Luminous Monsters/ Guanoman – We Go Wandering at Night and are Consumed by Fire (drone/ math)

We Go Wandering at Night and are Consumed by Fire is a split release, split in the same sense as the protagonist of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club’s personality. Both of the projects contributing to this release are the sole work of one musician, although they possess quite distinctive characters; Guanoman is described as a ‘purveyor of doom-prog and math-noise’ (also as ‘avantelectrodeathspazzmathcore’, which is more amusing, but less illuminating), while Luminous Monsters is summed up as a ‘majestic creature, appalling and bewildering to human senses, its golden scales ablaze in the sunshine, its coils tumescent with sublime strength, its countless claws and horns crackling with crimson energies formed from the transmuted migrant souls

There Is No Teenage Love – There Is No Teenage Love (ambient/ drone)

This album is enigmatic from the start, or even earlier in fact. Who is this skinny, elfin featured, uncomfortably hunched girl with smoke in her mouth and a triangle drawn on her sternum? What do they mean by saying ‘there is no teenage love’? As a statement, it is true in some senses, and untrue in many others, depending on your own valuation of its terms. When the music begins, it is entirely unclear what it’s going to mean; several minutes into the first tune we are still wondering what’s going to happen, what we should be feeling, when the threads are going to come together into an audible utterance, when the tension is going to unravel and release us. Around the fourth minute meaningful sequences of harmonic material begin to emerge…

Various Artists – Album Roundup

As far as I know Dialect are no longer an active collective, although its members continue to release razor sharp and uncompromisingly independent hip-hop on their own account; they have released a lot of great music, and are clearly a mainstay of hip-hop in the Northeast, and this is the second album of unreleased tracks to appear on emcee Joe Eden’s Killamari Records imprint. You don’t expect a bunch of disparate tracks like this, recorded at different times for different reasons, to sound like an album as such when they’re bundled together for release, but there is a certain coherence to this music, a consistent aesthetic that makes it clear it’s a Dialect album, not a bunch of tracks by the crew’s various members. The rhymes speak …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

This is a record that gets straight down to business, a short, kinetic acoustic guitar intro prefacing a series of remarks, delivered with such visceral charisma that it almost doesn’t matter what they mean; the fact that they mean a lot imbues this music with a density that belies its simplicity and lack of frills. You Save You are a duo, performing material of a texture that might be delivered by a single musician (apart from some simple percussion, presumably operated by the singer), but it’s very clearly two people’s energy on Secondhand Suits And Cheap Sunglasses (or maybe ten people’s!). The guitar playing is raw acoustic rock ‘n’ roll, and the vocals hover between declamation and raspy punkish singing.

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

In recent years the avant-garde fringes of metal have become one of the most fertile sites of musical creativity and invention; while my central musical inclinations might be towards other areas, such as jazz or folk, and while those areas certainly harbour some radically creative minds globally, the majority of music produced and performed locally to me is pretty conservative. Earthmass is one of several bands I have the opportunity to engage with directly (attending gigs, meeting the members, building an ongoing relationship as a music writer, etc.) that pursue a radical formal agenda, and really keep their eye on the ball creatively. There is no uncritical regurgitation of the tropes of heavy music here, no taking the language as given …

Grindlestone – Tone (ambient)

When music has no lyrical content, its titles become gnomic and mysterious, intentionally or otherwise. ‘Our Floor With All Its Beliefs’ could be taken in so many different ways, but to be honest I think it’s best not to take it at all. Unless there is a very clear relationship between the musical themes and title it’s safest to assume it’s some kind of private joke or reference, and concentrate on the sound instead: and surely the point of music which refuses, not only verbal language, but the established tropes of musical narrative, is to present itself to the auditory cortex abstractly, as sound, in just the same way that the stone reproduced as the cover of Tone presents itself to the visual cortex.

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

Too moderately paced to really signify as dance music, the opening track of this EP is, nevertheless, hella heavy. Building on accumulating layers of atmosphere, when its brutalist bass hook and simple kick pattern enter, it hits with an ominous compulsion as dark and deep as doom metal. It’s not all darkness though: the track shifts into funkier uplands, still slow, admirably so, but with the kind of rhythm that hooks you bodily and pulls you with it. Similar strategies are in evidence throughout the Rauthaz EP: it’s not a matter of slowness and darkness, but of the creative exploitation and framing of potentially limitless digital resources …

Barren Waste – NSE (ambient)

Barren Waste are a band of many guises. They first came to my attention as a metal band with a raw and uncompromising attitude to noise, and a willingness to explore harsh frequencies and creative dissonance, rather than slipping easily into the language of sludge or grindcore. They also, as witnessed by this album, have a penchant for electronic music of an experimental bent. Furthermore, their Bandcamp page offers twenty releases from this year alone, most of a substantial length. Sadly, their guitarist has gone his own way, due to creative differences, which means I won’t get to hear the unification of these apparently disparate approaches quite as soon as …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

There’s more than a nod to dreampop and shoegaze in this music, but Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo are clearly too in love with the raw and ragged sound of a distorted electric guitar to tame it to the extent that might imply. Some of Wish You Were A Pony is downright heavy! This is pop music, but not lowest-common-denominator, mass-market pop; it’s pop because it’s all about simple, accessible melodies, infectious, danceable rhythms, lush, inviting soundscapes, and, well… fun.

Janne Hanhisuanto – Circles In 3D (ambient)

All music has an atmosphere. I’d go so far as to say it’s a central aspect of all musical meaning, although it’s obviously not the only meaningful element in music. Words, melodies, harmonies, rhythms, timbres and so on, all have their particular capacities, but the atmosphere of a piece of music falls somewhere in the cracks between all these things. There’s a sense in which that elusive quantity, musical meaning, is the same thing as mood or atmosphere, in as much as meanings are in the experience of listening, and music that addresses itself directly to atmosphere is cutting straight to the chase in some respect.

TYLS – Pest-O-Flash (ambient/ noise)

This wetpussyallstars side project release is an experimental album, one which reinvigorates the musically abstract with a sense of the narrative and the representational, simultaneously blurring the distinction between electronic artist and electrician. Sounds that are abstract in a musical sense may at the same time, as here, be sonically concrete, and although it is unclear how these sounds are generated, they give every impression of deriving from the device whose interactions they purport to represent.