There is something about the works of both William Basinski and Lawrence English that incites a lust for exploration. Basinski and English are both massive figureheads in the ambient/avant-garde music genre, neither of which are strangers to collaboration. Basinski is likely most recognized for his sprawling multi-faceted Disintegration Loops which, in a nine lp box set, runs for over 600 dollars on Discogs. Basinski has a wealth of other emotionally and mentally stimulating albums such as Melancholia, released in 2003. Lawrence English is an Australian ambient artist known best for his 2009 album A Colour for Autumn. English has worked with various artists including Fennesz, Grouper and even Xiu Xiu. English is responsible for the experimental music label Room 40, which houses various artists including some Tim Hecker releases. Basinski and English have come together to create Selva Oscura, released on October 12th, 2018.
“Selva Oscura” translates roughly to “Twilight Forest”; the album is perfect for any hiking through the woods this fall. The first collaboration between these two feels like an exploration into hollow and decaying spaces in nature: a marriage between cold man-made stone structures and the golden-brown descent of autumnal changes. The album combines sounds of isolating drones with pulses of life interspersed throughout. “Selva Oscura 1.2” feels as if you are traversing through a tunnel deep within the woods. Rhythmic Industrial clanking and movement pierces “Selva Oscura 1.2”, portraying imagery of rusted and abandoned machinery found lingering in a hidden place. Quiet signs of life shimmer through the drone on both “Selva Oscura 1.2” and “Selva Oscura 1.3” testifying to the final stand of nature before the Winter comes. The album exudes a feeling of curiosity, of being in an unfamiliar place and discovering something that has been left behind a long time ago. The album is a perfect ambient expression of Fall; it is lonely, dreary and endlessly echoing yet wonderfully beautiful. Fall, and this album itself are a tragically beautiful “Memento Mori”: A reminder that all things collapse eventually to time. Selva Oscura however, reminds us that this loss is what makes life beautiful in the first place, and that even the twisted nature of loss can be beautiful just as autumn forests drenched in twilight manage to evoke such emotion from us.
The first four tracks of the album, “Mono No Aware 1.1” through “Mono No Aware 1.4” lowers us into the forest with brighter sounds, and more frequent melodies. “Mono no aware” roughly means “an empathy for things” which relates to the melancholy feelings people often have during the transition from Fall into Winter. Selva Oscura as an album represents an empathy toward the slow falling of leaves and coldness of air. The album manages to find a level of warmth on top of the howling winds, providing mental images of being wrapped in a coat and hat to combat the stinging air. The “Mono No Aware” half of this album is certainly the brighter side, representing an initial entrance into Fall or one’s first step in an unknown collage of trees. Sounds reminiscent of a train bobbing along in the distance graces “Mono No Aware 1.3” bringing the idea of nature and machinery together. The albums feels like a testament to the duality of that which is natural and that which is created; as both fall apart just the same. Nature, however, always rebounds and even at the peak of Summer, wind will still blow through the various lifeless and forgotten metal structures that have been reclaimed and engulfed by trees and grass.
Overall Selva Oscura manages to be a beautifully comfortable reminder of our mortality, just as Fall. Hopefully, the existential comparison of natural cycles to the futility of our time on Earth does not unnerve the reader/listener; if it does, take comfort in knowing Halloween is just around the corner where artificial scares and vast amounts of candy can help us cope. Selva Oscura is great for getting comfy with a warm mug of tea, or for walking through your local forest.
February was quite an exciting month for music releases, including a few full-length albums, and a handful of singles from some of our favorites.
The first, must-listen album goes toBlack Panther: The Album, released by Kendrick Lamar and features various other artists. As advertised, it includes music from and inspired by the film, which is currently selling out theaters nationwide. The collection of artists who collaborated on this album is impressive, so give it a listen if you haven’t already.
The next albums worthy of mention are Car Seat Headrest’s remaster of Twin Fantasy, along with Hovvdy’s Cranberry. Both were highly anticipated albums by a few of our DJs, who have been long-time fans of the bands. On a personal note, Triathalon (one of my old favorites) just released Online.
At just 18, Norwegian-native Boy Pablo has already released 3 singles and a 6 track EP. He is joined on stage by his best friends and is currently touring around Europe. His latest release, Roy Pablo, was released this past May and quickly gained attention among the dreampop community, being compared to acts like Mild High Club and Banes World.
Check out the EP below:
(recommended tracks: everytime, ur phone, ready / problems)
Toughest month to pick so far, and that’s why an album I haven’t even played on cdb yet is the pick(though that’s mainly blamed on me not having a show for the past few weeks). The band has made it’s name based on it’s live performances, and their debut album has captured a lot of their energy and displayed it well. Strong southern roots in the music and the singer’s wonderfully powerful voice makes this album flow well from start to finish, and that’s enough to make it the best new album I heard in April
Oberhofer’s a band from Brooklyn that got named after it’s lead singer, Brad Oberhofer, and they released their debut album Time Capsules II officially on March 27th. Fortunately we got it into WCDB a while ago now, so many of the songs have already been drilled into my head with fun and catchy melodies. It’s not like the sound is unprecedented , whistling in indie music happens frequently and has become pretty cheap, while syllabic elongation/meaningless choruses are widely accepted(at least in Indie Pop). The track names look like text messages and the singer’s voice isn’t natural either, as he stresses each syllable while altering pronunciations(though I actually enjoy his approach a lot). So what makes this album different and actually substantial? Continue reading Album of the Month, March: Oberhofer- Time Capsules II→
For January my favorite album was Paralytic Stalks by of Montreal, a band that’s actually from Georgia but is named after a girl lead singer Kevin Barnes used to be with that was “of Montreal”… When I first tried to get into the band many of their earlier works frustrated me with annoyingly frank and simple concepts (Tim I wish you were born a girl immediately comes to mind), but this certainly isn’t the case with Paralytic Stalks. Continue reading Album of the Month, February: Of Montreal- Paralytic Stalks→
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