Even at its barest moments, Julianna Barwick's music is just utterly beautiful. With little more than layered voices and ambient instrumentation, it's emotionally immense yet also escapist in a unique, gut-wrenching way. Her new LP, Nepenthe, is out August 20 on Dead Oceans, and your first taste is the mountainous aural xanax of "Forever." Listen and preview the album with the teaser above.
On "You," Bibio looks ahead and finds a dusty, psychedelic future that somehow feels timeless. Using the far-out foreign sampling technique that makes Madlib such a head trip, the Warp signee creates an aural kaleidoscope of miniature sound-scraps that is just jaw-droppingly beautiful.
On this 12-hour mix collection entitled Greatest Hits, Keith Fullerton Whitman takes a foggy, languid trip through his personal history and its relationship to pop music. The process is both simple and unique as the ambient master takes particular songs from his youth and passes them through a series of generators to create airy aural memories – a dense, sprawling nostalgia trip created over ten years of recording and processing.
At their peak, Growing were the best live band in New York City. For years, they exploded power supplies and made concert-goers all tearful with nothing more than two guitars, a penchant for razory drones and some brain-splitting rhythms. Quiet since 2010, we finally have something new from one-half of the duo. Check out "Bender" - a cut from Kevin Doria's solo joint Total Life. It's totally fucking immense.
Well, here we have one of the finest on-paper collaborations one could imagine in this era as James Blake mixes his version of spacious, emotional electronic composition with the assistance of Brian Eno (aka the master of such things). "Digital Lion" is what you'd expect and executed to perfection as soulful vocals collide with a rolling sculpture of drums and bass that should make most bedroom producers blush.
Bay Area duo Friendzone have pushed ambient-tinged hip-hop to its most ultimate spa extreme. Need proof? Check out this compilation Kuchibiru Network 3 – a relaxing, thoroughly spaced-out 71-minute journey into the ecstatic mist that still bumps original tracks and appearances from Ryan Hemsworth, Main Attrakionz, Jerome LOL, Keyboard Kid and more.
Compilation Download: Friendzone - Kuchibiru Network 3 [Mediafire]
Julianna Barwick is no stranger to getting a little heavenly, and she continues the streak she started on 2011's fantastic The Magic Place on this new track "Pacing." Those interlocking, angelic vocals are still blissfully present, but this one adds a somber piano to the formula – yet another musical example that mixing sadness and beauty is the way to go (and make me cry).
I'm loving the current artistic counter-reaction to music becoming so disposable. As The Knife prep a 90-minute opus, Dirty Beaches mastermind Alex Zhang Hungtai is bundling two albums into one with Drifters and a stark instrumental set called Love Is The Devil. Check out the title track, which is kind of a severe bummer (while also very beautiful and raw). "I was crying my facing eyes out when I wrote this and punching myself in the face," explains Hungtai in the video's YouTube comments. Well, then.
On "It's Not Forever," Phaseone has produced a sludgy, claustrophobic, spaced-out track that rips your heart out while it keeps your head ringing. It's the A-side of an upcoming single for Parisian, which drops January 29.
Street noises, reverberated piano, synths-as-wind, dripping beats and stabs at beautiful purity populate this In Transit EP by Recycle Culture. Call it new-new age, because the entire effort, which consists of four equally gaseous parts, is about as relaxing as it gets without flying off the handles into cornball territory.