TRACK | Eric Angelo Bessel – Kindly Rewind

5/5 golden merles

“Kindly Rewind” is the second single off Eric Angelo Bessel’s upcoming ambient and experimental Visitations LP. Within the first few iterative whorls you can feel its resonance and reach, replete with much wonder and otherworldly artifacts of interest. Make of it what you will, but there is good raw material collected and methodically ordered as though it is a gift. The melody and its deterioration reads as though conflicted, situated at the helm, wary but intrigued, gazing into a great abyss.

The track contains a worthy extent of daunting search charted across this route; you will accompany it, feeling out the loop through interlocking synths and the steady pull of movement in some direction. The rich texture and tone provide credulity, allowing the listener to indulge in the peculiar and startling act of remaining within the motion and moment. It is transportive and properly weighted. It lends itself to speculation, curiosity, and feels like a soundtrack for celestial expanse or the uncharted subterranean. It knows the act of careening results in eventual harmony and has the craters to prove it. I find it to be delicate and consequential noise.

If work is described as “cinematic” you can in fact add it to your own life and enhance whatever small intrigues you find yourself embroiled within, ok? Not everything must be subsumed and reframed through yet another vignette of media, narrowing the field of experience down into manageable units of another’s intention.

In any case, it stands on its own. I would be proud if I had made it. If we are primarily defining ourselves through consumption of various media, best to have at least a few pieces included that allow you to focus primarily on your own becoming. The piece seems to encourage considered action in this way, elegantly embodying a balanced sense of doubt and hope, and that is a rare and valuable quality.

Vinyl preorder is available on the bandcamp for $20 from Portland’s Lore City Records, or $8 for the digital album. It releases April 21st.

TRACK | MENU – Actually Dreaming

5/5 golden merles

“Actually dreaming” is a thing of lo-fi shoegaze and uninhibited abstraction. It was summoned in or near Philadelphia. It has a great sense of how long to linger in the status, levels with you, offers a stasis of texture and tone, any intent amplified by their deteriorated beauty. Rarely is your patience punished here, cutting content with form in an imminently compelling fashion.

Concentric in form for the most part, each loop banishing another or building off its remains. You can more or less see what you like in its patterns, it’s a foggy mirror with some writing you got to breath on a bit to see. There’s lots of graceful skulking about and premonitions of indeterminate value. Lately, if Eno/Ricky landed, maybe this will too for you; a means and agent for teasing your own ideas out, another kind of catalyst for coherency.

Generally speaking I am suspicious of abstraction as it can be a salve for my enemies. However (!) with this much form/balance and pulse there are always exceptions. Original found on Tremendo Garaje via the intrepid scouting of @u2_is_a_government_drone / Sims / Mesh.

TRACK | Mirry – Anthem

5/5 golden merles

From the bin rescued personal recordings of Mirabel Lomer, the great aunt of Tom Fraser who found and — with the help of musicians Simon Tong, Antonia Pagulatos, and Michael Smith — collaboratively arranged and reworked the pieces. Her original tape recorded piano tracks are accompanied here by cellos, keyboards, saxophones and synths, interworked patiently and earnestly in an accumulate flood of heartfelt aspiration.

The result is ambient and experimental, delicate and expansive, a lovely tribute that is immediately imbued with implicit meaning through the nature of the finality and tenuousness of its discovering. A context we should all have with respect to all work made by other humans but are deprived of through the mundanity of our manner of existing, the illusion of the banality of daily living as it slips quietly away.

But beyond the affirming story of its origins, the work is remarkably detailed and composed, the swells and pitches elevating and conspiring beautifully across the decades. The original renditions have also thoughtfully been uploaded in their initial scope and design.

If looking for more quality in the rediscovered, see Sibylle Baier’s Colour Green, or maybe Darnielle’s Songs for Pierre Chuvin, for more inspired collaborations with the late and great.

TRACK | Akusmi – Divine Moments of Truth

5/5 golden merles

An inspired enmeshing of momentum, electronica curtailed to contain only the essential. Of a stunningly metered jazz/experimental set, “Divine Moments of Truth” stands out to me as a pinnacle of those forms.

The relative minimalism of what transpires builds into a great escape, evenly, cleanly out of its abstraction. It feels as though there is something at stake and yet remains “as simple as possible but not one bit simpler,” the energy is convincingly condensed in such a way as to warp your perception of relative space time. A credible spell, intuitively assembled, or the result of finely tuned music theory, I don’t know. But the kind of wonder and admiration I feel for its accumulated reserves is like the saying that any technology produced by a significantly advanced civilizations is indistinguishable from magic.

Arriving last week into the world, there’s ~30 clear vinyl remaining from a set of 300. Not a bad return on anything in the common era, much less a finely rendered crop of electronic jazz concoctions.

TRACK | Sterile Cuckoo – The Ghost of Saint Claire

5/5 golden merles

“The Ghost of Saint Claire” has a composition that incorporates more creative tools than most songwriters employ and with more conviction. I’m very fond of these configurations, their sequencing — from field, to shoegaze, to ambient drone — is always dreamy, always threatening to break into bloom. It is mesmeric, captivating material.

Three things primarily pique my interest among its graces: First, the cohesion of its assembled genre influences. Second is the structural invention and pacing. And third is the collaborative element. Each of these involve their own degree of risk and reward.

There is some risk in breaking free from the yoke of strictly enforced genre limitations, attempting to create the more refined/unique niche, and the prospective audience readily available to receive it. Another risk is in leaning into the expanse, allowing the void to patiently fill itself with subtle field and noise cues, breaking the form but maintaining a series of footholds. Yet another risk is in collaboration with others to contribute toward the fundamental ideas and ambiance (orion lake & Antonio Svisa).

But, truly, they’ve all paid off tremendously well here. And, from the outside, that act of crafting feels honest and refreshing, to have honed the influences or held a vision intact throughout. It’s realized to a point that probably none of it seems like risk at all to its progenitor, but rather the only way to properly render the material and synthesize the influences. Listening to it feels a little bit like taking part in that conviction and it is a joyful event. There is much to admire in its grandiose and ephemeral lo-fi textures, and the deteriorating and rising of its well designed phases and fractals.

TRACK | Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou – The Story of the Wind

5/5 golden merles

In our time of interregnum and on a day in particular upon which our nation further disgraces itself — beholden as it is to a coalition of the corrupt and a cadre of geriatric oligarchs, theocrats, conservatives, regressives, and the other assorted dregs of civilization — here is a piece from someone still living once held in a fascist prison.

With much beautiful elaboration, this is a beacon of an instrumental, a melodic gift guided in staggering nuance and mannerisms. The cultured style is rich work of formidable detailing. Intriguing and memorable in its immediately accessibly direct form, it nevertheless contains such subtlety and distinction within its variances. Until you hear it, with all its salient graces, you don’t quite realize how much you have settled for in substitution.

For more excellence from Ethiopia check out the earlier post on Getatchew Mekurya and/or listen to Guebrou’s full Éthiopiques 21: Piano Solo here.

TRACK | Armandinho – Fado Fernandinha

5/5 golden merles

If you are looking for a moment of masterful melodic phrasing and elegant passages interweaving, Armandinho’s (Armando Augusto Freire) His Master’s Voice sessions are a bounty.

100 years out and fresh as a daisy, this is somewhere near the highwater mark of honing the craft and feels like something rich/nourishing to draw upon.

With everything defined by death, it arrives within the interwar years between the first and the second. I don’t know when they were written, but this is the time of their recording, at least, 1928-29. Perhaps written in recovery and optimism before the calamity, the depression, the carnage.

In either case, the interpersonal can provide conflict or rejoicing at any period and everything is relative to subjective circumstances. Add in the abstraction of pure instrumentation and you’re free to draw from it whatever you like, pure admiration of form or this accompanied by the imagined intentions of the dead. In my ignorance, I personally think about the eternal, and true, and cliché Brecht quote 10 times a day, “In the dark times will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing about the dark times.”

Whatever the case may be, we’re very fortunate to have these recordings of a real genius, such a lovely document. Please check out the full set here, there’s nearly an hours worth of reverence.

TRACK | Ricky Eat Acid – april six

5/5 golden merles

“April Six” is my favorite of a very fine set of tracks, more instrumental material of imminently lovely proportion from Ricky Eat Acid (Aka Sam Ray).

I’m a month (and a decade) behind posting this empirical wonder here in March ’22, but the piece feels to me like a pretty fair embodiment of spring (What year? Every year. Get out): a fragility of form, but resolute and more or less eternal.

There is documenting here the capturing of ‘becoming’ as a measure of being. It feels simultaneously like an end and a beginning. That is likely what all art should hold a bit of, the acknowledgement of phases: more ambiguity, more uncertainty, more transitory; that which appears to be paying respect to change.

The collision of time with tone and whatever runoff makes its way along the sluice onto the tape. Anyway, it’s quite pretty and you can take it however you like at whatever price seems fair.

TRACK | Pristine Hyur – Somebody Saves Us

5/5 golden merles

It is fairly difficult for me to be grabbed by the pure instrumental outside of an album stretch in which it acts sometimes as intermediary or accent between more explicit entries. I am suspicious of pure abstraction, of where it might otherwise be welcomed.

But here is a good example of the exception.

Many great tones are featured in their own right, elaborately worked and accented with field recorded pulsations that approximate speech but never fully realize it. Phases and segments seamlessly transition. It has a masterful pacing and craft.

There must be a coming together of such coherence that the style/form is so rich in detail and metering it becomes the substance itself. If that sounds damning with faint praise then I am not properly conveying the rarity of it.

I have a great appreciation for language. For me, a good line goes a long way. To remove this attribute altogether from a piece of music puts the work at a disadvantage. It’s not insurmountable but it is nonetheless appreciated with less frequency.

There is a great quote attributed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer about “Comforting the troubled and troubling the comfortable,” and, well, this becomes more difficult when dealing in abstraction. But I think that it also may very well apply here and that is no small feat.


5/5 golden merles

Finally a cover that looks like it was intended for the digitally ornate frame it has received (at least, I mean to say, classically/traditionally, in some outdated sense that seems reasonable to the outsider…).

When my grandfather was expiring in the hospice we took with him an illuminated painting of the sea. Originally it was displayed in the basement of their old house for a few decades. Then it spent another couple of years more prominently displayed in his bedroom at the condominium.

Maybe it is of the forest not the sea, I can’t find the image of it on my phone. The picture is semi-translucent and a couple of electric blubs light it from behind. I know it is in one of the 20 different family text threads that arbitrarily add or exclude one or two individuals and seem to be used interchangeably.

In any case, I remember it as a representation of the sea. And it followed him around for years, idly glowing. And it resembles this cover image, probably. Ricky Eat Acid makes art with great attention to detail, metering and a deep empathy for the individual listener. That he excels at the projection of their consumption is a matter of public record.