Mätisse: Kairos (CD, In Paradisum, January 2016)

Sometimes, I really don’t make life easy for myself. It’s very hard to know what to say about this record. There are two 18-minute tracks, but each is in several apparently unrelated parts. Along the way it incorporates (in no particular order) melodic synth music, sparse modern classical using a variety of different piano sounds (from the close-miked and intimate to the echoey slightly dissonant), abstract acoustic bass noodling, buzzy drone ambient, post-rock guitar, some weirdly resonant plucked instrument I can’t place, a combination of humming and bowed resonant chimes and throaty chanting seemingly suited to some kind of meditative ritual, jazz xylophone (!), aleatoric percussion, heavily processed chanting, and a dozen other styles and instruments which I either can’t remember or can’t name. Often, we get two of three of these at the same time, in frankly surprising combinations. Sometimes, things will seem to come to a climax and then peter out; other times, they’ll simply come to a halt. There’ll be a pause, and then something different will happen, with no obvious sense of progression. It’s all very strange, really. But here’s the strangest thing of all: somehow, they manage to make this all not just work, but sound quite natural. Not only are all the elements satisfying individually, but the whole thing manages to combine an elegant lightness of touch with a kind of almost devotional intensity, and I found myself keeping on coming back to it — and after four or five listens, I started to convince myself that there’s a sort of fractured subconscious logic to its structure. An early contender for the hardest-to-categorize record of the year, but an immensely rewarding one.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Electronic (which is, frankly, a cop-out).

Fuck Buttons: Slow Focus (CD, ATP, July 2013)

Ah, Fuck Buttons, it’s been too long. It has to be said, they haven’t exactly revolutionized their sound in the four years since their last long-player, Tarot Sport, but they might just have perfected it. The big, bold, bashing drumbeats and the big, giant, squelching synth sounds are all just spot on here. About one minute into the first track, I’m transported to my happy place. About four minutes in, the drums drop out and a grinding guitar line takes their place. About six minutes, everything comes together… and then, thirty seconds later, that squelchy melody comes in over the top, and that’s me done, I’m grinning like a loon and I don’t care. This is relentlessly propulsive widescreen psychedelia. There are somewhat similar sounds on some tracks of Jon Hopkin’s Immunity, but this has none of the variety of that record: all we get in the way of changes of pace are moments where it just closes in on itself slightly for a minute so that it’s all the more thrilling when it lets go again. Overall, I think that’s a good thing, this is the sort of music which benefits from a single-mindedness, and the effect is utterly transporting.

I bought this from Juno. They call it Experimental / Electronic.