Later this month, guitar virtuoso James Blackshaw will release yet another breathtakingly beautiful record. Titled Holly, it’s a 12-inch EP with only two tracks, but boy is it lovely. After last year’s epic eight-part masterpiece (All Is Falling) and an intensive tour, the 29-year-old Brit has cooled off a little to record some more mellow, summery stuff.
Like the album art clearly resembles, Side A, the 13-minute title track, has a rather impressionistic feel (like a lot of Blackshaw’s work). His whirling guitar work along with Debussy-esque piano lines paint a dramatic scene without getting too detailed. Side B contains the romantic “Boo, Forever” and is more of a nod to his finger-plucking godfathers from the Takoma Records days (Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Robbie Basho).
This EP will be released on September 30 by Important Records (Blackshaw’s second with Important, taking a break from Michael Gira’s Young God Records). Oh, and check out his fingernails; THAT must be why he is so freaking good.
Previously on TMT, we saw Nihiti remixing Strand of Oaks to great effect. Pinko Morning, from the forthcoming Faced With Splendor EP, explodes that wandering remix into tiny pieces and carefully reconstructs them into a lean folk song. Everything seems brightly lit and in focus here. From the song’s natural evolution with varied acoustic instrumentation to the careful melody, nothing is out of place. Look out for a change of pace when Nihiti returns to electronics next year on the Ostland LP.
Mirror to Mirror
“Moment of Clarity”
Jugular Forest boss Alex Twomey has just delivered his first full-length as Mirror to Mirror, after a series of limited tapes on such rock-solid labels as Monorail Trespassing, Ekhein, and Arbor, all of which have a reputation for serious, almost scholarly noise/drone music. The vibe of Here You Leave Today is a bit lighter, with this adorable sprite on the cover gazing off into the future. But this album is all about introspection. As you wrap up in a blanket of analog synth chords, you begin to unwind. You are not being oppressed by rhythm, by cool riffs, words; this music doesn’t tell you what to do. You are staring into a painting, tapping into unconscious planes. Stillness. Abstraction. Timelessness! The world desperately needs more patient art. Jam this track made by an expert, pick up this LP, sit down and think. about. some. shit.
• Jugular Forest: http://www.jugularforest.com/J4F4444.html
Got Goth-pop girls on the mind? Rejoice and boot up iTunes yet again: the recent harvest has been rich!
First, there’s Chelsea Wolfe’s new album, whose title is so Goth you can’t pronounce it without help (Ἀποκάλυψις (‘Apokalypsis,’ of course)); then there’s Exitmusic, whose singer Aleksa Palladino sometimes sounds to me like Beach House’s Victoria Legrand, if the beach is one in the wake of a hurricane; and then, of course, there’s the new stuff from Zola Jesus. If Zola’s incredible cameo on “Intro” of M83’s impending album isn’t enough for you, then check out new track “Seekir” from her own upcoming album Conatus, out October 4 from Sacred Bones. The chanting at the beginning is pretty groovy, the beat added later is even groovier, and when Zola really gets started, you’ll hear how big female vocals are really meant to sound, especially if you’re as goddamn sick as me of that overplayed Adele song.
Asmus Tietchens & Kouhei Matsunaga
On September 30, Important Records is set to release a split 12-inch from two of Earth’s avant-garde super powers: Asmus Tietchens and Kouhei Matsunaga.
Side A features two new untitled tracks from the godly Tietchens. If you don’t already know, this guy is seriously legit. He is 64-years-old, German, and has been making experimental music since before anyone even thought of making experimental music. Well, I guess that’s not completely true, but he was part of the hippest scene in Germany during the late-70s and early-80s after releasing groundbreaking records on ultra-groovy European labels like Hamburg based Sky Records and France’s Egg Records. He has also collaborated with cats such as Okko Bekker, Thomas Köner, and Jon Mueller throughout the years.
Tietchens’ massive catalog has ranged from pop-oriented synthesizer loops to pure abstract noise, but this one is toned down a little. Track “a1” (which you better be listening to right now) features a calm aloof drone with barely-melodic, creepy bends gliding throughout the entire piece. Apparently those “bends” are thanks to Tietchens’ pal and ethereal guitar-manipulator Dirk Serries (a.k.a. Fear Falls Burning, a.k.a. Vidna Obmana) who gave the samples to Tietchens just for fun. “A2” is equally mesmerizing; it’s a twinkling bleepy-bloopy joy ride through space.
Oh yeah! And then there’s the B side by Kouhei Matsunaga. This guy has been pumping out all sorts of different material since the late 90s, including three releases on Important Records last summer. Two of them were collaborations with Mika Vainio from Pan Sonic (one of which included Sean Booth from Autechre), and the other was an incredible full-length solo work. He also just released another full-length album on UK label Skam Records under the alias NHKyx. His pieces featured on this record fall somewhere between his minimalist beat-oriented work and his more abstract piercing soundscapes.
There will only be 500 copies and the first 100 come on color vinyl! What color? Who knows?! You’ll just have to buy one on September 30.