The two times I've happened upon Finnish musician Islaja (in Greenpoint and Beijing, of all places) she's enacted her singular music with a sampler, so it was a bit curious to read Pitchfork's wrongheaded review which presumes that Merja Kokkonen hails from "a stretch of old growth forest...or maybe Middle Earth," lamenting that with her electronics Keraaminen Pää sounds "modern, mechanical, and familiar." Some recent reviews of Finnish music all dabble in speculation on the country, but considering that Islaja's success comes from outside of her homeland, I can't help but think of her as a wandering musician without territories (see also above locales). Lord knows her music makes few man-made distinctions: dirges, wobbling electronics, that icy vocalization, the throbs and meandering progressions. A song about a werewolf that undergoes such changes itself. That the album was made in Finland, Benin, Berlin, and Hong Kong suggests wide peregrinations as well. Most telling is her sampling of a fellow musical gypsy, Ghédalia Tazartès, which suggests she won't be settling into something familiar (least of all in an enchanted forest) anytime soon.
Noveller: Desert Fires
Brooklyn guitarist Sarah Lisptate sent her new album to me out of the blue. Turns out she also spent time in Austin, Texas before coming up north. And in a way her approach to the guitar I feel a kindred pull (from a decade previous), emphasizing texture and weather-pattern drifts, abstraction above traction. It's telling that Lipstate also does experimental film and since it arrived around the same time as my copy of Michaelangelo Antonioni's stunning modern-life meditation, Red Desert, I conflate the two works. (Also, Red Desert came during the time of the Deephorizon oil spill, giving it even muckier resonance.) Picturing that black sea, the bogs the hue of pus, the slate-ash skies, that deathly green of walls, I hear Noveller's music in Antonioni's color palettes, the suspension of feedback lingers with me as long as those images, too.
Originally a Mum member (also a member of Storsveit Nix Noltes), and originally a limited release under the name "lost in the hildurness," Gudnadottir has her first solo outing cleared again so that it might get a bit more attention. Credited with cello, viola da gamba, gamelan, zither, and more, it's rare to have a female composer represented on the esteemed Touch imprint (but not as rare as it not having the photography of Jon Wozencraft adorn it) and rather than make grand gestures, the album is infused instead with small moments that have taken a few spins to grow. Sawed-string miniatures, neo-classical meditations, shimmering suspended drones, it's been a morning soundtrack for a few weeks now, with expansive closer "You" a highlight.