Small Wonders #10

Tim Hecker – Atlas 10″
Audraglint (www.audraglint.com)
Although there are numerous comparisons to be made with other artists of his ilk (Fennesz, Belong, William Basinski, and Mark Templeton among others) Tim Hecker has really come into his own throughout the course of this decade. His last album, 2006’s <i>Harmony in Ultraviolet</i> is easily the finest recording of its kind since <i>Endless Summer</i>. On this limited edition 10″ for the Audraglint label, Hecker takes an opportunity to stretch out over the course of two, roughly ten minute pieces titled “Atlas One” and “Atlas Two.” The record is nothing if not consistent with the distorted symphony of sound making up his last two full-lengths. While this may not be anything spectacularly groundbreaking or new for Hecker, it is excellent work nonetheless and miles above and beyond most other abstract electronic music. Listen carefully and there are even some female vocals on “Atlas Two” buried deep in the sparkling fog.

Marble Sky – The Sad Return c30
Callow God (www.geocities.com/callowgod)
One of the hands down best cassettes I’ve heard in a very long time. Marble Sky is the work of one Jeff Witscher (also of Deep Jew, Impregnable, and Secret Abuse). Side A is a piece called “Pulling Out Grass Under Blanket” that borrows heavily from the template established by Wolfgang Voigt on the Gas album <i>Pop</i>. It’s fifteen minutes of pure blissed out ambience. Side B is more along the lines of something that could’ve been on any number of Double Leopards releases. It’s got a subtle, minor key melody worn out in a din of fuzz over another epic fifteen minute timespan. This one was limited to only fifteen copies as well (starting to see a pattern here) so it’s probably already gone but there are ways of procurement in these times…..

Fennesz – Transition 7″
Touch (www.touchmusic.org.uk)
This new Fennesz 7″ out on Touch serves as both a supplement to the recent digital only release On A Desolate Shore A Shadow Passes By and a precursor to the next full-length due later this year (fingers crossed). The guy is an insane genius capable of collaborating with nearly anyone from Mike Patton to Ryuichi Sakamoto to Keith Rowe, but when it comes to his own work his attention to detail is immaculate. I remember reading Venice and here we are in 2008 still waiting for it to drop. Oddly enough the two pieces here are called “On A Desolate Shore” and “A Shadow Passes By.” They are from the same session that produced the digital release but they are not the same compositions. “On A Desolate Shore” is Fennesz at his blissed out best. Crushing a gorgeous guitar melody underneath the weight of whatever programs he’s got on his laptop. “A Shadow Passes By” starts out in a similar mode to his piece, “Tree,” from the Touch comp I reviewed a year or so ago. It has a nice finger-picked acoustic guitar line that floats along on wings of digital dust. If these two pieces are any indication of what’s to come, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the full-length is going to be pretty stellar. Hands down the pick of the litter for this round, but I’m sure you’re aware of my Fennesz fanboy bias.

Hair Police – Fear of Sleep c10
Hospital Productions (www.hospitalproductions.com)
Pretty much all of the releases from this edition of Small Wonders are excellent and Hair Police’s Fear of Sleep is certainly no different. The A-Side is roughly four minutes of what sounds like a tape eating itself. The B-side is more nuclear fallout shelter material for the first minute and a half, lulling you in before laying it on you with some really disgusting static rot. These guys are pretty much playing at the top of their game right now. Out on Dom from Prurient’s Hospital Productions label so you know it’s fucking quality.