Subminimal – “Intemperie” Cassette (2019)

subminimalintemperieSubminimal is Icelander electronic musician Tjorvi Oskarsson, and Intemperie is his latest solo release.  While Oskarsson made his name in drum and bass, Intemperie sees him moving in a more ambient, atmospheric direction, a collection of five long, quiet passages that are more about setting a mood than your putting your feet in motion.  The songs take us to peaks of sorts, but there are no dramatic bass drops here, instead a gradual dropping off as each song eventually fades out.  There’s a cinematic quality to the pieces, something perfect for documentary films featuring long, slow, beautiful shots in high definition, the kind usually reserved for nature and space-related themes.

Intemperie is available digitally and via cassette (limited to 50 copies) on Subminimal’s Bandcamp page HERE.

Konsulat – “Kolaport” (2018)

konsulatkolaportThis little 10″ gem is a collaboration of Arnljótur Sigurðsson, best known for his work with the Icelandic reggae band Ojba Rasta (but just as importantly in my mind for playing bass on the best songs on Berndsen’s Lover In the Dark), and Þórður Grímsson of A & E Sounds fame.  It’s a super limited release of only 25 copies, each of which are hand-numbered just inside the jacket.

Kolaport is definitely not what I was expecting from this pair.  It’s beat-driven electronica, though I’m at a loss to provide a subgenera.  I’d say it’s mid-tempo – hardly ambient, but not a dancefloor banger either.  They synths on “Dagga Dagga” are a touch retro while the beats have an 808-like punch, remaining cohesive while never falling into any kind of rut.  Meanwhile “Lífsblómið” introduces vocal samples overlaid onto a more more sterile and colder beat.  I confess I’m a sucker for these kinds of samples, though, and I dig what Konsulat are doing on this track.

You can give Kolaport a listen on Bandcamp HERE.  Note the full digital album is eight tracks, while this 10″ is comprised of only two.  Given the limited quantity of the vinyl pressing, it’ll likely be a tough one to track down in a physical format.

Hvörf – “Music Library 01” (2019)

hvorflibrary01Jóhannes Birgir Pálmason is best known for his work as Epic Rain, and in fact the fourth Epic Rain album came out earlier this month (review to follow in the upcoming weeks…).  However, that’s not the only record Jóhannes released in 2019.  Hell, it’s not even the only album he released in November, because on the same day that Epic Rain’s All Things Turn To Rust came out, so too did Music Library 01 from his new project Hvörf.  Joining him as part of Hvörf is none other than Þórir Georg, who has appeared on Life in the Vinyl Lane many times for his solo work as well as with Fighting ShitÓreiða, Roht, and probably a dozen other bands I’m forgetting.  Between them the pair have covered a wide range of musical genres from electronic to hip hop, singer-songwriter to hardcore, indie to black metal, so when I first heard about Hvörf I was curious as to what kind of sounds they’d make together.

I was not expecting library music.

Now, don’t be confused.  Music Library 01 isn’t some kind of generic collection of music and sound designed with TV and film producers in mind.  At least not entirely.  There are absolutely some delicate tracks such as “The Cosmic Connection”, with it’s piano and gentle guitar foundation, that would be absolutely perfect for a movie score.  But we also have more experimental works like “Life On Other Planets” that utilize dialog samples from other media as part of the sonic composition.  When viewed as a whole we see that Music Library 01 is anchored by these two styles, and in fact they alternate across the albums eight tracks – the odd numbered songs played as low key and at times dramatic instrumentals while the even numbered tracks have a more sci-fi sensibility and use dialog sampling all of which seems to be tied to aliens and/or a possible nuclear apocalypse, giving them a somewhat dystopian feel.  It’s like two four-song EPs, except instead of each EP taking up one thematically consistent side the songs are shuffled together like a deck of cards.  The effect is not as obvious as you might think, because while the two styles are different they retain some similar stylistic elements, the underlying atmospheric foundation the same for all eight compositions.  It’s some exception chill out music.

Music Library 01 is available for listening at Bandcamp HERE.  The vinyl was put out on the Lucky Records imprint, and while not for sale on Bandcamp it is available through their store in Reykjavik.  Discogs indicates it’s a relatively small pressing of 250 copies, so make sure to get yours.

Chris & Cosey – “Technø Primitiv” (1985)

I’m clearly becoming infatuated with Cosey Fanni Tutti.  Whether it’s part of Chris & Cosey, or Carter Tutti, or any of the other permutations, I find the blend of Chris Carter’s soundscapes and the dreaminess of her voice to be perfect companions, both to one another as well as to me as I sit and listen.  In fact I’m dangerously close to going down a Cosey rabbit hole and buying up all of her stuff that I can get my hands on, which could be a dangerous proposition given that I’ll be in London in a few weeks time.

chriscoseytechno

Technø Primitiv was the duo’s fourth full-length album (♠), a somewhat somber dance record, a languid sonic dream sequence that turns the listener back into themselves, Cosey’s voice like a guru’s mantra allowing you to slowly slide into another state of consciousness.  The oddest twist on the album comes at the end of side A.  The second-to-last song is “Haunted Heroes”, a serious ambient number that replaces her vocals with what I believe to be a war veteran describing some of his experiences, his voice distant but clear.  That’s immediately followed by the sugary “Stolen Kisses”, the closest thing on Technø Primitiv to a true pop song.  The contrast between the two is palpable and a bit startling when “Stolen Kisses” first begins.

Technø Primitiv is the kind of good that can cause a paradigm shift in how you think about music.  I’ve been flirting with more and more electronic and dance music recently, and this may just be the gentle shove I needed to jump into the deep end of the pool.

(♠)  As near as I can tell, at least… sometimes with artists that constantly put out albums with name variations it can be difficult to tell.

Coil – “Panic” (1985)

coilpanicThere are three songs on this 12″ from Coil, and all three bring something different to the party.  “Aqua Regis” is the stuff nightmares are made from, and industrial horror show from the deepest recesses of the most primitive parts of the brain.  I mean, just look at the cover of this thing – if that image isn’t nightmare fuel, I don’t know what is.  However, “Panic” is some great industrial dance, metallic beats and more structured than its predecessor, though the vocal interlude is creepy as hell (and it sort of sounds like they sampled some Led Zeppelin era Robert Plant with some of the moaning).  The B side is given over to an industrial cover of “Tainted Love” that will peel the paint off your soul, if you have one.  Even played at 45 rpm you’re left thinking, “wait, is the speed too slow?”  It’s not.  It feels like something being sung by a homicidal stalker.  Meaning it’s pretty great.