Author: Arnold Hsu

Eaten Alive
Denovali Records
Street: 01.31
Talvihorros = Greg Haines + Nobuto Suda
This album is full of pretty and cute melodies made weird by distortions and reverbs. Almost every single track consisted of me saying, “Oh, hey this is nice” to “Oh wait, weird as fuck” within a five-second time frame. It’s especially prominent in the track “Four Walls,” with consistent clockwork ticking in the background with threatening melodies slowly fading in. It’s quite anxiety-inducing, really. However, the emotions that I feel while listening to this song are what I imagine the artist wants the listener to feel. The mastermind behind this, Ben Chatwin, based this album off the time he visited East London, where he battled many drug addictions. The fact that he was able to convey the feelings and emotions he had into these songs is a plus in my book—even if it makes me feel creeped out. –Arnold Hsu

Sun Choir
Transgressive North
Street: 01.20
Marram = OK Go + Darwin Deez + Coldplay
Let me just tell you, first, how much work was put into this album. Sun Choir features the children of the Light of Love Children’s Home, along with 10 other artists, including Owen Pallett of Arcade Fire and Scottish folk singer Margaret Bennett. They weren’t lying about the children being featured either. Almost every song has a full choir of children either acting as fills or the melodic lead, which is especially prominent in the sung “With Us Instead.” In “We Fly A Kite,” there are tons of catchy tunes and rhythms, full orchestral harmonies and interesting percussive textures, as well as the discovery that you’ve always had a crush on Margaret Bennett’s voice. When you listen to this album, you’ll definitely feel the effort they put into producing this. –Arnold Hsu
Badly Coded Boy
Street: 01.01.13
Exoboy = Clams Casino + 8 Bit Weapon
Experimental is the first word that came to my mind when I listened to this. It sounded like something made purely on Ableton with scattered samples and perhaps a small MIDI controller. I’ll say right off the bat that this is something that I’ll only listen to once, due to the extremely thin and shallow sound the entire album has. I’m not saying it’s not interesting, though—each track has its own motif and idea, which was fun to hear, but it’s one of those “if you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it all” moments for each song. The single ideas for each song dragged on for over five minutes, which gets very tedious. It’s interesting at first, but when you repeat it over and over, it gets boring. Again, I’ll reiterate that the ideas themselves were interesting, but the execution and projection of them were not. –Arnold Hsu
Abandoned City
Temporary Residence Ltd.
Street: 03.17
Hauschka = mountaintops. + Rachmaninoff + Woodkid
Props to Hauschka for choosing a quite appropriate album title. When I listened to the album, all I could think of is how great of a soundtrack this would be for a post-apocalyptic movie. Piano is the main instrument, along with computer-generated drumbeats, which are incredibly organic sounding, and various strings being plucked to provide an interesting texture. The melodic changes in the songs are very subtle and can be tedious to listen to on the first try. But after a couple of repeats, I got sucked into the depth of the music. There was an overwhelming sense of romantic loneliness, a contrast that was expressed by major-sounding piano lines against the dark, percussive sounds. Think chiptune, but with sounds you’d hear in an orchestra hall. –Arnold Hsu
My Education
5 Popes
Beat Imprint Records
Street: 02.04
My Education = This Will Destroy You + Slowdive
This is as post-rock as you can get—intricate guitar melodies, heart-racing riffs, stereotypical drumbeats. Stereotypes aren’t bad, though, and My Education execute what they want so well through their music. Chills ran up my spine as I listened to this in my car as the sun rose. It’s perfect for those solitary moments. This is a masterfully crafted album with a warm, overwhelming blanket of sounds with enjoyable melodies and soft, delicate interludes. –Arnold Hsu
Denovali Records
Street: 02.17
Origamibiro = Sea Wolf + Shouting Matches + Joe Pass
It’s impossible to place a genre on this album. It’s a collaboration of three members who are all multi-instrumentalists of varying styles. The album Collection consists of three projects, each with different ideas in mind. One thing I was in awe of was the sampling done in the project Cracked Mirrors and Stopped Clocks. Samples of the guitarist’s creaking chair, sounds of his breath and the squeak of the wood in the guitar were implemented in the songs. It gave a very personal and intimate feel to the album. There were also very experimental (albeit repetitive) tracks to cleanse the palate. Cracked Mirrors and Stopped Clocks is intimate, and the sound evolves into a deep and resonating sound in Shakkei. The third project consisted of remixes, which were fun to listen to. This album is a lengthy novel in comparison to the norm and is something that should be listened to intently rather than as an accompaniment. –Arnold Hsu
Carlos Cipa & Sophia Jani
Denovali Records
Street: 01.17
Carlos Cipa & Sophia Jani = Ludovico Einaudi + Jamie Cullum
For those of you who enjoy listening to piano while cramming for that big ass final you have the next morning, this duo will certainly calm your nerves. One thing to notice is the fact that everything you hear in these two songs is all coming from a piano. Anouk’s Dream has experimental percussive interludes between the peaceful, lullaby-esque melodies. Oh, and these tracks were recorded in one go, just to make this a little more amusing. –Arnold Hsu
Selaxon Lutberg
Simboli Accidentali
Denovali Records
Street: 11.15.13
Selaxon Lutberg = Slowdive + Tycho
Straight up, this album will be playing when your soul goes through purgatory and wanders wistfully from heaven to hell. Fully ambient music is not my cup of tea, but this is something I’d listen to if I wanted to have a drug-induced, life-changing experience. An interesting note from the arist Andrea Penso states that these “subjective sounds” came from the impressions and feelings of his childhood. Take it however you want, but I feel something a little eerie on a deeper level if I keep it in mind while listening to this album. –Arnold Hsu