Flotation Devices, Part 1: Rob Burger, Astral TV, Spencer Zahn, Prana Crafter & Tarotplane And Umberto

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Rob Burger: The Grid

As the first snowflakes of the season arrive around a good swath of the United States, it seems like a good time for a set of quiet, ambient and introspective music to float to the ground on. I’ve got two sets of these lovelies, I’ll do a guitar-centric group next week and all the rest this week. I’ll start with keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist/composer Rob Burger whose career has bounced him from John Zorn to Iron & Wine to all sorts of spots in between. His newest release is all Burger, though. The Grid is dense with ideas, stretching from modern classical to ambient electronica and more. Laurie Anderson even makes an appearance in there. This one gets better the deeper you go, so go deep, friends.

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Astral TV: Travelling the Circuits

If it seems like every release put out by El Paraiso is a shoo-in for the Weekly RecommNeds, it’s because they pretty much are. On the other end of the spectrum from the typical deep Eurojams, Copenhagen duo Astral TV make delightful synth soundscapes, a soundtrack to your brainwaves. This is headphone candy: stereophonic journeys through the digital and the analog. Float up or float down, that’s your choice. Check it out, I think you’ll dig.


Spencer Zahn: When We Were Brand New

Spencer Zahn is one of those New York City musicians that once you see him play, he’s permanently on your radar. The bassist has a knack for holding down the low-end in some killer jam sessions, often with Dave Harrington, occasionally with Joe Russo and more. He also makes some very thoughtful, lovely, braintrip music of his own. His new album, When We Were Brand New, just came out and is a really sonic journey, a close-your-eyes-and-float hallucinogen. It barely gets going, but still takes you there.


Prana Crafter & Tarotplane: Symbiose

We couldn’t very well hit one of our favorite labels without giving you a nice dose of the other. Out on Beyond Beyond is Beyond records this past summer is Symbiose, a split LP featuring Prana Crafter from Washington State and Tarotplane from Maryland. I’d like to say that these two coastal psych-jammers meet somewhere in between, like, say, Kansas, but this one is very much a “we’re-not-in-Kansas-anymore” technicolor journey that is out of this world, or at the very least, out of your head. This one goes pretty deep, friends, so grab a spirit guide and float away.

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Umberto: Helpless Spectator

I’ll finish things off with one that might not be all relaxation and zone-out. Helpless Spectator is the latest release from Los Angeles composer and musician Matt Hill, who makes music as Umberto. The music here is halfway between horror movie soundtrack and ambient at the midpoint of electronic and analog. A dark edge doesn’t take away from its drifting, hypnotic nature, short bits of melody floating around like benevolent ghosts haunting the house with moments of bliss. Hope you found something in here to help you go weightless, enjoy ‘em and back with some more next week.

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