by Les Limbes
‘The Fate That Never Favored Us’
In A Cold Embrace
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There’s so much to cover, some killer stuff has been filtering through our in box this last month since we went off radar – one thing that immediately hit us like an oncoming wall was this little darling. New single from Kramies finds the author of some of the finest and most sublime ethereal sonic hymnals to come our way in recent times shimmying up to forge a new old acquaintances with Grandaddy man Jason Lytle here taking up production duties. Available as a free download ‘the fate that never favoured us’ is to simply put it – breathless. A delicately spun cosmic carnival teased upon the same unseen fragile structures that hold stars in the night sky, this demurring honey deceptively arrests all the time transmitting its lunar love noted opines across the celestial voids as though the result of some star crossed love in embarked upon by Sterling Roswell and a certain J Xaverre. Bliss.
You never know what to expect from Hidden Shoal, post-rock, electronica, ambient, folk, it could be anything; the people operating the Australia-based independent label don’t bind it to just one genre. If it’s good and they like it, they’ll release it. One of the latest gems from Hidden Shoal is a stimulating 4-track, free download EP aptly titled To Set The River On Fire. The concept: two Hidden Shoal artists remix each other’s music, or, set each other’s rivers on fire if you will. English dream-pop artist Chloë March has reconstructed a track from the latest album by German experimentalist Markus Mehr, and vice versa. The results are incendiary and seductive.
Mehr took March’s “Ember” and turned it into a multilayered, futuristic and electrifying beast. The track surges forward savagely, throbbing and twisting, but Mehr has beautifully preserved the caressing expressive charm of the original, in fact, he even intensified it. It’s a cutting edge, erratic sonic roller coaster bursting with electricity, craftiness and otherworldliness. An absolute stunner. March, on the other hand, has set a different kind of fire in Mehr’s minimalist ambient river, “Buoy,” a mystical and slightly dark fire that burns slowly and sensually.
The EP also includes the two original pieces. This collaborative effort really ignites the imagination and will surely leave, and probably has already left, many listeners craving for more. We here at Igloo Magazine would be absolutely thrilled to hear March and Mehr setting more of each other’s rivers on fire, in the form of a full-length album.
The six tracks of Elisa Luu’s Enchanting Gaze are mosaics made of fractures. Each piece is more than cohesive enough to stand as a composition, like the string-inflected “Sabadilla,” with which the collection opens, or the pluck’n’drone of closing track “Bro…” — but within each piece the source segments stand sturdily alone, so much so that the compositions themselves threaten to fall apart, to fall into parts. This isn’t a criticism. Quite the contrary, it’s the very solidity of the source material from which Enchanting Gaze is constructed that gives it strength. Luu refers to the work as “post-ambient.” Others might cite minimalism, whose rigor the work reflects, event if it favors tonal phrasings and occasional rhythmic whimsy, as on the creakily industrial “B.P.M.,” over overt patterning. This is a phenomenal set.
Brother Earth are a collaboration between former Guided By Voices, Circus Devils and Kramies multi-instrumentalist/producer Todd Tobias and The Library Is On Fire vocalist Steve Five. GBV were renowned for racing through songs in double-quick time and Brother Earth perform similar magic here.
The songs within ‘Positive Haywires’ were recorded between 2008 and 2013 and as such the album is all over the place stylistically and apparently sequenced accordingly. ‘Sunny Side Of The Street’ and ‘Cortez The Cuddler’ proffer psychedelic rock and roll in a similar vein to White Album-era Beatles. There’s also ambient pop (‘Lady Of The Lake’), space rock (‘Hidden Valleys (Of Tomorrow)’,’City Of Gold’) and thrilling dEUS-like curiosities to behold (‘Girl With the Crystal Tears’, ‘Claustrophobic Headspace’).
Yet for all the invention, the slower songs perhaps merit the most attention. The first single, the creepy, menacing ‘Out Like A Lion’ makes the spine tingle with its simple brooding melody and Five’s sinister turn. For the similarly eerie likes of ‘When I Have Fears That Cease To Be’, ‘Candles On The Beach’ and ‘Both Meeting Somewhere We’ve Never Been Before’, the twosome’s slow burning tension clearly benefits from the longer song format too.
‘Positive Haywires’ keeps the listener on tenterhooks with its almost disorientating shifts in genre. Yet beneath all the weirdness and experimentation, Tobias and Five find common ground to find music which successfully mines psychedelic gold from both the past and the present.
Informed by four decades of electronic music and aiming to “curate fresh sounds” from the genre, Maryland’s Joe Dorsey and Korea-based Reivilo Enoignor have set their targets high on their first album as Involved. What follows is fifty minutes of soundtrack-worthy material which demonstrates two composers finding fertile common ground via their remote connections.
In an early statement of the dark cinematic feel to the record, ‘Ingress’ introduces shadowy synths and rolling piano and ends with a Kraftwerk-esque melody, then the single ‘Machiavella’ augments the consistently lush keyboards with ghostly female vocals samples and motorik beats. Yet just as the album starts to feel slightly flat after the subdued, morose ‘Radiation Leak’, ‘Inner Spaces’ and ‘Angular’ locates the perfect space between busy electronica and a sense of light and optimism. Further special moments follow, in particular the chilling title track, populated by subtle but seductive key changes and enigmatic ambience; fully justifying its nine minute length. Meanwhile, ‘Patient’ is as suitably epic and energising as the finale ‘Egress’ is soothing and elegant.
‘Revolving Maze’ isn’t quite as dynamic as the title suggests but every moment here is appropriate filmic. Unusually, the more complex and intricate the track is, the more memorable (not to mention involving!) it becomes. So it’s another worthwhile cross-continental collaboration then.
I post a lot of things from the australian imprint hidden shoal, because i like the way they work (they are super open minded and helpful to artists) and the dreamy, high quality music they consistently release. this project is interesting as it is a classic ‘vs’ EP…two artists in the hidden shoal stable remixing each other’s tunes.
here, singer chloe march takes on ambient soundsmith markus mehr, and it’s an auspicious pairing. his feel for sonic textures is a great match to chloe’s instrumental sensibilities and gossamer voice, which is unique and beautiful (i’ve written about chloe a few times and i think i’m running low on adjectives for her special instrument). especially cool is when she steps into markus’ tune ‘bouy’. her voice inhabits the spaces he creates.