Akpatok – Two Winters, Two Springs (2015; Bandcamp)
Two Winters, Two Springs is a minimalist debut from the Polish Akpatok Ensemble. This small group features ululating drones and rhythms from hurdy-gurdy, shepherd bells, and gongs. The album clocks in an just under one hour across six tracks. The aesthetic exhibited here is to simplify the compositional process by limiting the group’s musical vocabulary to that of the three aforementioned instruments. The hurdy-gurdy takes the fore on some tracks, laying down a subtle, multiphonic texture. The percussion plays a lead role on certain other tracks, evoking a primeval atmosphere. Missing is a combination of the two types of instruments, which would have been interesting. But, Akpatok’s “less is more” approach is certainly appealing, especially to those who prefer their music meditative, or in the Deep Listening vein.
Logan Hone’s Similar Fashion (2015; pfMENTUM)
Reedsman Logan Hone is joined on this release by Lauren Baba on viola, Gregory Uhlmann on guitar, and Jesse Quebbeman-Turley handling the drums. While California-based, the quartet is heavily influenced by the New York creative jazz scene, particularly, Tim Berne and John Zorn. Recorded in early 2015, this self-titled album has a “live in the studio feel” with a charming lack of refinement. Instead, you hear the group as they were meant to be heard – in the raw. Structurally, they move seamlessly between composition and free improv, contrasting one approach to the other. Logan and friends roll between tracks of prickly complexity, and lighter-hearted, playful meanderings. Similar Fashion exhibits commendable instrumental interplay, especially between the clarinet and guitar.
Troum – Acouasme (2015; Cold Spring Records)
Germany’s duo known as Troum (“dream”) is back with a new slice of dark ambiance spanning six long tracks. If anything, Acouasme harkens to a high-point in the genre’s existence, the early 2000s. But the music here is not retro in any sense. Instead, Troum dovetails ambient with industrial to form scraping soundscapes of abandoned cities and haunted caverns. This is not brutal music – instead it is a subtly evolving exploration of dreams, nightmares, and psychosis. Synths wash over scrobbling rhythms – artificial winds blowing across shifting sands. A very strong release.