On The Monthly: September 2016

Wicked late I know, no particular order

Jason Sharp: A Boat Upon Its Blood

“A brooding sense of instability sets in from the outset of A Boat Upon Its Blood. Rattling percussive clicks emerge from the crevices with a warm glow of electronic drone filling the barren soundscape. Around the midpoint, the audience is granted an element of melody but the uneasy darkness remains ingrained in every developmental move. With each song, bass saxophone player Jason Sharp continues to disregard comfortable resolution, utilizing the captivating nature of dissonance to its full capacity. Sharp also displays a mastery of texture throughout the record. Just as the bass saxophone lurks in the background as a simple cog in the machine, elements of ambient, electronic, and acoustic musical practices all circulate throughout the project with no single element taking over the majority of the focus.

Bookended by two long-form pieces, the record dives into a slightly more dynamic pair of tracks in the middle. In doing so Sharp avoids formula, again feeding into the idea of instability. “A Blast at Best,” the second of these tracks, offers the most direct assault on the ears. Every moment in this track is filled with abrasive sounds: from fuzzy blasts of distortion to screeching saxophone and violin sounds, Sharp truly puts all his cards on the table. This is where track listing comes into play. From the beginning, the album breathes intensity; however, it also leaves room for growth by reserving the most chaotic elements until the second half of the album. Following this loud outgoing burst, Sharp returns to long-form ideology on “Still I Sit, With You Inside Me.” Violin grasps the spotlight for eight minutes of heart-wrenching melodic work before the second part of the piece moves into hopeful bliss and a final push into the anxious intensity so present throughout the project.”

Read the rest here

Angel Olsen: My Woman

“Admittedly a lyric like “You’ll Never Be Mine” can go a multitude of different ways, many of them poor, but Angel Olsen has a real talent for pulling the listener into her world and making them feel all of her emotions.  “My Women,” Olsen’s latest effort, follows loose themes of heart-ache and love with cool vocal stylings and folk-rock induced instrumentals making for a rather intense emotional journey.  Beginning with a short, stripped back tune, the album first touches on some slightly cliché themes of break-ups, yearning, and hatred with quick-hitting rock songs.  The second half of the record strikes a slightly more mature chord with long-form tunes depicting specific moments of Olsen’s life with stunning emotional impact.  Sonically speaking, the album finds enough of a niche in the general indie sounds of today with rich vocal production and varying instrumental set-ups; Some songs read as straight-forward acoustic hits, whereas others reach near symphonic heights with rotating pianos, strings, and guitars.  Perhaps the album is not forging an entirely new path, but it certainly doesn’t lack in beauty.”

Read it

Danny Brown: Atrocity Exhibition

“Just as Danny Brown’s verses stand on the edge of sanity, the beats on his new aptly titled “Atrocity Exhibition” ride waves of wild instability with rapid change coming with each passing track.  Perhaps a bit more neon-infused than your average post-punk album, the aesthetic of the more instrumental cuts thrives on driving bass lines and bleak guitar sounds in a similar fashion to Joy Division, making for an intriguing combination of genres.  In a manner only Danny Brown could achieve, the lyrics jump between humorous metaphors and meaningful anecdotal evidence from Brown’s life.  When it comes down to it, Danny Brown has a larger than life personality on all accounts and although this may lead to problems if Brown’s extravagance overstays its welcome, the album’s dedication to classic aesthetics of hip hop keep everything palpable.”

Read the review here

Preoccupations: S/T

“One year removed from their self-titled album “Viet Cong,” newly named Preoccupations continue to find discord in the darkest depths of the 1980s.  A pressing punk sound driven by bass with a baritone vocal drawl at the helm is always going to be inseparable from the post-punk era, meaning that the album must be marked by how it provides revisions to the formula.  Beginning with brooding drones, album headliner “Anxiety” only emerges from the ominous space around one minute into the song.  Certain songs melt into each other giving an element of continuous soundscape.  The 11-minute-long “Memory” may epitomize this notion as the middle of the song finds a completely new vocal melody before harping on more drone sounds as the second half of the album sets in.  To some degree, the album operates more in the fashion of post-rock than anything else as the sound is not only marked by brilliant songwriting, but by the sweeping way in which each new sound connects.”

Read the whole review here

A Tribe Called Red: We Are the Halluci Nation

wrote a brief review of this for http://cultmontreal.com/‘s print edition:

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