Words on Sounds ep. 63 now available!

Episode 63 of Words on Sounds features music from:
Cloud Becomes Your Hand - Rest in Fleas (Northern Spy)
Paperbark - Forgotten Narratives (Black Box Tapes)
Rick Parker & Li Daiguo - Free World Music (Eleven2Eleven Records)
555 - Thee Omega Seed (MJ MJ Records)
Euglossine - Complex Playground (Beer On The Rug)
Urthsla - Wannsee (Field Hymns)
Dekatron III - split w/Courbes Bezier (Verlag System)
Arve Henriksen & Teun Verbrugen - Black Swan (Rat Records)
Hillboggle - Up the Country With Hillboggle (Crash Symbols)
Cob Raw - s/t (Gleauxing Records)
Sex Funeral - Solo Funeral (Personal Archives)
Bret Schneider - Melancholia I & II (Never Anything Records/Tereshkova)
Thirteen Hurts / 13Hz - UVB-76 (No part of it)
Tune in, turn on, drop out!


Podcast Episode 62 now available!

Episode 62 of the Words on Sounds podcast features music from:
bran(...)pos - The Bubblegum Forgeries Vol. 1
Charles Barabe + Roadside Picnic - National House Milk (Wounded Knife)
Somnoroase Pasarele - VOMA (Magical Garage Taste)
Hey Exit - Caudata
Dang Olsen Dream Tape - Zonk (Constellation Tatsu)
Brayden Jae/Kyle Landstra split (Geology Records)
Ropal Jagnu - Silo (OJC Recordings)
Thollem McDonas/Kaufman - Always Put On Your Sincere Face (Personal Archives)
Horse Lords - Interventions (Northern Spy)
Skin of Earth - s/t (Sump Pump Records)
German Army - Yanomami (Sacred Phrases)
Heimat - s/t (Kill Shaman Records)
Tlaotlon - ACACIA A/V (Weird Ear Records)
Larry Wish - Porous Obtainer of Loads (Truly Bald)


Podcast episode 61 now available!

You'll find a baker's dozen of rad music from around the world on the latest edition of the Words on Sounds podcast:
--ecstatic electronics from D.U.G.O.U.T.C.A.N.O.E.
--rich, darker textures from Roche oval and Thierry Gauthier via La cohu
--The intense drones of Five Guitars for Tony Conrad, via Auasca (and now available from Tape Drift as well)
--heavy duo guitar freakouts from Elliott Sharp and Scott Fields on New Atlas
--melancholy soundscapes from Andreas Brandal's latest on Sacred Phrases
--glitched industrial textures from Almagest on Tourette Records
--a kinetic brew of drum machines and weirdo electronic songsmithery from Jimmy Sanchez & his Crystal Balls on Haord Records
--killer trio improv from Le Veau on Cuchabata Records
--brutal sax/drum sound masses from Ulrich Krieger's latest on Xi
--great postrock textures from Bisamratta's side of a great split on spina rec
--post-everything murmurs from Venereal Crush
--RIO meets djent from France's Ni
--and incredible composition and improv colliding in The Bureau of Atomic Tourism via RAT 
tune in, turn on, drop out!


Podcast Episode 60 now available!

It's been far too long, dear listeners and readers, but here's a great new episode of the Words on Sounds podcast, featuring:
--rich tones from the recent Dura jam on Geology Records
--the fourth of six great Wishes by Softest on Inner Islands
--a tight soundscape from Chihei Hatakeyama via Constellation Tatsu
--chopped/screwed/layered surprises from DJ Too Slow's new tape on Personal Archives
--stark, haunting perfection from Sister Grotto's recent self-released jam
--freak folk/free jazz from the brilliant Spires That in the Sunset Rise on Hairy Spider Legs
--contrabass electroacoustic textures from Gregg Skloff's tape on Eiderdown Records
--varied psych/folk overdubs from Prana Crafter's latest on Deep Water Acres
--amazing vocal/electronics orchestrations from Lesley Flanigan's new disc onPhysical Editions
--a few minutes from Max Richter's 8-hour epic "Sleep"
--and a few relaxed moments with Ravi Shankar and friends courtesy ofNorthern Spy
Tune in, turn on, drop out!


Reviews from here and there

I haven't mentioned anything here about writing reviews for other joints, but I've been doing some writing in a few other places over the last year. I did a couple of short reviews for 2 of my favorite 2015 releases over at Record Collector News:

Blind Idiot God

Unconscious Collective

Never mind those rating stars, by the way--I'm not into rating systems, and if I were, those would both have to be 5-star affairs in my book.

In autumn, I started doing some pieces related to new cassettes for the venerable Tabs Out Podcast folks. I've loved reading their stuff for a long while, and it's an honor to chip in over there. You can read most of my contributions to their noble analog adventures at this link. But read everything you can over there--Tabs Out rules!

I'm especially excited for a new piece I turned over to the fine folks at Tiny Mix Tapes, which they just ran today. The Silly Symphony Collection, a collaborative release between Disney and Fairfax Classics, documents a massive collection of incredible music produced at the dawn of "talking pictures." Taken as a whole, this work is a sort of ur-text for film music and a lot of other collage/montage approaches across the spectrum of 20th century music. I think this music is beyond essential, and I hope you spend some time right here reading up on it and checking out the music.

I also wanted to write out a few of my thoughts and plans regarding the rest of 2016 while we're together here, dear readers. I find myself in the most comically busy period of my entire life, juggling 2 jobs and grad school at the same time, and I'm afraid my time is going to be at a premium through the end of the year. That said, I plan to continue working some reviews into the mix here at Words on Sounds, as well as keeping the reels spinning at Tabs Out. And the podcast will continue with as regular a schedule as I can swing, though I suspect it'll be more like twice a month than weekly for a while. Tymbal Tapes, which was a total delight and honor to work on through most of 2015, will continue as well, though the release schedule will be limited to 2 or 3 releases this year.

At times I struggle with the point of this blog: over 8 years of activity, it started life as a strictly review-oriented project, then became a way of documenting my thoughts/contributions to the Other Music radio show I was co-hosting for five years, and more recently documented the podcast series. To be honest, I prefer writing reviews to the radio/podcast activities, but there are advantages to the podcast: I can help draw attention to more artists than time allows for writing about coherently, and a lot of folks prefer listening over reading. Writing reviews takes a lot of time and contemplation for me. I don't take it lightly, and my focus is on exploration, discovery, context and conversation, as opposed to being just another news/hype joint. But I love it, and I'll do my best to keep it alive through this difficult year. Thanks for reading and listening!


Podcast episode 59 now available!

Finally, a new edition of the Words on Sounds podcast is up, featuring:
--Great drone/guitar loop/tape atmospheres from the mighty AMULETS onPirate Ship Records
--symphonic synthetics from Arca on Mute Records
--pure madcap genius from Jake Tobin on Truly Bald
--ever-evolving songwriting from German Army's new jam on Kikimora Tapes
--excellent quarter-tone solo git-fiddle from the new Scott Fields disc on New Atlantis Records
--slow jams for weirdos on the new Bean Snack tape from Personal Archives
--barren modular soundscapes from the new Head Dress jam on Dionysian Tapes
--gorgeous field recording-heavy arrangements from the new former selvestape on Auasca
--transcendent vibes from the latest Gardener jam on BARO Records
--driving synth work from Artificiero on Verlag System
--and classic Merzbow in duo configuration from the incredible box set onTourette Records
--and the winner of the German Army/Novy Svet 7'' from Tourette Records isAlexandre Chami Filho! Congrats, and send me your address!
Tune in, turn on, drop out!


Podcast episode 58 now available!

The latest Words on Sounds episode is an around-the-world affair, featuring:
--collaged multiplicities from the new M.M.S. Kaiser, Bald Eagles, and Bbjrcollab tape on Personal Archives
--some live drone atmospheres from Wizard Ashdod on Full Body Massage Records
--haunting soundscapes from Joseph Curwen's new tape on Still Heat Recordings
--free jazz/rock/noise from Nazolivye Bliznecy's killer tape on spina rec
--complex layers of synth/EVI jamming from Shingles, via a new split with Sound Out Light on Oxtail Recordings
--excellent extended-technique clarinet work from John McCowen on his new | OBF 14 | cassette
--wild synth/drum workouts from the debut of Square/Sine on Cuchabata Records
--contemporary prog/RIO to die for from the latest CHROMB album
--an intense Lou Cohen Symphony-composition from his triple-disc on Pogus
--and a short-but-perfect ending to the show from the latest Little Fyodor & Babushka jam
Tune in, turn on, drop out!


Favorites of 2015

2015 was another wonderful year for compelling creative music. Here are a few of my favorite recordings from the year, divided along several different lines of musical activity. This post will also serve as a companion to the "Favorites of 2015" podcast, which you can listen to right here:

Follow the links on these lists to track down this amazing music for yourself:

25 favorites of 2015
  1. JOBS - Killer BOB Sings, New Amsterdam.
  2. Craig Scott's Lobotomy - War is a Racket, self-released.
  3. Blind Idiot God - Before Ever After, Indivisible Music.
  4. Upsilon Acrux - Sun Square Dialect, New Atlantis.
  5.  Erica Eso - 2019, Ramp Local.
  6. Wei Zhongle - Nu Trance, Hairy Spider Legs.
  7. Noah Creshevsky - Hyperrealist Music, 2011-2015, EM Records.
  8. SCHNELLERTOLLERMEIER - X, Cuneiform Records.
  9. Holly Herndon - Platform, 4AD.
  10. Stavros Gasparatos - Expanded Piano, Ad Noiseam.
  11. Gong - I See You, Snapper Records/Mad Fish.
  12. BBJr - I Did What I Could With What I Had, Captcha.
  13. Joey Molinaro - I Who Will Forever Evil Yet Do Forever Good, self-released.
  14. Macula Dog - s/t, Haord (repress Ramp Local).
  15. Giant Claw - Deep Thoughts, Orange Milk.
  16. ARIADNE - Tsalal, Auris Apothecary.
  17. Twins of El Dorado - Verses, Prom Night Records.
  18. Zs - Xe, Northern Spy.
  19. Macho Blush - Firma
  20. German Army - Taushiro, Weird Ear Records.
  21. Matt Weston - Skate for the Lie, Tape Drift.
  22. ARVO ZYLO - Sequencer Works Vol. 1, Out-of-body Records.
  23. Voicehandler - Song cycle, Humbler.
  24. Coppice - Cores/Eruct, Category of Manifestation.
  25. Cinchel - Worry, self- released.

  1. The Silly Symphony Collection 1929-1939 box set, Disney.
  2. Steve Hillage - Madison Square Garden 1977, Purple Pyramid.
  3. Paul R. Marcano and Andre Martin - Valley Flutes / As it IS, Constellation Tatsu. 
  4. Craw - 1993–1997 box set, Northern Spy.
  5. Frank Zappa - Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison, Zappa Records (RSD).
  6. Tools You Can Trust - Working and Shopping, Burka For Everybody.
  7. Miles Davis - Fillmore West: 15-10-70, Hi Hat.
  8. Richard Pinhas - Chronolyse, Cuneiform.
  9. The Contortions - Buy, Futurismo.
  10. Sun Ra - Planets of Life or Death: Amiens '73, Strut.

  1. G.S. Sultan - ad.sculpt tutorial, Orange Milk.
  2. Patrick Higgins - Social Death Mixtape, NNA Tapes.
  3. Noosphertilizer III: Strnglv/Pekltopia split tape, Aubjects.
  4. Ali Helnwein - Voyage, Spring Break Tapes.
  5. Jonah Parzen-Johnson - Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow, Primary Records.
  6. Cornered Yet Climbing Featuring Kelly Jayne Jones - Fevered Realities, Tombed Visions.
  7. Booker Stardrum - Dance and, NNA Tapes.
  8. PARTLI CLOUDI - Watermelon Cauliflower, Arachnidiscs.
  9. Ulrich Krieger - Winters In The Abyss, Pogus.
  10. Doc Wör Mirran featuring Conrad Schnitzler - Rojo, Tourette Records.

  1. Jon Mueller - A Magnetic Center, Rhythmplex.
  2. Augenmusik - s/t, Eiderdown.
  3. Wrest - Ingress, self-released.
  4. Andrew Bernstein - Cult Appeal, Hausu Mountain.
  5. The Gate - Chuck, Astral Spirits.
  6. I/OWAR - (silver tape), self-released.
  7. Stephen Haynes - Pomegranate, New Atlantis.
  8. Alan Sondheim / Azure Carter / Luke Damrosch - Threnody, Public Eyesore.
  9. Earth Tongues - Rune, Neither Nor Records.
  10. Tatsuya Nakatani - Confirmation, Taiga Records.

  1. Tredici Bacci - Vai! Vai! Vai!, Astral Spirits.
  2. Chef Menteur - III, Sunrise Ocean Bender.
  3. Guapo - Obscure Knowledge, Cuneiform.
  4. Many Arms & Toshimaru Nakamura - s/t, Public Eyesore.
  5. Tandaapushi - Fire Disposal, jvtlandt.
  6. Shit and Shine - 54 Synth-brass, 38 Metal guitar, 65 Cathedral, Rocket Recordings.
  7. le Flange du Mal - CARRION, MY WAYWARD SON, Resipiscent.
  8. Evening Fires - Where I've Been Is Places and What I've Seen Is Things, Sunrise Ocean Bender.
  9. Stern - Bone Turquoise, New Atlantis.
  10. German Army - Kalash Tirich Mir, Yerevan Tapes.

Synth Zones
  1. Cremator - Phase Électronique, Extreme Ultimate.
  2. Polígono Hindú Astral - 00110010, Verlag System
  3. Xua - Mekong Moon, Debacle Records.
  4. Bastian Void - No Dreams, Sic Sic Tapes.
  5. Jan Balsam & Hermon Cone - Pattern Dialect, Moss Archive.
  6. Three Fourths Tigers - Indoor Voice, Field Hymns.
  7. Grapefruit - Some New-Age Bullshit, Field Hymns.
  8. Panabrite - Disintegrating Landscape, Immune.
  9. Majeure - Union of Worlds, Constellation Tatsu.
  10. TALsounds - All The Way, Hausu Mountain.

Missed from last year:
Unconscious Collective - Pleistocene Moon, Tofu Carnage.

I heard about this insanely gorgeous recording near the middle of this year, when Tofu Carnage wisely chose to repress this near-perfect album that originally dropped mid-2014. From the composed, cinematic-feeling opener to the Z'EV-like percussion forays that close the album, and the many intense riffs and cutting improvisations in between, Unconscious Collective deserve a much wider audience. This pressing is quite remarkable in the packaging department, too, with wild swirled vinyl, spot-printing, foil stamping, and collodion prints of the band on linen. It looks incredible, and sounds better than it looks. Snag a 2nd pressing copy while you still can.

Favorite album art:
The Snowfields - How To Get Good Sound from a Dead Ear, Field Hymns.

I like a good album cover, but I've never been compelled to actually write about one until the new Snowfields tape arrived at my doorstep. I've always been smitten with the imaginative designs of Tiny Little Hammers (and in the interest of disclosure, they've made my life a zillion times better this year by doing the design work for Tymbal Tapes), but DAMN. The colors, balance, movement, geometry: everything about this art makes my heart sing. And this music is no slouch, either--click that link above and check it out.

Favorite label: New Atlantis Records.
In struggling to put together these crazy lists, It would've made life a lot easier to simply include every single release from New Atlantis this year. In another incredible batch of recordings (2014 was also spectacular), the NA folks brought 14 essential recordings to our ears, documenting the best in hard-hitting avant-rock, heavy improvised music, and many exciting collisions in between. If the only music you had the opportunity to hear from the last year was exclusively from New Atlantis, your musical mind would remain a finely-tuned machine. Head over to their Bandcamp page and get delightfully lost in an excellent and diverse discography.

Artist of the year: More Eaze

Marcus M. Rubio's new set of works under the More Eaze moniker has absolutely demanded my attention throughout 2015. As diverse a set of music as you're ever likely to hear, these records reinvent songform from all directions: weighty electroacoustic textures give way to electronic pop, folk and Americana collide with vaporwave, and abstract/academic forms dissolve into gorgeous tonal narratives. Lord only knows where "the future of music" is headed, but I sure hope it takes some direction from More Eaze. Do yourself a solid and check these out:

More Eaze - (frail), Already Dead.
More Eaze - accidental prizes, Kendra Steiner Editions.
More Eaze - stylistic deautomatization, Kendra Steiner Editions.
More Eaze - a lodge, Translucence Records.
More Eaze - fine., Full Spectrum Records.
More Eaze - Abandoning finitude, Kendra Steiner Editions.

Thanks for listening and reading, and here's to a great 2016!