Posted by: Dominic Umile | 01/11/2010

January Commutes: Phantogram, Asura, Memoryhouse

MemoryhouseWhat is it with January and “rainy day records”? Is there truth to the whole “worst day of the year thing”? I can’t help myself of late — I’ve been hankering for melancholy, bleary sounds. I’ve spent a great deal of time listening to the Toro Y Moi debut LP for a forthcoming review, and while he doesn’t traffic in moodiness, the production feels better suited, at times, to hazy, dewy mornings than it does a party soundtrack. More on him later. On most occasions in the past couple of weeks, I’ve got a lot of Boards of Canada stuff going in the headphones, Lawrence’s Divided, Mojave 3 at home — and yesterday I almost picked up a used copy of Neil Halstead’s Sleeping On Roads. Someone should throw me a party or something. I’m not particularly down, or anything, I just need my glum fix. Here is some discussion on a few more things I’ve been listening to lately.

Eyelid MoviesThe U.S. physical release of the Phantogram full-length Eyelid Movies (BBE, 2009) will have a place on both Barsuk and Ghostly International in February — the LP will be issued on the latter, while the CD and digital portion will be dealt by Barsuk. I’m digging on the moody nightmare pop of “When I’m Small,” and there is a good chance I’ll be pulling the LP off the shelf pretty often if the rest of it sounds like this. Vocalist Sarah Barthel’s dreary, bewitching contribution on this track, which occupies the second slot on Eyelid, doesn’t strike me as sounding that far from Beth Gibbons or Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan — it kind of just floats above a hard-crackling, tumbling hip hop drum break, while her simple organ run pairs with cohort Josh Carter’s wiry, clean guitar lead. Haunting stuff. Get it here.

AsuraAsura’s self-titled record is one of the first really strong debut albums I’ve heard this year (11 days in, that is). The Los Angeles-based producer/multi-instrumentalist Ryan York brewed up a headphone-prepped, atmospheric outing for the inaugural work to be issued on Alpha Pup’s Non Projects imprint — it’s a heavily electronic effort, with nods toward Warp Records and dub techno, but the influence of futuristic hip hop/ever-expanding cast of Low End Theory talents is at the forefront as well. When York’s textured pieces aren’t hissing and stuttering (“Peptine”), sleepy late-night interludes, fitted with strings and long-lingering washes (“From the Beach”) balance things out. The fact that this is his first record is, in itself, crazy — seriously, York projects a level of comfort and even command in his experimenting, and he doesn’t stick to one theme too long. Try out the Asura album sampler at the Non Projects blog.

The Years

Via Superhumanoids, I’m just now experiencing a free EP from Canada’s Memoryhouse. The Years (Arcade Sound Ltd., 2010) moves at an unhurried pace — its lethargic guitars and sparkling synths, loaded with reverb, should undoubtedly help land it in your playlist these days, or in the Spring, when those albums usually designated for rainy days are suddenly the most ordered-up on your work commutes. Vocalist Denise Nouvion’s most favorable effort, in my opinion, closes The Years with “To The Lighthouse,” when she doesn’t emerge until at least a full minute of its muddied loops and far-off slide guitars disintegrate in the Slowdive-like, indistinct backing track. Her words are rife with stirring imagery — there’s talk of cobwebs and “lungs full of water from the tide” — and they’re just as lazily delivered as the rest of what’s here. Get the whole EP at Delicious Scopitone.



  1. Holy crap, Memoryhouse.

  2. My sentiments exactly, Ben. Can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon for them. Thanks for reading.

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