Dear Listeners! It’s Joseph again, and yes this missive is arriving in your mailbox a few days later than usual. We may have already begun celebrating Springtime, but it wouldn’t be Montreal without a nice April ice storm. I don’t think this is what Eliot had in mind when he called April 'the cruellest month,’ but that’s certainly how it works here. Oh you think winter is over? Let’s blanket everything in ice. An ice storm occurs when the temperature is just cold enough that freezing rain turns into ice on surface contact, encasing everything in ice. [See my photos throughout.] It can be really beautiful, in a walking around the city listening to Tim Hecker kind of way, at least until the trees begin snapping under the weight of all that ice. So that’s happened on Wednesday, leaving hundreds of thousands of households in Montreal without power. We were lucky that our apartment retained electricity the entire time, but our Internet service was only just restored late last night, hence this late newsletter. But hey, it’s Easter, there’s something fitting about that. And oh, speaking of Tim Hecker, he’s just released No Highs, his first studio record since Konoyo / Anoyo. (And this little more than two months after the digital release of his excellent score to Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool. So anyway, let’s get into the highlights from the blog these past two+ weeks, beginning with Jeremy Bye’s list of best Spring albums.
The 25 Best Spring Albums of All Time
“Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him… Something up above was calling him imperiously… Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting – everything happy, and progressive, and occupied.”
(The Wind In The Willows, Kenneth Grahame, 1908)
Spring is – or at least, should be – calling as we arrive in April. The trouble is, this season is more of a gradual unfolding than a definite moment. We might associate spring with flowers bursting through the soil, but snowdrops were making their first blooms in early January. Other flowers gradually follow… and then there’s a blizzard, the temperature drops again, and the flowers find themselves frost-bound. The gradual lengthening of days gets a turbo-boost when the clocks go forward, and we’re in a whole new season overnight. For a meteorologist, spring starts on March 1st; for calendar watchers, it’s the equinox on the 21st or 22nd of the same month. We’re hedging our bets that spring will have sprung by early April, so we’re compiling our favourite Spring records for your entertainment.
We’ve written about Winter (Richard, twice) and Summer (Jeremy) before, so here’s the season where we pool our resources and list our picks alphabetically. The premise is simple: as with previous articles, these are the records that make us think of Spring. Sometimes these albums have been inspired by the season; other times, the music reminds us of this time of year.
More often than not, this is optimistic music that looks forward rather than back. It’s no coincidence that Easter, Holi and May Day fall within this time frame. Think growth, renewal, and transition. Remember the abundant sounds of nature: birds calling, leaves on trees, lambs in fields. There’s a giddy rush to ensure the next generation has warmth and food to survive and grow. As people, we (try to) slough off old habits and adopt new traditions – it’s easier to do this now than at New Year. We can embark on Spring cleaning, or – like the mole – say ‘hang the sense of it’ and rush outside for discovery and adventure.
A couple of honourable mentions before we begin. It would be remiss of us not to mention Talk Talk. There are Spring-centric songs across their run of albums from The Colour Of Spring (“April 5th”) through Spirit Of Eden (“Inheritance”) to Laughing Stock (“Ascension Day” and probably “New Grass”). All three albums (plus Mark Hollis’s solo LP) are worth checking if you’re unfamiliar with them. We will also point you towards The Wicker Man; not the remake (obviously) but the original British film starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. The soundtrack is an excellent introduction to the world of British folk songs with a particular focus on Spring: you should investigate both come May Day.
Please let us know in the comments if there are any Spring-themed records that we haven’t included, but for now enjoy our list of The 25 Best Spring Albums of All Time!
UKRAINIAN FIELD NOTES XXI
As we enter the second year of the full-scale Russian invasion, we pursue our survey of the experimental and electronic scene in Ukraine with another round of interviews taking us to Odesa, Rivne, Ivano-Frankivsk and Kyiv as well as Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Canada.
We kick off with the screamo band janpalach talking about their recent tour The War is Much Closer. Courtesy of Alexander Stratonov we get a look at three harrowing investigative docs on Bucha and Yagidne (all with English subtitles).
Meanwhile, PlusStepper talks dub in Odesa, ummsbiaus introduces WarArt, a new multimedia project based in Vilnius, and Arctica looks at ambient music.
Furthermore, Sider muses on resistance through music, Alex Schultz lives one day at a time, OBRIЇ waits for his dad to return from the front, Oorree develops under more dynamic conditions, and Ruslancher laments the narrowing of the planning horizon.
We also have two guest spots from Georgia with Rezo Glonti and sTia (CES Records) sending love and support from Tbilisi in the aftermath of the recent demonstrations against the “Russian foreign agent bill”.
Rounding off our series of interviews are Re:drum discussing new folk and be_ca_di introducing ОЧІ.
Moreover we have a bountiful crop of new releases by the likes of Whaler, Monotonne, Andrii Kunin, Svitovamora, Yurii Samson, Yevhenii Loi, 58918012, Monoconda, Oksana Hritseva, Zavoloka & Noémi Büchi, and a collaboration between Svyatoslav Vakarchuk & Robert 3D Del Naja & Okean Elzy, alongside new fundraising compilations by Giraffe Tapes, Sonic Weapons of Love, Unite With Ukraine, Fuzzy Panda Recording Company, Peace Tomorrow, and Grind4Ukraine.
Plus podcasts from Ukraine World, Polygon, Ann Mysochka, Dana Dee, Human Margareeta, Bryozone, AXT, Heinali, Liky Pid Nohamy, Nikolaienko, and Andrey Kiritchenko.
In the viewing room, we’ve included a documentary on Kershon by Ukrainer (in English) as well as new releases by Vera Logdanidi and SI Process, together with a Psychic TV cover from Casa Ukrania and Lu Joyce helping to raise funds for a friend undergoing surgery for cancer. To tie up proceedings we’ve selected a Georgian performance of “Oy u luzi chervona kalyna”.
But to begin with here’s the latest Ukrainian Field Notes podcast for Resonance FM with Asyncronous, followed by our monthly UFN overview on Spotify with 24 tracks clocking in at just over two hours of music.
Asyncronous – Midnight Sun
Asyncronous – Point of no Return
Asyncronous – Shinkansen
Asyncronous – Stage of Delta (Ambient Remix)
Arctica – Ambient Mix: Into the Unknown (background)
Reviews are at the heart of ACL. Here are (excerpts from) a few of my favorite reviews we posted on the blog in the last few weeks.
David Vélez – Beta Vulgaris
Beta Vulgaris is a composite experiment into horticultural acoustics. Based on a series of readings about the beneficial role of sound to the life, growth and well-being of plants, the album sets to document an experiment Vélez conducted in his own studio. Aiming to stimulate the growth of beet plants, Vélez started using sinewaves for a period of three months. The results, as he writes, were the cultivation of beets that were “healthy, exuberant and exquisite.”
Kalia Vandever ~ We Fell In Turn
After leading a jazz ensemble on last year’s widely acclaimed album Regrowth, Kalia Vandever goes solo on We Fell In Turn, an album of trombone, effects and voice, the latter nearly inaudible ~ although one can occasionally hear breath, especially on “We Wept in Turn,” its title tweaked for the main release. These titles refer to the sensation of waking from a dream of falling, often in tears. On the surface, this experience sounds terrifying, but Vandever feels the protection of her ‘aumākua, the spirit guides of her Hawai’ian ancestry. As a result, the 31-minute set feels dreamlike and comforting, a woven shawl of sound. Ironically, the most tempo-driven piece is called “Stillness in Hand,” a reminder of how active the imagination can be when the body is immobile. The majority of the tracks exude a wispy peace, beginning with “Reflections From Shore,” which may refer to the shore of the subconscious mind after the dreamer exits from the sea.
Nicola Di Croce ~ Affects and aesthetic speculations
Featuring recordings from Italy, Iceland and Portugal, Affects and aesthetic speculations is an invitation to consider the listener within the sonic environment. How is one affected by the sounds one hears? How do human sounds affect the biosphere? Do listeners acclimate or attempt to dominate? The Doks of Cagliari is the opening subject, awash in the sounds of traffic and sea: two competing sources whose juxtaposition is jarring. One wishes to tune one out, but cannot; the motorcycles are particularly aggressive, the planes even louder. Nature is losing this sonic battle. One worries about the emotional health of the seabirds, but also the impact on the human residents. In the closing minutes, the din recedes, though the sonic field is dominated by a human contribution: a knocking buoy. Even when we are not around, we are annoying.
Philip Samartzis ~ Atmospheres and Disturbances
Sitting somewhere at the crossroads between researcher, activist, scholar, composer, and recording engineer, Australian sound artist Philip Samartzis seems preoccupied with sound as both a natural and artificial phenomenon. While it would be easy to categorize Samartzis’ previous electroacoustic collaborations (H, One+One) as sitting on the “artificial” side of this divide, his turns towards “natural” environmental sound on projects like Array (2021) and Polar Force (2021) have also included their fair share of man-made sound, whether it be recordings of radar equipment or layers of live instrumentation. Through a concise set of spatially-connected field recordings, Atmospheres and Disturbances further complicates the dichotomy between man-made and environmental sound while making clear that even the remotest sound environments are experiencing profound and rapid changes.
Richard Skelton ~ selenodesy
‘Skyglow’ sounds like it should be the name of an Ambient compilation we’ve been sent for review: a hazy, neon-washed collection bathed in a nocturnal shimmer. It is, rather depressingly, the name for the effect artificial lighting has on our environment at night. You will, no doubt, be familiar with the scenario: you’re travelling home from a gig in a nearby town through the quiet countryside when you look up, and there’s an orange glow on the horizon. Home! And only, what ten? 20 miles away? There may be some comfort in knowing there’s not far to travel, but that comfort is outweighed by the impact of the artificial glow on the natural world.
Tzusing ~ 绿帽 Green Hat
In China, a green hat is a sign of infidelity; few would choose to wear one, save in protest. This is exactly what Tzusing does, using 绿帽 Green Hat to expose concepts of toxic masculinity, gender stereotypes and antiquated expectation. Daniel Day Lewis’ infamous milkshake monologue is the opening salvo, as ugly as it gets, drawing a line across the world to the United States; the problems are not unique to China. One can only imagine the toxic clubber reveling in this track, dancing with evil intention, perverting the purpose of the piece. But read the titles in English, and a pattern begins to form: “Idol Baggage,” “Muscular Theology,” “Filial Endure Ruthless.” The first of these tracks is marked by merciless laughter, the type often directed toward those who seem “weaker.” The second, which could be used as background music for weightlifting, suggests that many consider a powerful body to be the definition of manliness. Tribe-like grunts punctuate the lesson. The third connects such ideas to ancestry, suggesting that they have been passed down not out of truth, but deference.
(complete list with Bandcamp links here)
Depending on where you live, spring has already sprung or is about to spring. The cherry blossoms, crocuses and daffodils are only the opening salvo of what will eventually be an explosion of color. In like manner, our Spring Music Preview launched us into the music season, but we’ve added new albums here every day since then, and more will be added in the days and weeks to come. There’s always something to look forward to, and we hope you will find your next favorite album right here!
Secret Circuit ~ Green Mirror (Invisible, Inc., 10 April)
Grant Cutler ~ Garden (Aether Sound, 13 April)
Macgray ~ Collapse (Les Yeux Orange, 13 April)
The Creative Technology Consortium ~ Panoramic Colorsound (Dark Entries, 14 April)
Entidad Animada ~ Pruebas de Existencia (Umor Rex, 14 April)
Erwan Sene ~ JUnQ (PAN, 14 April)
Eva Novoa ~ Novoa / Kamaguchi / Cleaver Trio Vol. 1 (577 Records, 14 April)
Grandbrothers ~ Late Reflections (City Slang US, 14 April)
Greg Neiuwsma and Antonella Perfetto ~ Earth (Submarine Broadcasting Company, 14 April)
Left Hand Cuts Off the Right ~ Free Time/Dead Time (Brachliegen Tapes, 14 April)
Lucie Antunes ~ Carnaval (InFine, 14 April)
Martyn Heyne ~ Eight Reflections in Darkness (Tonal Institute / AWAL Sony, 14 April)
Matt Mitchell ~ Oblong Aplomb (Out of Your Head, 14 April)
Mute Duo ~ Migrant Flocks (American Dreams, 14 April)
Nashville Ambient Ensemble ~ Light and Space (Centripetal Force, 14 April)
Natural Information Society ~ Since Time Is Gravity (eremite, 14 April)
Olivia De Prato ~ Panorama (New Focus, 14 April)
Ozmotic | Fennesz ~ Senzatempo (Touch, 14 April)
Penelope Trappes ~ Heavenly Spheres (Nite Hive, 14 April)
Sabiwa ~ island no. 16 – Memories of Future Landscapes (Phantom Limb, 14 April)
V/A ~ Random and emblematic: The sound of space (Modern Obscure Music, 14 April)
V/A ~ Utopia or Oblivion (Constructive, 14 April)
We’re Not Afraid of the Dark ~ Glossolalia (Room40, 14 April)
The Dead Bell ~ A Moment at Dawn (Whitelabrecs, 15 April)
Ümlaut ~ Same But Different (Audiobulb, 15 April)
Volruptus ~ Moxie (Herrensauna, 15 April)
Yuya Ota ~ Dramatic Syndrome (Whitelabrecs, 15 April)
Bernhard Wöstheinrich ~ Genre (iapetus, 16 April)
Mark Barrott ~ 蒸発 (Jōhatsu) (Reflections, 17 April)
Akhiro Sano ~ Shadow’s Praise (IIKKI, 20 April)
V/A ~ Spectrum (Cruel Nature, 20 April)
Alessandra Rombolà ~ Out of the playground (SOFA, 21 April)
Chaz Knapp & Mariel Roberts ~ Setting Fire to These Dark Times (figureight, 21 April)
Conjecture ~ Nostalgia Futura (Cyclic Law, 21 April)
Desiderii Marginis ~ Serenity/Rage (Cyclic Law, 21 April)
dragonchild ~ S/T (FPE, 21 April)
Euan Dalgarno ~ ZasquintE (Not Yet Remembered, 21 April)
Fred und Luna ~ Im Fünfminutentakt (Compost, 21 April)
H E X & DORAVIDEO ~ Multi (Wetwear, 21 April)
Ken Ideka ~ Sparse Memory (Room40, 21 April)
KVL ~ Volume 2 (Astral Spirits, 21 April)
Lucaslavia ~ Furnace (Macro, 21 April)
Manuel Mota ~ XIX (Room40, 21 April)
Ogives ~ La Mémoire des Orages (Sub Rosa, 21 April)
Pascal Savy ~ Simulacra (Cyclic Law, 21 April)
Push for Night + Jon Mueller ~ Lapsed Gasps (Room40, 21 April)
Richard Carr | Caleb Burhans | Clarice Jensen ~ August Dreams (21 April)
Stefan Węgłowski ~ Smooth Inertia (Glacial Movements, 21 April)
Sun & Steel ~ Off the Hook! – Live at Motvind (Sheep Chase, 21 April)
Terms ~ All Becomes Indistinct (Skin Graft, 21 April)
ULTRAPHAUNA ~ No No No No (Dur et doux, 21 April)
Ensemble Dedalus / Ryoko Akama ~ Elaine Radigue (Montagne Noire, 22 April)
Russell Burden & Craig Tattersall ~ Diagenesis (LAAPS, 24 April)
Ayumi Ishito ~ Ayumi Isito & The Spacemen, Vol. 2 (577 Records, 28 April)
Bill Orcutt ~ Jump On It (Palilalia, 28 April)
David Lord ~ Forest Standards Vol. 3 (Astral Spirits, 28 April)
David Prior ~ Descent (SN Variations, 28 April)
Eomac ~ Water Tracks (Emika, 28 April)
G Clef Fusion ~ Recondite Obbligato (28 April)
hÄK/Danzeisen ~ same (Karlrecords, 28 April)
Leagus ~ Flora Eallin (Is It Jazz?, 28 April)
Manja Ristić ~ Awakenings (LINE, 28 April)
Martyna Basta ~ Slowly Forgetting, Barely Remembering (Warm Winters Ltd., 28 April)
Matthewdavid ~ Mycelium Music (Leaving, 28 April)
Mushroom Giant ~ In a Forest (Bird’s Robe, 28 April)
Mute Duo ~ 5amSky (Astral Editions, 28 April)
Nathan Hanson ~ We Sick (28 April)
Post Moves ~ Clarity Surrender (Sweet Wreath, 28 April)
Sam C. Roberts ~ After the Collapse (28 April)
Savvas Metaxas ~ Magnetic Loops III (LINE, 28 April)
Subheim ~ RAEON (Denovali, 28 April)
Tamarisk ~ Plays a Word for Wind (Astral Editions, 28 April)
Tim Brady ~ Symphony in 18 Parts (Starkland, April 28)
V/A ~ Fatal Strategies (Antibody, 28 April)
V/A ~ yet (Tresor, 28 April)
Manja Ristić ~ water memory: mnemosonic topographies of the Adriatic (1 May)
Sam McLoughlin & David Chatton Barker ~ The Heavenly Realms (Folklore Tapes, 1 May)
V/A ~ Magnum Opus Collectio Series: Rubedo (Undogmatisch, 2 May)
Aidan Baker ~ Engenderine (Midira, 5 May)
The Allegorist ~ TEKHENU (5 May)
Alva Noto ~ Kinder der Sonne (NOTON, 5 May)
Asher Gamedze ~ Turbulence and Pulse (International Anthem, 5 May)
Dave Lombardo ~ Rites of Percussion (Ipecac, 5 May)
Delphine Dora ~ As Above, So Below (Recital Program, 5 May)
Dirk Serries ~ The Fluctuation of Being (Midira, 5 May)
Éliane Radigue ~ Naldjorlak (Saltern, 5 May)
France Jobin ~ 10-33CM (Room40, 5 May)
Kjell Bjørgeengen & Chris Cogburn ~ Fear of the Object (Sofa Music, 5 May)
Markus Guentner ~ Onda (Affin, 5 May)
Naujawanan Baidar ~ Khedmat Be Khaliq (Ramble, 5 May)
Peter Zummo ~ Deep Dive 2 (TAR / MM / UOH, 5 May)
Philip G. Anderson ~ Always Present (5 May)
Sacrobosco ~ IVXVI (Travorobato, 5 May)
Specular-D ~ You Do You (5 May)
Svoboda/O’Connor/Green ~ Time Together, Time Apart (577 Records, 5 May)
upsammy ~ Germ in a Population of Buildings (PAN, 5 May)
Symposium Musicum ~ S/T (mappa, 9 May)
Aria Rostami ~ PSALM012: Allegory (Phantom Limb, 12 May)
Brent Cordero & Peter Kerlin ~ A Sublime Madness (Astral Spirits, 12 May)
Christian Balvig ~ Night Poem (Midnight Confessions, 12 May)
The Flame ~ Towards the Flame, Vol. 1 (577 Records, 12 May)
Helen Money/Will Thomas ~ Trace (Thrill Jockey, 12 May)
Oval ~ Romantiq (Thrill Jockey, 12 May)
Pina ~ Or (Lapsus, 12 May)
Thiago Desant ~ Let It Happen Here and Now (Phantoms V Fire, 12 May)
Johan Arrias ~ Self-Portraits (ausculto fonogram, 13 May)
Nonturn ~ Jellybeans (Audiobulb, 13 May)
Roel Meelkop ~ Viva in Pace (Cronica, 16 May)
Julian Loida ~ Giverny (Gratitude Sound, 19 May)
Kate Gentile | International Contemporary Ensemble ~ b I o m e i.i (Obliquity, 19 May)
Rich Aucoin ~ Synthetic Season 2 (We Are Busy Bodies, 19 May)
Swartz Et ~ Leviathan I (Utter East, 19 May)
Flower Storm ~ Yek EP (22 May)
Doug Wieselman ~ WA-Zoh (figureight, 26 May)
Ensemble Modelo62 ~ Battleship Potemkin (Moving Furniture, 26 May)
Gerald Cleaver ~ 22/23 (577 Records, 26 May)
Joni Void ~ Everyday Is the Song (Constellation, 26 May)
Matthew Herbert ~ The Horse (Accidental Records, 26 May)
Michael Scott Dawson ~ Find Yourself Lost (We Are Busy Bodies, 26 May)
Roots In Heaven ~ Edge of Non-Compliance (Other Facts, 26 May)
Tongues of Mount Meru ~ Kalpa (Moving Furniture, 26 May)
Reptilian Expo ~ Cunti (Artetetra, 31 May)
Curtis Stewart ~ of Love. (New Amsterdam, 2 June)
Katherine Kyu Hyeon Lim ~ Starling (2 June)
Meredith Bates ~ Tessaract (phonometrograph, 2 June)
Sarah Pagé ~ Voda (Backward Music, 2 June)
Samuele Strufaldi, Tommaso Rosati, Francesco Gherardi ~ t (Elli Records, 2 June)
David Toop & Lawrence English ~ The Shell That Speaks the Sea (Room40, 5 June)
Werner Dafeldecker ~ Neural (Room40, 9 June)
Werner Daleldecker & Valerio Tricoli ~ Der Krater (Room40, 9 June)
Night Gestalt ~ Staring Light (Bigo & Twigetti, 13 June)
Samuel Sharp ~ Consequential (Blackford Hill, 16 June)
Black Duck ~ S/T (Thrill Jockey, 23 June)