The existential dread meter is running high these days, and listening to music is one of the only things that can take my mind off the news. Here’s a half-hour break from the daily grind with a selection of kosmische, ambient, electronic and radiophonic tunes pulled from the latest releases.
Fans 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.
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.”
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.
Hello, and thanks for joining me on another audio-go-round of cosmic bliss. In this episode, I’m revisiting some of my favorite bands and albums from 2018 – starting off with probably my favorite band of the moment, Ulrika Spacek. In fact, many of the artists in the episode have only flown across my radar in the past few years or so, including Lowtide, Listening Center, and The Advisory Circle.
Sprinkled in among the new blood are some long-time favorites like I Am Robot And Proud – who released a kickin’ album late last year called Lucky Static; and My Autumn Empire – aka Ben Holton, one-half of the classic British post-rock duo Epic45, with the epic title track from his latest album “Oh, Leaking Universe”.
Rounding out this episode, and easing you into oblivion, comes “A Living Thing” – the title track of the recent album from ambient kingpin Steve Swartz (Swartz Et), who has been immersed in the Detroit space/ambient/folk scene for close to two decades now. At one time, he was part of the dreampop group Au Revoir Borealis, who achieved some success in the early 2000’s. From there he went on to a more acoustic sound with his solo project For Wishes, and in the last few years has gone in a more ambient and conceptual direction. Stay tuned for a Masstransfer Rewind on Au Revoir Borealis in the coming weeks.
For more information on the podcast and the bands included, please subscribe to the email newsletter. See you on the flipside!