Sonic Reducer

August March
3 min read
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“Milk Sigil,” the opening track on a remarkable, inter-dimensionally elastic entrada into the dream world consistently conjured by Anna Mall, describes a rapid descent into a very deep sea. If that analogy makes sense then these truly are the sounds of silence, the essence of the cosmic interation between la gata and la vata. The felt wavelengths dominate this quasi-oceanic, science fiction-sounding world, breathily vocalized by an entity who just might be a siren. Mall telegraphs watery alienation on “Suffocation;” the narrator’s cries and the consequent musical machinations grow bird-like on “Vivere Se Vie.” Then somewhere—occluded from listeners but none the less important to the narrative—some kind of closure occurs. “Adore” and “Superstar Blues” briefly retreat from the previously stated causal cacophony, curiously, almost quietly offering sweet surrender and cynical acceptance at the heart of things—just before finally diving back into the turbulent tide.

Verhalten Number (Self-released)

This is one of those fab releases whose purchase includes a hand-numbered cassette with an original, numbered, silk screened insert and sticker. Way cool. The sounds listeners will encounter on this album are fairly subversive, yet grounded in understandable tropes common to post-Kid A electronica. It’s the disturbing sound of the machines all around us, sabes? Tracks like “Provisional” confirm this steady focus, and delving further into the work confirms that the texture of mechanization becomes process, theme and output for most of the venture. The relationship between human and machine becomes more fraught, more anxious, as one proceeds from track to track; it’s notably distracting, in a fascinating way, on “Soured” and “Surrounded by Unknown Things.” But that noise becomes relentless on the final three tracks, resulting in a disturbing but otherwise rewarding recording.

Daniel Montoya Tangerine Sunrise (Empty House Studio)

Okay I didn’t know about Daniel Montoya until I got this CD in the mail and I took one look at it and said out loud, “lordy, lordy, lordy.” But as soon as the dang thing started playing inside my Apple desktop and pouring out sound through the B & W Nautilus speakers craftily hidden somewhere in my cluttered home office, I knew I was gonna have a good day. Montoya’s sense of exhuberance is infectious. He accomplishes this potent allure with a combination of informed musicality—he can play, sing and tell stories and how, yo—and a backing band that is totally tuned into his sense of tempo and timing. In fact, the band kills, adding a silvery sparkle to the ton and half of pure grit Montoya delivers on tunes like “Muddy Waters” and “Come On In.”

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