Slide 1
Guest Playlist #06: Matt Bower of Wizards Tell Lies

By Steve Dewhurst

“When I started buying films on VHS, I would record the sound onto tape so I could take the film with me on journeys.”

Pete Swanson
Enough Dark Intensity: An Interview with Jimmy Lacy of SiP

By Jason Cabaniss

"I like the idea of “cocktail music.” Something intentionally light and pleasant. I’m always trying to write music that communicates some type of positive mood and when I’m playing, trying to focus my energy there"

Slide 2
Clean is Dirty: An Interview with Flowertown

By Lindsay Oxford

The birth of San Francisco’s Flowertown makes for a good story: longtime Bay Area scene compatriots Karina Gill (Cindy) and Mike Ramos (Tony Jay) compose a song together for an upcoming show in later winter 2020, and the day before they’re slated to play it, the world stopped.

Slide 3
Needles and Pins: Derek Piotr's Journey to the Heart of Britain's Folklands

By Steve Dewhurst

“Yorkshire is not so dissimilar to my home in the Northeast of America,” Derek Piotr tells me from York, the latest stop on his great British journey. “Connecticut is part of New England, so that makes sense.”

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Brian Tester, “Spectral Capital 2 & 3”

Not a debut, much less an introduction, Brian Tester’s icy ambient offerings leave more questions than answers.

Though long active among Oakland, California’s electronic music endeavours, Brian Tester has not made much of a name for himself—rather, he’s toiled tirelessly behind the scenes to make a name for pretty much everyone else. The mysterious, meandering tracks on Spectral Capital 2 & 3 feel like they began their conceptual fermentation deep in Tester’s mind a decade ago, when the first of the Spectral Capital oeuvre oozed into the air. These are foggy, nocturnal washes of beats and balms long laboured over, sculpted from a murky sonic clay by introspective hands.

A veteran of his local music ecosystem, F R E A K S label founder Nick Barbeln describes him as “omnipresent” and an “elder statesman” of sorts. Prior to stints in west coast bands such as Ruby Pins, Spaceburn, and Axolotl, Tester honed his synth and guitar work in Minneapolis, largely in the bands Triangle and Busy Signals. These days, he can most often be seen blasting glitchy, erratic thumpers in the duo W.O.E. Tester says his long catalogue of collaborative work informs this album’s soundscapes, but it’s otherwise a deeply personal, isolated piece.

These so-called “Day dreams, schemas, soliloquies” – or, as one track says, “glitches and stitches” – don’t feel like they’re going anywhere, but it’s through their unsteady stasis that each track carries you through haunting journeys. The airy, cinematic guitar loops and billowing synth make the glitchy breakbeats of W.O.E. sound downright austere by contrast.

As with all the best Airports-intended electronic music, there’s an impending tension in the emotional ambiguity on your toes while still lulled into a trance.

Perhaps the closest we get to a bona fide techno banger, “This Could Be (Your Saturday Night)” never quite tells us if this possibility of a Saturday night is supposed to be a party or a nightmare.

“Welcome Winter” is ambiguous along another axis. Is it the exclamation, “welcome, winter!”—or is it a winter described as “welcome” after an unforgiving summer and dreary autumn? There are wobbling webs of drones, near-rhythmic pulses, and psychedelic guitar flangery to suggest all of the above.

The real mystery lies in the unmistakable, singular personality at the heart of these plaintive, polyphonic harmonies. Who is singing to whom, and why? What does Brian Tester think, feel, want, or believe? It’s as if the artist were issuing spiritual credit to us that we can never repay. This capital may be “spectral” in its terms, but its presentation is open-ended enough to enrich us all the same.