New in 2020: Pulse Emitter – Swirlings

Prior to this post I was racking my brain planning to write up Laurie Spiegel – Unseen Worlds but I couldn’t find the words. This record is sort of similar in a way – electronic music with an outer space vibe; I used Side A of the prior-mentioned record to meditate once & “Electron Central”, the opening track on this LP by Pulse Emitter, has passages that seem handily capable of carrying me someplace deep into my subconscious. I’m very interested in what might be down there for me & I’d like to “catch the big fish” as David Lynch proselytizes when he talks up transcendental meditation as his choice among all the different meditation flavors (right now I only know how to breathe calmly). Right now IDK if transcendental meditation is legit or some new age hokum, but he makes it sound cool.

Speaking of “new age,” Pulse Emitter is an artist who’s not afraid to meet such a vibe head-on. Better gather up the crystals for this one, cuz this LP is positively ethereal. It succeeds in capturing a very cosmic feeling. The music is kind of minimal, but drenched in feeling. Whatever distant pocket of the universe this music is emanating from seems like a peaceful place to me. My chakras have been in need of a tune-up for a long time, & maybe I should put it into my day planner to sojourn to whatever plane of astral reality is originating this music. It’s healing.

The last Pulse Emitter release I spent a substantial amount of time with was 2015’s Digital Rainforest; in fact, it was the very first tape I ever purchased. Now I own about a hundred, & a healthy chunk of those come from Chicago label Hausu Mountain, for which this is Pulse Emitter’s first release. It’s also the first vinyl LP label head Max Allison has done the art for, & I love it. He did a good job making an image for a square canvas. Now that I’m collecting vinyl & closing in on the big One-Oh-Oh on that format (way more painful on my wallet…) it’s nice to rep the HausMo visual style in my crate.

All in all, lovely stuff. This record is available on Bandcamp here, or direct from the label here.

#Trending in the World of Mike: SK Kakraba – “Yonye”

A quick look at “the ‘Cogs” suggests this record is undervalued… their loss, cuz this thing is great. At first I thought listening to the complex, rewarding compositions was kinda like solving a math equation in my head, except I didn’t have to think hard. You think I’d ever do math for fun? No, I’d rather just simulate the experience. According to the liner notes, that’s a very white American way to perceive this music, b/c in its native country of Ghana these songs inspire all-day parties of dancing. The title of the record translates to “Travel & See” in the artist’s native tongue, referring to his travels from Ghana all the way to Los Angeles, which his Bandcamp page lists as his current residence. I bought this LP direct from there.

I admit it – I typically don’t dance when I listen to music. And the best “dancing” I can manage anyway is jumping around crazily to something high-energy & even at that I’m clumsy. This record sure has a lot of notes, & at first to me that was all that was necessary; in a way it was similar in my mind to releases like “Sonorant” by Koeosaeme. String together a ton of notes according to some precise internal logic & I’m sold; I don’t need to know anything else. I thought the artist was maybe some sort of composer, but reading the insert suggested this particular LP is 100% traditional. I was just like the American the artist describes in the liner notes, enjoying this music in an analytical way sitting in my armchair feeling mentally stimulated, but eventually it did hit me deeper.

This music isn’t just some dense pattern of notes to stimulate yr brain, the tone of the percussion is deeply healing, almost holy. The track “Nuntari E-Pourfu” in particular is straight-up ecstatic. Spinning this on my record player on a Sunday night, I felt enveloped by a sense of warmth. This music cradled me out of a state of heavy depression; I’m sure it has the power to do the same to anyone else willing to open their mind & their heart to it. I enjoy this music quite a lot.

The only link to this album I can find is via Bandcamp. Here it is.

New in 2020: Leo Takami – Felis Catus & Silence

Circa the middle of January, I own this album on vinyl right now. It really caught me off guard to receive it in the mail, cuz I thought I was pre-ordering it over a month in advance. After I got it for about a week I just sort of soldiered on in a state of confusion, all the while spinning it in constant rotation, then I decided to trot over to its page on Bandcamp to settle my question once & for all. Yes! The album is not out yet! Trippy. Technically I have a music blog; maybe I should use it in this situation. I’m terrible at maintaining the energy to keep up w/ this site, but I’ve got a full-time job using the part of my brain that knows how to program computers, so cut me some slack buddy.

You heard it from Mike first: this LP is a suggested grip! Like I said it’s been in constant rotation ever since I received it. Once my record-buying habit really started to pick up steam I thought it’d be neat to own on vinyl a bunch of avant-garde, classical, experimental music, etc, so I’ve been a heavy patron of the label Unseen Worlds in recent months. I guess technically this one might be prog? But it’s so bucolic & chill. One or two tracks honestly give me a similar vibe to what was piping into my ears when I mega-binged Stardew Valley two years back; that’s a videogame about running a farm so if that doesn’t say “bucolic” I don’t know what will. Maybe you’re desiring another reference point other than a videogame. Sorry pal, I’m a computer nerd! If you want a different reference point that is a videogame, the artist is from Japan & at least one section reminds me of the kind of stuff you’ll hear playing old-school JRPGs. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this release is nerd-friendly. I don’t like thinking about it that way; “nerd” is a meaningless label same as “hipster” & boy does either one steam my ham – what I like to say is, this music is intellectual.

The album is lovely stuff. It goes down smooth. Once this disc is on yr record player it’s so easy to spin it again & again & again & again before you ever bother to switch things up to something else. That’s what happens to me. This album is addictive. If my record player could scrobble to (hmm, Mike bringing up more computer stuff over here), this thing’d be #1 on my charts. It’s the first release of the new year I’m in love with.

According to Bandcamp (already linked earlier), the record comes out for real February 28th. If Bandcamp’s not your style, the link to cop it direct from the label is here. Thanks Unseen Worlds for being so nice!

New in 2019: Michael Vincent Waller – Moments

My therapist says I’m very smart. I think if I was the smartest man in the room no matter where I went, it would finally make me happy. I’m starting a Master’s of Science in the spring. This is a little crazy… but I take fish oil every day cuz I heard it helps you grow brain cells. Supposedly, the #1 thing you can do is exercise. Woah! Let’s not get TOO crazy. This is an unhealthy fixation.

Smart people listen to classical music, I think. I’m on a big kick with that, too. Sean McCann’s Recital, who previously issued Michael Vincent Waller’s last LP, the lovely Trajectories, just released a pair of “classical” albums by the label honcho himself (Puck) & Daniel Schmidt (Abies Firma), whose debut LP is worth a staggering ~$70 or more on “the ‘Cogs” if you want it like-new (I can see why, it’s a gorgeous album). I snapped those up. Now along comes a label whom** I discovered for the first time this year, Unseen Worlds, putting out Mr. Waller’s new album, a 2xLP joint of works for piano & vibraphone. Unseen Worlds “is a record label releasing quality editions of unheralded and revolutionary, yet accessible, avant garde music” (swiped from their official site). Cool. Wow, sounds “smart” to me! Can I join?

Mike’s Blog. Mike’s Life. Flattery will get you everywhere in the World of Mike, cuz when I decided it was time to brush the dust off the ol’ music blog, my first thought was to do a write-up of this LP, whose creator reached out to say thank you for the nice words I left over on Bandcamp after I bought this. This release will grow your minde. Available here (non-Bandcamp link here).

**Note: IDK if I’m using “whom” correctly but whom can think of a word that sounds smarter?

Crate Digging: DJWWWW – Arigato

I guess this album is turning into a blast from the past w/ each passing year. It holds up. The whole Japanese underground electronics scene of the 2010s is insane. I’ve never had my brain so seriously re-arranged than I have from artists like Koeoesaeme, toiret status, DJWWWW & Foodman. This album might sound confusing & disorienting to untrained ears, but it’s put together w/ precision & the internal logic is mind-warping. The artist collaborated w/ Mukqs the same year on this split & I missed gripping the physical. As you continue through this life you accumulate some regrets large & small.

The sampling on this album is wacky. The most insane track is undoubtedly the collaboration w/ toiret status which is simply called “Friends”. toiret status makes some truly wild music. He’s made appearances on a few other great albums in the Orange Milk canon such as on this track by Diamond Soul. Seriously, isn’t that insane? This sh*t is wild, man. I’ve been told I listen to weird shit. I guess it’s kind of wild the way early Dan Deacon EPs are. That’s the kind of stuff for me. Gimme the bonkers electronics.

Every single track on this album is interesting. There’s zero filler. As of mid-2019, the artist hasn’t released another full-length under this alias since this. Well, it’s a masterpiece. What is he up to now? Maybe he’s releasing under a different project now but I have a hard time keeping up. I’d be very interested to know.

Tape is long out-of-print but the digital is still available here. You can always find my blurbs haunting the Orange Milk Bandcamp. I’ve been a fan for 4 years. I’m getting kind of nostalgic listening to this one. It’s beautiful.

#Trending in the World of Mike: “Blue” Gene Tyranny – Out of the Blue

More like “Bernie” Gene Tyranny, b/c this sh*t is progressive!!! lmao. What a rollercoaster this LP is. If prog does happen to be yr thing, this record will itch you right in yr sweet spot. The first track starts out as a somewhat-avant bubblegum tune, going on for 5-6 minutes before suddenly mutating into a prog monster. In case that didn’t jam hard enough for you, Track 2 is straight away gnarlier & beastlier. So funky!

This year there is a beautiful re-issue of this album put out by a great label, Unseen Worlds. Recently they also re-issued gems from Laurie Spiegel which got the deluxe treatment – the label seems to have gotten its name from one of those LPs. Clearly Unseen Worlds has impeccable taste. Out of the Blue is a monster, originally released the same year on the same label as Private Parts by Robert Ashley, which Gene did the piano for (there’s a 2019 reissue of that one too on Lovely Music Ltd.). Side B of this album has spoken-word similar to Private Parts. The track is almost 26 minutes long & takes up the whole side. The content of the words is gorgeous. Maybe it’ll make you shed a tear.

There’s 4 tracks total & the only one I haven’t mentioned yet is the third one, “Leading a Double Life”. It’s got some gorgeous piano & pretty vocals. Not really sure what the lyrics mean, but they seem pretty deep. Gene seems like a deep thinker. This is a complex album w/ a lot of ideas stuffed in it. Recommended.

Bandcamp Link: KAPOW | Direct-from-the-Label: KAPOW

New in 2019: Koeosaeme – OBANIKESHI

Hold on to yer butts, kiddos, cuz the hands-down best album of the summer has arrived. I’ve got one word for you, & that’s: VISIONARY. First let’s take a detour (yet again) into the cover from Keith Rankin: Seriously. Wow. How can your cranium not explode looking at that? That’s my favorite thing I’ve seen in a long time. But now for the main course: the music. I am pleased to inform you that the sounds on this record live up to the art in every way. It’s f*cking insane. The album is an absolute masterclass in how to design a brilliant record from start to finish – I just double-checked the blurb on the Bandcamp & realized I subconsciously copied that wholesale from their description, but it’s the truth so I’ll state it again. Koeosaeme caught my attention 2 years ago with 2017’s Sonorant. Now he’s on vinyl, & his sound has hyper-evolved into an absolute Laserbeast alien mutant monstrosity ready to march across the oceans like Godzilla & take over the planet. It is my pleasure to award it the coveted Golden Mike – the highest possible honor it is my power to bestow. If you aren’t losing your mind over this record, there’s not much hope for you, bud.

Albums like this come out once a year. Obanikeshi reminds me of 2018’s An Exploded View of Time by Andrew Bernstein in its utter raw mind-annihilating power. Lots of other brain-scorchers on either of these labels recently, too… kind of a golden age if you ask me. This is an album I can play on loop for hours. It’s perfectly in sync with my brain, & a whole goddamn lot goes on up there. Queue this up & write some fuckin’ C++, man. Wile the fuck out. Actually – controversial opinion – I would say this album is more like C#, because it’s actually well-designed & fun to listen to. Just don’t compare it to Java. If you want some fucking Java go to the fucking YouTube for “Miracles” or something (actually that song whips & is more like BASIC). Class dismissed. Grab this record.