The pair diligently bleed their elements together, as hellish rainstorms mingle with distant, raspy synths, while the woody, recognizable timbre of a human voice flutters in and out of the mix. Clinking glasses, reverbed beyond recognition, accompany accordions, guitars, and more synths. Mountains take heed of notes passed over or disregarded as everyday occurrences, and tenderly add them to this album, amplifying them to magnificence. AF
William Basinski, 92982 (2062)
Like his masterpiece, 2002's four-hour, six-part The Disintegration Loops (also 2062) — which captured the sound of Basinski's ambient recordings decaying as he attempted to convert them from analog tape to a digital format — 92982 is mostly made up of music the classical composer and avant-gardeist recorded in the 1980s. Performed in a Brooklyn studio with open windows, the noise of rolling thunder, fireworks, and passing helicopters morph tranquil ambient passages into urban meditation, akin to crossing a long bridge at night with headphones on. As Basinski's music interacts with its backdrop, it also remains in conversation with the warped texture of its analog home: "92982.4" is a bar of piano music continuously folding in on itself as what sounds like the low whir of tape wheels spinning flutters in and out of the channels. CG
The Field, Yesterday and Today (Anti-/Kompakt)
Hitting stores May 19, Yesterday and Today is the superior follow-up to 2007's most acclaimed electronic album, From Here We Go Sublime (Kompakt). Lone band member Axel Willner's technique is as repetitive as ever — his techno beats are often like the apex of an imagined, cerebral club hit put on a 10-minute loop — but Yesterday and Today uses more live instrumentation than its predecessor (Battles workhorse John Stanier, of the six-foot-high cymbal, helps out on drums), and the difference makes all the difference: Where Sublime was heady and insistent, Yesterday and Today is expansive and, at times, ironic.
Willner turns the pleading "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime" (by the Korgis, but best remembered as a Beck cover on the soundtrack to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) into a crackling, melodramatic sex jam, and lead single "The More That I Do" follows up a giddily indulgent lull with a throbbing vocal sample and a glittering array of synth notes — a swooping, undulating mass of baby birds, all looking to get down. (The Field are at the Middle East in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 21.) CG
Tim Hecker, An Imaginary Country (Kranky)
The Montreal-based experimental musician's (Hecker's music resists labels beyond that; he's too discordant for ambient and too amorphous for most anything else) latest album is loosely based around the idea of a utopian society, and his technique — processing live and manufactured sounds in such a way that a keyboard note may well be a guitar chord, and vice versa — is similarly blind to distinctions of origin or value. While there's a murky, claustrophobic sensibility in the center of most of Hecker's compositions, the outer strata on An Imaginary Country hopscotch through ever-changing landscapes. "Paragon Point"'s twisting vines of high-register noise reach over a foundation of choral chants and pulses of sonar, while "The Inner Shore" seems filtered through layers of tidal foam. Hecker throws in ephemeral pop touches here and there — brief fits of backbeat or (maybe) guitar chords — but they're equal partners in his continuing, singular vision. CG