ALN – ‘Something in the Water’ CS
ALN is the relative supergroup of modern NYC experimental music, featuring Norman Westberg (guitar, also of SWANS), Lynn Wright (guitar, also of Bee And Flower), and Algis Kizys (bass, formerly of SWANS). ‘Something in the Water’ is the trio’s debut and highlights the freewheeling, blissfully brooding ambiance of ALN’s sonic magic, captured on four live recordings taken in Brooklyn and Queens. “151115” opens the set with a sprawling but cohesive smearing of sound. The band seems to read the room, eking out glistening peculiarities of tones, drones, and other ephemeral texture. Looping heaves of grotesque miniatures spiral into darkness while dulled shards of shrapnel coast throughout the room. “260316” closes the A-side with lighter, albeit more shard-filled sheets of metallic, almost-kosmische drones. “030516” follows some demonic figure lurching along a long-faded path, either slowly escaping something or marching toward an unknown ending. “121115” closes the set out with meditative and distantly maniacal movements that retreat deep into the ether. Limited edition of 100. Imprinted, clear cassette with fold-out j-card and download card. Art by ALN
11H60 – ’11H60′
Machines are capable of expressing synthetic emotion. They can learn. They can teach. 11H60’s self-titled debut shows that there’s still a bit of heart left in machines, too. While there is certainly some mysterious, anonymous presence (read: producer) behind these fried and sprawling tones, this could be the sound of machines processing love the only way they know how. And while it’s inherently inhuman, it’s entirely sincere. A-side meditation “Lapin Démago” features unadulterated exploration of abstract textures, asymmetric coincidences, and prolonged epiphanies. The piece slowly and organically forms its loose shape in bracken-like fronds of sound. Chords strobe into the air, flashing pointillistic suggestions of harmony and contrast. Those glorious resonances bounce off of one another like computer-generated patches, each one blooming in calculated charm. The B-side’s “Cervidé” offers more optimistic, celebratory modes of computational glee. Looped snippets of sound cycle throughout one another in a kaleidoscope of epiphany-inducing noise. It seems the machines have plenty more to share. All we have to do is listen. Limited edition of 100. Imprinted, red cassette with fold-out j-card and download card. Art by Adam Meyer.
Plaguecourier – ‘Scirocco’ CS
Plaguecourier is the maligned, dark ambient brainchild of Harley Burkhart, the Oakland-based drummer of prog-metal heroes Wild Hunt and Dimesland. Under the grim and gloomy guise of Plaguecourier, Burkhart culls endlessly foreboding and thoroughly unsettling rifts of dark ambiance. Using a mix of processed samples, disfigured narratives, and haunted, metallic clatter, ‘Scirocco’ plays out like some dystopian sci-fi classic that never was. Opener “Invented Madness” kicks things off in a flurry of vaguely horrific visuals. You’re left slightly broken, disoriented, and primed for the abstract events that follow. “First Divine Permission” and “Vein to Inferno” squall and wail into the ether like some cursed, malevolent spiritual cousin of Ben Frost and Tim Hecker. “Second Divine Permission” and “Scirocco” show the more fragile, somber side of Burkhart’s compositions. Each track emphasizes negative space and fringe beauty over forward, superficial shock tactics. The two-song suite “Fatamorgana” and “The Devotee” continue the action with eerie curiosity, while “Shadow of the Wind” closes ‘Scirocco’ out with elegiac finality. Limited edition of 100. Imprinted, black cassette with fold-out j-card and download card. Art by Plaguecourier.
Confused Kundalini – ‘This Will Heal Us’
Having spent a few years lost in an unreleased state, Confused Kundalini’s ‘This Will Heal Us’ now thankfully sees the light of day. Originally intended to release in 2012 and fill catalog entry SP34, the cassette finds the mysterious project retreating into the deepest depths of distant, static drone music, best heard previously on a 2011 split with Dozens on Tranquility Tapes. This time around, the project revels in a frayed and dimly sparkling wash of industrial hums, echoed static, and tectonic harmony. Matching the emotional disorientation and ultimately optimistic themes of Tarkovsky, especially ‘Solaris,’ ‘This Will Heal Us’ plays like a forlorn lovers anthem, translated across space and distorted almost beyond recognition. The hopeful spirit and inspired connection remain amidst an unknowable amount of distance. Confused Kundalini doesn’t ignore the darker ends of the spectrum, contrasting those vaguely uplifting motifs with slowed runs of Lynchian tones and oddly-angled sound. It’s a confounding experience that highlight the more alien auras of terrestrial drone music. Home-dubbed (2012), limited edition of 20. Labeled, clear cassette with fold-out j-card and download card. Art by Adam Meyer.