With February almost at its end, 2023 is in full-swing. From a personal point of view, the last two months have been somewhat of a contrast, with the last Weirdo Rippers communiqué being penned from the sweltering climes of a rural Australian summer; now reality is back, with this latest dispatch from the ire of U.K.’s winter. Suffice to say, so far 2023 has been interesting.
Thankfully, there has been plenty of new music to keep us all well and truly occupied – around these parts, the inbox is pretty much beyond the critical point, and judging by the vast array of fine releases so far this year, it’s shaping up to be one of the best for some time.
And the big hitters keep on coming, with plenty of notable releases set to drop in the next month, including Australian heavyweights, The Necks, and experimental pioneers, Primitive Motion. There are probably more, too, of course, however (for the sake of sanity), at this point, we are doing our best not to look too far ahead.
Which brings us to right now, and what has been dominating the decks over the past three weeks. Like always, we hope you enjoy and discover something new.
Alaskan Tapes: Who Tends A Garden
Nettwerk Music Group Inc.
Alaskan Tapes is Canadian composer, Brady Kendall. Having built up a steady body of work since the 2016 LP, We All Speak in Poems, Kendall returned in January with Who Tends A Garden.
Inspired the 1935 book of poems and essays from Louise Seymour Jones, with Who Tends A Garden, Kendall has arguably delivered the first great ambient record of 2023. Nine tracks at 42 minutes, Who Tends A Garden consists of wonderful piano-led compositions which crackle with a lo-fi cadence.
Who Tends A Garden is all about simplicity and space. Great results can be found, either as background muzak or in a deep listening sense with the aid of headphones. Fans of loscil will especially be taken with this release: a must for the collection, filling in so many gaps in the process.
Austin Cash: Judsonia
Cruel Nature Records
Inspired by wide open spaces and the beauty of locality, Fayetteville Arkansas artist, Austin Cash, creates sweltering soundscapes that stitch together nostalgia.
On his latest album, Judsonia, sonically Cash’s compositions echo the sentiments of Blake Conley’s Droneroom project. With a series of field recordings, voiceovers and humid dreamscapes, Cash creates the kind of sound world that somehow has the ability to dissolve your troubles.
In all its earthiness and subtle grandeur, Judsonia really is a gorgeous listen, as Cash takes Americana to the world’s darkest corners, twisting and weaving the genre in bold new ways. It’s a journey that doesn’t disappoint.
Ekin Fil: Rosewood Untitled
New music is never far away where Istanbul producer Ekin Üzeltüzenci, better known to us as Ekin Fil, is concerned. Here, she makes her re:st debut with Rosewood Untitled.
With hushed keys and eerie nightscapes, Rosewood Untitled is inspired by a spectre drifting through cold dark rooms. In truth, this is Ekin Fil’s natural habitat; for years she has extracted so much from these spaces, and on Rosewood Untitled she may have created her most telling account yet.
Deep listening etched in cinematic snapshots designed for solitude and pitch black rooms, in the space of folk-inspired ambient composition, perhaps there’s no better companion than Ekin Fil. And in particular, Rosewood Untitled.
John Haughey: Perigean Tide
Waxing Crescent Records
One of two records released last year via the brilliant Waxing Crescent Records, Northern Irish producer, John Haughey, is an artistic marvel. With Perigean Tide, he creates fucking gold dust.
Throughout these pages we might have mentioned electronic music’s lean year in 2022. That was before we held an ear to this or the preceding Dispersion of Light (retrospective apologies there).
On Perigean Tide, Haughey unleashes an array of luscious textures via dark compositions that function between tense and euphoric. Only the standout producers can extract these range of motions from their listenership, and Haughey delivers in spates. Whether it’s through the winter streets of Berlin or during the summer in open fields, Haughey creations have quickly emerged as a must listen.
Landing: Subscription Series Collection 02
One of the most underappreciated acts of the last three decades, Landing are more than just dispensers of dream-pop splendour.
Their catalogue of experimental releases is just as vital, and their Bandcamp exclusive subscription series is a perfect representation of that. For those unaware of the sheer potency of this band, this collection isn’t the worst place to start in getting acquainted.
Released in December last year, on Collection 02 the Connecticut outfit deliver two long-form pieces of ambient, drone-inspired bliss, harnessing dread and otherworldly delight in equal measure. Although these emotions may be at opposite ends of the spectrum, the amalgamation works a treat. It’s drone for sun-drenched spaces, and no one does it better than Landing.
Adela Mede: Szabadság
Night School Records
A product of London’s Goldsmiths, on her debut LP, Szabadság, Slovak-Hungarian artist Adela Mede presents some of the most unique snapshots so far in 2023.
With two tracks co-produced by Andrew PM Hunt (Dialect, Land Trance, Ex-Easter Island Hand), Szabadság, which was recorded in Mede’s family home on the Slovakian border with Hungary, is a melting pot of forward-thinking ideas.
With field recordings, abstract instrumentation and skewed melodies sung in Slovak, Hungarian and English, Adela Mede presents pop music from another planet. Closing in at under 25 minutes, Szabadság is a record that breaks down boundaries. From electronica to metal and even pop, with Szabadság Mede will galvanise listeners from all corners.
Mike Vest Interview: “It’s great to see albums form over time”
Marlene Ribeiro: Toquei no Sol
Former bassist of Manchester agitators GNOD, Marlene Ribeiro’s first LP under her own name is off-kilter psychedelia from the dream-state.
Toquei no Sol captures locality and nostalgia in otherworldly ways. With recordings conceived in Ireland, Wales, Portugal, Madeira and Salford, this journey veers off down unexpected paths. Twisting rural psychadelia with krautrock designed for a come down, it makes for a uniquely tasting broth indeed.
Something oddly transcendental, positively frayed and undoubtedly earthy, Toquei no Sol is one of those records that will drift in and out of your thoughts for the rest of the year and beyond.
Where Winterwood is concerned, we don’t need too much convincing around these parts. Following the December release of the excellent Wind Music, Zac and Holly Winterwood return in 2023 with Harakeke.
Suffice to say, it’s another hit. A single composition coming in at just over 26 minutes, while maintaining a similar vibe to Wind Music, Winterwood use different methods to get there. In all its spatial bliss, with organs, flute and violin, should The Caretaker ever emerge from the depths of nostalgia, this is the kind of composition you’d expect him to produce.
In any case, Harakeke is another slice of splendour from the New Zealand-based husband and wife duo, who together are quickly proving to be one of the most vital voices in experimental music’s underground.
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