Spotlight 15
Favourite Labels 2014

Poppy Ackroyd + Lumen
Avec le soleil sortant ...
Brooklyn Rider
Del Sol String Quartet
Nick Gill
Stefan Goldmann
Chihei Hatakeyama
Robert Honstein
Jonas Kopp
David Lackner
Last Ex
Neil Leonard
Little Phrase
The Mark Lomax Trio
LA Percussion Quartet
Near The Parenthesis
Newman and Cox
Pan & Me
Bobby Previte
Marc Sabat
Hein Schoer
Wadada Leo Smith
Templeton + Armstrong
Ken Thomson
Ulterior Motive
Joris Voorn
Andrew Weathers
Ezra Weiss Sextet
Stefan Wesolowski
Keith Worthy

Compilations / Mixes
EPM Selected Vol. 3
Universal Quantifier

EPs / Cassettes / Mini-Albums / Singles
Blu Mar Ten
Michael Jon Fink
Oceanic Triangulation
Northumbria and Famine
Total Science
Simon Whetham

Hakobune / Oliwa / Former Selves / Panabrite: Oceanic Triangulation
Inner Islands

Issued by the Oakland, California-based Inner Islands imprint as two separate cassette releases, Oceanic Triangulation is best experienced as a single whole. Operated by Sean Conrad and guided by its “Reflection, buoyance, serenity, and wonder” mantra, the label's hypnotic sound is well-served by the release, which spreads long-form works by Hakobune, Oliwa, Former Selves, and Panabrite across its four cassette sides.

Up first is Hakobune, who hails from Kasai, a small town in Hyogo, and currently calls Tokyo home. His “Kakogawa,” a billowing mass of multi-layered guitar tones and washes, unfurls for eleven enveloping minutes in a style that'll be familiar to those acquainted with his previous releases on labels such as U-cover, Hibernate, and Symbolic Interaction. Oliwa, who's issued music on various labels since 2010, contributes a setting to the release that's clearly complementary to Hakobune's, even if it's a tad blurrier in character. Like “Kakogawa,” “After Night, Before Sunrise” inhabits a serene space though one far above the earth's surface. The impression created by the two pieces is of sounds comfortably adrift, much like cirrus clouds passing in slow motion. But in contrast to “Kakogawa,” “After Night, Before Sunrise” undergoes a change in identity halfway through when low-pitched synthesizers and head-nodding beat patterns take charge, an unexpected move that pulls the ethereal first half of the piece earthward.

The second cassette, considerably longer than the first at thirty-five minutes, backs “Triangulate Upon Paradise” by Former Selves (Oakland, California-based Paul Skomsvold) with “Digest of Botanicals” by Panabrite (Seattle resident Norm Chambers). “Triangulate Upon Paradise” conjures a hazy, synth-laden zone that's verdant and organic in nature. The keyboards-heavy music swells and mutates throughout its seventeen-minute run, the material's contractions and expansions occurring organically under Skomsvold's watchful eye. During the music's more mist-covered moments, one is reminded of Popul Vuh, especially when a section halfway through suggests some degree of similarity to the Aguirre, the Wrath of God soundtrack, but perhaps the most satisfying part arrives in the last quarter when the music grows noticeably melancholy in tone. Certainly the most phantasmagoric of the four settings is the one by Panabrite, which opens in some Syd Barrett-styled lab before blossoming into a kaleidoscopic parade of warbling synth phrases—“Digest of Botanicals” indeed. Chambers is, of course, an old hand at this kind of thing by now, and consequently his expert handling of the wide-eyed material's kosmische noodling doesn't come as a surprise (there's even a Keith Emerson-styled Moog flameout near the end). His exploration nicely caps an altogether satisfying four-part release.

November 2014