Acid Test: soothing techno, free jazz, music made by chickens, and more


Acid Test: soothing techno, free jazz, music made by chickens, and more

By Miles Bowe June 10, 2020

The Outer Limits of Bandcamp continues to be a nurturing place for psychedelia, experimental club, noise, vaporwave, and totally unclassifiable music. In each volume of Acid Test, Miles Bowe explores the farthest reaches of the platform to unearth hidden treasures and arcane oddities. This month, we explore an album made with the sounds of bats and another “played” by a couple of hens; an emotionally heavy set of feather-light techno and a collection of healing music heavier than most doom metal. But first, we highlight genre-breaking project Dreamcrusher, which, in a single track, delivers its best album yet.

dream breaker

Dreamcrusher, the project of New York artist Luwayne Glass, has always expanded beyond the boundaries of noise, viewing club music through the hard lens of hardcore punk. But while cult classics like those from 2014 luxury suicide may have helped boost its audience, Glass has never expressed its vision so majestically as on Panopticon!, a 39-minute single-track epic and an album that deserves the exclamation point at the end of its title. The album takes its time, with whispered vocals and luxuriously expanding commentary sequences, before a wailing guitar sets the album on fire. Those earth-shaking surges and Glass’ heartbreaking screams erupt so loudly the speakers can barely contain them. Noise, hardcore and club are all genres that go straight to the body; but where so many albums fail to get that volatile combination, Panopticon! masters these three genres at a fundamental level. It’s a mind-blowing breakthrough and the perfect place to start delving into Dreamcrusher’s epic discography. If you like rap, noise, rock or dance music, literally any combination – you’re gonna love this album, you’ll tell your friends, and you’ll feel that fucking exclamation point.

C. Lavender
Myth of balance

We usually imagine “healing music” only as something soothing and soothing, but C. Lavender – a sound therapist and former assistant to the late Pauline Oliveros – takes a different approach with her debut at Editions Mego, Myth of balance. Recorded in the foggy geodesic dome pictured on its cover, Lavender uses bells, bowls, gongs and enough distortion to fill a doom metal album to create soundscapes designed to create and release tension in the mind and the body. The longest track on the album, “Remedy Potion Extraction”, perfectly captures this balance, opening on the darkest note possible before gradually blossoming into a state of bliss. Lavender also makes incredible use of a binaural microphone to create an almost three-dimensional atmosphere, where the sounds envelop the listener. It’s a recording technique that almost always feels like a cool gimmick to me, but Lavender uses it in ways I never imagined to create an album unlike anything I’ve ever understood. Myth of balance transcends simple ideas of noise or new age, creating a form of “healing music” that feels more honest and uplifting on all levels.


Oregon techno artist Joel Shanahan makes a welcome comeback with his third album as Auscultation, the first since surviving the unbearable tragedy of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland in 2016. Just like its sober title, III unfolds like a long cathartic sigh. Even in its liveliest moments, like the booming end of the slow-burning penultimate “Fool” or the choppy beat of “Purgatory Sway,” the album remains immensely sensitive and sweet. The sprawling opener “Glowing Hearts In The Rainbow Room” and the equally haunting and dazzling “Turn Down These Voices”, offer endless wondrous portals to traverse; but it’s III’Sweetest Hardest-Hit Moment: The album’s stripped-down closer “Exit” brings the album to a heartbreaking ending with only a floating synthesizer sequence and a simple chord progression that gains power with each repetition that affirms life.

Danish law
Algorithmic music for synthesized strings

Keep the title in mind when you hear Algorithmic music for synthesized strings, because Dane Law’s computer music is so hypnotic and naturalistic, it will make you forget its source almost instantly. Every sound on the London-based artist’s album was generated by running MIDI files through a computer algorithm, but the resulting fragile music – often sounding like a finger-picked guitar or lute – flows like rock. traditional folk music. Some tracks, like the exceptional “Delph”, embrace techno while remaining stripped of a minimal and pointillist side. But it’s just as satisfying to hear those beautiful tones when they simply tumble into abstraction. Both ancient and futuristic, computer music has rarely sounded so far removed from time itself.

Tatsuya Nakatani and Rob Magill
Valley moves

Valley moves captures the storm of a live set between free jazz percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani and saxophonist Rob Magill. The single track is titled “Consequences”, after the oddly named town of Truth or Consequences in New Mexico where it was recorded. Although Nakatani and Magill take on the extremes of rattling and skronking respectively, there is a deep sense of communication throughout. Valley moves. Nakatani’s expansive polyrhythmic canvases can take the form of crashing cymbals, creaking rubbed metal resembling a howling violin, and dizzying rushes of spiny drumbeats. It’s thrilling to hear Magill not only roar in those moments, but also step back and work his gnarly tenor sax melodies through the labyrinthine clamor. The best part is how that feeling only increases as you Valley moves plays. Through quiet rumbles and full outbursts, it’s a thrill to hear these two unique musicians understand each other in real time.

Field work

Through his unique Field Works project, field recorder Stuart Hyatt finds some of the most fascinating sounds on or beyond Earth and hires collaborators to make music with them. Ultrasonic embrace our four-legged friend the bat and the wonderful sounds of echolocation. An excellent list of contributors, including Kelly Moran, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Sarah Davachi, use this unique sound source as a starting point to offer their own distinct visions. Mary Lattimore creates a fragile and beautiful duet with the bats using her harp, while Noveller creates a dark fanfare with her distorted guitar. Others lean towards abstraction, like Christina Vantzou’s haunting “Music for a Vaulted Room” or Felicia Atkinson’s “Night Vision, it touched my neck,” where head-turning sound design , but silent, corresponds to the mystery of the elusive animal. . Satisfactory crowned by a moving contribution of oral creations by Julien Marchal, Ultrasonic represents the most musically and conceptually satisfying Field Works project.

Aaron Dilloway
Leftover chicken

One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had during this pandemic was the collective brain fusion experienced by fans at Aaron Dilloway’s quarantine concert for ASRA, when the musician performed live with two pet chickens. The video is a masterpiece of clever revelations: the annoying creak of Dilloway’s rocking chair that continues to loop after he gets up, the ominously ringing bell hanging from the back, the subtly curved metal plate on the floor that unexpectedly slams when Dilloway steps on it. like a haunted house prop… All before the first chicken enters a Dilloway playground made of singing bowls, contact mics and a guitar. The contrast of Dilloway’s puzzled reactions while leading his cheering birds with handfuls of food against the terrifying music they inadvertently produce makes the video a must-watch, but the official audio release of the concert is just as essential. Far from really seeing his playful creation, it is a much more abstract and threatening listening where the boundary between animal and machinery blurs abnormally. More than just a fun idea thrown around during quarantine, Leftover chicken is one of Dilloway’s most important releases made even better by these two distinct viewpoints.

Ada J. Kenney