Category Archives: Bandcamp

Stream New Music from Field Hymns: Black Unicorn and Cane Swords

Some brand-new, not yet released, stuff coming your way today from Field Hymns records. I’ve written about some of their releases before and I’m always impressed with what I hear. In case you aren’t aware, Field Hymns is a small label based out of Portland, Oregon, and they release a fairly steady stream of electronic and experimental tapes. Today I’ve got two new ones to share with you.

Black Unicorn - "Traced Landscapes"
Black Unicorn – “Traced Landscapes”

First up is Akron, Ohio’s Black Unicorn with their album “Traced Landscapes.” Trance inducing, retro synthed out 8-bit landscapes come in and out of focus. One minute pulsing delicately, while buzzing melodies cut through the atmospherics the next. Tracks are focused squarely upon one idea, and that singularity holds time in place for just a little while before it’s gone, only to be replaced by the next hypnotic transcendence.

Listening to a track like “Seafowl in Silhouette” one can’t help but focus their thoughts inward. Think of Boards of Canada slowed down 100x. The waves of sound don’t so much crash over you as they do envelop you. Black Unicorn is able to create the kind of sonic space that, in some pretty amazing ways, completely shifts our temporal perceptions.

There are also songs like “Trans-Dimensional Railway” that pay due to Kraftwerk. The kraut-rock, electro pulse is definitely there, even floating there in the background after everything around it completely falls apart, leaving us with the sensation of temporarily floating through space. It’s as though the ground has been pulled completely out from under us and instead of falling we float off into the night sky. Pretty interesting way to have temporal considerations create the divisions between sections of a song.

 

The next release that I have is “Temple Swords” by Cane Swords (also from Akron), a self described “synth exploration.” Comparing and contrasting with Black Unicorn, Cane Swords also create music that breaks free from music’s traditional treating of temporality, but they are doing so in completely the opposite way. Where once there was a homogenous landscape that created hypnotic trances, there is now an ever changing and intricately woven fabric of sounds that whirl in and out of range. Much more spacey, ethereal and in a lot of ways, kind of intense. Recommended if you like Morton Subotnick, as it says on their release, is pretty accurate. Tape composition practices are given an updated process, creating similar highly descriptive sound collages.

They do also have their darker, more ambient moments. Slower development across a long form composition, such as the “Telegraph One” and “Telegraph Two” suites, take a bit of a different approach to sound collage, stripping away some material to create a more homogenous sound. Overall the entire tape is full of some pretty enchanting stuff.

Both these tapes will be released on February 14th and will make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for that special person in your life. Check out all the stuff that Field Hymns has to offer over on their site, including info on future releases, and listen to the tracks above. There are plenty more on the Field Hymns Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages.

Stream: Herbert Powell – “Hell and Sebastian”

Lo-fi, jangly, experimental instrumental tunes coming your way today courtesty of Herbert Powell. The influence of Women (and latter day Women offshoot Cindy Lee), Polvo, and maybe some Beefheart and Jandek, are worn proudly on their sleeves. I can’t help but hear a little shade of Do Make Say Think in there too, maybe not so much in the guitars, but there is definitely something about the drum sound that makes me think of Do Make Say Think.

De-tuned, coarse, loose, but never falling out completely. Quiet and unassuming in timbre and volume – no squealing bursts of feedback, no ultra distorted fuzz-tone. I don’t even hear so much as a delay pedal. Just a little bit of echo from the room and they are off and running.

What I like most about bands that are able to make this kind of music well isn’t so much how much noise they can make, or how far out they can go with their harmonies, but how much they can stretch the structure of a song without losing the listener completely. For all the ramshackle quality on the surface there is still an obvious bit of planning that is going into these songs. Just listen to the bass. The bassist is almost hiding in the back of the mix, but it’s really anchoring everything.

Speaking of Beefheart, the track “Snout Mask Replica” shifts between a spacious and slow section and a contrasting fast and rambunctious one. Dare I say it that there is even a part that functions like a bridge. Great shapes all around. And check out the counterpoint going on at the beginning of “Cider Goth.” The song just starts to form out of a cloud, picking up steam as it goes. Guitars wrapping themselves around each other, coming together, falling apart again, grinding to a halt, pushing forward. The entire song works like the outro of Women’s “January 8th” (which in itself is taking an idea from Velvet Underground’s “Heroin”) where the tempo is in flux, speeding up as the song takes off and then slowing as things start to come apart again. It’s all pretty tightly controlled though.

Finally, “Aldo Huxley” is an oddly touching way to end. Despite the chugging guitar that attempts to eschew delicacy, there are some moments in there where the guitars match up in such a perfect way. Those little moments happen periodically throughout not just this closing track, but the entire release. If you listen for those, giving everything a really close reading, you’ll be glad you did.

Head over to Bandcamp to download this gem. It’s only £1 ($1.64), but you can always feel free to throw in a bit extra. You can stream it above, or on the bandcamp page.