May 2022 Favorites
If DC has any regular readers out there, they'll know that I've been on a bit of a posting break as of late. Sure, I made a playlist last week, but work has been crazy, I finally got covid, yadda yadda yadda, I just haven't had much time to write. But I have kept up with new music, and now that we've reached the end of May, I'd like to share a selection of my favorite releases across the past month, sort of like a summary. Below, you can check out some words, sample tracks, and hit those links if any of the pieces interest you. I think we've got another Bandcamp Friday coming up here at the end of the week?
Oh, and FYI, albums are listed by release date, and then alphabetically.
Natural Flavors - Homage (released 5/5 on cached media) - Matthew Sage was my entry point into the "ambient jazz" realm a couple years back, so it's fitting that his label continues to be a solid source of music in that somewhat nebulous genre. Natural Flavors is a improvisational trio who meanders along using keys, guitar, and synth, and the moments captured on Homage are simply gorgeous.
Adam Badí Donoval - Sometimes Life Is Hard And So We Should Help Each Other (released 5/6 on The Trilogy Tapes) - There are a handful of musical authorities I trust to share the good stuff, and Adam Badí Donoval is one of them. The label owner and writer can now add "musician" to his resume, though I suspect by the quality of his just-released tape, he's been making music for some time now. His debut offering is a collage of field recordings and organic instrumentation, and if you scan the list of album contributors, you'll see that a few of his friends helped out too.
Daou - Sanctuary (released 5/6 on Ruptured Records) - "Hallucinatory," a word poached from this album's liner notes, is a perfect descriptor of how it feels to listen to Daou's Sanctuary. Layers of tape loops, processed guitar, field recordings, and tune forks smeared through effects pedals creates a sort of woozy, surreal sound. Plus, Brian Robert's narration washing in and out of the mix gives Daou's music an extra dreamlike quality.
Matthew J. Rolin - Sea of Stars (released 5/6 on husky pants records) - Nothing is gonna beat what is already written about this album on its Bandcamp page (please read those words), so I'll just share how I first experienced it. I woke up late on a Sunday morning a few weeks back, not feeling great due to going a bit too hard the night before. I put on some coffee, made some eggs, and BLASTED this 40-minute ripper straight through. It was a glorious pick-me-up - a blindingly bright solo guitar masterwork which got me feeling just dandy by the closing notes. Thanks for it, MJR!
Mike Weis - Ring the Bell for the 10,000 Forgotten Things (released 5/6 on Monastral) - Mike Weis (who is a photographer and landscape + acoustic ecologist, as well as a musician) mined the field recordings for this new release while completing a residency at Indiana Dunes National Park in the fall of 2019. I spent a few days in the park, myself, only a couple months after Weis did, and can attest that his mix of percussion and wild ambiance expertly captures the natural world / industrial noise interplay found lakeside in Gary.
Nico Georis - Desert Mirror (released 5/6 on LEAVING RECORDS) - I have a friend who has, for the past ten years or so, lived outside of Death Valley by himself. It's an empty country for the most part, save for the hundreds of foil balloons he's collected around the park and lined his walls with. Side note: I think the desert can turn you a bit batty. Nico Georis recorded most of his Desert Mirror EP on an upright piano in an abandoned Airstream outside of Death Valley, and his solo takes evoke the open spaces we love out West. It's a beautiful listen from start to finish.
V/A - In The Deep Drift You Will Find The Most Serene Of Lullabies (released 5/10 on American Dreams Records) - ADR's first label compilation dropped outta nowhere - a complete surprise, albeit a calm one. It's a collection of 14 ambient pieces, and the album's title hints at what sort of sounds you can expect to hear. Tracks 2 - 5 make up my favorite stretch of the release, but it's all pretty solid from start to finish. Nice job, team!
Heather Woods Broderick - Domes (released 5/13 on Dauw) - Surprise, surprise, another Broderick family member featured here on DC. On Domes, Heather offers up seven beautifully unfolding, layered cello drones. She discloses in the album's liner notes that cello is not her primary instrument, but then explains that these looping practices served as centering exercises over the past two years of turmoil. Perhaps sitting with HWB's constructions will elicit a similar feeling in the listener.
V/A - Healing Together: A Compilation for Mental Health Recovery (released 5/13 on Past Inside the Present) - Cynthia Bernard, a friend to the site who records as marine eyes (and is involved in so many other projects) emailed me a couple months back to share her ambitious new undertaking. May is Mental Health Month, and Bernard managed to recruit 23 different female musicians to contribute ambient/electronic tracks for a benefit compilation. Proceeds from album sales are headed to Sounds of Saving, so hit the link above to check it out, and also to read a bit about each of the 23 pieces.
World Record Winner - Moss Rug (released 5/13 on Pearsoll Peak) - Oaks Park in Southeast Portland is a strange and beautiful place. There's the brightly-colored Mausoleum Mural towering over a nature preserve, the seasonal theme park which emanates a haunted aura when vacant, the snaking Springwater Trail running alongside train tracks and industrial rust - a great pocket of the city, really. Emmet Martin, aka World Record Winner recorded Moss Rug down in that bottom using their guitar, rocks, stick, leaves, and field recordings. Have a listen, and be transported to deeply weird Portland.
go find water - taciturn (released 5/20 on The Jewel Garden) - Craig Colorusso and Tom Schmidlin partnered up on a couple of longform cuts here, using mostly electric guitar plus a little synth and woodwind added into the mix for warmth. The musicians quoted Sappho in the album's liner notes, and though the Greek poet uses words to convey beauty, these two instrumental tracks glow with a similar loveliness.
Jon Porras - Arroyo (released 5/20 on Thrill Jockey Records) - Yep, I sure did write about this album a month ago when it was first set to be released. But now that it's fully out, I can say that Arroyo has been worth the wait. Porras intended these four delicate, minimalist tracks to come across as streamlike, flowing in an unhurried manner. And he absolutely succeeded in applying this natural imagery to his music. Low ambient hums back spare plucks, and the pieces seem to move downriver, feeding into a wider calm.
7FO - Music For Himitsu (released 5/31 on Métron Records) - Originally commissioned to soundtrack a photography/plant/ceramics show back in 2014, 7FO's sound collage of improvised guitar loops, collected field recordings, and "ellipsoid effects" (love that description), are to be released on vinyl through the ever-excellent Métron Records. The Osaka native weaves experimental flair into post-rock constructions, blending surprise into beautifully melodic builds.
And that's a wrap on May! Come back in a couple days for a summer preview, and thanks a bunch for stopping by.