Monte Burrows - Ikki Ni (Wounded Knife, 2016)
Monte Burrows is the codename for Spring Break Tapes! founder Joe MCkay's musical outlet. And what an outlet it is: two side-long compositions of great movement, weight and decay. "Silhouettes 1-5" rises high on rich orchestral synth swells, dips down into the depths of contact mic sub bass only to ascend again to some mezzanine level of a pit orchestra's tension-filled passage warped through reel-to-reel tape manipulation. The piece ends with a stately Basinski-ish micro-movement that rises above the fray and ends triumphant, having escaped slow death of gradually erasing magnetic tape. "Shadows of Manitou" is a gloriously submerged track swimming in tightly composed and stitched together phrases of synthesized harmony under the weight of heavy mechanical and digital detritus comprising the most heavily soundscape-designed composition on this tape. A beautifully affecting piece of work fans of Basinski and Jeck would instantly find companionship with.
Wander - Kat Gat Sea (Wounded Knife, 2016)
Italian folk-drone duo Vincenzo De Luce and Matteo Tranchesi create a startlingly good case for the acoustic guitar on their cassette release for Wounded Knife. The duo's compositions stretch and contort the acoustic guitar to take in a terrifyingly vast catalog of sounds that range from the rustic, Tompkins Square folk ramblings to menacing dronescapes composed of the sound fluctuations, mechanical and output-based manipulations of the entire body of the guitar. Both of these sides are done in perfect execution. Songs like "Unfinished Departures" and "Faded Memories" are two unsettlingly somber compositions composed of two guitars striking balance between filling and emptying sonic space with gentle ascending minimalist lines with underlying drones that imbue each composition with light and/or deep sense of dread. Other tracks like "Red Barn" let aggressive noise-led elements, for example the sample and meditation the air through the mouthpiece of a trumpet being tuned and manipulated like a HAM radio, bleed into gentle, reflective blues and folk-inspired lines. Album standout is the closer "Black Powder" that features some Barn Owl heavy electric guitar rumbling leads and accompaniment by the metal on metal sonic possibilities of a hollow bodied acoustic guitar. Inspiring stuff.
braeyden jae - perpetual child (Wounded Knife, 2016)
'Ecstatic' is an adjective I don't hear thrown around enough when talking or writing about ambient music or experimental music. But there it is on the blurb for braeyden jae's Wounded Knife release. I've been writing about braeyden's music for a long time but that word has always been just out of my grasp. Perhaps there is nothing better than describing aspects of braeyden's when he reaches the track's climax and steals home with 'ecstatic' runs up and down the bass guitar's neck physically pushing an entire ocean's worth of tones into the next register and beyond into the world of near-harmonics. There is a lot of emotion behind those movements that the listener will read into it, but joy isn't out of the realm of possibility behind those bending, ascending notes and the gradual descent into softened drones of sparkling light. Perpetual Child, possibly more than any other braeyden jae release, leads us and keeps us there under the gentle glare of some shiny, fogged sea lapping over a deep obsidian core. A memento of a darker place deep below the surface.