2023 is shaping up to be an exceptional year for new music. Comparing it to last January (which was like scouring the bottom of the ocean for scraps as the post-COVID hangover was prevalent) is a total contrast.
The number of fine new releases over the past five weeks has left us scrambling to find the appropriate time to listen, assess, and give voice to those artists who deserve some recognition. So far, the likes of Winterwood and The Spectral Light have featured throughout these pages, as well as a taster for Blake Conley’s new project, Rabbit Hash, which we will elaborate more on next week.
No doubt there will be more in the coming weeks as we continue to sift through our ever-growing inbox. We’re not complaining, though. Gold rushes are always welcome, and so far this year, that’s what it feels like.
That’s why our Weirdo Rippers is fast becoming one of our most vital features on Sun 13. Our first for 2023, personally it has quickly become my favourite feature, giving opportunity to unearth those left-field artistic voices that are perhaps not heard elsewhere. And while we may not get to cover every single submission we receive, a feature like this gives us a better chance to do so.
Here is a taste of what has piqued the interests over last five weeks across the experimental landscape.
All The Heavens Were A Bell: A Wheel of Burning Eyes
Cruel Nature Records
All The Heavens Were A Bell is the collaboration between Panurus Production label founder, James Watts (also of Plague Rider, Friend, Lovely Wife, Lump Hammer, Dybbuk, Möbius), and Esmé Louise Newman (Penance Stare, Petrine Cross, Fashion Tips, 1727).
The pair’s second surge into the abyss sees us meeting sonic fury head on with A Wheel of Burning Eyes. With meaty riffs and bowel-twitching feedback, All The Heavens Were A Bell produce the kind of furnace-like heat that warms the pits of hell. Yes, this is Satan’s soundtrack and a mighty fine one at that.
Unlike other records in this sinister space, however, there’s a transcendental quality to A Wheel of Burning Eyes. A fierce offering, of course, and for those on a Sunn O))) binge, this should be in the queue, because these are the kind of compositions that will reach the same corners of the mind.
Droneroom: The Most Gorgeous Sleep
Droneroom’s Blake Conley has been one of the greatest finds since starting Sun 13, and following his two excellent 2022 releases, the country-tinged drone of Whatever Truthful Understanding (which featured in our Top 50 Albums of 2022), and the improv’ freak-out of Easy Payday, Conley drew the curtain on 2022 with the equally wonderful The Most Gorgeous Sleep via Australian label, Ramble Records.
Far removed from the rest of his 2022 output, The Most Gorgeous Sleep is filled with blissful atmospherics that slowly seep into the pores.
Coming in at under 50 minutes with five long-form compositions, The Most Gorgeous Sleep comprises of soundscapes that form the bedrock to your fever dreams. It’s yet another string to bow of the Certified Kentucky Colonel.
Ghostwoods: My Neon
This week marks the release of James Lees’ latest LP under the Ghostwoods moniker, My Neon.
The Queensland composer first came to our attention last year with the lead single from the LP, Terminal Bliss. Sounding very much likes it title, My Neon operates in the similar realms of noir, taking it us to cinematic and, at times, hymnal levels.
Backed by Mark Angel (guitar), Karl O’shea (bass), Andrew Garton (saxophone, clarinet, flute), James Halloran (keys, synths) and Rohan Seekers (keys, synths), My Neon is an album full of twists, turns, and sharp reflections. Right now, there aren’t too many artists in Australia that sound like Ghostwoods. A national treasure from the experimental landscape, with My Neon, Lees produces something very accomplished indeed.
Herbert / Summerlin: Relocations
Wrong Speed Records
2022 was some year for Wrong Speed Records and label co-founder, Chris Summerlin. The Hey Colossus guitarist was involved in one 2022’s finest album in Haress’ Ghosts, and on the final day of the year, he teamed up with underground experimentalist, Chris Herbert for Relocations.
So good, Relocations probably would have made our Top 50 Albums of the 2022 alongside a swathe of other Wrong Speed releases. Here, Herbert and Summerlin carve out a series of brooding nightscapes that we are used to hearing from the likes of Labradford’s Mark Nelson and Lawrence English, exchanging the kind of ideas that have been at the summit of ambient music over the past three decades.
That’s how good Relocations is. From front to back, it’s a release that pulls you into the vortex. Once there, you release that there’s probably no better place to be.
Kali Malone (featuring Stephen O’Malley and Lucy Railton): Does Spring Hide Its Joy
Following the release of last year’s LP, Living Torch, Swedish composer Kali Malone marks a swift return with the deep listening epic, Does Spring Hide Its Joy.
Alongside Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley on guitar and German cellist Lucy Railton, Malone unfurls a three-hour journey that is firmly ensconced in the meditative state. This is deep listening beyond the long-form world of LaMont Young and Steve Reich, and while perhaps hard to digest in one sitting, dipping in and out of Malone’s compositions are where the best results are found.
Carefully sculptured and as quiet as grave site, O’Malley and Railton’s inclusion is vital. The former injecting the kind of meditative psychedelia which inspired Sunn O)))’s Metta, Benevolence…, while Railton’s strings form the backbone to Does Spring Hide Its Joy – an album that will come on stronger as the year plays out.
Neutraliser: Capsule Bowed Space
Cruel Nature Records
Following their debut collaboration as Neutraliser with last year self-titled LP, U.K. underground staples, Charlie Burler and Mike Vest reconvene for yet another dose of splintered drones and ball-tearing fuzz with Capsule Bowed Space.
Once again Butler and Vest whip up the sort of sonic maelstrom that will have the beardos crying into their pint glasses.
One track at a tick under 80 minutes, Capsule Bowed Space is a protracted space-rock odyssey orbiting the realms drone. If Bonnacons of Doom ever chose to play in the fields of long-form hysteria, then it may just sound something like Butler and Vest have conjured up here. No doubt the first of fine many releases from both artists this year, and the kind of sounds that suddenly make a shit day turn to gold.