Sonic Reducer: Execution Drone, Ghost Stories, Penumbra

August March
3 min read
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There was an episode of “Star Trek: The Animated Series” wherein the crew of the Enterprise found themselves in a universe that was, essentially, backwards. Old people were raised up from the dead, Lazarus-like and grew younger until they disappeared back into the womb, or something like that. You can use that premise while listening to this fine new collection of tunes by notorious academic rockers fuguers cove. In this case—to properly grok this work—you’ve got to imagine that hip-hop came before rock and the latter was thusly influenced. How else to explain lo-fi, growling, gangsta rock like “we come from fission, “seven seasons” and “the 1970s”? Well to begin with, this work is obviously from another adjacent yet totally unheard of timeline. It might as well be the one where Raising Hell came before Trout Mask Replica.

Golconda Ghost Stories (Two Labyrinths Music)

Or you can hope for transcendence from the normative by embracing the normative as singer-songwriter Luke Gullickson reminds listeners on his new record as Golconda. And you can get there from here by threading this record’s truly normcore beauty through the clear crystalline lens of unperturbed folk music—in particular through the steady and unabashed use of the mandolin and the 12-string guitar—and processing the resulting melodies through the rough and sometimes boot clad human experience of seasonal change. Filled with archetypal references and humanizing proclamations, this record is a veritable panacea whose weight, while indeterminate, is concentrated in symbols and reminders of how nature becomes us as we become more natural. Tunes such as “The Loom” feel astronomical, planetary, while “King of Stars” reaches out to heaven before the songwriter drops us gently back to Earth with rambling responses to movement, like the closer “Queen of Spring.”

LAD & Gypsy Penumbra (Self-released)

Unforgivably lush and sometimes melodramatic, but in a way that displays a certain confidence about how poetry operates in the musical world to which it is constantly attached—sometimes unwittingly, just ask Kanye or Vince Staples—here is an album that is an absolutely amazing listen. Get this: When you combine slightly overdone but still quite tasty art music with a spoken word flow that is knowing, ironic and ultimately romantic—in the way that the whole world is a sentimental overgrowth of someone else’s ecstatic experience—you get something new during each listen—revealing wordy nuances and melodic flourishes that seem to be like the remnants of dreams, the ones right on the verge of consciousness that we spend all day trying forgetfully to remember. The Laurie Anderson-like intonation and violin arrangements don’t hurt either. Favorite track: “Illusion & Praxis.”

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