In preparing to write the metaphor comparing Covington, KY's Umin compositions to a hummingbird's flight pattern, I watched video after video of hummingbirds doing hummingbird things. The comparison made sense in my mind. In darting from flower to flower those transitions seem impossibly fast, almost imperceptible to the human eye. But then, it is there, suspended motionless extracting nectar from a flower. It's tiny heart beating 21 times per second. 

Listening to Umin's 5th release, this metaphor seems apt, right? Something a clever writer would do. I mean, it is there, right in front of you. Lines splayed out all over baritone ukelele and acoustic guitar, run through a sequencer and composed loop-by-loop as Kevin Poole's fingers run at a hummingbird's pace up and down the fretboard creating impossibly fast arpeggios. Stopping, hovering over a particularly tasty musical morsel, extracting all of the sonority, timbre, blatant genius before transitioning - at lightning speed - on to the next. Poole's heart and phalanges traveling at 21 times the normal human's.

Some lines, often modulated, sometimes stark, take on sonic character far beyond their origin and stop just short of running-out-of-time-on-the-level 8-bit intensity and just approaching the horizon of the brain's ability to process individual notes as perceptible. This can lead to two very different listening approaches. One is of complete surrender. To lay the fine hairs in your ear canal flat and let the swirling notes wash over you in an unregulated sea of data. The firehose of 1's and 0's we used to think the internet was comprised of when we plugged into our most visceral Lawnmower Man 90's virtual reality fantasies. The second, much more rewarding approach, is to put your active listening cap on and compartmentalize and isolate. Squinting your ears to track and capture those beautiful transitions. Moments when stark changes, quadrupling of lines, hyper-complex arpeggios at realtime begin to separate themselves and peer through the shower bead curtain of notes. Tiny hummingbird wings captured and slowed down to a very fast human's walking pace.

But here is where the metaphor breaks down. While nowhere near the aimless and circuitous flight of a fly or wasp, you could easily call a hummingbird a bit spastic. Watching Umin perform these looped passages in realtime, however, one gets the sense that these songs are precise in their planning and execution. When Umin reaches for his baritone ukelele to play several hyperfast lines already an already roiling sea of hyperfast lines, he does so with a methodical, studied patience, rather than the spastic, everythings-going-to-break, edge of control method utilized by some famous loopers. No hummingbird flit. All careful precision.

Friday, October 2nd, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Dag Rosenqvist (otherwise known as Jasper, TX) represents a major milestone in my journey to musical discovery. For his latest on the expertly curated Eilean Rec., Rosenqvist strips away a lot of the long-form drone of his work under the moniker Jasper, TX and lays bare some of the most simple and heartbreaking compositions to date. Chords on pianos pressed down with the utmost sincerity. The weight of the world pressing down on on three piano keys left to ring into ominous, pregnant stormclouds full of static-charged electronics and wisps and whispers of augmented tones. This excerpt is a perfect indication of where Rosenqvist is heading. Compositional still-life that is highly choreographed, highly charged in the not-silence between ringing notes. In the blackness the image is still burned into our retinas. How long can a person tread water? How long can we hold our breath as we gi through tunnels burrowed beneath sound? Another chord is like coming up for air.

eilean rec. 37 : dag rosenqvist - the forest diaries (VI) (excerpt) (07.07.15) (video by jenny larsson) from M.V / EILEAN REC. on Vimeo.

Purchase The Forest Diaries on Eilean Rec.


Pendel is Belgian guitarist Yadayn's second full-length. For those of you who remember, his debut Vloed was one of my favorite albums of last year. A completely suprising, gut-punch of virtuosity and emotion from a masterful acoustic guitarist who, refreshingly, seems to take as much from Eastern classical guitarwork as he does from any sort of American Primitive style. Pendel, his first for Eilean Rec., swings from abstract pieces of strange, percussive guitar explorations of ringing overtones and auxilliary soundmaking to the emotionally charged and ruminating work towards the latter half of the record. On Pendel (Dutch for pendelum) the pendel certainly does swing stylistically back-and-forth - thus allowing Gowaart to explore rich, sonourous landscapes between rigorous experimentation and the hypnotic, textural, folk-meets-Tortoise repetition on tracks like "Rust" or the mournful "Kerk". An exceptional follow-up to a startlingly mature, and out-of-nowhere debut that floored me. The video accompaniment, taken from Alexander Sokourov's 1997 film "Mother & Son" appear like moving photographs. Perfectly framed, removed and intiontally far off. A perfect foil for music that is so intimate that you can hear Gowaart's calloused fingers sliding against steel strings on their way to briefly find another chord.

eilean rec. 25 : yadayn - in (08.08.15) from M.V / EILEAN REC. on Vimeo.

Purchase Pedel on Eilean Rec.


Lastly, Lake Mary. What would I do without Lake Mary's music? Look back through the archives and I don't think I've missed a release. Chaz Prymek's masterful guitarwork and newfound compositional confidence have found a logical, if only temporary, home on Eilean Rec. Prymek's latest work has opened up quite a bit, allowing long, billowing passages of exploratory roaming on acoustic guitar, banjo and a bevy of other stringed instruments (and musical partners) to settle in and just about get comfy before launching into one of Lake Mary's characteristic intense and technically proficient journeys up and down the fretboard. On And the Birds Sing in Chorus First Chaz begins with a cumulus gathering of stringed passages that assemble and gestate, rubbing against each other to create static electricity before Lake Mary's intense solo lines ring out - channeling American Primitivists' fascination with Near Eastern ragas and transcendental repetition punctuated by flurries of notes. Nothing in Lake Mary's latest offering sounds rushed or hurried, but rather unfolds in the way mountain afternoons often do: long spaces between moments of poignant beauty. For the video, more Sokourov footage of clouds and perfectly framed trees in both winter and spring give perfect visual counterpoint to the aural footage shot by Lake Mary's deep familiarity and conversations with mountain grandeur. Lake Mary has expanded in both compositional scope and in membership, but in doing so, communicates explicitly what it means to be and to feel very, very small.

eilean rec. 12 : lake mary - had I been born (08.08.15) from M.V / EILEAN REC. on Vimeo.

Purchase on Eilean Rec.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Ki Oni - Eliphas (Inner Islands, 2015)

Verdant and lush, the looping upper-register synths, buried vocal samples and sharp, birch-twig dry beats on Eliphas exists somewhere in the nexus of nostalgia and I-can-take-on-the-world exuberance. While beat tapes often can take their cues from dense, grimy passageways of urban centers, Ki Oni's samples and loops trade decaying brick for the thick, sunlight-filtering canopy of the forest. Beautifully delayed and reverbed-out guitars echo back over uncannily organic sounding beats and keyed-up choirs replacing the omnipresent hum and drone of tree-dwelling insects. Completely engrossing and transfixing, a beat tape for walks through deep woods in the (real) world or through the unfolding valleys of the mind.


Blondes - Persuasion (RVNG Intl., 2015)

Slow-building jams until everything-not-yet-sound becomes sound. All body is an ear and Persuasion is something you feel as much as hear. Pulsing, bubbling synths roil adjacent to each other until the 4-4 beat of techno of yore slams right through your solar plexus and the fuck-all of early dancefloor hedonism is resurrected in both club and mind. Blondes are a New York City duo whose laser-guided melodies are a vex and a foil to maniuplative electronic music. Persuasion exists outside of intentional music. Rather, it is a river flowing alongside examined living, inviting listeners to casually dip a toe in, and, if it feels right, to jump in and be completely submerged in the current of focused, sweaty early-House beats and clanging auxilliary percussion, cicada synths and calling, yearning siren-like vocal samples for 25 minutes until it spits you out back into your life - a bit wiser and a little tired. I've never started this EP and not finished it.


Flatliner - Black Medicine (Holodeck, 2015)

"Composed like a horror soundtrack yet produced like a compilation of pop anthems". Flatliner's debut EP makes a case for the two not having to be mutually exclusive. Flatliner can make classic tropes that we have come to associate with the classic 80's synth scores of John Carpenter or Giorgio Moroder come alive and crackle with 2015 high-frequency sheen and dancefloor readiness. Flatliner, and most of the Holodeck stable, is known for creating music that appeals both to obsessive gearhounds by creating music on rare, vintage instruments and for the masses who respond to forward-thinking electronic music filtered through a figurative approach to synthesizers-as-nostalgia. Flatliner's approach takes on this bifcurcation by creating uptempo, shapeshifting drum machine programming with minor-key synth arpeggios that are underscored by a sub-bass that hits with the force of a subwoofer blowing out the windows of Honda Acura of that kid who spent waaaaay too much money on his system. Black Medicine is what it would sound like if the producers of Drive scored Mad Max, or Spy Hunter was made into a dystopian movie directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Blasted Highway to infinity.


UTA Trax/Burnin' - UTA Trax & Burnin' (Hel Audio, 2015)

A split between two incredibly talented SLC-based producers, this tape gives a peek into the world of a Utah scene creating music that is as insular as it is dancefloor ready. UTA Trax is the alter-ego of Hel Audio founder and visionary behind OK Ikumi, Karl Jørgensen. The Trax side was created out of Jørgensen's deep study of 80' Acid House and is full of modulating basslines and propulsive rhythm pushed to the front of the mix. Compared to the Burnin' side side of this compilation, UTA Trax sounds downright confrontational. Burnin's contributions are lush, understated passages full of looped synthesizer lines and resonant bass lines that mirror each other like fighter jets held in a deeply poetic dance of human reaction and technical wizardry. While not as locked-in as UTA Trax, Burnin's side finds a groove that, when it finds itself, never lets go, no matter how mutated it gets. Fantastic beat tape out of SLC. 


Bollywood Life - Manya (Shoeboxx, 2015)

Seeing Bollywood Life at this year's Goldrush Music Festival was a bit of a revelation. Using a effects pad and a throwing his entire body into the stuttering groove created thereby, Anton Krueger creates sweaty, heady dancefloor anthems that are chopped, screwed and seem to run against a sense of intiutive rhythm. Working with, rather than against that feature, Krueger is able to coax wonderfully mutating and modulating synth patterns and keyed-up samples before a fat, resounding keyboard lines pierce the veil of Krueger's compositions to wash the entire thing a powerful golden hue of sine wave perfection. Perfect, short introduction to a budding Denver talent.


Savant - Artificial Dance (RVNG. Intl, 2015)

Sounding completely contemporary in the world of outré experimental dance music, Savant’s Artificial Dance is a commanding follow-up to RVNG Intl.’s a-star-is-reborn retrospective of avant-garde dance music producer Kerry Leimer. Leimer’s Artificial Dance (under the moniker Savant) is born out of sessions with several Seattle-based post-punk musicians who Leimer assembled for the sole purpose of creating intentionally awkward, exploratory music by asking each member to play an instrument outside of their expertise. In these takes, usually only given loose musical guidelines, small miracles emerged. Chance, aleatoric pairings and the joy of discovery that comes from the beginner’s mind began shaping these compositions that sound, even today, incredibly prescient. This record comes to strike a chord somewhere between the NYC dance-rock revival of LCD Soundsystem, !!!, and the late-great Out Hud, with Cage-ian and Reich-ian principles of chance and minimalism. Thrown in there are crawling, near-ambient soundscapes with adjacent, rolling percussion, off-kilter electro-funk basslines with wonky electronic percussion and synthesizers that weave and wind their path through the track’s ever-unfolding rhythmic shape-shifting. Early reviews of this record have compared it favorably to David Byrne & Brian Eno’s sampler’s-paradise of a record, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Here, vocal samples are given minimal treatment, folded discreetly into the record and nearly absent in most tracks. Songs like “The Neo-Realist” and “Knowledge and Action” utilize bizarre spoken word passages that find immense returns from being both completely unscripted as well as heavily scripted. Compare: the ramblings of a schizophrenic man to the reading of a missive about the Apartheid-era political alliances from a foreign policy journal. But herein lies the beauty of this record. Something so scripted can sound wildly experimental while off-the-cuff ramblings fit right at home in the album’s hard core. Minus the dated references to the ANC being a guerrilla government in exile, this record stands outside of time or place. Timeless, but notated.

Monday, September 28th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

goldrush music festival announces full line-up....pictureplane, amulets, braeyden jae, decollage added

Tome contributors Ryan and Crawf are thrilled to announce the full line-up of the Goldrush Music Festival a five-year running music festival in Denver, CO curated and organized by Tome contributors along with some help by some great sponsors (including Tiny Mix Tapes and Impose). The event will take place September 18th-19th in Denver, CO at the Savoy @ Curtis Park. Hope to see you out there!

These fine folks will be joining:

Yoni Wolf, Guardian Alien, Tara Jane O'Neil, Lawrence English, John Chantler, Landing, Benoit Pioulard, Make-Overs, Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk, Crown Larks, The Space Lady, More Eaze, Nevada Greene, Lisa Prank, Married in Berdichev, Bollywood Life, Dugout Canoe, American Culture and Bang Play

Tickets are on sale now:

Plus we are having an amazing Record and Tape Fair. Come purchase physical media from: Field Hymns, Fire Talk, RVNG Intl., GALTTA, Golden Cloud Tapes, Northern Spy, Geographic North, Inner Islands, Hel Audio, Horror Fiction, Kill Shaman, Oma333, NNA, Spring Break Tapes, Shatter Your Leaves, Dismal Niche, Phinery, Constellation Tatsu, Obsolete Future, Debacle, Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records, A Giant Fern.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Jacob Koestler, co-founder of My Idea of Fun, visual artist and musician recording under the name Rural Carrier on D.I.Y community building in post-industrial America and being the ultimate "Sheetz-run" band in a thriving punk scene.

Monday, August 31st, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

In this synchronized swim between electronic and acoustic instrumentation, Andrew Tuttle is able to coax out the most sonorous elements of both - riding that golden mean where the two become indistinguishable. This isn't cloud-based ambient music. Steel strings twang and diminish. Fingers press heavily on synthesizer keys. The fingerprints of mechanics are all over this. Rather, it is a deep tangle of roots. Tendrils weaving through city-funded concrete, finding and exploiting every crack to reach the virgin loam beneath. Deep below the city.

Andrew Tuttle - Brisbane, Australia - has been creating this interpretative electro-acoustic beauty under the name Anonymeye and his God-given one for quite some time. Splitting time between recording solo and with a whole host of collaborators (Matmos, Lawrence English, Mike Cooper, Heinz Riegler) and helping run Australia's true great import of experimental music - Room40/A Guide to Saints, Tuttle's affability and beautifully performed work have made him a true ambassador.

To claim a country as one's own is a luxury, however, that an ever increasing population do not have. All proceeds from "177" go to the Malindza Refugee Camp Library where your enjoyment of great experimental music goes to continuously fund the library that serves over 400 refugees from all over Africa who have fled their native countries of Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, etc...due to war, famine and genocide.

Monday, August 24th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)
In the Last Days of Sutro Fog

Nearly all materials regarding Auxiliary Priest’s 2013 self-titled debut draw allusions to the vastness of the universe, space travel, and other overworked interstellar touchstones. While Auxiliary Priest’s extended forays into electronic drone can indeed evoke interplanetary imagery, aligning its music with typical forbearers of space-centric sounds leaves the wrong impression. Auxiliary Priest foregoes the shimmering builds and payoffs associated with space rock and contemporary drone in favor of plaintive, unresolved, and consistently foreboding soundscapes. In the Last Days of the Sutro Fog stays the course, creating a soundtrack more fit for grieving the slow death of our world than celebrating the beauty of the universe.

As with Auxiliary Priest’s debut, In the Last Days of the Sutro Fog consists of two sidelong pieces. Side A remains incredibly sparse in content, with one central drone shifting in and out of focus over the course of fifteen minutes. Using subtle repetition and dynamic shifts, Side A approximates the sound of 1960s academic electronic music slowly decomposing. The piece repeatedly expands and decays, reaching no higher sonic ground in its maturation. The listener is left without a simple conclusion or comfortable respite. Side A is a testament to Auxiliary Priest’s dedication to restraint, building impressive atmosphere out of bleak austerity.

Side B acts as an effective counterpoint to Side A’s stark minimalism, passing through loose compositional segues without sacrificing a sense of spontaneity. Traditionally heavy, fuzzed-out moments begin to appear alongside more esoteric textures, only to be met with contrasting stretches of skittering high-pitched electronic frequencies. The resulting push and pull of these opposing elements eschews predictable thematic shifts and resolutions. Moments of intensity occur without climbs and fade without warning. Side B embraces varied sounds while upholding Side A’s lack of denouement.

In the Last Days of the Sutro Fog succeeds in creating an unsettling sonic environment. Tones are pitch-shifted and decayed to a point beyond recognition. Aural textures often contain no clear origin, bearing few connecting threads with familiar electronic sounds. While Side B monetarily revels in dimed-out distortion, the material strays from self-indulgence overall. Auxiliary Priest gains a high degree of emotional resonance without relying on the tension build/release schema of traditional drone convention. With In the Last Days of the Sutro Fog, Auxiliary Priest has created a haunting and exploratory piece of electronic minimalism.

Alexander Cunningham

Friday, August 21st, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)
Via Dolorosa

Generally speaking, Black Metal has long been regarded among its fans and adherents as a form that places a good deal of importance on atmosphere and texture. Early acts across Europe helped to cement the genre’s cold, dismal reputation by utilizing sparse compositions and low-fidelity production. Within these early Black Metal scenes, a handful of artists soon began to adopt the use of synthesizers and electronics in crafting a dark ambient sound that existed in parallel with Black Metal. Recent years have seen many Black Metal-indebted artists taking this idea and expanding it, incorporating elements of shoegaze and post-rock to arrive at a more layered, if not more subdued sound than their forbears. Others still have taken some of black metal’s stylistic conventions and boiled them down to their essence in favor of a sound that is even more raw and primitive. In this sense, Mamaleek, a project spearheaded by two anonymous brothers, really do stand out from their peers; nowhere is this more evident than on their most recent release Via Dolorosa.

Like many of their peers, Mamaleek draw inspiration from outside the typical metal milieu. Where they differ, however, is just how far they have delved to create a Black Metal album that is so idiosyncratic in structure and sound that it is decidedly un-metal. Indeed, the only time one hears a distorted guitar on Via Dolorosa is on “Nothing But Loss,” the album’s opening track. Thereafter, the album continues its descent into a bizarre realm where atypical time signatures, the tonality of jazz chords, and both analog & programmed drums are punctuated by raspy, shredded vocals that are more familiar within the black metal genre.

Another element that Mamaleek borrows from Black Metal is the notion of finding inspiration in the immediate environment. If early black metal practitioners drew influences from the Scandinavian landscape and pagan folklore, then Mamaleek have chosen to position themselves further still from black metal convention in writing an album centered around Christ’s final journey to his crucifixion, a theme that is no doubt influenced by the fact that one half of the band currently resides in Beirut.

The Via Dolorosa, or Way of Suffering, is the name given to the path that Christ walked through the streets of Jerusalem to his crucifixion; the album that borrows its name, much like the journey itself, is wrought with discord, anguish, and ultimately mystery and beauty. In wrapping such themes in the far-flung fabrics of Black Metal, noirish avant-jazz, ambient electronics, and Middle Eastern folk rhythms, Mamaleek have crafted a metal album as beguiling and compelling as it is unorthodox.

Kyle Mace

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)
Adoption Tapes

Walks on the Beach, a collaboration between accomplished master of oscillations and feedback Mike Shiflet, and proficient producer and Black Swans singer-songwriter Jerry David DeCicca, is unique not just in the pairing of two prolifically talented artists from distinctly different camps, but in the sheer, eerie beauty the pair have committed together.

It’s been elsewhere deemed something akin to “Appalachian noise folk,” but that doesn’t quite get it right – or do the tracks justice; not once do the experimentally minded tracks veer into a full-on noise-rock ditch, nor does the instrumentation reflect the Appalachian music tradition, as we’ve come to appreciate it. Rather, controlled and manipulated atonal frequencies are accompanied by bits and pieces of fractured and fragmented guitar melodies, at times coming together to birth a sort of mesmerizing beauty that’s damn near impossible for the listener to break a glance with.

Shiflet’s mastery of sine wave manipulation is apparent as he conducts surges of crackled tones in single bits and multiplicity, dialing in cascading collections of static and altered, continuous mountains of sound that seem pleasant enough, give their present company. Just under the surface, however, remains a slightly uneasy melancholy and contentious tone that gives the guitar work something abrasive to latch onto.

For DeCicca’s part, his auspicious electric guitar arpeggios and casual improvisations at once offer direction, slicing a swath path, but also offering the promise of a continual meandering trip. His vocal work, reportedly culled from a notebook of permanently partial lyrical thoughts, are sputtered, near-whispered and delivered with a spooky milieu as if from behind a deep cloud; largely unintelligible and absolutely perfect for being so. It’s probably reasonable to make comparisons to Jandek here and there, but a greater acquaintance with the music discloses a distinctly different level of complexity at work.

This is one of those releases that can repeat several times over before a blissed-out, entranced listener would catch on; it’s a totally cool near-ambient dreamscape and the world would be better for more work like this seeing the light of day. Here's to hoping this particular team has more to offer in the future.

- William Furbee

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

You may have noticed my less-than-prolific output here on the Tome. That, partly/mostly is due to the fact that Crawf and I have been in the throes of putting together 2015's Goldrush Music Festival taking place in Denver, CO Sept. 18th-19th at The Savoy at Curtis Park.

The initial line up is wild. Below you will find a link to the website where you can buy early-bird tickets. THIS IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. They will sell out. In this line up you will find several genre pioneers, at least one legendary band woken out of hiatus, three continents represented (Africa, Australia and Europe), street performers embraced by the avant-garde, up-and-comers that we couldn't be more thrilled to be giving stage-time.  

The best part is...There is MORE TO COME!!

Yoni Wolf

Lawrence English

Guardian Alien

Tara Jane O'Neil

John Chantler


Benoît Pioulard

Make-Overs (South Africa)

Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk

Crown Larks

The Space Lady

More Eaze

Nevada Greene

Married in Berdichev

Lisa Prank

Bollywood Life

Dugout Canoe

American Culture


Monday, August 10th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)