By My Friend in Exile - Creator You Destroy Me
By My Friend in Exile – Creator, You Destroy Me. Already Dead Tapes & Records, 2015.

Last time I reviewed a Be My Friend in Exile release, I was just getting in to ambient music and had no idea how to talk about it. Now, I’m 1 1/2 years in or so, and I’m still not so sure I know how to talk about it, but I know that Be My Friend in Exile’e newest album, Creator, You Destroy Me is pretty much exactly what I needed to be listening to right now.

Again, right from the opening track, “Archon of the Demiurge,” this thing is ominous as hell. There’s a low, bassy drone punctuated by chaotic, atonal guitars. It’s desolate, it’s distant, and it’s perfectly captures the starry greyness of this winter we’re having in Ohio. This droning does’t let up, though it brightens a bit on the next track, “Ultima Linea Rerum,” before settling back into complete darkness in “Fever Dream.” That’s one thing I love about Be My Friend in Exile: many of these songs have the same elements, the same minimalist guitars, the same droning bass, but the mood of each piece is different. “Control Heartbeat Delete” somehow manages to convey a sense of urgency that the previous tracks don’t, while “Memories of Childhood, Feelings for the Future” sounds just a little like a cross between Caspian and Godspeed You! Black Emperor without completely jumping head-first into post-rock territory.

Like my review of The Silence, The Darkness, I have to say that what Be My Friend in Exile have done here is less an album of songs and more a single piece with multiple movements. While you could certainly enjoy any one track from the album, especially one of the longer tracks, such as “Floating Weightless Back to the Surface, I Imagine Becoming Someone Else,” Creator, You Destroy Me is best listened to in its entirety. It’s the perfect soundtrack to brooding over this bleak winter.

Creator, You Destroy Me is available on extremely-limited edition cassette from Already Dead Tapes and Records, and will soon be available for download from Be My Friend in Exile’s bandcamp page.

4/5 stars


The Star Pillow - All Is Quiet
The Star Pillow – All is Quiet. Paradigms Recordings, 2014.

The Star Pillow is Italian Ambient-Drone artist Paolo Monti, and I really can’t tell you much more about the band because the press release is in Italian. That’s OK, though, because in a way, I like the idea of listening to their latest release, All is Quiet, without any sort of context.

So, what is The Star Pillow? Well, when track 1, “no more beige sundays” began, I though, “Oh, this is just your standard, minimalist post-rock.” There’s a calming, high-register guitar riff repeating through the track’s 3 minutes, and not much else, but it’s pleasant, and it’s the kind of thing I listen to lately. Then, the second track, trap for freaks” begins.

From this point in the album, the post-rock guitar pulls back, and that droning feedback/bow/whatever-else Monti is using to create that bassy hum joins in. The rest of the album’s nearly 50 minutes sound like that: sparse post-rock-style guitars in the background playing bright, hopeful tones while the drone becomes more and more ominous. The dichotomy is striking, and while it does paint the usual musical soundscapes that I normally describe when talking about post-rock, it definitely makes me feel some kind of way, and I am totally down with it.

By track 4, “equestrian,” the hum has completely taken over. There’s a sort of melody, a sort of pattern to the hum, but it feels so wide, so open, with no real sonic landmarks, or even percussion, to denote movement through the song. Instead of moving forward, I felt like I was floating though the song, letting the sonic tides rock me gently back and forth.

The final two tracks, “we were all going to die” and “still together against the great darkness” are the most ominous, as the low, bassy drone slowly gets louder and higher before coming to a climactic wall of sound.

The Star Pillow’s All is Quiet is moody, atmospheric, and dream-like, and manages to pull of a sense of foreboding without getting loud or confrontational.

All is Quiet is available from Taverna Records’ bandcamp page, or on limited-edition vinyl though Paradigm Recordings.

3/5 stars


Be My Friend in Exile - The Silence, The Darkness
Be My Friend in Exile – The Silence, The Darkness. Twice Removed Records, 2013.

True Story: I was taking a run through the woods at dusk when I decided to listen to The Silence, The Darkness, the newest release by Be My Friend in Exile. I usually don’t listen to much ambient music when I run; the lack of melody and rhythm tends to adversely affect my pace. However, right from the opening track, “Sleepwalker,” I was running faster.

This isn’t because the music is particularly fast. In fact, it was slow, meditative, even. There wasn’t anything about the beat that pumped me up and breathed new life into my legs. No, I was running because the album is so damn ominous.

To be honest, I don’t listen to much ambient; it’s more Jayson’s thing. In fact, I almost wish he were reviewing it. He’d tell you that Be My Friend in Exile is subtle but complex, that there are layers upon layers of sound going on here, and such things as that. As I don’t listen to much ambient, I feel like I don’t really have the language to describe it. I do know that I like it. A lot. The Silence, The Darkness is less music and more digitized dread.

Usually, in reviews like this, I like to point out what tracks were my favorite, and if I absolutely had to, I’d say that “Eternally ephemeral” was probably the most menacing, the one that made me most feel like I was about to stumble into The Black Lodge. However, The Silence, The Darkness really is kind of a work with 9 movements, and the sum is greater than its parts.

Be My Friend in Exile – The Silence, The Darkness is available for download or limited edition digipak from the artist’s Bandcamp page.


Sunwølf - Midnight Moon

The UK’s Sunwølf are back with their sophomore album Midnight Moon.

While that Kinski-esque vibe remains, Midnight Moon is cool because it manages to achieve a sound best described as stonerdrone. Less ambient than their last outing, Sunwølf get to the riffage quickly and keep at it for the duration. As that Polygon Window album was titled Surfing on Sine Waves, Sunwølf have created a sound that is surfing on riffs. The first three tracks of Midnight Moon are not drone enough to be boring/for enthusiasts only, nor does it ever quite hit that “gonna drive my Camaro into the heart of the sun” level of groove. It maintains a slow, steady groove balanced right between

Later in the album, we do hit the point where the music is much more ambient. In these moments the music sounds quietly beautiful to the point where I started feeling a little reflective while listening. Compared to their first album, Midnight Moon isn’t as evocative of a specific locale or sense of place, but an emotional space. A lot of the rest of what I said about Beyond The Sun is true here, Midnight Moon is also lovely stuff. As good as the first one was, this sophomore effort demonstrates a huge artistic progression.

– Jayson

Sleepy Tree - Extended Play Vol. 2
Sleepy Tree – Extended Play Vol. 1 & Extended Play vol. 2. Self-released, 2012 & 2013.

A few months ago, I reviewed AC Deathstrike’s Space FLyer, which concluded with an EP of 8-bit and Synth music. I really liked the album proper, and I thought the 8-bit project was great but could have been improved by adding vocals.

As it turns out, Alex Dougherty was thinking the same thing, which is why his new project, Sleepy Tree, came to be. Sleepy Tree is mostly synths, with some chip-tune thrown into the mix, and Dougherty singing airy, echoey lyrics. As I said, it’s not exactly an 8-bit with vocals thing. In fact, it kind of sounds like a bridge between Space FLyer and the 8-bit EP. In other words, none of the music on either of the first two Extended Play volumes will sound completely foreign to fans of AC Deathstrike, but it will sound like a new direction for Dougherty.

As you can expect, it’s great stuff. Dougherty has a knack from saying terrible things in the happiest way possible. On “Pick up the Pace,” an upbeat, downright bouncy tune, he sings:

We’re being lead into
a burning forest full of napalm
and people would rebel if they could
if they knew who is bad, who is good

At the end of the song, he warns, “We can learn from the past/read about it’s been done before.” So, ultimately, it’s a subtly hopeful song full of violent imagery hidden in a happy song. In other words, it’s the AC Deathstrike formula, but with synths.

I decided to play catch-up and review the first two volumes together because a) I don’t think there’s any specific theme that separates the two volumes, and b) Sleepy Tree is releasing one EP a month for 12 months. Dougherty intends to take the best tracks and turn those into an album sometime next year, so these kind of offer a look into the making of a future album. I’ve loved everything from the AC Deathstrike family, and this is no exception.

Extended Play and Extended Play Vol. 2 are available for free on AC Deathstrike‘s Bandcamp page. You can also take a look at other AC Deathstrike projects and side projects there.