Apparently, the two guys that made up this project are pretty big in the world of avant garde minimalism. It's kind of boom-crash-quiet noise-pretty sound as far as how it goes. Some tracks border on straight ambient noise, while others have a decidedly jazz fusiony bent. A lot of it has the seeming philosophy of "found sounds" behind it. Nothing else here is as pretty and melodic as 'Volver' and, at times, it just seems like eccentric noodling for the sake of doing such a thing. Not a total wash because it always has me like, "Who is this?" when it pops up on my iPod, but it definitely could have benefited from a more melodic approach. Key tracks: 'Volver'
Cian Nugent — Doubles (2010)
Pronounced Kee-yan, this Irish guy is definitely in the post-Fahey vein of the steel guitar world. It's just two long tracks; the first is a solo twenty minute meditation, while the second is a twenty five minute full-on band excursion. Deep, seemingly bottomless, chords are the order of the day, while seemingly simple motifs are repeated atop. This is music that takes patience, but it's also music to get lost in. Potentially, no two listens could be the same. The concluding moments of the solo track are as intense and dissonant as any music might get, where the next track picks up with a calm and leisurely pace, augmented by percussion. It builds into a haunting, woodwind-laden with one of the most rewarding chord changes I've come across recently. Definitely in the more "serious guy" end of the spectrum of this sort of thing, but with a burgeoning scene of William Tylers, Steve Gunns and Chris Forsyths getting more recognition all the time, there seems to be a scene of sorts budding around this sort of thing. I dig it. Key tracks: either/or. Nothin' on YouTube, 'cept some excerpts and live clips of 'Sixes and Sevens.'
loscil — Sketches from New Brighton (2012)
The moniker of one Scott Morgan, this is straight electronic ambient stuff and the guy apparently only has about thirty eight more albums along this vein (kidding; but only slightly). Truly haunting music, but soothing at the same time. A hard trick to pull off, and with this style of thing, the larger piece does become more than the sum of its parts, as nothing really sticks out. Still, how easy is it to put this one on at work and kill an hour with? Exceedingly. I'm not that well versed in this sort of thing anyway, so I have no idea where Mr. Morgan —or even this album— falls in the greater trajectory of the whole thing. All I know is that it creates a wonderfully spacey, easygoing atmosphere that I can get into. Key tracks: the decidedly Eno-esque 'Cascadia Terminal', opener 'Khanamoot' and the centerpiece 'Second Narrows.'
Hidden Orchestra — Night Walks (2010)
Hidden Orchestra plays a sweeping, jazz-informed instrumental style of music that the kids used to refer to as "downtempo." I don't know — is that still a thing? There's plenty of live instruments here creating what seem to be sampled —or perhaps sampleable— instrumentals based in a sort of UK hip hop aesthetic. The type of place where big buildups and heavy drums don't automatically mean loud guitars to match, but simply sweeping string and woodwind arrangements. There's not much room for solos here, so it's not really jazz, but instead proposes a sort of post-David Axelrod funky classical music. There's certainly a sense of beauty on display here, with a very deep bottom end on most of the tracks, below major seventh and minor shifts — really does the job in getting the emotional aspect of the music across. The last three tracks venture off into six and seven minute territory and they all have a haunting, floating quality to them that really wins. Key tracks: the fender rhodes-driven 'Strange' and the downright gorgeous 'The Windfall.'
Hidden Orchestra — Archipelago (2012)
This one is perhaps a bit more sad in tone overall than the first album. Song lengths generally run a bit longer and there's a bit more stretching out for solos and whathaveyou. It's not much of a change in sound for these guys moving to their second
album, so pretty much if you like one, you'll like the other. Wonderful music to daydream to. Key tracks: the perfectly titled 'Flight' or the nine minute centerpiece 'Seven Hunters.'