Young Moon: Navigated Like the Swans
Trevor Montgomery is a craftsman. By day he's a skilled tile setter, a job taxing to both the mind and body. By night he's an equally meticulous and hard working musician, coaxing just the right tones out of his vintage drum machines and synths to carry his tales of love and redemption. As a tile setter and as a musician, his job is the same: assembling things of beauty to fill empty spaces.
Montgomery's previous album The Trickster (St. Ives) was inspired by his youth, wandering in the woods, riding trains, taking meth and heavy psychedelics, and narrowly cheating death on more than one occasion. On Navigated Like the Swan, his debut under the Young Moon moniker, he emerges like a shaman from the woods of his youth -- his darkness is filled with light, cynicism and macabre fixations washed away by a revitalizing and intoxicating love.
Rolf Julius: Raining
Raining is the third installment in the small music series and the first posthumous Rolf Julius release. The title piece "Raining" originally appeared as part of the 2007 installation "Drawing (Dot)." When played at a high volume the piece engulfs the listener in a dense world of rain, wind rattled trees, and soaked pastures full of life. However, when played through the small flat speaker Julius chose for the installation, the sounds become soft and cyclical patterns, like a lush landscape viewed from a plane miles above. The second piece "Weitflächig" is an example of what Julius called "Musik für eine weite Ebene" (Music for a Wide Plain) - using small sounds to create vast landscapes of sound. "Music for a Glimpse Inward" originally appeared in a 2005 installation. With small speakers placed along the edge of very large empty room, the music played softly, heightening the listener's perception of space and emptiness.
JBM: Stray Ashes
Despite feeling disillusioned, drained, and disconnected after an intense year of touring, Brooklyn-based recording artist Jesse Marchant, a.k.a. JBM, felt an insatiable need quietly gestating. After a much needed break, he relocated to a remote cabin in the Catskills and started the long process of writing and recording Stray Ashes, his followup to 2010's Not Even in July. Like a twilight journey through canyons, with noctilucent clouds on the horizon, these songs flow with refined grace and raw force.
Though he recorded most of the album in a large log house next to a frozen lake inhabited by hundreds of geese in upstate New York, John Congleton joined the project for additional recording and mixing. Congleton's contributions help to define a sonic space throughout Stray Ashes that perfectly cradles Jesse's earnest vocals, as do the additional performances of McKenzie Smith (of Midlake, Drums), and Macey Taylor (of A.A. Bondy, Bass) on several tracks, which were recorded by Congleton in his Texas studio. The gauzy sonic blanket Marchant and Congleton have created provides a foundation for the mysterious collection of songs on Stray Ashes.
Callers / Delicate Steve: Further Out / Perfect Pairs
Further Out / Perfect Pairs is a collaboration between Callers and Luaka Bop recording artist Delicate Steve. "Further Out" is a disjointed narrative about hotels and their occupants, left to tie up loose ends as life rockets past them, while "Perfect Pairs" explores the difficulties of maintaining relationships within relationships within relationships.
Here's what Delicate Steve had to say about the collaboration:"I met Sara through some mutual friends at a Deerhoof concert last year. Soon after that I checked out her band (on myspace!!) and was really into it. I sent her an idea I had for a song while on tour, then we met for a minute during SXSW, saw each other's bands, and talked about making a song when we were both home from tour. Next we met up at Michael Azerrad's "Our Band Could Be Your Life" concert in NY where our bands were both playing. I had an awesome time in the mosh pit with Ryan. A week or two later we started recording "Perfect Pairs" together with Don Godwin behind the board. Shortly after that, we made "Further Out" collaborating back and forth in our home studios."
Carter Tanton: Freeclouds
Carter Tanton (formerly known as Tulsa and current member of Lower Dens) has announced a national tour with The War on Drugs and Purling Hiss behind his forthcoming full-length, Freeclouds. The album features the enchanting vocals of Boston dream-folk artist Marissa Nadler. Tanton's last release with Tulsa, I Was Submerged won the approval of both the media and fans alike, praised by NPR, SPIN, and Rolling Stone, who said Tanton's "indie-seraphim voice is not of this world." In addition to recording and co-writing one song on Marissa Nadler's well-received 2011 album, Tanton has recorded albums by George Lewis Jr (Twin Shadow) and Drug Rug among others.
Goldmund: All Will Prosper
All Will Prosper, Keith Kenniff's latest album under the Goldmund moniker, is a collection of 14 traditional Civil War-era folk songs and one contemporary track "Asoken Farewell." Kenniff has always been a student of Civil War history and culture. From the Ken Burns documentary series on PBS to Bill Carothers' solo piano album The Blues and The Greys, he has studied and enjoyed the music that tied friends and families together in a time when the nation was being torn apart.
Recorded over a period of 5 years in various houses in Massachusetts, Oregon, and North Carolina, Kenniff's arrangements feel fresh and intimate, while retaining the wistful charms and timeless appeal of the originals. In part the album's intimacy is created by his recording technique. With the top of the piano left completely open, microphones were placed close enough to capture the mechanical movement of the keys being pressed and the pedals squeaking. Similarly the acoustic guitar is close-mic'd, tracing the sounds of his fingers scraping and plucking the metal strings. The result creates a rich, almost hyper-real environment, where the tiniest details are magnified and brought to the surface.
Balmorhea: Live at Sint-Elisabethkerk
Though Balmorhea's studio recordings never fail to impress, their songs have always been most powerful and affecting when performed live. The group's intense soulfulness during a live set is consistently remarkable and this special recording from Ghent, Belgium is no exception. The opening track alone is goosebump-inducing, and perfectly sets the tone for this intimate recording.
Throughout the evening the band played with so much energy and emotion that's hard to believe they had just arrived at the venue after a long sleepless drive from Spain. With massive stone walls and floors, the Saint Elisabeth Church (built in 1873) colored each song with a natural reverb and delay, while amplifying the tiniest incidental sounds from the crowd. Despite the intense cold of the unheated church, the band's fingers remained nimble, warmed only by the glow of the candles used to light the stage and the center aisle. As the candles burn out the show comes to an end with the crowd-pleaser "Untitled" followed by a solo piano encore performance of "Constellations." We hope you enjoy this recording as much as we do, and if you haven't experienced a Balmorhea show, we hope this album inspires you to check them out next time they're in your town.
Luke Temple: Don't Act Like You Don't Care
Before the success of his group Here We Go Magic, Luke Temple worked full-time as a plasterer. At nights after work, he spent his hours crafting what would become Here We Go Magic's self-titled debut. During the days he wrote a completely different set of songs in his head. The resulting record Don't Act Like You Don't Care shines with clarity and daylight, in contrast to Here We Go Magic's hazy aquatic debut.
After recording two critically acclaimed solo records for Mill Pond (2005, 2007) Temple's work still hadn't garnered much attention from the record-buying public. Frustrated, but not defeated, he focused his creative energy into the writing of two amazing, but completely different records. Initially referred to as "The Country Record," Don't Act Like You Don't Care was shelved due to the success of Here We Go Magic's self-titled debut. Now, three years later, we're finally able to offer this incredible collection of folk-pop songs.
Botany: Feeling Today
Feeling Today is Spencer Stephenson's debut release under the Botany moniker. The culmination of years of assembling music, this EP, and his forthcoming full-length, flow with a transcendental radiance. Under the gauzy patina of decades-old samples, this Texan sound-sculptor masterfully merges the past and the present, the earthly and the infinite.
Spencer recalls recording a casio keyboard onto cassette-tape at the age of 4, and becoming hooked on the simple idea that he could capture sounds and share them with those around him. Now 22, he's still at it, playing instruments and stitching sounds together in his home atop a hill, surrounded by trees, fringed by the wide Texas horizon.
Spencer explores the cosmic nexus of shimmering psychedelia, blissed-out pop, and instrumental hip-hop, as he turns recycled sounds into something thoroughly modern. For him there's a therapeutic value in reconfiguring the "noise" of an information-dense consumer culture into something nourishing and honest. He collects artifacts...scavenged bits of ephemera...all of the organic and inorganic matter that passes through our hands and heads everyday and he uses them to build something deeply personal. Ultimately, he reminds us that the natural world we are a part of is one of boundless wonder and color."