Tuesday 16 May 2023

Bandcamp Recommendations (May 23)

Hello everyone. I've been pretty quiet on the blogging front lately, for various reasons...

But anyway - here's my latest list of Bandcamp recommendations for you. I was meant to publish this weeks ago, but life kept getting in the way...

Without further ado...


Bipolar Explorer - In The Hours Left Until Dawn (2023) 

GENRE : experimental, ambient, post-rock, dreampop
RECORD LABEL : Slugg Records

This is an album of nocturnal dreamscapes, filled with restless shadows and dim pulsating lights to guide you on your way. Embarking on this long, winding, hallucinatory sound journey is like entering a dark labyrinth of ghostly atmospheres, psychedelic meanderings and mysterious whispers...

Bipolar Explorer are an experimental dream-pop band based in New York City, and this is their latest release - a sprawling 2-hour long double-disc album, which is a bold and ambitious move to make in the year 2023, but this band have done it well.
'In The Hours Left To Dawn' is a haunting and immersive listening experience. Musically, it's an eclectic and psychedelic hotpot of moody shoegaze, laid-back alt-grunge, dirty post-rock and experimental sound art. The band use effects-laden guitars, moody basslines, spoken word poetry, ambient synths, airy drones, abstract field recordings, swirling vocalizations, percussive instruments and trippy audio manipulation techniques to create these gorgeous shimmering soundscapes that both haunt and comfort. They require a certain amount of patience, calmness and endurance to fully appreciate...but if you let it play out in its entirety, it's a very rewarding listening experience.

'In The Hours Left Until Dawn' is an album of pure atmosphere and feeling. It's totally indulgent, but not sickeningly so. It's an epic accomplishment, and a gorgeous work of art that contains pop sensibilities, trippy experimentations and everything in between. Ideal introspective listening for the long quiet hours of the night. Highly recommended.

Stream/Download the album here...


Lisa/Liza - Breaking and Mending (2023) 

GENRE : psych folk, Americana folk, singer-songwriter, acoustic pop, 
RECORD LABEL : Orindal Records

Beautiful, tender and emotional minimalist folk music that gently meanders along...like a slow winding river through a hazy valley at dawn. Deep personal loneliness, trauma and pain - transformed and distilled into sweet, delicate vessels of quiet radiant beauty. This album is a peaceful search for recovery and redemption, a hushed musical journey through one individual's complex internal landscapes... 

Lisa/Liza (a.k.a Liza Victoria) is an alternative singer-songwriter from Portland, Maine, whose work tends to be roughly categorized as raw, stripped-down, heartfelt psych-folk. She has released a bunch of albums independently, as well as through independent record labels.
'Breaking and Mending' was written in response to chronic physical illness, isolation and trauma, and also as a way to process and cope with these personal hindrances.
These songs are extremely raw and intimate - full of fragility and vulnerability, frustration and tension. Written with diary-like honesty, they expose all kinds of uncomfortable truths and quiet pains that most people choose to shy away from...but despite the dark and difficult subject matter of this album, Victoria seems to be seeking ways towards a safe place of comfort and healing. 
This music is completely stripped down to mostly just a voice and guitar, with just the delicious addition of pedal steel in one song. This is the style and format of songwriting that I think Lisa/Liza does best - lone strums, lazy arpeggios and lots of silences in between, with her beautiful voice drifting delicately over the music...
Whilst the tone and mood of this album may be slightly less haunting and psychedelic than previous releases of hers, I feel that this one radiates a wonderful brightness, and has an overall more tidy and lush sound.

'Breaking and Mending' is a dreamy, candid and cathartic folk album - full of mystery, tenderness and raw visceral emotion. It's a compelling and therapeutic reflection on the challenges and difficulties of coping with a debilitating illness in a troubled world, and a wonderful collection of songs from a wonderful songwriter whose work never disappoints. Great stuff.

Stream/Download the album here...


Liis Ring - Homing (2023) 

GENRE : ambient, lo-fi, singer-songwriter, psych folk, field recordings
RECORD LABEL : Canigou Records / Breton Cassette

This is a beautifully meditative album of soft lo-fi ambience, drifting airy vocals, psych-folk meanderings and minimalistic electronica, that hovers gently above a bed of gorgeous field recordings and delicate audio hiss.

Liis Ring is a sound artist, musician, photographer and bird watcher based between Tartu, Estonia and Göteborg, Sweden. This album of hers was released in collaboration with both Canigou Records & Breton Cassette. It's a subtle, gentle, dreamy, lo-fi affair that seeps into your consciousness and being, enveloping you entirely in its warm comforting embrace. 
Based on the idea of a returning to a home in a metaphysical sense, both the sound and the physical packaging (photography) of the album ''can be seen as fragmented memories from an ongoing search for a definition of home''. 
This music is full of the conflicting emotions that's inevitably inherent in such a theme. In these songs, Ring conjures up feelings of longing, confusion, acceptance and quiet joy, using a variety of musical instruments, field recordings and her own voice. Throughout the course of this album you will hear guitar arpeggios ringing out into the ether, muted percussive sounds banging away subtly and hypnotically, ambient breath-like synths, pulsing electronica, delicate flute notes (whether organic or synthetic, I can't really tell) and Ring's soft vocal fragments drifting softly around these beautiful soundscapes, all against an intriguing backdrop of various nature field recordings, mundane street noises and human chatter.  

'Homing' is an aural testament to the complex and contadictory nature of the human condition, and the search for whatever we define as ''home''. The songs that comprise this album have a very raw improvised feel to them. Whether they're improvised or not, I don't know... but what I do know is that they're permeated with a fragile beauty that stops you in your tracks and makes you want to slow down and give it the attention it deserves. A delicate masterpiece. Excellent stuff.

Stream/Download the album here...


Euan Dalgarno - ZasquintE (2023) 

GENRE : modern classical, electronic, cinematic, drone
RECORD LABEL : Not Yet Remembered

Euan Dalgarno is an artist, musician & composer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. This album is a bit of a darker and slightly more unnerving affair compared to his previous release - the wonderful Swimitrupl.
Full of sweeping compositions, intricate arrangements and soaring cinematic grandeur, 'ZasquintE' finds Dalgarno experimenting with dark orchestral classical music, haunting drones and post-industrial electronica in such refreshing and exciting ways. 
From intense, powerful, heart-wrenching cacophonies of staggering sound to quiet, delicate segments of arpeggiated solo piano...these songs move and vary like the contours of mountains.
The melodies dance and drift through these lush soundscapes, whilst the various musical instruments sweep and interweave with one another, creating rich harmonious swells of sheer beauty, or stuttering walls of eerie dissonance.
Emotionally, this music is a mixed bag. It has an undeniable broody autumnal sadness to it, but also a child-like playfulness. It's permeated with an intimate abundant joy, but also has a slightly sinister creepiness. And during certain moments of the album the whole thing just seems absurd, confusing and hauntingly abstract...never allowing you to settle or wallow in one simple emotional state for too long.

'ZasquintE' is a beautiful (and slightly demented) work of towering majesty. This album stands as a fever pitch in the world of experimental contemporary classical music, and an ideal accompaniment for quiet solitary walks in the countryside. 

Stream/Download the album here...


seah - spectres & clouds (2023) 

GENRE : ambient, drone, soundscape, sound art
RECORD LABEL : Somnimage

Here's an album of three shimmering ambient dreamscapes inspired by the movements, textures, patterns, aspects and characteristics of the clouds above. And like the clouds and all their various formations - these compositions are wispy, vaporous, rippling, undulating and (as the title suggests) spectral.

seah (a.k.a Sea Heikes) is a multidisciplinary artist, musician, lecturer and researcher based in Bradley, Illinois. In this album, seah gazed up to the skies and found ideas for these beautiful and unique sonic expressions. Everyone knows that clouds are a playground for the imagination, and a reminder that we human beings are not the center of the universe. Cloud gazing (or cloudspotting) is a serene, wistful, theraputic and hypnotic way to stay tethered to the natural world, and feel at one with it.
Musically, this album sits comfortably in the ambient noise realm, as opposed to the deep dark atmospheric sound art of seah's previous work, 'Conduits of the Hydrosphere', which is an album well worth checking out. These long rippling drones, ethereal synth chords and fuzzed-out ambient noisescapes are so misty, dreamy and immersive... and it's all over before you know it. Again, like the clouds, these pieces are continually moving, appearing and disappearing, sometimes wispy and airy, sometimes dense and gloomy and threatening...

'spectres & clouds' is a floaty and fascinating album. Its contemplative and meditative nature will fill you with awe and wonder, and also a sense of vague unease. It's also a reminder of sheer beauty of the clouds above, and the constantly moving shapes that filter the light and shift the colours of this world.

Stream/Download the album here...


LYLA FOY - Year of the Black Water Rabbit (2023)

GENRE : minimal pop, pop rock, singer-songwriter, electronic
RECORD LABEL : self-released

This is the wonderful new album from English London-based artist/musician Lyla Foy - a gorgeous collection of minimalistic pop songs that are simple, heartfelt and infectious. Musically, it's a mixture of jangly guitar pop and dreamy 90s'-inflenced electro pop, with Foy's honeyed vocals soaring beautifully over the mix. 
Written in the wake of her father's death, Foy spent some time observing and documenting changes within herself and others around her, and contemplating the meaning of life and death, which is very apparent in both her honest wistful lyricism and the bittersweet dew-kissed melodies that are the central focus of these sparkling pop gems. 
From the dazzling arpeggio-driven pop rock of opening song 'Anywhere', to the laid-back reggae-tinged ballad 'My Addition', to the darker broody rhythms of 'Insignificant', this album simultaneously comes across as a misty-eyed reflection on grief, and a quietly euphoric celebration of life, elevated by its rich radiant production. It honestly reminds me of good 90's pop music, which I'll always have a soft spot for. A lush and beautiful pop album that begs for repeated listens. Highly recommended.

Stream/Download the album here...


Pulvil - Asura (2023)

GENRE : ambient, drone, dark ambient, electronic
RECORD LABEL : Decaying Spheres

This is an album of rich dramatic drone music from 18-year-old Canadian artist Pulvil (a.k.a Logan Scott). Thunderous and airy, soaring and fierce - this ambient music comes at you and engulfs you with an almost oceanic power and intensity... 

'Asura' is an album full of sweeping gritty noise, dark plaintive melodies, heavy atmospheres, fuzzy textures and a ferocious yet vulnerable beauty. Created using mostly guitars and synths, these cold walls of emotional sound blow heavily across empty voids, stuttering and trembling, causing the entire soundscapes to quiver and quake along the way. I find these songs to be simultaneously troubling and comforting, abstractly haunting yet wonderfully cathartic.

'Asura' is undoubtedly an emotional yet highly enjoyable listening experience. The heavy atmospheres, the beautiful melodies and the dark luscious textures are captivating and cinematic. Marvellous stuff from such a young musician. 

Stream/Download the album here...


Veryan & The Lonely Bell - Night Flight (2023) 

GENRE : dark ambient, drone, electronica, shoegaze
RECORD LABEL : Shady Ridge Records

This is an aviation-themed split album between two reclusive Scottish ambient/electronic artists - Veryan & The Lonely Bell - both of whose music I was already a big fan of, so I knew this was going to be a treat...

'Night Flight' is a haunting and turbulent journey through stormy night skies. It consists of two 20-minute long compositions - one from each artist, both conveying dark night flights over the Scottish highlands by an unknown and unnamed pilot.

Our skyward journey begins with 'Above Colonsay' by Veryan. It's a dreamy constantly-evolving abstract composition of sustained Celtic-sounding drones, whistling airy ambience, swelling synth chords, hypnotic percussive hits, crashing thunder sounds, pilot coughs, engine noises, fluttering electronica and (what I think is) subtle guitar feedback. This tracks brilliantly and evocatively conveys the uncertain feeling of drifting and swaying through thick cloud above unknown lands in a questionable aircraft, not knowing when or even IF it you're going to reach your final destination...

Part Two is 'End of the Sky' by The Lonely Bell, which a darker and more overtly ominous affair. This composition is filled to the brim with sadness and dread, and sonically suggests that the pilot of this story has a tragic fate. In this track we are in the midst of a terrifying thunderstorm. It consists of thunderous rumblings, violent winds, pattering rain, cockpit warning noises and roaring engine sounds, all against the dramatic and epic backdrop of dark shuddering drones, electric cello, ghostly ambience, ethereal synths and howling guitar loops. It fills one with the overwhelming feeling of being violently buffeted by the elements, and plummeting down towards a sad and bitter end. 

'Night Flight' is a frightening yet beautiful album of rumbling ambience, ominous drones, dark brooding electronica and dreamy atmospheric textures that soars to unholy heights, and hovers unnervingly over vast barren lands...leaving the listener suspended in a highly emotional state of terror and awe. A magnificent split album by two supremely skilled soundscape artists.

Stream/Download the album here...


Glacial Anatomy - Field (2023)

GENRE : ambient, drone, noise, soundscape
RECORD LABEL : Florina Cassettes

Glacial Anatomy is the solo ambient music project of prolific Texan artist/musician Greg Nunn. Inspired by the shadows of trees and their individual unique shapes (''like paths in a field''), this album is a collection of sweeping fuzzed-out atmospheres and meditative ambient textures that are really intense, noisy and powerful... yet at the same time soothing, dreamy and blissful. These walls of static drones constantly dip and swell and drift through these vast majestic soundscapes, tugging at the heart strings with their intense emotions as they make their way towards some unknown distant horizons. In this album, Nunn has successfully managed to weave a delicate balance of sadness and a peaceful type of joy.

'Field' is a noisy, beautiful and immersive collection of soundscapes that will appeal to fans of all types of ambient music. It's a marvellous journey of fluttering tones, wave-like drones and emotional noise. Great music for zoning out and getting lost in deep introspection.

Stream/Download the album here...


Sofi Paez - Circles EP (2023) 

GENRE : modern classical, minimalistic, solo piano music
RECORD LABEL : self-released

Sofi Paez is a young Costa Rican pianist that currently lives in Berlin, Germany. This debut EP of hers consists of two minimalistic modern classical solo piano compositions, full of raw tension and emotion. These pieces are delicate yet powerful, tranquil yet slightly troubling. Her arpeggiated melodies ebb and flow like rivers, meandering dreamily through empty the landscapes of the heart. 
The atmosphere of this music is contemplative, serene and nostalgic...imbued with a distinct sense of sadness and longing. An ideal soundtrack to the quieter moments in one's life.

'Circles' is a short but marvellous EP of raw emotional piano music, stripped bare of all distractions. The beautiful dark melodies, the delicate harmonies and the reflective atmospheres that Paez has created are all that's needed. A quietly spellbinding EP. Lovely stuff.

Stream/Download the EP here...


No comments:

Post a Comment