Album Reviews: Autumn ’19 Catch Up (2)

Here’s the second of my three reviews of albums released over the last few months. A good opportunity to catch up on some genuinely great releases which may have slipped under the radar.

You can find the two posts here and here.

The Whole of Each Eye by Abronia (Cardinal Fuzz/ Feeding Tube)

I’ll admit that it has taken me some time to properly get my ears round this album, and really come to appreciate it. This is the second album from Portland, Oregon six-piece Abronia which for me really fizzles with invention and immediacy. As I never tire of writing, where contemporary psychedelic music is at it’s most exciting and effective is where different strands of sound are brought together in an alchemic manner to create something unique and in the moment. ‘The Whole of Each Eye’ is certainly that.

Seemingly formed in a sonic crucible; this melange of Krautrock, spaghetti western soundtrack, psych drone, post-punk, rock and free-jazz comes together in a spiritual/ ritualistic setting to take the listener off into realms that only they themselves can hope to understand… the music acting as a catalyst to shift you away from your reality using methods that are far from routine. This is a unique and satisfying album which perhaps needs quite a few listens, but rewards you once you’ve broken through to the other side.

ÆTHERHALLEN by Julius Gabriel (Lovers & Lollypops)

I think it’s probably fair to say that the saxophone is my favourite instrument. I like it for the additional dimensions it gives to music, of all varieties (there’s a lot of different between Sonny Rollins and X-Ray Spex but I like them both). One purveyor of this particular instrument is Julius Gabriel, whose work I am coming to really appreciate through my reviews of his music as part of Paisiel and Solar Corona. While this solo outing is far closer to the first of these two, I can appreciate the variety and virtuosity of his playing across these different sets.

Here, on his second solo album, Gabriel performs three pieces of increasing length, each of which in turn stretches the mind that little bit farther. These are wonderfully meditative tracks which place you somewhere quite strange and encourage you to explore the sonic topographies that Gabriel lays before you. Like the Abronia album this really takes to somewhere different and leaves you feeling all the better for it.

Hard Rain by Tenderlonius (22a)

My music tastes are ones which are continually evolving. I have always liked to pick up new sounds and new ideas. The other side of this coin is that I don’t really like to stick with musicians who stick to a formula and don’t develop their own sound, and I particularly love it when musicians take me on such a journey with them.

This is how I landed on the burgeoning London jazz scene last year and, amongst others, really got into the work of Tenderlonius and his label ’22a’. One of the elements that really drew me to this music was its eclecticism; I liked how all the musicians who I heard in that scene were on a journey through jazz from their own routes, and then onwards to what interested them.

Arguably no one is on such a journey more than Tenderlonious as evidenced by this album of music which feels like the sonic equivalent of tester pots painted on a wall. These point to various ways that he may develop his art in the future with fragments that cover jazz, funk, electronica, soul, beats and many more. Together they form a wonderfully eclectic album that is a joy to listen to from start to finish.

Utility by Barker (Ostgut Ton)

One of the directions that Tenderlonious could very feasibly go would be towards that of Barker whose latest album is a really interesting mix of ambient and minimalist ideas placed within a framework that could be more at home in a techno club. It is different because it pivots the more sparse sounds in his music and floods them with high energy electronica giving the appearance of something more substantial without (and you only come to realise this gradually) the techno bass.

This leaves you with something that is less full-on in a good way, allowing you to analyse the sonic journey much more. I’m going to make a call and say that this is another shape of contemporary psychedelic music, one which takes us out of how we might usually assign this descriptor… but nevertheless it is music that takes its cues from a wide range of influences and gives us something new, experimental and emotional. This is perhaps music that at first sounds a little cold, but there is really warmth here once you rub up against it.



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