Dear Apollo – Volume One
Oh, how far we’ve come, since the days of Look Right Penny! The Floridan quintet arrived on the map with their striking debut Sugar Lane, but soon disbanded. After many issues and obstacles, the “core couple” of Cotee Embry and Mariel Diaz-Carrion moved out and battled hard. Here we stand today, and the kids with high hopes come back with a new project called Dear Apollo. Cotee is now in charge of everything except the vocals and lyrics, and it transpires that he was the main brain behind Look Right Penny’s music because Dear Apollo sounds just like the sequel to their previous project. There is, however, a noticeable step up in production value and musical maturity, even though the style of the compositions hasn’t budged much since the Florida days.
I remember, once, Mariel told me she was afraid she would never sing again, but here she is at her most impressive! The vocals on Volume One are as high-pitched and energetic as ever, the harmonies are still there, adding depth to the songs, and the melodies are perhaps even catchier this time around! Somewhere between melodic metal and metalcore, Dear Apollo is finally on track, and I can’t wait to hear more from the duo!
Of Petra – So onto Itself
Why, yes! That’s yet another retroprogressive rock band inspired by the Golden Era of prog! Of Petra aren’t doing anything new with their debut album, So onto Itself, but if you like well-crafted, intricate prog rock in the spirit of today’s The Tangent, or yesterday’s Jethro Tull, Genesis, and Pink Floyd, you might be interested in this one! Coming from the British Isles, the recently-spawned quartet approximate the Canterbury sound with psychedelic limbs and a taste for analog sounds. Be sure to check it out!
Wvstelvnd – IDDQD
This Russian mathcore experiment eluded me when it came out, in November. IDDQD is an interesting album using glitch techniques, as well as elements of electronic music, mathcore, and grindcore. The band also moves in dangerously close to deathcore, at times. This is an assault on the nerves, but an enjoyable one!
Insultanes – Sonido volcánico
Insultanes is a Chilean band! That’s as far as I’m willing to go to introduce them without diving into quite a lengthy explanation. But now that the band is introduced, let me dive in. Paraphrasing the group itself, Insultanes is a fusion of the music of the Balkans, of Latin America, and of the urban scene. Their sole release to date, Sonido volcánico is a stellar embodiment of that statement. The “world music (?)” nonet crafts Latin songs with polka beats, reggaeified gypsy tunes, and all of that adding a bit of dub here and there. That album is quite a trip, I recommend it!
Filthy Young Impalers – Pattern Blue
This album comes from mayhaps the strangest of places: Amazon Music… But, hey, good music is good whencever it comes! As such, Pattern Blue is certainly one of the best progressive technical death metal releases of 2018 so far! The Houston-based band has one earlier release on their bandcamp, but this new EP is the real attraction. The riffs are there, the vocals are there, and the guitar and bass tones are excellent; everything is there for a terrific experience. Hopefully, they will upload the album on their bandcamp page, but in the meantime you can buy it via Amazon!
Setter – Transversal
I know, Transversal isn’t very eventful, but trust me! the music it contains if quite transfixing. The ambient, drone jazz album consists of four tracks totalling slightly more than thirty minutes of music. This music is accompanied by restless but restrained percussions that rattle on and keep a sense of momentum to the otherwise timeless, ethereal pads garnishing the atmosphere of the record. Let it accompany you for a moment of dayreverie.
Immortal Onion – Ocelot of Salvation
Poland’s Immortal Onion is yet another proof that I am far from perfect, as their debut album, Ocelot of Salvation came out in July without a word from my part. Well I’ll try to right the wrongs now. I think likening them to GoGo Penguin wouldn’t be too far fetched, but it would be an incomplete picture. Throw in some Mammal Hands and a tad of Tigran Hamasyan, and it gets sharper. The band deals nu jazz in odd times without sounding stochastic, but instead shockingly calm and beautiful. Some grooves are awfully unforgiving – listen to the heavy “Asthenia” –, and the rest of the album is just as inspiring. The only tidbit of criticism I’d like to express is the sound of the snare, which oddly stands out in the mix. But that’s perhaps only a personal preference, and it doesn’t bring the whole album down.
Ben Reimer, featuring Architek Percussions, TorQ Percussions Quartet, and David Cossin – Katana of Choice – Music for Drumset Soloist
You already know by now that I have a weird fetish for percussion-focused music. Last year, it was the Kraken Quartet who please my senses, before that I remember Lukas Mantel’s Kolam Korvai, but today it is Canadian percussionist Ben Reimer with his album Katana of Choice. On it, the drumset soloist plays five compositions for drums and other percussions. It truly is a stellar album of contemporary classical music. One of the reasons why I like it so much is that a (relatively) simple drumkit is not what you’d expect to see when looking for classical music. Yet here it is, and it is mind-blowing!
Burning Tree – Ossuary Light
That album will raise the dead. Or at least it will wake the dog. Ossuary Light is fronted by a ceaseless discharge of wailing saxophone backboned by a speeding drummer relentlessly caressing toms and cymbals alike. I think the album is less a musical achievement than a physical one, but in truth it is both. The Burning Tree duo’s sophomore album is an essential of modern experimental jazz. Play this as loudly as possible as late as possible!