Moscow’s uSSSy is a long-time favourite of yours truly. Here’s a cringy post from 2013 as proof. Since their last album, Unsharp Mask, released now about five years ago, we weren’t certain that the ball was still rolling or if the group had decided to quit. A recent release of the band’s unreleased demos was an ominous sight, almost like the last nail in the coffin for uSSSy. I couldn’t have been more wrong, however, as they soon after announced the release of their newest work: Voyage.
Voyage takes off where Unsharp Mask left, … Read more
This sound is not brand new, not anymore. Last year, Aussie psychedelic rock band King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard treated us with the first of five albums in a year: Flying Microtonal Banana. The album used quarter-tone instruments in the band’s own blend of surf, psych, and prog rock. Although the effort was a bit hit and miss, it was interesting and showed great potential for this sort of “desert surf” rock sound.
Enter Ouzo Bazooka, and their latest album, Songs from 1001 Nights. While not their first release, it seems to … Read more
Just in time to close 2017 with a microtonal bang!, composer Taylor Brook released Virtutes occultae: an exploratory double album for piano. Somewhere between procedural, improvised, and strictly composed, the eighteen parts of this magnum opus take you into the world of overtonality. In a nutshell, this album is played by six virtual pianos, each tuned to a different 11-limit just intonation tuning. The details on how Brook’s approach extends Partch’s are scarce and blurry, but, in any case, the result is utterly mesmerizing. The fact that the music is played only by pianos, virtual ones at that, … Read more
Hello, it’s me again, writing about another microtonal album. And yet it seems there might never be enough of those so that any release that fits under this label and that is of decent production value deserves to be talked about. Which brings us to Feeding Fingers‘ sixth studio album, Do Owe Harm. While the band’s earlier releases incorporated microtones in some form or another, it takes centre stage here. Through post-punk aesthetics intermingled with synthwave and experimental pop, Feeding Fingers shine a new light on xenharmony, and convincingly make use of different tuning systems, such as 15- … Read more
Ilevens is the latest brainchild of microtonal musician Brendan Byrnes, of whom we’ve already praised the projects here on this website, and Transmitter is their debut EP. The concept of Ilevens, formerly known as 11ins, was to form a full microtonal pop/rock band, and the chosen system was 22 equal divisions of the octave. After many demos, under both the 11ins and Ilevens monikers, Transmitter is ready, with two brand new compositions – “Solavai” and “Transmitter” – and re-worked versions of their earlier songs. While the uncommon pitches will surprise more than one person, the psychedelic, progressive, pop-rock style in … Read more
They’ve done it! Again, perhaps, but Mikrojazz!, with the subtitle Neue expressionistische Musik (New Expressionist Music), is the latest, and arguably one of the first, completely microtonal jazz records to come out. With the combined talents of Philipp Gerschlauer on saxophone, David Fiuczynski on fretless guitar, Jack DeJohnette on drums, Matt Garrison on fretless bass, and Giorgi Mikadze on keyboards, Mikrojazz! has all the fuel it needs to develop xenharmonic compositions for jazz. Does it deliver? Yes, it does, but not without a few criticisms of mine. The players take up the challenge of writing and playing jazz in … Read more
Needle Driver is the latest experiment of Brooklyn musician Brandon Seabrook. The hard-to-describe EP seamlessly bridges contemporary classical music, experimental jazz, and mathcore into a nasty instrumental tapestry. The trio even includes some microtonal intervals, spotted in the song “Venwhorerisin'”. The five compositions are too quickly gone, but they provide an endless amount of entertainment while they last: uncommon time signatures, odd harmonies, complex and exhausting melodies, as well as a knack for deranged structures that somehow hold themselves together. Needle Driver goes left and right, up and down, forwards and backwards, and I’m sure it also goes wild … Read more