Most casual rock fans know that before Randy Newman was Pixar’s benevolent great-uncle, he put his old fake southern leg on some really nasty lyrics. But what was he doing before? His debut in 1968, Randy Newman, is a response, and though he’s nearing Newman’s pinnacle (on the deeply disturbing “Davy the Fat Boy” in particular), his vocals are consumed by a wall of strings from master arranger Van Dyke Parks. It has almost nothing to do with rock, which is why he once joked that if the Rolling Stones were homo sapiens, they would be homo erectus.
After a decade defined by some of his most enigmatic sample-based work, Geir Jenssen Biosphere the project returns to the ambient-techno form. Shortwave memories It’s all weird synth pads and sharp drums, but even with such a mechanical palette, it still sounds like an organism cloning itself in a petri dish. Low-end squiggles pulsate and twitch, little chords fizzle and pop on the surface, and it all adds up to one of the Norwegian’s most satisfying features in years.
Synth Wizard Daryl GroetschPulse Emitter’s work spans everything from subterranean drones to new age fairy tales, but his two new albums created under his birth name – released on the same day and very twins – feature some of the most lush and heartwarming ambient music around. he never did. Back at home gives the impression of dissolving in a cloud, while beige world is a bit more ominous and contemplative, though a far cry from bizarre early work like Pleistocenewhat sounds like someone stuck a mic between two continental plates.
Brooklynite who loves mushrooms Ben Bondy polishes his tactile and slightly nauseating version of the ambient music on his new album Camouflage. If you’ve ever tripped and figured out what it felt like to want to squirm out of your own body, you’ll identify with this music, and while last year Glans Intercum underpinned its spongy sounds with sharp, club-ready beats, Camouflage allows his music to expand and contract on its own terms. This is perhaps the best of his dozen albums to date.