Alibi V.29 No.12 • March 19-25, 2020 

Sonic Reducer

Star Canyon Quarry (Self-released)

On opener “Antidote,” what starts as a broadly atmospheric composition for guitar ultimately resolves into a winding melody with windy and echoing vocals following along almost casually. The sonic journey here is toward understanding physical phenomena on Earth, but the piquant, almost twee phrasing of the vocals evokes a sort of magic that becomes more abundant as the work progresses. The work—in its entirety and often obliquely—refers to processes that damage our planet. That makes it even more compelling and timely. The fourth track, “(shale),” seems to describe a relentlessly abrasive set of circumstances. The next track, titled “Dreamed It Like Flying,” seems to literally soar away from that world, introducing a fragile melody with dreamily meandering vocals as a counterpoint to all that came before. While stunningly delicate in some places, there is an underlying bright brutality to this work, as the closer, “Cruising Fire,” aptly and rhythmically demonstrates.

McKernin Edna Heart Attack (Self-released)

I’m trying to get this. It sounds like the future, but it could be just one possible future getting all the attention on a record that claims to have come straight outta the Burkes but could have originated anywhere in the world where interweb avatars are doing double duty for actual humans consumed by other tasks. Ahem. You’ll have plenty of time figure that out in the coming couple of weeks, and that’s a good thing. This release gets more mystifying with each new listen—or viewing of the underlying, identifying data associated with this particular art object—proceeds. The links on the page where the aforementioned EP is housed all go to cray graphic arts or anime sites filled with cuteness but also kind of over-bright and hence dark. It’s all pure-pop nonsense, but then again, maybe not. My favorite track is the first one, a little ditty called “Schizophrenia.”

Gemiini Modern Day Cowboy (HRSUnderground)

The latest record out of Albuquerque’s very, very interesting alternative hip-hop scene is one of those slabs that listeners want to keep handy for jam time purposes and listening sessions that occur when a trip to the outer planets in search of enlightenment is not quite enough. The lush production values and heroic tone of first track “Open Your Mind” is properly balanced against the groovy fortitude and funk of number two track “Message To My Friends,” which rattles into existence and lifts off on a quasi-orchestral note that kind of reminds me of the beginning of Radiohead’s “Polyethylene, Part II” before coalescing into a more traditionally influenced flow that booms and baps with the best of them. The rhymes on track four, “Renegade,” are totally digable and the message here is notably optimistic—as mentioned before, this a super-fine set of tunes to have around always.