Long Story Short : Thiago Desant, Mike Lazarev, zake/Markus Guentner/James Bernard, solemnland

The year is getting off to a damn good start, musically speaking. Between real world schtuff like work, schedules, and just the general malaise of our existence in general I find it hard to sit and write individual reviews. Thats why these ‘Long Story Short’ posts are so important to me. I feel like I can at least share the musical wealth in a single post. Get the word out on some amazing artists doing amazing things. What’s more important than that?

Music reviews were the foundation of this site. It started as a place where I could talk about music that I’m digging on, and maybe you might dig as well. Of course over the last 11 years this place has morphed and evolved into something else; something more personal and maybe even essay/prose-driven. But sharing new music will always be a priority.

So without further adieu, let’s dig into new releases by Thiago Desant, Mike Lazarev, Phantoms Vs Fire, zake/Markus Guentner/James Bernard, and solemnland.

solemnland : Unknown No. 1

Leave it to Waxing Crescent Records to provide the visceral and intellectually engaging noise. I’ve been following Phil Dodd and Waxing Crescent since their beginning and have been continually blown away by the artists he spotlights. The latest is solemnland, which is the musical project of Raymond Tani. Tani is an Ontario-based musician/composer. Tani was exposed to classical music at an early age, but had his mind blown at 13-years old when the Moog Synthesizer came into his world.

On his Waxing Crescent Records debut Unknown No. 1, solemnland combines obscure soundscapes with alien beauty to build a sonic world of mystery and pink-hued desolation. Pulling inspiration equally from Béla Bartók, Edgar Froese, Isao Tomita, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and the northern landscapes of where Tani calls home, Unknown No. 1 is as much a dreamscape as it is a haunted sound world.

zakè/James Bernard/Markus Guentner : Pyramiden

On the latest release from Zakè Drone Recordings called Pyramiden, label runner zakè – along with ambient/new age stalwarts James Bernard and Markus Guentner – build a cascading and overwhelmingly beautiful record that combines the zen of the best ambient/new age music along with the “Big Sky” openness of post-rock bands like Explosions in The Sky and This Will Destroy You.

You get songs with chilly names like “Polar Night”, “Seafrost”, and “Arctic Choir” – and there is a sort of vast arctic blue hue to these songs – but it lacks even a hint of desolation. I can imagine listening to something like “Assembly of Light” under blankets of blackness and stars as the aurora borealis dances high above my head. It’s a sonically spectacular album that never once takes for granted the ears listening in.

Thiago Desant : May Twelve Superbloom

Most will probably know Thiago Desant’s work as Phantoms vs Fire, an electronic music project that combines Desant’s deft compositional skills with his graphic designer’s eye. A feast of sight and sound. But on May Twelve Superbloom Desant is releasing under his own name, and it’s quite the gorgeous debut.

May Twelve Superbloom is all dream-like tones and hazy beauty. This album percolates with light and a sense of breezy contentment, though that’s not to say there isn’t darkness just under the surface. “Sultry Hallucinations” revels in tinkling notes, with something maybe slightly sinister lurking just around the corner. That is Desant’s musical superpower, the skill to bring together light and darkness. He gives us songs born at dusk and dawn; coming and going from day and night like a cold breeze off indifferent waters.

Mike Lazarev : Sacred Tonalities

On Mike Lazarev’s debut with Past Inside The Present titled Sacred Tonalities, Lazarev builds sparse soundscapes that turn subtlety into hypnotic and visceral. Quiet, buzzing tones build over several minutes in almost sci-fi-like mystery. This is the kind of music for deep dives and meditative headiness. Past work Lazarev has said was “exploring time. Entering time, exiting time, and finding yourself within time”, whereas Sacred Tonalities is “present with time. It’s a very meditative state of mind. Like the ocean. Like breathing.”

You get a very elemental vibe with this record. It’s like breaking down existence into its individual parts and exploring them in some microscopic world, which turns out to be the universe itself. Heady stuff, man.

Thiago Desant : Vermillion Dandelion

Thiago Desant also dropped an album called Vermillion Dandelion. A project in process for a while now, Desant decided to self release as opposed to looking for distribution. While I would have loved to have heard this in some kind of physical media form, self-releasing means we get to hear it now. That is a very good thing.

Desant dips his toes into all kind of waters; synth pop, ambient, cinematic, and even dark wave/industrial. Vermillion Dandelion lingers heavy in the darkness, giving us touches of Reznor/Ross scores, Johann Johannsson, and the Haxan Cloak, while still giving the whole proceedings a melancholy lean with Philip Glass-like strings.

There’s a sense of urgency throughout the album, holding the listener at bay with tension-filled strings, tribal rhythms, and buzzing electronics that carries throughout the album’s run time. There’s also an amazing story line to go with this mysterious and vast listen. Hit up Phantoms vs Fire’s Bandcamp page and dig into the history of Vermillion Dandelion.

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