2014: Third Quarter Favorites From Suzi Ecto and Suki Girlz to The Abyss of the Dark Web

For each year's first three quarters, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter features are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series

Lee Gamble


It’s all about the wake. Lee Gamble’s KOCH, based as it is on the mysterious “text [Gamble is] writing,” is a riverboat at night. We’re on the shoreline — color­shifted like the cover art that might be water but also might be clouds — lapping with the waves. The strength and beauty of KOCH is not primarily in any first sound — party­starting kicks or claps, maybe — but in each and every source’s vibrations as the wobbling billows split. In “Motor System,” the kick drum carves a reverberant hollow, the reflections of which exponentially amp the weight of the initial thump. “Oneiric Contour” is built from echoing fits and starts that titter outward, ever farther afield. KOCH feels somehow, above all, invested in the space around each of its elements. These elements, sure, are taken largely from house music. But despite any initial familiarity, Gamble leaves us alone to explore his carved­-out space, understanding all the while that we might never fully master its dimensions.

Battle Trance
Palace of Wind

[NNA Tapes/New Amsterdam]

Get past the novelty — the OMG recognition of an album made without computers and by four tenor saxophonists who had never played or communicated with each other — and you start to notice Palace of Wind’s raw plasticity. Founder Travis Laplante (Little Women) composed the three-movement Palace with constant live rehearsal input, using through-composition to create something reminiscent of tonal montage. Emotional content takes on many emanations here — from violent, chaotic swarms to tranquil drones — but, as Battle Trance knows, it’s not the size of your emotions that counts, it’s how you use ‘em. With an approach that surpasses most modern acts in its visceral physicality, Laplante and Co. played with our hearts, our minds, and our perceived tolerance of (possible) “Baker Street” sax quotations in one of the more affective releases to show up this year.


[Thrill Jockey]

There are (grossly) two kinds of transcendence. There’s the kind that denotes a total dissolution of temporal distinctions, and then there’s the kind that gestures at a sort of perfect alignment with that ur-frequency that vibrates through everything. OOIOO’s Gamel moves via that second kind of transcendence. Undoubtedly, Gamel will be remembered (if at all) as “that OOIOO album with all that crazy percussion,” and on a surface level, this is accurate; Indonesian gamelan is omnipresent and pervasive here (“Gamel Ninna Yamma” is essentially “Ni Na Yama” from Armonica Hewa with “Gamel” tacked on as a prefix), yet it’s not simply its form that makes our jaws form O, O, I, O, O. It doesn’t blow us away as much as it locks us into its unwavering ecstasis. It doesn’t break us down through its percussiveness, but rather unifies us through its natural and coincidental imperfections. Wherever it goes, we follow, drawn umbilically by its promises of stability through common expression amidst “constant flux.” However, like every outlet that begets transcendence (either/any form), Gamel requires a “letting go” of divisiveness. So, open up. Feel it rush through your lungs. Tweet tweet!

A Sunny Day in Glasgow
Sea When Absent


A Sunny Day in Glasgow share superficial similarities to My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and Cocteau Twins, even recent groups like Mahogany and School of Seven Bells. But while ASDIG’s like-minded fascination with texture continues on Sea When Absent, they tend to be even more pop-oriented here than their predecessors and peers ever were. It’s this combination that’s drawn many to ASDIG’s music and to this album in particular. Rather than submerging Jen Goma’s and Annie Fredrickson’s vocals in layers of guitars and oceanic reverb, they’re front and center throughout, enabling the ladies to belt out huge choruses with aplomb alongside an audio bricolage of stuttering guitars (“In Love With Useless”), plastic keyboard tones (“Crushin’”), and even occasional NWOBHM-styled twin guitar leads (the intro riff to “The Body, It Bends”). It’s a story of exploration: In the early 00s, when shoegaze was still an insulting term, the artists associated with Claire, Alison Records, and Tone Vendor seemed to be in perpetual search for a sound just out of grasp: a modern musical language using texture as building blocks without falling back on the old workhorse of distortion. With Sea When Absent, A Sunny Day in Glasgow have discovered it.

See Feel Reel

[Harsh Riddims]

When I first listened to See Feel Reel, I was scrubbing the fuzz from a batch of okra. Have you done this? It’s one of few truly satisfying chores. Once the fuzz is removed, the chopping of the okra into half-inch circles inevitably coats hands, knife, and cutting board with a transparent-green goo, the consistency of which calls to mind semen or tears. See Feel Reel has nothing to do with this task or scene, of course, but the contrast let me into the album’s laptop speaker funeral mist from what feels like the perfect angle. A body isn’t even relevant or necessary as we listen to nima. Guts and limbs become abstractions in a tinny, haunted arena. For a little while, real. We can talk about the internet, if you’d like. The Digital Age. The ghosts of last week remind you of death, and that’s fine. Cover your eyes with your gooey hands; watch “Luv’s Infinite Cinema” in your little autumn home.

For each year's first three quarters, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter features are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series

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