Here’s the second batch of reviews of my April Spotify playlist. A diverse mix, as usual!
Occurrens – Falcon Arrow. My favorite bass guitar loops/drumming duo return with a new collection of nothing-else-like-it post-rock. This latest collection is less frantic and thunderous than previous furious work, emphasizing the melodic elements of their sound more. This results in surprisingly beautiful tracks full of space, light, and even joy. While they have by no means abandoned low-end roar (opener “Kryspoly” proves that), the focus on the pitched-up treble melodies of the bass creates a lovely, highly-unexpected experience. There’s still no one quite like Falcon Arrow; their constant reinvention proves that even Falcon Arrow isn’t like Falcon Arrow. All these tracks are awesome, but “X.F.B.P.” is particularly impressive. Highly recommended.
Phonotron – WE’VE GOT MUSCLES. THIS BAND IS ACCURATELY NAMED. Phonotron starts off with a torrential post-hardcore instrumental that goes 0-60 in 2.0 seconds and never lets up. Every track on this short record is a powerhouse; this is the sort of post-rock/post-hardcore/post-whatever that gets me excited about the dark’n’stormy genre again. Instead of going for huge cinematic buildups, this band throws down hard and fast. It’s not quite post-metal sludge; instead it’s got a lot of intricacy, complexity, and patterned work that keep the listener on edge. I know I said torrential once, but I’ll say it again: this work is torrential. Really, really impressive. Highly recommended.
New Jersey – Geographer. I love the stark, almost harsh minimalism of Geographer’s early electro/indie-pop/songwriter work. This album takes that framework and places more lushness on top of it, filling out the sound without losing the tension between Mike Deni’s delicate, soaring vocals and the staccato elements of the arrangement. My favorite track is “Stolen Liquor” which ostinato loops a piano/violin line in the verses (just as I would expect from Geographer) before exploding into a CHVRCHES-style irresistible dance chorus with maximum synth power. The whole record carefully balances artsy ideals, dance-able moves, and emotional power. A great record. Highly recommended.
Insilio – Isasa. Isasa hails from Spain, but there’s a song on this record that includes the name “John Fahey.” So you’re not dealing with a heavily Spanish guitar performance here (although Spanish influences sneak into the record anyway). Instead, it’s instrumental folk guitar that sounds like it could be found on some out-of-the-way porch in a nameless spot on the Appalachian byways.
Louis Alberry – Louis Alberry. Also instrumental folk music, but Alberry is from England. Beyond the bright British folk expansiveness (“On the Wheel”), there’s some Appalachian vibes (“Head Walk”), American blues (“Blues for”), and even some African-influenced experimental composition (“Knots, Pt. 1”). That’s just the first half of the record. Very interesting and adventurous outing on acoustic guitar here.
The Humors – Ryan Dugré. In contrast to the two densely-textured, folk-inspired records, Dugré’s record is a contemplative, even minimalist record. This is ironic that it feels less heavy than two solo-guitar records, as it’s got more instrumentation than the other two. But Dugré’s deft hand makes everything flow smoothly and in places even effortlessly. (It’s also ironic that some tracks like “Bali” have more Spanish overtones than Insilio’s work.) Tracks like “New June” and “Smoke From Above” carry the central idea of the record most clearly: a sort of weightless, abstract feeling that resists easy classification and resolution. This record feels very composed, in a composerly sort of way; there’s a lot of intention and development throughout the course of the record.
When You Take Off Your Shoes – Nathan Shubert. Mostly pensive, delicate piano solos that are perfect for thinking or late-night driving, there are some bigger sonic moments interspersed (“Muir,” “Langelandsbælt”). Found sounds like walking in the forest accompany several tracks, and these acoustic surroundings make the tracks even more intimate.