2015 Artists' Picks
Kevin Kastning
Andy Vaz's House Warming

17 Pygmies
Aaltonen & Haarla
Rodolphe Alexis
Marc Barreca
Le Berger
Book of Air
David Cordero
Council of Nine
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Hatakeyama + Serries
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William Hooker Quartet
How To Cure Our Soul
Kevin Kastning
Kastning / Clements
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Rhys Marsh
Palmbomen II
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tholl / fogel / hoff
Julia Wolfe

Kosemura, Shinozaki, Nitta

Compilations / Mixes / Remixes / Reissues
Collection 100
Landscapes of Fear

EPs / Cassettes / Mini-Albums / Singles
Amonism + Revenant Sea
Matt Barbier
Hesperius Draco
Markus Oehlen
Greg Sawyer

sleepland: for Silentseeing
White Paddy Mountain

In certain respects, Kengo Yonemura's second physical sleepland release is retiring in nature and restrained in approach. There's the lower-case moniker for one, plus the fact that for Silentseeing features ten rather minimalistic pieces of modest duration in contrast to the long-form compositions we often come across on ambient-styled releases. But the forty-five-minute collection includes powerful moments, too, in keeping with a project that, as described, draws for inspiration from the “sound of insects, the sound of falling rain, the bustle of big cities, [and] noise in construction work.” Operating out of Hyougo, Yonemura began producing his ambient sleepland sounds in 2011 using layers of electric guitar to generate his overtone-rich ambient-drone constructions.

There are some undeniably lovely moments on the recording. Often blurry and crystalline, densely layered dronescapes such as “Merits of Sequence,” “Eosphorite,” and “Ripples Over the Frosted Glass” drift peacefully, pulling the listener along with them as they do so. The more aggressive side of the project comes to the fore when “Scaffold” undergirds field recordings of construction clatter with a low-pitched rumbling drone; even more intense is the two-part “Degree of Partial Melting,” whose clangorous metallic textures add a harrowing dimension to the recording.

All such pieces are memorable, but the recording reaches its peak halfway through when “hilllight” ascends to celestial heights and, better still, “b.o.n.c.” paints a plaintive picture whose slow-motion arc is as beautiful as it is sad. It's so lovely, it alone makes for Silentseeing worth checking out. Needless to say, Yonemura's album is a natural fit for Chihei Hatakeyama's White Paddy Mountain (the label head also did the mastering on the project).

January 2016