Montreal’s Tim Hecker has entered the new decade in style. His newest release, Apondalifa, is the latest in his signature feel, one nine-minute swirl of lush, dreamy, drifty tone. Again we’re greeted with that shifting, mournful, cathedral feel heard often in An Imaginary Country, a cautiously bold chord progression itself greeted by specks of tones, gradually shifting drones that sound like elegant bleats of dying animals. The track from his previous album that the title references is only briefly referenced within the song. As the track sort of nods to the past, it gives a guiding hand to the future, as glitchy, almost percussive guitar melodies join the electronic chorus. It’s a certain flavor of Hecker I’ve not yet heard that rounds out the track.

I really love Tim Hecker’s alluring sense of uncertainty; it is for one in his way of subtly evolving in his craft. There are little nuances here and there over time, little shifts in feel and aesthetic and skill. There is still a sense of familiarity that the listener can connect with, like looking at old pictures of people you now know. Throughout all his works, this uncertainty is a constant: Hecker’s music is incredibly, incomparably emotionally moving, and I cannot for the life of me pin down why. Apondalifa is a grand continuation of this tradition.

The track is being released on Room40 Records, as a download or limited 7″. You can buy it here.

-Brian S.


Releasing electronic music anonymously these days isn’t the same archetype-burning statement it once was. With names like Burial and Zomby becoming household names despite their desire to “keep it all about the music”, it’s become something of an empty gesture. However, the member/members(?) of Downliners Sekt adhere to this policy to such a rigorous extent that it actually regains some of the lost intrigue. Other than the fact that they must be English speakers, DS have revealed no information whatsoever about their age, country of origin, previous musical backgrounds, pretty much a blank slate. The self-proclaimed “filesharing fanatics” have also chosen to entirely eschew any economic interests in their music, releasing it all for free under a Creative Commons license.

Now, as someone who fields a fair amount of submitted music, I can safely say that you usually get what you pay for with much of this ‘free, Creative Commons’ music. But Downliners Sekt seem to be truly committed to this cause and never let the quality falter, to the extent that luminaries like Mary Anne Hobbs have sat up and taken notice.

As for the sounds, Downliners Sekt find themselves somewhere near the intersection of Tim Hecker and Fennesz’s melodically manipulated distortions and the subtle rhythmic inflections of Burial or Mount Kimbie; basically the bread and butter of this site. Dark and melancholy, with the added mystique regarding the creators of such a sound, Downliners Sekt are successfully rallying against the formulaic both musically and ethically. This EP is apparently the first part in a trilogy, so keep a look out for the subsequent releases right here.

(to download, visit Downliners Sekt’s (hee!) website here and navigate over to releases, where all of their albums can be downloaded free of charge.)

For Fans Of: Burial, Fennesz, Tim Hecker, matthewdavid

– Brian B.

Excuse me if this ends up being a little bit of a rush job; I know that this is one of Max from Poop Mountain‘s favorite records of the year so far and I want to post about it before they do. Eat it, suckers.

Kyle Parker is sort of an odd man out on Dean Spunt’s Post Present Medium label, and while he shares a hometown and label with art punks Abe Vigoda and Mika Miko, his music as Infinite Body comes from a different place entirely. Carve’s glowing drones conjure images of something decidedly more primal and veiled than the oppressive blue skies and urban sprawl of Los Angeles. The subtle distorted finish on every chord and cloud add just the slightest touch of menace and tension to these otherwise sublime compositions. From the staggered, phasing strings of “A Fool Persists” to the distant mechanical stabs of “Sunshine”, Carve’s stable of sounds might take a few listens to fully expose.

Parker reared himself on L.A.’s harsh noise circuit, and the structures and distortion on Carve Out The Face Of My God belie that history, but the warm melodies and personal inflections invite you to listen closer and learn more about the guy behind all those pedals.

For Fans Of: At All Ends’-era Yellow Swans, EMERALD$, strange-colored morning mist

MySpace / Buy

Brian B.

P.S. It took me literally 2 hours to upload this on my stupid hill-person internet and got smacked with a big fat ‘failure’ when it was done, so this is, unfortunately, a link jack. I hope you don’t mind, MF user howtobecomeavirgin

Canicule Garden

Moth Traces

As an artist, I try not to get too meta. And I try not to focus too much on the subject matter of what I’m doing at the moment, because that’s what’s comfortable to me. But every once in a while I like trying something uncomfortable. These two releases are probably an example of that. I sat down and decided I wanted to make some music that was blissful, shimmering, hazy, bright, bursting with a sense of spring and summer and foggy, happy memories. And at the same time, I wanted to make some music that was dark, thick, noisy, terrifying, murky, something that to describe the uncertainty and subtle horror between those lighthearted times. And these two little EPs are the end result of that desire to craft sharply contrasting ambient music, one summerlike, one wintry. On their own I think they’re sweet little considerations of their respective emotions, together they seem to have a lot more power. They are, for me, a way of coming to terms with and understanding things I can’t say. I hope you can find something nice like that when you listen to them, too.

-Brian S

I’m beginning to think that split EPs are one of the best ways to digest instrumental and post-rock music. The low track count (such as two or three songs to a side) forces each band to push as much as they can into each song, and the presence of two artists where normally there are one makes more a slightly more expansive experience than a typical full-length.

Never having heard anything from either The American Dollar or Arms and Sleepers before, From the Inland Sea acted as my introduction to both- I didn’t really know what to expect outside of some potentially noodly instrumental music. The American Dollar’s half (my favorite of the two) is a slight but welcome divergence from the oft-tread avenues of post-rock, ‘Landing’ starting out with a contemplative (though familiar) synth pad + piano motif bristling with glitchy drum machine sounds before bursting into full view with a bitchin’ drumbeat that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Lymbyc Systym record. TAD then quickly slathers on the reverby tremolo guitar, but instead of trying to shred your face with overly-enthusiastic bombast, they let the tones yawn across the mix, producing something that simultaneously makes you want to do a heart head bob while feeling like staring at the sky in winter.
The songs on this first half are crisp, clean and tight- only once going past the four minute mark- yet still feel adventurous and dream-like. The synthesizer and guitar tradeoff that opens ‘Where We Are’ sounds almost poppy and exuberant, especially after the solmen and processional-sounding end to the previous track. The band manages to make music that sounds bright, clean and clear, but still capable of at any momoent evanescing into an atmospheric icy fog with all the ponderous piano lines you could want.

Arms and Sleepers’ half is a great deal less melodic than the first, eschewing the narrative feeling of TAD’s half for a more opaque, groove and layer-focused progression. First track ‘The Catcher Elsewhere’ begins with a piano motif that is quickly undercut by a swaying drum and piano accompaniment, letting the hemiola rhythm of the piano slowly drift in and out of time with the rest of the song as we are gradually introduced to building long tones and more instruments pushing for prevalence in the mix- another hemiola in the vibraphone, some good old-fashioned post-rock clean guitar squigglies, all tumbling and turning and shifting in and out of view.

As I alluded to before, one of the release’s greatest strengths is its nature as a split: the juxtaposition of these two bands’ different takes on electronics-heavy instrumental post-rock decisively eradicates the monotony that always threatens to destroy music such as this. They’re both painting with the same brushes, and at times the same colors, but the results  are never quite the same.


Standout Tracks: “Landing”, “Where We Are”


Daniel Lopatin has been putting out longform synthesizer meditations under the curious moniker Oneohtrix Point Never (pretty sure I read that it’s supposed to be pronounced like a radio station frequency, i.e. 106.7 with ‘trix’ and ‘never’ instead of 6 and 7). Like many artists in the burgeoning DIY ambient/drone scene, he spreads his work across a multitude of extremely limited CD-Rs and tapes, which can be kind of a hassle to track down. Luckily, he’s put out Rifts to compile the best sounds off three of his latest albums onto one 2XCD release. OPN takes a lot of cues from early new-age ambient innovators like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, and all of the analog synths sound like they’re coming at you from a mid-70’s space documentary. It conjures up some neat images, and the whole retro-futurist vibe gives it a different spin than other ambient stuff. If you dig the synthy side of Emeralds, you’ll probably dig this, as well as the Skyramps project that Lopatin and Mark McGuire from Emeralds collaborated on a few years ago, which I just might post soon. Enjoy

1 / 2

For Fans Of: Emeralds, Tangerine Dream, Sun Araw


Brian B.

It’s difficult for me to talk about where music comes from for me. It just does. There are a lot of things I could pin point that inspire me. I can think of one pretty clearly, but it’s going to sound a bit pretentious. Anyways there’s a loop of highway that goes around my city and I assume a lot of cities, called the outerbelt. And I live in a house in a suburb on the edge of said city, so I’m pretty close to it. But not too close. And at night if I look out my window I can faintly hear the highway, it’s a kind of wooshing, windy sound, but deeper. It’s really kind of sad sounding, and when I thought about it, it sounded so organic, yet was made by cars, machines, but was also made by people, driving at night trying to make it home. And that moved me, somehow.

So Glasslung is kind of like that, it’s me trying to find a connect between the organic, the machine, the human. It’s ambient/drone/electronic/noise music if that’s your thing. It’s a lot of analogue instruments and some digital synthesis and almost a year of patient, loving editing and distorting. I spent a long time recording old keyboards and analogue synths and guitars and sitting behind a computer with a cup of coffee or tea. A lot of it sounds sad, and windy and wooshy like the outerbelt. It’s really quite out there I guess, but, if in the right mood, is capable of being profoundly moving.

For me, at least. You can decide the validity of that on your own. But trying to put words to mine own music puts a sour taste in my mouth. It’s me. I don’t know how I feel, but I know it sounds like this.

-Brian S

Here’s some pretty droney things from Type Records (Grouper, Peter Broderick, Helios) co-owner John Twells. He’s got quite a few records under his belt, spanning a range of styles from glitchy IDM to doom-laden, glacial noise. Transit is a bit more spritely and emotional than the latter, with two tracks of shiny synths overlapping washes of soft noise. All of the slight minor chord shifts and what not add a subtle sense of urgency to the otherwise calm landscape. Neat stuff.

Unfortunately, and I hate to do this to you again, I’m fairly sure this 10″ was released in a very limited run and is no longer available. Bummer. But that’s one of the things these blogs are actually good for, right?

For Fans Of: Emeralds, Machinefabriek

Brian B.

Dolphins Into The Future is the new-age ambient project of Belgian artist Lieven Martens. On this Not Not Fun release, soft-focus, improvised drones and field recordings melt together into a soft ebb and flow of aquatic bliss. …On Sea-Faring Isolation borrows its title from a novel by Joan Ocean, detailing her 20-year spiritual journey with dolphins in Hawaii and seems like it would provide an apt soundtrack to such an experience. Calm, blissful, liquid tones abound. Check it out.

For Fans Of: Emeralds, The Skaters, Tangerine Dream, Black Dice’s Beaches And Canyons

– Brian

P.S. Unfortunately, this album had a very limited run and is currently out of print. So if you wanted to buy it… sorry.

Pantha Du Prince is German producer Hendrik Weber, who has been putting out dark, ambient techno on various labels throughout the past couple of years. His last album, This Bliss, came out back in 2007 and he’s getting ready to drop another full length on February 9th (so many good records coming out on my birthday this year), entitled Black Noise. Judging from the success of The Field and the Kompakt sound in the wider independent music world, Pantha seems poised to make that jump with the help of some famous friends, including Animal Collective, !!!, and LCD Soundsystem. Animal Collective’s Panda Bear (nee Noah Lennox), seemingly warming up to his role as the T-Pain of left-field electronic-based music, lets Pantha warp and stretch his vocal melodies on ‘Stick To Your Side’, while !!!’s Tyler Pope plays bass on lead single ‘The Splendour’ . ‘The Splendour’ covers some pretty familiar, yet always intriguing ground, but Lennox’s warm vocals bring ‘Stick To My Side’ to a lighter place than some of the mistier numbers on This Bliss. Nonetheless, with the quality of his past work and these knockout collaborations, Black Noise looks to be one of the first great electronic albums of 2K10.

Download ‘Stick To My Side (ft. Panda Bear)’

Download ‘The Splendour (ft. Tyler Pope)’

For Fans Of: The Field, Gas, Kompakt’s Pop Ambient compilations, Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works, 4/4 bass thumps

– Brian B.