Albums Features

Weirdo Rippers #2

Featuring Stuart Cook, Gvantsa Narim, Christina Vantzou, Shit and Shine and more.

While perhaps considered a short turnaround from our inaugural Weirdo Rippers feature, in truth there are just too many releases in this cavernous creative landscape that are not only good, but also, it would be completely negligent of us to turn a blind eye.

Over the past couple of years, new releases at this time of year have been coming thicker and faster than usual. There are many factors at play in this drastic shift in trend, not least the current vinyl crisis and the queuing times at the production plants.

Perhaps it’s an issue we should explore at a further date, however these days it feels like November (and even December) are heavier than January, and early February for new releases.

In any case, the past two weeks has seen some gems emerge, including the latest release from Kenneth James Gibson, who we were fortunate enough to speak to last week. Following on, and here are six releases that we’ve hand-picked and believe that you, dear reader, need in your life.

Weirdo Rippers #1

Blanket Swimming: A Quiet Vision
Cruel Nature Records

Where artists that capture meditation within the ambient framework are concerned, it’s hard to go past Nicholas Maloney’s Blanket Swimming project. The Tennessee producer is one of the constant voices in experimental new music, releasing something every month and steadily building up a cult following with it.

With A Quiet Vision, Maloney’s latest piece to drop via Newcastle-based label Cruel Nature Records, we are met with three compositions that are akin to a gushing waterfall. Gentle cascades that take you into a capsule beyond this world.

That unobtrusive, early morning ambient record that hits in the right places? Well, it may just be right here, and while there are many similar records dotted around the new music sphere, perhaps none land better than A Quiet Vision.

Purchase from Bandcamp

Stuart Cook: Mistook Play for Play
Waxing Crescent Records

Following last year’s fantastic Piano at 51​°​40’49​​​.​​​6″N 2​°​14’09​​​.​​​2″W which sneaked into our Top 50 records of the year, Bristol producer Stuart Cook returns with Mistook Play for Play.

With the title a rework of a line from David Harsent’s A Dream Book, Mistook Play for Play’s track titles are all ‘forms of play’, taken from French sociologist, Roger Cailkois’ 1961 book, Man, Play and Games.

Oscillating between the kind of soundtrack-inspired drone that ushers in the monolith, Cook is clearly having fun throughout these compositions. On the fantastic opening track, Mimesis, the searing walls of noise suddenly taper off into the kind of fractured piano composition played across some far away lonely orbit.

And from here, there’s machine-inspired video game muzak, and the deconstruction of post-punk (Ilinx). No stone is left unturned on Mistook Play for Play, and if it wasn’t already confirmed then it should be now: Cook is a world builder. Not only that, but he’s one of the most unique voices in the U.K. experimental scene as well.

Purchase from Bandcamp

Gvantsa Narim: Gvantsa
Cruel Nature Records

Hailing from Tbilisi, Georgia, experimentalist Gvantsa Narim has been making music for almost 10 years now.

Written between 2018 and 2022, Narim’s second album, Gvantsa, is the medicine we all need. A multi-faceted journey where Narim expertly weaves ambient composition within the warm aspects of sound design, the result is peaceful splendour, whether it be for night time solitude, mediation, or just aimlessly walking through green open fields.

All told, Narim produces the kind of drones that sneak up on you in your dreams, and while inspired be religion, esotericism and Georgian polyphonic music, Gvantsa has so many hidden elements to it, not only does it stretch the mind, but possibilities, too.

Purchase from Bandcamp

Droneroom Interview: “I prefer it if someone else tells me what they hear and see”

Shit and Shine: New Confusion
Rocket Recordings 

Scouring through the Bandcamp comments to Shit and Shine’s latest offering, New Confusion, and one comment stuck out the most. “This man’s entire catalogue is absolutely ferocious. Own it all or die. End of,” boasts DJ Out-Regis. It’s true, as the Texas wrecking ball that is Craig Clouse has spent years penetrating the mind with a slew of albums, EPs and odds and ends.   

New Confusion arrives on Rocket Recordings, and is yet another release filled with the kind of outlaw madness Clouse has spent years delivering. Think of that moment when you’re trying to tune into radio station. The idea of that very station is one thing, but actually getting there is the most fun part. That’s what listening to a Shit and Shine record is like and New Confusion reaches the height of this absurdity.

With filmic mirages, gooey psychedelia and the green haze of dub all peaking through the cracks, New Confusion is the kind of come down record ones needs after listening to ’Shine’s label mates, Bonnacons of Doom. Absolute chaos etched to tape, really.

Purchase from Bandcamp

Christina Vantzou: No. 5

Belgium film composer, Christina Vantzou, returns with her fifth LP, No. 5 via Chicago stalwarts Kranky.   

Referring to No. 5 as “almost like a first album”, Vantzou relocated to the Cycladic island of Ano Koufonisi and you can feel the solitude within these recordings. While minimal piano and a string-based thread runs through No. 5, the power of the field recording really shines through, with environmental-based sounds being captured and etched to tape.

In many ways it draws comparison to Raum’s Daughter; however like all field recordings, they are unique, and Vantzous incorporates the sounds of ocean ripples and forest walks into these 11 compositions, resulting in an album seemingly dispatched by a ghost.

Mixing sounds of the past with sounds of the present, together Vantzou captures something oddly futuristic, almost like compositions that could have found their way onto Westworld.

Purchase from Bandcamp

Elrond: Chrysalis: Music for Convalesce
Music for a Nightmare

Elrond is Ian Gorman Weiland and Vern Avola, and the duo return with their ninth release, Chrysalis: Music For Convalescence.

Said to be inspired by healing from physical and emotional trauma, the Portland experimentalists create glittery sci-fi-inspired soundscapes conceived from the abyss. This is music for big sound systems. As far as the dance floor goes? Lock the doors, because – while club-size bass weight is essential – so is listening to this in solitude.

It’s journey-tronica, as Elrond go down the paths of maximalism but execute it at half-speed. While it may not be a go-to at all times, Chrysalis: Music For Convalescence is a release that unties those knots in the mind that we all get from time to time. Elrond are available and at your service.

Purchase from Bandcamp

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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