A CLOSER LISTEN weekly #13
Interferenze, Ukraine, First Half Highlights, and Top Summer Songs
Dear Listeners! Joseph, once again, writing with your fortnightly update of all happenings ACL. This time I’m writing from Milan, as I finally prepare to head home to Montréal. I’m still putting the finishing touches on the soundwalk I created during my residency in San Martino Valle Caudina, which will be presented as part of SUBSTANTIAE MOTUS: INTERFERENZE / LIMINARIA 2022, 26-30 July. Liminaria has been on hiatus for the last few years, while Interferenze has returned after a longer period in order to celebrate their 20th anniversary. If you happen to be in southern Italy or otherwise able to travel, check out to the info at the link above (it should be updated with the final program very soon). The line up includes contributions from many artists, curators, and critics, including performances from Enrico Malatesta, Fabio Perletta, Robert Lippok, and Emanuele Errante, and a number of fascinating talks, soundwalks, and installations.
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Folks love lists, even when they love to hate on them. Our End of Year Lists have always been our highest traffic pieces, and like many other publications we’ve begun to do mid-year lists in order to help spread the love. And since we’re celebrating our tenth anniversary this year, we’ve also got some special features in the works for the second half of this year. Jeremy Bye kicks things off with an ode to summertime.
The 25 Best Summer Albums of All Time
The keenly observant reader of A Closer Listen will have noticed that we tend to focus on one season above the rest. Our Best Winter Albums of All Time features are among the most viewed in our history, so we thought, in our tenth anniversary year, to finally leap on the bandwagon and write a list for Summer.
We’ve covered summer before on the site, but usually by offering a list of songs rather than albums. Is summer a season that is represented best by a single melody or moment? If you think of ‘summer’ books or films, it’s easy to go down the airport thriller or blockbuster event movie route; enjoyable but not overly taxing. There’s usually a standout song of the summer, be it “Macarena” or “Umbrella,” and people go to festivals for the total sensory experience. Teasing out a full-length record that captures the season is a little trickier. Often, they don’t sync up with the warm days and short nights until later.
Summer music carries a broad remit. It can capture long sunsets over the Mediterranean, hitting the beach for a game of volleyball, sleeping with the windows wide open to let in the sounds of nature. If it was music that carries a feeling of the sun, sand, and sophisticated barbecues, then we considered it. There’s a strong nostalgic feel to many of the selections on the list. The majority of choices pre-date the life of A Closer Listen. It is possible that the summer albums we cover in future will deal with a collapsing ecosystem, where the parched land cries for water and forests burn.
A couple of honourable mentions before we proceed. A couple of writers mentioned Izabela Dłużyk’s Soundscapes Of Summer. However, your enjoyment of it is dependent on your feeling toward field recordings. Unless the hay fever has really struck you, open your windows and let the sound of nature in your vicinity provide a local soundscape, otherwise save until it is out of season
First Half Highlights ~ The Top Twenty
We’ve hit the halfway mark of 2022 ~ intermission time! We’ve invited our staffers to pore over their playlists and select a group of first half highlights: albums making an impact now, that may become contenders at year’s end.
The only criteria were that the albums had to have been released in 2022 and featured on our site. This year’s big surprise was that every staffer’s picks were different. Were this the end of the year, we’d have a 20-way tie for #1! Fortunately, as with our early year-end lists, these albums are presented in alphabetical order rather than ranked. We hope that you’ll enjoy A Closer Listen‘s selection of first half highlights, and perhaps even find some surprises of your own!
Anteloper ~ Pink Dolphins (International Anthem, 17 June)
This is a trippy and slippery album, somewhat like the dolphin of its namesake. Just when one decides that the album is jazz, it becomes trip-hop. Once one grows acclimated to instrumentals, one of the members starts singing. The side-long closer is a rock eruption, until it turns ambient. The whole endeavor is held together by a twin sense of sonic exploration and fun.
Cafe Kaput ~ Maritime Themes and Textures (Clay Pipe Music, 11 March)
Fewer people were sailing in March than they are now, but warmer waters and pleasant winds have carried this music across the calendar to its proper time. The effect is akin to drifting on a current, dipping one’s hand in the water, having not a care in the world.
Corey Fuller, Richard Skelton ~ Isolarii (THESIS, 7 January)
Isolarri is an sonic travelogue inspired by “island books,” in particular the Atlas of Remote Islands. During the pandemic, few people traveled; armchair travel became the new flight. When one is using the imagination, it matters not if one’s destination is real or fictional; the point is to dream.
Drum & Lace ~ Natura (Past Inside the Present, 8 April)
Ambience, electronics and modern composition swirl on this warm release, lush and green, save for a splash of canary yellow. The music lives in the liminal space between nature and technology, history and sci-fi, seeking synthesis while implying that harmony may still be a realistic goal.
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch ~ Ravage (FatCat, 27 May)
Perhaps not the album we expected from the pianist, instead a blast of drone across the ivories. The music was born from loss, as the artist was grieving her father and searching for words. In this instance, music spoke louder and more eloquently. The listener can sense the sadness, the anger, and toward the end, the tentative – but not final – resolution.
Ginevra Nervi ~ The Disorder of Appearances (La Tempesta Dischi, 10 June)
With film scores and pop songs under her belt, Ginevra Nervi extracts the most distinctive timbres of each and combines them in a set that shifts beneath the ears. Nothing is what it seems on this album that is more about what we don’t know than what we do, and what we might learn if we were willing to listen.
Hatis Noit ~ Aura (Erased Tapes, 24 June)
Aura is an exultation of awe and wonder, produced with nothing but the human voice, not a lyric in sight. Hatis Noit’s debut album is reverent, playful and joyful, a cavalcade of emotions swirling into a revelation.
James Heather ~ Invisible Forces (Ahead of Our Time, 22 April)
Solo piano possesses an incredible potential for expressiveness, which Heather demonstrates by connecting a near-fatal accident, the death of a loved one and an unsent letter from Beethoven to create a tapestry of life, love, death and the great beyond. Surrounded by invisible forces, Heather channels musings into meaningful music.
Katarina Gryvul ~ Tysha (Standard Deviation, 9 February)
This accidentally hyper-relevant album was written as a study in the types of tysha (the Ukrainian word for silence). During the pandemic, silence could be golden or golem-like; after the invasion, silence could mean death, cease-fire or both. No matter what the genesis, the album strikes at the mind and tugs at the heart.
Kinbrae & Clare Archibald ~ Birl of Unmap (Full Spectrum/The Dark Outside, 11 February)
All manner of magic is represented on this album, a fever dream of field recordings, poetry, spoken word, languid strings, boisterous brass and more. The music pays tribute to Scotland’s Kingdom of Fife, tracing geography, history and folklore through impressionistic soundscapes and memories, accumulating wonder as it goes.
KMRU & Aho Ssan ~ Limen (Subtext Recordings, 29 April)
Two keen musical minds team up to produce a set that sounds like both and neither. Limen is as volcanic as its cover, a blast of pure power that melts everything in its wake. The levels are so high that even the distortion is distorted. The neighbors won’t like it, but listeners may feel cleansed.
Koloah ~ Serenity (Salon Imaginalis, 15 April)
One would not expect an album named Serenity to be born of the chaos in Ukraine, but that’s exactly what Koloah pursued ~ and in some part found ~ while struggling with the savaging of his country. The entire album builds to a choral finale that removes the heart and staples it back in.
KYOTY ~ Isolation (Deafening Assembly, 25 February)
Oh yes, we’ve got sludge on this list. Isolation was written and released a track at a time during the pandemic, a real-time diary of mangled emotion. Hearing it all at once can be overwhelming, especially “Ventilate,” but as a means of channelling aggression, the album can’t be topped.
Monoconda ~ Identity (Kashtan, 1 May)
This Ukrainian ambient-dance album was recorded just before the invasion, and released in its midst. It serves as a snapshot of the idyllic time before, as well as a yearning for what might arrive after. In retrospect, the music now sounds less like dance beats than heartbeats, the life blood of a beleaguered nation.
Natasha Barrett ~ Heterotopia (Past Inside the Present, 4 March)
Some might refer to this as the “ping-pong record,” and they wouldn’t be wrong, thanks to high-energy highlight “Urban Melt in Park Palais Milan.” But there’s much more to this album, which investigates heterotopia, the spaces that feel “other” and undetermined. In Barrett’s hands, even the familiar can seem foreign, as she transforms the ordinary into the beguiling.
Ralph Heidel ~ MODERN LIFE (Kryptox, 3 June)
Not simply a saxophonist, not just a figure on the German rap scene, but a true iconoclast, Ralph Heidel demonstrates his range on this incredibly diverse album. The music is also a commentary on the title; shall we grow increasingly nihilistic, or crack the window to feel a fresh breeze of optimism? Heidel embraces both possibilities, inviting listeners to choose their own paths.
Širom ~ The Liquified Throne of Simplicity (Glitterbeat, 8 April)
Širom’s music is anything but simple. Drawing from multiple influences and instruments, the trio creates an “imaginary folk music” that seems to stem from all places and none: an idealized fairy tale concoction that sounds like home, wherever home may be.
Sontag Shogun + Lau Nau ~ Valo Siroutuu (Beacon Sound/Ricco, 8 April)
The album that sounds like a beach vacation because it is a beach vacation, replete with the sounds of the sea and the local populace. Two artists, two countries, two labels, two languages, one mind. The set sings of simple pleasures. A found object can become an instrument. Peace is attainable.
у + злюка ~ хуйня (ria, 26 March)
This highly unusual pairing makes sense when one considers that one translation of the album title is nonsense. These collaborators find the patterns in chaos, the signal in the noise, allowing worlds to collide and produce sparks that they mine into new experimental forms.
Various Artists ~ SESTRO (система | system, 29 April)
Over the past few months, we’ve been plunging into the music of Ukraine at the same time as it is being destroyed: a bittersweet pairing. This diverse Odessa compilation makes a great entry point to a scene under siege: discovery upon discovery, waiting to be made.
Ukrainian Field Notes IX
Episode IX of Ukrainian Field Notes sees us cracking (absurd) jokes with Andrey Kiritchenko, while looking at New Ukrainian Rave Culture courtesy of СПАЛАХ (and yes, the embedded doc comes with English subtitles).
We also sense Poly Chain‘s frustration in trying to convince her family in Kyiv to go to the shelters, and we discuss how war changes everything with SI Process, whose own 21 yo old brother is currently serving in the army. Lu Joyce and Roma Khropko introduce us to their cats, while dj snork advocates being less reliant on hard drives and Vlad Suppish ponders life as a sine wave or feedback loop, a philosophical question that leads us to ask ourselves who we are. A number of psychotherapists strive to answer just that and unpack the Ukrainian mindset in the embedded documentary (and yes, it comes with English subtitles).
As part of our updates, we wonder around the ghostly AV installation TER.RAIN by Ujif_notfound; we encounter the Amphibian Man in Crimea courtesy of Muscut labelhead Nikolaienko, while Oleh Puzan revisits his back catalogue to celebrate 10 years of Dronny Darko, before joining forces with G M Slater to explore underground soundscapes. Furthermore, we catch up on brainhack_musicbox and 58918012‘s latest releases and we listen to the new episode from Nina Eba‘s excellent Air Raid Siren podcast dedicated to the city of Kharkiv. For the more club orientated amongst us, there’s S.A. Tweeman‘s podcast brought to us by BCCO.
If that wasn’t enough, we add another 13 fundraising compilations to our ever growing list, with former ACL writer Pie Are Squared contributing his own reworking of a field recording by Stas Teterevlev on Siren Songs. Keep ’em coming, we say!
(complete list with Bandcamp links here)
Manja Ristić ~ Him, fast sleeping, soon he found In labyrinth of many a round, self-rolled (mappa, 12 July)
Jolanda Moletto ~ Nine Spells (Ambientologist, 13 July)
Amanda Irarrázabal and Miriam Den Boer Salmón ~ Fauces (577 Records, 15 July)
Amirtha Kidambi & Luke Stewart ~ Zenith/Nadir (Tripticks Tapes, 15 July)
Arp ~ New Pleasures (Mexican Summer, 15 July)
Blurstem & Elijah Bisbee ~ Geneva (Bigo & Twigetti, 15 July)
Caleb Wheeler Curtis ~ Heatmap (Imani, 15 July)
Foch | Delplanque ~ Live au GRM (Parenthèses Records, 15 July)
Gimmik ~ Sonic Poetry (n5MD, 15 July)
Helena Celle ~ Music for Counterflows (False Walls, 15 July)
Indian Wells ~ No One Really Listens to Oscillators (Mesh, 15 July)
Jim Baker/Brandon Lopez/Bill Harris ~ Dura (Amalgam, 15 July)
Kode9 ~ Escapology (Hyperdub, 15 July)
Madeleine Cocolas ~ Spectral (Room40, 15 July)
M. Geddas Gengras ~ Expressed, I Noticed Silence (Hausu Mountain, 15 July)
Pablo Diserens ~ live at kwia (forms of minutiae, 15 July)
SVIN ~ Introducing SVIN (Tonzonen, 15 July)
tino ~ Interpreting Clouds (sound as language, 15 July)
Darren McClure ~ Speed Up, Slow Down (Audiobulb, 16 July)
Leo Magdien ~ clairières (Ryoanji, 18 July)
Bridget Ferrill & Áslaug Magnúsdóttir ~ Woodwind Quintet (Subtext, 20 July)
Mark Vernon ~ Elsewhere in a Negative Mirror (Granny Records, 20 July)
Tomotsugu Nakamura ~ Nothing Left Behind (LAAPS, 21 July)
Arthur King ~ Changing Landscapes (Mina Las Pintadas) (AKP Recordings, 22 July)
bvdub ~ Decades on Divided Stars (Affin, 22 July)
Cape Canaveral ~ In the City I Can’t Sing (Machine Records, 22 July)
Channelers ~ Time, Space, and Thought (Inner Islands, 22 July)
Den Sorte Død ~ Depresiv Magi (Cyclic Law, 22 July)
Drew Mulholland ~ My Life With the Imber Goat Cult (1911-1913) (Subexotic, 22 July)
504 ~ Salvage Rhythms (Tone List, 22 July)
Galya Bisengalieva ~ Hold Your Breath: The Ice Dive (One Little Independent, 22 July)
Gary Collins ~ Skins (Subexotic, 22 July)
The Glass Pavilion ~ Consolation (22 July)
Hadi Bastani & Maryam Sirvan ~ trans.placed (Flaming Pines, 22 July)
Lifting Gear Engineer ~ Space Between (Machine Records, 22 July)
Lorna Dune ~ Anattā (Medicine for a Nightmare, 22 July)
Nordvargr ~ Resignation I-II-III (Cyclic Law, 22 July)
Rafael Anton Irisarri ~ Agitas Al Sol (Room40, 22 July)
Sam Prekop and John McEntire ~ Sons of (Thrill Jockey, 22 July)
Tegh & Adel Poursamadi ~ Ima ایما (Injazero, 22 July)
Contemplator ~ Morphose (29 July)
Glass Horizon ~ Precipitation (100% Silk, 29 July)
Healing Force Project ~ Drifted Entities Vol. 1 (Beat Machine, 29 July)
Iceberg ~ Final Thaw (Astral Spirits, 29 July)
Jeremy Cunningham / Justin Laurenzi / Paul Bryan ~ A Better Ghost (Northern Spy, 29 July)
Mario Diaz de Leon ~ Heart Thread (Denovali, 29 July)
Mark Vernon ~ A World Behind This World (Persistence of Sound, 29 July)
Nate Wooley ~ Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes (Pyroclastic, 29 July)
Nite Fleit ~ Nite Fleit/Day Fleit (Steel City Dance Discs, 29 July)
Velt ~ Allotrope (Bigo & Twigetti, 29 July)
Black Sky Giant ~ Falling Mothership (Made of Stone, 30 July)
Raven Musen ~ Peppermint Soldier (Werra Forma, 30 July)
Thorny ~ Mostly Gray (Witherwillow, 30 July)
BI DA DOOM ~ graceful collision (Astral Spirits, 5 August)
Keefe Jackson / Oscar Jan Hoogland / Joshua Abrams / Mikel Patrick Avery ~
These Things Happen (Astral Spirits, 5 August)
Lunar Lemur ~ Sifting Stars (5 August)
Magnus Granberg ~ Night Will Fade and Fall Apart (Thanatosis, 5 August)
Pierce Warnecke ~ Deafened by the Noise of Time (Room40, 5 August)
Shepherd Stevenson ~ Man Down (Somewherecold, 5 August)
Concussed ~ Electromagnetic Dust (Somewherecold, 12 August)
Kim Myhr ~ Sympathetic Magic (Hubro, 12 August)
Pulselovers ~ Circles Within Circles (Subexotic, 12 August)
Susie Ibarra & Tashi Dorji ~ Master of Time (Astral Spirits, 12 August)
Transient Visitor ~ TV2 (Subexotic, 12 August)
Strangebird~Sounds ~ Lavender River (Audiobulb, 13 August)
Gregor Dys ~ riss (14 August)
Neil Swainson ~ Fire in the West (Cellar Live, 19 August)
Steve Fors ~ It’s Nothing, But Still (Hallow Ground, 19 August)
Szun Waves ~ Earth Patterns (Leaf, 19 August)
3 Electro Knights ~ Rave One EP (Post Records, 19 August)
Brown Calvin ~ dimension // perspective (AKP Recordings, 26 August)
Cape Canaveral ~ The Observatory (Machine Records, 28 August)
Rachika Nayar ~ Heaven Come Crashing (NNA Tapes, 26 August)
THLTTLDBB ~ SeeUSearching (Somewherecold, 26 August)
Copenhagen Clarinet Ensemble ~ Organism (År & Dag, 1 September)
Bill Orcutt ~ Music for Four Guitars (2 September)
Alex Fournier/Triio ~ Triio – Six-ish Plateus (Elastic Recordings, 9 September)
Dario Crisman ~ The Nature of Thoughts (Bigo & Twigetti, 9 September)
Hekla ~ Xiuxiuejar (Phantom Limb, 9 September)
Rivers of Glass ~ By the Light of Burning Bridges (Somewherecold, 9 September)
Aura Gaze ~ Great Moon Essence (Somewherecold, 16 September)
RA Washington/Jah Nada ~ In Search of Our Father’s Gardens (Astral Spirits, 16 September)
My Education ~ EMKA (Somewherecold, 20 September)
XINDL ~ 11 (STRD, 22 September)
Aki Yli-Salomäki ~ Valunta (23 September)
Saint Abdullah & Eomac ~ Patience of a Traitor (Other People, 30 September)
Daniel Avery ~ Ultra Truth (Mute, 4 November)
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