Review: Clara Engel – “Hatching Under the Stars”

“To Keep the Ghost at Bay” opens Clara Engel’s new LP – their 28th release on Bandcamp, out digitally on 5 April – and it gives, no hyperbole, a masterclass in minimalist expansion. The song, like most the pieces on the excellent Hatching Under the Stars, is built around the spacy cycles of a spindly, repeating 4/4…

Review: Tender Mercy – “War Within”

Under the moniker Tender Mercy, musician Mark Kramer creates eerie and unnerving skeletons of songs out of little more than a few carefully plucked notes on guitar, some semi-whispered vocals and valleys upon tender valleys of reverb. He has a new record, title: War Within, out this month on Louisville label Obsolete Staircases and it…

Review: David Grubbs & Taku Unami – “Failed Celestial Creatures”

From the early notes of “Failed Celestial Creatures” – the meditative, 20-minute-long title track to the unanticipated debut collaboration between guitar-composer David Grubbs and Japanese musician Taku Unami, out Friday via Empty Editions – you get the sense you’re listening to something special. While Unami paints with fuzzy clouds of electronic sound, Grubbs repeats wonderfully…

Justin Vellucci’s Year-Ending Top Ten: 2017 Edition

Yeah, yeah, putting the final nail in the coffin of 2017 is a little premature, seeing as there’s still more than 30 days left in the year. But, I’m the music writer compiling this list, so, here you go. It was an interesting year in underground music and, rather than present a conventional Top Ten,…