Sandy Ewen & Weasel Walter – Idiomatic
Long time musical explorers Sandy Ewen and Weasel Walter released a new free noise jazz album as a duo. Under the name Idiomatic, the group goes in long form musical peregrinations, which yields three tracks, each over twenty minutes long, that alternate between hectic improvisation and crushing atmospheres of noise and distortion. The verdict is quite simple: this album is awesome!
Snowpoet – Thought You Knew
Lauren is perhaps one of my favourite singers. I became acquainted to her voice with the mind-blowing experimental jazz band Blue-Eyed Hawk, but her work in Snowpoet is not to be overlooked. More straightforward than the aforementioned hawk, Snowpoet is more poignant and emotional, and leaves more room to her voice. More simplistic arrangements doesn’t mean less potent, and you’ll certainly feel the strength of the songs as you go through the album. A must for 2018!
Party Pack Ice – Party Pack Ice
Adam Hopkins’ experimental jazz quintet released its eponymous debut last summer, although it completely evaded my radar. This is quite simply a great addition to your jazz music library. With its peculiar sense of musicality, Party Pack Ice delivers a challenging but unmistakably fascinating album. If you’re not enthralled by “Little Mathletes” and its oddly catching melodies, you’ll certainly be hooked by “To Record Only Water for Ten Days” and its avant-garde tendencies. Great album.
Grind-o-Matic – Regular Singularity
French Grind-o-Matic released their latest album in the end of January. Regular Singularity showcases the band’s death metal-tinged progressive grindcore. At forty minutes, this could almost be called a double-album by grindcore standards, because, thanks to their death metal influences and prog leanings, they have no problem keeping the tracks’ length around two or three minutes. This isn’t a perfect album, however. Sometimes, I feel like the grind in grindcore is a bit lacking in expression, which gives the vague impression of being a diluted Murder Construct at times. However, it’s a pretty good and fun album to play!
See You Space Cowboy & Second Grade Knife Fight – Split
Two of today’s best mathgrind acts threw together a ten-minute split. The nine-track EP sees some of the best material from each band, but a special mention is due to See You Space Cowboy. The California five-piece indeed has an advantage over the Virginia one-man band, simply because they could put good sounding drums on it. Moreover, there’s a huge production gap between the two sides. I have nothing against it, but I feel it could’ve been perhaps wiser to aim for a more homogeneous product so it feels less like a split release, and more like a whole one.
Utsav Lal – The Fluid Piano
Indian pianist Utsav Lal composed and recorded the first album using Geoffrey Smith’s fluid piano. The piano uses a mechanism of sliders to slightly alter the pitch of each piano string. That means that a grand piano can now do glissandi, as well as play in any just intonation system. The only restriction left to lift is the number of notes in the tuning system. At one time, there can only be twelve different sounds. But this is a major accomplishment, as is showcased on this album. The four tracks are long (6:14) to very long (31:48), and showcase one or more Indian rāga thoroughly. The album is beautiful, often quite serene and calm, it sometimes jolts into a rather energetic passage. It’s genuine Indian classical music, for the first time played on the fluid piano, and it’s beautiful.
Сольвычегодск (Sol’vychegodsk) – Ракоход (Rakokhod) / Krebsgang
Moscow’s experimental jazz unit Сольвычегодск (Sol’vychegodsk) recently released their latest offering, Ракоход (Rakokhod) / Krebsgang. This time around, their album seems to take the form of a composition for classical music, if we are to judge by the song titles. However, the music itself is the band’s own blend of avant-garde jazz that we’ve come to expect and appreciate. Perhaps even closer to grind jazz than usual, Ракоход is an amazing and brutal release, just shy of the half-hour mark. It seems to have been recorded live, which is impressive and adds to its value. Be sure to check it out!
Nautilus – The Oceanwalker
For a full disclosure, I’ve written and recorded bass for one track on this album (“Swells”). This happened years ago, and I had totally forgotten about it until recently, when Matt told me the album was near ready. Well, even if it doesn’t have an official release date yet, two singles for the album are out. The Oceanwalker is an instrumental progressive post-metal album. At over fifty minutes, it’s pretty substantial, but it’s not without its flaws. The first of which – a mortal sin – is the programmed drums. A custom sound library would probably have put them out of range of my criticism, because this is usually the biggest giveaway. Moreover, the production is a bit lacking, which translates in a few moments that took me out of the experience. Nothing is too bad, however, and the album is a good debut from a promising project: the riffs are good, the structures are on point, there just remains a few issues to confront in order to make a great product.
Œstre – An zéro
The progressive metalcore of Œstre shines on the French project’s sophomore album, An zéro. Intertwined with elements of electronic music and djent, this release offers interesting and unrelenting riffs. The production seems a bit overdone to me. The drums, among all else, sound squashed and mechanical, almost like programmed drums. That’s a little flaw in an otherwise energetic modern metal release. An zéro is promising, and Œstre still have untapped potential under their sleeves, I’m sure.