Darren Keen – It’s Never Too Late To Say You’re Welcome

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[ Orange Milk, 2017 ]

On his second full-length for Orange Milk Records, Darren Keen achieves the escape velocity that plunge him beyond the clichés of footwork, setting him free of endlessly repeating spoken-word samples that, let’s face it, can get quite annoying after a longer while. The drum patterns are as tight, fast and complex as ever. But here, Keen manages to slow down sometimes, providing a much-needed rest from the sensory overload of the genre, while proving that he’s able to break the mold and look further without locking himself into the safe zone. The album is full of politeness, which is also a welcome thing in the world of ubiquitous trolling and constant middle fingers toward everybody. Keep being polite, Mr. Keen. It works very well. Highly recommended!

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Julia Bloop – “I Gotta Get Outta This Place”

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The spring batch of tapes from Crash Symbols comes spearheaded by Brooklyn ambientalist Julia Bloop, who promotes the upcoming cassette Roland Throop with “I Gotta Get Outta This Place”. Bloop creates a dreamlike atmosphere by cleverly juggling relaxed percussive loops, spoken word samples and delicate melodies, resulting in a calm, melodic microcosm that sounds like a clever quote of late 90’s Ninja Tune and their downtempo classics.

Roland Throop is out March 24th via Crash Symbols.

Black Bananas – Spydr Brain

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[ OSR, 2016 ]

The Brooklyn based label OSR might be one of my favorite new finds with its colorful gallery of musical avant-weirdos with their crazy approach to music making and the creative process. One of the newest releases by this label is Spydr Brain EP by the neo-psych unit Black Bananas featuring Jennifer Herrema or the Royal Trux fame. Now if you think this sounds anything like, say, Twin Infinitives or Accelerator, you should chuck such thinking out of the window. Spydr Brain is a hyperkinetic, incredibly busy trippy electric jazz funk fusion, but with a sleazy, punky twist – like a drug addicted medium channeling Miles Davis. It’s wonderfully warped and meaty and the same time, the kind of freak funk Sunburned Hand of the Man would be proud of if they did amphetamines instead of shrooms and acid. Highly recommended!

Oneida & Rhys Chatham – What’s Your Sign?

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[ Northern Spy, 2016 ]

The spirit of no wave is very well alive on this collaborative LP by one of the no wave era’s legendary guitarists Rhys Chatham and one of the most important developments in the NYC experimental rock scene, Oneida. Their collaboration was pretty much bound to go for the weirder, more distorted and atmospheric corners of the rock genre – and boy, it did. Nervous, chopped-up improvisations  collide with freewheeling psychedelic jams involving strange tunings and avant-garde compositional techniques, all to create a way of bridging the past and the future. Definitely an album to give you your fix of the forward-thinking guitar weirdness and to make you shut up about trippy guitar work for a while. At least while you’re working this one out. Recommended!

Heavy Birds – Drag

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[ Moon Records, 2016 ]

Some heavy Velvetian vibes from this New York City three-member unit Heavy Birds presenting their technicolor voyage Drag, issued on their label Moon Records. Maybe I should be paying more attention to band names – because after a few listens, the name Heavy Birds sticks very well with this bunch. It’s flying, in a classic, psychedelic sense of the word – but at the same time too heavy to actually take out. Lots of cavemen riffs and opiate atmospherics clash with the heavy, slow drumming that make the album actually impossible to take off. I don’t know if that’s the Velvet Underground influence, but there is actually a seedy, almost criminal take on the music here. A heavily inebriated psychedelic rock that was conceived in some evil minds. Recommended!

Elkhorn – Elkhorn

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[ Beyond Beyond Is Beyond, 2016 ]

I tell you what: I don’t get why this particular brand of folk with extensive fingerpicking techniques mastered in the 1960’s by Robbie Basho or Sandy Bull is called American Primitivsm. Because in my opinion to pull this kind of acoustic guitar trickery you have to be anything but primitive. But hey, there are stranger music genre names out there, so who am I to judge? Anyway, every once and then I return to this guitar goodness and the genre is very well alive, as exemplified by the New York duo Elkhorn. The dynamic duo of Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner on twelve-string acoustic guitar and electric guitar (respectively) draws “several different traditions; from American Primitive to Psychedelic Rock, from Hindustani to Mauritanian, from Krautrock to Jazz; pulling from players as diverse as Robbie Basho, Sonny Sharrock, Ben Chasny, and David GilmourThe result is simple, yet complex; clean, yet trippy; relaxing yet totally enveloping. An amazing listen, the intricate guitar soloing puts the listener in a state of constantly heightened awareness, being totally satisfied and begging for more at the same time. Highly recommended!

G.S. Sultan – Redundancy Suite

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[ PHINERY, 2016 ]

WHAT IS THIS MADNESS!? Brooklyn based sound shredder G.S. Sultan plunges headfirst into the wobbly, fluctuating soundworld of glitchy hyper-psychedelia, like an attempt to cram several terabytes worth of data into the form of a single album divided into several tracks. The result is overbearing and chaotic – imagine the wildest, weirdest moments of Astral Social Club playing on a baddly skipping CD or crippled by a severe digital compression, this is glitch with ADHD. Massive drones rise and fall, occasionally towering above the pointilistic, decomposed sea of violent bleeps and bloops, adding to the aural experience. A challenging but intruguing listen!