After scoring one of the most critically acclaimed film scores of recent history Uncut Gems in 2019, artist and producer Daniel Lopatin is back with his new album Magic Oneohtrix Point Never.
Named as a reference to a misheard play on words of Boston’s Magic 106, it is a nostalgic reference to radio landscapes. Loosely structured on radio’s journey from day into night, it is interspersed with digital hallucinations that appear as ghosts between the dials. Collaging together archival recordings of various American FM station’s “format flips”, in which detourned DJ sign-offs collide with advertisements and self-help mantras to form darkly humorous reflections on American music culture.
The album’s opening ‘DRIVE TIME SUITE’ is Magic Oneohtrix Point Never’s appeal in microcosm. Curtain-raising vignette ‘Cross Talk I’ crams hypnagogic infomercial sounds and uncanny, Holly Herndon-esque vocal manipulations into a mere twenty-two seconds, its sharp aural left-turns prefiguring the FM radio-style shifts which periodically break up Magic Oneohtrix Point Never. ‘Auto & Allo’ subsequently expands this aesthetic, its halcyon electronics and twisted echoes of baroque-pop landing somewhere between Sophie and Actress. The balladic elements which lurk in ‘Auto & Allo’ are brought out further still on the following number ‘Long Road Home’, a track where Lopatin’s robotified vocals are accompanied by Caroline Polachek and set against a hyperreal chamber-pop instrumental.
Magic Oneohtrix Point Never is another thrilling, boundary-pushing record of electronic compositions from this multi-faceted artist. It amalgamates his rich history of production work, his chamber-pop songwriting of his previous albums and his earlier explorations of plunderphonics, into a record that is as much of a reference to the artist’s past, as Lopatin dialling inwards into his sonic world of 0PN, creating a parallel universe for the listener to exist in, during these tumultuous times.
The second album released this November is a remastered re-release of Coil’s Musick To Play In The Dark, originally released some 21 years ago.
Convening at Balance and Christopherson’s vast Victorian house / studio in the coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, they began a series of ambitious sessions aided by inner circle associates Thighpaulsandra and Drew McDowall. Although the creative process was admittedly “iterative” and “a bit of a drug blur,” the results are astoundingly inventive and well realized, winding through shades of divination dirge, wormhole kosmische, noir lounge, ominous humor, and black mass downtempo, guided by Balance’s cryptic lunar muse, which he announces on the opening track: “This is moon musick / in the light of the moon.”
What’s most remarkable about the album 20 years after its release is how brazen, insular, and unpredictable it still feels. The songs follow an allusive, altered state logic all their own, warping from microscopic ripples of glitch and breath to widescreen warlock psychedelia and back again, as much hyper-sensory as inter-dimensional. Even within a catalog as eclectic as Coil’s, Musick is a mystifying collection, oneiric evocations of desire, decadence, dinner jazz, and dietary advice, far beyond the pale of whatever gothic industrial ambiguity birthed such a journey.
The record closes with a slow, starlit shuffle, bathed in seething sweeps of spectral texture and high cathedral keys, like approaching the altar of some arcane temple. As the trance thickens Balance’s voice rises, processed into an increasingly eerie, gaseous haze, but he resists these unseen forces, intent on delivering a final sermon: “Through hissy mists of history / the dreamer is still dreaming / the dreamer is still dreaming.”
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Ostensibly Demdike Stare’s first proper full-length collaboration, ‘Sketches Of Everything’ weaves dark moorland ambient blues into guitarist Jon Collin’s windswept Americana. It’s a highly evocative swing between porchside strums, sludge doom and weathered dub noise somewhere between Bruce Langhorne’s soundtrack for ‘The Hired Hand’, Neil Young’s ‘Dead Man’, Loren Mazzacane Connors at his most swoonsome and a screwed Prince Jazzbo - proper stoner vistas.
Technically Demdike Stare’s first official collaboration, ‘Sketches Of Everything’ was recorded between Stockholm and Manchester and finds Miles Whittaker & Sean Canty inspired to create some of the most quietly expressive scapes of their career, feeding into Jon Collin’s strung-out vibe with a mix of layered and smudged backdrops that usher us through ravines of feedback and unexpected midnight hallucinations.
Across two long, elliptical sides the results draw spectral parallels between the Pennine moors and ruined industry of Demdike’s native Lancashire, and the kind of moody Western Americana best described in ‘The Hired Hand’. Collin acts as lead protagonist with a lyrical form of guitar that sometimes takes the lead, and at others fades into mystic swirl, rendering naked strums into vapours redolent of Loren Mazzacane Connors or the loner Norwegian blues of Terje Rypdal.
In a sense it’s an album that applies dub mixing techniques to aesthetically dissonant source material, a sort of stream of consciousness flowing into the murkiest, most beautifully low lit interiors.
Low-key synth & keyboard studio album by Swedish all-rounder Gustaf Dicksson. Limited edition of 300 copies with insert.
From the early days of the found-sounds recordings (like the downright scary Unga Röster album and the hilarious Mandys Bil 7”), the homespun kitchen recordings/tape collages of the still-going Idiotmusik series to the more carefully elaborated and precise Leendet Från Helvetet and Knutna Nävar albums, the massive Livets Ord dropped like a bomb when it originally surfaced as a self-released cassette in 2018.
Heavily based on synths and keyboards and clocking in on no less than close 70 minutes over 4 LP-sides, this is arguably THE epic album from the cluster around the Förlag För Fri Musik empire. Gustaf Dickssons’ fascination for christianity/religious assemblies shines through once again, the title Livets Ord (“The word of life”) derived from the Swedish free church/sect with the same name that was based in Uppsala between 1983-2013 and casting a pastoral shadow over the ambient music of the album.
While dabbling with a long tradition of kosmische musik and private-pressed new age wonders, Blods now patented sound of a Björn Isfält-gone-sour still lingers throughout the entire recording. A cornerstone in contemporary Gothenburg underground music. Featuring guest appearances by Emelie Thulin and Jerker Jarold.
Stepping from the metaphoric shadow of her peers, ‘Peaks’ presents Hamann as a skilled sorceress of quietly rustic, funereal music It’s sorta dewy with pastoral melancholy in a vein recalling everyone from Laura Cannell to Anne Guthrie and Kassel Jaeger in her dreamlike transitions between real instruments and their processed apparitions.
Deftly repatterning her daily life into a woozier dream state, Hamann combines fragments of recordings made on tour into a pair of durational dreamscape collages that, to our ears’-eye, sounds like a music for steep sided valleys to the ‘Peaks’ of the title, hugging wooded clefts where the sun doesn’t always get through and life deciduously goes on in the shade.
Her decayed, organic decompositions connote a sense of melancholy whoch can be taken as intended - reflecting a state of homesickness on tour - or perhaps a sense of sehnsucht for something more indescribable, existential, most like Elodie or Akira Rabelais, that’s always going to haunt and soothe us at the same time, especially when it’s done well; just like this very fine introduction to Judith Hamann’s dream world newly uncovered by Oren Ambarchi’s ever on-it Black Truffle.