Current Favorites: Cooked Viola and Buddha Machines, Thawing Ice

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

▰ On the double album If Not Now, released at the very end of 2020, Meredith Bates sends her violin and viola through a range of processing, yielding echoes and textures, layers and atmospheres, stutters and breakage. It somehow manages to be both intimate and orchestral at the same time. Bates is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.


▰ Three field recordings of what’s going on under the ice, captured by Ivo Vicic of Rijeka, Croatia, on Under the Ice – Secret Sounds of Nature. As Vicic describes it, what we’re hearing is a water stream, amomg other activity, recorded at a lake that has frozen over during the winter. Released earlier this month. (Thanks for the recommendation, Patricia Wolf!)


▰ In a 10-minute live video, Poland-baed Grzegorz Bojanek makes rough-hewn ambient music in realtime with a handful of Buddha Machines and effects pedals. Even if you’re entirely familiar with the source audio, you’ll be enchanted by the new territories Bojanek explores.


▰ The cacophonous fragility of Marcus Fischer’s mid-February “Thawing” is a field recording made during the Portland, Oregon, winter. Writes Fischer of the brief track: “Thawing ice releasing itself and falling from a large oak tree onto the snow-covered street below.”

Current Favorites: Luu, Fripp, Euclide

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

▰ The new release from Italian musician Elisa Luu (aka Elisabetta Luciani, based in Rome), Luu’s Strange Minimalism, packs more into four short tracks than most musicians do into a full album, even two albums. From the filmic post-classical “Violin, LuuV” to the pulsing minimalism of “Dicem, 15V,” the record is a strong example of why Luu is high on the list of my favorite musicians I have no idea why I don’t read about more frequently.

▰ Just a reminder that Robert Fripp is 45 weeks into his promised 50 weekly tracks of Music for Quiet Moments. If you’re more familiar with his far more widely viewed pandemic-era collaborations with his wife, Toyah Wilcox, then welcome to the introspective side of his personality and his playing. The latest was recorded in Paris six years ago:

▰ A beautiful Instagram series pairs Gregory Euclide’s photographs with one-minute loops of music by a rotating and expanding cast of contributors, including the OO-Ray, Stephen Vitiello, Jolanda Moletta, and Kirill Nikolai. There have been 159 entries to date. The latest is by Steve Ashby. Visit at instagram.com/thesisrecurring.

Current Favorites: Synth, Cello, Code

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

▰ Jostijn Ligtvoet’s “Twilight and Fire” combines live cello with synthesizer accompaniment, the blinking lights matching his four strings drone for drone.

▰ I caught Chiho Oka’s set during the recent No Bounds Festival event (a livestream), hosted by algorave figure Alex McLean, and several of the pieces she performed then are on her forthcoming album, Manipulating Automated Manipulated Automation. The record isn’t due out until February 28, but four tracks are already streaming, and they evidence the combination of rigor, humor, and pathos she brings to her work.

▰ Omri Cohen’s Meditation Spores is deep-synthesis ambient, brimming with digital artifice, and vibrant in its doleful melodic lines and tonal processing.

Current Favorites: Autoharp, Patterns, Ginsberg

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them. (This weekly feature was previously titled Current Listens. The name’s been updated for clarity’s sake.)

▰ Kin Sventa playing saxophone and autoharp with live processing (beats, synthesis). When the beat kicks in around 2:00, it gets even better. On loop now. Way bolder than the track of his in my latest podcast, and that is way alright.

▰ Repetitions and echoes define the collection of muted elegies that is Aura by Nashville-based Belly Full of Stars (aka Kim Rueger). Each track is titled “Pattern,” a term true not just to the genteel simplicity on hand, but to the deep sense of permanence the quiet tracks embody.

▰ The shimmering, swelling drone that is “Blue Moon” feels welcomingly rougher, considerably more strident, than a lot of recent music by Jeannine Schulz, and all the more compelling for it.

▰ A host of acts, including Gavin Friday (working with Howie B), Yo La Tengo, and Bill Frisell, set the late Allen Ginsberg’s poetry to new music (“All proceeds from the sale of this album will be donated to HeadCount.org promoting voter registration and participation in democracy”). A major highlight is the opening “Elegy for Neal Cassady” by Scanner.

Current Favorites: Interior Landscapes, Live Tape Drones

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them. (This weekly feature was previously titled Current Listens. The name’s been updated for clarity’s sake.)

▰ Matt Madden’s three-minute “Tme No Radar on Emit” is a mix of atmospheres, most of them misty and somber, artfully so. A repeated line hints at a foghorn’s signal, some white noise at rough weather. That it’s guitar and a ventilator, according to Madden’s own description, just adds to the sense of being transported.

▰ Listen as a dense drone emerges from Femi Fleming’s January 25 live tape performance. What begins as ringing and mottled grows turbulent and orchestral as time passes.

Live Ateliers Claus captures a pair of rangy performances by Gaël Segalen. A French sound artist, Segalen, who also goes by IhearU, is heard here moving between hyperreal urban noise, Fourth World rhythms, and dramatically processed field recordings.

▰ A set of field recordings by Jeremy Hegge from a summer journey during 2019, one that took him from Chongqing, China, to Hong Kong, to Xinjiang, to Kazakhstan. The tracks are labeled by time of day (morning, afternoon, night), helping to set the context for insects, frogs, and street noise.