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digitalis back to school pt 2

August 24, 2010

hey everyone,

alright, so as a lot of people rush back to school for fall semester (eden started up yesterday), we finished up one last summer batch before we move onto autumn’s bombs. one new vinyl drip and some tapes for your listening pleasure:

DIGIV012: Sparkling Wide Pressure “Field & String” LP $17 US / $20 CANMEX / $28 INTL
The last two years have been an impressive journey for Frank Baugh, the brains behind Sparkling Wide Pressure. He’s released a multitudes of CDRs and cassettes on some of the best labels around (Stunned, Housecraft, etc) and spent time building up his own label focusing on the 3″ CDR, Kimberly Dawn. So it feels like a natural progression for Baugh to finally bring his toys to this ball of wax, and trust me folks – this is his A-game times infinity. Bittersweet nostalgia has never sounded so fucking good.

One thing that always gets me about Sparkling Wide Pressure is Baugh’s ability to collage a seemingly endless amount of styles into a seamless, cohesive whole. His music blurs together like watching a landscape pass by on a moving train. His work is visionary and instantly recognizable. A million different pieces slowly come together and eventually form shapes. Broken-down keyboards washed in hiss flutter around like decaying tape loops on “Clear Pathway,” driving themselves straight into a wall of ramshackle guitars and minimalist beats. It’s a lazy river of slowed-down drones and junkyard guitar, weaving together into something that is awkwardly beautiful.

“Jeremy Moves” is the real prize, though. Synth notes act as an anchor against the faint industrial rhythms and meandering crackle. Everything feels incredibly fragile as if each string Baugh is pulling could snap at any instant. The beats keep building and building into a cacaphonous flurry while vocals pierce through the murk, leaving a mark of hopefulness on everything beneath. It’s a mini-masterpiece; Sparkling Wide Pressure’s finest moment.

It all goes a bit wonky on the flip-side. Drunken campfire serenades with dying batteries and broken flutes. “Summoning” is disjointed on the surface yet expertly stitched together below. What really sets Baugh apart is his ability to tug at your heart-strings in the most subtle of ways. You don’t even realize he’s taking you back in time to a place you remember fondly, but by the time the journey is through, your emotions are exhausted and you’re ready for another trip. In the culmination on “Completely Inside,” the ghosts from your past are given a voice and the freedom to rise to the top, singing on crumbling wings. There’s always been beauty in decay, but Sparkling Wide Pressure has his own brand to sling.

Edition of 150 copies with fold-out silkscreened covers designed by Jeremy Braden.

ltd#152: red math “unhinged” c46 $7 US / $8 CAN/MEX / $9 INTL
this year i’ve found myself more interested in electronic music & techno (borft!) than anytime in the past decade, so it was bound to start showing up in the annals of digitalis. enter red math, the work of lance dibblee. “unhinged” is exactly that. utilyzing an array of synthesizers & drum machines, red math traverses all over the spectrum. it’s a crazy ride as he unloads and remixes all sorts of ideas into something totally bonkers.

straight-up acid is the first thing you’ll notice, but it all breaks down and shifts from there. epic beats and bending basslines take over giving a nod to juan atkins and other detroit giants. but that’s not the only card being played here as dibblee brings in thick industrial beats and other heavy machinery to contrast with the flowing bass. pushing things even further, your brain gets pummelled by a constant barrage of kick drums right to your frontal lobe. to keep everything on the level, though, are the mini-synthscapes that fill in the cracks and smooth it all out and into submission. by the end, it’s four to the floor and time to dance. edition of 75.

ltd#156: aino tytti “fronte praecipitium/tergo lupi” c42 $7 US / $8 CAN/MEX / $9 INTL
it took me a while to get my head around these recordings from UK sound artist jody allen, but once i managed to really get past the surface, the true depth of these recordings took hold. with aino tytti, allen has taken field recordings made on metal bridges (including the brooklyn & manhattan bridges in NYC and the millenium and blackfriars bridges in london) using contact mics and used forensic audio techniques to isolate sounds, patterns and harmonics in the recording that normally woudln’t be audible. you’d think this would produce some cold, sterile results but in fact these drones are beautiful and warm. it’s easy to fade away into these sprawling sounds, finding an endless array of vivid imagery projected from allen’s sonic experiments.

even more impressive is that allen created the sound processors from scratch, using algorithms for the proccessing and feedback inspired by johanne kepler’s “mysterium cosmographicum” (from 1596). the book concerns a mathematical model which is used to explain a cosmological theory through geometry and allen applied these geometric ratios to the harmonic frequencies of the basic sounds that had been isolated from the recordings. it’s a stunning piece of work that reveals more and more with every listen. edition of 75.

ltd#159: reuben son “cortical migrations” c42 $7 US / $8 CAN/MEX / $9 INTL
in 2009, boston-area artist reuben son unleashed one of the year’s best debuts on his own private chronology label. he followed it up with another gem that showed an entirely different side of his artist vision, foregoing his excellent acoustic guitar compositions for an expert exercise in tape mangled crunch. well, for delivery #3, son moves into another zone once again.

built around his ms2000, “cortical migrations” is the perfect antidote to a busy mind. opening with chiming field recordings, the tape dives in deep quite fast. the feeling of floating underwater, completely lost comes to the forefront as you drift along into the next transition and find total release. son is deft in his ability to weave simple passages into complex imagery. looping, bubbling synthesizer passages find new life in his hands. it is music to lose yourself in, for shutting off your brain and burying your thoughts inside a cloud of sonic bliss. edition of 125.

ltd#160: basked unit “riverside downs” c28 $7 US / $8 CAN/MEX / $9 INTL
mike pouw aka knit prism and scott johnson aka scott cloud/thoughts on air/etc were bound to team up sooner or later and lucky for us, 2010 was the year. basked unit is all about adding a little sun and a little beauty to your dreams. this is a washed-out adventure to the sea.

shimmering guitar notes slow the river down to a drip while everyone dives in ready for their summer retreat. there’s something so to-the-core beautiful about these tones that it catches you off-guard and flips you under the waves. each passage they take, traversing through peaks & valleys with ease, brings you closer to whatever heaven you’re hoping to find. bask in it. edition of 75.

as always, order multiple things and save on shipping. everything in this batch can be had for $38 / $45 / $52. just the tapes score is $24 / $28 / $32. questions/ideas get in touch.

sound samples, images and all that: &

i should also note that lawrence english’s “a colour for autumn” LP will be available VERY soon (slight delay on the covers, but i think they’ll be ready next week sometime). if you want to combine shipping with that and just wait until it’s ready to get your stuff (which is especially a good idea for overseas folks), that’s totally doable. just shoot me an email and we will sort it.

right on… up next will be the gärden sound (barn owl + eternal tapestry) LP followed by a vinyl edition of concern’s “truth & distance,” the imaginary softwoods repress and niggas with guitars. lots of yums to look forward to this fall. but until then, study hard etc etc..

much love,

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