Kranky

Windy & Carl “Allegiance And Conviction” (Kranky)

2020-03-20T19:48:08+00:00March 19th, 2020|

Legendary Dearborn duo Windy & Carl have been crafting inner space electric guitar and bass vistas for nearly three decades now, but their latest feels as vital and vaporous as any peak opus in their vast catalog. Written and recorded across six years, the songs swirl between shoegaze minimalism and stargaze drift, over which Windy Weber whispers veiled poetic narratives of transformation, isolation, and escape. Allegiance And Conviction is their first album since 2012’s We Will Always Be. The six compositions are something of outlier in their catalog, shorter in nature than most on their previous releases. All of the tracks are saturated with Carl Hultgren’s signature guitar work, intimate constructions of murmurs, drones and his trademark layered filigree, gently amassed into alternately lighter and heavier than air atmospheres. Despite being their first full-length in more than half a decade, the album fully belongs to the bewitching galaxy of sound Windy & Carl innovated and within which they remain the sole occupants: music of thresholds and peripheries and eternities. Allegiance And Conviction is the multifaceted, contemporary take on their sound.

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Pan American “A Son” (Kranky)

2019-12-13T05:54:55+00:00December 13th, 2019|

Legacy Chicago craftsman Mark Nelson’s latest offering as Pan•American is less a distillation or divergence than it is a return to his musical and spiritual beginnings. Spare, subdued, and largely acoustic, A Son unfurls like late summer dusk on the edge of town, expansive but intimate. Motivated by notions of “moving backward” and tracing roots—as well as a couple years of hammered dulcimer lessons—the album’s nine songs were written and recorded in his home in Evanston, Illinois, and honed during a recent solo tour in Europe. The emphasis on uncluttered arrangements and the centrality of the guitar and vocals reveal these songs as the most direct and emotional statement of his career. Nelson cites everything from June Tabor, The Carter Family, Suicide and Jimmy Reed as oblique inspirations, though his truest muse was creative self-inquiry: “What does music do, Where does music start? How simple can it be? How honest can it be?” After decades of mining post-rock pathways and latticework electronics in Labradford and early Pan•American, A Son strips away ornament and distraction in favor of a direct gaze into the heart of what is.

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Grouper “AIA: Alien Observer” (Kranky)

2019-10-25T03:46:05+00:00October 25th, 2019|

“This sound / synapse transposition is as haunting as it is beautiful—surely Grouper’s best.”—Tiny Mix Tapes “If past Grouper releases have inhabited abyssal trenches and damp backwoods, here Harris takes us journeying across constellations and stars. Two of the most beguiling albums of the year, exquisitely realized and singularly evocative.”  —The Quietus  “This music feels both spacey and expansive and also oddly intimate and grounded, the work of someone who has mastered her tools and knows how to get the most out of them.”—Pitchfork “Harris finds a way to dive deeper in simple and unassuming ways.”—NPR

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Grouper “AIA: Dream Loss” (Kranky)

2019-10-25T03:46:04+00:00October 25th, 2019|

“This sound / synapse transposition is as haunting as it is beautiful—surely Grouper’s best.”—Tiny Mix Tapes “If past Grouper releases have inhabited abyssal trenches and damp backwoods, here Harris takes us journeying across constellations and stars. Two of the most beguiling albums of the year, exquisitely realized and singularly evocative.”  —The Quietus  “This music feels both spacey and expansive and also oddly intimate and grounded, the work of someone who has mastered her tools and knows how to get the most out of them.”—Pitchfork “Harris finds a way to dive deeper in simple and unassuming ways.”—NPR

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Loscil “Equivalents” (Kranky)

2019-08-16T03:43:12+00:00August 16th, 2019|

Canadian composer Scott Morgan’s 12th long-player as loscil takes its title from an influential series of early 20th century photographs by Alfred Stieglitz, abstracting clouds into miasmic, painterly canvases of smoke and shadowplay. It’s a deeply fitting analog for Morgan’s own musical process across the past two decades, fraying forms and tones into widescreen mirages of opaque texture and negative space. The name Equivalents referred to Stieglitz’s notion of the photographs as being equivalent to his “philosophical or emotional states of mind;” the same could be said of these eight weighty, shivering chiaroscuros of sound. Each piece unfolds and evolves enigmatically, adrift in low oxygen atmospheres, shifting dramatically from pockets of density to dissipated streaks of moonlit vapor. The entirety of the record was created specifically for the album with the exception of “Equivalent 7,” which began as a dance score for frequent collaborator Vanessa Goodman. The album version of this track was reworked with Vancouver musician Amir Abbey aka Secret Pyramid. Cloud photographs taken by Scott Morgan at various locations throughout Cascadia in 2018.

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Earthen Sea “Grass And Trees” (Kranky)

2020-03-07T07:02:24+00:00June 21st, 2019|

Jacob Long’s reductionist rhythmic ambient vessel, Earthen Sea, ebbs towards a more purely elemental state on his second excursion for Kranky, Grass And Trees. He describes the creative process as one of “simplifying things as much as possible,” designing uncluttered spaces traced in nothing but breath, field recordings, and “sounds that could be played by hand but weren’t.” The results feel decentralized but dynamic, low-lit evocations of ambiguous nocturnal environments—dub techno disassembled into stray pulses and spare parts. It’s a music both interior and infinite, languorous yet transformative, made in the outer boroughs of a metropolis but existing in its own liminal wilderness. Long’s vision is a grounding one, rooted in the physical body but attuned to larger currents: “In response to living in a fairly hectic city, and at a very hectic time for the world at large, creating something more drawn back and restrained felt appropriate.”

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Tim Hecker “Anoyo” (Kranky)

2019-05-24T20:05:07+00:00May 24th, 2019|

Anoyo (“the world over there”) draws from the same sessions which led to the 2018 work Konoyo but rendered starker, solemn, and stripped back, with more of a naturalist tint. Tim Hecker’s processing here moves in veiled ways, soft refractions and whispered shrouds woven within improvisational sessions of traditional gagaku interplay, evoking a sense of vaulted space, temples at dawn, shredded silk fluttering in the rafters. This is boldly barren music, skeletal and sculptural, shaped from wood, wind, strings, and mist. Modern yet ancient, delicate and desolate, Anoyo inverts its predecessor to compellingly conjure a parallel world of illusion, solitude, and eternal return.

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Loscil “Submers” (Kranky)

2020-03-07T06:17:19+00:00November 23rd, 2018|

Scott Morgan’s second Loscil full-length, Submers, took inspiration from salvaged Time Life classical music albums and “the indelible mystery of submarines and the deep sea.” Composed using a custom-built Max / MSP sequencer—with no external samplers, synthesizers, or acoustic instruments involved—the limitations of the process shaped these masterful, minimal compositions. Each piece was produced as a live mix, direct to disk, with no separated tracks. Originally issued in November of 2002 on compact disc, Kranky is now making these timeless recordings available on vinyl for the first time. All of these tracks are named after submarines, the final cut being a requiem for the crew of the ill fated Russian nuclear vessel Kursk. Recorded at home using only samples as sound sources, the album is rife with sourceless echoes, steely surfaces and ominous melodic and rhythmic undertows. The sifted melodies are layered over muffled, clicking and pulsing rhythm tracks with an appropriately aquatic feel to the tracks.

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Tim Hecker “Konoyo” (Kranky)

2018-09-28T03:31:08+00:00September 28th, 2018|

Experiential composer Tim Hecker’s ninth official full-length, Konoyo (“the world over here”) was largely recorded during several trips to Japan where he collaborated with members of the gagaku ensemble Tokyo Gakuso, in a temple on the outskirts of Tokyo. Inspired by conversations with a recently deceased friend about negative space and a sense of music’s increasingly banal density, Hecker found himself drawn towards restraint and elegance, while making music both collectively and alone. As with the Icelandic choir he arranged on 2016’s Love Streams, the heights of Hecker’s talent emerge in his manipulation of source material, bending and burnishing it into fantastical new forms. Keening strings are stretched into surreal, pixelated mirages; woodwinds warble and dissipate as fractal whispers of spatial haze; sparse gestures of percussion are chopped, isolated, and eroded, like disembodied signals from the afterlife. Both in texture and intent, Konoyo conjures a somber, ceremonial mood, suffused with ritual and regret. Visions flutter and fade; dreams gleam and decay. Hecker will stage a series of special performances in tandem with the album’s release, featuring members of the gagaku ensemble on shō, ryuteki and hichiriki, accompanied by Kara-Lis Coverdale.

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Forma “Semblance” (Kranky)

2020-03-07T06:20:40+00:00August 17th, 2018|

Brooklyn trio Forma’s latest album continues their mission to “broaden the idea of what an electronic music ensemble can sound like.” Semblance emerged from exploratory sessions at The Schoolhouse, the Bushwick loft where members Mark Dwinell and John Also Bennett live, then was tracked at Gary’s Electric studios, where their previous album Physicalist was also recorded. Inspired by polyrhythmic composition, the human voice, and conceptual improvisation strategies, the songs are striking in their textural detail and emotional nuance, alternately synthetic and sentient, futuristic and intuitive. Incorporating flute, piano, guitar, saxophone, acoustic drums and cymbals alongside an array of synthesizers, the record persuasively demonstrates the group’s unique playing abilities and fluid chemistry—attributes they credit to “techniques we’ve developed to trick our electronic machines into mimicking the spontaneous character of live instruments.” Members George Bennett and John Also Bennett also cite as an influence their recent stint in minimalist composer Jon Gibson’s ensemble, performing his 1973 proto-ambient masterwork Visitations. The long-form modal piece requires restraint and deep listening to execute, qualities especially apparent in the more muted moments of this album, such as “Rebreather” and “New City.” The group states the intent of the new album as “to be more direct and exacting”, which it is. Over half a decade spent writing and recording together has distilled the band’s hybrid electro-acoustic interplay into an attuned and astounding language, capable of articulating impossible symmetries and reflective states. The stunning visuals of the artwork are by frequent collaborator Peter Burr.

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Grouper “Grid Of Points” (Kranky)

2018-04-20T14:18:32+00:00April 20th, 2018|

Not long after recording her tenth album Ruins, Liz Harris traveled to Wyoming to work on art and record music. She found herself drawn towards the pairing of skeletal piano phrasing with spare, rich bursts of vocal harmony. A series of stark songs emerged, minimal and vulnerable, woven with emotive silences. Inspired by “the idea that something is missing or cold,” the pieces float and fade like vignettes, implying as much as they reveal. She describes them as “small texts hanging in space,” impressions of mortality, melody, and the unseen—fleeting beauty, interrupted. Grid Of Points stands as a concise and potently poetic addition to the Grouper catalog.  “Grid Of Points is a set of songs for piano and voice. I wrote these songs over a week and a half; they stopped abruptly when I was interrupted by a high fever. Though brief, it is complete. The intimacy and abbreviation of this music allude to an essence that the songs lyrics speak more directly of. The space left after matter has departed, a stage after the characters have gone, the hollow of some central column, missing.” —Liz Harris

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Stars of the Lid “Gravitational Pull Vs. The Desire For An Aquatic Life” (Kranky)

2018-03-29T20:39:31+00:00March 29th, 2018|

The release of Music For Nitrous Oxide, the 1995 debut by Stars Of The Lid, heralded a new strain of the American underground music scene, one born of the heat and humidity, boredom, and the insular, constipated, rock-ist music scene of Austin, Texas, home of the duo of Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie. It was a muffled lashing out against surrounding musical conventions, a small middle finger to the local dominant “Americana” scene, but one that nobody could see outside the shack of a house in which they recorded or at their occasional sparsely populated live performances. It was as punk a move as anyone could make at that place and in that time. But, in a surprise to the two members of SOTL, people took notice, as related rumblings and grumblings were taking place simultaneously in other parts of the American landscape.

Coming quickly on the heels of their debut was Gravitational Pull vs. The Desire For An Aquatic Life, released one year later. This is a transitional release that travels from the scruffiness of the debut’s ambiance to more extended and subtle undulating tides of assembled sound, yet still dominated by processed guitars as the primary sound source. It also serves as an omen to the mini-orchestral works to come, beginning with the Avec Laudenum album a few years later. This is a small masterpiece.

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Christina Vantzou “No4” (Kranky)

2020-03-07T07:27:38+00:00March 29th, 2018|

Belgium-based composer Christina Vantzou’s fourth full-length for Kranky ventures further into the uniquely elusive and evocative mode of ambient classical minimalism which has become her signature: a fragile synthesis of contemplative drift, heady silences, and muted dissonance. In regards to the new album she speaks of focusing particular attention on the effects of the recordings on the body, and of “directing sound perception into an inner space.”

No. 4 took shape across roughly two years, incorporating a diverse array of musical and conceptual collaborators, including fellow Kranky artists Steve Hauschildt and John Also Bennett (of Forma) as well as Angel Deradoorian (ex-Dirty Projectors), Clarice Jensen, Beatrijs De Klerck, and members of Belgium’s Echo Collective. During the creation process Vantzou wanted to “blur lines of hierarchy,” and thus allowed all ensemble members and technical assistants to add or delete elements. Despite such a spectrum of input the eleven tracks feel distinctly cohesive, weaving elegant textures and resonant open spaces within a twilit landscape of eclectic instrumentation: piano, harp, vibraphone, voice, strings, marimba, synthesizers, gong, and bells.

A mindset of premeditated exploration informs the album’s emotive textural intuition, with hushed drones and delicate gestures eliding in the periphery of the mix. Vantzou cites sleep and “the loosening of time” as two formative practices in her private and professional life, which manifests in the quietly hallucinatory properties of her music. No. 4 feels both endless and ephemeral, immersive and immaterial. It’s a music of horizon lines and half-light, mapped with feeling and foresight.

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Dedekind Cut “Tahoe” (Kranky)

2020-03-07T05:53:48+00:00March 1st, 2018|

Northern California electronic producer Fred Welton Warmsley III’s solo work as Dedekind Cut (pronounced “dead-da-ken cut”) has evolved from fractured industrial design into increasingly subdued and sublime ambient meditations across two years of dedicated activity. His second full-length collection, Tahoe—so named after the mountain lake town he now calls home—swells with widescreen grandeur, evoking vistas both inner and outer. There are echoes of his earlier, more tempestuous mode in tracks like “MMXIX” and “Spiral” but overall the album skews panoramic and pensive, muted synthetic mists contoured with choral melody, field recordings, and radiant drone. His compositional instincts feel alternately classical, contemporary, and conflicted, befitting an artist whose discography spans labels as divergent as Hospital Productions, Ninja Tune, and NON.

Warmsley characterizes Tahoe as a “time peace,” sifting through “the past, the present, future, and fantasy.” Recorded primarily in New York, with additional sessions sourced from Berlin, Cambridge, and Placer County, California.

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High Plains “Cinderland” (Kranky)

2017-03-12T01:09:56+00:00March 12th, 2017|

2017 release on Kranky.

High Plains is the duo of Scott Morgan and Mark Bridges. Morgan, based in the Canadian Pacific Northwest, is predominantly known for his drifting, textured soundscapes released under the pseudonym Loscil. Bridges is an accomplished, classically-trained cellist residing in Madison, Wisconsin. The two met in Banff, Alberta while they were simultaneously there on residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2014.

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Earthen Sea “Act Of Love” (Kranky)

2020-03-07T05:59:51+00:00March 12th, 2017|

Jacob Long’s 2017 recordings under the Earthen Sea moniker deepen his compelling synthesis of shadowy rhythms and opaque atmospherics, drawing on the most potent qualities of melancholic ambient and dub techno. An Act Of Love follows 2015’s Ink, released via Ital’s Lovers Rock imprint, and was inspired by internal tribulations and the experience of exploring an empty nocturnal metropolis. Careful waves of tones drift and decay; beats materialize and pulse across twilit landscapes; a noir mood reigns. Given Long’s background as bassist for revelatory tribalpunk trio MI AMI, this album showcases a musician in the midst of transcendent redefinition, crafting an immersive language of texture and motion.

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Loscil “First Narrows” (Kranky)

2017-03-05T00:36:45+00:00March 5th, 2017|

Double vinyl LP pressing of this 2004 album including one bonus track. Warm, fuzzy, blurred electronics using real instruments and improvised performances from other musicians such as Jason Zumpano (Zumpano) and Tim Loewen (Destroyer). First Narrows is the third Loscil album and the first where Scott Morgan uses real instruments and input from other musicians. Sound sources ranged from sampled instruments to miscellaneous lo-fi mini-cassette recordings with Morgan generating music on computer by custom programming sequencing and processing designed so that no two performances of the patches would be exactly the same. In turn, Jason Zumpano on fender rhodes piano, Tim Loewen on guitar and Nyla Rany on cello improvise over the electronic sequences. Morgan then edited and mixed the live and premixed sections together.

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Loscil “Monument Builders” (Kranky)

2020-03-07T07:31:16+00:00January 21st, 2017|

Monument Builders is the 2016 album from Loscil, the ambient/electronic project of prolific composer Scott Morgan. It was primarily created on sample-based instruments in Morgan’s century old Vancouver home. Like that aged space, this music is also rough-hewn, with rickety samples of boiling kettles and resonant moving air. Recordings from a vintage micro-cassette recorder contribute distortion, rattles and textures that serve as both percussion and abstract aural color. According to Morgan, the genesis for the album may have begun as he viewed an old VHS copy of the American experimental film Koyaanisqatsi. “Something about the time-tarnished visuals and the pitch warble on Philip Glass’s epic score added a new layer of intrigue for me,” says Morgan. “Glass has always been an influence but lo-fi Glass felt like a minor revelation, as if the decay was actually enhancing the impact of the film’s message.” The investigations on Monument Builders also took inspiration from the anti-humanist writings of influential philosopher John Gray, as well as photographer Edward Burtynsky’s iconic aerial photographs of pollution and environmental destruction.

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Steve Hauschildt “Strands” (Kranky)

2017-10-01T20:24:55+00:00November 2nd, 2016|

2016 release from the electronic musician and former member of Emeralds. “Strands is a song cycle that is about cosmogony and creation/destruction myths. The title alludes to the structural constitution of ropes as I wanted to approach the compositions so that they consisted of strands and fibers which form a unified whole. This was so the songs could have the appearance of being either taut or slack without being fundamentally locked to a grid. So the sounds/tones have a certain malleability to them and sound like they’re bending through time. It’s also grittier and more distorted than my previous albums. I wanted to try and capture that moment in nature and society where life slowly reemerges through desolation, so it has a layer of optimism looming underneath. The music represents this by seemingly decaying at times but then reforms and morphs in a fluid way back to it’s original state. I was also inspired by the movement of rivers, particularly their transformative aspect and how they’re in a state of flux and change, in particular the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland where I live, which notoriously caught on fire thirteen times because of industrial pollution in the 1960s and before. I was very interested in the dichotomy of oil and water and the resulting, unnatural symptoms of human industry. It’s a very personal record for me as it is a reflection of my hometown where I grew up and where it was mostly recorded.”-Steve Hauschildt.

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Bowery Electric “Beat” (Kranky)

2020-03-07T06:29:13+00:00November 2nd, 2016|

The second album from New York City’s Bowery Electric was released in late 1996, less than 15 months after their self-titled debut, but it found them having traveled light years musically in the interim, the group having seemingly decided to see how far they could take the guitar/bass/drums/vocal setup into the atmosphere. Every aspect of their approach had been refined and focused: squalling, distorted guitars had been transformed into hazy, sensual sheets; the live drums transmuted to sampled rhythms more in debt to the blossoming downtempo sound of the day; bass lines reduced to their most basic diagrams; vocals submerged to become one with the narcotized fog of the instruments; even the lyrics were reduced to a few minimal lines used sparingly so as not to overshadow the dynamic. Beat is a lush and dense mantra of shadowy percussion, barely-there vocals and immersive drones that envelops the listener in an opiated blanket of sound. Includes the bonus track “Low Density,” not featured on the original U.S. release.

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Steve Hauschildt “Where All Is Fled” 2LP (Kranky)

2020-03-07T06:03:54+00:00October 12th, 2015|

“Steve Hauschildt’s new album is his first since the late 2012 release of “Sequitur.” Although Where All Is Fled sonically harkens back to his earlier albums such as Rapt for Liquid Minister and Tragedy & Geometry, it slowly becomes apparent that it is also a divergence from those recordings. Both the artwork and the music on this new work were heavily inspired by surrealist landscape paintings, early alchemical emblems, and recurring visions Steve had from dreams. The result is a pristine series of cascading melodies, fantastical terrains of layered lattices, and overlapping patterns of synthesizers superimposed with orchestral instrumentation. Hidden in the crevices of the album are processed crowd sounds, re-sampled text-to-speech synthesis, piano, and animal noises which reveal themselves after repeated listens and blur together notions of artificial and natural sound. While slowly unfurling, each sound is given it’s own place and space, never hurried, never cluttered. The album is a modern kosmische milepost, and the most accomplished statement of Steve Hauschildt’s vision yet.”

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Stars Of The Lid “Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid” 3LP (Kranky)

2015-10-13T00:44:26+00:00September 20th, 2015|

3xLP VINYL ONLY RELEASE back in print for the 1st time in 5 years! “Their relentless commitment to subtlety sets them apart, as does their masterful hand with tone…dissonance is doled out in small portions, perfectly coloring the sculpted fields of sound.” – Pitchfork.

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