students of decay

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  • area c – charmed birds against sorcery -students of decay

    $12.00 Add to cart

    “Charmed Birds Against Sorcery” is the third studio album by New
    England-based musician Erik Carlson, and constitutes a startling
    development in his sound. The first Area C record, 2006’s “Traffics
    + Discoveries,” was a small marvel of whirring loops sourced primarily
    from processed guitars. Last year’s “Haunt,” Carlson’s second record
    for Last Visible Dog, was a different affair entirely, investigating the
    provocative drone capabilites of farfisa organs. The compositions which
    constitute “Charmed Birds…” develop and, often, transcend the motifs
    found on these prior albums, with Carlson revealing an astonishingly
    refined and singular approach to guitar-based composition.

    Soundwise, the album recalls more the crystalline, kaleidoscopic webworks
    of the first Area C record than the ragged organ workouts of “Haunt.”
    Glacial harmonics drift in and out of each channel, skittering, modulated
    notes pulse and surge, sputtering suddenly to luminescent manifestation
    before disappearing just as quickly. Many of the compositions here are in
    fact more remniscient of the ambient side of Wolfgang Voigt’s work
    in Gas, or perhaps the less beat driven aspects of “94 Diskont”-era Oval
    than what we’ve come to expect from what is ostensibly a ‘guitar and
    electronics’ based project. An almost kraut-like rhythm subtends the
    topography of “Composition Journal,” the album’s stunning opener, its
    low throb punctuated by brittle shocks from deconstructed drum
    machines over which Carlson weaves a spiralling lattice of bowed and
    picked notes. Later, on “Sleeping Birds,” we’re presented with a lulling
    idyll concocted by way of flute-like tones and languid note clusters, a
    shorter piece which dissolves seemlessly into modulating static at the
    onset of the pointillist microcosm that is “Spell of Resistance.” The title
    track is without question the album’s apex and constitutes a formal peak
    in Carlson’s discography, as brilliant, bright guitar lines tread effortlessly
    in a sea of tranquil pulses and disembodied percussive elements.

    It should come as no surprise that, by day, Carlson works in the field of
    architecture. For with “Charmed Birds…” he has constructed an edifice
    of stunning complexity, originality and beauty.
    -sod


  • asuna & opitope – sunroom – students of decay

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    This is the first collaborative full-length release by Japan’s Opitope, the duo of Chihei Hatakeyama (Kranky, Room40) and Tomoyoshi Date (FlyRec), and Asuna (spekk, Headz). Listeners familiar with Opitope’s majestic 2007 release “Hau,” or any of the more recent output by Asuna, Hatakeyama or Date, will find much to love here. Across the albums’ nine tracks, gossamer webs of treated sound (made from all manner of plaintive piano, rubbed strings, delicately picked guitars and evocative accordian, vibraphone and sampling) hover, resonate, ebb and disperse. Paradoxical as it may seem, there is a painstaking effortlessness to this music. In some ways, “Sunroom” feels like a perfect followup to “Hau,” with one critical distinction. Where that previous release, as with Asuna’s wonderful “THIS” double disc and much of Hatakeyama’s recent solo work, focused principally on textures and abstraction, here an added emphasis is placed on songcraft. Ultimately, we might best situate these recordings alongside Date’s 2008 masterpiece “Human Being,” as there is, to be sure, a similar playfulness, deftness of juxtaposition, accessibility, and sincere reverence to be found in the radiant compositions of “Sunroom.” Throughout the album’s duration, the masterful, capable hands of Date, Hatakeyama and Asuna, craft miniature, effervescent gems of songs which swell and bloom like the changing of seasons or the passage of time in memory.


  • brendan murray -students of decay

    $9.00 Add to cart

    Never content to rest on his laurels, we have here a new
    stellar release from Boston based composer/sound artist
    Brendan Murray, the followup to the acclaimed 23five
    release “Commonwealth.” Murray’s compositions tend
    to hinge upon drones and this eponymous record is no
    exception. That being said, this is a work which differs
    considerably from “Commonwealth” or “Wonders Never
    Cease”(Murray’s Intransitive release from 2007).

    In Brendan’s own words: “This record was recorded after
    a 6 month break from making solo music. Commonwealth
    was a pretty big undertaking over a few years, and I
    wanted to see if I could take some of the long range
    deliberation out of my process and trust decisions
    that I normally rethink over and over. I also worked
    under a deadline for the first time. The six tracks
    represent the first real overhaul of my approach since
    I started. I found myself breaking a lot of self-imposed
    rules and working very quickly. I decided to incorporate
    recognizable instrumentation, mainly piano and guitar.
    I made some shorter pieces and use lots of different
    recording techniques to give each track it’s own character
    while making it sound like a record. It definitely sounds like
    my music, but it’s a more delicate in some places than
    anything I’ve ever released. I regard the ideas as refined
    and realized, but each track inhabits its own space, almost
    like chapters in a book.

    It’s self-titled or untitled, depending on how you care to think
    of it. The images in the artwork could also work as symbolic
    titles. I have left that very open, because the titles of the
    pieces are purposely evocative. They are also rather personal
    and refer to specific moments in my life, whether real or
    imagined. I plan on making a couple of more records like
    this, as well as continuing to make large, complex pieces.
    I don’t regard this as a detour. Some people have told me that
    this music sounds dark, others have told me it sounds really
    paranoid. I think it’s a weirdly optimistic record.”
    -sod


  • aquarelle – sung in broken symmetry – students of decay

    $15.00 Add to cart

    Describing the music of Aquarelle’s Ryan Potts is a difficult task indeed. It’s related to the hazy, heavily treated output of musicians such as Fennesz and Tim Hecker, but one would be remiss to locate it solely within the realm of electronic ambient or drone, as there are often strong organic, rhythmic and composerly elements to Potts’ work. In fact, the title of his last record, “Slow Circles,” might offer the best point of access into the Aquarelle aesthetic, in which compositional tropes such as cyclicality and accretion are woven together with surging, bright overtones, fragmented acoustic guitar melodies, and monumental distortion. Another point of distinction between Potts’ guitar-based compositions and that of the laptop-wielding contemporaries and forebears amongst whom one would be tempted to locate his sound is the fact that he largely eschews digital, “in-the-box” processing. A self proclaimed “FX pedal fetishist,” his compositions carry with them a boldness, depth and grit that is all but impossible to cultivate through DSP alone and aligns some elements of his sound with that of Scott Cortez/Lovesliescrushing and late-period Yellow Swans.

    Using a palette of electric and acoustic guitars, vintage and boutique effects pedals and various percussion sources, Potts crafts highly detailed, slowly evolving soundscapes which beg for repeat listens so that one might get inside their myriad layers. “With Verticals” opens the record, blooming suddenly into a startlingly propulsive edifice replete with crackling, distorted guitar sounds married to quasi-Reichian percussion. Later, “Origin” sizzles and hisses its way into a staggeringly detailed drone opus before opening up into a veritable vista of acoustic guitar, cymbal and cello histrionics. A cohesive and fully immersive collection, “Sung in Broken Symmetry” is an assured statement from a young musician who is equally comfortable navigating frailty and violence. Mastered by James Plotkin. Edition of 300, first 50 on clear vinyl. Includes digital download coupon.

    jefre cantu-ledesma: – shining skull breath – students of decay – lp – 12$ With the release of last year’s “Love is a Stream,” the solo work of Bay Area stalwart Jefre Cantu-Ledesma (The Alps/Tarentel/Root Strata) leapt into public consciousness, garnishing accolades for its transfixing melding of shoegaze pop with drone, ambient and noise sensibilities. Originally released in 2007 as part of our limited run CDR series, “Shining Skull Breath” finds Cantu mining similarly rich sonic territory with enchanting results. Throughout the album he submerges delicate, drifting guitar passages in constantly shifting webs of sound, creating buried melodies which snake and hover through a haze of tape noise. If the emphasis in “Love is a Stream” was on the subtle subversion and appropriation of shoegaze tropes, on “Shining Skull Breath” Cantu’s compositions seem a bit more opaque and mysterious, but no less moving. He invites the listener to accompany him through this beautiful fog and, in the process, offers a glimpse of rare and radiant beauty. This definitive edition has been remastered by James Plotkin and features two new tracks not included on the original release. 500 copies.