The end of May heralded yet another month of interesting and often wondrous records. It seems now, given the amount of music that is released every week, we may forget a time when you could go two or three months without hearing a great new record. The notion of there being ‘golden’ years seems silly now. But that shouldn’t depreciate the quality of the records in this month’s column, each one as alluring as the last.
Album of the Month: Hypnotic Earth – Suspended in Silence
Hypnotic Earth is the pseudonym of Cosmos Rennert, a USA based musician whose latest record Suspended in Silence was released this month by Whitelabelrecs. In 2014, Rennert found himself suffering from an extreme form of tinnitus, which meant he could only process sounds at certain frequencies for it not be incredibly painful. This led him to create the Hypnotic Earth moniker and move into ambient music.Suspended in Silence is the result, and it’s a delicate, soft record filled with beauty and hope.
The record is, as you would imagine, on the minimalist side of ambient. The pianos are tender, the drones gentle – the hour-long record flows calmly but the emotions that underpin it are ever present. Snow Begins to Fall is built on a Stars of the Lid-style shimmering drone – it has a mournful beauty, but it allows for a lovely contrast with the overlaid playful piano. Reminiscing Misty Mornings is darker; the piano is more focused but is infused with longing as a drone whips across the track, staying only for a few seconds before disappearing again. There is an intense feeling of loss to this record of both physical and emotional pain. On Maiden Voyage, (I am) Ready Now the sadness is palpable – the piano is forlorn and skittish, almost as if it is struggling to finish this song.
But there is also hope, a sense of rejuvenation and new-found ways of existing. Standout track Cascade of Prisms has a radiance that is blinding – the drone has a gleam that suggests a profound sense of elation. The record finishes with Goodbye, My Friend, a six minute enchanting piece of drone-laden ambient. The understated piano slowly dances over morphing drones that perfectly blend dissonant and lyrical sounds, until they are subsumed into one gentle, harmonic whirr. Suspended in Silence is an intimate, personal record of emotional depth and startling honesty. Rennert needed ambient music to regain a sense of self, but maybe now it will be us that use his music to do the same in our own times of crisis.
Other Good Stuff
Motion Sickness of Time Travel – Magick Box
Motion Sickness of Time Travel returns with a new record and compilation hybrid, Magick Box. Containing her usual intimate sounding synths, the record begins with Weaving the Wreath, a tender track whose chime-like keys wrap the mind in a glistening lull. Whereas Witches Ladder sounds like an IDM track with the drums missing, the kinetic synths pound and feel charged with fire and offer an indication of the diversity of music in the release. Standout track Totality is centred on frayed, foreboding static and funeral vocals, as experimental, ferocious synths are layered on top – creating a vivid, wonderfully savage soundscape. A record that offers a timely reminder that Rachel Evans is an under sung ambient virtuoso.
THOMAS WILLIAM HILL – GRAINS OF SPACE
Grains of Space is Thomas William Hill’s second record following 2017’s Asylum for Eve, and IT cements his place as one of the most interesting figures in modern composition. It’s a record that is often abrasive and dissonant, but shot through with an intense feeling of romance. Opener Carriages begins with rhythmic, pounding drums and strings that slice with a sharpened edge. But the song then opens up, the drums slow and the strings morph into a gorgeous, sun-soaked lilt. Lead track Furnace is stunning, a deft fusion of steel drums, mellotron and viola that, while crammed with sounds and instruments, feels spacious and delicate. While Tongue is a curious mix of drum-machine, classical piano and searing violins, all melded together to create a work of intriguing elegance.
ann annie – wander into
Eli Goldberg, aka ann annie, returns on graceful new record wander into. Based around calming but deeply melodic synths, wander into is a lush and gentle record. Memoir is plaintive, centred upon swirling synths and gleaming pianos it dazzles with its sheen. Wander into combines sci-fi synths with a lovely plinking glockenspiel that subsumes you under a serene wave. This sense of the serene continues with juniper, a gorgeous synth-laden track that feels immense in its scope – as the keys stretch, they feel limitless and the wondrous glow they create endless. Wander into is a soulful record that feel weightless but is brimming with ideas.
CRAIG LEON – ANTHOLOGY OF INTERPLANETARY FOLK MUSIC VOL. 2
Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 2 is the latest release from producer and classical musician Craig Leon, and is the follow up 2014’s Vol. 1. A disparate record, Vol. 2 is difficult to define, each track a unique world of its own. Standing Crosswise in the Square is full-blooded, dynamic drums pulsing as a glistening drone builds out from the centre before a beautiful melodic piano swoons at the tracks end. While The Respondent in Dispute is a throbbing, dark number propelled by rhythmic drums and discordant drones.The sheer, blissful allure of The Gates Made Plain is startling by comparison; the drones are now soft, bathed in radiant light and the drums relaxed, moving with grace rather than pound. Vol. 2 is a record of great complexity but also of lucidity and is an enthralling addition to Leon’s oeuvre.
SARAH DAVACHI – INTEMPOREL
Sarah Davachi’s latest album, released on Black Sweat Records, is a collaboration with French composer Ariel Kalma, the woozy but barbed Intemporel. This, like much of Davachi’s work, is an intense record; Adieu La Vie is an 11-minute-long voyage across retro-futurist synths, and there’s a shimmer to them – a feeling of deep-space glint, but they are utterly corrosive, penetrating your insides without remorse. Title track Intemporel begins with a dazed, smoky sax but mutates into brutalist synths that seem to stab as the sax becomes frayed and free-form. The record is not without light though, final track Le Temps Spiral is soft – peaceful synths flow into each other, eventually fusing to finish the record with a sense of effulgence.
Another month down and another set of records to listen and gawp at. I will be back again at the end of June to do the same thing all over again, so join me then and try not to melt in the inevitable heat.