This collection of instrumental offerings from Western Vinyl musicians shows just how many emotions can be captured without the utterance of a word.
Western Vinyl is a record label based in Austin, Texas. Artists which have been on its roster through the years includes all of the artists below, as well as Dirty Projectors, Here We Go Magic, J. Tillman, Secret Cities, and Ola Podrida.
Balmorhea is a five-piece post-rock/instrumental band with four full-length albums under its belt.
Balmorhea – “Clamor” (Candor/Clamor 7″)
“Clamor” is ecstatic with its persistent piano propulsion, electrifying bass, and bombastic drums. If “Candor” is a tense and foggy dream, lost in a forest, beguiled by the angelic siren overhead, “Clamor” is the heart-pounding shamanistic wake-up call.
Et Ret – “Won By Walking” (Gasworks)
Rather than embracing cacophony and cold aesthetics, Et Ret’s compositions achieve warmth and resonance through repetition. He compliments his confident, but restrained, guitar melodies with deeply impassioned swirls of violins and cellos. As a final touch, the compositions are accented with sparse percussion and subtle analog electronics.
Botany – “Benefactress” (Feeling Today EP)
Botany explores the cosmic nexus of shimmering psychedelia, blissed-out pop, and instrumental hip-hop, as he turns recycled sounds into something thoroughly modern. For Spencer there’s a therapeutic value in reconfiguring the “noise” of an information-dense consumer culture into something nourishing and honest. He collects artifacts… scavenged bits of ephemera…all of the organic and inorganic matter that passes through our hands and heads everyday and he uses them to build something deeply personal. Ultimately, he reminds us that the natural world we are a part of is one of boundless wonder and color.
Shuta Hasunuma – “Return Of The Bamboo” (Ok Bamboo)
Hasunuma flits and twitters, growing and changing without warning. The result is a collection of enchantingly beautiful compositions full of meticulous details. This perfectly executed collage of digital and organic sounds immediately feels familiar and intimate, as it demands your attention.
Bexar Bexar – “Patterned Like Lovers” (Tropism)
A few simple acoustic recordings served as the source material, which would be chopped, stretched, processed, and filtered. One guitar note became a tree full of cicadas, while another transformed into a deep oceany drone. Ultimately each recording was deconstructed and used to reconstruct something completely new.
Spectrum – “Santa Claus”
While Famous Places continues similar themes heard in his previous releases, this collection of songs calls to mind certain nostalgia for the composer. The track titles are reflective of landmarks in Kenniff’s life that he uses as a theme to base his compositions on, punctuating memories of childhood, love, and loss with his signature sound of modestly beautiful piano vignettes. Although the album consists mostly of solo piano, from time to time the listener can hear understated ambient drones, distant keyboard melodies and other instruments far off in the background highlighting his hazily recollected portraits of years gone by. Kenniff’s almost reluctance to defy a dynamic marking of pianissimo and his close-mic’d upright piano makes the exploration a quietly reflective journey that invites the listener to sit beside the composer and pay attention to the space between the notes just as much as when he gently taps the piano hammer to the strings.
Tren Brothers – “The Swimmer” (The Swimmer EP)
The music swoons with Jim White’s perfectly expressive and sensual drumming and Mick Turner’s signature guitar style. As anyone familiar with their work knows, Jim’s unique drumming is the perfect compliment to Mick Turner’s moody swirls of guitar and melodica. Togther they’ve created a beautiful portrait of a character known only as “The Swimmer.”
Christopher Tignor – “Last Thought At Night” (Core Memory Unwound)
“Core Memory” was once the dominant architecture for computer memory, consisting of a fine mesh of interwoven wires. On this release, Tignor brings his background as computer scientist and composer center-stage, deconstructing his own music through performance. Creating new compositions from key violin and piano gestures played during the acoustic performances, these “memory portraits” have a life both intimately bound to, yet completely distinct from their source works.
Rolf Julius – “Song From The Past” Excerpt (Music For The Ears)
Music for the Ears is the first in a series of Small Music releases by Rolf Julius. With a goal of creating solitary sound environments, the Small Music series will culminate into a boxed edition of seminal works by this master sound artist. Music for the Ears is comprised of two long tracks of gently weaving tones exploring the possibilities of spatial experience. The cover image depicts Julius’ sound installation in a bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan where his music is placed high in the air, by speakers hanging freely from the branches of the trees. As the music suspends itself in the air, the tones sway in the wind floating ever so gently, caressing the ears, the trees, the light, and clouds.
Sleep Whale – “Skipping Stones” (Little Brite EP)
Equally informed by pioneers like Steve Reich, Brian Eno, Can, and Neu!, the band’s sound has grown into a joyful soundtrack for a midnight drive down the freeway with your windows down. Their songs uniquely straddle the line between experimental ambience and accessible psych-folk-pop, all the while leading you through shimmering labyrinths of sound, color, and texture.
Wires Under Tension – “Electricity Turns Them On” (Light Science)
Charged with the desolation of a Mad Max dystopia, the songs on Wires Under Tension’s debut, Light Science, form a narrative in motion from lightness to darkness. The band’s name reflects the duo’s ongoing struggle to balance this tension as they wrestle with an unpredictable and unforgiving machine of their own making. The wordless voices of horns and violin feel like lightning riding a stormy sea of drums and drones. That lightning illuminates the duo’s muscular rhythms, formidable dynamic, and unique musicianship. As they beckon us into their storm, they seem to effortlessly sidestep the cliches found in much of today’s instrumental music, delivering exciting and mysterious gems from their unique netherworld.
Balmorhea – “Truth (Helios Remix)” (All Is Wild, All Is Silent Remixes 2xLP)
Balmorhea’s All is Wild, All is Silent has received praise from critics, fans, and most importantly from the band’s close friends. Many of their friends are not surprisingly musicians themselves. The idea to release the All is Wild, All is Silent Remixes evolved organically as the band asked a few of their closest friends if they’d like to remix a track. To their surprise, 11 of their friends jumped at the opportunity to create remixes of these wordless narratives that have become so meaningful to them.
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