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BEATS IN SPACE

Shy Layers

Midnight Marker

    Shy Layers’ Midnight Marker dances between darkness and light, discreet but assured music aware of an “other” self and the dream world which that vessel visits. Rich in symbolism, appearing as floating, formless reflections and poignant pop statements, musician and visual artist JD Walsh’s sophomore album offers new perceptions of time and transition, the emotional tides of experience, and the joy of the journey.

    Midnight Marker is dedicated in part to understanding these transitions. Like a coming-of-age story in reverse, the album explores the reorganization of time and space against a new now: a today imbued, rather than riddled, with the idiosyncrasies of yesterday. The album is not a wrought reality check, however; instead, a journey through genre, imagery, and meaning bathed in familiarity and ineffable emotion.

    Throughout Midnight Marker, Walsh shares the joy of composing within the newfound space of Atlanta having lived in NYC for many moons. Apart from having more space to stretch out and create, Walsh cites modular synthesis as a muse for much of Midnight Marker. Using spontaneous modes to blossom chance beauty in favor of conventional composition, Walsh’s songwriting almost feels happy-go-lucky instead of happenstance. A perfect analog to Walsh’s affable, optimistic spirit beyond his music.

    In a similar spirit a spontaneity, Walsh invited vocalists whom he didn’t know personally, but respected their talents, to perform on the album. The “let’s see what happens” expectation set an open tone while recording that reflects in the positively impressionistic lyrics and sense of shared experience that gives Midnight Marker its inviting glow. As with his visual art, Walsh’s sense of scale, texture, and color ensures these contributions and surrounding sounds work communally and considerately.

    The slower, linear development of Midnight Marker’s songs suggests an organic sensibility that wasn’t quite as apparent on the patternbased compositions of Walsh’s 2016 self-titled debut album. Walsh cites the cerebral pop of Wally Badarou, Arthur Russell, and Another Green World as influences, but his equal love for Luther Vandross digs deep, reflective milestones throughout Midnight Marker. It’s sophisticated while being soulfully, through not righteously, self-aware.

    So, while there is a softness, a shyness to Midnight Marker, there is clarity and wisdom, too. The layers of the past and the experiences which collect together to become age, place, and being are pulled back to reveal a different sense of self. A self able to dance between darkness and light.

    Who Are You is a new collection of free form, free flowing music from E Ruscha V. A wandering, wondrous search for identity rendered in brilliant musical shapes and forms, Who Are You resides in the transitional realm between calm and ecstasy. A meaningful moment along an artist’s transcendent path of self-discovery, and meaningful music to those who identify with a conscious universe.

    Who Are You is the first full-length release by Eddie Ruscha under his given name since donning the Secret Circuit guise in 2010 to administer an electronic antidote to the psychedelic / shoegaze dirge that dominated his formative music-making. Between Secret Circuit’s two 12” EPs and a colossal full length, Tactile Galactics, on Beats In Space in 2013 and now, Ruscha has remained wildly prolific producing unfathomable fouron-the-floor formulas for the best and brightest labels outside of Space. The Secret Circuit hiatus suggests a return to self and an unmasked, untethered musical language, an approach Ruscha describes as “exploring melody that can mutate as different shades of beauty.” Rhythm plays a supporting role on Who Are You, an album with less concern over club constrictions and more contemplation of open, unbound spaces, areas in which Ruscha sees the music capturing “the feeling of a lost day.”

    Who Are You further pares down the dub, tropicalia, and Afro / cosmic influences that have historically placed Secret Circuit at the dance music fringe, repurposing them as concerted instrumentals whose melodic themes are so lyrical they appear song-like, expressive without words. Brought to mind are similar instrumentalists such as Vini Reilly, Wally Badarou, Mark and Clive Ives of Woo, and contemporaries such as Gaussian Curve and Suzanne Kraft, a collaborator of Eddie’s.

    A blend of electronic instruments with added emphasis on the ‘human touch’ of indigenous strings and guitar creates a parallel universe to WAY. On one track, the Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer adds an immersive, score-like quality to the music, reanimating the romantic sides of the album’s retrospective influences without vintage fetishization. On the other, ECM jazz chords velcro to percussive patterns in compositions that feel simultaneously open-ended and total. The exploratory quality of the tracks when intersected embraces a sense of wandering and the album’s intentional ‘lostness.’

    Ruscha describes Who Are You as spanning states “from calm to ecstatic but mostly in-between these.” Though it’s an elliptical view, the description points toward the liminal atmospherics of the music, which dispose of the many hallmark genre traces that informed Secret Circuit’s galactic journeying. For Who Are You, Ruscha was content to wander more intimate environments, in search of an uncharted music rippling with humble discovery.


    Phillip Lauer makes his third appearance on Beats in Space Records, this time alongside Boss In Space and burgeoning producer Tim Sweeney as T & P. On "Shoot The Freak", the dynamic duo deliver a heavy-duty three tracker for your inner and outer freak. After sharing a gig at Robert Johnson, the intimate German club near Frankfurt known for its excellent sound system and minimalist flair, the pair shared a few, freaky days at Hotel Lauer (Phillip's residence and recording studio in the bucolic German countryside) writing and tracking the cuts of "Shoot The Freak". Having worked together in other capacities, a chance to creatively collaborate unleashed unhinged music from deep within the duo's collective soul. Conceptualized with New York City's historic amusement park and freak scene in mind, title track "Shoot the Freak" adds an acidic 303 line alongside a hypnotic vocal sample, the track slowly ascending like a roller coaster before rocketing even deeper into space. We're back on terra firma for B-side opener "Luna Park", basking in the midnight moonlight to the sounds of bubbling boogie-inspired bass, searing strings and pinging toms. "Garden of Tears" completes the EP, its synthetic voices and slow, emotive bass line chugging and churning into the glorious sunset along Coney Island's beachfront. Each 12" on Beats in Space Records features original artwork in considerate and serial form. For "Shoot The Freak", New York artist Peter Sutherland splits day and night through vertically collaged cosmic blinds. The 12" packaging constructed by Joanne features a removable vinyl BIS logo cling. Physical purchase includes a free, high-quality, multi-format download.



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