By Marc Masters July 29, 2022
All kinds of experimental music can be found on Bandcamp: free jazz, avant-rock, dense noise, outer limit electronics, deconstructed folk, abstract spoken word, and much more. If an artist tries something new with an established form or invents a completely new one, chances are they’ll do it on Bandcamp. Each month, Marc Masters selects some of the best releases from this wide exploratory array. July’s selection includes a silence-filled bell in a Manhattan vault, Afghan melodies dragged into dissonance, and half an hour of static.
Madeleine Cocolas’ latest album literally kicks off. “A Dream, Blown Out” sounds like its title, as Cocolas weaves in dense, high-toned drones that suggest visions of sleep blown up in widescreen view. This piece merges into the resonant piano chords of “Enfold”, and through the rest of its 41 minutes, Spectral feels like a daydream. Cocolas skilfully merges pieces with New Age tendencies into more abstract atmospheres. It evokes strong emotions while avoiding the maudlin by anchoring everything in an atmosphere filled with movement. As a result, Spectral is always on the move, in both senses of the word.
Among Kevin Drumm’s many recent and fascinating releases, HYMNS is perhaps the most interesting, consisting of two slow-moving 14-minute pieces of static. This music is static, not only in the sense that it sounds like the clicking of an untuned ratio, but also because there is a stillness in it. HYMNS demonstrates patience and discipline. It would have been easy for Drumm to insert obvious changes into each track, but instead his arcs unfold gradually, so you never really know how far he’s gone until you come back in. back and check. And the zen concentration of the sounds Drumm builds is more than enough to hold the attention.
For his first album, Logan Heuer, originally from Kansas City, returned to sounds he recorded as a child. Digging through old hard drives, he reworks those sources into something new, while hoping to retain the qualities of his younger perspective. Through six varied and unpredictable tracks, Heuer mixes the fog of memories with the tactile presence of voices and found sounds, making the music float between yesterday and today. A meditative quality coats each piece, as if it’s all part of an imaginary tale. But reality hits just as hard: Take the squeaks and screeches of “Eighteenson,” a nightmarish collage of sounds that could rattle buried bones.
Amirtha Kidambi and Luke Stewart
Noise and dissonance have often appeared in the work of New York’s Amirtha Kidambi and DC’s Luke Stewart, respectively. But I didn’t expect their first collaboration, Zenith/Nadar, be as noisy. The first four tracks, all titled with words ending in “-ion”, are storms of amp feedback, stompbox distortion and piercing Kidambi vocals. “Premonition” in particular is an exhilarating sonic wind tunnel, while the 11-minute “Exaltation” is slower and more sparse, but equally heartbreaking. In the second half of Zenith/Nadirthe duo turn down the volume but not the intensity, with Stewart’s patient bass snaking around Kidambi’s impossibly wide voice.
Sean Meehan works with silence like a painter works with color. On Magazine, an hour-long track played on a single cowbell, there are periods of quiet so long you basically have to retrain your ears to process it. Meehan recorded most of this piece in an underground vault in Manhattan, one of the quietest places in the whole city, so all we really hear are his rapid thumps on the bell and the massive spaces between both. Like much of his work, Magazine is valid merely as an exercise in extreme restraint. But the way Meehan uses his cowbell, delivering sharp blows that vary widely in timbre, gives the whole hour an eerily musical feel, like a song split into atoms and spread across a galaxy.
Khedmat Be Khalq
Naujawanan Baidar started as a solo project of NR Safi, former guitarist of the Arizona band Myrrors. This was spurred on by Safi delving into the tapes of Afghan music left by his grandfather, which motivated him to blend traditional song structures, outward-facing psychedelic guitar, and degraded noise. by the bands. Khedmat Be Khalq sees Safi expanding Najawanana Baidar into a full-fledged band, but sticking to, as their Bandcamp page puts it, “gnarled, sun-baked tracks cut up and put together in a collage of breathy sound.” The nine tracks harness new and old ideas in a dizzying whirlwind of melody and distortion, like a broken down radio with no switch. The grain and texture of the band’s just-right jams are palpable, giving the entire album the aura of a dusty archaeological dig.
Chloe Alexandra Thompson
They can never burn the stars
Chloe Alexandra Thompson’s music seems to surround you. This is partly due to its actual use of spatial audio; excerpts from his new album They can never burn the stars are taken from an installation she made at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. But it’s as much down to the way she chooses her sounds, exploring the low end of the sonic spectrum to the point where it feels like three-dimensional space. Each track has a broad, grounded rumble, as if the earth is still moving beneath Thompson’s feet. This eternal movement adds haunting drama to They can never burn the starsmaking it more of an experience than an album.