A CLOSER LISTEN weekly #19
NY hip hop mix, and interview with Fire-Toolz, and more dispatches from Ukraine
Hello, dear Listeners! Joseph here. I’ll be leaving tomorrow for a long overdue visit back to Minneapolis. I haven’t been back since the pandemic began, so while I’m there I may mount an impromptu guerrilla installation version of my sound collage, Music for Insurrection. Keep an eye on our twitter, I guess. So anyway, lots of preparation as I prepare for my trip, so I’ll try to keep it direct. There’s plenty to listen closely to in this bi-weekly installment. Let’s kick it off with another fabulous in-depth interview from one of our ACL OG contributors, David Murrieta Flores.
Physical Reality as Processed Spirituality ~ An Interview With Fire-Toolz
David Murrieta Flores (ACL): Hi Fire-Toolz! To begin with, please talk to us a bit about how Fire-Toolz came into being, and how it relates to other projects you have (like Nonlocal Forecast or MindSpring Memories).
Fire-Toolz (FT): Fire-Toolz was born when I decided to graduate from my stint in strictly producing abstract experimental music and go toward something with more beats and rhythms and song-like structure. It was under a different moniker at first, but I hated that moniker the whole time I used it, so I changed it after the first full-length. At first the music I made was pretty broken and sonically/compositionally nihilistic, but as time went on, my songs became more and more refined.
MindSpring Memories is a purely sample-based project where I try to take 80s and early 90s songs I really like, chop them up, slow them way down, and process them in a very specific way (honing in on syncopated and pitch-shifted delays, different types of reverb, morphing filters, and lots of modulation (phaser mostly, but also flanger, chorus, and more)). I intend to enhance the emotion that is already there and create new stories.
Nonlocal Forecast is kind of like an offshoot of Fire-Toolz as it taps into the new age, jazz fusion, and prog elements that FT fans are used to hearing. But it leaves out 99% of the metal, industrial, noise, etc., elements. It’s easy listening in a way, though it’s complex and richly composed enough to maintain attention.
ACL: Ever since Skinless X-1 you made it explicit that there’s a spiritual dimension to your work, and I believe that’s even clearer in I will not use the body’s eyes today., which I think often veers into active meditation territory. How would you say your music connects to the ‘somewhere else’ of spirituality?
FT: To me, spirituality is the opposite of somewhere else. It is right here, all the time. Everything is spiritual, just like everything is political. I will not… definitely roots itself in spirituality, but frankly everything back to Drip Mental was highly spiritual. Especially Eternal Home. It’s kind of hard to meditate to my music, but I do write about meditation occasionally. I am embarrassed to say that my meditation habits are horrible. However, my engagement with the spiritual dimension is always active, whether I’m free-flowing in it or mentally wiggling around in the dirt, desperate for physiological confirmation of its manifestation, activity, and accessibility. The answer to that dilemma is usually to relax and open, but I’ve got some over-intellectualization habits that essentially block mystical experiences and intuition.
FT is an insanely spiritual endeavor. It is not obvious to a lot of people, but I can’t get away from it, and wouldn’t want to. The lyrics are so soaked in metaphysics, spiritual philosophy, the spirituality of the psychological, my life experiences and conditions viewed through a spiritual lens, and lots of references to concepts and ideas from different ancient wisdom traditions and their teachers, books, etc. Buddhism, Vedanta, Daoism, Christian mysticism, Sufism, and a lot more. […]
I think one way to get some of the “concept” part across is to mention The Perennial Tradition, which readers can look up. People who are religious studies majors or who are immersed in any single tradition to the point of being dogmatic about it tend to scoff at the term, but my soul is incapable of putting all my eggs in one basket. My spiritual philosophy is basically that meme of Charlie from It’s Always Sunny when he’s working at the post office, or those scenes in A Beautiful Mind where John Nash is in his room obsessing over all the newspaper clippings and writing on his walls. (I am not saying I am a conspiracy theorist, I just appreciate their dedication to making connections.) […]
ACL: How do you manage to put them together? Is it a bit like you manage to put old-school synthpop and metal together?
FT: Yeah. Precisely because, to me, synthpop and metal aren’t any different. It’s all the same mountain. Holographically, all of these seeming fragments are contained in the One Genre. It’s okay if others don’t look at it like that, but I don’t feel like I genre-hop. I feel like I am just exploring all the flavors of my heart, and some of those flavors are complex and have layers to them.
the new objective presents Neo New York [tape mix]
I moved into a shared studio space in August, and for the first time in a long while found myself able to play music loudly. I’m working on a sequel to Friperietronics, using tapes I found in thrift stores. But while I was setting everything up in the new space, I found myself gravitating to recent hip hop tapes, all released between 2020 and 2022. So I put together this mix, recording the tapes I listened to while getting settled in, following the thread of a few producers and MCs and themes, but mostly just stuff I’ve enjoyed recently and was excited to play loudly.
Not for nothing, nearly all these artists are from New York (except Navy Blue, but he gets a pass because his production work for NY MCs, including Wiki, AKAI, and MIKE, and one of the tracks I chose for this mix included a feature from yasiin bey). If you haven’t been paying attention, NYC has been having something of a hip hop renaissance, as rappers such as Roc Marciano, Ka, and billy woods have continued to level up playing the long game. While NY rap is often associated with a dogmatic approach, as this mix demonstrates there’s more going on in the production than boom bap versus drumless loops. E L U C I D in particular demonstrates a willingness to go into new sonic territory, both with his own production and collaborating with others. We also feature productions from August Fanon, iblss, King Vision Ultra, Preservation, and The Alchemist.
Because it was recorded live, it’s interesting to see how the B-sides come back into play, giving the mix a unique cadence. Recorded with two variable speed tape players, a mixer, SP 404, and some effects. Peace to GENG PTP, who designed and released many of these tapes.
Reviews are at the heart of ACL. Here are a few of my favorite reviews we posted on the blog in the last few weeks.
Giulio Aldinucci ~ Real
What is real? The question has intrigued philosophers throughout the ages and is a prime inspiration for sci-fi, fantasy and comic book creators. Every new era brings a new twist on the question, the latest cluster including digital media, bots and fake news. Giulio Aldinucci has investigated such themes before, but never with such intention as he does here. This time, when one hears the faint echoes of choirs nestled in electronic drones, one feels the tug-of-war. One side sings of a higher purpose and a deeper connection. The other purrs, modern, convenient, now.
Institute of Landscape and Urban Studies ~ Melting Landscapes / Dammed Landscapes / Buried Landscapes (Bodies of Water Trilogy)
A famous saying goes, “One waits forever for a taxi, then two arrive at once.” Melting Landscapes was released in 2018, and in 2022 Dammed Landscapes and Buried Landscapes have followed only a month apart. For those who waited to make a purchase, a box set is now available including all three tinted vinyls and booklets as Bodies of Water. Any joy at the arrival of a beautiful box set is tempered when one recalls the project’s theme. Christophe Girot and the staff and students of the Institute of Landscape and Urban Studies have been tracing the activity of water in various permutations, from glacier to dam to pipe, and have identified one unifying, alarming trend: every aspect is endangered. They began at the source, hiking to the Morteratsch Glacier region to trace its erosion and exponentially-increasing melt. Four years later, the world has been through a pandemic, a violent conflict, an annexation and a period of economic stability, and much attention has shifted from climate change to the crisis of the day. Meanwhile, “natural” disaster after natural disaster has wreaked havoc on the planet, with deniers continuing to insist that such cataclysmic events are all within the cone of normalcy. In 2018, we wrote that the work of the Institute was “especially relevant now.” If anything, it has gained in relevance and can now be called immediate.
London Sound Survey ~ From Dusk Till Dawn
In From Dusk Till Dawn, [the late Ian] Rawes focuses his attention on East Anglia, a historically flat and marshy region of eastern England once characterized by its many marshes. Recordings of wetlands like washes and fens make up a significant portion of these recordings, from the pointillistic seaside bird calls of “Welney Washes” to the unquestionably musical interplay of cuckoos, frogs, and songbirds on “Joist Fen”. Yet the collection’s structure is more temporal than spatial: in essence, From Dusk Till Dawn traces the sounds of a region through the dark hours of the night, a window of time in which you’re better off relying on your ears than your eyes.
Il Radioamatore ~ The Fall of Europe
The Fall of Europe is an attempt to recapture the radio’s semi-mythical past by surfing the amateur radio waves of contemporary Europe, a dense web of wavelengths and languages in which simply making contact is an achievement in itself. Created by music editor Roberta D’Angelo and film composer Valerio Camporini F., the character of Il Radioamatore (“the amateur radio operator”) serves as a stand-in for the European every-man, a persona formed from a mashup of his creator’s familial histories and the grand historical traumas of Europe’s recent past. From the fall of the Iron Curtain to the chaos of Brexit, Il Radioamatore has seen it all, yet he retains a certain faith in the power of the simple international “hello”, attempting to “chronicle and manifest the resistance of interpersonal communication on public channels during a time when the concept of a common ‘house’ as Europe was (is?) falling apart.” Whether or not this myth of a united Europe continues to hold water, Il Radioamatore will listen and bear witness.
Rival Consoles ~ Now Is
Less than a year after Rival Consoles’ last release comes his newest album Now Is, which marks the artist’s third LP since 2020. The prior two (Articulation and Overflow) were released at pandemic peaks, but one might be surprised to learn that Now Is, the most hopeful and colorful of Rival Consoles’ recent works, is the only to have been recorded during lockdown. Erased Tapes writes that one track on the album “bursts into colour like the appearance of the summer sun,” while another “is a vivid exploration of rhythm and sound for summer nights.” Indeed, the often luminous and playful record is well suited for warm weather listening. Nevertheless, its autumn release is timely; an album titled Now Is would never be unpunctual. All this imploresone to consider the fragment: “Now Is” …when, exactly?
Ukrainian Field Notes XIV
The third episode of the Ukrainian Field Notes podcast aired today on Resonance.fm, featuring Odesa-based musicians Leonid Zhdanov and Nataly Hrytsenko, aka Casa Ukrania, discussing the current situation in the country in the aftermath of the recent shelling of Ukrainian cities on Monday 10th of October. There will be a repeat broadcast on Sunday 11am (GMT), after which it will appear on our soundcloud and podcast RSS feed.
Never one to rest for too long, series producer Gianmarco Del Re has also added another installment to Ukrainian Field notes since out since our previous newsletter.
Another bumper episode taking us to Kyiv, Ternopil’, Boyarka, Pereiaslav, and Kharkiv, for a whistle stop tour of clubs and parties including ∄, Zhivot, HVLV and Hytek. In the process, we meet a number of artists versed in a variety of genres and musical practices, from experimental to contemporary music and from electronic to fusion. To open proceedings, we chat to Clasps about PTSD and inclusivity; we discuss music education in schools in Ukraine with Maxim Kolomiets; and we talk to foley artist Radiant Futur about his latest album Hypersensitive, while Anthony Junkoid counts his tattoos, Hyphen Dash explain how music preserves memories, and Yevhenii Loi nurtures a new generation of DJs back in his hometown.
If that wasn’t enough, stonefromthesky touches on the gaming industry; Igor God mixes fundraising with pleasure; Drifted recommends walking outdoors; Asket looks back with nostalgia; and Ann Mysochka confronts fear. In addition, we listen to both Nina Eba‘s new episode of her vital podcast Air Raid Siren, and the latest mix from система | system for RinseFM courtesy of Kseniia Yanus, Vadym Oliinykov & V.Air95, together with .at/on‘s selection of shuddering electronics for Darkfloor Sound.
As customary, we also present a selection of new releases, including two fundraising compilations hailing directly from Ukraine via Hidden Vibes and Liky Pid Nohamy, as well as three brand new titles on the newly established label Syntes Records. To close on a thought provoking note, we look at a recent United24 interview with journalist and author Peter Pomerantsev.
(complete list with Bandcamp links here)
Many mid-autumn days are clean and crisp, although the setting sun leaves behind an evening chill. We can sense that something is coming to an end, a nagging tingle in the back of our minds that maybe we should get outside while we can. A cavalcade of color awaits those in leaf-changing climates. And like the autumn leaves, the new release schedule flares before turning inward for the winter. This year’s harvest is healthy, and new music is added daily; we hope you’ll find your next favorite album right here!
All That We See Or Seem ~ S/T (Miasmah, 21 October)
Ameel Brecht ~ The Locked Room (blinkwinkel, 21 October)
Blightcaster ~ S/T (Danse Noire, 21 October)
Cate Kennan ~ The Arbitrary Dimension of Dreams (Post Present Medium, 21 October)
Cindytalk ~ Subterminal (False Walls, 21 October)
Clarice Jensen ~ Esthesis (Fatcat/130701, 21 October)
Douglas Andrew McCombs ~ VMAK<KOMBZ<<<DUGLAS<<6NDR7<<< (Thrill Jockey, 21 October)
Flore Laurentienne ~ Volume II (RVNG, 21 October)
Holland Patent Public Library ~ Songs to Fall Asleep at the Wheel To (Dear Life, 21 October)
Ibises ~ In the Swim (American Dreams, 21 October)
Jairus Sharif ~ Water & Tools (telephone explosion, 21 October)
Jason van Wyk ~ Descendents (n5MD, 21 October)
Mary Yalex ~ Sunset Stories (sound as language, 21 October)
Maxime Denuc ~ Nachthorn (vlek, 21 October)
Pauline Oliveros & James Ilgenfritz ~ Altamirage (Infrequent Seams, 21 October)
Picard & Picard ~ Hold Music for a Space Rescue (21 October)
Rubbish Music ~ Upcycling (Flaming Pines, 21 October)
Takuya Kuroda ~ Midnight Crisp (First Word, 21 October)
33 ~ 33-69 (C.A.N.V.A.S., 21 October)
Carbon in Prose ~ Cataclysmic System Binding Loss (24 October)
Ryterski ~ Gaymers’ Cheatsheet (Pointless Geometry, 24 October)
Steffi ~ The Red Hunter (candy mountain, 24 October)
Vanessa Wagner ~ Mirrored (InFiné, 25 October)
Harmonic Cross ~ The Grand Paradise (Dark Operative, 26 October)
Pigeon Breeders & Ghost Cars ~ Stasis (Pseudo Laboratories, 27 October)
Yair Elazar Glotman ~ Speculative Memories (SA Recordings, 27 October)
Adriaan Swerts ~ One (piano and coffee records, 28 October)
Amir Yaghmai ~ Go Bozo (Colorfield, 28 October)
Anima Morte ~ Serpents in the Fields of Sleep (28 October)
Blanket Swimming ~ A Quiet Vision (Cruel Nature, 28 October)
Chad Taylor Trio ~ The Reel (Astral Spirits, 28 October)
David Eagle ~ As mountain winds (CMC Centrediscs, 28 October)
Domenica Diavoleria ~ Forever Your Salesgirl (Obscure & Terrible, 28 October)
Edrix Puzzle ~ Coming of the Moon Dogs (On the Corner, 28 October)
Felicity Mangan ~ Wet On Wet (Warm Winters Ltd., 28 October)
Greg Nieuwsma & Antonello Perletto ~ Chase Ritual (Cruel Nature, 28 October)
Gvantsa Narim ~ Gvantsa (Cruel Nature, 28 October)
ifsonever ~ S/T (Jazz & Milk, 28 October)
Kurws ~ Powięź / Fascia (Dur & Doux, 28 October)
Mats Persson & Kristine Scholz ~ stilla sväva (kuyin, 28 October)
Memory Spells ~ Who Would Believe Us? (28 October)
Molly Joyce ~ Perspective (New Amsterdam, 28 October)
nueen ~ Diagrams of Thought (Balmat, 28 October)
Rafael Karlen ~ Equally True (Earshift Music, 28 October)
Rodrigo Amado ~ Refraction Solo (TROST, 28 October)
rýr ~ Transient (Golden Antenna, 28 October)
Senyawa+ ~ The Prey and the Ruler (Room40, 28 October)
Simon Belelty ~ Pee Wee (Jojo Records, 28 October)
Steve Long ~ Code Talker II (Astral Spirits, 28 October)
Sulk Rooms ~ Viewers (Werra Foxma, 28 October)
‘t Geruis ~ Vast (LINE, 28 October)
Jürg Frey / Reinier van Houdt ~ lieues d’ombres (Elsewhere, 30 October)
Factor Eight ~ A Voice (0110 Records, 31 October)
Seabuckthorn ~ Of No Such Place (LAAPS, 31 October)
Sun Dog ~ Col des Tempètes (Cronica, 1 November)
Billy Pod ~ Quintessence (Puzzlemusik, 4 November)
Brad E. Rose ~ Annular Silhouettes (Room40, 4 November)
COH Meets Abul Mogard ~ S/T (Houndstooth, 4 November)
Daniel Avery ~ Ultra Truth (Mute, 4 November)
Ethan James Startzman ~ Shamanic Verse (Subexotic, 4 November)
Federico Musso ~ Leave the world as it is ([MoM]rec, 4 November)
Fraser/Angeles/Nazary ~ Aqrabuamelu (Tripticks Tapes, 4 November)
John Also Bennett ~ Out there in the middle of nowhere (Poole Music, 4 November)
Leo Chang & Lucie Vitkova ~ Religion (Tripticks Tapes, 4 November)
µ-Ziq ~ Hello (Planet Mu, 4 November)
Noah Wall ~ Speech Patterns (Chaikin, 4 November)
NO HAY BANDA ~ I had a dream about this place (No Hay Discos, 4 November)
OLO ~ Neige Noir (Midira, 4 November)
Onepointwo ~ Music for Spaces (Subexotic, 4 November)
Pêtr Aleksänder ~ The Whole World Laid Out Before Me (Moderna, 4 November)
rRoxymore ~ Perpetual Now (Smalltown Supersound, 4 November)
Seahawks ~ Infinite Echo (Cascine, 4 November)
Son Cesano ~ Emerge (Monobuster, 4 November)
spaceseer ~ Colossi Perpetual Factory (4 November)
Suryo Botofasina ~ Everyone’s Children (Spiritmuse, 4 November)
Vaal ~ Love Reversed (Bedoin, 4 November)
V/A ~ Duet Layers (7K!, 4 November)
zakè / Marc Ertel / James Bernard ~ Hearkeneth (Florina Cassettes, 4 November)
In Situ Ens. ~ Same Place (Cubus, 5 November)
Henrik Meierkord, Paweł Kobak, Marco Lucchi & Rocco Saviano ~ Venusia (Ambientologist, 8 November)
Toumba ~ Rosefinch (Hypnic Jerks, 8 November)
Avawaves ~ Savage Waters OST (One Little Independent, 11 November)
Ben LaMar Gay ~ Certain Reveries (International Anthem, 11 November)
Chad Fowler et al ~ Alien Skin (Mahakala Music, 11 November)
Christina Vantzou ~ No. 5 (Kranky, 11 November)
Colin Stetson ~ Chimæra I (Room40, 11 November)
Eventless Plot ~ Memory Loss (Moving Furniture, 11 November)
Franz de Waard & Martijn Comes ~ Equal Weights (Moving Furniture, 11 November)
FreqGen ~ Future 1990s (FiXT Neon, 11 November)
Gold Panda ~ The Work (City Slang, 11 November)
H.C. Behrendtsen ~ S/T (Schatulle Bömm, 11 November)
Jakob Rehlinger ~ Sunflowers & Tides (11 November)
John Hayes ~ Beautifully Lost Mind (Nettwerk, 11 November)
J.WLSN ~ 1993 (Room40, 11 November)
Lotus Eater ~ Plasma (Stroboscopic Artefacts, 11 November)
Luminance Ratio ~ Uncanny Valley (Midira Records, 11 November)
Mehmet Aslan ~ The Sun Is Parallel (Planisphere Editorial, 11 November)
Plaid ~ Feorm Falorx (Warp, 11 November)
Spiral Wave Nomads ~ Magnetic Sky (Twin Lakes Records, 11 November)
Swartz et ~ Nilch’i (11 November)
Tengger ~ Earthing (Ramble Records, 11 November)
V/A ~ Introducing (Bigo & Twigetti, 11 November)
Fordmastiff ~ Counterfeit (Municipal K7, 15 November)
Lujo Asiático ~ After Ashram (15 November)
Greg Dallas & Jan Esbra ~ Confluence (The Slow Music Movement Label, 17 November)
Andrew Poppy ~ Ark Hive of a Live (False Walls, 18 November)
Cunningham/Nguyễn/Shiroishi ~ Basket of Knives (Astral Editions, 18 November)
Drew Wesely ~ Blank Body (Infrequent Seams, 18 November)
Johnny Coley ~ Landscape Man (Astral Editions, 18 November)
Jonas Colstrup ~ At the Crest (7K!, 18 November)
Kalam Hub ~ Moving Still (CWPT, 18 November)
Mats Gustafsson & NU Ensemble ~ Hidros 8 – Heal (trost, 18 November)
Poly-Math ~ Zenith (Nice Weather for Airstrikes, 18 November)
Porya Hatami & Monologue ~ La Commune (Midira Records, 18 November)
Pulse Emitter ~ Dusk (Hausu Mountain, 18 November)
Rauelsson & Tatu Rönkkö ~ Myriad (Beacon Sound, 18 November)
Shells ~ Outside (Astral Editions, 18 November)
Sunda Arc ~ Night Lands (Gondwana, 18 November)
B. Tweel ~ Bring in the Lampstand and Light Its Lamps (Audiobulb, 19 November)
Zaliva-D ~ Misbegotten Ballads (SVBKVLT, 23 November)
Brother Tree Sound ~ Songs Without Words (Bigo &Twigetti, 25 November)
BVDUB & Netherworld ~ Equilibrium (Glacial Movements, 25 November)
Federico Maddedu Giuntoli ~ The Text and the Form (flau, 25 November)
The Home Current ~ The Circus Hunter (Subexotic, 25 November)
Jon Iverson ~ Many Worlds Interpretation (Seance Centre, 25 November)
Marja Ahti & Judith Hamann ~ A coincidence is perfect, intimate attunement (Second Editions, 25 November)
Modus Pitch ~ Polysm (Altin Village & Mine, 25 November)
Neptunian Maximalism & Its Supernova Arkestra ~ Finis Gloriae Mundi (Tech, 25 November)
Starlings ~ Ax Locked in Pipeline (Machine Records, 25 November)
Snowdrops ~ Missing Island (Injazero, 28 November)
VLMV ~ Flora & Fauna (Bigo & Twigetti, 28 November)
thshlt ~ Fastidious Things Insisting on Their Own Conditions (Peig, 30 November)
TRÓNCO ~ S/T (Torto Editions, 30 November)
Cloud Management ~ S/T (Altin Village & Mine, 2 December)
Gabriel Prokofiev ~ Strange Blooms + HOWL! (Oscillations, 2 December)
Jameson Nathan Jones ~ Somewhat the Same (2 December)
Terence Fixmer ~ Shifting Signals (Mute, 2 December)
KEDA ~ Flow (Parentheses, 6 December)
The Broken Cradle ~ The Burial of the Dead (7 December)
Lord of the Isles ~ Subtle Thoughts (Lapsus, 8 December)
BJM Mario Bajardi ~ Vortex (16 December)
Unwed Sailor ~ Mute the Charm (Spartan Records, 1 January)
Mark Harris / John 3:16 ~ Procession (Alrealon Musique, 3 March)