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The Quickest of Hits!

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time for quick reviews of things I really want to celebrate before the year is out. Here we go! In no order:

Vermacht EP– Morgen Wurde & TIS.

Deep melodic techno grooves at maximum length, with six cuts taking up almost 60 minutes. (Going for that original meaning of EP: Extended Play.) The vibes are strong and the repetition of the grooves hits my sweet spot between mid-century minimalism, stark electronica, and melodic textures.

Agate – Losange.

Kraftwerk-ian computer music meets mid-century minimalism in a no-frills celebration of old-school electronics. Some of the tunes feel too formal and structured for my taste, but I feel this is a your-mileage-may-vary situation more than most. Kraftwerk fans know what I’m talking about. Also, shoutout to the rad emoji I got in the press email: ヽ༼ຈلຈ༽ノ

Everything We Will Leave Beyond Us – Collapse Under the Empire.

Maximum-scope post-rock with high ideals and chops to back those ideals up. I absolutely loved opener “Ark of Horizon,” as it showcases a unique viewpoint on post-rock full of electronica. The rest of the record is great in a PG.Lost vein–lots of charging guitars and big riffs. I’d work out to it in a heartbeat–or, as the case may be during cardio, lots of heartbeats.

Sleeping Through – Wilson Trouvé.

Gentle piano-led pieces with strings and fuzzy ambient sound deliver a sense of deep relaxation. The strings give emotional resonance and heft to the work, trading a little bit of peacefulness for a deeper connection with the heart. Anyone who uses static/fuzz this effectively (evocative without being overtly tape-deck nostalgic) get good marks in my book. Reminds me positively of Jason van Wyk’s work.

Facets – IS/WAS.

Thoughtful, interesting post-rock from 3/4ths of Last Builders of Empire that sneakily includes some dreamy thoughts (“Asha”) and Middle Eastern / Indian vibes (“Gorgias,” “Ashoka”) after the opening track. Still very guitar-forward, but breaks away from the quiet/loud/quiet/loud conventions for a more eclectic, art-school approach.

Familiar Future – Dougie Stu.

I’m really into grooves this year, and Dougie Stu’s jazz has a lot of them. The grooves, equally influenced by hip-hop and ambient, are solid but not overly self-conscious–this is a fun-loving record at the core. If you like flutes, there’s some real good flute jazz (“BB’s Birthday,” “Wind Chaser”). I’ve listened to this a ton as relaxing, upbeat, make-the-room better music, and I am thankful for Dougie Stu’s help in that.

Brave New World Symphony – Shanghai Restoration Project.

Maximalist, wide-ranging melodic electronic experimentation. Includes quirky, Anna Meredith-esque electro-pop (“Present Continuous”); Tycho-esche pieces of great scope and chipperness (“Quest for the Silver Bullet”); sleek techno jams (“Involuntary Prophet”); tropicalia (“Positive Disintegration”); and more. A bit scattered, but aren’t we all scattered in 2020?