William Basinski "Lamentations (TRL)"
William Basinski’s reputation as the foremost producer of profound meditations on death and decay has long been established, but on his new album, Lamentations, he transforms operatic tragedy into abyssal beauty. More than any other work since The Disintegration Loops, there is an ominous grief throughout the album, and that sense of loss lingers like an emotional vapor.
Captured and constructed from tape loops and studies from Basinski’s archives – dating back to 1979 – Lamentations is over forty years of mournful sighs meticulously crafted into songs. They are shaped by the inevitable passage of time and the indisputable collapsing of space – and their collective resonance is infinite and eternal.
The Cavemen "Euthanise Me (Slovenly)"
New Zealand’s stank beacons of irresponsibility THE CAVEMEN are back in the Slovenly saddle with four new merciless hits to the chin, as if 2020 hasn’t been painful enough! Like, who doesn’t wanna get euthanized, right? Only time will tell if this year’s NZ ‘End of Life Choice Act’ to legalise euthanasia passes. If not, at least you get three square meals a day in the clink!
Seems like the ‘Men would have already tackled a tune titled “Eat Your Heart Out” on one of their hundred previous releases, but cannibalism is only the tip of the iceberg here – these guys want to “Eat Your Heart and Wear Your Face.”
HOW DISGUSTING(LY ROMANTICAL).
But don’t flatter yourself, baby. They’re fine with going to see a shrink to get “Over You” while you’re twisting with your new squeeze. So enjoy yourselves, because as they say, it’s later than you think.
Terry Gross "Soft Opening (Thrill Jockey)"
Terry Gross is an engrossing trio composed of guitarist Phil Manley (Trans Am), bassist Donny Newenhouse, and drummer Phil Becker. The trio are also connected as owners and engineers at Bay Area recording spot El Studio, where they began improvising together as a way to test the boundaries and gear of the studio. Their loose, organic chemistry burgeoned into a deep camaraderie and a sound both expansive and exacting. The three experienced musicians crafted their first full-length album through the pure joy of playing together with no expectations. With the tapes rolling on their rehearsals, the band captures the exuberance of live performance and elevates those recordings through a deft use of the studio as their collective instrument. On their debut LP Soft Opening, Terry Gross channels their cosmic powers and considerable chops into a gleefully mesmerizing odyssey fit for an arena.
Soft Opening took shape over the course of 2016-2019, with Terry Gross writing and refining their songs. “Space Voyage Mission” and “Worm Gear” parallel one another as sinuous jams that pulse with adamantine fervor. Each mountainous epic churns spellbinding repetition and simplicity into dizzying gallops that take hairpin turns into sinewy riffing and elysian vocal melodies. Phil Manley’s guitar takes on a constellation of tones across “Space Voyage Mission” with drifting delays soaring over the Newenhouse and Becker’s driving rhythm section which all succumb to frothing overdrives that spin the song into entirely new pastures. The hypnotic throb of “Worm Gear” grows all the more enchanting as Newenhouse and Becker add subtle shifts to the single-chord barrage. “Specificity (Or What Have You)” contrasts these two in its more traditionally pop-oriented structure while retaining its predecessors wide-eyed energy and delves further into the album’s lighthearted-yet-earnest take on sci-fi tropes from space and time travel to the singularity.
As Terry Gross, Phil Manley, Donny Newenhouse, and Phil Becker are sonic scientists traversing the borderlands of rock. Soft Opening captures the simple joy of a no-holds-barred trio in stunning detail, transporting the listener into the splendor and freedom of rock.
Pole "Fading (Mute)"
Pole is the project of ground-breaking electronic musician Stefan Betke. The new album Fading is the first since 2015’s Wald. As with every new Pole record, it’s part of a continued forward trajectory but it also connects to a pre-existing sonic framework. “Every Pole record connects to recordings that I’ve made before,” Betke says, “in order to stay in this kind of vertical development. The ideas from 1, 2, 3 [his groundbreaking first three albums] up to now are connected. I keep the interesting elements, languages and vocabulary that I designed and add new elements.” Fading follows the physical released on Mute of remastered versions of his iconic albums 1, 2, 3 to much acclaim.