Serene Electronic Bedroom Pop
Self-Released March 24, 2017
Imaginary Towers is the moniker for Matt Wilson, an electronic musician based in Vine Grove, Kentucky – he released the calm Revive EP just over six months ago. There Are No Shadows Here, seems like the logical continuation of that sound – here, with the benefit of a longer runtime allowing for the exploration of more sounds and ideas. “Whispers,” the album’s third track, finds Wilson’s auto-tuned voice doubled by the synthesizer, an instrument which rises to its loudest presence of the album – even if only briefly – before receding back into the existing texture. His voice is most exposed during the beginning of “I Want You to Have Everything,” before more layers of sound swallow the song. My favorite of the album is “You Can See Through Me,” in which another voice joins Matt’s as he sings “I’ve seen things I can’t explain, you can see through me” – the build to the song’s climax is also paced perfectly, paying off big time. “Highs Mids Lows” is placed towards the end of the album – its melody laid across an extended chord progression, and the track’s title found at the end of each verse: “just don’t get hooked on the highs and the mids and the lows.” For those that heard and enjoyed Revive last fall, this should be a familiar, enjoyable listen – Matt Wilson crafts a serene, densely textural atmosphere on There Are No Shadows Here, making it easy for the listener to close their eyes, relax, and breathe.
Tracks I Liked: I Am You!, Whispers!, I Want You to Have Everything!!, You Can See Through Me!!!, Joy in Anything!, Highs Mids Lows!!
Ben Southworth – March 29, 2017 – Kenwick Place
Harsh Industrial & Playful Electronic
auralgamiSOUNDS – February 3, 2017
ATOMO’s The Evaporated Life is an EP I find myself going back to fairly often – it’s great driving music, work music, or accompaniment-to-just-about-anything music. That release was described as relentlessly optimistic (a fitting description, I think).
Here, ATOMO is paired with another Louisville electronic musician, TonyRobot, whose music is stark contrast to the bubbly beats I had heard before. TonyRobot’s music is in your face, washed in pulsing, distorted synthesizers – even when the synths die down, the beat pounds on in the foreground. On “Doom Stick” the music seems to phase in and out of itself, disorienting the listener and making it difficult to find the top of a phrase. “Death Adder” is my favorite of TonyRobot’s three tracks on the EP – a plodding beat grows until it busts into an echoey wash of moody electronic sounds that would fit perfectly as film music.
ATOMO’s first of three tracks, “When I Met Her Dog,” starts with a palette cleansing chunk of pop organ with no beat before it leaps into a fast-paced, nearly silly tune set around pentatonic tones. ATOMO’s second track is the longest of the EP, a multi-part song called “Tangata Manu: Go Shave Your Head/Sharkbait/Vertigo.” The track is constantly morphing into the next section of the song, interjected with quick spurts of contrasting ideas – the final section is a spacey bit of music and features vocal notes from auralgamiSOUNDS label-mate, Cher Von.
YAWNKILLERS is a quick release with lots of good momentum – TonyRobot and ATOMO play great contrast to each other’s distinct brand of electronic music, and the EP is a fresh, energetic listen from the beginning to the end.
Tracks I Liked: Doom Stick!, Death Adder!!!, When I Met Her Dog!!!, Tangata Manu: Go Shave Your Head/Sharkbait/Vertigo!
Ben Southworth – High Street – March 12, 2017
Self-Released – September 6, 2016
Revive starts off quietly with the sounds of crickets chirping and a fire crackling, patiently layering electronic piano and low-key digital drum beats. It feels like the appropriate setting for modern life in rural Kentucky – Imaginary Towers hails from Vine Grove, tucked just south of Fort Knox and home to just over 5,000 people. Though the first track is instrumental, “YRUSO” introduces electronically affected vocals asking “why are you so tired and unhappy” and “why are you so restless and angry” before the singer turns the question towards themselves. “1994” has the catchiest vocal melody of the five tracks, mixing distorted keyboard with clean and clear vocals that reflect on the optimism of childhood, singing “you would never know it now, but there’s a part of me that stayed behind in 1994.” Things slow down even more on “Desire,” parking the vocals a little further back in the mix and allowing the mixture of synthesizers and drums to gently swell and retreat like waves on a shore. A sample of a child speaking places the final track, “Revive,” back into the mindset of the innocence of youth – it remains a quiet and simple track that fades out softly with the sounds of rain and a resonating piano. Revive is brief and quiet, but sets a strong, definite mood for its duration. For those who enjoy low-key, ambient electronica, you’re likely to truly enjoy the music here by Imaginary Towers.
Tracks I Liked: YRUSO!!, 1994!!!, Desire!, Revive!
Ben Southworth – October 2, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Poppy Instrumental Electronica
October 2nd, 2015 – auralgami SOUNDS
The Evaporated Life is described on the one-sheet as “relentlessly optimistic,” and I doubt there’s much better a way to describe it. ATOMO is the project of a singular Louisvillian (whose name is omitted from all online materials I could find), and a seemingly new project at that. All the tracks on this album are lengthy enough for them to flesh themselves out pretty well – the shortest of them still spills over the 4:30 mark. Throughout these six works, it’s tough to place when the music is originating from, and I think that’s a good thing – there’s a refreshing mix of aged timbres (buzzing saw synths, sampled drums, and electronic organ) placed within more modern-and-constantly-evolving arrangements, none of which take themselves too seriously. This is definitely stuff you could dance to – perhaps not in the sense of Todd Terje’s driving disco displays (although track three gets close) – but it possesses the same lighthearted mood and nearly romantic atmosphere. I’m happy to see a Kentucky label putting out stuff with such diversity in sound – auralgamiSOUNDS has released garage rock, world-influenced jazz-electronica, improvised noise, and now this – all within the last twelve months, and they’ve all been quality. The Evaporated Life is fun, light, and decidedly enjoyable – I can’t imagine anybody finding it anything less than pleasant and refreshing.
Tracks I Liked: Mirrors!, Dr Waycroft’s upsidedown namepiece!!, its 2015 and i drive a computer!, Ice cream truck paranoid!!
Ben Southworth – October 3rd, 2015 – Mount Horeb
The Waveform Generator / Self-Released – September 26th, 2014
An Interesting Life doesn’t waste any time getting started – any kitsch you or I may have detected in MrWimmer’s last big release, Once More Unto the Breach, is immediately absent here. This release is a strange blend of bebop, crooning, and fusion mixed with the pulsing glitz of 8-bit sounds and set brazenly in a post-apocalyptic world, similar to that in Sufjan’s Age of Adz – and somehow it all works together effortlessly. The lead-off track “Golden” gets going with off-kilter drums and swirling bursts of electronic sounds, accompanied by the electric guitar chops of Shawn Savoie. It smoothly transitions right into “Your Way,” which is the heaviest, most sinister track of the bunch (and of any I’ve heard from MrWimmer.) Savoie’s guitar abilities are again on display in this track – the solos are nasty, but his real effect comes from the weight and force that he adds to the track in its latter half. These first three songs, for all their electronic stylings, remain firmly-rooted in jazz tradition. “My Only” starts with the ‘spang-a-lang’ of a synthesized ride cymbal, incorporates noodling that wouldn’t be unusual to hear on a saxophone, and even shifts into a ragtime feel before ending in half-time.
If you’re familiar with the previous work of MrWimmer, you’ll likely feel a little more familiar with the latter half of this release. Stylistically, “How Long” would not have been out of place, had it been included as a part of Once More, but it certainly brings a more mature harmonic structure to the game – not to mention a great chorus. “Study” is a nearly-five-minute instrumental track that alternates between synth lines and fluctuating textures, ending with a guitar solo and a chromatic quasi-psychedelic outro. The title track starts with a fairly sparse pairing of electronic loops and piano before Wimmer’s voice is added – this song feels more intimate than any of the others on the album, and certainly serves well as the final track of the release.
I hesitate to call this release an EP – though it only lasts six songs and thirty minutes, it has the continuity, substance, and personality to make it a real, substantial release. Perhaps you’re a little hesitant to give chiptune music a try, but I’d urge you to reconsider. Like his releases that came before it, An Interesting Life doesn’t use chiptuning as a gimmick, but simply as a way to make some incredible music. And while I certainly enjoyed the material that preceded it, the sounds here are unabashed, highly crafted, and easily the strongest I’ve heard from MrWimmer yet.
Tracks I Liked? Golden!!, Your Way!!!, My Only!, How Long!!, Study!, An Interesting Life!
Ben Southworth – February 20th, 2015 – Park Avenue