16mm films of foliage bathed under an eerie purplish-green chemical bath is a perfect foil for The Oscillations' Demian Castellanos outwards-bound pushing guitar work. Overtop a sturdy Kraut groove, Castellanos takes kamikaze guitar dives into the heart of the sun only to emerge through the otherside on another plane...one slightly more purified and stranger than this one. We are thrilled to premiere their first video from their new album Beyond the Mirror (Rare and Unreleased Tracks) out on All Time Low which is a killer look back through their (almost) 10 year history as a band. Both the Oscillation and Demian Castellanos's solo records warrant obsessive amounts of listens. Dig below.

Pre-Order Beyond the Mirror Here.

THE OSCILLATION 'Kissing The Sun' from JULIAN HAND on Vimeo.

Monday, November 23rd, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)
Asasin în Lege

Asasin în Lege (Killers, Inc) is John Atkinson's soundtrack to the documentary that investigates an ever-increasing war between Russian bankers and businessmen with leagues of assassins pulled from Moldova's post-soviet malaise at their disposal. Atkinson's natural affinity for creating thick, ominous compositions out of urban field recordings works as a perfect counterpoint to the shady dealings - often done within tightly cordoned, post-industrial cities of post-Soviet bloc. Watching the documentary snaps Atkinson's compositions into sharp relief. Sounds that in and of themselves - which I can only guess to be augmented, processed and obsucred clanging of trains tracks, the synthesized cry of distant, hungry wolves and the piercing pull of electronic communications coming in via some kind of digital morse code - work in the textural tapestry of the film and are given faces, locations and soundtrack deeds. 

Listening to this as a score and an album are two very different experiences. As an album, it is easy to get lost in the conceptual framework of the blending of natural and processed. The natural and manufactured world is co-created and exists within Atkinson's electronic compositions that include his penchant for arcing, fraying synth lines and distant percussion that retain faint traces of his work with one of my all-time favorites Aa. Isolated from Aa's maximalist, ultra-everything, Atkinson's solo output on this album holds a bleak sort of majesty - meditations on a sine wave that breaks free from the tension-filled sea of ominous undertones and rides a thermal updraft before being pulled back to the lightly-radiated earth to score some truly heinous behavior.

Listening to Asasin în Lege in its context gives the compositions direction. While in and of themselves, long, noise-laden passages indicate and create some kind of tension held in stasis, in the film these passages serves well their cinematic purposes. Scenes of grainy surveillance cameras recording assassinations segue into stone-faced interviews with assasins in the syndicate. These compositions rarely let up on the doom, yet are highly dynamic, moving from golden-edged gloom (faint hues of sunnrise on the horizon) to droning ambient passages so heavy they have their own gravitational pull. 

It appears that Atkinson has been doing his homework when it comes to Eastern European ambient music. In my years as a writer I've (for some reason) listened to way more Eastern Euro ambient than I ever thought existed. Last year's Macedonian compilation Across the Mountains was a favorite of mine, the Ukrainian label Underground Alliance massive 3-CD compilation was a bit rougher to get through. Regardless, Atkinson nails the stately and serious as fuck synthesizer drones, washes of harsh noise and penchant for distant post-industrial percussion. Atkinson's compositions work extremely well for tension-filled listening but is given a self-contained world of heroes and villains in the documentary Asasin în Lege.

Ryan H.


Tuesday, November 17th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

It's been awhile since I've done one of these, but this fully orchestrated and gorgeously paced ballad by Swedish songwriter Muxica77 had me all sorts of wistful for days of TTTWM past when Scandinavia seemed to be sending us their best and brightest on the daily. Highly choreographed winter conjuring from some Swedish witch miming kabuki vamping had my eyes glued to the screen. "Algestern Varwe" moves from black hole noise terror to sparse, slide-guitar led ballad, to ramping up to psych-lite excess. Alt-Country btw of Calexico filtered through Sweden's eternal winter rather than Tucson's scorched wasteland. A nice reprieve for the coming onslaught of tapes I've been digesting.

Purchase from This is Forte

Monday, November 16th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Steve Hauschildt Where All Is Fled (Kranky, 2015)

Steve Hauschildt's sixth record - and third for Kranky - is an emotionally riveting and wholly substantial record in a genre often yielding lightweight explorations into synth-based mood music. Where All is Fled, however, is a record that is dynamic and consistent, one that starts with fluid, sand-shifting tone washes and builds to suspenseful and lovely climaxes of stirring arpeggios and komische-inspired synthscapes. Hauschildt, of course, needs no introduction. As one third of Emeralds - a band that "broke" a culminating mass of young musicians forging new connections between 70's Kraut and New Age music to a wider audience - Hauschildt always felt like that group's unassuming ace in the hole. Since Emeralds' disbanding Hauschildt's output has been a winnowing work, a further edification of layered arpeggios, delicate, unadorned piano lines and rythemless propulsion that builds into a cascading torrent of perpetual motion. Where All is Fled has been a constant and versatile companion, and as I've waited this long to write the review, has been with me for much of 2015. It has accompanied me through paperwork sessions between clients and, most recently, perfectly paced runs through the woods near my house. Much of the bubbling, ebullient lines that make a track like "A Reflecting Pool" sound as if they are starting far away and bubbling up through some viscous liquid before dissipating. Where All is Fled is a precarious record, as the mark that Emeralds made is slowly fading, Hauschildt continues to make sturdy, relevant records that counts as some of the best music of the past few years.

Purchase from Kranky


Ruhe Patriarchs (Eilean Rec, 2015)

I am constantly amazed at the level of craftsmanship that Eilean Rec is able to bring to the table on each release. While I have loved everything that this label has put out this year, the Pacific Northwest composer Ruhe's work on Patriarchs is the one I have responded the most viscerally to. Simple, descending and ascending piano notes hang suspended in mid-air while their resonance settles and decays like dust through slanted sunlight. While most of the record follows this formula of minimalist piano lines unadorned with little else but highly emotive playing - a heavy heart's worth of weight pressing on those keys - tracks like "Shelter" feature several strands of tape manipulation and distant melodies waxing and waning across the composition with disembodied vocals humming stolen melodies. The eponymous "Patriarchs" features vocals from Ruhe, that in their explorations of our venerated (yet very human and anti-heroic), give a devastatingly accurate critique of our tendency for hero worship of very human and largely unheroic patriarchs...which makes this next sentence seem pretty absurd. RIYL Brian Eno, M. Ostermeier, Simon James Phillips.

Purchase from Bandcamp


Gordon Ashworth The One You Love & Cannot Trust (Latrogenesis, 2015)

Gordon Ashworth's follow up EP to one of 2014's truly important contributions to the world of experimental music, the full-length S.T.L.A continues that records' exploration of the intersection between sound art, field recordings, eloquent drones and notations of Ashworth's earlier work under the moniker Concern - which often focused on expertly played stringed instruments paired with various manipulations of the instrument or recording process. Guitars and other stringed instruments are all over this record, as is Ashworth's unique fingerpicking style. Ashworth's technique is difficult to classify within anything akin to American Primitivism or European folk music for that matter. It consists of Ringing open notes and quick clusters of deftly picked notes that run over Ashworth's field recordings collected through his travels and through his job moonlighting as a taxi driver in Portland. Sometimes, like on "New Moon" these lines are otherworldly powerful, the lines themselves are easy to pick out - but there is just so much sound happening around those discernible notes that a blissful sort of aural claustrophobia sets in. The nocturnal that permeates Ashworth's releases is strong on this one as is Ashworth's powerful ability to pull drones of crackling tension from adjacent electrical outlet and dread from a conversation happening in the next bando over from your newly gentrified street.

Purchase from Bandcamp


Nigredo Lunas Negras (Small Scale Music, 2015)

The group of Montreal composers, vocalists and stringed instrument players known as Nigredo have banded together on Lunas Negras to interpret and record a collection of poems by Frederico Garcia Lorca. In this unedited, live recording Geraldine Celerier Eguiluz's equally beautiful and terrifying vocals and classical Spanish influenced guitar are joined with a small troupe of stringed instruments and auxiliary percussion to create a performance that is tightly composed and highly emotional. These emotions range from mournful dirges to ecstatic, pointillist runs through an impressively high upper range. Eguiliuz's voice leads the strings through a diving, lilting, squawking traverse across Lorca's evocative poetry as if each player is sight-reading the poem as it is exiting Eguiliuz's mouth in a breathy exhale and horror-filled scream. There is an impetus: a clarion call and then a tumbling of clunky chord progressions reacting to and coaxing some of the most indelible and unforgettable sounds out of Eguiliz's reedy vocal chords. The tape, like all performances like this, is best enjoyed in its entirety, allowing the full spectrum to sink in and pass through you. Kudos to the newly-minted Small Scale Music for bringing this to light.

Purchase via Bandcamp


Anthéne Repose (Polar Seas Recordings, 2015)

Sometimes, all you need is a slab of white, granular drone to soothe a troubled psyche or focus your thoughts on a task. The soothing, stretched tones of Anthéne's Repose can do that like little else. Released on Toronto's Polar Seas Recordings this record is full of gentle pulls of spectral light from the dead cold. Bradley Deschamps is one half of North Atlantic Drift who share a similar tonal palate of placid, smoothed over tones that are emotive without being overbearing. Touchstones of Fennesz and Eluvium come immediately to mind. With the serene overtones and textures, this is a record that seeps deep into your subconscious if, perhaps, your attention has slipped away from active listening - you may wonder why you feel in tune with the gradual glacial shift from liquid to solid on a global scale. You need this in your life.

Purchase from Bandcamp.


The Balustrade Ensemble Renewed Brilliance (Serein, 2015)

There are moments on Renewed Brilliance that hearken to a musical strain that is not present in much of the ilk in this tightly composed, yet spacious ambient music, a courtly medieval chamber orchestra dragged beneath guitar distortion and underwater atmospherics. When it comes up for air loose strands of mellotron, orchestron, dulcitron (having google imaged each before writing this) share top billing with familiar washes of distortion-filled guitars, fluttering harps and vigorous bowing of stringed instruments. I guess there was a time when post-classical was a legit genre, The Balustrade Ensemble actually feel like a group studied and trained enough to wear those pants. Just listen to the way all auxiliary sounds filter out towards the end of "Show Us to the Sky" - a muting of all harpists, oscillators, processed guitars until the sturdy backbone of the track emerges - gentle pulls across a violin's vibrato rich strings. There is a lot in here. I remember buying a CD at a thrift shop of glass armonica music; the ethereality, ringing tones and capturing of stately objectification of mankind's endless tinkering is something I greatly prize about that private press CD, this is that CD times x1,000 paired with incredibly beautiful, expertly crafted washes of ambiance and frighteningly astute multi-instrumentalism, yet led by a sturdy guitar set through multiple stages of tape and digital manipulation. One of the finest and rewarding records of the year.


From the Mouth of the Sun Into The Well (Fluid Audio, 2015)

At this point From the Mouth of the Sun should need no introduction. Comprised of multi-instrumentalists Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper, TX) and Aaron Martin, From the Mouth of the Sun is an impossibly beautiful pairing of Rosenqvist's late moves towards quiet, stately and sparse piano compositions and Martin's looped and processed cello and bowed banjo. These two fit together in seamless, mutual affection - a bond forged through uploading and unzipping files of gorgeous song stems traveling instantaneously from Gothenburg, Sweden and Topeka, KS. Songs that build like cumulus clouds of incandescent tones reverberating and quivering into each other, building until the break in some beautiful storm cloud of bowed or rung instruments that cut through the gently building haze like a shot through the heart. Huge orchestral swells that sound so clarion clear that it sounds impossible this is a recording. Mournful, elegiac...ennui has a name. God, this album is so fucking good.

Purchase the insanely beautiful and intricately packaged CD from Fluid Audio.

Thursday, November 12th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)
How to Live Forever

The elements of psychedelia which make the genre so appealing and alluring are, of course, the same which make it so unique and a tradition worth carrying on through the ages - scaling repetition gives one a sense of the familiar, even when hearing a new piece, which sets a fantastical stage for a performer to strike the listener with an unexpected drifting blow or passage. The latest by Alosi Den is certainly a post-rock take on psychedelia that continues the traditions of each separate genre while marrying both to the same cassette ribbon in a sea of guitar-based galaxy of rolling arpeggios, laid-back strums and backing textures to include vocal streams, occasional piano, chants, melodious feedback and respectfully restrained percussion.

Limited to fifty physical copies, How To Live Forever was recorded during the winter of early 2015 “at home and nearby”; released on cassette by Desert Home Recordings and all written/performed by Boston’s Alosi Den. This release suggests an annual output by the artist, preceded by Live From The School of Disembodied Poetics (2014) and an eponymous release in 2013.

The work is informed at times by reflections of folk mirrored into a rippled pool, acoustic fingerstyle guitar playing alongside spare percussion and colorful swirls of fading background sounds, vocal samples or post-rock ‘scapes with peaks and valleys that merge, collide and retreat with momentous beauty. Even the vocals, when they arise, do so in multiple tandems and sing to a greater good, a blissful complement to the musical structure that suits dynamics, rather than a lyrical point.

It’s a dreamy take on Godspeed!’s sound symphonies but with an admiration for folk tradition showing; at times, most familiar to these ears as if the ‘90s Japanese psychedelic band Ghost (not to be confused with the dress-up metal band of the same name, currently making the rounds) came up in the states. Hints of Deerhunter and Brian Jonestown’s more fanciful moments flesh in the spots where the light peeks through. There’s a solid backbone of Byrds and Love too, so it’s truly a collaboration of influences from the ages.

Billy Catfish

Monday, November 9th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Nature Was Here - a shapeshifting musical project by Cincinnati artist Joshua Kruer - presented here in two very different amalgamations of a constant presence. That presence is a spectre that haunts these tracks. An affinity for massive minor key washes of distorted guitars, languid pacing that peaks into a terrifyingly massive flock of birds lifted high on an upstream draft across an October sky, a constant tug-of-war between American Primitivist picking and restrained song-cycle freakouts. A constant channeling of Jack Rose and Aidan Baker.

"Zero" is a perfect coda to the intensity of "Plants are Drugs". An atmospheric exploration across the fretboard of the acoustic guitar with an omnipresent drone ringing underneath the composition.

A perfect autumnal piece of music released right before (after) Halloween.

All proceeds from this digital 7" go to help keeping a library at the Malindza Refugee Camp in Swaziland, Africa alive while providing incredibly important resources - access to education and learning.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Hey! It's Ryan from the Tome. The site you are reading right now. I am a busy guy. Aside from my 9-5 I run this site, a charity net-label called Heligator Records, and now a full-fledged vinyl label called Whited Sepulchre Records. I started Whited Sepulchre because I fully believe that the music I am putting out needs to be heard on the standard for audiophiles - vinyl records. For my first two records I am putting out Fog Mirror by braeyden jae and Sleep Drive by ant'lrd. Whited Sepulchre will focus on small-runs of carefully curated records with high level of attention paid to aesthetics and layout. To do this, however, I need your help. I have started a crowdfunding campaign through Gotta Groove Records to help me get this off the ground. Please visit to learn more about the label and the rad perks associated with it. http://groovebot.gottagrooverecords.com/campaign/detail/4277

If you have enjoyed the content of this site, or have had me support your art in any way, please consider contributing monetarily, or if you can't throw down, at least help spread the word through social media. I firmly believe that in this small world of experimental music we navigate that we have the ability to support each other in making amazing, endearing pieces of art. Please help me realize the vision of two of my favorite artists making music right now.

Here is a "teaser" of both the braeyden jae and ant'lrd records out soon on Whited Sepulchre.



Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Selaroda - viaje a traves de sonidos transportive (Inner Islands, 2015)

transportive journey through sound is the latest tape from ambient stunner Michael Henning and, as far as I know, Selaroda is a totally unique word that Henning coined to christen his musical project. The name itself, invoking some kind of Southwestern flowering desert plant, is as sonorous as the music itself. viaje a traves de sonidos... follows on the heels of the excellent polytexturalism out on Sanity Muffin and Henning's excellent collaboration with Philip Ringler on Golden Cloud Tapes. For viaje a traves..., Henning pulls deep vocal and guitar drones across the stereo-field as expansive and deep as an endless desert sunset. Viaje... is often explicitly rhythmic for an ambient record of this ilk, including excellent free-jazz of "mgeni ngoma safari mduara chama" or the clanging gamelan-sounding stringed instruments on the beginning of "santur solo...", the true gem of the record, however, is in the impossibly fragile and elegant closer "ondas de reflexao interior" which washes of pregnant synthesizers with stray piano lines running throughout. A fitting closing to a transportive album.


Mike Nigro - Mental Thaw (A Giant Fern, 2015)

Mental Thaw is a single, quivering mass of a record. Long-form synthesizer drones that creep and unspool until they reach the end of their short, magnetic life. Oscillating tones and soft pawing of contact mics across a digital abyss. Mental Thaw is impressive in its composure and absolute timing. Nothing feels rushed or outside of linear paths set for it by some loving, knob-turning god. The path is a golden one, one going from long-held drones to bubbling, ever-ascending arpeggios on Side A "Cyprus" and full-on tone-stasis to slow-motion glacial shifting on Side B, "Reverse Telecine". The feeling of pushing through massive amounts of amber with tiny insect arms. 


Tyler Powell - Outgoing Messages (Dismal Niche, 2015)

Somewhere, towards the beginning of Tyler Powell's decomposing compositions on a mass of magnetic are the inputs to Outgoing Messages. They aren't too hard to find: clanging church bells, oscillating tones and distant pianos sitting underneath a mountain of reverb. They exist as objects in real life until they, through decomposition of the medium itself, begin to collapse in on themselves, a bright star-death of entropy and elegy. Recorded on thinning answering machine tape, these compositions do not hold a vast spectrum of sound, but what is compressed on them are more than mere echoes of their former-selves. Through careful winnowing down of tone, these sparse passages leap out in rhythmic, looped brightness. A last gasp before the eternal night complete deterioration. A much, much more poetic death than the scratched CD surface.


Hallowed Bells - Violet Hands (Edible Onion, 2015)

It's been a minute since we've heard from Philadelphia's Edible Onion. Well, they are back with Hallowed Bells, the Philly duo of modular synthesizer explorers whose twisting, turning, compositions split time between the ultra-serious aesthetic peek into what sounds can be unleashed from an instrument that boasts endless modification and innovation to a whimsical pushing of melody into extreme frequencies while keeping at its core a playfulness of the Zombies or the late-great Broadcast synth lines. There is a late night vibe that I get from these tracks, something akin to spending the night in the graveyard or the soundtrack that would accompany a television show about a group of kids who spent the night in a graveyard. Beautiful washes of ambient textures float across heavily pawed melodies with great flourish and gravitas, the true standout of this record, is when these melodies are run through a bevy of modulated filters until they emerge on the other side a mere ghost or altered beast.


Ant'lrd - Clouding Indefinitely (Inner Islands, 2015)

A heavy-hitter in the dronescape, people are definitely talking ant'lrd up around the water cooler these days. Clouding Indefinitely makes an easy case for the versatility and pragmatic attention to overall tonal superstructure and nuanced shifts that make this tape one of the better drone-based releases to come out this year. Far from being a monolithic wall-of-softened-noise, ant'lrd compositions ebb and flow with a lunar consistency and knack for creating not only hidden and playful melodies out of them but also a rhythmic consistency that create an ark-like backbone - a spine in which all tendrils and ever-branching nerve endings emanate from. When it becomes necessary, however, the cocoon of warbled, sun-baked synth lines and the verdant green of the ever present maw are ready and waiting companions to take you under their golden wing of all-encompassing sound. Join us.

Saturday, October 24th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Memory Chain (Patient Sounds Intl., 2015)

A large component as to why I wanted to take on such a large oeuvre of work by one single artist echoes my relationship to music in total. I am in a large karmic debt to music for providing moments of transcendence in an otherwise head/body existence. For braeyden jae the debt is specified and localized in a certain tone that braeyden is able to produce through his bass guitar and a variety of shadowed and treated inputs. That tone is a softened wash of noise that retains an edge of harshness but is intentionally tempered to smooth out the rough edges until all that is left are strands of muted ebbing and flowing. These strands are often sustained by many others like it creating a cavern of sounds fully present in their textural landscape painting (landscape painting as a verb, not as a static noun). On Memory Chain this golden sound of meditative solemness is often strummed out in "power-ambient" chords or in massive overtones and lead lines that knocks the dust off the rafters, or it is joined by shimmering guitar lines and chords of our most abstract of shoegaze ancestors. The most surprising and lovely track on the album, however, is the album's closer "fades fading". A looped, reversed piano-and-vocal composition that laps gently against itself, forever regenerating. Musical perpetual motion.


Botched Communion (A Giant Fern, 2015)

I feel like the term "botched communion" aims at what braeyden jae has been trying to communicate this entire time: an intimate sharing of quiet fears and discovery carried by a imperfect and imprecise medium that reflect conversation at its truest form. On his latest for A Giant Fern, braeyden is speaking in a context that is familiar and moving to me personally. Both "Closed Vision" and "Cannot Reach" have, at their roots, the ethereal and transporting church organ of my youth - botched by some truly arcing, bracing and all-consuming bass improvisations in that rich, static-laden tone (discussed above) that pushes the dial on braeyden jae noise meter to a hare past the harshest on anything else put out this year. But therein, bleeding and soaring overhead the pre-communion (in another sense) prelude music, are moments of transcendent grace. Moments when braeyden gets into the upper-register, pushing his instrument to the brink of  sounds it is able to produce. For those of us who would like to keep well enough alone this accoutrement of an already beautiful passage of music would seem unwelcome, but for most people reading this, true communion comes when all pretenses are laid bare and the harshest tones blend in choir with the most sonorous elements.


Born to Lose/Born to Leave (Antiquated Future, 2015)

This collaboration with Denver's Sister Grotto (The Minotaur remains one of my favorite tapes of all time) is listening to some deep communion between two individuals exploring a shared sonic space of rich tones and massively rewarding lines. "Born to Lose" finds the two trading distant, spacious, reverb-heavy, but otherwise clean guitar lines with a circling, repeating violin line that etches deep grooves into the soft wax of your brain. A musical movement that gathers meaning in each passing. A healing balm of fractured psyches. Side B's, "Born to Leave" follows a similar pattern of delicate framing by a distant guitar held in repose against the backdrop of a quiet storm of gathering static and feedback. The experience is to be unmoored in an ever recycling sea of sound, held, not against your will, in its embrace as passings of clean and obscured inputs lap over and beneath you until a lighthouse clear guitar line rips a hole open in the sky in the last 2 minutes before a slow fade out. A no-duh collaboration that pays off in the most rewarding of ways.


Held and Holding (Bridgetown, 2015)

And finally, to be held. Held in stasis as an overwhelming amount of sound passes through you. Held and Holding is not an album to be listened to with your brain. But rather, straight through your solar plexus, the inevitability of the human body as an ear (a concept Lawrence English talks a lot about). But in a record with few discernible input points or hard edges the best form of communion is to absorb it straight through your chest. The low-end rumble shaking free phlegm years of plaque on the soul. At the right amplitude the softened drones, faint strumming and each additive phrase becomes a disorienting, palate-cleansing rite of passage for each day. Transcendence in being a conduit through which all sound passes through. I think this may be key to all braeyden jae releases. A surrender that does not involve submission, but rather trust and private conversations running parallel to each other that, at times, meet in the nexus of dissonance, sonority and volume.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

On the cover of Br'er's latest full-length positive and negative poles are held at opposite ends of the image by a stylized sea of static. Somewhere in that sea is where most of us reside traversing a middle way with momentary dips into depression or ecstasy. The distance we travel between these poles is minuscule compared to those diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder. To them the cycling between manic states of un-spendable energy and deep valleys of depression is one that can span the entire topology of states of being in relatively short cycles. But what happens when one is self-aware of these bi-polar symptoms and attempts, without the use of medication, to mask these states while seemingly keeping an even temperament?

The result is, what I imagine, is not unlike Masking's lead "Liar's Mask" where Br'er vocalist and songwriter Ben Shurr channels the tempered mental state into gender politics of the personal. The track starts with seething, post-industrial grind and stereo-panning thump before Shurr's first-person antagonist narrates an all-consuming lust with painstaking precision. Sexual politics are condensed into intensely personal runs from misogyny to lamentable imprisoning between pathology and biology. Shurr's songwriting has often lived on the intersections of gender identity and personal politics, but on Masking the songwriter, and a collective of long-time collaborators, have created a noise palette that gives a suitable canvas of throbbing industrial and dark synth pop to scrawl these narrative confessions onto. The result is a propulsive, confrontational and sonically arresting record that forces you to feel. Making me feel unsettled is a rare feat these days in music - Masking does that, several times over.

The eponymous track "Masking" starts with a sick, woozy drone that scrapes its knuckles across the low-end before a distorted, booming, 4-4 House beat kicks in ushering us into the nightmare of every club kid. A Halloween mirror house where the facade of endlessly inconsequential drugs and sex starts to crack and ecstasy is replaced by terror. Masking's highest point is when Shurr tackles the horrifyingly tragic murder of Islan Nettles with a graceful, elegiac tribute accompanied with synths that ascend to angelic heights towards some mezzanine-level of heaven as processed church organs scrape the dirty sidewalk where her head struck the pavement. A moving tribute both individual and writ large to the very real violence that trans individuals face everyday. Just last year a transgender woman was shot in the face here in Cincinnati. I didn't know her, but several of my clients - also African American Transgender Sex Workers - felt the repercussions and the writing on the wall. PTSD spreads like wild fire. I wish this song existed then as a statement of allyship and solidarity.  

"Chanel Divinity", much like our transgender friends, force us to fold and collapse binary thinking. In this record so much  beauty resides in pain. Harsh industrial beats layered with ascending, tonally gorgeous synths and crooning vocals. Light and dark fall in on themselves. We are able to contain the surging polarities by erasing value judgements and accepting where we are at - even if that is masking some truly horrific shit going on inside. There is always another pole glinting somewhere in the distance. We just need to stay alive to get there. 

Purchase Masking here.

Saturday, October 17th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)