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Editor's note: We have activated the Neumu 44.1 kHz Archive. Use the link at the bottom of this list to access hundreds of Neumu reviews.

+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ 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
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive

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Imagine religious music by and for robots, constructed in digital trance states by CPUs moved toward ecstatic altered states. That's Excepter, a currently four-person NYC-based collective, whose improvised soundscapes would haunt the outer reaches of freak-folk if they were not so very clearly inorganic. Album credits for this EP list show every member — founders John Fell Ryan and Dan Hougland, as well as newer members Nathan Corbin and Jon Nicholson — manning various kinds of synths, drum boxes and electronics, with only percussion and vocals derived from natural sources (more or less, more on that later). Yet though the tools are metallic, the sound is soul-stirring and transformative. This is psychedelic music in its broadest sense, connoting not paisley shirts or druggy lyrics, but a genuine gateway into other states of consciousness.

The five tracks for Sunbomber were laid to tape more or less live, as always, bringing a drastically reconfigured Exceptor (minus earlier members Macrae Semans, Calder Martin and Caitlin Cook, and plus Corbin and Nicholson) together in a Catskills studio for the first time. The result is a chaotic, multilayered sound, anchored by drum-machine rhythms and built out of repetitive, sometimes conflicting patterns of voice, synthesizer, field recordings and other instruments. It is the sort of sound where you are never quite sure what is going on, which instruments are in use, what time signature or key the piece is in, or what the singer is saying. The vocals are particularly mysterious, for, while the tone is often completely audible, the words never are. The moans and growls and intonations feel disengaged and ghostly, an atmospheric that you might expect to anchor the cuts in reality, but which, in fact, makes them even stranger.

The disc opens with "One More Try," emerging out of a series of long twanging notes interspersed with computerized blips, the trill of some sort of ethnic flute flicking in and out of view. This cut includes the disc's most overt use of field recordings — you hear bits of laughter and conversation in amongst the inorganic sounds, though so distantly that you're never sure exactly what you're listening to. About a minute in, a frayed, tired-sounding voice enters the mix, words indistinguishable, the kind of voice that might be staggering home from a long night. This initial cut has a gentle feeling, almost meditative, built as it is on high, repetitive electronic tones and the shaman's weary intonations. There's a slight drag to the cut, a trudging deceleration, as if the whole thing were constantly in danger of slowing to a stop. "Second Chances," which follows, is more chaotic and urgent, with its water-drop sounds against the boom of ultra-low percussion. The sounds here come from every direction, converging almost accidentally at the center. There's an industrial clangor — sounds like dragging metals or escaping steam, power drills or sonar blips — that subsides only at the end into a lovely marimba-like motif.

The pace picks up even more with "Bridge Traffic," founded on a twitchy, cymbal-shushed electro beat with bongo-ish percussion. Again, a wordless voice plays off the electronic sounds, its timbre suggesting all those human qualities — exhaustion, thought, hope and discouragement — that can't be conveyed so easily by electronic sounds. "Dawn Patrol" continues in this vein, pitting a weird chant against speeding and slowing snare-like rhythms, a mechanized groove that bunches and stretches like taffy. The final, title track is more abstract and less shaped by rhythm than the others, irregular in time signature, weaving multiple layers of sound. There are, again, wordless incantations, growls and shaman moans, reverberating booms and organ wheeze, Ligeti-ish hums of overtones. The organ emerges from this tangle of sensations, spinning out sounds that cross church-music overtures with slow strobe-lit dance cuts.

This is the kind of music that seems most impenetrable the first time you hear it, then gradually reveals itself over repeated listens. There's a lot going on. It doesn't always seem to fit together in any premeditated way. Still, it creates strange juxtapositions and interesting textures that change every time you listen.

by Jennifer Kelly

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