My 10 Favorite New Albums from 2008

December 15th, 2008 · 1 Comment · By

As promised, here are my 10 Favorite New Albums from 2008:

Nadja + Black Boned Angel – “Christ Send Light”
Vivian Girls – “Vivian Girls”
Yellow Swans – “At All Ends” / “Drowner Yellow Swans”
Isengrind / TwinSisterMoon – “The Snowbringer Cult”
Venetian Snares – “Detrimentalist”
Beach House – “Devotion”
Fuck Buttons – “Street Horrsing”
Burning Star Core – “Challenger”
the Goslings – “Occasion”
Birchville Cat Motel – “Gunpowder Temple of Heaven”

Full descriptions of each album, scans of the album artwork, and links to sound samples or full songs (where I could find them online) are available below the fold

{A disclaimer: I’m fully aware that it’s quite possible that the average listener may not have heard of some (or most) of these — well, I haven’t heard most of the popular rock or pop albums on other critics’ year-end lists, either. Please believe that I have only the best of intentions; I’m not trying to show off, nor to piss off — these legitimately were my 10 favorite new releases. I think they deserve attention and praise, and I’m proud to write about them and to help support these artists and help them find a wider audience.

If you’re curious about any of these items, I’d be more than happy to assist you in finding a copy of these albums, or offering advice for fellow music-seekers. Likewise, I’d love to hear comments or criticisms or recommendations from anyone who may know more about this music than I do. Happy reading/listening!}

So, without futher ado:

Nadja + Black Boned Angel – “Christ Send Light”

Nadja is a Canadian musical project centering around  Aidan Baker, specializing in doom and drone and heavy stoner-rock stuff. Apparently he’s quite prolific, although this is the first thing I’ve actually heard by him. It’s a collaboration with Black Boned Angel, the alias that Campbell Kneale from Birchville Cat Motel uses for his more metal / doom-esque material (the name comes from a Godlfesh song, if that gives you any idea) “Christ Send Light” is a 20-minute, single track EP, apparently foreshadowing a forthcoming full-length of separate material (which I’m dying to get my hands on).

I picked this up expecting yet another drone / noise album, and things sure start off that way: with a thick oscillating buzz of guitar feedback, calm yet somehow menacing. Around two minutes in, I was beginning to wonder whether things would get noisier or continue in this vein for the full 20 minutes (either option was quite possible), when I was surprised by the sudden intrusion of a slow, heavy, simple drum beat; it’s heavily reverbed, and it immediately expands the sonic range of the songs and leaves you questioning where things will go next; clearly, some sort of Metal is afoot, even if the beat remains suspensefully slow.

And then, without warning, the song erupts into a gentle plateau of ROCK (complete with guitar riffs, vocals, lyrics, and everything.) This is what it would sound like if Sunn O))) incorporated some actual rock strategies and sat down to make a make-out record, but that’s not to say that fans of the mopier mid-80’s Cure ballads won’t find something to like as well.

It’s still glacially slow, heavy yet dreamy, and it continues in this direction for a full 10 minutes, building into tremendously satisfying extended climax while maintaining a doom-laden weight. The vocals give out at the 15-minute mark, replaced by a slowly arriving wave of fuzz and the gentle introduction of a stately piano riff; from there on out, things disintegrate and slide into oblivion, with the songs various elements sinking into the sand until only the feedback wall and the piano riff remain. As soon as it’s over, you want to hear the whole thing over again.

{a short sample of this song/album can be heard through Aquarius Records (scroll down a bit, or just do a search in the upper-right corner). You can order the album from them, as well.} 

Vivian Girls – “Vivian Girls”

I met these girls in January when they opened up for Ultra Dolphins at the Tea Bazaar, and I immediately loved their band. A year later, they’ve now garnered an absurd amount of publicity and attention, from fawning praise to derisive and sexist dismissal. {Oh Brooklyn! it’s a double-edged sword.}

Anyhow, it’s best to ignore the whole hype/backlash surrounding them; just pretend that they’re from Pittsburgh or something, and focus on the fact that this album is totally great. The Vivian Girls play messy, catchy garage-rock songs, in the fine post- Ramones / Slumberland Records -lineage tradition, with jangling guitar fuzz and extra helpings of reverb on their girl-group-ish vocals.

I tried to single out some particularly great songs from this record to mention in my write-up, but all 10 made the cut. This album is something like 25mins long and perfect, and I could listen to it on repeat all day (and I have).

{The first three songs of the album can be heard on the Vivian Girls’ Myspace page, and a full set of their appearance on WFMU (not album quality recording, but still very fun) is up on the WFMU site}

Yellow Swans – “At All Ends” / “Drowner Yellow Swans”

If I’m not mistaken these are the two final albums from D___ Yellow Swans, the restlessly productive (and inconsistently named) Portland-based duo of Gabriel Salomon and Pete Swanson, who broke up earlier this year after releasing god knows how many CD-Rs, tapes, split vinyl releases, and occasionally an actual professionally-printed CD or three. These two releases make a nice coda for a career based on restlessly examining all possible permutations of improvisational noise-rock.

Here their music has been simplified to it’s barest elements: an impossibly deep ocean of dense, heavy drone and dreamy noise. The self-titled release by Drowner Yellow Swans is the better of the two; “Sandwall” starts off with a slowly building guitar riff and even some distant, wordless, reverbed singing, before the flood waters start rising, and soon enough you’re neck-deep in feedback; the following tracks all follow a similar tactic, with less need for an introduction, and some — like “Velvet Water” or “Second Drowner” — even feel as if they begin in media res, although the progression from one track to the next is flawless. It isn’t until the final songs, “Seafloor” and “Beacons” that the roar reaches it’s maximum intensity, and the contrast makes you admire how much they’ve been holding back all along, and how much rewarding texture they’ve revealed by doing so.

This noise is impossibly thick and heavy, but it appears so slowly and carefully that I don’t believe it’s meant to be abrasive (although it certainly is caustic; a few tracks in and you can already hear the salt water eating through the hull.) Too often noise music of this type can be thinly recorded or poorly produced; what may have sounded deafening and amazing at a warehouse show is all too often reduced to a weak whine by the time it makes its way onto a split-cassette release with handprinted cover art. But after years of cranking out product, DYS have pretty much perfected their recording process. These albums sound great, and the noise contained provides an incredible range of depth, texutre, and detail. Listening to this record straight through is like sinking to the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

The more widely-distributed follow-up “At All Ends” (available through Load records, so you actually may be able to find a copy) is the more concise and accessible of the two records, although the aesthetic venn diagram shows a significant amount of shared space. It’s only 5 tracks, with far more range and contrast but with less intensity or focus. The opening title track is darker and scarier than anything on “Drowner,” but fails to progress quite as far; “Stretch the Sands” adds a layer of horror-movie  screech, while “Mass Mirage” has more prominent guitars, and the self-conscious closer “Endlessly Making an End of Things” starts over from scratch, building from a hum to a howl over the course of it’s 10 minutes, carried along by gentle low-end strumming.

The album’s finest moment is also it’s shortest, the centerpiece “Our Oases,” which manages to more than adequately sum up everything that is satisying and appealing about Yellow Swans in just over 4 minutes. It’s the best of all the moments that came before it, and whole record would be worthwhile if it only contained that one track. Thankfully they have a whole back catalog of constantly-reissed lesser works to sort through, and they’ve both been such heavily productive individuals that it’s not difficult to imagine plenty more satisying moments wherever their musical journeys take each of them next.

{the sublime “Our Oases” is available in full from the Load Records website, and is highly recommended}

Isengrind / TwinSisterMoon / Natural Snow Buildings- “The Snowbringer Cult”

Snowbringer Cult are couple based out of France, who collaborate in various permutations; Isengrind is Soulange Gularte, TwinSisterMoon is Mehdi Ameziane, and Natural Snow Buildings is the two of them working together. They’ve released a handful of impossibly limited CD-Rs over the past few years, and this 2xCD set is their introduction to the wider world (it’s been successful enough that lots of their old stuff is just now getting re-issued, although it’s still pretty difficult to get ahold of… I’m working on it).

Anyhow, this double-disc album contains one split CD with each of them working separately, and another CD of their full-length collaboration. It’s a near-endless supply of gorgeous, shimmering, acoustic drone and eastern-tinged folk ragas. I’ve heard some describe this music as “psychedelic folk,” but it has almost nothing in common with the Newsom/Banhart cult craze, nor with the over-enthusiastic 70’s British folk revival of recent years; this stuff veers much closer to the dense musical meditations of groups like Vibracathedral Orchestra or Pelt.

The Isengrind tracks are on the whole more drony and bleak, while the TwinSisterMoon songs are more likely to incorporate acoustic guitars or gentle, high-pitched vocals (confusingly, these tracks are the songs made by the dude in the group, although you’d never guess it from the way he sings). But both sub-projects share a pretty common aesthetic territory, and it’s a fine one; the musical focus is already more than well-established by the time you get to the second disc, and the duo teams up to alternately combine or simplify each other’s strategies. Some of the darker moments sound like tailor-made soundtracks for the bleaker prehistoric snowscapes of Robert E. Howard and Barry Windsor-Smith, while many of the more excitable moments recall the experience of staring directly into the sun, lying drunk in a field on a summer afternoon.

Stringed instruments both picked and bowed, subdued textural percussion, and sounds like melodicas and organs all melt together into a gentle yet thick landscape of chiming euphoria. At times the instruments and voices are quite simple and clear; at others, there’s such a maelstrom of pleasantry that individual sounds become impossible to distinguish. It oscillates easily between small moments and epic journeys; this music is so grand that it’s pretty difficult to imagine these songs being recorded in someone’s bedroom, as they surely were.

If I’ve made this music sound in any way obscurist or difficult, please know that that’s simply not the case. It’s inviting and moving; cheerful yet determined, dense but approachable. There’s enough small detail that nice little surprises are always rising to the surface, yet they’re capable of carrying on a single song’s journey for up to 11 or 12 minutes at a time; but with an album as pleasant and expansive as this one, nobody’s keeping an eye on the track listings anyway. That said, the albums’ finest moments may be its extremes; “Gone” is an uncharacteristically concise 3 minutes of structured rhythm and gently coo-ed vocals, both gentle and spooky; while “Bones Memories” begins its 1o-min journey with a thick carpet of shimmering drone, slowly introducing gentle guitar strums and and organs, before the fog clears for an interlude of intimate vocals and hurdy-gurdy, along with what sounds like cheerful chiming of a mandolin. It’s a heavenly and infinitely relistenable moment, and this 2+hour album is full of them.

{Full mp3s of seven relatively shorter songs on the album are available on the Students of Decay website; they’re all worthwhile, although “Gone” probably makes the best stand-alone track}

Venetian Snares – “Detrimentalist”

Winnipeg miscreant Aaron Funk has slowed his output in recent years, to the point where he’s only putting out two or three full-lengths annually. But while every other IDM musician on the planet has either vanished completely or is now making boring-ass dubstep, each Snares record just gets better and better. Breakcore is dead, long live Venetian Snares!

Snares has somehow continued to further refine his already-impeccable technique; and the careful listener is essentially left in the position of watching someone who is already the best in the world at what he does, somehow (impossibly) become even better at it. Rather than go completely over-the-top into incoherence, or water his style down into “maturity,” this music just sounds incredibly more comfortable.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me clarify that this album is a non-stop avalanche of deeply complicated breakbeats, hyperactively thick acid squiggles, manic bleeps and boops, precisely chopped dancehall and rap samples, and somber electronic melodies, all shuffled into a meticulously structured dancefloor assault. Some may claim this music is “un-danceable” — you just haven’t been to the right parties yet.

True to formula, “Detrimentalist” is 10 tracks of densely composed, manic hyperactivity that make his previous 30 albums all sound flawed by comparison. He’s largely abandoned the fuck-you posings of his earlier years (songs about necophilia, child murder, Charles Manson samples, etc) in favor of an approach that’s alternately lighthearted and mock-solemn; after all, for all of the time he spent threatening to murder people’s mothers’ on internet messageboards, it’s always been clear that Aaron was actually a pretty sweet guy, and on this record he sounds like he’s having a lot of fun.  (Besides, 8-bit funhouse trainwrecks like “Bebikukorica Nigiri” suit my temperment much better these days, anyhow.)

The opener, “Gentleman” is a classic piece of trash-talking one-upmanship between Snares and the rest of the world; “Koonut-Kaliffee” bases a moderately-paced two-step track against a lengthy vocal sample which sounds profound and spooky until you realize it’s taken from the Star Trek episode where Spock goes into heat (the song title is in Vulcan). “Sajtban” and “Kyokushin” incorporate heavy acid influences into the Breakcore mix, while “Eurocore MVP” has plenty of dancehall flavor. “Miss Balaton” and “Poo Yourself Jason” both have a strange melodic elegance, and “Circle Pit” is the high-energy dancefloor destroyer. If you haven’t picked up a Snares album in a while, this one is totally worth your time. If you’ve never heard of him but it sounds interesting, then I guess starting at the top is as good a place as any. It’s ridiculous fun, it’s absurdly well-composed, and it makes 99% of all other contemporary dance music sound tedious and dull in comparison.

{short samples of every song on the album are available via the Planet-µ site; I recommend “Poo Yourself Jason”, “Eurocore MVP” and “Bebikukorica Nigiri” in particular}

Beach House – “Devotion”

The new Beach House is another one of those sophomore albums which initially disappointed me, but which I quickly grew to like even more than their debut. Beach House are a boy-girl duo from Baltimore, and this is their second album of mellow keyboard-guitar-and-vox duets. In comparison with it’s predeccesor, it’s cleaner, more open and more ornate. The thing that first drew me to the s/t record was the dreamy, almost Slowdive-esque haze; on “Devotion,” the clouds have lifted and the songs are more than able to stand up to the harsh scrutiny of direct sunlight.

“Wedding Bells” kicks things off with some harpsichord presets and soaring lyrics, complimented nicely by modestly grand guitar lines; “Gila” is the record’s high point, a gently dreamy nocturne with a haunting repeated syllable; “Heart of Chambers” is the heart-on-sleeve ballad, whose lack of subtlety was initially off-putting but which quickly became another favorite.

It’s true that this album lacks the high points of the previous record; there’s no standout mixtape-ready song as great as “Master of None” or “Lovelier Girl,” nor is there any single moment as breathtaking as the sudden volume-jump when “Auburn and Ivory” reaches its bridge; but the album functions better as a cohesive whole, and asks merely to allow you to soak in it’s lovely atmosphere.

Perhaps these low expectations are built-in; the songs all begin modestly enough, with simplicity and gentleness — as soon as you’ve let down your guard, the songs incredible hooks sink into you and you’re completely won over. This record makes an excellent soundtrack for cold autumn nights by the fire, but I predict it’ll hold up just as well during fancy garden tea-parties come springtime.

{Here is an mp3 of “Gila” (linked to from Beach House’s own site, but actually hosted by Pitchfork)}

Fuck Buttons – “Street Horrrsing”

Here’s an interesting little specemin; this album manages to bring together about 5 or 6 different aesthetics that have nothing in common, and fuse them together effortlessly into an album that makes absolutely no sense on paper, but which sounds excellent when you actually put the CD on. On the first album from this UK-based two-man duo, they provide super-thick washes of synthesizer ascendency, with just enough contrasting what-the-fuck moments to keep you alert. It’s like as if Klaus Schulze tried to make a pop record to appeal to the Pitchfork crowd, but only grabbed the weirdest reference points from the past 5 years in doing so. It’s kind of crazy, but the results sound great.

The sublime opener “Sweet Love for Planet Earth” starts with a minute or two of gentle chiming, before heavily distorted keyboard washes and chunky reverbed blots of sound build tension, until the sound finally achieves lift-off. The rest of the album is the same, but also completely different; there are wierd rhythmic loops that come and go, disco dance beats that appear out of nowhere, and just enough catchy dramatic Mogwai-esque moves to keep the rockers interested, all buried in a thick wash of deliciously likeable electronic weirdness.

The 2nd track “Ribs Out” is the albums low point, a directionless 3mins of pseudo-“tribal” beats before things get groovy again; the following tracks, “OK Let’s Talk About Magic” and “Race You to My Bedroom” are the meat of the record; a sublime 20minute sequence of slow-building pop buzz that slowly gives way to euphoric bliss, all sequenced in slow fades sure to confuse any and all mp3-based listeners. There are several moments where the music strongly recalls several mid-period efforts by the band Growing (before they got all glitchy and chunky), but there are too many other weird elements going on here for anyone to mistake this for Growing’s patented brand of post-minimalist focus. The same transcendent buzz, but in a completely differenty context. Sure, it’s “noisy” — there’s tons of conflicting sounds fighting for prominence — but it’s ultimately a very clean kind of fuzz; despite their juvenile name, Fuck Buttons aren’t here to piss anyone off. They’re just building a really sublimely approachable and nice tapestry out of some weird scrap material that the rest of the world wouldn’t have thought to combine.

Oh, and have I mentioned the vocals? Oh man, the vocals. They pop up when you least expect it, as a harsh element which both changes and focuses the electronic din. The singing here is a heavily processed, mumbling, howling, rambling screech — it almost sounds like the vocals from “Morbid Florist”-era Anal Cunt, but passed through some sort of underwater digitalization until it resembles Ministry’s weirder vocal moments. Except that absolutely nothing else here comes remotely close to sounding like either of those two bands; the vocals here are a curveball, designed to keep us on our toes. In a weird way, it re-establishes their credebility; they’re not afraid to cut through their pleasant synthesized ruckus with a totally unrelated element to see what happens. This is what pushed me over the line from being really interested in this band, to totally loving them. The vocals are the moment where I went, “OK, I actually have no clue what the fuck is going on. I’m just going to relax and enjoy this and see where it goes.”

The closing track, “Colours Move” is the only weak point; it’s a refrain, summarizing where we’ve been over the past 45 minutes. It’s unnecessary, and kind of obvious — like explaining why a joke is funny. But heck, it’s their first album and I’ll forgive it. I’m really curious to see where these boys are going next.

I’ve often heard this band compared to Black Dice, which is an easy but ultimately fruitless comparison, I think. My problem with Black Dice is that they’ve never sounded all that interested in their own material; they seemed either unwilling or too lazy to provide any reference points that might give the listener a point of entry, or even give their songs an internal coherence; Fuck Buttons, in contrast, are clearly here to win you over. They’re here to entertain, they’re inviting you to a party — but it’s their party, and it’s happening on their terms. Bless ’em. This record is a whole lot of fun.

{here are some full mp3s of “Sweet Love for Planet Earth” and “Bright Tomorrow”, hosted by this blog.}

Burning Star Core – “Challenger”

Burning Star Core is the project of C Spencer Yeh, a contemporary noise violinist from Cincinnati, whose work I became familiar with through his various collaborations with members of Double Leopards, Skullflower, Wolf Eyes, etc. I’ve very much grown to enjoy last year’s album “Operator Dead… Post Abandoned” on which harsh streams of muddled, unfocused trash somehow seemed to make sense the more I listened.

So I picked up the new record expecting to hear more of the same, and was quite surprised to find that “Challenger” disregards the roomful-of-racket approach entirely, in favor of something far more austere, thoughtful, and surprising. The album is aptly named. The comparatively short songs here range from the calm, clean ambiance of the title track, through the restrained guitar din of “Beauty Hunter,” the dense, stationary clattering of “No Memories, No Plans,” the dramatic retro-futuristism of “Mysteries of the Organ” and the spooky pop-concrète of “Un cœur en hiver.”

The album makes for great living-room listening, but it’s far too busy and exploratory to really classify as an “ambient” record — likewise, anyone looking for a full-on noise-rock explosion will instead find a sedated set of intentionally structured “pieces.” Most reviews have classified this record as Yeh’s venture into mature composition, which I think actually does a disservice to the quality of his earlier work; nonetheless, this album does provide a significant shift, and every moment on it qualifies as a well-considered and deliberate choice as a “composer” (albeit in the post-Stockhausen sense of the studio technician-as-composer school of thought).

Perhaps the most telling piece on the record (although the easiest one to disregard on first listen) is “Mezzo Forte” — it begins with a irritating loop of a processed vocal sound, something like a badly sung note or a throat-clearing hum, stuttered and looped ad infinitum, jittering back over itself at varying speeds. Then it continues for longer than expected; it neither fades nor develops into a song, and it seems like a weird intrusion into the listening experience. Just as you think you’ve got the piece pegged as a neo-Dadaist irritation, a gentle piano melody appears, counterbalanced by some soft tape-scrambling in the background, and these three elements sit against each other perfectly and provide a moment of unexpected grace for the song’s final minutes. What begins as an annoyance reveals itself to be one of the album’s nicest moments, and the listeners’ expectations are overturned.

The following track, however, begins with a similar tactic (it sounds like layered field recordings of tap-dancing lessons, laid on thick enough to sound like raindrops) but it never amounts to anything more; it is what it is, and it asks you to listen carefully and see if you can find the same gentle intentions. More than any other item on this list, this album has made me think carefully each time I listen.

{Two tracks are available for download via this blog}

the Goslings – “Occasion”

Here’s another one that surprised me, although I pretty much should have seen it coming; the Goslings are a husband/wife duo from Florida who make low-fi, abrasive hurtscapes with guitars, drums and vocals; for those with patience, and a high tolerance for noise, these 20-min long blasts eventually start to cohere and rise above the din to become something more than the sum of their parts; or maybe it’s just that you’ve been dragged down into the mud along with them. Their first two EPs, “Spaceheater” and “Perfect Interior,” show their style emerging from primordial tape-hiss, and they’ve just been reissued as a single CD by Crucial Blast. Their next two, “Between the Dead” and “the Grandeur of Hair,” are sadly out of print at the moment (I’m still looking for a legit copy of “Dead”),  and they’re pretty fucking excellent.

“Grandeur” in particular, perfectly balances their 20% song / 80% mess formula. There are moments deep in the haze of a sludgy murk, where you think it couldn’t possibly get any heavier, and then some super-harsh, too-slow cymbal crashes come in and take it to the next plane of heaviness, and you’re not even sure you’re enjoying this anymore but it’s too late to back out now, and then some impossibly distorted, yet somehow pretty vocals suddenly punch up to the surface with just a hint of dreaminess, and you suddenly know that you’re totally hooked and that you completely love The Goslings.

So “Occasion” is their follow-up, the first record after anyone started paying attention to this band; it’s recorded in a professional studio, it’s got a full band line-up for once, and it’s produced by an underground metal bigwig (Jim Plotkin from Jesu / Godflesh / Techno Animal / ex-Napalm Death, etc).  It should be thier big sell-out record, right? The one where they tone it down and start compromising their early harshness, in the hopes of achieving wider acclaim and success, right?

WRONG. This is their harshest, heaviest, least-friendly release to date. This album hurts. I was deep in the depths of Goslings-infatuation when this came out, and even I had to put it aside for a while until I was ready for it. The opening track alone (“Mew”) makes Jesu and Boris sound like a bunch of weak, emo sissies. This record is “hot” — not like “dancefloor” hot, but like “oh my god this signal is coming in to the mixer so loudly and I can’t turn it down” hot. It’s also terrifically “noisy,” but never in the sense of Merzbow-esque jump-cuts. You’re always fully aware that this music is made by a small group of people with simple instruments, and it sounds frighteningly intense and out-of-control.

The lesson to be learned? Just when I think I’ve got a band figured out, it’s always enlightening to realize they’re a few steps ahead of me, putting out an abrasive and fucked up record that scares me out of my wits. This record is growing on me, slowly, but I’m enjoying the challenge immensely. “Occasion” is a challenge, but a challenge that’s well worth accepting, and for that reason it’s included on my best-of-the-year list.

{samples of various Goslings songs can be found on their myspace page}

Birchville Cat Motel – “Gunpowder Temple of Heaven”

… and here’s a nice little piece to relax to after all that mess above. “Gunpowder Temple of Heaven” is another single CD-length song, one of several releases this year by the uber productive New Zealander Campbell Kneale (see also: the first item on this list). It’s deceptively simple in appearance, but there’s something incredibly likeable and perfect about this 40 minutes of glorious drone.

The aesthetic line drawn by this album cuts directly through any possible mis-steps and fires directly into the pleasure-centers of my brain. There’s nothing here as cheesy as Eno’s new-age simplicity, but the album manages to have a determined focus and darkness that never gets unfriendly or uninviting. It’s simply a completely cohesive 40 minutes of single-minded focus that is appropriate for all occasions and infinitely replayable.

Things start out simply enough, flying at low altitude with a stately chugging buzz. Soon enough, the holy space synths begin to bleed in around the margins, and before you know it you’re surrounded by a glowing choir of organ sounds, slowly overlapping each other and all gradually building together to take you up to the next plane. The changes are so gradual as to be almost imperceptable, but there isn’t a single boring moment on the whole record. Things are constantly shifting, growing, expanding, and intensifying in minute ways, meshing together perfectly into an intensely satisfying whole.

In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to differentiate the distinct music elements from one another, especially with my untrained ears; there are sounds here that might be guitars, they might be keyboards, or they might be resonating bowls or gongs; quite possibly all of those things and more. There are always new elements to notice, but never can you identify when one begins or disappears; I think there’s even some far-off kick-drum percussion at one point, but nothing you’d ever dream of calling a “beat.”

Towards the half-hour mark, the music has now reached it’s climax (when did that happen?) and pleateau’d into an even more relaxed dream-state of hurdy-gurdy and scraped cymbols — but there’s no one moment where the record achieves enlightenment; it’s been doing that all along. This album doesn’t need to travel anywhere, because it’s already sitting somewhere incredible; all it needs to do is to continually refine the definition of where “here” is.

It’s easy to make drone music, but hard to do it well; This album does it perfectly.

{short samples of this song/album can be heard on Mimaroglu Music Sales (scroll down a bit) or through Aquarius Records (scroll down even more, or just do a search in the upper-right corner). You should be able to order the album through both of these sites}

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 brendan // Dec 20, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    right on, mmmmm hm. that yellow swans record swallowed about a week of my head when i stumbled into it this fall, and a glorious week that turned out to be! i’ll have to look into the others, esp the black-boned angel nadja bit.