Grid of Points

Grid of Points

Grid of Points by Grouper; Bandcamp Link: Grid of Points

Number 40 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.

I’ve heard Grouper over the years, and always had the idea that I like them, or her, but I can’t say I’ve ever really sat down and listened to an album.

Grid of Points is very short, 15 or 20 minutes. (Shortness is seemingly a common thing among Wire Magazine’s picks this year. A lot of EPs.)

Initially, I felt like it was too short and wondered why it couldn’t be longer. It is kind of drone-ey and atmospheric. A drone-ey 4 minute some can easily become a drone-ey 15 minute song.

Then I listened back to a couple of Grouper’s other records, and realized that Grid of Points is less sonically diverse than some of her other work, so it probably made sense to keep it short, before it wore out its welcome.

As near as I can tell, the primary new factor on Grid of Points is that she makes extensive use of multi-tracked harmonizing vocals for the first time.

Other than that, it is pretty much the usual reverb drenched atmospheric mood pieces with spare instrumentation that you would expect from a Grouper album.

If you like that sort of thing, you’ll love it. If you hate reverb drenched vocals, it may not be your bag of cats.

#GridOfPoints #Grouper #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Grid of Points

Autobiography (Music from Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography)

Autobiography (Music from Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography)

Autobiography (Music from Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography) by Jlin; Bandcamp Link: Autobiography (Music from Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography)

Number 39 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.

I liked Jlin’s last album, Black Origami, so much, that, well, pretty much anything afterwards is bound to be something of a let down, in one way or another.

However, instead of releasing a next album, proper, she released this album, “…the score for her collaboration with renowned British choreographer Wayne McGregor…”

It is often atmospheric, relies more on synthesizers and melodic phrasing, than pure rhythm. But the rhythmic tracks, when they happen, feel more stripped down and less complex than those on Black Origami. On the edge of something that would pass for commercial electronic dance music (not that I am an expert about that!).

It’s an interesting document, but I don’t feel like it really stands on its own as an “album”. I wish I’d seen the dance piece that it accompanied!

#AutobiographyMusicFromWayneMcGregorsAutobiography #Jlin #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Autobiography (Music from Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography)

Room 25

Room 25

Room 25 by Noname; Bandcamp Link: Room 25

Number 38 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.

There are things I like about Room 25 and things I don’t.

The music and beats are Jazz/Soul/Gospel inspired, which is interesting for a rap album. Noname has an interesting speak-sing delivery. Her poetry is clever and enjoyable.

However, the music is on the AOR side of Jazz, Soul, and Gospel, just a tad too pleasant for my tastes.

The combination of her quiet speak-song delivery and a bit of muddle in the Mids makes it a not very good album to listen to while driving. You just can’t hear her very well over the road or if you are listening to it from something like the speakers on your phone.

Coincidentally, I was reading a pretty cool interview with Dennis Bovell in Wire Magazine (Issue 416, if you want to track it down,) where he talked about aspects of mixing instruments so that each one has it’s own aural space in the mix of a tune.

They didn’t do that and the mix suffers a bit unless you are listening on headphones or in a quiet room.

#Room25 #Noname #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Room 25

Hydrorion Remnants

Hydrorion Remnants by Embassador Dulgoon; Bandcamp Link: Hydrorion Remnants

Number 37 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.

If there’s anything you can glean about me from these reviews, it’s probably that I like to be surprised by the music I am listening to.

Embassador Dulgoon is, apparently, a Chilean musician named Nicolas Carcavilla. He has recorded under various guises over the years. This is his first album as “Embassador Dulgoon”.

The music here was recorded, seemingly live in the studio, between 2014 and 2016, yet it all feels of a piece.

Environmental sounds and animal noises rustle and shiver beneath tuned percussion, marimbas and glockenspiels. Simple melodies evoking childhood keen over complex repetitive rhythms.

Every once in a while the whole thing lurches into something like a krautrock groove, as on “Archways of Lepidodendron”, only to collapse back into percussion, synthesizer, and animal noises.

A thoroughly enjoyable album, my only real complaint is it is over far too soon.

#HydrorianRemnants #EmbassadorDulgoon #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Hydrorian Remnants
Hydrorian Remnants

Queen of Golden Dogs

Queen of Golden Dogs.

Queen of Golden Dogs by Vessel; Bandcamp Link: Queen of Golden Dogs

Number 36 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.

Yellow Magic Orchestra meets Early Music meets the 21st Century Electronic Dance Music, this time with a little gypsy music thrown into the blender.


Most of the songs are pretty filler-esque, building up to Paplu, which is the most fully realized song on the album.

Paplu is a good song, but I don’t think it makes Queen of Golden Dogs a great album

#QueenOfGoldenDogs #Vessel #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMusicTop50

Queen of Golden Dogs

The Return

The Return by Kamaal Williams; Bandcamp Page: The Return

Number 35 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.

The Return is sort of like Herbie Hancock’s 1973 band from The Head Hunters album were practicing. They decided to put down their instruments and take a break.

They retired to a nearby closet to smoke a joint.

It turned out that closet was a TARDIS.

During the course of several mind bending intergalactic and interdimensional adventures, on a remote planet, with a particularly smoking native population, the horn players decided to stay, and pass on their legacy of love and woodwinds.

When the remaining players finally re-opened that door again into their practice space, they discovered it was 2019.

They picked up their instruments and started playing again.

#KamaalWilliams #TheReturn #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Hilja

Hilja.

Hilja by Cucina Povera; Bandcamp Link: Hilja

Number 34 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.

I had no real idea what to expect when I put this album on. Initially, from the name, I had a vague idea it might be some sort of South American Prog Rock, but then the song names made me think it might be Greek Prog Rock.

It turns out it is a Glaswegian vocalist, Maria Rossi, who originally is from Finland.

The music is primarily multi-tracked vocal harmonies with various loops and field recordings, frequently percussive, playing beneath them. Beyond the rich textures of the vocals, the music is fairly spare. Most of the vocal melodies are based from the classical/folk vein and they are sung in several languages, even one in English.

It’s a beautiful album, almost other worldly.

#CucinaPovera #Hilja #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Raw Silk Uncut Wood

Raw Silk Uncut Wood by Laurel Halo; Bandcamp Link: Raw Silk Uncut Wood

Number 33 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.

Raw Silk Uncut Wood starts with what sounds like Church Organ, but with some odd whistling floating above, and, eventually, the lower organ tones step down the ladder beyond what is possible for organs to play and into the range of electronic dance music.

The middle tunes, especially “Mercury” and “The Sick Mind”, are interesting and varied in their use of acoustic instruments and electronic treatments.

While I admire the arc of the album, starting in church-ey peace, losing it for a bit, and ending in major chord progressions, the last tune, is maybe a tad too Vangelis-ey and anthemic, as in Chariots of Fire, and leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Still overall, an enjoyable journey.

#LaurelHalo #RawSilkUncutWood #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

The Dream My Bones Dream

The Dream My Bones Dream.

Special Stay-At-Home Holiday edition, aka Tai Chi Sountrack, edition of the Wire Magazine Top 50 Releases.

The Dream My Bones Dream by Eiko Ishibashi; Bandcamp Link: The Dream My Bones Dream

Number 32 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.

There was an interview with frequent collaborators Eiko Ishibashi & Jim O’Rourke in the December, 2018 issue of The Wire Magazine. In it they discussed their reasons for moving their living spaces and recording studios to a remote village in Japan. Ishibashi’s new album was recorded there, inspired by her father’s time in Japan’s Puppet State, Manchukuo, Manchuria, China.

While many of the songs are instrumental, others are sung in Mandarin.

It is a very atmospheric album, with unusual elements of sound drifting in and out from time to time. It is vaguely proggy, vaguely jazzy; indistinct in a hazy, yet compelling, way.

It does remind me, at times, of the records O’Rourke worked on with Wilco, specifically “A Ghost is Born”. Another reference point for me is, somehow, the band Slapp Happy, a brief confluence of band members from the band Faust and members of the band Henry Cow.

#TheDreamMyBonesDream #EikoIshibashi #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

The Dream My Bones Dream.

Brass Orchids

Brass Orchids by Ann Guthrie; Record Label Link: Brass Orchids

Number 31 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.

I can’t believe I had to wade through 30 albums (many of them great) in this roundup to finally get to a fucking outstanding example of abstract electro-acoustic music.

Anyway, Brass Orchids is a fucking outstanding example of abstract electro-acoustic music.

For the first several songs, I wasn’t sure if she was just using samples/field recordings and foley work with treatments, or if there were going to be actual instruments involved.

Not that it matters.

There is drama, there is interest, there is suspense, and there is noise, a lot of pleasantly noisey and abrasive noise.

Anyway, she does break out the French Horn and, I believe, guitar on the last track, Glass, for something like music.

…and as a bonus, the title of the album, “Brass Orchids,” appears to be a reference to Samuel R. Delaney’s SciFi classic, “Dhalgren”.

If this were my list, I’m pretty sure this would be, as they say in the industry, number one with a bullet.

#BrassOrchids #AnnGuthrie #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50