Bandcamp Picks of the Week is back and better than ever
John Bence – KILL
Genre: Drone, Choral
Favorite Tracks: N/A
That’s right people. Daddy’s Logged On and he’s going to give you what he likes. Best viewed as one cohesive piece, this <15-minute EP is a transgressive and boundary-pushing release thrusting the concept of voice-as-instrument into a brave new world. Now don’t go running for the hills just yet: it’s not a capella, which I know is a no-fly zone for many. Somewhere at the crossroads of drone and modern classical, the most immediate reference point is Mike Patton’s vocal acrobatics, at least as presented on the hard-hitting, vaguely martial bombast of opening track “Kill/Aftermath.” But it’s more the subtly enfolding embrace of “Alone/Suicide” that demonstrates the easy allegiance between vocal music and ambient, Bence filtering and processing his understated stylings into something that blossoms out and warmly cocoons you. Rounded out by the more explicitly choral closer, “Afterlife/Judgement,” which carries with it the cavernous reflections of mortality its recorded setting of a cathedral would suggest, KILL is an emotive spiritual journey that regularly surprise and consistently pleases. It sounds like nothing else recorded this year, and Bence has expectations high for a full-length. [Thomas Seraydarian]
Objekt – COCOON CRUSH
Genre: Techno, IDM
Favorite Tracks: “35,” “Deadlock,” “Runaway,” “Secret Snake,” “Lost and Found (Found Mix)”
TJ Hertz’s production has been pristine since his very first 12” release in 2011. His early singles, written in his bedroom while working as an engineer for Native Instruments, were uncompromising techno tracks that matched the sort he selected for his DJ sets. In 2014, Hertz took a quantum leap forward on HYPNAGOGIA, a split EP with Dopplereffekt, and FLATLAND, his debut album. Both projects exhibited Hertz’s exponential growth in sound design and an ability to produce techno aimed for solitary listening on the couch rather than the club. The second studio album from the English producer, COCOON CRUSH, surpasses the lot entirely.
“Lost and Found (Lost Mix)” finds itself in uncharted territory for Hertz. It’s the first Objekt track to sound like a product of nature as opposed to his previous synthetic supercomputer compositions. Running water and chirping bugs account for just a few of the myriad reasons the track embodies a living, breathing organism. Sensory experiences like this are abundant on COCOON CRUSH, whether its rustling gravel on “Rest Yr Troubles Over Me” or the distant shouts on “Runaway,” every track feels positively alive, even if that life form resembles that of an alien tree fluent in a score of extraterrestrial dialects. But the instruments themselves are the most organic pieces of the record. One can’t help but wonder if Hertz has access to a collection of sentient synths designed by J.F. Sebastian. The synth work on tracks like “Deadlock” and “Secret Snake” is mesmerizing and so totally immersive that it feels as if you are inside the album artwork, the year’s best both as a standalone image and as a visual summation of the record.
The construction of the album is indicative of Hertz’s unique skills as a selector, notably on “Deadlock,” a track that oscillates between nearly clipping the audio and stripping all but a couple stems, mimicking the marvelous EQ work he does in DJ sets. The transitions and sequencing are unpredictable yet fluid, much like his mix for Resident Advisor earlier this month that featured Surgeon, Der Zykus, and a grand total of zero kick drums. The final four-song run on COCOON CRUSH is impeccably paced and the last two tracks sound like broken mirror reflections of the first two, ultimately slinking away into silence. With any luck, the silence won’t last too long. [Ryan Moloney]