Good Weather For An Airstrike – Lights 7.2



                Good Weather For An Airstrike remains calm. On ‘Lights’ they try to be reassuring. The snippets of audio suggest a world going on outside of the infinitely mellow music. What this appears to symbolize is the ability to handle it. Considering all the terrible things that can happen at any given moment and don’t this is a good feeling. Over the course of the album Good Weather chooses to focus on that positive aspect of life. The narrative of the album references certain faraway conflicts and enthusiasm ‘those are my brothers’ is said on ‘The King XXVI’ yet the general mood is hopeful, that perhaps an end may be in sight or a peace somewhat can be achieved. 

                In the first section of the album Good Weather expresses a certain level of contentment. This is shown on ‘A Quiet Day’ complete with guitar, occasional percussion, and lacks the audio clips that mark the rest of the album. ‘Storm Fronts Collide’ begins rather dramatically with a clip about the Paris Peace Accords. From there the album breaks down into its uneasy middle section. With the short clips the level of tension is increased considerably. Only with the final two songs do things begin to settle, with audio clips mostly gone as the music becomes completely smooth. Indeed in these final two pieces the sound is almost translucent. 

                These are comforting songs. It feels less like a series of songs than a narrative. Little details (guitar here, slight inflection there) give the sense of an ongoing story. Overall it is a strange but human approach to ambient music.

Good Weather For An Airstrike – Lights 7.2

                Good Weather For An Airstrike remains calm. On ‘Lights’ they try to be reassuring. The snippets of audio suggest a world going on outside of the infinitely mellow music. What this appears to symbolize is the ability to handle it. Considering all the terrible things that can happen at any given moment and don’t this is a good feeling. Over the course of the album Good Weather chooses to focus on that positive aspect of life. The narrative of the album references certain faraway conflicts and enthusiasm ‘those are my brothers’ is said on ‘The King XXVI’ yet the general mood is hopeful, that perhaps an end may be in sight or a peace somewhat can be achieved. 

                In the first section of the album Good Weather expresses a certain level of contentment. This is shown on ‘A Quiet Day’ complete with guitar, occasional percussion, and lacks the audio clips that mark the rest of the album. ‘Storm Fronts Collide’ begins rather dramatically with a clip about the Paris Peace Accords. From there the album breaks down into its uneasy middle section. With the short clips the level of tension is increased considerably. Only with the final two songs do things begin to settle, with audio clips mostly gone as the music becomes completely smooth. Indeed in these final two pieces the sound is almost translucent. 

                These are comforting songs. It feels less like a series of songs than a narrative. Little details (guitar here, slight inflection there) give the sense of an ongoing story. Overall it is a strange but human approach to ambient music.

Be My Friend in Exile - Passive/Negative 6.8

               Be My Friend in Exile lives a solitary life. None of these pieces show any sign of a happy impulse. These are dark brooding things. Ominous noise comes from afar. Good thing they stay a proper distance. Rather it is the drone and the liveliness which threatens to derail the whole proceeding. With these few glimpses into a more terrifying world Be My Friend in Exile shows the power of restraint. Sans the restraint this would be a far less interesting environment. Negativity permeates the entire album with no sunlight allowed. 

                ‘Passive/Negative’ begins it with a sound that rocks back and forth. It is an unsettling view, of a ring that never stops. Voices come from far away but fail to be fully recognized. On ‘The Night of This Vague Desire Has No Morning’ a vague outline of a melody emerges. This is not fully developed but part in pieces for the listener to put together. It has an intensely oversized sound which is nearly spiritual in nature. ‘Beneath Steel Skies’ is inhuman sound. There is no indication humans were involved in the creation of this piece. An immediate sense of dread comes over the track. From there it burrows itself deep into the mind. Instead this may be the most unsettling track of the entire album. How it ends is with the longest piece with the longest title ‘On the Ceiling Beam There is a Representation of a Hideous Devil Spying on a Miserable Human Being’. The bleak title is completely fitting. 

                Isolationist drone music never felt so good. This is perfect music to feel completely alone to.

Offthesky and Man Watching The Stars - Afar, Farewell 7.9

                Afar, Farewell’ starts out with near silence. It is such an unassuming, natural sounding album it is hard to forget exactly how much effort this must have taken. Drones on here sound particularly gentle, classical in nature. There is a particular northern quality to it. Much of the album feels less like people made it and more like it simply rises out of the ground. Offthesky and Man Watching the Stars merge so gracefully it can be hard to distinguish the difference between the violin and the drone. Both play off one another to such a large degree that they feel symbiotic in nature. 

                ‘Patience’ is aptly named. For the amount of time they spend is clearly worth it by the ending’s gradual increase in color and tone. In ‘Captured In A Quill Of Sloe’ Man Watching the Stars clearly takes over, with the violin becoming particularly prevalent on this track. Drone does come through during the quieter moments but the violin makes its presence known, particularly at the halfway point. The reverse is true for the near silent ‘Star-crossed Through Empty Thick’ which feels more about the sheer space than any discernible melody. Here the focus appears to be on the sound’s geography than its emotional impact. For this reason it remains utterly fascinating as do the very minor, barely perceivable flourishes. In the closer ‘Farewell, Brother’ the song has a rather nostalgic hue to it as it recedes into the sunset. 

                These are quiet, thoughtful tracks. Each one builds off the other. Altogether they form a unified whole of sound.

PJE – Permanent Memory 7.3



                Permanent Memory is sad blurriness. There are things going on just at the verge of comprehensibility. Little voices, samples, burr in and out of the meditative drones. With all these samples left unclear it leads to a neurotic urban sense of mind. Sure people are speaking all around us but we process it as a collective mush. Much of this album reflects that same experience. An overall melody guides each one. 

                ‘Calligraphy’ barely touches on the usage of field recordings staying completely alone and sad. On the other side of this is ‘Delphi’ which uses the noises as a form of unsteady rhythm. ‘Hilbre Island’ almost reaches a level of happiness halfway through. It longs for a happier tone and PJE appears to reach for it yet ultimately miss. The tension in this piece makes it particularly memorable. By the end the mood almost appears to shift. ‘Promenade’ is nearly calm in nature. ‘One Summer’ is pure calm. Here is where PJE explores a different aspect in his music. Yes the static samples remain yet there is clarity here. The usage of gentler tones makes it feel like waking up in the morning. 

Disembodiment in urban life is rarely articulated this well. PJE understands the simultaneous togetherness and loneliness of living in a city. These nine pieces attest to it. Simply play them loud and walk around. You’ll be amazed at how much be defines the aural concept of the modern city.

PJE – Permanent Memory 7.3

                Permanent Memory is sad blurriness. There are things going on just at the verge of comprehensibility. Little voices, samples, burr in and out of the meditative drones. With all these samples left unclear it leads to a neurotic urban sense of mind. Sure people are speaking all around us but we process it as a collective mush. Much of this album reflects that same experience. An overall melody guides each one. 

                ‘Calligraphy’ barely touches on the usage of field recordings staying completely alone and sad. On the other side of this is ‘Delphi’ which uses the noises as a form of unsteady rhythm. ‘Hilbre Island’ almost reaches a level of happiness halfway through. It longs for a happier tone and PJE appears to reach for it yet ultimately miss. The tension in this piece makes it particularly memorable. By the end the mood almost appears to shift. ‘Promenade’ is nearly calm in nature. ‘One Summer’ is pure calm. Here is where PJE explores a different aspect in his music. Yes the static samples remain yet there is clarity here. The usage of gentler tones makes it feel like waking up in the morning. 

Disembodiment in urban life is rarely articulated this well. PJE understands the simultaneous togetherness and loneliness of living in a city. These nine pieces attest to it. Simply play them loud and walk around. You’ll be amazed at how much be defines the aural concept of the modern city.



Saåad – Confluences 8.0






                ‘Confluences’ is made up of two parts: the unnatural and natural. Separating the two is easy enough. What makes this so nice is there is the modified, edited version (including guitar, drone, and treatment) alongside the original track. Thus one can hear the track inspired alongside the inspiration. Honestly they are both very well done and well edited. A few times it can become quite difficult to tell the difference between the two separate versions. Saåad does a good job of making their edited (guitar-laden) version sound surprisingly lifelike. Whereas the field recording is unusually crisp, almost touchable in its tactile sense. 

                For the beginning and title track ‘Confluences’ guitars are layered. The first half of the track is dedicated to mapping out the various tones. Little is done in terms of movement. What is the stunning part of the track occurs after the halfway mark. Tonal changes become far more noticeable as the track’s angelic sound turns to gloom. Here is where it gets interesting as the lower registers make themselves felt to the average listener. Overall the sound is quite intense. In the ‘unedited cut’ Spiritual Dissolution one hears exactly why such a shift was necessary. Despite it being only a field recording clip it comes off as being rather heavy, almost drone-like in nature due to the enormity of sound. 

                This is a deeply, deeply immersive listen. Over the course of the two songs there is no deviation from the mood. This may be one of the most consistent and thoughtful approaches to field recordings.

Saåad – Confluences 8.0

                Confluences’ is made up of two parts: the unnatural and natural. Separating the two is easy enough. What makes this so nice is there is the modified, edited version (including guitar, drone, and treatment) alongside the original track. Thus one can hear the track inspired alongside the inspiration. Honestly they are both very well done and well edited. A few times it can become quite difficult to tell the difference between the two separate versions. Saåad does a good job of making their edited (guitar-laden) version sound surprisingly lifelike. Whereas the field recording is unusually crisp, almost touchable in its tactile sense. 

                For the beginning and title track ‘Confluences’ guitars are layered. The first half of the track is dedicated to mapping out the various tones. Little is done in terms of movement. What is the stunning part of the track occurs after the halfway mark. Tonal changes become far more noticeable as the track’s angelic sound turns to gloom. Here is where it gets interesting as the lower registers make themselves felt to the average listener. Overall the sound is quite intense. In the ‘unedited cut’ Spiritual Dissolution one hears exactly why such a shift was necessary. Despite it being only a field recording clip it comes off as being rather heavy, almost drone-like in nature due to the enormity of sound. 

                This is a deeply, deeply immersive listen. Over the course of the two songs there is no deviation from the mood. This may be one of the most consistent and thoughtful approaches to field recordings.

Nova Scotian Arms - Cult Spectrum 7.3

              Nova Scotian Arms is a swirl of music. Throughout all of ‘Cult Spectrum’ the listener gets the sense of some enormous, unknowable space. It is impossible to fully grasp. Part of this is due to the mixture of loops with radio interference, a method perfected by Tim Hecker many years ago. Yet while Tim Hecker can often sound rather detached from his recordings, Nova Scotian Arms stays in the middle of things. The melodies are clear, beautiful, and affecting on a deeply emotional level. 

                Grant Evans lets each piece feedback off the last. We begin with ‘Gathering/Composition’ which takes a slow approach. It begins off sounding quite thin before the sound heads towards the low end halfway through the piece. ‘Overcast Strumming (1st delay)’ is the calmest piece. This piece is completely confident in its evolution. Whereas the previous piece was obsessed with a buildup, this one is more concerned with offering a calming environment. 

                The real stunner in the album is the 16-minute long ‘Emulsion’. It has a full circle worth of emotions, from hesitant to dramatic to eventual resolution. Employing such a circular way of doing things allows for the listener to get a narrative without having to hear a single word uttered, just the way I like it. 

                 All of the pieces employ calm. There is no ‘difficult’ part of the album. What’s interesting is how many different techniques Grant employs on the album: from radio signals in the beginning piece to the acoustic guitar on ‘Emulsion’. I enjoyed how relaxing the entire thing was. I also enjoyed the sense of accomplishment at the end of each one, how each one avoided a typical ‘buildup’ and flowed organically. Nova Scotian Arms soothes the soul.

Yann Novak – Presence 7.3

               Yann Novak creates  a quiet, meditative environment for his drones, crackles, and snaps.  I’m reminded of nature, of the sound of walking through the city late at  night. Often when it is snowing I walk outside with my headphones on  since I’m too cheap to buy proper earmuffs. The beginning of ‘Presence’  gives me the same aural sensation, of tiny particles traveling great  distances for small purposes. 

                ‘Presence’  develops this small crackle at a slow, steady pace. Spreading out over  forty-eight minutes, it takes a great deal of time to build up. At times  Yann Novak recalls the best of L-NE’s near-silent masterpieces,  particularly from the forty minute mark onward. From that point forward,  Yann moves the sound into a comforting tone. You forget the glacially  cold tones of the previous minutes and are brought into its warmth. 

                That’s  the album’s greatest virtue. Yann creates an emotional heart to these  tones. ‘Presence’ creates an aural environment based off of emotional  stimuli rather than a clinical study of sound. By the end you realize  exactly why Yann structured the piece the way he did. It was the only  way it would make sense on an emotional level. For while we often enjoy  living in such loud, hectic environments, there’s something to be said  for a good time by oneself, meditating over the day’s events. 

                Listen  to ‘Presence’. Think about your day. Don’t say a word. Get immersed in  the wonderful comforting silence of your surroundings.

Yann Novak – Presence 7.3

               Yann Novak creates a quiet, meditative environment for his drones, crackles, and snaps. I’m reminded of nature, of the sound of walking through the city late at night. Often when it is snowing I walk outside with my headphones on since I’m too cheap to buy proper earmuffs. The beginning of ‘Presence’ gives me the same aural sensation, of tiny particles traveling great distances for small purposes. 

                ‘Presence’ develops this small crackle at a slow, steady pace. Spreading out over forty-eight minutes, it takes a great deal of time to build up. At times Yann Novak recalls the best of L-NE’s near-silent masterpieces, particularly from the forty minute mark onward. From that point forward, Yann moves the sound into a comforting tone. You forget the glacially cold tones of the previous minutes and are brought into its warmth. 

                That’s the album’s greatest virtue. Yann creates an emotional heart to these tones. ‘Presence’ creates an aural environment based off of emotional stimuli rather than a clinical study of sound. By the end you realize exactly why Yann structured the piece the way he did. It was the only way it would make sense on an emotional level. For while we often enjoy living in such loud, hectic environments, there’s something to be said for a good time by oneself, meditating over the day’s events. 

                Listen to ‘Presence’. Think about your day. Don’t say a word. Get immersed in the wonderful comforting silence of your surroundings.

Pleq/Lauki – The Gravity Lens 7.5


                I’ve heard Pleq in many different formats. This one, “The Gravity Lens” may be one of my personal favorites from him. Usually Pleq deals with classical in a rather playful manner, oftentimes through glitching, minor effects, and so forth. On “The Gravity Lens” Pleq and Lauki create an environment which teems with life and sounds like nothing else Pleq’s done before. 

                Twenty minutes float by in nebulous clouds of drone. Different elements of drone can be explored, from classically based (Pleq’s forte) to near-noise assault. Some movements get a bit aggressive, surprisingly so, particularly around the halfway mark. I’ve never actually heard any Pleq-related project get this intense, but I welcome it. Perhaps it is Lauki (his partner in crime) who is responsible for this harsher sound. Even at the most intense level Pleq’s classical construction lingers underneath, giving the section a particularly powerful feel. 

                Classical elements do appear within the piece, over and over again. Rather than being the focus point they are merely a structure for the piece as a whole. Piano comes into view occasionally to offer some respite from the heavier sounds. I think the drones and classical structure work well together. Don’t think Stars of the Lid think more along the lines of Tim Hecker’s gauzy sounds. 

                “The Gravity Lens” did everything a good drone record should do: it has structure, builds, and varying levels of intensity. Pleq and Lauki create quite an experience.

Pleq/Lauki – The Gravity Lens 7.5

                I’ve heard Pleq in many different formats. This one, “The Gravity Lens” may be one of my personal favorites from him. Usually Pleq deals with classical in a rather playful manner, oftentimes through glitching, minor effects, and so forth. On “The Gravity Lens” Pleq and Lauki create an environment which teems with life and sounds like nothing else Pleq’s done before. 

                Twenty minutes float by in nebulous clouds of drone. Different elements of drone can be explored, from classically based (Pleq’s forte) to near-noise assault. Some movements get a bit aggressive, surprisingly so, particularly around the halfway mark. I’ve never actually heard any Pleq-related project get this intense, but I welcome it. Perhaps it is Lauki (his partner in crime) who is responsible for this harsher sound. Even at the most intense level Pleq’s classical construction lingers underneath, giving the section a particularly powerful feel. 

                Classical elements do appear within the piece, over and over again. Rather than being the focus point they are merely a structure for the piece as a whole. Piano comes into view occasionally to offer some respite from the heavier sounds. I think the drones and classical structure work well together. Don’t think Stars of the Lid think more along the lines of Tim Hecker’s gauzy sounds. 

                “The Gravity Lens” did everything a good drone record should do: it has structure, builds, and varying levels of intensity. Pleq and Lauki create quite an experience.

Kyle Bobby Dunn – Ways of Meaning 8.5

                “Ways of Meaning”  may be Kyle Bobby Dunn’s springtime album. His last work “A Young  Person’s Guide To” felt glacial compared to this work. I like both, but  the shorter length and louder volume makes it a bit easier to  immediately enjoy. Volume is a relative thing in Kyle’s world. Things  never get too loud; his focus on silence is greatly appreciated. 

                How  he unfurls his work is great. My childhood was spent listening to  various classical pieces, especially slow ones. In church I’d hear the  organist play to let us know when to be seated and when peace was upon  us. “Statuit” gives me that same warm feeling I got from shaking  everyone’s hand after saying “Peace be with you and also with you”.  There’s sweetness in the piece, a patience which I don’t often  encounter, even within the slow-moving world of drone. 

                This  is still quiet music despite the slight increase in loudness. “Canyon  Meadows” is the loudest piece on here. I figure it is to give a sense of  largeness to the record. When I listened to this, I was watching the  shadows grow as the day ended. Perhaps this might be the best way to  listen to the song, I’m not sure. 

                “Movement  For the Completely Fucked” is the longest track on here, and probably  the jewel of the album. The title itself reminds me of Stars of the  Lid’s tendency to use jarring titles for their calming pieces. Fifteen  minutes go by so blissfully. I think this may be my favorite piece on  the album. 

                All  of Kyle’s work revolves around patience and longevity. Considering he’s  been making music for almost 10 years, that’s pretty impressive. It’s  doubly impressive he’s only in his early twenties and has already built  up such a large body of work. “Ways of Meaning” may be my favorite  release from him so far, so sunny and full of hope.

Kyle Bobby Dunn – Ways of Meaning 8.5

                “Ways of Meaning” may be Kyle Bobby Dunn’s springtime album. His last work “A Young Person’s Guide To” felt glacial compared to this work. I like both, but the shorter length and louder volume makes it a bit easier to immediately enjoy. Volume is a relative thing in Kyle’s world. Things never get too loud; his focus on silence is greatly appreciated. 

                How he unfurls his work is great. My childhood was spent listening to various classical pieces, especially slow ones. In church I’d hear the organist play to let us know when to be seated and when peace was upon us. “Statuit” gives me that same warm feeling I got from shaking everyone’s hand after saying “Peace be with you and also with you”. There’s sweetness in the piece, a patience which I don’t often encounter, even within the slow-moving world of drone. 

                This is still quiet music despite the slight increase in loudness. “Canyon Meadows” is the loudest piece on here. I figure it is to give a sense of largeness to the record. When I listened to this, I was watching the shadows grow as the day ended. Perhaps this might be the best way to listen to the song, I’m not sure. 

                “Movement For the Completely Fucked” is the longest track on here, and probably the jewel of the album. The title itself reminds me of Stars of the Lid’s tendency to use jarring titles for their calming pieces. Fifteen minutes go by so blissfully. I think this may be my favorite piece on the album. 

                All of Kyle’s work revolves around patience and longevity. Considering he’s been making music for almost 10 years, that’s pretty impressive. It’s doubly impressive he’s only in his early twenties and has already built up such a large body of work. “Ways of Meaning” may be my favorite release from him so far, so sunny and full of hope.

Kyle Bobby Dunn – A Young Person’s Guide To 8.4

   A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is what I’m thinking the title references. Since there are so many different instruments being used for the recording, this interpretation might make the most sense. Picking out any instrument (besides the piano, which is pretty distinguishable) can be somewhat difficult, as the sounds are blurred together to create comforting, floating drones.

                There are drones, two hours’ worth of the stuff. Personally, I enjoy it when the artist takes a longer format approach, particularly for the’ lose-yourself-in-it’ stuff like what this offers. Over the course of the two hours, you’re treated to the warmest of drones. How these drones move forward is pretty amazing, he has a certain method to how each piece unfolds so graciously. In fact, picking out a specific movement or dramatic change is impossible, think of watching the clouds float by on a bright sunny day. 

                “Butel” starts off the two-disc set in positively massive fashion: a 17-minute piece where things build up so discretely (even once compared to the other pieces). Immediately you can feel its warmth, and its fragile state. It never gets loud or overwhelming, but slowly gains your attention. “There Is No End To Your Beauty” has a delightful ebb and flow of sound as if it were almost sentient. After this you get “Promenade” which brings up images of Stephan Mathieu’s drone work, it is simply so bright and airy. 

                Disc Two offers its own highlights. “Last Minute Jest” and “Set of Four (Its Meaning Is Deeper Than Its Title Implies)” are gorgeous piano pieces. “The Nightjar” ends things off with a quiet sample repeating ‘looking at yourself’. 

                Maybe there’s something about geography which influences the music one makes. Stars of the Lid had the vast Texas expanse; Kyle grew up in Alberta, pretty similar to Texas’s levels of open space and emptiness. It is always reassuring to have releases this massive, with so much good music to absorb. Personally, I tend to enjoy long-length works when they’re done properly, and Kyle knows exactly the sort of mood he wants.

                Once the music ended, I felt happy. Somehow this music just brightens my day, gives me a more optimistic feel. Think of it as music to comfort you in long winter nights, to have these drones combine with the creaking of your building, of the subtle choir of radiators going off. I absolutely adored this.