Kitchener’s D-Zero—a self-professed “university dropout and aspiring Sun Ra”—dips into subzero ambience on soft planet, creating a submerged Korg Kaoscillator landscape with electronic pulses bubbling to the surface. Paddling with the reliable strokes of a Volca Beats drum sequencer and mixed with a Tascam 2488, soft planet takes inspiration from the soundscapes of late 90s and early 00s video games. This album works best when it drifts where it wants to.
Best Tracks: q ni edulerp, sometimes when you wake up, and crystal shards
Thin Barrier bears the ambient fruits of an hour-long live improvisation on Peterborough’s Trent Radio during winter solstice. The album features dreamy guitar loops fed through a Casio SK-1 keyboard, field recordings gathered in Mairena Del Alcor, Bellaterra, and Peterborough, and live sampling from Jake Ryan’s phone.
Cacophonous church bells, tumbling microphone blowouts, silky percussive grazes, interlocking guitar melodies, and bobbing samples create the sense of being cradled by branches in the wind, weaving and swaying under the slow transit of clouds. Listen seamlessly.
Best Tracks: Untitled I, Tintinnabulation, Untitled III, and The Rest Of It
Dipping into evil yé-yé territory, Julien Sagot’s Bleu Jane is too warm to be cold wave, too brisk to be franco-folk. France Gall might sneak into a dark alley to listen to this album without telling her parents. Julien’s low-slung chanson vocals crouch atop argumentative, end-of-the-hallway synths, fiery violins, sour piano flourishes, and attic drum machines.
Best Tracks: Les sentiers de terre, Bleu Jane, and Désordre et désordre
Fans of Sarah Davachi will appreciate the hypnotic beauty of Montreal’s Sarah Pagé’s work—at times, it is circularly beautiful, echoing the rippling of a calm blue lake on a dim shoreline; at other times, it becomes menacing, brimming with subdued violence—the metallic shredding of hair gathering friction against string can set the teeth on edge.
Recorded live at Hotel2Tango by Thierry Amar in the winter of 2016, Dose Curves is a collection of solo compositions for pedal harp, homemade pickups, bows, fans, four amps, and electronics. A masterpiece of electroacoustic experimentation, Pagé’s spontaneous incorporation of avant techniques and unexpected instrumentation often makes one forget she’s playing the harp at all. Perfect for reflection, resolution, and revival.
Best Tracks: stasis, ephemeris data, and lithium paper
Self-described as “music for being alone on the Internet at 3 am,” Canadian Nevrmind’s Dream Volume evokes the feeling of an empty dance floor, blurred eyes pink from the glow of an exit sign, feeling the weight of a watered-down mixed drink sloshing against the sides of a plastic cup, unencumbered by a coat and purse long gone missing.
At its simplest, Dream Volume is a moody 5-track album of ambient, electronic dance music. But ingested after midnight, Dream Volume enters a wifi state of mind, constantly reloading and refreshing, geotagging to a nearby café in Chinatown, toggling to someone else’s iPhone, dancing as though someone is watching, cropping for later. Listen late.
Best Tracks: Diaspora, Sunrise, Sunset, and Newborn