Just in time for the New Year (our bad! – Dan), here’s five great albums bursting with heady sounds from 2014’s offering of alien soundscapes and lush ambiance. These aren’t necessarily the best of anything, but give them a whirl and they’ll expand your mind. Open yourself to them and they’ll dissolve your ego and consume your consciousness.
GREG FOX – MITRAL TRANSMISSION
This potent little album was created by hooking up Liturgy drummer Greg Fox to some machines and software created by Milford Graves, the legendary free jazz drummer and percussionist. By converting “the natural rhythms of the human heart” into a score, they were able to use Fox’s body as the basis from which to distill a sweet, sampled instrumental, aural nectar. The result is four lush tracks of harmonious yet arrhythmic soundscapes manifested through spastic, biosynthetic flutterings of steel drums and shamisen. It was released as a digital download on Data Garden.
DUSTED LUX – NEVERENDED
Hartford’s Dusted Lux came out with this album of psych-folk inflected drone and ambience last May. It mixes together both acoustic and electronic instrumentation, resulting in surreal, celestial juxtapositions between woodsy and cosmic atmospheres. Dusted Lux’s prior work is great too, but on Neverended his sound has really come together into something refined and singular. It’s a real peaceful listen. It was released as a CD on the Australia-based label Preservation.
ADRIAN REW – SLOT MACHINE MUSIC
This album of field recordings made in Middle American casinos is minimally processed and edited, but carefully so. Rew made his stealth recordings while wandering around the casinos catching snippets of conversation and occasionally playing the slots. They’re mostly dominated by the incessant background of C-tuned slot machine jingles blending together into a radiant mass of sound. The idea came to him while working on a college thesis about the French writer Georges Bataille’s thought on pleasure, transcendence, and dangerous excess. It was released as a picture disc on Aaron Dilloway’s Hanson Records.
NICK STORRING – GARDENS
Nick Storring is a classically trained composer and multi-instrumentalist, best known for the gorgeous electroacoustic compositions he’s been putting out for the past decade or so. 2014’s Gardens sees him placing more emphasis on acoustic instrumentation, which he navigates using an eclectic range of styles drawn from anywhere between modernist classical, jazz, and world music. It’s a real organic listen that uses an explosion of different instruments across its five tracks. It was released as a CD and digital download on Scissor Tail Editions.
ASTRAL SOCIAL CLUB – FOUNTAIN TRANSMITTER MEDICATIONS
Astral Social Club is the solo project of the prolific experimental British musician Neil Campbell. His discography is vast and numbering in hundreds of releases and collaborations. Fountain Transmitter Medications is 2-hour long 3-sided LP that takes the listener on a psychedelic journey through a number of the styles that have appeared during Campbell’s long career. It’s sound is largely driven by quirky, shuffling, droning electronica, at times opening up into more spacious rock jams of cosmic glory or descending into reticent, introspective glitch and drone. Some tracks are reminiscent of the sonic experiments that dot later Boredoms releases, but more fully realized. It’s available as an LP/CD set and a digital download via Midheaven Mailorder.