Sing Like An Arrow -- J Carter by Jacob Calland

Perfect Aesthetics output has never wavered, releasing music that treads an envious line between insistence and the disavowal of your attention, ambience that allows your attentions to drift before being dragged back to focus sharply on the audio. J Carters newest is no different.

Drawing from what is seemly an endless list of esoteric influence, these pieces where written with a full toolbox. We open with a piece that could have fallen from the New York school of contemporary classical circa 1950, with two pianos fluttering between unison and conflict, constance and dissonance, never quite allowing you to settle in the moment comfortably. The soundscape that rises up to envelop the piano is a welcome update.

Beautifully crafted moving harmonies in the pad synths of every gift demands a sacrifice are reminiscent of medieval choral music, slowed to a glacial pace, dashed up against Vangelis style searing synth leads, evoke particularly lucubratory composition. The pure noise washes become meditative and the pads disconcerting, a difficult balance to pull off.

The album finishes with a thin but vast soundscape, the minimalism in instrumentation and arrangement, allows the music to evoke a cavernous sense of space around it. Like much of this album space and silence is what gives these tracks their magic. The sounds occupies a tiny fraction of a larger whole, like a loosed arrow.

Colin Fisher -- The Garden of Unknowing by Jacob Calland

After a long walk up and down a grubby seafront I returned home and I spent 38 minutes listening to some of the most thoughtful jazz I have heard for a long time. Manifest with vigorous nods to the kings and queens of the 70’s spiritual jazz movement, frenetic drums that one fails to see how they are holding a piece together, yet doing so, so perfectly. Spring reverb steeped bass line, and modal sax that warms the heart (mine anyway, fans of ii, V, iV take care). Identifiably modern in it embrace of warbling synth and free improvisation. Think “The Necks”, meeting the Washington dynasty, with a healthy dose of not worrying whether they sell that many records.

A highlight for me is that meandering track “knowingness”, maybe one of the most restrained pieces from the album, but made so special, to me, by the guitar playing of Colin, almost a jazz standard, but imbrued with a teenage ear full of Washington hardcore.

A majestic release from tombed visions, one that should have sold out a while ago.

Intra​.​Incarn -- Ben Zucker by Jacob Calland

Dinzu Artefacts are fast becoming one of my favourite labels, each release explicating the essence of the unsubstantial. Particularly acute curation from label owner Joe McKay, releasing mostly long form pieces, he has put out some of the most mediative yet engaging music of the last year.

Ben Zucker’s release says a lot with a few words, the piece is a haunting trumpet solo, sculpted into an 36 minute ambient gem. What interested me initially was the dissonant harmony choices that are being made, but they are then given enough time and space to seemly becomes consonant, and so without much harmonic movement the piece remains engaging through perceptual change. The whole EP forms an illusory wash of sound that seems to make you forget that you have been sat still for going on 40 minutes, I was sat listening at my computer for the entirety of both sides before I realised I was still writing the same email I started when I put it on.

Through a Glass Darkly -- Found Remains Compilation by Jacob Calland

I’m not usually a fan of compilations, I find they seem to lack a cohesive narrative, and only further act to destroy the dying art of the album. Some how Found Remains have managed to put something together that tells a story.

‘Through a Glass Darkly’ opens with purpose, a pummelling assault of FM’ed late 80’s style industrial courtesy of Sacramence, and continues in this vein with some truly brutal ‘above that horrible pub that you don’t go into, except for gigs’ noise, but it is after this initial barrage that this collection caught me. What follows are mostly quiet, subtle tracks that you drift in and out of in a dream state, occasionally being thrown back to the waking world with sharp interjections of finger on chalk board squeaks. The highlight for me is the closer from Victorine Meurent an ear splitting exercise in experimentalism that somehow manages to remain entirely restrained, very modest.

Found remains are a new discovery for me, but one I will be catching up on and keeping my ears open for.

Morton Feldman -- Two Pianos by Jacob Calland

Very little has yet to be said about Morton Feldman, so I will keep this brief, but such an influence has this man had on me that I would find it difficult not to encourage anyone and everyone that I can to dive into his work.

Two Pianos has been loving re-released by Another Timbre (if you have not heard of them, I urge you to listen through their back catalogue, a truly undetermined exposition of modern classical music, leaning toward the minimal side of the spectrum). Every moment of this pieces exudes restraint, with sustained piano hanging ethereally in the air. The true lustre lies in the subtle interactions of harmony that occurs in the moments between events, and the way in which the chaotically determined frequencies morph and change each other as they hang ominous in space.

To some Feldmans work may seem disjointed and accidentally, but to me it is the true meaning of calm.

BP — Orléans by Jacob Calland

BP (Bret Parenteau to those who know him), has what seems to be the one of the most fervent work ethics of anyone in the DIY Tape scene with 15+ releases in the last few years. It feels a bit like you are right there with him watching his style evolve and develop with each new release, with very little left off the record, although I imagine a deep dive into his hard drive would uncover 1000’s of hours of unheard material.

Orléans has been recently released on the ever influential (and ever pink) Vienna press, the album undulates between raspy synth drones and crusty field recordings. It evokes a particularly cold and disturbing atmosphere (although only after being lulled into a false sense of security by the opening passage). There is something about it that conjures up images of a tiny town, snow driven, where something slightly untoward is going on.

The tracks while droning, are kept interesting by varying intensity, the scratchings of the most micro field recording, suddenly fading into nothingness only to be over taken by a wall of distorted sine waves, to then be shown a glimpse of beautiful 1950’s saloon piano. A release that succeeds where many fail due to modest track lengths and knowing when to dial it back. A very nuanced EP.

One to listen to by yourself on a cold night.