Random Orbitings – April 20, 2020

Hello there fellow humans, we’re deep into this pandemic now and things have really slowed down. This has given some artists and musicians more time to compose and record, even if the topic is just the quarantine itself. I’m starting to see quite a few tantalizing releases on the horizon, including a big release for any fans of the old Detroit Space Rock scene (more on that to come). For now, check out these new treats, take care of yourself, and help out those you can.

Listening Center

Listening Center - Diaphanous StructuresFans of Kosmiche-era eletronics will rejoice in the release of Diaphanous Structures, the latest from Listening Center. On this outing, the arpeggios are a little darker and more skeletal – “Hovering Haze” is the sound of a factory devoid of humans, continuing to do their jobs day in and day out. This feeling continues on songs like “A Torn Hedge” and “Sapling One”, which continuously morphs into new sequences of synth sounds. A few tracks, “Concentric Circles” and “Glass Phantoms”, elicit a comparison to the glassy tones of mid-70’s Cluster, while the around-one-minute interstitial material is reminiscent of fellow retrofuturists Broadcast. This is impressive company to be in.

Plone

In a similar electronic vein, yet decidedly more fun and funky, is the new album Puzzlewood from Plone – their first in like 20 years, this one on Ghost Box. If you’re prone to the sheer pleasure of dancing by yourself to retro futuristic beats a la the lighter side of Stereolab or the High Llamas, then by all means throw this on and have a time. From the label: “This is unironically joyful and melodic electronica; informed by library music, music for children’s TV and a deep passion for the history of music technology.”

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Enter To Win the New Windy & Carl Vinyl LP

The winner will be drawn at the end of April.

In the meantime, read about how Windy & Carl are doing business at their record store during the Covid pandemic, or their recent feature article on Bandcamp.com.

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Featured Band: Zelienople

If you‘ve been reading the blog for a bit you’ll notice a pattern in most of the bands covered here – they’ve been around for awhile and they continue to create evolutionary sounds and music. This month’s featured band, Zelienople, is no exception.

They emerged from a scene in Chicago in the late 1990’s roughly centered around the Loose Thread record label, headed by Melochrome frontman Pramod Tummala. He introduced me to many new bands and artists, but the first few Zelienople albums, along with Western Automatic (a solo project from the band’s singer and guitarist Matt Christensen) especially stood out. The band released 12 full-length albums up until 2015’s Show Us the Fire, after which they took a 5-year hiatus.

The New Album

A few weeks ago, Zelienople released their latest album, Hold You Up which continues their exploration of sparse soundscapes and hypnotic bleakness which began almost 20 years ago. I had the chance recently to talk with Matt, just as this coronavirus quarantine was starting to take shape. The emotions that the current situation evokes, those of loneliness and isolation – the ill-effects of social distancing – drive the sparseness of their sound and form a basis for lyrical content. “I’m also working in mental health. I’ve been dealing with a lot of communities that are impoverished”, says Matt, “a lot of the stuff that I write about deals with poverty and marginalized people. I also, you know, I have anxiety. Depression. Got a pretty messed up family. I write from that perspective a fair bit.”

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Sonixcursions:006

During this time of self-isolation and ever-evolving news, get lost in an expansive mix of dreampop, ambient, spacerock and other outersounds.

The current pandemic and associated social distancing repercussions have devastated the short-term prospects of the musician and entertainment communities, so I’ve put the focus on some bands and artists that should be familiar with both Sonixcursions as well as Masstransfer readers from over the years. Please give your support where you can.

Light Heat “Used To Know Why”- from 2018’s V, continuing the musical evolution of Quentin Stoltzfus, who previously recorded under the moniker Mazarin.

Pia Fraus “Hidden Parks”- from their latest Empty Parks

Landing “Rhythm Form” – a preview off their upcoming split 12” with New Haven band Headroom.

Takamu “Alt 71” – an unreleased demo from a collaboration with Adrien Capozzi (Adrien75), Tim Koch and Jet Jaguar.

Purple Heart Parade “Red Rose Country” – off the EP Desolation Angel from Club AC30.

Lazy Salon “New Arc” – a track from the upcoming self-titled release, due out May 15.

Zelienople “America” – a bleak and sparse reflection of the state of the world, from their latest Hold You Up. I recently interviewed member Matt Christensen for an upcoming feature, so stay tuned.

Fuxa “Cosmic Flight of the Angels” – a new song released this past week on the EP Sweeps & Beeps for Quarantined Peeps.

As always thanks for listening, and sign up for the email newsletter to get monthly updates on these all the bands covered in the podcasts.

Stay safe out there…

Random Orbitings – March 20, 2020

Wow – a lot has changed in the 4 weeks since my last Orbitings post. Bars and restaurants are closing, causing ripple effects in the music and arts business. We need to put our heads together and figure out ways that we can help these musicians get by during this time of uncertainty. I’ll be writing more about this in the coming days, but for today BandCamp.com is Supporting Artists During the Covid-19 Pandemic by encouraging fans to buy music today (Friday, March 20) and sending all the revenue to the artists.

From their statement: “To raise even more awareness around the pandemic’s impact on musicians everywhere, we’re waiving our revenue share on sales this Friday, March 20 (from midnight to midnight Pacific Time), and rallying the Bandcamp community to put much needed money directly into artists’ pockets.” Go forth and support these artists today (and over the coming weeks and months) because we will get through this, and we’re all gonna want to see a show when this is over.

Zelienople

It’s been a couple of years, but Chicago’s Zelienople are back with a sonic document of the times, Hold You Up – a testimony to driving ahead amidst looming uncertainty. The bleakness of some of the songs speaks to our current state of isolation, especially with the title track as well as “You Have It”. I had the chance to sit down (virtually) with singer and guitarist Matt Christensen the other day, and should have the interview up soon, but until then check out the new album as well as their deep back catalog that goes back to 2002’s Pajama Avenue. Matt himself is fairly prolific on BandCamp.com as well, with over 100 releases posted. Well worth the dive.

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Random Orbitings – Feb 24, 2020

Time has flown by so fast this year, that I just realized I hadn’t posted my favorite albums from 2019 yet, as I’m also in the process of making a list of top albums from the 2010s as well (which is getting interesting…). So here goes…

  1. Lorelle Meets the Obsolete – De Facto
  2. The Stargazer Lillies – Occabot
  3. Vanishing Twin – The Age of Immunology
  4. Listening Center – Retrieving
  5. Memory Drawings – Phantom Lights
  6. Yellow6 – Shifting Sands of Time
  7. Tawdry Otter – Fiction & Poetry
  8. Epic45 – Sun Memory
  9. Land Equivalents – A Straight Line With Gain
  10. Jon Brooks – Emotional Freedom Techniques

The top two were very tight, but LMTO are just knocking it out of the park at the moment and the extended jam of “La Maga” puts this one over the top.

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete

Speaking of which, Lorena and Beto of LMTO are gearing up for an EP that releases March 13. Re-Facto contains 2 remixed tracks from the album, along with 2 new ones, pressed on a limited edition translucent orange and green vinyl 12”. They’ll be on tour in the US for the month of March, so check them out if they come near your town.

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Random Orbitings – Feb 11, 2020

Between the coronavirus, political tensions and climate anxiety, there’s no shortage of crazy stuff going on in the world at the moment. So if you’re looking for a sonic diversion you’ve come to the right place –  new music from Canada, England, Estonia, Australia, and the US to enlighten your day.

The Asteroid #4 conjured up their 60s influences to deliver “Under My Umbrella”, the chorus of which could easily have been pulled from the Magical Mystery Tour. At the request of the record label’s owner, Stu Pope, “the A4 jumped back into the heyday of Psychedelic music’s first wave”. The flip-side, “The Seventh Moon”, starts out with a motorik feel, but changes halfway through into a more mystical vibe with a flute that glides over the song.

Flyying Colours are possibly one of my favorite bands of the last decade, though we haven’t heard much from them since 2016’s Mindfullness (Club AC30 recently did a pink vinyl re-press). Well they are back with a new track, “Big Mess” (video below), spiking the intro with synth arpeggios leading into a heart-racing guitar-driven experience that challenges you to sit still.

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Masstransfer << Rewind: Dallas

This article was originally published in the third issue of Masstransfer, 1999.

Many circumstances inspire people to start a band. For Dallas, it was the ability to actually perform music after 50 years of Soviet domination in their homeland of Estonia. Having been isolated for so long, this group has ridden the explosion of musical elements both native and imported. Formed in 1992 to contribute a track to an Estonian Independence compilation, Dallas has since become the darlings of the scene in Tallinn (capital of Estonia), although certain music charts label them as imports due to their English lyrics and general western flavor. Having been compared to early Cardigans, Stereolab, Pram, etc, this group of spunky youths prove themselves as musically independent as their homeland. They recently found a home on Toronto’s High Park Records, and their debut full-length CD was released in North America earlier this year.

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Sonixcursions:005

Gather round friends for a menagerie of songs inspired by the British band Broadcast and assorted loose associations. The sound of simulated wood grain and shag carpeting, reel-to-reels and tube amplifiers. Homegrown oscillating synthesizers that pulsate over the beat of an iridescent Gretsch trap set. Simultaneously from the future and the past, decked out in the accoutrements of 1960’s post-modernity.

Vanishing Twin (“Cryogenics Will Save Your Life”) are good candidates for carrying on the sound that Broadcast had exemplified – a prominent rhythm section with well defined and melodic bass lines, overlaid with bloops, bleeps, chimes and chords – with a mysterious chanteuse leading the whole thing. Their 2019 release The Age Of Immunology is probably one of my top faves of last year.

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Random Orbitings – Jan 24, 2020

Heya! and welcome to a new year new decade. I’ve decided to revive a series started with the Outersound Underground blog that was once called Weekly Orbitings, compiling some latest releases and news in an easily digestible post. This is changing to a more vaguely titled Random Orbitings, publishing when there’s enough good material to post. With that, here’s some good material that’s been playing around here lately.

Last week saw a new release from Matthew Shaw, once known as Tex La Homa – with an offering called Into the Unknown. Matt has shed the Tex moniker and is going under his given name. After a few years of producing mostly ambient and found sounds work, he returns to a style that harkens back to his more structured sound from the early 2000s.

Next up is an improvised soundtrack to the silent film Nosferatu, by Argentina’s Bosques. Back in 2015, the band “had the opportunity to play live music at the sold out screening of ‘Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens’ (1922) by Friedrich Wilhlelm Murnau, during the Independent Film Festival Festifreak No. 11.” The captured performance – Cómo sanar de lo monstruoso: Música para ‘Nosferatu – is finally seeing a release, and it’s a mesmerizing blend of dark and light that will definitely creep you out if listened to alone.

Meanwhile over in Manchester, the 5-piece Purple Heart Parade offer up a new EP, entitled Desolation Angel, to kick off the year. Staying with the venerable Club AC30 (who pressed a short-run of 250 copies on 180g 12″ orange and purple split vinyl), these guys continue to hone a guitar-driven sound that echoes earlier bands like (the) Verve. Here’s a video for the lead single “Petrichor”.

On Tour

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete have announced a month-long US tour with The Underground Youth, starting in early March. I’m hoping to catch them at the Cleveland stop, and they’ll also be playing shows at SXSW and the Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho. The full list of dates are posted on their Facebook page.

Stay tuned for my best of 2019 list, as well as a roundup of my favorite bands of the 2010’s in the coming weeks – thanks for reading, and until next time, pleasant orbitings