Rafael Anton Irisarri – Hopes and Past Desires 7″
Rafael Anton Irisarri, it turns out, is the man behind last year’s excellent album by The Sight Below, Glider. Some may already be familiar with him via his solo album, Daydreaming, that was released on Miasmah. This is my first exposure to the music released under his own name and I am completely blown away. Hopes and Past Desires is all gorgeous, drifting ambience with dramatic swooping strings and gentle piano. Don’t let that fool you though, the guy has got something seriously awesome going on here. Some of it reminds me of Eno’s The Pearl with Harold Budd, other times it sounds akin to the kind of doom-laden bone scrape of Svarte Greiner’s Knive, there’s even a dissonant undercurrent of low glitch ala Oren Ambarchi. Comparisons could easily be drawn to a number of various ambient or modern composition artists though: Max Richter, Deaf Center, Library Tapes, Hilmar Orn Hilmarrson. None of that really does justice to the two tracks on this seven-inch, whose striking beauty should easily set them apart from the myriad of others working within this field.
Skullflower/Axolotl – Bored Fortress split 7″
(Not Not Fun; 2008)
Another entry in the Not Not Fun label’s Bored Fortress series of split seven-inches. This one pits two of my favorite noise makers Skullflower and Axolotl against one another with decidedly less than stellar results. The Axolotl side is screechy with a vague hint of melody underneath but nothing all that new from the project and certainly not diverging from the established path so far. The Skullflower side is even less appealing. With all of Matthew Bower’s recent activity with the project being so excellent, especially the Taste the Blood of the Deceiver LP which was just released, I had a hard time sitting through his side of the split. “Starbleed” starts off promisingly enough like any other Skullflower material with a wall of crushing drone guitar then adds a slight element of black metal but finishes with some psychedelic noodling not uncommon to the project but in this instance largely insignificant.
Beach House – Used To Be 7″
Another lovely release from the dreamy duo known as Beach House. “Used To Be” continues in the vein of both of their LPs in its narcotic haze and Victoria Legrand’s Nico-esque vocal delivery. The song’s so good it makes one wonder why it wasn’t included on the Devotion album proper. The b-side to this is a four-track demo of the song “Apple Orchard” from their self-titled album. Basically it’s just fluff to fill out the release as I can’t see anything particularly noteworthy about its inclusion here. The title track on the other hand provides evidence of even greater things to come.
Milieu – Colortone CD-R
(Milieu Music; 2009)
Colortone is an absolutely stunning release from INSTALL label co-operator Brian Grainger working under his Milieu alias. Dude’s got a mountain of material to sift through as Milieu, with VCV, and under his own name but Colortone may very well be one of his finest moments. The music here is a mix of dreamy electronics with crisp beats that may bring to mind electronic artists as diverse as Boards of Canada, Christopher Clark, GAS, Gui Boratto, and Aphex Twin. without being derivative of any of their work. Grainger’s got his own style here and I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t at least a hint of tropicalia thrown in for good measure. Listening to Colortone is like peeling back layers of onion skin, each time revealing another melody or the hint of one. At times the album’s beats seem like placemarkers under a sea of sun damaged keyboard tones while at others they serve to anchor other tracks from being too ethereal. A damn near perfect release and it should be obvious that this one is the best of the batch this time.