Canto Ostinato is the new volume of classical minimalism from Chicago-born and Michigan-based musician and producer Erik Hall. Written for four pianos from 1976 to 1979 by the late Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt, the piece is freshly framed as an intimate, hour-long solo performance consisting of multitracked grand pianos, electric piano, and organ. The second album in a trilogy of reinterpretations, Hall’s Canto Ostinato is modern yet warm, ethereal yet tangible, and it expertly bridges a revered piece of meditative concert repertoire with a tactile and highly personal studio setting.
“Blood Runs Through Me” kicks off with a skeletal beat and neon-cloaked bass line before building to soaring, chill-inducing heights. Co-producer D. James Goodwin and singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan join Broderick on vocals here, a brief moment of camaraderie and unity, even as the lyrics describe how “we are tapped out / too much reaching for each other’s lives.” Click below to give it a listen, and catch Heather on tour with Beth Orton this November.
“Blood Run Through Me”
Unveiling a voice that wouldn’t sound out of place next to vocal-forward artists like Justin Vernon, Jónsi, or Baths, who master the balance between conventional songcraft and bold, idiosyncratic experimentation. On Origins Chris Bartels aka Elskavon offers a swirling mosaic of acoustic textures that recall the beloved duo The Books, laced with warped vocal utterances flitting in and out of a club-friendly beat. Check out lead single "Coastline" below.
Hollie Kenniff’s second LP for Western Vinyl, We All Have Places That We Miss, is a gallery of cloudlike synths, seraphic strings, and humming guitars, all coaxed into cohesion by Hollie’s own wordless singing. The album’s 2021 precursor, The Quiet Drift, landed on Bandcamp’s Best Ambient list alongside the description “Drawing on the deep tones of drone, dream pop harmonies, and new age’s bright tranquility, Kenniff evokes the forests, lakes and rivers of her past and present surroundings with a zen patience.” Here on Places… she strides even further into reminiscence, seeking and commemorating the fondly tragic ache of half-remembered locales lost to time: A grandparent’s dim living room from an ambiguous decade; a lonely clearing beside a trail we can’t remember if we walked or just dreamt; the calming light of a movie that aired years before we were born though our feelings insist we were there with the characters. We All Have Places That We Miss transmutes such glimmers into a palpable sonic kingdom that can be revisited at will, recalling the pedal-board ambience of Windy & Carl, Adam Wiltzie, and Liz Harris.
“Don't You Go”
Voids, the sophomore album by Old Fire, employs the vocal talents of Bill Callahan, Emily Cross, Adam Torres, and Julia Holter across twelve genre-fluid, yet impressively cohesive tracks that span baroque dream-pop, filmic ambient, raga-like drones, avant-country, and even spiritual jazz, all imbued with poetic heft and seared by the West Texas sun. Lead single “Don’t You Go ft. Bill Callahan,” is a cover written by John Martyn, which also features Thomas Bartlett on piano, Semay Wu on cello, and Robin Allender on keys/guitars. +
“Silence or Swell”
A Mold For The Bell, by Colorado-based Logan Farmer a collection of stark and ambient folk songs, tethered solely by Farmer’s unadorned vocals, acoustic guitar, and moving embellishments from contributors, including saxophonist Joseph Shabason (who also mixed the album) and renowned harpist Mary Lattimore. Click below to listen to lead single "Silence or Swell" +
Lean Year–the Richmond, VA-based duo of Emilie Rex and Rick Alverson–have announced their sophomore album Sides. They’ve also shared the elegant, slow burning lead single “The Trouble With Being Warm” alongside a video, directed by Alverson (who is also known for his work as the director of films including The Mountain, Entertainment, and The Comedy). “Late at night, after practice, we kept returning to this Mellotron drone Emilie had been playing. I added piano and we fleshed out the lyrics using a ‘ghost’ writing method we developed for some songs on the first record. I’d listen to Emilie singing through the wall and hear things, variations, words neither of us wrote. We’d develop from there, responding to this ‘third writer,’” explains Alverson. “The song and video became about the editorial process of memory, the effort and insistence to remember, to be heard, the scanning and looking for something predetermined to justify the narrative of a life.” +
Wilder Maker’s WV debut Male Models succeeds in capturing the energy of a crowded party and its accompanying playlist without losing the philosophical underpinnings of its concept, which deals with how male identity plays out through money, power, sex, violence, winning and losing via electrified soul, heartfelt folk songs, indie rock, and searing barn burners. +
Moonshine combines immaculate-yet-dense vocal stacks and billowy clouds of effected keyboards with classic songcraft, revealing previously unseen acreage in the unfurling dreamscape that is Nightlands. As Dave Hartley aka Nightlands explains, “Lush music with dark lyrics--this recipe has always made my heart and ears tingle. Brian Wilson was of course a master of this. Smokey Robinson, too. Moonshine is an exploration of that tension. I wanted to pair the serene textures that I've always gravitated towards with lyrics that express the anger and sadness inherent to being an American human.” +
Inspired by Myst and Studio Ghibli, synthesist Sean Hellfritsch creates dawn-of-digital cinematic textures on this soundtrack for an imagined video game wherein the player embodies a tree frog with the power to hop through geological epochs in order to deeply explore— in Hellfritsch’s words— “the incomprehensibly vast energetic expression and mystery that is Earth. +