After a dry summer, my acquisitive streak seems to have returned, both for old and new records. Here's a rundown, in the order I picked things up.
Motion Sickness of Time Travel: Luminaries & Syntastry
This has been a fantastic year for the ambient/nü-kosmiche genre—I count albums by Tim Hecker, Rene Hell, and Mountains all among my favorites of 2011 so far. That means the bar is pretty high for the genre right now. Which is bad news for Motion Sickness of Time Travel (aka Rachel Evans). I find Luminaries & Synatry to be a fine record—good for writing or reading and the like—but it rarely grips me as a work of art, as the best of the year often do.
- Motion Sickness of Time Travel: Synastry
Roedelius: Durch die Wüste and Selbsportrait I
Hearing the Roedelius Schneider track last month reminded me that my journey through the old Harmonia/Cluster universe is far from over. Among other albums long on my to-buy list have been some of Roedelius' early solo albums. Through some degree of happenstance, these are the two I picked up. (Did I miss a better option? Please advise!) Durch die Wüste, his first solo release, starts with an unexpected (and not terrific) rock vamp before the rest of the record settles into the more identifiable relaxed synths-and-piano compositions. Between the two albums I picked up, I prefer Selbsportrait I, his third solo album and first in his acclaimed Selbsportrait series. It feels a little closer to the sounds of Cluster, though with fewer beats. (Actually, it reminds me more of Raymond Scott than Cluster—which is sort of what Cluster would sound like if they didn't have any beats. So, go figure.)
Mates of State: Mountaintops
I predicted I would stop listening to this soon after buying it, and I was right. Though that doesn't mean it's a bad album. Review.
- Mates of State: Unless I'm Led
Her best album. Review.
- Feist: The Circle Married the Line
Joe Byrd & The Field Hippies: The American Metaphysical Circus
After a track by the United States of America came up on shuffle earlier this month, I went on a "whatever happened to" Google search and ran across this, USA leader Joe Byrd's return following the original band's break up. It's clearly meant as a sequel of sorts, given that the album title is identical to the opening track on the USA's one and only album. No other USA members appear among the dozen or so Field Hippies, a cast of L.A.-based musicians and singers, but Byrd is clearly going for the same sound—an eclectic mix of psychedliea and avant electronics, with equal doses humor and haze. Unfortunately the album just comes off as second rate. As similar as it is, it just falls flat compared to USA's spark. It's not a bad album, but it's just okay—and a disappointment compared to Byrd's earlier masterpiece.
- Joe Byrd & The Field Hippies: You Can't Ever Come Down