ØjeRum - There is a Flaw in My Iris
We will kick this off with my favorite tape in this bumper crop of fine music from around Europe as curated by Portugal's A Giant Fern. ØjeRum is a Danish composer of feather light compositions comprised of acoustic guitar and voice, usually accompanied by field recordings or auxiliary noise. What he can do with this limited palate is astounding. From the first down stroke ØjeRum creates space where feeling wistful and nostalgic and all sorts of ennui is appropriate and welcome. The space between those barely strummed guitar lines are mile-wide chasms to hurl all your insecurities about the future and in return get back memories of being brave. ØjeRum's voice, a deeply understated thing, often sounds like it was recorded in another room or right up close, whiskers scratching the mic. This immediacy and intimacy make this album so familiar sounding although it comes from multiple time zones away. Getting this tape in the mail is the equivalent of finding a t-shirt from your home town in a thrift store thousands of miles away. The usual questions come up, but you are just happy to see something familiar. Fans of Padang Food Tigers and Lake Mary will dig this.
Micromelancolié - Ensemble Faux Pas
Polish ambient-drone artist, Micromelancolié, creates sparse, three-dimensional recordings that pulse and crackle with expectant dread and tension. Side A of this tape is all waiting. Hands taped to a chair while the sky gathers black, sick looking clouds.Wind chimes that are intended to sound soothing pierce through a thick silence. Magnetism going haywire in an inky, green sky. These tones are patient. Splayed out across miles and miles of farm land. Listen to them loud enough and they transcend atmosphere, creating submerged and inherent melodies while thunder rumbles somewhere off the East Coast. A tropical storm waiting to be flattened by the plains. Side B, that storm hits sometime past midnight. Long, droning horns announce its arrival. It doesn't come in a harsh-noise onslaught, but rather a slow build of woodwind instruments, bells and distinctly ominous tones that pass over like the angel of death, leaving an uneasy sense of calm in its wake. A single bell chimes in a church we huddle in for safety. Ensemble Faux Pas is full of these fantastically eerie tones and sustained melodies that keep your ear always crooked towards the speaker in anticipation/dread.
The Hidden Persuaders - The Bone Forest
"Night's Black Agents", tho. Seriously. A distillation of Wolf Eyes short-blast harsh-noise with the melodic, ominous post-industrial tonality of Ben Frost. I realize I'm pulling out some big guns for comparison, but to me, nothing gets better than this. Noise that has distinct parts, plenty of slack space, ace sound-design that incorporates field recordings of everyday sounds being turned into terrifying trips to the abyss. The Bone Forest follows this lead for much of the tape. Andreas Brandal is able to successfully marry dark and noise-laden that burst and bloom into speaker destroying stabs of contact mic/black noise with melodic undercurrents that provide a placid noise-floor that is never completely enveloped by the face-stabbing shards of harshness. Tracks like "God Beast" are crackling, static-filled passages full of oscillating synthesizers and the strange hum that rattles through one's body after standing beneath power lines too long. The Bone Forest incorporates harsh-noise, industrial synthesizers and percussion, goth bass lines and long-form drones to create something wholly blackened and sinister but completely listenable.
Roadside Picnic & Charles Barabé - Worn Paths in Crown Dust
Lastly this brings us to this collaborative tape between Roadside Picnic and Charles Barabé. An hour-long descent into swirling, ambient passages, bugged out electronics, contact-mic scrapings, dripping, feeding field-recordings and long drone pulls that scrape and drag across dirty basement floors. A sweeping, all-encompassing, diving, droning, pitch-shifting push and pull between two artists sharing similar sonic space. Both sides of the tape cover an incredible amount of terrain, fucked electronic passages bleeding into ambient segues blending into power electronics down-tuned and slowed waaaaay down. It is safe to say, there are tones on this tape that have never been recorded before and will never be recorded again. Hours of tinkering meets on-the-fly improvisation that yields frighteningly astute results. This is a tape I've been trying to shake for a week or two now, but I always find myself stuck in the middle of some passage. Trying to find my way out of whatever hellish miasma/stuck between stations noise that beckoned me to dip my toe into. Now completely submerged I may never come up for air. Highly recommended.