2015 Artists' Picks
Kevin Kastning
Andy Vaz's House Warming

17 Pygmies
Aaltonen & Haarla
Rodolphe Alexis
Marc Barreca
Le Berger
Book of Air
David Cordero
Council of Nine
Green Isac Orchestra
Anders Lønne Grønseth
Hatakeyama + Serries
Heinen & Borring
William Hooker Quartet
How To Cure Our Soul
Kevin Kastning
Kastning / Clements
Kastning / Szabó
Kastning / Wingfield
Library Tapes
Louis Minus XVI
Rhys Marsh
Palmbomen II
Smith & Lindberg
Robert Stillman
tholl / fogel / hoff
Julia Wolfe

Kosemura, Shinozaki, Nitta

Compilations / Mixes / Remixes / Reissues
Collection 100
Landscapes of Fear

EPs / Cassettes / Mini-Albums / Singles
Amonism + Revenant Sea
Matt Barbier
Hesperius Draco
Markus Oehlen
Greg Sawyer

Hesperius Draco: Northern Sages
Frigio Records

It's a relief to learn that Italian electronic musician Alessandro Parisi himself describes his Hesperius Draco music as ‘Esoteric Disco,' considering that my own take on his latest outing under the name, Northern Sages, follows along similar lines. The twelve-inch vinyl disc's five tracks constitute a weird cocktail of old-school techno beats, electro synths, and gothic choral voices that could easily pass for cryptic soundtrack material from some lost ‘70s Italian horror film. The moniker alone suggests a connection to obscure medieval mythology, and the reference also shows up in the titles of earlier Hesperius Draco releases as well as the track titles on the new EP.

“Tronitum Domini” gets things underway with the low-pitched murmur of a male choir coupled with overdriven sequencer patterns and a punchy drum machine pulse. At the midway point, analog synths pierce the haze with declamatory warbles before the throbbing groove resumes, after which “Mjolnir” drenches the listener with acid atmospheres, dizzying choral expressions, and a vintage Kraftwerk synth figure. Stranger still is “ASI Kingdom (Mitt Hjerte)” in the way it seems to faintly allude to a Yuletide carol and medieval anthem in equal measure. The flirtation with distant eras continues on side B when Drvg Cvltvre's techno-fied revamp twists “Fenir Eyes” into muscular club shape and Parisi serves up his own misty treatment of the original. There are moments on the EP when Hesperius Draco suggests some strange spawn of Kraftwerk and Popol Vuh, which I'm guessing is the effect Parisi was going for.

January 2016