Hard to believe we are already 12 days into the new year, and so far 2022 ain’t looking much better than last year. As always, my solace in this crazy world is music that lets my mind wander and relieves some cognitive load. For 2022, I am restarting these Random Orbitings posts, and will share more of the mind-expanding music that has been flowing through my headphones.
Approaching from space, Field Lines Cartographer delivers five long-playing cosmic voyages clocking in at an average time of 11 minutes. The Woodford Halse label released Superclusters last week, and it was recently featured on Bandcamp for best-selling compact discs sales across the entire electronic music category (one of those CDs was mine.) If you are lucky and happen to be in Liverpool in early April, catch FLC open for the venerable Marconi Union.
Today is another Bandcamp Friday – and here’s a rundown of the music I’m tracking and looking to pick up today. Check them out if you can! (This is not an exhaustive list, just what I was able to put together this morning)
Fly Pan Am
Montreal post-rock legends return for an extending single, “Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority“, on their home label Constellation. As part of “Corona Borealis“, Constellation’s first-ever digital series, the label will be releasing “16 artists with new longplaying singles and accompanying experimental film/video, commissioned as part of our pandemic/post-capitalist response for label-affiliated musicians under current conditions.”
FPA saw their 2020 UK/EU tour (their first in 15 years) cancelled, and have been trading music files and ideas during the lockdown. This is the 6th single in the series.
A ton of new music is rolling through the doors of Sonixcursions HQ – and I’ve been absorbing it over the long (and hot) weekend here in the states. Most of it has been in the ambient and analog electronic vein, which seems to stretch time out even further when you’re lying in the sun.
To mark this strange season – where it’s really nice outside, yet the ominous cloud of a global pandemic and a toxic political environment make it difficult to fully enjoy – I’ve started a series of mixes on Mixcloud to offer a soundtrack to the “festivities” (more about that below).
Take a virtual deep-sea diving session with Polypores, on Mr. Stephen James Buckley’s latest release Azure. The music here veers toward the aquatic – gentle arpeggios float along the currents, waves and washes follow the tides, echoes from undersea worlds beckon to be explored.
Constant rain during the recording sessions may have played a role in creating this bathysphere: “I was also able to immerse myself in various books, films, and documentaries related to the ocean, particularly the mythology and lore surrounding it”, say Mr. Buckley. It’s well worth the submersion.
As I continue to work on the Masstransfer book, it’s amazing to see how many bands and musicians featured in the zine are still active and producing new works. These bands are achieving high points of their careers, and I’m excited to follow-up with them to add new material to the book and this website. Here’s a few of the highlights.
Very happy to report that Chris Jeely, aka Accelera Deck (among other monikers) has re-emerged under that guise to release a new EP entitled Crystalline Prickle. His return to the more electronic and “beaty” sounds of AD comes after focusing the last few years on an equally amazing project called Llarks, which explores more of the textured guitar that usually overlays older Accelera Deck works, and stretches it out beyond the horizon. Check his album from earlier this year called Come & Close Your Eyes:
Hopefully with the weather getting nicer and the lockdown starting to let up, the creative spirits will keep rising and we’ll be able to see live music again. I mean, at any good space rock show, people are 6-feet apart anyways.
I’ve been listening to a lot more music lately, and have also been working on the Masstransfer book that should come out later this summer. Though, it’s hard to believe how quickly a month goes by these days – time seems to have lost some perspective. But not all hope is lost, I still somehow seem to know which day is Monday.
For fans of textured guitar treatments smeared across a sonic canvas, The Virgance (aka Nathan Smith) returns for one final flight with Flying V, released this week by El Vals del Conejo. Though some song titles are a bit combat-oriented (“Wingman”, “Battle Damage”, “Attack Formation”) – the vibe is closer to flying fast through the stratosphere, high above where the Earth seems like a blur. Drum beats add a rhythm and structure, but the sharp edges are smoothed over and add to the pulsing movement of the songs. It’s a sound that shares a similar origin as the hazy realm of Flying Saucer Attack and Third Eye Foundation.
I’m sorry to hear this is the last Virgance album, having followed Nathan’s work for most of the past decade, but also excited to see what his next chapter brings.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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”.
Lorelle Meets the Obsoletehave 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…