A CLOSER LISTEN weekly #32
Birthday, Alexander Grawoig video premiere, and Ukrainian Field Notes
Dear Listeners! Joseph here again, and my apologies for missing the last newsletter. I’d been so busy with work and finishing my dissertation that I was just totally burnt out that week. It’s finally feeling more like spring, and summer plans are taking shape, with much to share soon. I’m back home in New York this week, where I caught the first night of the OUTLINE festival at Knockdown Center, which included excellent performances from Joe Rainey, Jlin, Matmos, and the US-debut of Pan Daijing, an artist we’ve followed closely for years now. Haven’t been to a show like that in a while, it was a good time. Function was playing an after hours BDSM themed show in the basement afterwards, which made for an interesting changing of the crowd around 1am.
Today is also my birthday! And since I’m defending my dissertation next week, once this semester ends I’m out of a job, though hopefully another teaching gig or a postdoc will pan out between now and the fall. Once my defense is in the rearview, I have a bunch of great podcasts in the queue that will be released with greater regularity. Any tips/donations would be appreciated in the meantime. As always, thanks for listening and sharing!
Video Premiere: Alexander Grawoig ~ “So Little Remains”
By the end of “So Little Remains”, a gentle binaural sonic meditation by Alexander Grawoig, you won’t be sure if ten minutes have elapsed or ten hours. The transient instability of both the cyclical acoustic swells and subtly fluctuating visuals induces a sense of relaxation, drawing our awareness towards the now, suspending expectation for future development that drives so much music. Patient and serene, Grawoig’s music is in a constant state of becoming without ever seemingly going anywhere, like perpetual motion of the ebb and flow of the tides. Grawoig weaves various acoustic instruments into an austere tapestry constantly undoing itself, yet never quite vanishing, augmented by a delicate manipulation of spatialized sound that is best appreciated with headphones. A CLOSER LISTEN is honored to premiere “So Little Remains,” an hour-long visualizer accompanying Alexander Grawoig’s latest record.
The name Alexander Grawoig may seem unfamiliar, but it’s just the latest used by one of our favorite artists, formerly known as Alex Gray, whose previous projects include Deep Magic, Heat Wave, DJ Purple Image, D/P/I, and Chance Images, as well as a long tenure in the Sun Araw band. Alex’s work been featured on this site several times over the years, from the very beginning. In 2012 he put together one of my favorite mixes, setting the bar very high for our series early on, while 2013’s Reflections Of Most Forgotten Love is a record I return to regularly. His work as Deep Magic, which tended more towards longform acoustic ambience, remains a standout from the tape label era, but that was always merely one arrow in Alex’s quiver.
Ukrainian Field Notes XII
This month we are traveling to Kyiv where we explore Solar Nights with Shadow Unit, and discuss fundraising compilations with Volyk Artem and Volodymyr Kozhevnikov, while Hockins bemoans the current output of tiktok “sharovarshchyna” music. After a pit stop in Kharkiv to discuss recordings made in a bomb shelter with invisible noise monasticism, we head south to speak to Juli Riot in Mykolaiv about premonitions, before reaching Odesa where we encounter an honest fox and chat to Luigi Lynch about Dante’s Divine Comedy.
We then board a plane to Germany to speak to TANKATAKA (also from Mykolaiv) about volunteering in Cottbus while Heiko Jungnitz reminisces about the GDR and waxes lyrical for all things Ukrainian. Our journey terminates in Denmark where we chat to sophistication. about her latest album.
New releases include albums by Gamardah Fungus, Edward Sol, 58918012, Lubomyr Melnyk, xtclvr, Whaler (on Gasoline Radio’s very own new label), Стас Корольов, and Kojoohar, as well as fundraising compilations by Sound of Survival, Neformat Family and Gagarin Project.
Our featured podcasts include the latest from the Air Raid Siren second season with the Ukrainian label ANKLAV as well as new sets by tofudj, Le_Na_Mi, be_ca_di, 05:AM, Anthony Junkoid, Ira-Hoisa, Kadiristy B2B Katia Stieber, Juli Riot and Oleksii Lupashko.
In the viewing room we have a new video by Zavoloka from her excellent album Amulet released back in December 2022; the trailer for Blakyt’ (Блакить), the first release from the new independent label of contemporary jazz No Time For Swing; the short film I Did Not Want to Make a War Film by Nadia Parfan; the latest single from the ОЧІ label, and the newly uploaded animation OKO from Mykyta Lyskov.
But to begin with, our monthly podcast for Resonance FM with Alexander Stratonov, a jack of all trades and composer for Ukrainian television Suspilne discussing scoring investigative documentaries about war crimes, followed by our monthly spotify playlist with featured artists.
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. And we have a lot of old friends in this round up.
The Album Leaf ~ Future Falling
Last week, we reviewed the new album from aus, back from a ten-year hiatus. Today we cover the new album from The Album Leaf, returning from a hiatus of seven. It’s been great to hear some of these artists returning as vibrant as ever, and in the latter case, on a classic label – Nettwerk – that is also experiencing a resurgence. Jimmy LaValle has been making music since 1999, which is pretty amazing in itself. While many modern artists have been discovering the music of that time, he lived it, which makes the slightly nostalgic tint of certain tracks less an homage than a continuation. This is especially evident on “Afterglow,” one of the two vocal tracks, a trip hop tune that features the lovely line, “I held you like a present in that childhood bed.” Despite addressing a breakup, the warmth of the music shines through. Later in the album, the ethereal Bat for Lashes sings, “Do you feel me near? I keep you in a photograph,” suggesting that the album may represent the processing of a relationship, or even an era, preserving what is worth keeping while allowing the rest to drop. LaValle admits that the ten tracks were culled from over two hundred demos, a process that may have been slightly painful as well as therapeutic.
Anoice ~ unerasable fire
Anoice‘s music is so lovely that it’s easy to forget how topical it can be. In 2020, they released invisible wall, which reflected the “anger, sadness and hate” of the pandemic years. Now in 2023, they have released the companion EP unerasable fire, which was prompted by “division, isolation and war.” The covers are a perfect pair, a crow in one, a wolf in the other, each biting down on a mysterious glowing ball. Is the ball the beauty of Earth, stolen by the crow (a symbol of sickness and death) but then preserved by the wolf (a symbol of freedom and independence)? In only the past five years, we’ve traded one horseman of the apocalypse for another, with two yet to follow.
aus ~ Everis
The magical press release for aus‘ “Until Then” states that the artist “awakens from his long slumber.” One imagines an emaciated bear who sleeps through an entire decade, an enchanted prince under glass, or a modern day Rip Van Winkle. The single is upbeat and nostalgic, redolent of Deep Forest, but doesn’t appear on the album; it’s a simple hello, a bonus track that appears before rather than after the main project. Seb Wildwood’s remix ups the club ante, producing anticipation for Everis without revealing its secrets; while other electronic pieces appear on Everis, the music is a warm blend of genres, from ambient to modern composition.
Cruel Diagonals ~ Fractured Whole
With a stream of highly acclaimed albums already under her belt, Megan Mitchell (Cruel Diagonals) has made an extreme shift on Fractured Whole, resulting in the finest album of her young career. Every sound, even those that come across as drones or drums, is produced by Mitchell’s voice. The set faces inward and outward at the same time: seeking, stretching, yearning. Like Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance, Mitchell attempts to connect with the divine, while simultaneously serving as its vessel.
KMRU ~ Glim
Glim is grounded from the outset in a sense of place. Or is it? Although field recordings are an important part of the artist who goes under the moniker KMRU’s own listening practice and sonic output, the opening track of Glim is a bit of a trick. It’s emphasis on the rustling of the wind and the trees, the privileging of children’s voices sounding as though they are at play, the chirping of birds, is an outlier on the record, which otherwise takes more musical approaches to sound.
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? … Nicola Di Croce steps out on his own, testing the ideas across thermal vents, volcanos and shores. As the human element is reduced, listeners may make a connection between the droning sounds of nature and those of factories. Each produces a similar visceral reaction, although the first is akin to awe and the second overwhelming without the wonder.
Ozmotic | Fennesz ~ Senzatempo
Enter Ozmotic and Fennesz, who exchanged files while isolated and were able to meet in person once the crisis eased to put the finishing touches on this album. The extension of time allowed the ideas to germinate, the notes to marinate into tones. A profound sadness seeps into the title piece, as orchestral tones gather and dissipate. High-pitched tones enter, heralding light percussion: time markers that distinguish this segment from others. The guitar joins the procession, tentative at first, then assertive; but never frantic, never rushed. Then a return to the beginning – but still something has changed: if not in the music, at least in the listener.
Sabiwa ~ Island no. 16 – Memories of Future Landscapes
Sabiwa is one of the most eclectic artists we’ve reviewed on our site, and one of the most confident. The variety of her music is incredible, ranging from ambient to folk to gabber, often on the same release. The Taiwanese artist (now based in Berlin) draws upon the songs of her culture for inspiration, then produces something entirely her own, molding and sculpting her own voice into entanglements of sound. island no. 16 – Memories of Future Landscapes is another left turn, featuring four elongated pieces, each with its own unique backstory.
Tim Hecker ~ No Highs
Tim Hecker is well aware that his newest project, No Highs, will have the weight of the current Ambient trend on its shoulders, a weight that may threaten to bury and obscure the celebrated aspects of Hecker’s work which continue to occasionally shine through on this newest project: an ear for form and musical pacing that rivals that of your average composition professor, a sense of emotional ambiguity that allows for distortion, harmony, ecstasy, and melancholy to coexist in an often cinematic, grandiose, and swirling mass. Layers upon layers of reverb-laden riffs combine into a soundtrack for looking out over your balcony and romanticizing the past, walking through a gray town to another monotonous day at work, or yes, driving down a foggy back road in the middle of the night.
(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!
Sagat ~ Silver Lining (vlek, 4 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)
Brett Mercuri ~ Eleventeen (5 May)
Dave Lombardo ~ Rites of Percussion (Ipecac, 5 May)
Dead Sea Apes ~ Rewilding (Cardinal Fuzz / Feeding Tube, 5 May)
Delphine Dora ~ As Above, So Below (Recital Program, 5 May)
Dirk Serries ~ The Fluctuation of Being (Midira, 5 May)
drøne ~ the long song (Touch, 5 May)
Éliane Radigue ~ Naldjorlak (Saltern, 5 May)
Emmanuel Jacob Lacopo ~ Eastman (People Places Records, 5 May)
Euglossine ~ Strawberries in Rain (sound as language, 5 May)
France Jobin ~ 10-33CM (Room40, 5 May)
ghost and tape ~ Freeform (Home Normal, 5 May)
The Gibraltarians ~ Future-Proof Blues (5 May)
Kjell Bjørgeengen & Chris Cogburn ~ Fear of the Object (Sofa Music, 5 May)
Lesley Mok ~ The Living Collection (American Dreams, 5 May)
Marc Miller & Se Jong Cho ~ Matisse Bath (cow: Music, 5 May)
Markus Guentner ~ Onda (Affin, 5 May)
mHz ~ Proof of Identity (Important / Cassauna, 5 May)
Naujawanan Baidar ~ Khedmat Be Khaliq (Ramble, 5 May)
nobuka ~ Fehrbelliner St. (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)
V/A ~ Perceptions Vol. 4 (Bigo & Twigetti, 5 May)
Wave Temples ~ Panama Shift (Not Not Fun, 5 May)
Gamardah Fungus ~ To the Stars and Back (Polar Seas, 7 May)
The Gibraltarians ~ Apocryphal Sounds (8 May)
Symposium Musicum ~ S/T (mappa, 9 May)
Abandoned Toys ~ Where Tides Defy the Moon (Mythical, 12 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)
Eudscher ~ SN23001 (Eudscher Recordings, 12 May)
The Flame ~ Towards the Flame, Vol. 1 (577 Records, 12 May)
Helen Money/Will Thomas ~ Trace (Thrill Jockey, 12 May)
Julia Andersson ~ Dröm (Moderna, 12 May)
Maorooro ~ Empires (Dissipatio, 12 May)
nebulo ~ MMXXII (3OP, 12 May)
Oval ~ Romantiq (Thrill Jockey, 12 May)
Palladian ~ Ocra (Loci, 12 May)
Pina ~ Or (Lapsus, 12 May)
Svetlana Maraš ~ Live performance 2019-2020 (~OUS, 12 May)
Thiago Desant ~ Let It Happen Here and Now (Phantoms V Fire, 12 May)
The Vampires ~ Night Jar (Earshift Music, 12 May)
Johan Arrias ~ Self-Portraits (ausculto fonogram, 13 May)
Nonturn ~ Jellybeans (Audiobulb, 13 May)
Eleven Magpies ~ Two for Joy (Cuculi, 14 May)
Nakibembe Embaire Group ~ S/T (Nyege Nyege Tapes, 16 May)
Roel Meelkop ~ Viva in Pace (Cronica, 16 May)
MinaeMinae ~ Räumlichkeit (Marionette, 18 May)
Alabaster DePlume ~ Salty Road Dogs Victory Anthem (International Anthem, 19 May)
Bend the Future ~ Sounds So Wrong (Tonzonen, 19 May)
Canaan Balsam ~ Eternity lies within or nowhere (Where to Now?, 19 May)
Charles Wesley ~ C (LINE, 19 May)
Fetlar ~ Before Entanglement Aftermath (JVDASZ ISKARIOTA, 19 May)
Julian Loida ~ Giverny (Gratitude Sound, 19 May)
Kate Gentile | International Contemporary Ensemble ~ b I o m e i.i (Obliquity, 19 May)
Mike Cooper ~ Black Flamingo (Room40, 19 May)
Niala Effen ~ Kolory Też Potrafią Śpiewać (Ropę Worm, 19 May)
Rich Aucoin ~ Synthetic Season 2 (We Are Busy Bodies, 19 May)
Roman Angelos ~ Supermarkets, Underwater (Happy Robots, 19 May)
Sam Weinberg Trio w/Chris Lightcap & Tom Rainey ~ Implicatures (Astral Spirits, 19 May)
Swartz Et ~ Leviathan I (Utter East, 19 May)
UCC Harlo ~ Topos (Subtext, 19 May)
Flower Storm ~ Yek EP (22 May)
James Ilenefritz ~ #entrainments (Infrequent Seams, 22 May)
Candyfloss Mountain ~ Escape from Candyfloss Mountain (Métron, 24 May)
Andrey Guryanov ~ Anthems (Abstand, 25 May)
Asma Maroof, Patrick Belaga, Tapiwa Svosve ~ The Sport of Love (PAN, 26 May)
Chromic Duo ~ Room of Oceans (cmntx, 26 May)
Doug Wieselman ~ WA-Zoh (figureight, 26 May)
Ensemble Modelo62 ~ Battleship Potemkin (Moving Furniture, 26 May)
Fourth World Magazine III ~Neoplatonic Aquatic Symposiums (Poole, 26 May)
Gerald Cleaver ~ 22/23 (577 Records, 26 May)
Holy Similaun ~ Radicor al flort, espert on’ill il erb, aor Raetia (Kohlhaas, 26 May)
Joni Void ~ Everyday Is the Song (Constellation, 26 May)
Karl Evangelista’s Apura ~ Ngayon (Astral Spirits, 26 May)
Matthew Herbert ~ The Horse (Accidental Records, 26 May)
Michael Scott Dawson ~ Find Yourself Lost (We Are Busy Bodies, 26 May)
Mud Spencer ~ Kliwon (Argonauta, 26 May)
Roots In Heaven ~ Edge of Non-Compliance (Other Facts, 26 May)
Schneider TM ~ Ereignishorizont (Karlrecords, 26 May)
Tongues of Mount Meru ~ Kalpa (Moving Furniture, 26 May)
Gaucher & Ruth ~ Shockwave (FiXT, 31 May)
Reptilian Expo ~ Cunti (Artetetra, 31 May)
Curtis Stewart ~ of Love. (New Amsterdam, 2 June)
Mt. Fuyu ~ A Mirror to Weave (Danse Noir, 2 June)
Henrik Meierkord ~ Geschichten (Audiobulb, 3 June)
Federico Durand ~ Tour Tapes (Home Normal, 5 June)
Katherine Kyu Hyeon Lim ~ Starling (2 June)
Matte Black ~ Landscape (2 June)
Meredith Bates ~ Tessaract (phonometrograph, 2 June)
Nina de Heney/Qarin Wikström ~ QOMOLANGA (OUTERDISK, 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)
Garrett Sholdice ~ The Blue Light (Ergodos, 8 June)
Gacha Bakradze ~ Pancakes (Lapsus, 9 June)
Gridfailure & Interstitia ~ Sunyata Ontology (9 June)
Nico Gioris ~ Cloud Suites (Leaving, 9 June)
Werner Dafeldecker ~ Neural (Room40, 9 June)
Werner Daleldecker & Valerio Tricoli ~ Der Krater (Room40, 9 June)
Wobbly ~ Additional Kids (Hausu Mountain, 9 June)
Night Gestalt ~ Staring Light (Bigo & Twigetti, 13 June)
The Cry ~ S/T (Gizeh, 15 June)
An Moku & Stefan Schmidt ~ Raum im Raum (Karlrecords, 16 June)
Caterina Barbieri ~ Myuthafoo (light-years, 16 June)
Fredrik Rasten ~ Lineaments (SOFA, 16 June)
Gloorp ~ S/T (JOLT, 16 June)
Massimo Magee ~ Networking (Orbit577, 16 June)
Rone ~ L(oo)ping (InFiné, 16 June)
Samuel Sharp ~ Consequential (Blackford Hill, 16 June)
Ulrich Krieger ~ Aphotic I (Room40, 16 June)
Wild Up ~ Julius Eastman Vol. 3: If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich? (New Amsterdam, 16 June)
Black Duck ~ S/T (Thrill Jockey, 23 June)
Blue Lake ~ Sun Arcs (Tonal Union, 23 June)
Foster Neville ~ The Edge of Destruction (Subexotic, 23 June)
Jérôme Noetinger ~ Outside Supercolor (Room40, 23 June)
John Dikeman, Pat Thomas, John Edwards, Steve Noble ~ Volume 2 (577 Records, 23 June)
Divide and Dissolve ~ Blood Quantum (Invada, 30 June)
Mondoriviera ~ Frenton Cantolay (Artetetra, 30 June)
Zeena Parkins ~ LACE (Chalkin, 30 June)
Tony Buck ~ Environmental Studies (Room40, July 1)
Penguin Cafe ~ Rain Before Seven… (Erased Tapes, 7 July)
Siavash Amini ~ Eidolon (Room40, 7 July)
Stefano Guzzetti ~ Letters from Nowhere – Piano Book Volume Three (Home Normal, 7 July)
Taylor Joshua Rankin ~ Sun, Will Grow (7 July)
Christina Giannone ~ Reality Opposition (Room40, 14 July)
Hecq ~ Form (Mesh, 14 July)
Hyunhye Seo ~ Eel (Room40, 14 July)
Kevin Daniel Cahill ~ Impossible Worlds (False Walls, 21 July)