Shelf-Nunny-Credit-Daniel-Glynn-4

photo courtesy of daniel glynn

christian gunning’s production as shelf nunny has always been methodically downtempo, a gorgeously chilly tapestry with pelagic undertones fitting for a project in close proximity to the puget sound.  next friday, gunning will release little time we have, his sophomore extended play, that ventures to an outpost on the hazy border between electronic and pop music.

for a primer, enter “washed out.”  the extended play’s third track (and, consequently, its centerpiece) is one of two offerings to feature toronto-based audioopera on vocals, a partnership spurned by a previous, positive collaborative experience.  his airy, ethereal falsetto nestles somewhere in the middle of the texture, right alongside a sparse rhythm section and flittering snippets of melody, an initially hesitant union that blossoms into something spectacular during the song’s second half.

little time we have is out september 29th via hush hush records.  take a listen to “washed out,” which premieres here on the dimestore, below.

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HarleySpillKidPress1

photo courtesy of the artist

little more than a year after releasing harland, the montreal-based singer-songwriter harley alexander is gearing up for the advent of a new mini-album, spill kid.  alexander leads somewhat of a nomadic lifestyle, splitting his time between performing in montreal and planting trees clear across the country, just outside of vancouver.  it was on the west coast that this latest batch of songs took shape; nestled in amongst nurturing tape hiss and warm acoustic guitars are slightly poignant ruminations on alexander’s surroundings.

“tiny bricks,” the first offering from alexander’s forthcoming release, studiously evokes every facet of this aesthetic.  inside a simple structure of drum programming and softly-strummed chords lies a hazy narrative, one that examines the soothing familiarity of nature as it relates to a smattering of interpersonal vulnerability.  punctuated by a mournful melodic motif that sustains throughout its coda, “tiny bricks” is an excellent glimpse into the intimate environment that is spill kid.

spill kid arrives october 20th via sports day records.  marinate in “tiny bricks” below.

“album of the fortnight” is a (recently revived) bi-weekly feature that digs into a recent release of note.  the articles will run roughly during the middle and at the end of each month, always on a friday; the album or body of work in question will have been released at some point during that two-week span.  this column focuses on art that resonates deeply, on pieces that necessitate more than just a knee-jerk reaction.  next up: lomelda

it feels almost sacrilegious to listen to lomelda in anything other than a solitary setting, preferably with headphones.  hannah read’s music doesn’t resonate as lonely so much as it does as an examination of what it means to be alone, a sentiment that courses through the river that is her second full-length album, thx.  attached to that sentiment is a cocktail of emotions that is equal parts hesitant, curious, and content, a mixture that proves perfect fodder for a thirty-five minute rumination on one’s current state of being.

read’s voice is so arresting, her delivery so immediate throughout thx that this may distract from its status as a high-caliber guitar album, but her simultaneous six-string work is arguably its linchpin.  angular lead motifs, like the meandering descent on “interstate vision” or the angular tremolo stabs throughout “from here,” frequently interlock with chord progressions that are as likely to be gritty as they are cleanly strummed, weaving a tapestry that’s as sweeping as the rural texas landscape.  that landscape always seems to factor in thematically, no matter how indirect: it’s an obstacle, something to contend with; it’s the backdrop to moments of solace, to familiarity; it’s just simply there.

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photo courtesy of adan carlo

like other mononymous projects attributed to one central songwriter and persona, lomelda blurs the line between read’s solo project and an exclusive club to which only those closest are granted admission.  perhaps the decision is conscious, perhaps it’s just par for the course.  the primary contributor throughout thx is read’s brother, tommy, who co-produced, played drums on, and wrote an iteration of the album’s most outwardly-visceral cut, “bam sha klam.”  in a four-generation homestead in tiny silsbee, texas, maybe that collaboration was inevitable; a close-knit family is also a convenient sounding board, able to provide some semblance of reaffirmation.

much of thx oscillates around the first and second person, the union and the separation of the characters “you” and “i.”  the malleability of read’s vocal melodies is readily present, but it’s the sentiments of the material retrofitted to those contours that leaves a lasting impression, that finds listeners absent-mindedly mumbling certain mantras to themselves for weeks to come.  the stories read tells and the snapshot moments she dissects may not be entirely congruous to the experiences of her audience, but the general themes at once feel incredibly intimate and yet accessible, almost universal.  that deft maneuvering and presentation is what makes lomelda so special.

delve into the brief, sparse title track to get wrecked by a matter-of-fact narrative; put a circle around penultimate cut “mostly m.e.” if you feel like getting wrecked again.  read’s propensity of peppering a very straight-forward approach to storytelling with beautiful imagery is perhaps her most disarming quality, creating an ever-so-slight mystic quality on par with the origin of her project’s name.  thx resonates like few other albums this year, and has arrived at an incredibly convenient point on the calendar.  block out a half-hour, grab a pair of headphones, and let it reverberate through your very core.

Yumi Zouma 2

photo courtesy of aaron lee

here at the dimestore, we’re just counting down the hours until yumi zouma releases willowbank, their second full-length album in as many years.  the new zealand quartet excels at creating an intimate brand of pop that can switch from microscopic to expansive at a moment’s notice; for a sample, look no further than “half hour.”

the band’s latest single is muted, reflecting the somber subject matter of death and its baggage, but “half hour” opens up into an enveloping entity towards its end, an ensuring, calming embrace.  coupled with the black and white self-directed video found below, “half hour” is a welcomed change of pace for the advanced offerings yumi zouma have put forth ahead of their new album.

willowbank is out october 6th via the inimitable cascine.  check out the video for “half hour” below.

 

pastel gabriel brenner

photo courtesy of the artist

last month, gabriel brenner released the latest extended play under his pastel moniker.  the los angeles-based artist uses the five songs that span absent, just dust to examine a concept of native erasure that is both familial and personal, a desire that stemmed from myriad recent events.

those familiar with pastel’s earlier work might anticipate another offering of celestial r&b; instead, the intimacy and vulnerability of this project’s subject matter necessitated a shift into a more ambient, experimental realm.  brenner’s commanding lead vocal still haunts tracks, like the standout cut “silhouette,” but absent, just dust is often shrouded in ominous pulses and static found sounds, a malleable canvas onto which brenner can interpret a bevy of emotions.

we were fortunate to catch up with brenner recently via e-mail and discuss all things absent, just dust: from compositional approach to an integration of visual art to brenner’s preference for shorter bodies of work.  a lightly-edited transcript, along with a full stream of the extended play, is presented below.

this new ep is a pretty explicit exploration of erasure.  what was the catalyst to delve into this personal topic?

i recently graduated from the art program at ucla, and i spent much of my last year there making video works largely surrounding my relationship with my native heritage.  these were ideas that i had spent a few years trying to work out (i tried sculpture, poetry, etc), and it just seemed to click with video.

this also happened to be around the same time that the nodapl resistance started gaining national attention.  there was a livestream video that a journalist had set up on facebook one night, showing militarized police cornering water protectors on a bridge, throwing tear gas at them, and spraying them with a water cannon in subzero temperatures.  i felt such a multitude of emotions, but i couldn’t quite put them into words.  or, rather, words just didn’t suffice.

in trying to understand my heritage, i’ve continually arrived at a similar loss.  i’m pima on my mother’s side and cherokee on my father’s.  neither side of my family knows much, if anything, about our people and culture, and it’s largely because of a long history of atrocities like this.  at base, so much of art is about making new language, and when the language wasn’t there for me, it made sense to process this through art, and later, music.

absent, just dust is also a bit of a sonic departure for you.  did the thematic material you explore necessitate the shift, or did the shift lead you to explore this thematic material?

it was a bit of both.  i had made the foundation for “haunt” and “silhouette” 2 years prior to the release, and sat on the music for so long because it was such a sonic departure for me.  it didn’t make sense with the rest of the music i had released prior and i didn’t know what to do with it.  when i started making the videos, the music suddenly made sense when placed within a similar conceptual framework.  from there, i started making the rest of the ep, and it continued to follow in the same sonic footsteps.


i think your project could be described as audio/visual, what with the photo book that accompanied bone-weary and the general thought and care that goes into the design of your cassettes.  how do you approach integrating photography and fine art with your music to create a cohesive whole?

i think because i come from a contemporary art background, i tend to think of music projects as visual art projects, too.  i think of the cassettes as art objects, and thus think it’s equally important that the visuals communicate nuanced, poetic ideas like the music.  i want listeners to know what i’m talking about in my music, and they can’t know deeply if the visuals are communicating something different than the music.

many, if not all, of your releases have been either standalone singles or extended plays.  do you find yourself gravitating towards a shorter format for any particular reason?

i’ve always been enamored by artists that can say a lot with very little.  it’s the difference between félix gonzález-torres and someone like matthew barney.  félix can communicate more to me with just a few light bulbs than barney can in five grandiose feature-length films because félix allows me ample space to sit with the particulars.

i think i always work towards a-lot-with-a-little because it’s so effective.  i’m also aware that my music asks for quite a bit of patience from the listener because it doesn’t reveal itself all too quickly.  i contemplated turning absent, just dust into a full length, but i couldn’t imagine asking a listener to sit even longer with a work that already felt a bit like an endurance piece at just five tracks.

to that end, do you anticipate releasing a full-length in the near future?

i guess it depends; if the work calls for a full-length, then it will be a full-length!  but i do think it’s long overdue, so we’ll see.

this ep is very heavy thematically and that weight manifests itself frequently in the arrangements, but i get an occasional sense of serenity, at least musically.  did making absent, just dust feel cathartic at any point?

“stammer” definitely felt cathartic to make.  i basically just hit record and started singing, and then worked with what i had.  the track is largely about the struggle to communicate without the right words, and letting my voice unfold to fill in the gaps was pretty freeing.

half of all proceeds made from absent, just dust will be donated to freshet collective, an organization providing legal services to the water protectors at standing rock.  a handful of cassettes are still available for purchase through pastel’s bandcamp, where digital versions of his entire catalogue can also be procured.

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