Marco Shuttle – Visione [full album streaming]

Seeing ‘with Donato Dozzy’ attached to the first track on this debut album from Marco Shuttle, I absolutely had to listen. As a total unknown to me, the bespoke surrealism of the cover art caught my eye, but Dozzy grabbed my attention. As half of Voices From The Lake and an incredible techno artist in his own right, this guy will always deserve my time.

Featuring on this album is an endorsement that’s paid off handsomely. This is one of the best albums of 2015 so far. The best news is that the entire thing is streaming free:

Just, wow. I love Donato Dozzy and everything he touches, but I never expected to hear him associated with a guy who’s inadvertently soundtracking that heart-ripping-out scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Pried open with a slow motion drone tumble, the album kicks off in spectacularly ominous fashion. The cavernous sound would feel right at home on the Modern Love imprint, as a close cousin to Demdike Stare in their rhythmic moments. There’s a primal undercurrent at play here, soaking the beats in atavistic decay.

As the tracks progress, a heavy momentum kicks everything up a notch. The dread remains, yet creeps into a muted frenzy as the pace quickens. This is techno as a death march, stomping panic underfoot before emerging into brighter timbres in the album’s second half.


I feel like I’m giving the impression that this music is scary. It might be spooky at a glance, but it’s definitely not the howling-existential-panic I’ve plumbed the depths of in the past. There’s a buoyancy and charm to the mix, shining through in the handcrafted nuance of these songs. There’s the very fact that it never drops completely into a droning abyss; the beat always remains within arm’s reach. This is certainly not club material, but it is resolutely not a soundtrack for laying in bed all day. I’m going to listen on my commute to work tomorrow, and the rest of the week, I’m sure.

You should already be listening by now, so I’ll stop with the description and simply state that this was such a pleasant surprise to find in the throes of another frozen January. Like Andy Stott, Actress, Burial, and Shackleton before him, Marco Shuttle has managed to lift my seasonal spirits with music that’s somehow both wholly appropriate for nighttime blizzards and meditative daydreams.

Here’s that gorgeous artwork again, just because I like it:


The 2LP set is in stock at Amoeba Music in the US, Juno Records in the UK, and Delsin Records in the EU.

Demdike Stare – Erosion of Mediocrity

This video.  This massive tune.

I don’t really have anything to say about this today.  Just…

Edit:  Ok, I will at least mention that this is one of my favorite moments from one of the best albums of 2012.  I will also note that this video is fucking brilliant.  You’re welcome.

Demdike Stare – Elemental

Demdike Stare hit my radar when a friend insisted I listen to The Stars Are Moving because it was totally my sort of thing – and a massive understatement.  Liberation Through Hearing was not only on my Best of 2010 list, but part of the Tryptych compilation serving up a universally praised 160 minute slab of deep nocturnal bliss across three albums and discs.  Having so much aural brilliance to chew on felt like an embarassment of riches before the craving for new material hit well before a year had passed.  Thankfully the duo of Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty were busy interlocking the pieces on an even more audacious free fall into the abyss with a 4 EP / 2cd set which stretches their sound in increasingly hypnotic new directions.

The music here is given more space to move and to sit still.  There are great leaps beyond their established spooky dub dream style into riots of kraut percussion, melodic poems buried in noise fields, and climaxes of bloody tribal warfare.  This is nothing short of the full realization of their shamanistic trance ritual ethos, both more explicitly sculpted and expansive than all prior work combined.  Songs cover wildly varying grounds – from beatless waves of digital grain to mountains of swarming disembodied vocals – while retaining a unified identity that would make the cover artwork jealous.  Elemental strikes this perfect duality of technical bass mastery and unhinged manace, igniting every dark pleasure center in my auditory complex.  It’s a soundtrack to my strangest apocalyptic dreams and the kind of art we could only wish more artists knew how to craft.  This is a self contained cult in album form, a ritualistic palate cleanser which will make other music obsolete for a while.

Elemental, in its 2cd form, is fully streamable on soundcloud, right here:

For those lacking time or attention span, a couple highlights:  cinematic Mephisto’s Lament and steamrolling Erosion of Mediocrity both destroy worlds and illuminate vastly different aspects of this set.

The fidelity is great but buy the real thing to fully absorb the meticulous near-chaotic detail in Demdike Stare’s work.  If you’ve got the fetish and the cash seek out the extremely sold-out 12″ vinyl set from sellers on discogs or ebay.  If you want to hear this masterpiece in optimal form for a reasonable price, grab the 2cd set, featuring alternate edits and new cuts fleshing out the experience; believe me, they’re essential and can’t be considered bonus.  Keep in mind that this is selling out quickly as well!

For fans of: Shackleton, Actress, Oneohtrix Point Never, Coil, David Lynch, Joseph Conrad, exciting nightmares

Shadow Piece [mixtape]

Change begs itself.

I needed to do something different here.  Too much has happened to remain the same.  This will now be a home for mixtapes.  I will still write about music that I love, sometimes even in the same fashion as before, but this place will change.  I have a large mix backlog that can and will be shared, but I assembled one special for this occasion.  Here is the inaugural Optimistic Underground mixtape:

Click to download the mixtape.

Shadow Piece by Optimisticunderground on Mixcloud

Make a key.

Find a lock that fits.

If you find it, burn the house

that is attached to it.

Yoko Ono

[ps.  thank you for the condolences and well wishes.]