2013 Top 10s & 20s
The Knells' The Knells
Spotlight 11

John Luther Adams
Astro Sonic
Mark Cetilia
Ulises Conti
Stephen Cornford
Exercise One
Stavros Gasparatos
Rael Jones
The Knells
Lord Echo
Selaxon Lutberg
Martin & Berg
Josh Mason
Ron Morelli
One Far West
Orange Yellow Red
Piano Interrupted
Oleg Poliakov
Saffronkeira + Massa
Scarlet Youth
Burkhard Stangl
Peter Van Hoesen
Vatican Shadow

Compilations / Mixes
EPM Selected Vol. 2
My Love For You Is Analog.
OFF To ADE 2013
Tempo Dreams Vol. 2
Transit 2

EPs / Cassettes / Singles
Fighting Lion
Kyle Fosburgh
Fre4knc / Nuage
Rezo Glonti
Ishan Sound
Pennygiles & Phil Tangent
Dominic Petrie
Sontag Shogun
Thrash Pilot

Fighting Lion: A Convenient Place
Flaming Pines

Rezo Glonti: Late Night Diving
Flaming Pines

In an era when bloat and excess are commonplace, it can be refreshing to encounter releases of modest duration, such as these two three-inch EPs (issued in limited 100-copy runs) from Australian imprint Flaming Pines. Even when one of them is a mere eleven minutes long, the discs manage to make a memorable impression on the listener.

The more ambient-styled release of the two, Rezo Glonti's Late Night Diving purportedly explores his post-Soviet home Georgia (which was part of the USSR until 1991) in terms of its history and present-day reality. If there's a nostalgic quality to the EP's material, it might be attributed to the fact that its contents were inspired by old wedding footage he found during a trip to rural Georgia and by the fact that Glonti was in the process of moving during the EP's production and so found himself surrounded by boxed-up possessions and Soviet artifacts while working on the musical material.

Characteristic of the twenty-minute set is “Soviet White,” where a hazy drone of shimmering synth pads and vinyl crackle gradually expands when joined by electric guitar thrum, muffled horn tones, and light flickerings. A subtle aura of uplift and hope emanates off of Glonti's instrumental dreamscapes, their mood becalmed and their tonality harmonious. Outdoors field recordings sometimes emerge within the tracks' sound design, though they're secondary to the instrument sounds. The soft electrical glimmerings of “Day Light Signals” calls to mind the rapid flow of late-night scenery as seen from a moving vehicle, while “Sun of Tibati” understandably exudes a sense of dazed languor. Listening to the EP, one might interpret the title as an allusion to the nightly plunge into memory and history Glonti undertook as he developed the EP's four pieces.

All but one of the seven settings featured on his Fighting Lion release A Convenient Place are less than two minutes in length, so Álvaro Menéndez knows he must work quickly if he wants the material to register. But that it does, especially when the tracks, dominated by multi-tracked sounds of ukulele, piano, glockenspiel, and (synthetic) strings, sparkle with an appealing grace and melodicism. “Museum Pond” and “Winter Garden” convincingly evoke their titular settings, while it's easy to be won over by the child-like joy suggested by “Passing Clouds” and the nocturnal wonder induced by “Night Owls.” Crystalline ukulele picking and scattered piano accents help distinguish fleeting vignettes such as “Quiet Stars” and “Fireworks Shine on Your Face.” To his credit, Menéndez doesn't overload the arrangements, and more often than not a single instrument or two is the sum-total of what's on display. Here's one EP one wouldn't mind being longer.

December 2013