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Discovery Zone

Quantum Web

    Quantum Web is the new album from Discovery Zone, the experimental pop project of New York born, Berlin based musician and multi-media artist JJ Weihl. After the slow-building but undeniable fervor around Remote Control, Discovery Zone’s debut album, Quantum Web quite literally picks up where JJ left off. In what she considers an ongoing, process oriented continuum, Quantum Web is the next evolutionary phase of Discovery Zone– arranging the past, present, and future across the infinite, invisible web that interconnects us all.

    Moving to Berlin from her native New York City in the early 2010s, the songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist developed her musical practice over four albums as a member of the beloved art rock band Fenster before introducing Discovery Zone with Remote Control in 2020. JJ named Discovery Zone after the chain of indoor, youth oriented entertainment facilities filled with mazes and climbing structures that shuttered shortly after the turn of the millennium — a space born of commercialism that she describes as a “glorified cage” which nonetheless offered her, and millions of other children, the freedom to explore. The music of Discovery Zone plays with a perception of inevitable corporate societal control, but finds its own power and liberation in sounds that obscure their institutional sources.

    Inspired by the omnipresence of advertising and corporate culture as much as the potential of cybernetics and neural networks, Discovery Zone plunges into an uncanny valley with Quantum Web, where the distinctions between the earnest and the ironic blur in tandem with the border between the human and the post-human. JJ wrote a number of Quantum Web’s songs for Cybernetica, a multimedia performance she was commissioned in 2021. Cataloging her daily activities as data points to be analyzed, she broke her life down into statistics and presented them onstage to a live audience, depersonalizing her experience while claiming it for herself in all its mundane yet intimate detail. Quantum Web casts JJ in a concordant role: a pop star mediated by machines, just as willing to sink anonymously into her productions as she is to shine as their legible central figure.

    On Quantum Web, Discovery Zone explores a widescreen pop sound speckled with luminous vocal performances and baroque instrumental flourishes. While JJ’s voice is focal and transfixing at the center of the composition, she contrasts moments of clarity with strategies of obfuscation through hi-definition synthesis and time-dilating ambience. Vocoded textures layer into dense choral networks. A.I. text-to-speech abruptly hits the mix like a loudspeaker announcement over a meditation session. Staccato samples of JJ’s disembodied voice pepper the arrangements, creating their own pointillist harmonic systems that play a role closer to synth patch than vocal take. Quantum Web draws power from this composite mosaic of inputs, as if to propose that all these forms still represent JJ’s core self no matter how far they might splinter from the sounds that came from her physical form.

    Though delivered in the crisp fidelity of contemporary radio-ready pop, the production signifiers we encounter on Quantum Web seem more like they should reach us bearing the grain and warble of a VHS tape. Working with producer E.T., JJ dips into a pool of decades-spanning style, finding room for 80s sophisti-pop, modern hyper-digital bubblegum, and early electro. Flights of motorik momentum animate more bustling compositions while shades of downtempo and city pop dim the lights over more subdued moments. An otherwise electronic arrangement might suddenly host a crystalline guitar riff or a bumping electric bassline, calling back to JJ’s musical upbringing playing guitar and bass as a teen on through her decade spent in a more traditional “rock band” setting. Interspersed among the pieces of Quantum Web that code as some permutation of electronic pop songwriting, a series of minute-long interludes turns the dial toward lush textural sculpting and pure ambient drift — regularly scheduled programming punctuated by commercial breaks.

    The Quantum Web is our web of personal connections, the world wide web, the web of lies we tell each other. It’s a trap, a figurative hologram that we see all around us, but one we participate in of our own free will. We acknowledge that to escape would be impossible. But we still find a simple joy, or at least the thrill of confronting prosaic ineffability, when we log back on, when we play a trivia game on a little screen attached to the backseat of a cab, when we walk through the mall and look up through the infinite ceiling or the sky.

    TRACK LISTING

    A1. Supernatural
    A2. Pair A Dice
    A3. Ur Eyes
    A4. FYI
    A5. Test
    B1. Operating System
    B2. Mall Of Luv
    B3. Kite
    B4. All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go
    B5. Undressed
    B6. Keep It Lite
    B7. Xrystal

    The Body

    I Shall Die Here / Earth Triumphant

      I Shall Die Here / Earth Triumphant is an expanded edition of the fourth full-length album by The Body, first released to widespread acclaim, and terror, in 2014. Sharing their moribund vision with Bobby Krlic, aka The Haxan Cloak, the tried andtrue sound of The Body is shred to pieceson I Shall Die Here, mutilated by processand re-animated in a spectral state by the collaboration. This double album set is expanded with the previously unreleased Earth Triumphant, a full-length companion album that would become I Shall Die Here, showcasing The Body’s brutality in its most primal form. With both albums revisited by The Body and Seth Manchester at Machines With Magnets and remastered by Matt Colton at Metropolis Studios, this is the definitive edition of a shocking classic of unbridled bleakness and innovation.

      Formed by drummer Lee Buford and guitarist Chip King in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1999, The Body soon relocated to Providence, Rhode Island. The duo remained in Providence for a decade before moving west to their current home of Portland, Oregon. Their debut self-titled album (Moganano, 2003) and on the widely-acclaimed, classification curtailing of All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood (At A Loss, 2011) readied the band for even more experimentations. The employment of the Assembly of Light Choir’s classical chorales on All the Waters, alongside more industrial music techniques such as vocal sampling and drum programming, prompted RVNG to inquire with King and Buford which darker corners of the electronic universe they were presumably interested in exploring.

      The undertaking of I Shall Die Here was aided by Seth Manchester and Keith Souza, The Body’s long standing engineer and creative collaborator, and noted producer Bobby Krlic. Krlic’s own work as The Haxan Cloak struck a similarly despairing chord to The Body with the celebrated Excavation (Tri Angle, 2013), itself a minimalist evocation of the afterlife. I Shall Die Here shares similar nether space with the morbidly deviating darkness of Excavation, but remains sculpturally frozen in a sort of earthen purgatory. The Body’s musical approach, engraved by Buford’s colossal beats and King’s mad howl and bass-bladed guitar dirge, became something even more terrifying with Krlic’s post-mortem ambiences serving as both baseline and outer limit. I Shall Die Here sonically serrates the remains of metal’s already unidentifiable corpse and splays it amid tormented voices in shadow.

      This expanded edition gives us a window into the creation of a classic with the inclusion of its in utero twin, Earth Triumphant. Recorded as a nearly finished album by Buford and King before The Haxan Cloak’s transformation,
      it stands as a raw statement of intent, the original DNA for what would soon mutate into something wholly new. Fans of I Shall Die Here will find familiar sonic fragments in a more primitive state - like seeing an out-of-context photograph of a family member taken well before you knew them - but the album stands on its own in its minimalist brutality, a natural bridge to what The Body was soon to become.

      The Body’s I Shall Die Here / Earth Triumphant will be released in digital and vinyl formats on June 30, 2023. On behalf of The Body, The Haxan Cloak, and RVNG Intl., a portion of the proceeds from this release will benefit Intransitive, an organization that works to advance the cause of Trans liberation in Arkansas through art, education, advocacy, organizing and culture in order to create effective systemic change and on-the-ground impact.


      TRACK LISTING

      1. To Carry The Seeds Of Death Within Me
      2. Alone All The Way
      3. The Night Knows No Dawn
      4. Hail To Thee, Everlasting Pain
      5. Our Souls Were Clean
      6. Darkness Surrounds Us
      7. Our New Genesis
      8. No Sadness In The Many
      9. A Testament To Willingness
      10. A Cloud Broke Open
      11. Wind On The Ocean, Wind On The Trees
      12. Death At A Great Distance

      M. Sage

      Paradise Crick

        Like a winding system of trails and paths cutting through a digital forest-scape, M. Sage’s Paradise Crick is shaped by time. Full of wonder and charm, designed patiently and from a rich, curious mulch of synthesized and acoustic sound, the versatile American artist and magic realist’s new suite of music is an imaginary destination and a pastoral fantasy that envisions the natural and fabricated worlds as one.

        Matthew Sage is a musician, intermedia artist, recording engineer and producer, publisher, teacher, partner, and parent. Assembling a sprawling and idiosyncratic catalog of experimental studio music between Colorado and Chicago since the early 2010s, recent highlights include The Wind of Things (Geographic North, 2021), an ensemble- recorded expression of bow-splashed nostalgia, and the four seasonal albums of Fuubutsushi, the improvisatory ambient jazz quartet he formed with friends from afar in 2020. Sage renders projects with nuanced velocity and a completist sensibility — when it’s finished, it’s done — which is what makes Paradise Crick, his debut for RVNG Intl., a compelling outlier.

        Sage first staked his tent in Crick’s conceptual campground five years ago from his home studio in Chicago (he’s since returned to Colorado, home to the mountains and prairies often personified in his work). He had just read Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America, a kaleidoscopic reflection of pastoral America’s shifting identity by way of magical fishing sojourns. Inspired by that feeling, of getting lost but finding oneself in through the outdoors, he amassed over seventy demos documenting a fictional soundtrack for camping. Pull up to this park, and the sign might read, “Welcome to Paradise Crick. Fire Danger Is Low.” The sequence, pruned down to thirteen tracks, courses the dewy mornings, afternoon hikes, and firelit nights of a weekend expedition.

        While Sage is not a filmmaker, he views the method of making this album as a similar form of world-building via structure, narrative, formal elements, and editorial refinement. Contrasted with his collaborative craft, here he is a sole auteur reclined in total autonomy, able to improvise scenes and implement special effects at will. A parallel precedent for such unchecked imagination in the M. Sage canon is A Singular Continent, his 2014 album that tilted its compass to a faraway land. Where Continent built its world layering samples as composition, Paradise Crick deploys a balance of accessible song structures with experimental instrumentation and sound design.

        Speckled with harmonica, autoharp, chimes, penny whistle, voice, hand percussion, and other mysteries, Crick’s texture is treated as a sensorial adventure; the swamps gurgle, the lakes glisten, and the valleys breathe in robust HD. The rhythms are loose and buoyant, bursting with a few ‘kick and snare’ moments shaped by Sage’s lifelong love for drumming and headphone prone electronic music. Crick bumps more than most anything he’s done before; crackling static pulses and lush vibrations reveal an intrinsic groove, a hidden beat map.

        In the landscapes of Paradise Crick, science and magic co-exist, 5k boulders and midi frogs share the frame with real-life memories of Midwest camping trips and the desire to feel extra human in a digitized space. Sage strived for “nature in the holodeck” but couldn’t help leaving fingerprints in the simulation, and it’s these traces of spirit and character that give Paradise Crick its strange allure.

        The album’s bubbling sense of play, melody, and timbre takes cues from left-field electronic lineage; synth pioneers like Tomita and Raymond Scott up through the more expressive pop tendencies of Woo, Stereolab and the Cocteau Twins, and into contemporary composers like Sam Prekop. The album’s vocabulary is uncomplicated; the gestures are sweet and inviting, intended to lull the listener. As much as Sage continues to be an experimentalist by nature in his work, with Paradise Crick, he spins a narrative. Not necessarily a concept album, but rather an invitation to take off for a weekend. That’s the modus operandi down here in the Crick, we stretch out.

        TRACK LISTING

        A1 Bendin’ In
        A2 Map To Here
        A3 River Turns Woodley (for Frogman)
        A4 Fire Keplo
        A5 Crick Dynamo
        A6 Tilth Dusk Drains
        B1 Tilth Dawn Rustles
        B2 Mercy Lowlands
        B3 Paradise Pass
        B4 Stars Hanging Shallow
        B5 Backdrif
        B6 Crick Foam
        B7 Evenin’ Out

        Flore Laurentienne

        Volume II

          Volume II is the second offering of orchestral navigations from Flore Laurentienne, the vessel of Canadian composer Mathieu David Gagnon. A passage along the St. Lawrence River’s waters, Flore Laurentiene employs a palette of synthesizers, clarinets, and ensemble strings on Volume II to illustrate and illuminate the river’s flow as swirling, serene melodies and vibrant vignettes.

          Ernest Hood

          Back To The Woodlands / & Where The Woods Begin

            Written and recorded between 1972 and 1982 in Western Oregon, Back to the Woodlands is a previously unreleased, and nearly lost, album made by Ernest Hood during the same era as his near mythical album Neighborhoods. A visionary combination of field recordings, zithers, and synthesizers, Back to the Woodlands offers an unprecedented depth of access to this singular artistic mind.

            Born into a musical family, Ernest Hood began a promising career as a jazz guitarist during the 1940s, touring internationally with his brother Bill Hood and the saxophonist Charlie Barnet, before contracting polio in his late twenties. The disease left Ernest unable to play the guitar and confined him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. It also forced him to adapt and innovate around his musical practices in the face of adversity; Hood’s value of sound matured with a remarkably democratic and nonhierarchical approach and application.

            Taking up the zither, a less physically-demanding stringed instrument to the guitar, embarking upon the unprecedented process of incorporating field recordings into his work as early as 1956, and eventually discovering the synthesizer, Hood’s music became imbued with optimism and subtle cultural critique. This ethos and technique - refined over the coming decades - would lay the groundwork for a sprawling body of radio work, mail order recordings for homebound listeners, and Neighborhoods, self-issued as a small vinyl edition in 1975.

            Where Neighborhoods, a nostalgic opus, drawing from a well of collective memory of the 1950s, is defined by traces of human activity, Back to the Woodlands leaves the modern world behind, delving into Hood’s love for nature. Only recently discovered in his archives, the album dramatically expands his concept of “musical cinematography,” imagistically triggering states of sensory memory from within its zither and synthesizer melodies, intertwined with field recordings made during Hood’s extensive travels throughout Oregon. If Neighborhoods is a retreat into the gauzy joys of a romanticized past, Back to the Woodlands is an immersion in the timeless sanctuary of the natural world.

            A fascinating counterpoint to its predecessor, Back to the Woodlands brings us even closer to Hood’s belief in the transportive qualities of sound; that field recordings could serve as a vehicle for the imagination and liberation, particularly for those with similar mobile disabilities as his own. Across the album’s twelve compositions, the rippling instrumental harmonics - shifting between abstraction and playful melody - fold so seamlessly into the birdsong, bubbling brooks, and other environmental ambiences, that they often give the impression of having been recording within the landscapes toward which they whisper.

            Falling somewhere between the immersive calm of healing music and New Age, the creative field recording practices of sound ecologists

            world building for Folkways, and the jazz infected ambiences during Obscure / Editions EG’s highest heights, Back to the Woodlands sculpts an singular proximity of music for its moment; a form of ambient sonic realism that draws the consciousness toward its surroundings as much as within.

            Working closely with his estate to maintain his original vision, Freedom to Spend has restored and remastered this never before released, lost masterpiece by Ernest Hood from the original tapes. Ernest Hood’s Back to the Woodlands will be issued on vinyl, as well as on CD in combination with its contemporary Where the Woods Begin, with new liner notes by Michael Klausman. On behalf of Ernest Hood and Freedom To Spend, a portion of the proceeds from this release will benefit Oregon Wild, an organization dedicated to protecting and restoring Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife, and waters as an enduring legacy for future generations.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Open Fields
            2. Where The Woods Begin
            3. Train To Grass Creek
            4. Shadows On The River
            5. Riffles
            6. Hay Zephyrs
            7. The Sleeping Gorge
            8. Salmonberry
            9. The Distant Hill
            10. Watercourse
            11. The Mosses
            12. Cloud Across The Field
            13. Little Bug
            14. Sitka
            15. Scintilla
            16. Old Covered Bridge
            17. The Brophy Road

            Diatom Deli

            Time~Lapse Nature

              Diatom Deli’s Time~Lapse Nature is a channel between cerebral ascension and somatic memory, tethered to the micro-present though humbled by a beyond. Dilated by celestial fluctuations and dynamic flutters, the reverberations from the Taos-based artist’s new album culminate through airy tests of vocal layering, longing guitar laments, and discreetly sourced sound, compelling Deli’s commitment to esoteric precision and impulse.

              Delisa Paloma-Sisk was born and raised in Clarksville, Tennessee, an hour north of Nashville and many more from Lares, Puerto Rico, where she spent extended time with her mother’s side of the family while growing up. Deli recalls hearing her grandmother’s neighbor playing classical guitar every night during one visit to Lares, the melodies lingering and resurfacing while she self-taught herself the instrument in her early teens and then formally studied it in college. Deli would gradually bring together the guitar, synthesizer, and her own voice, recording and releasing two albums, Feelsounds and TQM (Te Quiero Mucho), as Diatom Deli in 2015 and 2017.

              Written between 2016 and 2019, Time~Lapse Nature embodies Deli’s generous, ongoing excavation of her inner emotive spectrum and offers listeners a lush, loving overgrowth; a hiding place for heart-centric radiation. After several synchronistic and collaborative encounters, the album was channeled with the help of Michael Hix (synthesizers, connective magic) and Bryan Talbot (engineering, soundscapes), Deli steadfast at the center, a transparent catalyst for the album’s omniscient landscapes and fleeting tenor.

              Deli’s affecting process is palpable throughout the eight songs of Time~Lapse Nature; moods move like planets in thick orbit, spinning forward like an anti-apology, embracing new feeling frequencies where vulnerability radiates tenderly in tonal embers, conveying an exalted melancholy that sticks the moment it lands. “I cry a lot with any and all emotions: elation, sadness, laughter—you name it,” shares Deli. “And I wanted a space for these grand feelings to play a role in Time~Lapse Nature.”

              In this environment, Deli honors passing friendships, repurposes creative lulls, and regales an earned inner clarity—palpable in every verse. Each song on Time~Lapse Nature ushers a glittering devotion, with special nods to loved ones, as in “Sonrisa“ (“Smile” in Spanish), dedicated to Deli’s grandmother. And “Sunday's Dying Light,” the opening movement, begins with one of many saved voicemails from her mother. Vulnerable relationality is the soil from which this work springs, illuminated by ambrosial strains, misaligned fires, and muted rainbows.

              Time~Lapse Nature not only unveils what can emerge from surrendered songwriting, but also surrendering to the moment and the inevitable chance within. Throughout the album, field recordings are literally instrumental: melodies of life that harmonize with Deli’s vocals and guitar. “I listen to a lot of background noise in everyday life—kids playing in the park or bowling alley ambiance, or the satisfying sound of pages turning at the local library,” notes Deli. Here, reams of quotidian splendor are offered devotionally, decorating a broader planet of euphonic loops and psychedelic therapy, enchanting as magic hour or an overcast snow.

              A clairsentient offering from Deli, where sound imparts knowing, and is felt more than heard, Time~Lapse Nature is a space to which listeners are invited to commune in a hymnal harmony, prismic beams stretching over sweet, nourishing water. Like a mist dissipating over open fields, Time~Lapse Nature incants a process of succulent renewal towards the mythic, eternal—summoning each listener to delight in the resounding stillness.

              TRACK LISTING

              1.Sunday’s Dying Light
              2.Massive Headships Of Centering Tiles
              3.Disarray
              4.False Alarm
              5.Sonrisa
              6.Waves Will See (Your Smiling Face)
              7.Deandre
              8.Thank You, Maya

              Emily A Sprague

              Hill, Flower, Fog

                Emily A. Sprague’s deeply rooted insight and clear-eyed foresight is harbored once again in the newly carved space of Hill, Flower, Fog. “Hill, Flower, Fog is a place and a poem,” says Emily, “a personal letter and vision for myself, outlining priorities that I aspire to incorporate during my time on earth: family, sustainability, patience, and growth.”

                Seeking language and dream between the stasis and shift of this year’s blur, Emily found nourishment in transformed daily practices, a process of retrieving the important things from the fog of past routines. Channeling deeply into the here and now fostered a far-reaching connectedness, a lifeline from the everyday to the cosmic.

                If Water Memory / Mount Vision, Emily’s first forays into formless music, read as earth-bound passages, HFF scatters more ineffable references across its pages. The maximal stretch of the universe, and germanely, its minimal density, are explored through compositions that search and embrace the infinitude and human condition mirrored, fragmented, and felt in both.

                On HFF, Emily invites meditation on perception and sensation in a six part spectra. “Moon View” and “Star Gazing” are cosmic commitments to look up, while “Horizon” and “Mirror” describe abstract views relating to the position of self and its projection outwards. “Woven” and “Rain” represent more textural and tactile impressions, elemental immersions in our earth’s perfectly imperfect patterns.

                Each piece varies subtly, yet remains soundly familial. HFF begins with the groove of a restrained, molluscan signal, our ears perceive signs of hope with twinkling momentum. Rippling out in florets of sound, we slide closer to the source as a deeper drone is braided through thrumming tones. A meticulous music box drops notes precisely on an ideal garden, until we reach the collection’s most fine-drawn and final entry, watching little comet tails lighting up a muted scape of the deepest indigo.

                The sounds of HFF share a visual space with a series of carefully arranged pictures captured by Emily. Welcome to Hill, Flower, Fog, an artist edition photography book offered with the album, usher the communal story from ether back to burrow, describing moments of pause, peace and communion experienced at home. Light falling across clouds, curtains, lawns and of course, hill, flower, fog. Illuminating Emily’s consciousness and appreciation of things, “simply being here in this cone of time in our universe.”

                There is a kinship between the poetry of Hill, Flower, Fog and those revered lines of Blake: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour.”

                Emily A. Sprague’s Hill, Flower, Fog was originally shared as a Bandcamp release in March 2020, and arrives expanded for vinyl and a full digital release on October 30, 2020. A portion of the proceeds from Hill, Flower, Fog will benefit Lion’s Tooth Project, a community project in service of LGBTQIA+, Immigrant, Black / Indigenous, and POC youth, serving young people in all of their intersecting identities inspiring them to have more agency over their own wellness, healing and personal stories.


                TRACK LISTING

                1. Moon View
                2. Horizon
                3. Mirror
                4. Woven
                5. Rain
                6. Star Gazing

                Pauline Anna Strom

                Angel Tears In Sunlight

                  Angel Tears in Sunlight is Pauline Anna Strom’s first album in over thirty years; an assemblage of music that refracts the expansiveness, and minutiae, of imagined realms while embracing the kaleidoscopic echoes of our distant epochs. The capacity to collapse time might elucidate the enigma of Pauline Anna Strom. A mystic force in music, emerging during the dawn of new age as the Trans-Millenia Consort, the pioneering synthesist channelled primordial energies into future-facing sound through a series of full-length releases between 1982 and 1988.

                  Little was known about her, except by a constellation of devoted followers who saw a unique legacy forming amidst the (mostly male) synthesist canon of the time. Following the 2017 release of Trans-Millenia Music, an anthology revitalizing the most evocative parts of Strom’s catalog, the Bay Area visionary sensed the universe telling her to return to music. As with her work in the 80s, Angel Tears in Sunlight was composed and recorded in the same San Francisco apartment where Strom has lived for almost four decades in synthesis with her machines and “dinosaurs.” Populated by a compact array of modern instruments that streamline the sound of her analog past and her beloved iguanas, Little Soulstice and Ms Huff, the terrarium of her home forms an intimate yet limitless ecosystem that defies the constraints of the outside world. Within this sanctuary, Strom becomes lost in time, drawing on the ancient energies of her inner visions. Her hardware forms the crux of translating these ideas into sound. “It’s the only way this stuff can be pulled out of myself, the universe, Little Soulstice, an ammonite…,” Strom notes. “It couldn’t be done without this machinery, because there’s no other way to draw and capture these frequencies into sonic interpretation.” Strom’s process of recording transient live-takes enriches the mystery of her work. She renders the machinery a composer itself, a cohabitation with a living other. “Many musicians wouldn’t go that far because of ego,” Strom muses. “The equipment has to become part of you and your creativity.

                  That’s how I think it all comes together.” Music-making becomes a harmonic language of intuition with an instrument, where Strom cultivates sound for a harvest that defies season. Shaped by circadian contours, Angel Tears in Sunlight is a celestial observatory of earthborn phonic mosaics. Strom uncovers a symbiosis between hardware frequencies and apparitions of nature in the record’s arena of organic tones, emulating the melodic pulses of primeval terrain. The album transcends both shadow and light, falling to hushed stretches of sound as if not to awaken antediluvian animals, before soaring through the treetops where ancient skies peer over reptilian traffic and unsparing rains. Where Angel Tears in Sunlight opens a new passage in the transportive power of Strom’s work, the synthesist also nurtures space for restorative listening. During her absence from composing, Strom turned to a practice of spiritual healing, which she recognizes to have deepened her understanding of music as “the connective link between the source and us.” Dedicating the album to her dear friend John Jennings who passed away during the making of Angel Tears in Sunlight, Strom titled the work to reflect the summation of processing life and loss, collapsed together in an eternal spectrum. “Sunlight represents what we’re coming into.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  LP
                  A1. Tropical Convergence
                  A2. Marking Time
                  A3. I Still Hope
                  A4. Temple Gardens At Midnight
                  A5. The Pulsation
                  B1. The Eighteen Beautiful Memories
                  B2. Equatorial Sunrise
                  B3. Small Reptiles On The Forest Floor
                  B4. Tropical Rainforest

                  CD
                  1. Tropical Convergence
                  2. Marking Time
                  3. I Still Hope
                  4. Temple Gardens At Midnight
                  5. The Pulsation
                  6. The Eighteen Beautiful Memories
                  7. Equatorial Sunrise
                  8. Small Reptiles On The Forest Floor
                  9. Tropical Rainforest
                  10. Words In Motion (Bonus Track)

                  Becoming Peter Ivers tells the story of the late Peter Ivers, a virtuosic songwriter and musician whose antics bridged not just 60s counterculture and New Wave music but also film, theatre, and music television.

                  Written and recorded in Los Angeles in the mid-to-late-1970s, Becoming Peter Ivers raises the curtain on this mischievous master of ceremonies, who, harmonica in hand, rarely missed a chance to light up an audience. Since his untimely death in 1983, Ivers’ short but storied life has been the subject of much research and remembrance. Becoming Peter Ivers is the most expansive effort yet to collect his archival recordings.

                  “Demos are often better than records,” Ivers wrote. “More energy, more soul, more guts.” The statement anticipates the appearance of Becoming Peter Ivers, which was assembled from a trove of demo cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes that Ivers recorded variously at his home in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, and Hollywood studios for a pair of major label albums in 1974 and 1976. While the two commercially released albums feature the resources of session musicians and state-of-the-art studio detail, Becoming Peter Ivers highlights the private moments of Ivers’ musical energy, frequently pared down to piano, drum machine, harmonica, and Peter’s ageless voice.

                  Though technically not Ivers’ debut album (in 1969 Epic Records released Knight Of The Blue Communion, Peter’s psychedelic jazz odyssey of sorts), Terminal Love was the A&R brainchild of music legend Van Dyke Parks. Already a masterful harmonica player (respectively mentored by blues legend Little Walter and jazz bassist Buell Neidlinger while he was a student at Harvard in the late 60s), Ivers wove his harp melodies through the sensuously coloured but unconventionally arranged pop compositions of Terminal Love and its self-titled follow up, which, like the New York Dolls at the same time, explored the libidinous, ironic, and artful possibilities of the rock template.

                  A studious artist, Ivers recorded hundreds of writing and rehearsal sessions onto reel-to reel and cassette tapes, but notes were either scarcely kept or have since been lost. RVNG Intl. collaborated with Ivers’ long-time friend and supporter Steven Martin, as well as his lifelong companion Lucy Fisher, to tell an intimate story of Peter’s creative journey through this untold music. The collection includes tracks that recurred in Ivers’ ouvre over the years; “Alpha Centauri,” “Eighteen And Dreaming,” “Miraculous Weekend.” And, of course, “In Heaven” – the song co-written with David Lynch and commissioned by the filmmaker to be featured in a now-iconic scene of Eraserhead. An accomplished Yogi by the late 70s, Ivers was as spiritual as he was playful. Accentuated by his cherubic face and compact height, Ivers’ vitality and curiosity became a part of his poetic sensibility, a quality that also characterizes his singing voice. Fisher remembers Ivers calling his days holed up in the studio as “snowy days,” as if he had been cut from school and let free to roam on his own. “No one knows what Peter Ivers does on a snowy day,” he would say.

                  In 1980, Ivers became involved with the Los Angeles-area public access show New Wave Theatre, serving as its host and paternal misfit. Ivers would introduce a new generation of groups like Fear, Dead Kennedys, and Suburban Lawns while playing a kind-of “straight” man, deliberately baiting the punks with square questions and frocked fashion. His signature question to guests was delivered deadpan: “What is the meaning of life?” Ivers died, tragically, the victim of a violent homicide in 1983 that remains unsolved. A shock to his community, his death all but fazed the LAPD, who treated the investigation with less than minimum care. A labor of love that took RVNG Intl. over five years to complete, Becoming Peter Ivers re-frames Peter’s music as the centerpiece of his captivating story, concentrating on the work he made during his numerous retreats into art, or, as he put it, during his snowy days. 

                  TRACK LISTING

                  01. Take Your Chances With Me
                  02. Eighteen And Dreaming
                  03. Love Is A Jungle
                  04. Conference Call At Four
                  05. Peter
                  06. Even Stephen Foster
                  07. I’m Sorry Alice
                  08. Deborah
                  09. Miraculous Weekend
                  10. Holding The Cobra
                  11. Audience Of One
                  12. Alpha Centauri
                  13. I’ve Seen Your Face
                  14. My Grandmother’s Funeral
                  15. In Heaven
                  16. My Desire
                  17. The Night You Didn’t Come
                  18. Untitled
                  19. Love In Flight (Piano Overture)
                  20. Ain’t That A Kick
                  21. Jamaica Moon
                  22. Happy On The Grill
                  23. Window Washer (w/ Van Dyke Parks)
                  24. You Used To Be Stevie Wonder 
                  25. Nirvana Cuba Walt

                  Dylan Moon

                  Only The Blues

                    Only the Blues is an introduction deferred, and it is the debut album by Dylan Moon. Across its 35 minutes, we are rarely made to understand what, exactly, the source of Moon’s blues is, how that feeling has mutated, or whether there is a life beyond the small rooms and cramped spaces where this music was made. If not opaque, this first meeting with Moon is at least hazily translucent.

                    This makes Only the Blues something of an esoteric response to an age of radical transparency. Broadly speaking, Moon works in the field of folk music. But from this pasture, he glances pathways to digression; seeking scenic routes and counterintuitive cartography, trusting that even the most aimless trip becomes lucid if the foggy details are documented well enough.

                    On this trip, images spill from Moon, and most of them seem foreboding. We are given the sense - both from his lyrics and from the viscous mood he creates, using electronic manipulation to send his songs down compositional egresses, from which they emerge with a mysterious residue - that things have not been going well. Even the most saccharine memories, dancing before a freshly lit fire or hanging out with childhood cartoons come to life, feel caked with a hidden history.

                    Moon studied electronic production and sound design at music school, and then moved to Los Angeles in hopes of working in the film industry. While simultaneously graduating from pop to psych to prog to beat-making, he returned to traditional songwriting on the west coast, working out his ideas over a pair of self-released EPs. He also stumbled upon an ancient drum machine with scratched contact points and seventy years spent under restless thumbs, finding a kind of sonic entropy in its past-futurist rhythm signals that serve as Only the Blues’ spiritual center.

                    The album was recorded in Moon’s bedrooms in L.A. and Boston, small spaces made more claustrophobic by the soundproofing he hammered into the doors and the bedding he leaned against the walls. A single soul, spinning away (and out) in a cramped room: It’s a state of mind — and being — that Moon used his formal training to refine across Only the Blues. This is an album ornate with so many musical ideas to express that it teeters between ecstasy and anxiety.

                    That anxious quality is also what makes Only the Blues endlessly captivating. Moon moves quickly, courting the madcap at the center of his songs and just as quickly retreating to the fray. Processed guitars appear for a measure and disappear. His voice, a brittle croon reaching reedy highs and bottoming out into throaty baritone, wears tape hiss like a scarf while gently interlocking instrumental figures go nude below. The drum machine melts into a puddle of reverb.

                    Only the Blues uses obfuscation as a mode of confession, so long as we mean “confession” in the conventional sense. Moon is not hiding, but he is deliberately deciding: choosing how to be vulnerable, how to reveal, when to let go, when to move on. It’s not the way we usually meet one another. Maybe it should be.


                    TRACK LISTING

                    A1. Hope Dog
                    A2. Death Warmed
                    A3. Rosy
                    A4. Chimneys
                    A5. A Witch
                    A6. Analog
                    A7. Blue Jean
                    B1. Collapse
                    B2. Song For Jerry
                    B3. Interlude
                    B4. Lines
                    B5. Faraway Places
                    B6. Morning Limbo
                    B7. Mind Troubles

                    Helado Negro

                    This Is How You Smile

                    Helado Negro returns with This Is How You Smile, an album that freely flickers between clarity and obscurity, past and present geographies, bright and unhurried seasons. Miami-born, New York-based artist Roberto Carlos Lange embraces a personal and universal exploration of aura – seen, felt, emitted – on his sixth album and second for RVNG Intl. Helado

                    Negro’s 2016 album "Private Energy", re-released as "Private Energy (Expanded)" in 2017, is an urgent affirmation of self-love and solidarity driven by Lange’s personal response to sanctioned violence towards people of color. The widely embraced album furthered the artist’s visibility beyond a community of fans long established through a rigorous recording and touring career, with moments like “Young, Latin and Proud” and “It’s My Brown Skin” aligning with a larger social demand for basic rights amongst marginalized people and the universal imperative to love, be loved, and thrive.

                    This Is How You Smile’s opener “Please Won’t Please,” a call back to Private Energy, finds vitality in turning the privacy dial further inward. Setting the scene with a sparse drumbeat that moves the music forward in a more maligned than militant march, Lange’s voice tenderly permits himself weariness: “We light ourselves on fire, just to see if anyone believes.” Something must be reserved, “will anyone rescue what’s left of me.” Diving into glimmering spirals, the remainder of the album takes leave of the broader “we” and mines intimate pairings - siblings, parent / child relationships, partnership, and old friends. The story of This Is How You Smile includes a jaunty, head-nodding walk with his brother on hot pavement to the community pool of his childhood neighborhood in Florida. Such days end with a welcome fatigue and chlorine blurred reveries in “Seen My Aura.” The confidence and security of youth, moves away from family, across years and regions, to a bleak winter of “Imagining What to Do,” and loving partners deciding to make each other smile, while waiting for the sun to return.

                    This Is How You Smile derives from Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl,” a story she wrote in the form of a mother’s sole, complicated, but loving voice, speaking a “How to” litany of advice ranging from domestic chores to what a daughter, an immigrant and young woman of color, must do to protect herself in a world that was not designed by or for her. This is how joy, or its visage, at turns comforts, constricts, or becomes armor.

                    Contemplating a parental voice, or its absence, becomes a question of where one may choose to return or depart. The lyrics of “Running,” seem to retrace the cyclical path of pop’s familiar obsessions, addressing the unrequited, fickle, or feared lover, “I feel you in my mind, all the time… you got me running, running…” Instead, the repetition of fleeing breaks with a languid laugh of recognition, that the lives of those who came before are within one’s own, even when we diverge, “I see you in my hands… just like you.” The song may also be read beyond seeing the humanity of self and parent, to the ever more visible global failures of patriarchal structures, and those moments when one sees their traces in self and those dear. Lange describes the album as the soundtrack of a person approaching you, slowly, for 40 minutes. In “Fantasma Vaga,” one of the first songs he wrote that set his approach for the album, a ghost wanders in from the low end, building a fuller form with each shaking step. Whirring, stops and starts of an eco espectral, may be musician trying to imitate, synthesize, the sound of a haunting, or a ghost itself trying to render the human voice. Lange often visualizes meeting strange beings, the odd encounters that occur in the creative process, a sound form of manipulation, in which who, or what is changing whom, becomes unclear. This Is How You Smile invites listeners on a walk through the changing colors of early mornings and evenings, writing, recording, or hearing a friend, a figure emerges, and there you are.


                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Barry says: A superbly balanced mix of rhythmic downbeat, hip-hop percussion and good old fashioned songwriting, 'This Is How You Smile' epitomises how effective a melting pot of styles can be, fittingly for it's subject matter, being all the better for it's diversity and willingness to embrace a wide range of genres to great effect. A perfectly conceived and excellently written opus.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    01. Please Won’t Please
                    02. Imagining What To Do
                    03. Echo For Camperdown Curio
                    04. Fantasma Vaga
                    05. Pais Nublado
                    06. Running
                    07. Seen My Aura
                    08. Sabana De Luz
                    09. November 7
                    10. Todo Lo Que Me Falta
                    11. Two Lucky
                    12. My Name Is For My Friends

                    Colin Self’s Siblings is a proposal for interdependence, critical joy, and an expansive sense of being. As the lyrics beam, “I used to live as an anomaly... no explanation biologically,” so siblings share hidden language, lore, and identity. On Siblings, ecstatic voices and sound knot to form new ideals of kinship, emerging as horizontal relations for multi-species flourishing.

                    Colin Self challenges boundaries of perception with his art, music, and performances. Inspired by the work of Donna Haraway (Cyborg Manifesto, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene), Siblings is the final segment of the six-part opera series entitled Elation. Informed by Self’s exploration of the ways of knowing, Siblings places a non-biological family at its center. The characters, bonded by curiosity and caring, generate ways of collectively coming together on a damaged planet. Self uses Siblings to define this familial experience through sound and its soundmakers.

                    Siblings is a mobile, transitional production, in equal parts by circumstance and happenstance. Field fragments taken from Halloween party laughter in Jamaica Plains and a cross-country video chat are refracted by session recordings willed to happen in places as far flung as Stockholm and Los Angeles. Siblings is a sound scrapbook or poster board collage, but not one without careful consideration of the clipping and composition.

                    From years experiencing Riot Grrrl shows around Self's early home of Oregon to his involvement in the New York City-based performance collective Chez Deep, Self expands the DIY ethos to a space and mind of Do-It-Together. Feeding into Siblings is XHOIR, Self’s ongoing project of group vocal workshops for singing and listening, and a broad cast of kin including but not limited to Michael Beharie, Greg Fox (drums), Martine Syms (words and voice), The Mivos Quartet, and Raul De Nieves (cover art).

                    On “Story,” Siblings’ opening moment, breath and beats emerge as echoes within a vast, heaving chamber, sound conjured and cajoled into a new, blistered terrain. “Foresight” urges us toward a worlding - a break from the planet we’ve disregarded: “I see on my screen all the doubt, where it comes from, why you trust in no one. I see a new light.” While the unhinged form of “Ante-Strategy” lays the sonic compost for a Belurusian political poem, written with Tanya Zamirouskaya and Anastasia Kolas, Self tends toward elaboration and excesses in a “joyous rendering of survival.”

                    Siblings splits sides with “Transitions,” a pluri-vocal burst called forth from interstellar margins to put uncounted bodies in motion. Repetitions of “I commit to you” end with “We commit to you.” Self utilizes theoretical vocabulary to encourage germination of a new language. “Research Sisters” will make their own myths and forge their own families, the work’s fire sparking frenetic, ecstatic voices flashing back and forth in stereo. The gathering of choral voices lift up the melancholic words of “The Great Refusal” over pillowy layers of strings and stumbling, sputtering showers of keyboards.


                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Story
                    2. Foresight
                    3. Survival
                    4. Quorum Feat. Aunt Sister
                    5. Ante-Strategy
                    6. Stay With The Trouble (For Donna)
                    7. Emblem
                    8. Transitions
                    9. Research Sister
                    10.Uncounted
                    11.The Great Refusal

                    Few Traces surveys a near decade of Mark Renner’s scarcely released and unreleased material from 1982 to 1990, embracing and evoking the timelessness of his artistic statement: a wordless translation of the individual’s musical experience, met with the poetic expression of being here.

                    Mark Renner first encountered punk while a teenager in Upperco, a country town in rural Maryland. Growing up on his family farm, he became a young acolyte of the British exports hitting not-so-distant Baltimore record store shelves in 1979 / 1980 and was baited by an area musician-wanted ad declaring Ultravox a primary touchstone.

                    This nascent band and a pair of other group experiments flamed out under the typical totem of despotism. In their ashes Renner began recording independently around 1983 with a portable four-track, electric guitar, and classic Casio CZ101 synthesizer. Aside from John Foxx-era Ultravox, Renner’s process was inspired by the period’s electronic pioneers venturing into deeper, romantic pop pastures: Yellow Magic Orchestra, Bill Nelson, The Associates.

                    With his tools and teachers in place, the blueprints for Renner’s sound were laid out – metronomic, skeletal rhythms built on sturdy yet singular drum machines supporting luminescent guitar and synth lines, Renner’s reverent voice guiding the fables and construction.

                    Most directly influential, Renner’s enthusiasm for Days in Europa, the third album by Scottish new wave band Skids, would lead to a correspondence and long-distance tutorship with Stuart Adamson. Before Adamson would achieve worldwide success co-founding the group Big Country, a chance friendship with Renner would impart great confidence in the young musician from Maryland, who, after a visit in Edinburgh, would then travel to London to demo an early version of “Half A Heart” featured in its final form on Few Traces.

                    The sum of Renner’s music is one-part literary, one-part painterly. The artist cites the individualism of Herman Hesse as a guiding force, and there are overt references to W. B. Yeats and John Greanleaf Whittier among other authors. Lyrical themes evoke the presence of the ancient past, much like early Felt songs or the spiritual visions of Van Morrison. (Tellingly, Renner cites Morrison’s 1980s albums made between Inarticulate Speech of the Heart and No Guru, No Method, No Teacher as musical influences.)

                    Apart from his writing, Renner explored music as a complement to visual language: many of the dream-like instrumental passages presented across Few Traces were originally implemented as sound elements for exhibitions of his paintings. Renner pursued wordless music as a pure aesthetic in its own right, pristinely balanced segues and open-ended compositions that lead to pasture but not without shepherd.

                    Compiled three decades after the music was originally put to tape, Few Traces collects Mark Renner’s early music but strives not to simplify or reframe it. (Mark is still active making music and painting) The instrumental explorations remain on par with the great ambient adventurers of the period (Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Roedelius), while the vocal and guitar-centric songs crystalize across similar terrains being transversed by Cocteau Twins and The Chills.

                    Few Traces highlights in intuitive sequence gems from Renner’s scarce discography and archive: the self-released debut All Walks of This Life (1986), the aptly titled follow-up Painter’s Joy (1988), plus early singles, compilation tracks, and exemplary songs that saw no original release. The collection allows an intimate look at an artist growing into their sound and surroundings, finding the in between echoes and spirituality of the individual.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Riverside
                    2. Saints And Sages
                    3. Few Traces
                    4. Half A Heart
                    5. Princes Street
                    6. The Mirror At Saint Andrews
                    7. The Wild House
                    8. The Dyer’s Hand
                    9. A Fountain In The Cloister
                    10. James Cowie (The Portrait Group)
                    11. Autumn Calls You By Name
                    12. Ageless
                    13. Jars Of Clay
                    14. More Or Less
                    15. The Eternal Purpose
                    16. The Sun In His Head, A Storm In His Heart
                    17. The Man & The Echo
                    18. As Big As Trees
                    19. Yeats, And The Golden Dawn
                    20. It Might Have Been
                    21. Wounds

                    Helado Negro

                    Private Energy (Expanded)

                    Exploring the expressivity within intense states of being, Latinx identity, and pluralistic sensibilities, Helado Negro’s Private Energy (Expanded) is an engrossing statement achieved through lyrically personal and political avant pop music.

                    Private Energy (Expanded) carves a deep groove through the electronic music landscape, challenging to best Brooklyn-based artist Roberto Carlos Lange’s previous accomplishments under the Helado Negro moniker. Half a decade and half a dozen albums later since Helado Negro’s 2009 debut album Awe Owe, Lange has cultivated an untraditional approach to songcraft that places his voice on an adventurous musical impulse without shying from familiar pop appreciation.

                    The hymn of Private Energy (Expanded) initially sounded in 2014 while Lange absorbed accounts of the unjust death of Michael Brown and felt a sharpened sense of vulnerability and anger as a minority. Lange’s creative drive veered toward toward catharsis - he sought to make music that would protect as a form of protest. The music of Private Energy (Expanded) was shaped to demarcate the artist’s pride of being, preserving and persevering, and celebrating, as Lange puts it, “my brownness, my latinidad.”

                    For the marginalized, the personal is always political. This truth is not exploited by Lange but used as a platform to examine fluidity in love and amongst various genders. Singing “porque soy una mujer, porque sigo siendo tu hombre”, (“because I’m a woman, because I’m still your man”), on “Tartamudo,” Lange subverts the expectations of the “latino man,” embracing instead a genderless expression of affection and sexuality. And yet the title “Tartamudo” means to stutter; Lange acknowledges the challenge of articulating one’s progressive ideals and the personal demands of stewarding the Helado Negro project.

                    “Transmission Listen” is another exemplary selection from Private Energy (Expanded), a song so effortlessly tuneful and seductive it sounds beamed in from the radio waves of an outer world. Or alternately, an inner world. Speckled and reverberant, it’s a love song as much as a purely joyful sonic experience. “Young, Latin, and Proud” and “It’s My Brown Skin” are prideful lyrically but complicated texturally, fusing restrained synthesizer voicings with sparse percussion and an interpolation of rhythmic tones. Here, as elsewhere, though, Lange’s distinct voice is the spine of the music’s ambulatory energy.

                    Though Helado Negro is essentially a solo project, the contributors to Private Energy were numerous, demonstrating Lange’s compassion for community and collaboration. In line, the lyrics to “It’s My Brown Skin” work as a central tenet of Private Energy (Expanded) and an intimate invitation to the varied cast involved and surrounding. Identity is celebrated as a possible personal shelter of sorts, yet complicated and humbly inclusive within abstract territories - i.e. the real and surreal worlds, inhabited by fellow humans and those that don’t identify as human alike.

                    “My brown me is the shade that’s just for me / I’m never not missing anything but me, “the song’s lyrics state, offering insight into the infinite possible variations for individuality and self-invention that animates the music and ethos of Private Energy (Expanded).

                    Helado Negro’s Private Energy will be re-introduced to the public via RVNG Intl. in expanded form on May 5, 2017, appearing on vinyl for the first time alongside new CD and digital editions. Supplemented with three brand new “versions,” this iteration of Private Energy (Expanded) will continue the strong narrative of Helado Negro’s spectral and transmissive 2016 opus

                    RIYL: Tim Maia, Caetano Veloso, Stereolab, Empress Of, Xenia Rubinos Private Energy (Expanded) is remastered, redesigned, and expanded with three brand new versions.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Calienta
                    2. Tartamundo
                    3. Obra Dos
                    4. Lengua Larga
                    5. Runaround
                    6. Young, Latin And Proud
                    7. Obra Tres
                    8. Transmission Listen
                    9. Personas Facil
                    10. Mi Mano
                    11. Obra Cuatro
                    12. It’s My Brown Skin
                    13. We Don’t Have Time For That
                    14. Obra Cinco
                    15. Runaround (Alternate Mix)
                    16. Young, Latin And Proud (December Mix)
                    17. Transmission Listen (Alternate Make)


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