Imagining Machines is a twenty-minute digital-only work in three parts by Australian sound designer Daniel McCagh which, if you’re a fan of William Basinski, is probably going to be right up your street. Focussing on the slow decay and disintegration of its main, constantly shifting pads while a whirling bank of machines limber up in the background, I guess all the individuals elements are fairly morose and disquieting. Except when you put them all together, it’s beautiful. And not just, “oh, that’s pretty” beautiful, but a kind of aching, longing appreciation of something that you can’t quite comprehend existing.
Sometimes all your want to do is sit back in a comfy chair and be made to feel increasingly anxious for 12 or so minutes. And while, sure, you could just drink several strong coffees and watch the news, there are better ways of achieving this sometimes weirdly pleasurable state of disquiet, so here come Grøte – a drone collective based in Croatia – with Prognosis 1 – which slowly overwhelms you to the point that all you can think about is the vastness of everything and the futility of your own existence in comparison. But, you know, in quite an enjoyable way.
Pigeon Breeders and Ghost Cars two experimental groups from Edmonton, Canada, and this is the second part of a session recorded on a muggy night in the summer of 2020, with guitar, bass, percussion, and electronics played live and improvised in a single take. Over the course of 12 minutes or so it ebbs and flows, building and receding with heavily reverbed guitars and eerie atmospherics taking centre stage, and while it doesn’t end up with anywhere near the same level of demented ferocity as something like Swans, it’s definitely in the same ballpark.
Seemingly not content with releasing one of the very best albums of the year, Keeley Forsyth put out a brand new EP, Photograph, last week. The title track was actually out around a month ago but I somehow missed it, and wanted to feature as it’s absolutely extraordinary. Her voice really is like nothing I’ve ever heard before, and coveys so much: angst, vulnerability and sorrow, but also a fierce defiance and resolution. The production is sparse but incredibly powerful, and the entire record strikes a heartbreaking balance between black, bleak misery and fragile optimism.
Yo La Tengo’s latest release is the five-track ambient drone piece We Have Amnesia Sometimes, recorded with a single microphone placed in the middle of the trio. Not that you can necessarily tell that it’s been recorded in this relatively unorthodox way, although there is definitely an all-encompassing quality to the music here; guitars are gently twanged at random, or left to drift endlessly into meandering waves of static and reverb. James gets up… is probably the stand out, and certainly the dreamiest and most relaxing, but it’s worth committing yourself to the album’s half an hour or so running time, and becoming one with the majesty and awesomeness of the cosmos, dude.
Brooding ambient drone from one of the very best in the business. Like a lot of Rafael Anton Irisarri’s work, this is pretty bleak, but compellingly – and often overwhelmingly – so, with enough tiny rays of sunlight breaking through the clouds to keep you coming back for more. This is on his new album Peripeteia which came out this week on Dais Records, and includes a continuous mix of all the album tracks if you really want to burrow into the gloom.