Lau Nau, “Amphipoda II” (Beacon Sound/Fonal)

Lau Nau (aka musician/vocalist Laura Naukkarinen) has been a key figure in Finland's underground-music milieu since 2004, recording for that country's outstanding Fonal label (as well as for the excellent American imprints Locust Music and Beacon Sound). While rooted in folkish song forms, her music can ascend to neo-classical/chamber-orchestral grandeur, with occasional detours into discord. Sometimes she sounds as if she could break into one of the hauntingly beautiful folk tunes heard on The Wicker Man soundtrack at any moment. Lau Nau's dulcet voice wafts with a hushed intimacy and an introverted breeziness, the ideal complement to her enchanted melodies, akin to the works of Juana Molina and Grouper. Lau Nau's is a sound of miniaturist pleasures, perhaps best enjoyed late at night while curled up in bed.

On her ninth album, 5 x 4, Lau Nau shows an affinity for the minimalist electronic composers such as Laurie Spiegel, Pauline Anna Strom, and Suzanne Ciani. Recorded on the revered Buchla 200 system at Stockholm's Elektronmusikstudion, the record may not have the folksy warmth of previous works, but it reveals Lau Nau's mastery of analog synthesis. “Pleomothra” could serve as the bridge from song-based Lau Nau endeavors to synth-centric composition, as Naukkarinen dreamily coos in a manner that splits the difference between My Bloody Valentine's Bilinda Butcher and Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser over pensive bleeps and morose drones. On “Sessilia,” Lau Nau disperses her angelic, multi-layered vocals over spare, Moog-y squeaks and plinks; it's like Mort Garson reconstructing 10cc's “I'm Not in Love,” but with a female singer, obviously.

Two of the more interesting cuts are “Hyperiidea” and “Calanticomorpha.” The former generates a pointillist bloop-bleep pattern with the tension-building insistence of a sleek thriller soundtrack. The latter conjures a hypnotic array of bleeps and drones, with a sequence as compelling as anything by Philip Glass.

The album's peak occurs on “Amphipoda II,” blooming with a glorious cascade of crystalline synth tones, its ascending notes scaling up a swelling, wondrous drone. Listening to this, I feel as if I've fallen into the circuitry of a futuristic alarm clock built to wake you from eternal sleep. The more you listen to it, the more otherworldly you feel. Heaven can wait.

Packmember Angel, “Abyssal Zone” (For Good)

Packmember Angel is the latest solo project of Chicago-via-Seattle musician Jordan Rundle, and his debut album, Dungeon Duty, is very extra. That will not surprise heads familiar with the former synthesist/sample manipulator/bassist of Seattle's best band of the mid-2010s, Newaxeyes, and his later solo endeavor, Leash.

As you may remember, Newaxeyes purveyed a notoriously heavy and polyglot sound reflective of their four members' diverse musical tastes. The constant friction of their artistic impulses and the combo of electronics and traditional rock instruments such as guitar and bass yielded thrilling tracks of intense rhythmic power, textural strangeness, and melodic elegance.

Now on his own and relocated to a new city, Rundle has had time to harness all of his musical proclivities into a highly personal vision. On Dungeon Duty, he juxtaposes ultra-brutal dubstep maneuvers with the most vulnerable, emo-adjacent vocalizing, mad-scientist IDM productions with sincere balladry (check out “Everything to Everyone” and “Dog and Pony”; the latter would segue well between Matthew Dear and Jimmy Edgar tracks). These moves wouldn't fly with Newaxeyes, but Packmember Angel now aims for the mind and the heart.

Rundle's range is displayed on “Do You Remember?” whose mercurially jazzy drum & bass with goofily pitch-shifted vocals that disperse into the ether comes off like an American take on Squarepusher's approach to jungle and “Dice Theory,” grotesquely pretty post-dubstep somewhere between Rustie and Otto Von Schirach. The psychedelic, deliquescing ambient reverie of “On the Lawn” is a nice change-up.

But “Abyssal Zone” is the album's pinnacle, a harrowing trip into vast caverns of robotic noise techno. The beats pummel like Techno Animal circa The Brotherhood of the Bomb, a phenomenal record that was cursed to come out on 9/11. The title “Abyssal Zone” may be a bit on the nose, but the track's so infernally great, it doesn't matter. It's the end of the world as we know it, and we feel supine.