album is out now on Foehn Records; check out “Nord” below, and stream the whole album here.

Track Review: Deerhunter – “Monomania”

By Brendan Frank; April 5, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

For those of you not keeping count, this will be the eighth consecutive year that we’ve gotten new material from at least one member of Deerhunter. The Georgia natives make their long-awaited return with their sixth LP, Monomania, in May (though I suppose that’s a relative term). The album’s title track, which debuted simultaneously on iTunes and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, is a severe interruption from the smoother contours of Atlas Sound, Lotus Plaza and especially Halcyon Digest.

“Monomania”’s production is chafed and grimy, closer to Turn It Up Faggot than anything Deerhunter have done since. They try hard to recreate their original sound, this time with the advantage of 10 years’ experience. First there’s the scathing punk groove, filled with Bradford Cox’s spontaneous pipedreams. Then he tightens the screws, bile collecting in his throat, the phrase “Mono-monomania” scraping through the gathering instrumental storm for three full minutes. He pursues it with relentless vitriol, his voice taking on the quiddity of a gremlin. With Deerhunter focusing so intently on the song’s title, “Monomania” acquires a pattern of self-consumption. This is obsession with obsession.

Monomania is out May 7th via 4AD

Track Review: The River Cry – “While I Lie”

By Brendan Frank; April 4, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

Under the stage name The River Cry, Hilary Claire Woods makes sparse, solemn, cosseted music for nightfall and the grey days in between. In the vein of dreamscapers Julia Holter and Grouper, she fills big spaces with small sounds, massaging in elements of ambient and drone into traditional folk and acoustic arrangements.

Woods was working towards her Ph.D. before shifting her efforts full-time to The River Cry, and many of her songs carry a sort of academic formality. They are exhaustively constructed, and then obscured, like a skyscraper shrouded in mist. “While I Lie” is debonair on the surface, but it practically forces you to peel back the layers to observe the turmoil within. Woods has a masterful command of atmosphere, singing breathlessly amidst docile piano and guitar and eerie violin slashes: “Vultures would have preyed on the very thread I’ve woven with/ So let this love die out.” Not one to wallow, The River Cry takes the hurt of a failed romance and makes it downright spooky.

Track Review: The Hacker – “Enter”

By Josh Becker; March 28, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

French DJ Jennifer Cardini has compiled the first compilation for her house music record label Correspondant. Comprising fifteen previously unreleased tracks of soaring space disco, Correspondant Compilation 01 exemplifies the myriad possibilities available to producers working in a niche genre. The Hacker’s “Enter” is a buzzing, menacing, endlessly enticing thing, like Umberto on ecstasy or Zombi at a gay bar, featuring a stomping midtempo beat with lurching industrial accents and synths that sound like they’re being sucked into quicksand. It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “dance music,” but try walking with this on your iPod and you’ll find yourself strutting by track’s end.

Track Review: The Postal Service – “Turn Around”

By Brendan Frank; March 26, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

Greed is such an ugly emotion; as soon as you have something, you just want more. But The Postal Service never owed anyone anything, never mind a second album. Now, ten years removed from the only record they ever made, the duo of Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello have again become ubiquitous. Not only have they undertaken a massive tour that includes the festival circuit, they’re reissuing the indie landmark, Give Up. “Turn Around” is the second and final new track on the forthcoming reissue, and it is a mellower cut than its predecessor, “Tattered Line of String.” The intro sloshes around with piano, guitar, xylophone and soggy electronics before the speed bag percussion and hiccoughing electronics kick in. It all seems unrelated to begin with, until it doesn’t, and everything collides fabulously. Gibbard’s words are terse and chromatic, and contain perhaps the most portended lyric he has ever written: “Big dreams/False start.” If this is the last song we ever hear from The Postal Service, there are worse things to be remembered for than batting 1.000.

Track Review: Moon Wheel – “Walpurga”

By Josh Becker; March 22, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

Somewhere between dub, drone, David Attenborough documentaries, and the hazy psychedelia of fellow Not Not Fun alumnus Cankun is Olle Holmberg from Melbourne, who records under the appropriately cosmic moniker Moon Wheel and has just released his debut self-titled cassette. It’s a journey through a lo-fi jungle filled with mysterious field recordings, a calm yet persistent sense of adventure, and the soothing, off-kilter ambiance the aforementioned Los Angeles label is known for. “Walpurga” is among his more minimalist tracks, but it’s still richly satisfying and should please those listeners looking to scratch their new-age itch. This one’s perfect for a balmy spring afternoon. Bring your bug spray; leave your inhibitions at home.

Track Review: Rustie – “Triadzz”/”Slasherr”

By Will Ryan; March 20, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

Rustie is experiencing a groundswell that hasn’t really let up since the Glaswegian released his full-length debut, Glass Swords, on Warp in 2011. With the producer’s manically and maniacally brilliant Essential Mix for BBC last year, the words “world” and “domination” didn’t seem too far out of the question. The two tracks that comprise his newest release, an upcoming 7″ for Numbers, very much find Rustie staying the course with his sugary 8-bit day-glo, drop-heavy bass mutations, but as A-side, “Triadzz” is especially a testament to, the Glaswegian delights and exceeds at subtly subverting expectations, offering up physical and tactile pleasures rather than just leaning on the dopamine-peddler dynamics.

“Triadzz” has its anthemic, syncopated synth blasts, but when that climax hits instead of blowing up it clamps down on the shuddering, bruised Hudson Mohawke-esque low end, letting the compound fracture snares and peripheral drum rolls do the talking while siren-like synths kinda hover over it all. The real highlight comes after the 2nd build-up, the synths spreading like a neon concussion wave while the rough-hewn kicks just throttle the whole thing.

“Slasherr” was the first track of the two to find people’s ears and with its more straight-forward and immediate design, not to mention its apparent ubiquity in DJ sets at the most recent South By Southwest, it might steal all the attention away from “Triadzz.” Instead of subversion, Rustie just gives us what we want with a grinding, nod-your-head-off, almost power-chorded crescendo. The track burrows its way into some synthetic steel drums near its middle with a gooey, widescreen synth melody, but it’s just to fill time until that climax hits again. And, damn, does it hit.

Track Review: The Knife – “A Tooth For An Eye”

By Joshua Pickard; March 13, 2013 at 12:01 AM 

The Knife are nothing if not consistently evocative and wonderfully prone to dark synth-driven escapism. Focusing their attention toward the darker recesses of their own (and their listener’s) minds, the duo of Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer have never been strangers to the chaotic emotional impulses that sometimes threaten to engulf us at any given moment. Andersson wails like she’s seen behind death’s door, but uses her siren’s voice to warn rather than attract. And Dreijer’s dense and often enigmatic instrumentation has always complimented Andersson’s otherworldly growls and moans–to such a degree in fact, that it’s often hard to separate the vocals from Dreijer’s compositional contributions.

We received our first taste of The Knife’s upcoming album Shaking The Habitual with industrial thumper “Full of Fire.” Their latest single, “A Tooth For An Eye,” continues the band’s exploration of and obsession with emotional ambivalence and gender neutrality–this song could be sung to and for anyone. There are no discernible borders or restrictions, either tangible or intangible, and I think that that particular aspect of the song has become an inherent part of The Knife’s oeuvre. Favoring heavy percussion over melodic rigidity, “A Tooth For An Eye,” as well as “Full of Fire,” looks to create vast stretches of scorched-earth tonal ruin and musical turbidity. But what shakes the song (and listener) to the core is the complete sense of isolation and a very profound desperation that plasters itself like a thick, viscous veneer over the clattering percussion and ghostly vocals. And at some point, solace may yet find its way into their music, but until it does, we can enjoy each darkly serpentine emotional twist and turn that Dreijer and Andersson are willing to share.

Track Review: Nickolas Mohanna – “Down Yonder”

By Josh Becker; March 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

Based in New York, Nickolas Mohanna is a multimedia artist whose musical output revolves around the drone. His latest album, Parallax View, is out now on Low Point. Mohanna marries the analogue wonder of Golden Retriever with the folksy guitar glitches of Fennesz to eerily beautiful effect. “Down Yonder” is a great example of the artist’s keen ear for luscious soft noise and powerful track layering. Some ambient music reaches for the stars, but for all its digital processing, “Down Yonder” sounds particularly earthy and organic, reminding us that there’s just as much mystery and magic hiding in the ground beneath our feet as there is above the clouds.

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