If you have a life outside of spinning records, enjoying a cocktail or two, and soaking in the existential fear that life as we know it is crumbling in our hands like a stale biscuit, then there’s a chance you may have missed a few of the amazing records that have been released into the wild so far this year. Fear not, Complex Distractions eats existential fear for breakfast(usually with an IPA) and we keep a tally on all the good stuff aiming for our ears. Since we’re rounding the bases of 2019 and are slowly working our way to home plate I thought I’d go back and look at all the goodness that’s been released so far. And possibly, maybe something you’ve missed and would like a reminder of.
So here’s a just a handful of albums that may have been drowned out by the white noise of life. Enjoy. And remember, if you like it then buy it.
Chicago Odense Ensemble : S/T
Originally released in 2011 on Adluna Records and stemming from a one day jam session in 2008 between Danish musicians Jonas Munk, Jakob Skott, and members of Chicago bands Tortoise and Isotope217, Chicago Odense Ensemble is a master class record in free form improvisational jam. The album has its roots in albums like Miles Davis’ Live Evil and Pangea, but with a solid foot in the experimental world of Chicago’s underground music. Munk and Skott brought a hefty dose of psych heavy jam, while the Chicago crew helped reel it all in with electronic and avante garde touches. The results were released into the world, but never caught the ears it should have. So Jonas Munk, who along with Jakob Skott runs El Paraiso Records, took those sessions and remastered them and re-released the album under the El Paraiso Records moniker. The resulting remastering has given the record a vitality and much welcomed sonic punch. Tracks like “Parallel Motions”, “Emanuelle”, and “Delivery” jump from the speakers. And tracks like “Soup” and “Gilded Path” have a newfound vibrancy.
Simply put, this album is essential listening.
Cory Kilduff : When It All Gets To Be Too Much
Cory Kilduff released his Burning Witches Records debut at the beginning of the year. When It All Gets To Be Too Much rides on a wave of melancholy and 80s synth glee. Kilduff works in the sonic realm of 80s film scores, keeping the music dense but purely melodic as well. Kilduff once said he was more influenced by John Hughes than John Carpenter, and with this release he proves his point. So much of this record feels like a soundtrack to a lost Hughes film, but never in a pandering way. This record feels painfully honest and earnest. Kilduff just captures the spirit of those sweetly melodic but dark scores. Tangerine Dream, Harold Faltermeyer, OMD, and Klaus Schulze come to mind, but this is 100% Cory Kilduff’s show. “Jericho Rising”, “Not Like the Others”, and “Chestnut Hills” work their way into your brain and never quite leave. These aren’t horror motifs or deep space meditations; these are long car rides wondering what to do next. These are walks down locker-lined halls wishing you could fit in. These are anthems for the disillusioned and disenfranchised. If you’ve ever felt out of place or like you don’t belong, hit play.
Pye Corner Audio : Hollow Earth
Martin Jenkins seems to have started a electronic music evolution. Taking the low key nature of Boards of Canada and mixing it with 70s Italian horror, dark techno and sci-fi elements, Jenkins started a whole new genre of electronic music. A kind of music that has inspired the sound of artists like Pentagram Home Video, Graham Reznick, and the imagined soundtrack world as a whole. Pye Corner Audio works in vague shadows, telling tales through techno beats, Gothic undertones, and slinky melodies. Hollow Earth is his newest opus, the third for Ghost Box Records and a sequel to 2016’s Stasis. Tracks like “Descent” and “Mindshaft” act as portals to some other dimension. Some alternate universe club scene where nothing is quite real. “Imprisoned Splendour” is darkly lit ambient, emanating from the speakers like a haze of beautiful doom. Hollow Earth is yet another stellar record from Martin Jenkins, keeping Pye Corner Audio as one of the premier electronic musicians working today.
Metavari : Absurda
Nate Utesch has turned Metavari into a electronic music juggernaut. He’s allowed the band to naturally evolve from a post-rock outfit with several members to just him(though he has been touring as of late with a percussionist.) His music works in the mediums of sound and sight, often working with film and video to help accentuate the music he creates. His latest album is Absurda, a film/music project that saw him re-scoring the short films of David Lynch. This album is a phantasmagoria of melody, noise, chaos, and beauty. Utesch works his technical music prowess and imaginative graphic design skills together beautifully to bring tracks like “Six Figures Getting Sick(Six Times)”, “The Alphabet”, and “Absurda” into stark, exotic focus. Nate Utesch isn’t an artist to walk away from a challenge, and his work on Absurda is absolute proof of that. It’s one of the most engaging and forward-thinking electronic records of the year.
Missions : Subcreature
Josh Mills works in robotic grooves and futuristic sheen with Missions’ Holodeck Records debut Subcreature. Working as a producer and engineer in LA has afforded Mills the studio experience to build up quite the prowess behind the board. But for his full-length debut as Missions he brought the record back home to Texas, where he got his start in the burgeoning electronic scene of Austin, Texas. Subcreature builds on late night vibes and neon seediness. Vocoder’d vocals and slinky bass lines mix with synth melodies and Euro rhythms to give Subcreature the feel of some lost German electronic album. Electro boogie combines with dark sci-fi vibes for a late night soundtrack to shimmering streetlights and humid alleyways. “Truther”, “Spoken”, and “Confused” build Mills’ world of electronic delights, offering up a tasteful bit of late night rhythms and things that hide in the shadows.
Skeleton Beach : Ritual
Gene Priest deep dived into Komische/Berlin School territory for his latest album as Skeleton Beach. Ritual is a sonic delight of the senses, with Phaedra and Rubycon vibes abound. Priest works a kind of music magic on the 8 tracks on this slice of wax. Setting course for the heart of the universe, tracks like “Blood Moon”, “Binding”, and the epic “False Faith” combine elements both of the earth and atmospheric. There’s a real organic feel to these tracks; a grittiness to them that almost allows you to feel them as well as hear them. Sensuous rhythms interplay with dark arts animalistic urges, turning Ritual into an all-around experience. Priest plays with both the dark and light, as a song like “Ceremony” feels as the sun would feel when it hits your cheeks, emerging from some existential darkness. Truly one of the great Komische releases in years.
Stay tuned for part two, until then deep dive into these artists’ albums.