Ai Aso’s immaculately crafted form of minimalist pop music skirts the edges of tensity with the manner and with the skill of a tight rope walker, calmly balancing repeatedly at every step, with a combination of surety and the risk of a slip, a fall, and an unknown uncoiling of events.
"Aso's capacity to capture, or inspire, the tension and attention from within the listener and observer are quite pronounced. At Aso's concert the performance constantly teeters near the brink, a sharpened awareness in the hall emerges from all observing, with the will of that most delicate balance. On “The Faintest Hint” she brings a meta level to the proceedings, the dream of a singer in a bright sunlit room in the centre of the density of the society, simply and precisely searching for single ideas, single tones, a sense of sensuality and even a dream of a grandeur (rock dream) emerge. A stillness prevails, even a sharp set of instances of dreaming, melancholia, nostalgia… or even saudade. The album was recorded, mixed & mastered by Soichiro Nakamura at Peace Music between 2018-2020. Atsuo and I joined these sessions as producers, and moreso as catalysts, yet also became the skeleton of a band on the album (with the tender touch). The legendary Japanese rock band Boris accompany Aso on two pieces. A faintest hint of sharpness and la tendresse féroce quickly erodes into a fine brief cloud of the purest crystalline dust."
–Stephen O'Malley, Stockholm June 2020
The tremulous, electro-acoustic/ambient beauty ’Le Nid D’Ivoire’ marks the return of Andrew Chalk and Timo Van Luijk’s enchanted duo to the latter’s La Scie Dorée label. It's an engrossing smudge from oneiric wind, brass, keys and string tones to much gauzier, gently psychedelic scenes over the LP’s spellbinding narrative arc.
With intravenous stealth and efficacy ‘Le Nid D’Ivoire’ gets right under the skin and soothes the senses with its glacially unfolding pace and sensuous smoke-curl dynamics. It starts out recalling the soundtrack to a film noir, but ends up ripe to soundtrack scenes of druggy, psychedelic experiments or a slow burning, furtive romance, conjuring heavy-lidded osmosis, letting the soundtrack drift over you during the dying light of a winter afternoon.
Where the first side is marbled with wistful melody that wraps us up in its tale, their musical storytelling really comes into its own on the B-side with the title tracks’s tip-of-tongue tremble redolent of everyone from Loren Connors to Akira Rabelais, leading into the elegantly pulsating chamber ambience of ‘Calice et Croix’ before they ultimately transmute into shimmering spiritual resonance with the hyaline strokes of ‘Méridien’ to leave us blissed to bits.
Valentina Magaletti (Raime, Tomaga, Vanishing Twin) & Marlene Ribeiro (Gnod, Negra Blanca) venture their oneiric style of “tropical concrete” in a gently head-swilling duo following Horn of Plenty’s excellent Moniek Darge reissue.
Respectively, Magaletti and Ribeiro are responsible for roles on some of the past decade’s most definitive, chthonic recordings. Working in combination for a residency at Porto’s Hysteria, on ‘Due Matte’ they gamely explore an intersection of percussion, dreamlike vocals and amorphous, spatialised electronics of an ancient-sounding calibre, calling to mind the otherworldly works of everyone from Michael Ranta to Christos Chondropoulos.
In 12 parts they deftly move perpendicular to trends and lure listeners into elusive, etheric headspaces via the finest sleight of hand and a mutual vision. With grittily fluid dynamic they melt time markers and work deep inside their own sense of temporality, with Valentina’s drumming meting out a mix of omnidirectional and drivingly head-down rhythms where Marlene flickers in the spaces between, variously picking out shards of D. Bailey-esque guitar and smearing woodwind and spittle into its smoky nooks, or cooing from somewhere behind your ears. The way they gel together is quite remarkable, and perfectly captured in the recording’s roiling soundsphere mix down, which murkily brings their idea of “tropical concrete” to life with all the slow, febrile humidity and lo-fi GRM vibes you could expect from that evocative description.
Newly expanded with a bonus disc of 15 unreleased demos and alternate versions and available on vinyl for 1st time since 1999, Stereolab’s classic 6th studio album is back in circulation, still brimming with their most charming, jazzy bossa nova and gallic avant-lounge-pop charms and featuring vital input from Jim O’Rourke.
Remastered from original tapes with a bonus disk of unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate mixes. Co-released by band’s own label Duophonic UHF Disks and Warp Records. Vinyl comes in bespoke gatefold sleeve with download card, housed inside a heavyweight clear PVC wallet Fold-out poster insert with lyrics and sleevenotes from Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane.
Intimate, skeletal compositions here from Eliane Radigue collaborator Silvia Tarozzi.
"Mi specchio e rifletto" was inspired by poet Alda Merini and is an attempt to unveil "the mystery hidden behind the curtain of everyday life". This theme feels even more vital now in a time where everyday life is increasingly more complex and unpredictable, and Tarozzi's haunting tracks that fuse eerie free jazz abstraction with gorgeous Italian vocals remind of the fading beauty of the mundane. There's a cinematic flair to "Mi specchio e rifletto" that reminds of the prog rock's weirder offshoots, and that's no bad thing. Magical stuff.