Matthew Mercer stops by Headphone Commute to revisit a set of his favorite recent releases from the Brooklyn (New York, USA) based Tri Angle label, run by Robin Carolan for this Sound Bytes label special. We hope that you enjoy…
The Haxan Cloak
Tri Angle presents nine new incredibly dark excursions from Bobby Krlic. The concept of this album is the journey of the soul after death — and rest assured, Krlic is not talking pearly gates, angels and harps. This is one sordid set of pitch black tracks. The transition from Aurora Borealis to Tri Angle makes sense by virtue of how much more rhythmically focused this set of tracks is; while cello and strings still appear, they are not the focus of the music at all. Compared to his self-titled debut, this feels more overtly electronic and has more of a low-end pulse to it, with a heavy emphasis on doom. Opening prologue “Consumed” sets the tone with a thunderous low-end letting you know this is pretty intense stuff. From there it really is hard to speak to specifics of the album, as it flows so well as a complete idea. Krlic splits the aesthetic pretty deftly between the dense doom of his debut and more spacious electronic sound, as heard on both halves of “Excavation” or “Dieu.” But he truly strikes gold with “Drop,” the thirteen minute finale. Its melodic synth is a breath of fresh air after so many dense drones and low end exclamations, but the piece has a whole trajectory of its own, shifting focus from melody to something more sinister and rhythmic before it ends. One of the finest albums of the year, hands down.
The debut full-length from Matthew Barnes incrementally expands on the palette of sounds he’d laid out on his first couple of EPs. Engravings gives a fully formed impression of the ideas from his first releases, with each of these feeling more deliberate and accomplished than their predecessors. Despite having so much in common with his previous Dagger Paths, Barnes has largely perfected his rather unique sound that incorporates tremolo stringed instruments, lo-fi, stripped down homemade percussion, dubby delay, lonely guitar, and manipulated, circular samples of cut-up voices, noise, and crude flutes. The latter is a key element of many tracks, especially “Irby Tremor” with its strange appropriated horn samples and wheezy flute samples over a deep, dubby arrangement. At times that sampling style reminds me of Matt Elliott’s sampling tactics as Third Eye Foundation, where seemingly ordinary instruments become disorienting loops of sound. It all converges with style on the syncopated clatter of “Friend, You Will Never Learn,” the eight-minute finale that combines all of the elements with an emphasis on murky strings, choral stabs, and noodly melodic patterns. While Barnes has far from reinvented himself here, he’s more finely honed his sound and is showcasing his individual sense of style with flair.
Oliver Peryman migrates over from his abstract dnb on Void Coms to Tri Angle as FIS. These tracks push further into the fringes of downtempo and dance music, with “Magister Nunns” eschewing convention altogether and instead twitching and shuddering for four minutes while a whistle wails overhead. “DMT Usher” is a repress of one of his older tracks, shivering similarly but is anchored by a jerky downtempo groove. Its quivering leads build in strength until it finally all stops while the groove does its thing with some well-deserved clarity. It’s the most conservative of the bunch and not surprisingly the oldest of the set. “Mildew Swoosh” has an FM synthy lurch about it that is as close to a hook as you might get here; meanwhile phased pads swirl overhead like storm clouds. I like that it has all the makings of a more conventional bass-music track but with all of the punch desaturated, coming off more like it’s slightly out of focus. “CE Visions” finishes the EP off with an almost maddening stop/start stumble that is relentless. Saturated, fuzzy bass and skittering sounds percolate in the periphery while a looming fog of reverb obscures the view.
[Editor’s Note: Although Held was released in 2012, I still feel that it’s appropriate to revisit this album. I hope that you agree that dates are irrelevant when it comes to music.] Following up the promise of his With U EP, Manchester artist Holy Other presents this concise 35-minute album of new material. Well, mostly new — some of it is actually reworked from the EP, particularly the opening track “(W)here” which is a variation on the same themes of With U’s “Know Where.” Many of the tracks are slow and morose, punctuated by vocal sample snippets, often without context or lyrical content. More so than ever many of these tracks sound not so different from Balam Acab’s Wander / Wonder album on Tri Angle out in 2011, with a sort of disembodied R&B spirit to them. It’s perhaps best not to dissect the tracks of Held but rather to experience it as one long piece — the sound is very consistent from start to finish, which makes its brevity work to its favor. I do quite like it when there’s more of a steady pulse, like on the title track near the album’s end; that steady 4/4 kick really helps lock everything in step in a nice way.
Words by Matthew Mercer of Ear Influxion
Additional editorial by HC