Best Albums of 2019: Silent Records

Tonic Immobility: From Here to Tranquility vol. 11 (Silent Records)
Red Shift (Silent Records)

Rebooted in 2016 by founder Kim Cascone after a 20 year break, San Francisco’s Silent Records these days is very much about the psychoactive drone music and experimental noisescapes that its academically-trained founder has been immersed in since the 70’s, with the ambient dance music elements of old 90’s Silent having largely fallen away.

Kim thinks the latest Tranquility compilation is one of the best in the series and I agree, featuring exclusive tracks from what appears to be mostly local West Coast artists. Guitarist Mike Rooke really should get a solo album out; his “The Day Before and After” is a brilliantly simple idea with electric guitar figures played both in real time and in reverse, slowly dissolving into an airy drone. Midcentury Modular’s “Plucky Landscape” is a lo-fi psychedelic delight with bleeps and muted crackles swirling in a pastoral haze, sounding not unlike something 80’s noise band Zoviet:France might have done. Tonic Immobility: From Here to Tranquility vol. 11 is very much a headphone album, where dissonant but gentle weirdness shares the space with tonal beauty in fairly equal amounts, sometimes simultaneously. 

Also outstanding from Silent this year is one of the latest efforts from the prolific Lingua Lustra (Dutchman Albert Borkent). He’s been producing the lushest examples of label’s output since the reboot, including the epic landscaped ambience of Ice Age (2017) and the meditative psychedelia of Chiara (2017). His latest album Red Shift plays with a semi-dark flavour of beatless electronica, slowly throbbing, bleeping, whooshing and droning its way through four cosmic tracks. It’s highly atmospheric stuff, and distinctive thanks to his ongoing passion for coaching original sounds from his arsenal of analog and digital gear.

Best Albums of 2019 Reviews Index

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