2015 Top 10s & 20s
Roomful Of Teeth

David Arend
Artificial Intelligence
Nimrod Borenstein
Randal Collier-Ford
Julien Demoulin
Denki Udon
R. Nathaniel Dett
Dwiki Dharmawan
Yair Etziony
Marina Fages
Francesco Di Fiore
Flowers for Bodysnatchers
From the Mouth of the Sun
Markus Guentner
Momenta Quartet
Music Komite
North Atlantic Explorers
Prequel Tapes
Alessandro Stella
Swarm Intelligence
Robert Scott Thompson
Trigg & Gusset
Aino Tytti
Andy Vaz
We Mythical Kings
Sebastian Zangar

Compilations / Mixes / Remixes / Reissues
Dub Phizix
Stacey Pullen
A Simple Procedure
Tour De Traum X

EPs / Cassettes / DVDs / Mini-Albums / Singles
Big Phone
Great Panoptique Winter
Mute Forest
Thee Koukouvaya
Joshua Van Tassel

Joshua Van Tassel: Understar
Backward Music

A very promising prologue to a forthcoming full-length (that purportedly will augment its music with a short story and visuals), Understar is the latest release from Nova Scotia-born electro-acoustic composer Joshua Van Tassel, whose last album, Dance Music: Songs For Slow Motion, was selected as the ‘Electronic Album of the Year' at both the East Coast Music Awards and Music Nova Scotia Awards. Issued on the Halifax experimental label Backward Music and created at Van Tassel's own Dream Date Studio, the EP features four tracks oriented around the story of a Giant Squid and a trajectory that includes its deep space origins, subsequent absorption into a Black Hole, and eventual appearance in one of our own planet's oceans.

“Birthrite” takes little time establishing the project's cinematic scope when strings, beats, and slide guitars build into a huge, loping colossus. It's a heady, even explosive blend of post-rock, prog, and classical that immediately leads one to think that the full-length will be as if not even more epic in its reach. Initially restrained, “Passage” exudes a palpable noir-like quality in its late-night trumpet playing before a charging beat pattern emerges to push the music to ever-increasing heights of intensity and drama; an abrupt change occurs towards the end, however, with a hip-hop-styled beat pattern twisting the tune into radically different shape. The style carries over into “All Cosmic Colour” and the dreamily melodic title track, whose MPC-styled beatsmithing invites comparison to the kind of material issued by a producer like Dday One on the (C)ontent Label. At seventeen minutes, the EP's over fast, but Van Tassel's music covers a lot of stylistic ground in a short amount of time. Perhaps by design, each setting presents a slightly different portrait of this ambitious artist, who's seemingly got ideas and imagination to spare.

December 2015