Welcome to 2021–one month in and it feels like it’s been a whole year. There’s a slate of new releases in this episode, from dreamy neo-psychedelia to stratospheric ambient; from Portugal to Australia to Norway to America. Put on your headphones, close your eyes and breathe deeply.
Beautify Junkyards “Reverie” (0:00) – From their 2021 release Cosmorama, on the Ghost Box label.
Rancho Relaxo “To Colour The Stars” (4:09) -The latest single from this Norwegian band. Look for a full-length from them this year.
Tristan Welch “Social Helplessness” (8:30) – Washes of guitar
Hotel Neon “oct 12” (14:40) -A trio of musicians scattered across the East Coast of America, this off of the 2020 album Moments, from the Sound In Silence label.
Willebrant “Gathering” (19:25) –
Tawdry Otter “SnoodleTrout” (22:10) –
Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk “Afterglow” (27:20) – An
Welcome to the end of 2020 – a year that will change the course of our history into the foreseeable future. For various reasons, including being here at home full-time, I had a lot of time to spend listening to new music and following some bands I had lost touch with. For this episode, I’m going through my favorite albums, almost month-by-month, and playing my top song picks. You’ll see over the course of the year, things started off pretty strong with the guitargazing of Purple Heart Parade and Ringo Deathstarr, but gradually tended towards an ambient direction later in the year.
As always thank you for listening, it’s been quite an interesting year to say the very least. I look forward to 2021 at least not being 2020.
As we wind down this insane year and look to 2021, I’m catching up with some releases from 2020 that I missed along the way, along with a few new bands I’ve discovered over the past few weeks.
Causa Sui “Gabor’s Path” (0:00) – entrancing instrumental post/psych-rock from Denmark, from their latest Szabodelico on El Paraiso Records.
The Green Kingdom “Mayloops” (4:15) – acoustic loops and themes inspired by beauty that is often overlooked.
Memory Drawings “A Few Scattered Hours (The Green Kingdom remix)” (6:50) – The Green Kingdom’s Michael Cottone applies his creative hand to the lush textures of Memory Drawings, one this week’s featured bands (stay tuned for an interview with member Joel Hanson).
SANKT OTTEN “Dann doch lieber weisse Wände” (12:00) – The mood turns a little more electronic here with the sounds of German audio engineering.
Giants of Discovery – “Dream Of the Colossus” (17:05) – Inspired by gigantic brutalist edifices and colossal structures, this hauntological project seeks to explore the mysteries of sunken underwater statues.
All India Radio + Josh Roydhouse “At Sea” (20:30) – Soft piano floats above the waves of an ambient ocean. The first of two collaborations this year by Australia’s All India Radio.
Llarks “Allure” (24:20) – The second featured band of the episode, Llarks is the latest identity of Accelera Deck’s Chris Jeely, taking the best of his smeared tonal guitar playing and stretching it to the horizon.
RxGibbs – “Charon” (29:40) – Another late discovery is the ambient guitar work of Ron Gibbs, who records under the guise RxGibbs – a veteran of the Michigan space rock scene as a member of the band Auburn Lull (included on the recent Southeast Of Saturn compilation).
There are a few threads running through this batch of tracks: a focus on women vocalists; some throwback songs from the 2000s; and international representation from Sweden, Australia and Argentina, including a few that were submitted through the website.
Also, with this episode I’m better aligning the podcast and email newsletter, so I’ll be sending one out every time a new episode is released. Make sure to subscribe to get notified and stay up to date on the latest new music from the Sonixcursions universe!
Without realizing it, this mix is devoid of vocals. Just instrumentals. It’s most likely a reaction to my anxiety around the upcoming election here in the states and the general state of the corona virus, but really I just want to zone out for a bit.
Pulled from the latest offering from A Year In The Country – a compilation entitled The Layering – Pulselovers invites us into the world of “Brodsworth” (0:00), an English coal mining town that has returned formerly derelict industrial land into beautiful natural landscapes contoured by the wastelands that lie beneath.
The compilation “is a reflection on how these, and other varied strata, are layered on top of one another, and/or sit side-by-side, with some being recorded, while others are forgotten or unknown, becoming part of a hidden or semi-hidden history.”
As the world continues to get stranger by the day, let me offer some refuge with a slate of psych, ambient, dream pop and electronic music.
Starting us off is “Penrose At The Edge Of A Hill” (0:00), from an electronic and ambient collaboration between Buffalo’s Survey Channel, and Edmondton’s Cpektir. They traded tracks and ideas over the summer, and produced Myriagon Atlas – “a mental map of the imaginative thought process”.
I’m covering a lot of musical territory on this one – from psych to ambient to a Stereolab cover in Spanish. This episode will trend towards the dreamy around the middle, so get cozy… but don’t worry, the Epic45 track will bring you back to reality.
Starting off is Astrel K, the solo project of Rhys Edwards of Ulrika Spacek recently released on the Duophonic label. “Gnistrande Snö” harkens back to some of the more slack moments of Steven Malkmus, or even middle-era Velvet Underground, forming the perfect backdrop for late summer here in Michigan.
As this crazy summer continues rolling on, I’ve been immersing myself in all the current music floating around – which has skewed heavily towards the ambient and electronic direction lately. The AirPods will have to be surgically removed from my ears.
Holy Wave gets us started with the opener off of their latest Interloper. “Schlettering” displays a more avant-pop vibe than their previous guitar-based works from a few years back, but the sound has been growing on me.
A shared love of vintage synths and German music from the 70s has inspired a collaboration between Travis Thatcher (Voice of Saturn) and Dave Gibson (Heron & Crane), known as Personal Bandana. After releasing their debut in 2018, they are working towards the release of their second full-length, This Time It’s… in the Fall of 2020, featuring the included track “Chloroplasts”.
Following along the vintage synth path, the aquatic sound of Polyporeslatest album Azureshould help cool things off this summer. “Coral Palaces” serves as your soundtrack for an extended virtual deep-sea diving session.
Moving from underwater scenes to the industrial age, Gilroy Mere gives us “The Age Of Trains” from the recent Adlestropalbum – an aural homage to rural English train stations slated for closure in the 1963 Beeching Report. Quite a fascinating audio adventure.
Jim Musgrave, aka Land Equivalents, continues his exploration of eclectic electronica on “Our Friend And Colleague” from his latest Industrial Accounting EP – blending analog synth sounds with rhythmic fragments that constantly evolve and morph over the course of its duration.
Forest Robots is the work of musician Fran Dominguez, this time around focusing on minimal compositions with his upcoming release After Geography. The track featured here “Of Birds Migrating In The Distance” provides a glimpse into a meditative soundscape while providing an unsettling undercurrent that is hard to get away from these days.
On a slightly lighter note, Japanese multi-instrumentalist Nao Kakimoto – known as [.que] – offers a glistening guitar-based piece, “Film”, from his latest And Inside from the Sound In Silence label. The songs span styles from “gorgeous twinkly folktronica, joyful dream-pop” to “nostalgic melodies, dark atmospheres and complex rhythms” – it’s quite a sonic journey to behold.
For the final track, we are roused by the glitchy beats of Spectrals – “a virtual band created in lockdown times”, made up of Matthew Shaw and John Robb. On “Zip Zam Zoom”, The Happy Monday’s Shaun Ryder recounts a tale of a visitation by a UFO on the streets of Salford, England many years ago.
As always thanks for listening, and sign up for the email newsletter to get monthly updates on these and other bands featured in the podcasts.
I’m not here to tell you how messed up the world is right now on many fronts. It’s a difficult time in history to find any rays of light, but hopefully I can offer some solace from the real world if only for a short time. Put on your headphones, take a walk and let your mind float with the music.
Air Formation “You Have To Go Somewhere” – from 2007’s Daylight Storms
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.