Ἀρέθουσα, 18 November 2018


isol­a­tion, intro­spec­tion, relax­a­tion

ambi­ent, folk, drone, acous­tic, vocal, field record­ings, early music, spir­itual

The Academy of MaqâmInvis­ible Face of the Beloved: Clas­sical Music of the Tajiks and Uzbeks (2005, Smith­so­nian Folk­ways)

Intense tra­di­tional Cent­ral Asian clas­sical music. Very call-and-response, and subtly under­pinned with strings and per­cus­sion.

Alden Jenks’ drone works from the late 60s/early 70s are divine, and have been given a lov­ing release by Other Minds this year. Tape-stretched elec­tron­ics con­sti­tute the mel­an­cholic first 30-minute piece, which fea­tures a vari­ety of horn-like sounds. The other two pieces are com­posed on a Buchla 100 mod­u­lar synth. “Space (for Stephen Hill)” is sim­il­arly wist­ful in tone, with plaint­ive horns over soft drones. The last and shortest piece, “Lapis”, is more noisy and con­crète.

Andrew Weath­ers and Blaine Todd get­ting together for a split on Houd­ini Man­sions: yeah, that’s one good thing in life (Septem­ber 2018, tapes still avail­able). Both artists present a hand­ful of wist­ful, hazy songs, some abstract sound­scapes. High­lights: “Llano” is Weath­ers doing his trade­mark mel­an­choly desert auto­t­une folk, and it’s rarely soun­ded bet­ter. Todd has a beau­ti­ful sad song on “Between the Dream and the Thing”, fol­lowed by some great ambi­ance on “I Guess It Must Be Some Kind of Hol­i­day”.

With fin­ger­picked acous­tic gui­tar at its base, and warm synth drones as cover, Asuna’s Tide Ripples (2016, Home Nor­mal) is a sooth­ing album with a gor­geous after­glow.

The Dev­il’s Trade is a singer/songwriter with a ton of that good grit. What Happened To The Little Blind Crow (2018, Golden Antenna) is his latest album, a strong col­lec­tion of songs that marry Amer­ic­ana to his Hun­garian roots. It’s rough man-music in a way, par­tic­u­larly his pro­nounced vocal style, but there are fra­gile moments, too… The arrest­ing open­ing and clos­ing sec­tions are proof enough.

End­less Mel­an­choly has a new album out on Dron­arivm and it might be his best one yet. Frag­ments of Scattered Whis­pers is as wist­ful as you’d expect, with melod­ies in piano and more abstract synth altern­at­ing with sweep­ing, misty waves. It’s a del­ic­ate bal­ance struck between sen­ti­ment and dis­sol­u­tion, with neither side tak­ing over and dimin­ish­ing the whole. If mel­an­choly were always this bliss­ful, then yes, let it be end­less.

From a while ago: Con­tin­ental Drift by Faures (2014, Home Nor­mal) is a gor­geous float­ing drone­work. It def­in­itely touches upon its theme with a suite of shift­ing and grind­ing tec­ton­ics. But the lighter side of the spec­trum is equally rich, with subtle hisses, gentle melod­ies, and aural whiteouts. A del­ic­ate piece of art.

The Green King­dom out­does itself on Seen and Unseen (2018, Sound in Silence). The join­ing of syn­thes­ised and acous­tic sounds is seam­less, the atmo­sphere serene. Cot­tone divides the melod­ies evenly between his vari­ous instru­ments. This lends the album a rich­ness without it ever feel­ing over­burdened. The serenity is rel­at­ive, too: a track like Woolen Sky intro­duces a ten­sion that off­sets the gentler moods. ‘Seen and Unseen’ is subtle, and unerr­ingly strikes at the heart of elec­tro-acous­tic ambi­ent.

Gor­geous bliss­ful chil­louts on this new live album by Jamie Awak­shidar fea­tur­ing Evelyn GlyndwrPris­m­death is out on tape on Hairs aBlazin’ and starts with hazy synth and vocal explor­a­tions, before mov­ing into the soft beats of “Metro + Inter­stel­lar”. Lush and relax­ing.

Leyla McCalla’s second album is full of beau­ti­ful, (mostly) cello-based folk from a vari­ety of tra­di­tions: Haitian, Louisi­ana, Amer­ican. A rare main­stream rep­res­ent­a­tion of Haitian Creole songs. (2016, Jazz Vil­lage / Har­mo­nia Mundi)

The Cloud of For­get­ting is a cloud of bliss: read my review of The Pen­it­en­tial Sta­tion’s album here: http://​www​.even​in​gof​light​.nl/​2​0​1​8​/​1​1​/​1​0​/​t​h​e​-​p​e​n​i​t​e​n​t​i​a​l​-​s​t​a​t​i​o​n​-​t​h​e​-​c​l​o​u​d​-​o​f​-​f​o​r​g​e​t​t​i​ng/

Pete See­ger - Amer­ican Indus­trial Bal­lads (1957, Smith­so­nian Folk­ways)

Songs about poor pay, poor work­ing con­di­tions, cap­it­al­ists and uni­ons. As rel­ev­ant as ever.

The new Moments of the Fall com­pil­a­tion on Hairs aBlazin’ is full of relax­ing elec­tron­ics, ambi­ent, and vapor tunes. Cool tracks by Fae & Seffi, Jamie Awak­shidar, Whettman Chel­mets, Maloc­cul­sion, and oth­ers.