What to Listen to This Week

The ambient and warm drone catalog of New York duo Bengalfuel is thematically united around album artwork of very cute cats.


As Perfume Genius, Mike Hadreas has made a name for himself as a slithering, sensual presence on festival stages across America (“no family is safe when I sashay,” goes one song). But back in 2010, he was a piano-playing hermit whose music sounded like it was recorded inside a monk’s cell. Learning might be his best record. A collection of ambient miniatures and heartbreaking songs, it barely scrapes 30 minutes, and it’s amazing that its best songs—“Learning,” “Mr. Petersen,” “Write to Your Brother”—aren’t standards.


Working in a woolly early ‘70s mode this time around, Petunia is the newest expansion in scope, skill and budget from the shaggy-haired brothers in Tonstartssbandht. Its harmonies sound like Yes’ Jon Anderson doing Simon & Garfunkel, and the brothers have internalized the Dead’s way of making complex songs feel organic and free; it’s refreshing to see them bring some rigor to the noncommittal world of slacker rock.


The last year or so has been great for intimate, diaristic, field recording-based ambient music (see: Claire Rousay, More Eaze, Nick Zanca, Lucy Liyou, et al.) Through the Eyes of Someone You Love, from local Bandcamp denizen Kaho Matsui (recording as Kazuma Matsui), is a fine addition to the canon. It burbles up bits of daily life and blindsiding moments of pop beauty while staying abrasive, tender, and sweet. After a few tracks, you really start to feel for the chipmunk-person whose heartfelt narration composes the core of the album.


The ambient and warm drone catalog of New York audio-visual duo Bengalfuel is thematically united around dramatically lit album artwork that often incorporates very cute cats. The cover of 2012′s Braemar boasts an all-star pettable cat and some of the most sumptuous drones imaginable—eight tracks lasting an hour, great for listening while half-awake in the middle of the night or slow-blinking with a feline friend.