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Reviews: Leftfield / Experimental


Review: So Percussion & Matmos Treasure State

Label: Cantaloupe

It's safe to assume that at this point in Martin Schmidt's and Drew Daniel's storied and long-stretching audio career, there isn't a physical object within the pair's capabilities of comprehension and travel that the duo hasn't at least considered utilizing for sound recording and subsequent application in an adventurous composition. Read more » 

Review: SubtractiveLAD Life at the End of the World

Label: n5MD

Vancouver's Stephen Hummel (a.k.a. SubtractiveLAD) crafts dreamlike ambient pieces that often come dangerously close to sentimentality. Thankfully, Life at the End of the World wisely seasons in tension and just the right amount of desolation to lock the ear. "Ne Plus Ultra" and "Nautilus" slowly exhale clouds of hymnal drones and delicate guitarwork into pristine music for heartbroken reflection. Likewise, "Once the Stars Have Been Washed from the Sky" weaves a rich, sprawling mass of guitar distortion. Read more » 

Review: Richard Skelton Landings

Label: Type

On his second album under his own name, Richard Skelton creates a mournful music that is directly informed by the landscape, specifically the moorlands of Anglezarke (in Lancashire, UK), but which is also elegiac to his late wife, Louise. Though site-specific pieces (in the ruins of old farmhouses and so on) were later abandoned in favor of recordings inspired by the location, Landings is still partially derived from Anglezarke. Read more » 

Review: Yellow Swans Going Places

Label: Type

As the last testament from the format-catholic PDX noise duo, the fittingly titled Going Places crystallizes the tension that made for Yellow Swans' sporadic genius and, one assumes, their unraveling. Like Gowns, another foiled and convincing noise band, Yellow Swans' music is political in the most bummed and personal way. "Opt Out," "Limited Space," and "New Life" are titles of some of the dark-hued, percolating dust clouds contained on the record. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists Pop Ambient 2010

Label: Kompakt

Even though it's a decade old, Kompakt's ambient franchise still manages to sound fresh, avoiding a tragic shift towards becoming hipster spa music or a Pure Moods for the techno set. While the template and talent has varied, the key is making sure that pop remains an important part of the equation. Read more » 

Review: Chicago Underground Duo Boca Negra

The post-rock family tree inevitably leads to the Chicago Underground collective. At the heart of that group are Rob Mazurek and Chad Taylor, who, despite their endless "rock" credits, are secretly an avant-garde free-jazz duo in the Ornette Coleman model. With Boca Negra, they pilot bare-bones drums, brass, and marimbas straight into the unorthodox tunings and slippery structures of Coleman's harmolodics, even covering his "Broken Shadows" to make the intent clear. Read more » 

Review: Pimmon Smudges Another Yesterday

In the early '00s, Sydney's Paul Gough (a.k.a. Pimmon proudly broke the bones of pop tunes and left them as mangled paperclip sculptures that embodied the fearlessness and merciless self-indulgence of glitch-techno. He matures a bit on Smudges Another Yesterday. Read more » 

Review: Autechre Oversteps

Label: Warp

Even in their earliest form, Autechre tracks had a handmade feel, assembled from richly manipulated sounds rather than standardized electronic building blocks. Oversteps is the latest product of the duo's Max/MSP wizardry, and it recoups some of the coherence of their earlier, almost clubby songs with the more lateral processing and cryptic shapes of its predecessor, Quaristice. Read more » 

Review: Matthew Hawtin Once Again, Again

Label: Plus 8

Just in terms of its sheer volume, this mixed archive of chillout moods and grooves from the early to mid-1990s is an essential audio document. One of the features of this release is a digital-only, three-hour-plus continuous mix that includes tracks by Peter Namlook, Sun Electric, MLO, Theorem, and FUSE. Read more » 


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