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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
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+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
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+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
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44.1 kHz Archive

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Rune Grammofon

A Norwegian jazz academy has sprouted from the hills of Trondheim and promptly become something of a breeding ground for restive musicians. Here, it marks the intersection at which Supersilent member Stale Storlokken befriended drummer Thomas Stronen (whose efforts in the lauded avant-jazz ensemble Food have recently spawned another fine addition to the Rune Grammofon catalogue in Last Supper) and forged Humcrush, a set of improvised, jittery electronics and truculent jazz. And, despite a predisposition towards improvisation, the proceedings are marked by cohesive structures, as though these were premeditated pieces of music unfolding along set paths, all the while maintaining a sense of spontaneity.

To hear opener "Acrobat" is to recognize Stale Storlokken's sonic wiles, but they appear more playful and loose than his academic pursuits with Supersilent. Amidst Stronen's rolling drum patterns, snare swats and cymbal crashes, Storlokken carefully plants his sloshy synth lines and warbling electric piano, until, as the piece progresses, these seeds sprout into a rather flamboyant din. "Sport'n Spice" sallies forth on much the same route; crude electronics, sounding like someone feverishly spitting cashews into a metal bucket, mingle with scattered percussive shots to form a polyrhythm, whilst a simple, four-note keyboard motif holds these disparate elements more or less together.

What leaves a most indelible mark is just how Humcrush attains variation in tempo, chance occurrences of displacement and empty space, even as the pieces sound meticulously crafted. This said, not all of them appear fully developed — for example, "In the Cave," with its jumbled electronics, sounds like coins shaken about in a plastic bag. For a while, the electronics surface only to fall back into hiding once again, as though unsure whether they ought to show themselves; at long last they join hands with Storlokken's squall of keyboard noise, lending something of a tangible shape and depth to the sound field. But by this point the piece has largely sung its song and makes little further progress.

More notable are "Spectral Rock" and "Japan." At the onset of "Spectral Rock," crackling chimes are left largely on their lonesome to twinkle away intermittently, creating a wide-open sense of space which soon thereafter is followed by a dense weave of chirping electronics, filling the aural space like a horde of chanting monks. Meanwhile, "Japan" is all synths spooling woozy tonal waves behind choral samples, with building static coils of notes that vibrate like serpent DNA at the heart of the track. Often, the effect is like a bird buzzing a hippopotamus, the electronics here, there and everywhere, the percussion static and sulky. The composition, like many on Humcrush, has a sci-fi, almost absurdist quality, especially in the wayward bleatings of Storlokken's horn and keyboard passages.

Much in the manner of Black Dice's Creature Comforts, Humcrush presents an eclectic assortment of mischievous, seemingly chaotic sounds, flowering in a delectably melodic fashion. As an insightful rapprochement between improvisation and composition, Humcrush, though not without its problems, succeeds admirably. Even more, these fruitful, at times roguish songs are simply a pleasure to hear.

by Max Schaefer

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