to eleven

Review: Aelter – Dusk Dawn & Follow You Beloved by Jayson
December 27, 2011, 10:56 am
Filed under: Ambient, Review | Tags: , , , , ,

Aelter Dusk Dawn album cover

Aelter is a project from Wolvserpent guitarist Blake Green.

So after reading the promotional copy and listening to both of these albums, I am going to lead in by apologizing to Blake. I don’t read sinister out of these albums. That is just me, but I feel like I have to apologize anyway. Aelter doesn’t tread into territory that I want to stay away from. I will buy and use adjectives like “bleak” “dark” and “beautiful.” In terms of a space created by the sound, something about the way I’m wired makes me want to move into the sound, not away from it.

Dark I’ll buy though, completely. The layered, nuanced approach – quiet guitars, languid vocals (absent on the earlier Dusk Dawn) – give Aelter a processional, almost funereal feel. That and what I think Aelter is most evocative of is the winter light of your northern climes. When Bob Mould sang about seeing nothing but gray he nailed the description, but not the feeling. Aelter nails the feeling. Dead on. I guess that’s where the lack of perception of sinister comes from. The most on both Dusk Dawn & For You Beloved really seems post-discomfort and into a place where having accepted the bleak and the dark, you find yourself able to see the beauty in both. Make no mistake, this is beautiful music.

Available on Crucial Blast

– Jayson

Top Best Albums of 2011 by Jayson

Out of the way. Quick & Dirty. Stuff I reviewed only. I think anyway. Order does not imply ranking. I didn’t want to re-review these here, if I had any additional thoughts, I’ve added them.

Full Lengths:

Batillus – Furnace

I spent the whole time from when the vocals where announced to when I got to listen to it worried that they’d screw it up. They didn’t. Not at all.

Matt Bauer – The Jessamine County Book of the Living

Emotionally devastating to listen to.

Letna – Adria

In this broad genre of ambient music, this was the brightest light in a year of fantastic stuff.

Wugazi – 13 Chambers

Mashups are art, 13 Chambers is proof.

We’ll Go Machete – Strong Drunk Hands

Noise rock is back, people.

naisian – Mammalian

Picking up where Isis left off.

Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestial Lineage

Wolves’ Oceanic.

Harmondale – Spirit of 73

So one lady proves she understands country music with her first release better than any new artist I’ve heard this year.

SP-33 – Escape From Tha Carter

This is music from a real future that exists somewhere.

Mastodon – The Hunter

I was super hard on this, but honestly in the wake of a year of challenging releases, The Hunter is seriously my go to album to unwind with. Girlfriend/In the car metal for life!

Special Dispensation:

Hurray For The Riff Raff

Technically this came out in the USA, where I am in 2010, but we were actually contacted by the UK pr and reviewed the UK release of this album. I loved it, heartbreaking. I am cheating to put it in here, but I can do that.

Graf Orlock – Doombox

Yeah, the 10″ has new material, but it’s most about being a comp.


Soul Khan – Resolution

Soul Khan had an incredibly prolific year in 2011. Of all the stuff he did, Resolution is my favorite. Khan is now one of my top 5 living MCs, real talk. Also as a thing, this has Nine on it. Seriously any day I hear ‘Whutcha Want’ on the radio, I think it’ll be a good day.

Big’n – Spare the Horses

Noise rock is back. Seriously back.

Butterfly Trajectory – EP 2011

So looking forward to what this band does next.

Witch Mountain – South of Salem

I want to listen to this and make out with a girl that has slightly crooked teeth.

So anyway, musical year in review. I kinda came back to metal this year after near total burnout last. There was some good, enjoyable stuff out there and I was glad to listen to it. Noise rock coming back was the big thing. I don’t want to get into the ‘yeah, but has it musically progressed?’ argument. It’s being back is really enough for me. As you can see by the list, though, it didn’t quite dominate my listening. Nothing really did. I view that as a good thing. This is a pretty well rounded list of the kind of music I like to listen to and review. It was also really hard to pick the top out as it was a uniformly good year here. I don’t have any major disappointments either, because there was very little I had serious anticipation for. As I sit here writing this though, I am really at a loss to say anything other than 2011 musically was the year that was.

Review: Leonadro Rosado – Mute Words by Jayson
November 29, 2011, 8:46 am
Filed under: Ambient, Review | Tags: , ,

Leondardo Rosado Mute Words

It’s a fair thing to say that a lot of music you could generally classify as some flavor of ambient is to some extent the audio projection of an inner landscape or landscapes created and/or inhabited by the artists making them. The best of this kind of music becomes an active partner with the listener in creating this imagined landscape. Mute Words is this kind of album. In a fair real sense, I feel like I’m journeying through Leonardo Rosado’s inner world, or at the very least the one he wants me to proceed through. This is a really well put together album, a realization that dawns on you as you find yourself picking out the melodies between the layer of drones. It’s that focus on soundcraft that really allows this to function so well. When it’s time for vocals, they’re superb, and while I tend to favor the vocal-less approach to this kind of music, I find no fault with them here at all. This album comes with a poetry book which explores the same themes as the music. I really like that kind of thing, the creation of an actual, physical artifact.

Available beginning December 2nd, limited to 50 copies. Get yours here.

– Jayson

Review: Eleh – Floating Frequencies/Intuitive Synthesis by Jayson
November 9, 2011, 10:08 am
Filed under: Ambient, Experimental | Tags: , , ,

It’s difficult to review an Eleh album, and maybe also pointless. Still as an entity, Eleh are fascinating to me. They, it, whatever you want to call Eleh remains the most singularly pure  musical experience available. One of the most fascinating things is how Eleh is divorced from everything. No information available, no website, no clue as to who, what, or why. Then there are the releases themselves, usually vinyl, a few CDs. Limited editions that always sell out and are never re-pressed.

Just drone. Tracks that sound like experiments, ” Pulsing Study of  7 Sine Waves Part One” “Bass Pulse In Open Air”, etc. The purest drone, Eleh’s sound is heavy on the low-end. At low volume Floating Frequencies/Intuitive Synthesis is minimal to the point of being nearly subliminal. At higher volumes the depth of the lower end becomes apparent and the sound takes on an almost transformative quality. There is really nothing like this, that’s why Eleh releases are quickly becoming an automatic buy for me, that and their albums sell out so quickly.

Available on Important Records. 

– Jayson



Review: Yann Novak – Presence by Jayson
November 2, 2011, 10:35 am
Filed under: Ambient, Electronic, Experimental, Review | Tags: , , , ,

Minimalism remains a concept that is easy to grasp but remains difficult to execute well.

Presence is the audio document of a larger project that included video and participatory elements. Composed of rounds recorded on cell phones, the album is the result of the interaction of Yann and other artists during the original performance, giving rise to unanticipated results. As a single 48-minute long track, Presence is a very subtle journey along a continuum of states and emotions; all while staying consistent with the overall quiet, delicate nature of the album.

There are old chestnuts of mine for a review of this kind of music rewards a careful and patient listen, but given the extremely meditative quality of Presence, they bear repeating. As quiet and subtle as the album is, I found it be a deeply engaging listen. There’s a prevailing quality across the album to listen more carefully, listen harder, differentiate the deeper layers of sound. That’s the quality that defines Presence as well executed minimalism.

Available through Hibernate Recordings.

Yann Novak

– Jayson

Review: Spheruleus – Voyage by Jayson
October 20, 2011, 9:19 am
Filed under: Ambient, Review | Tags: , , , ,

Voyage is a concept album about a ship that sets sail, gets lost, becomes involved in an accident and sinks, ultimately to gain a ‘second life’ as a reef or undersea habitat. That’s in the notes accompanying this album. It’s also noted that it’s not the Titanic. What’s interesting to me about voyage is how the music frames the narrative of the album. I’ve written before about the narrative quality of ambient music of this type. Spheruleus have put together a very well done album of layered analog ambient with light piano accompaniment. (There are quite a few other instruments, but the piano breaks through with deft clarity.) With a lot of albums of this nature, the narrative is left wholly to the imagination of the listener, instead of presented to them like with Voyage. So the part that interests me is how the music is “telling” the story here. I think with a narrative like a sinking ship the music could have been composed a lot of different ways. It could have been bombastic and dramatic. The album could be composed with a deeper “folly of man” message at the core. It’s not though, it just sounds like the a story, events that happened. It doesn’t judge. Voyage is quietly elegiac, gentle even. I have a lot of respect for that approach.

Voyage is available as a name your price download and limited edition CD from Hibernate Recordings.


Review: Troy Schafer vs. Cannibal Girls by Jayson
August 17, 2011, 3:37 pm
Filed under: Ambient, Experimental, Review | Tags:

Ok, so the other night I watched Vampyr, which is an old quasi-silent movie from 32 about a vampire that is really surreal and dreamlike. These qualities are evoked in a manner that creates an atmosphere where both the viewer and the protagonist are in a state of unease, constantly what is real.  I bring this up because this album is basically the audio equivalent of the feeling induced by watching said movie. We’re really familiar with Troy Schaffer’s work here, and while the Cannibal Girls are a new listen for me, they dovetail well with Troy’s work. Although it’s really harsh, on my third listening I realized I really liked the tortured violin intro that is the first track. The second track is where the surreal-dreamlike influence comes to the fore. The main point of comparison is that while Troy is still moving in mystical realms, Cannibal Girls’ sound feels like it’s slightly more grounded in traditional psychedelia with a strong drone influence.

– Jayson

Review: Heinali and Matt Finney – Ain’t No Night by Jayson

Doomgaze. That’s what they’re calling it. I like it, because it fits pretty well. It’s also a cool word. Heinali and Matt Finney are transatlantic duo, one in Alabama the other in Ukraine. Heinali performs the music, Matt Finney does spoken word.

When listening to Ain’t No Night I keep coming back to the feeling that it’s one of the most bleakly beautiful or beautifully bleak things I’ve ever heard. Heinali’s music is really more than just a combination of shoegaze, drone and doom elements, there some really beautiful touches; little bits of jazz influence, beats that remind me of the early days of bleak electronic, blues guitar. It’s hard for me to describe what Matt Finney’s doing, except listening to his words and his voice feels like moving through some kind of slow-burning Cormac McCarthy hell. There’s a strength and confidence to his words, but also a weariness. He frequently sounds like a man betrayed, who’s grown wiser but no better off. Taken together these two create a sound that’s leaves me with the feeling of watching the fires burning on the horizon, knowing that this is it, but feeling warm and comfortable, uneasy but at peace with it.

Don’t listen to this while it’s light out.

Ain’t No Night

Available on Paradigms Recordings.

Be sure to check out their other material on their Bandcamp.

– Jayson

Review: Necro Deathmort – Music of Bleak Origin by Jayson

Ok. I apologize lads. You sent this to me quite a while back and it just kinda got tucked away and I forgot about it until recently. I feel bad, because this record is really good, a bit genius even, and I should have said something about that sooner.

Had I not listened to this, I would have believe the combination of metal and dub would have worked. Having listened to it, I am going to say the metal aspect is mostly in the spirit of the sound. Necro Deathmort isn’t as harsh sound as Demonologists or Theologian, for the most part. Some tracks of Music of Bleak Origin do enter that territory but for the most part the sound is evil electronic/dub. That is to the band’s credit though. Their music is actually kinda sexy, which isn’t something you can say about a lot of ‘evil’ music. I seriously enjoy the dynamic range on this album. Having said that, the heaviness here is exceptionally well done. This is a top notch record.

Temple of Juno

Available on Distraction Records. 

– Jayson

Review: OFFTHESKY – Endless Yonder by Jayson
July 12, 2011, 10:48 am
Filed under: Ambient, Electronic, Experimental, Review | Tags: , ,

We actually received two albums by this artist, this and one put out on another label. I’m reviewing this one because I can support Offthesky and SEM at the same time.

I like this record a lot. It’s got a very peaceful, almost languid sound. It’s spacey, but there is enough going on that I don’t believe you’d need to be a really hardcore ambient music fan to appreciate this. I especially like the use of vocal elements, very restrained, but a nice touch.  It may be an awful cliché to say, but this really is a “put it on and float away” style record; very ethereal overall. I really do feel like I am cruising through the endless yonder while listening to this.

This is one of those “less written review = more listening pleasure” deals from me. Extremely enjoyable. Compositionally so solid you could use it to survive in space.

Wait, then wait

Go to SEM and get it. 

– Jayson