Thomas Strønen / Time Is A Blind Guide: Lucus (LP, ECM, January 2018)

This may be a foolish thing to say — I am far from an expert — but this strikes me as a very ECM-ish record. The line-up is strings, piano, and drums (Time Is A Blind Guide are the band; Thomas Strønen takes the writing and percussion credits). It is, for the most part, relentlessly sparse and brittle, triangulating a point somewhere between a highly abstracted strain of modern classical, what I’m choosing to call minimal jazz although I still don’t know whether that’s actually a thing, and the plangeant tones of early music. At times it even sounds like it’s already been through Villalobos & Loderbauer’s Re: ECM treatment. If that makes it sound terribly po-faced then I apologize, because this has a real lightness of touch and even a playfulness in places. I must admit that there a few of the more full-on moments which strain my jazz-tolerance, and one track (Wednesday) that exceeds it (this is my problem, not the records; but this is my blog, so I get to complain about it anyway). But it’s mostly a very pleasant listen, and there’s some real magic in the quieter moments.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Jazz / Fusion.

IVVVO: Prince Of Grunge (LP, Nyx Unchained, January 2018)

I’m not quite sure what genre this little 18-minute beauty from Portuguese producer  Ivo Pacheco is, except that it certainly isn’t grunge. A lot of the sounds are basically rave: rhodesy keyboards, synths so fuzzy you reckon he must have scraped them out from the back of the sofa, even those heavily-filtered pseudo-operatic vocals at a push. But the song structures sure aren’t rave. I’m not at all sure what the song structures are. I guess that, if I had to compare it to anything, it would be Tim Hecker’s Ravedeath, 1972, just for being a knight’s move away from the genre… but where Hecker gives maxed-out drone, this has a real stuttering aggression. Oh, and it has a great line in disturbing samples, starting with Born’s crying baby which quickly develops a worryingly Eraserhead-ish gurgle to a kind-of call-and-response of a seductive “what is your… ultimate fantasy” against a panicky desperate “I am lost” in I Don’t Know. Well, whatever genre it is (and frankly, for blogging purposes, I’m just going to make some shit up), this is certainly a very worthwhile addition to it.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Electronic.

Aclds: Fuadain Liesmas (CD, Entr’acte, January 2018)

I want you to imagine a giant robot, lost in a world it does not understand, holding a more aleatoric Morton Subotnick in one hand and a noisier Autechre in the other hand and trying to figure out how they work, while the mad scientist who built this poor creature plays fragments of The Caretaker and Stars Of The Lid to try to sooth it. That’s not what this record sounds like, but it’s the best I’ve got, so let’s go with it. There are walls of buzzing noises, torrents of blips and pops, and echoes of sad, droning melodies. There are also surprising moments of subtle beauty. Can a perfectly positioned and executed click be beautiful? I don’t know what weird mind tricks it’s playing, but this album makes me think the answer is yes.

I bought this from the label.