Sky Furrows – s/t (Tape Drift / Skell Records / Philthy Rex Records)

The advent of streaming music has, for better or worse, made it a lot easier for musicians to access and wrap their collective heads around influences, styles and band discographies than prior generations who found their way by digging through dusty bins, scouring for printed materials, and taking the advice of sage record store employees. One outcropping of this phenomenon has been a seemingly endless supply of groups who specialize in certain strains of neo-psychedelia, 60’s garage punk revivalism, or Joy Division indebted post-punk with most of these acts ending up with a life span that is usually only long enough to squeeze off a 5 song EP or 7″ before evaporating into the aether.

Albany, NY’s Sky Furrows however have taken a much different path on their latest self-titled LP than many of the sounds that continues to bubble up from the sub-underground in the last decade or so. The group successfully cross-hybridizes the sounds of krautrock, New Zealand indie and US underground influences into a heady stew that wouldn’t sound out of place being released on New Alliance in the late eighties. I almost had to double check the album mailer of my review copy for the obligatory SST catalog and sticker. The group is comprised of vets of the Albany underground scene, and members of psych-rock unit Burnt Hills; Eric Hardiman, Mike Griffin and Phil Donnelly who combine their forces with poet Karen Schoemer who fronts the group.

Hardiman, Griffin and Donnelly provide an array of deep avant grooves that provide a solid foundation that allows Schoemer’s to weave her spoken-word stream of consciousness tales of existential longing, and musings on the frailties of human connection with a solid aural backing. The group evokes imagery that is reminiscent to this writer of a roadmap from an early nineties road trip to nowhere, and everywhere at the same time. Music that’s as darkly poetic and mysterious as what’s captured on the proceedings here, doesn’t come down the pike too often. It’s an easy collection to find yourself deep in the grooves of. Get lost.

Spiral Wave Nomads – s/t (Twin Lakes Records / Feeding Tube Records)

SWN cover art-01As a musician, it isn’t always easy to capture that moment in an improvisational situation where the pieces all click together to become something other. That mercurial sound of the players’ subconscious unfolding in real time. The Spiral Wave Nomads manage to pull it off against the odds with their self-titled debut.

Those aforementioned nomads are a duo comprised of Eric Hardiman and Michael Kiefer. Both of whom have put in some serious time in the sub-underground trenches. For the Albany based Hardiman, his resume includes being a member of the psychedelic rock collective Burnt Hills, and his one man ambient/noise project Rambutan; all while curating limited run avant-garde damage on his Tape Drift Records imprint. Kiefer’s prior work includes time with exploratory outfits such as More Klementines, Rivener & the neo-Americana of No Line North. He also runs the Twin Lakes label. This album is a co-release between Twin Lakes, and the seemingly inexhaustible underground wellspring that currently is Feeding Tube Records.

It’s pretty remarkable how full these tracks sound for being credited to a duo, and how much musical ground is covered by Hardiman and Kiefer on these takes.  From the swirling Crazy Horse influenced stomp of “Blue Dream,” replete with Hardiman’s searching guitar leads to the technicolor buzzing eastern drones of “Wabi Sabi.”  While “Floating on a Distant Haze” is content to drift on a sea of serene kosmiche musik waves.

Spiral Wave Nomads is an album electrically charged by the sound of two artists hunkering down for the simple joy of seeing what might happen in the moment, and the results are stunning. Ride the darker wave.

Buy the album from Feeding Tube Records.