16-17 – Phantom Limb (Trost)
Phantom Limb stems from an instrumental recording from 1995 of Naked City-esque noise jazz, to which was superposed a vocal recording in 2018! The result is something that’s at the same time straight out of the nineties and right at home in the twenties’ contemporary music scene. It’s noisy, it’s aggressive, it’s hectic, and it’s all the more beautiful for it!
Tiny Planet – Tiny Planet
Nothing kicks off the year quite like a Panzerballett-lite! While the compositions on the Seattle band’s self-titled debut aren’t near as intellectually strenuous as the jazz-metal legends’ albums, it shows a great deal of promise and more than enough music wankery to have your fill. Amidst the various humorous and light-hearted songs even lies a well-known jazz standard mashup as Panzerballett covers, or reinterpretations. It’s a really fun album that’s only too short (yes, even the deluxe version!)
Spine Readers – Recorded Instruments
Spine Readers coalesced through the dismemberment of the great prog band Illogicians, which is already a promising start, if you ask me! Then, the band’s new hive mind decided to experiment with various song structures and ideas, going experimental with the progressive rock genre. The result is an astonishing album of genre-hopping madness that doesn’t take itself seriously at all!
Jeremy Rose and the Earshift Orchestra – Iron in the Blood (Earshift)
Iron in the Blood is a musical adaptation of Robert Hughes’s The Fatal Shore, which describes the horror of Australia’s inception. As such, the orchestral suite is harrowing and poignant in a myriad ways. Especially efficient are the spoken word passages exposing to us listeners the seed of every particular composition: what they represent, what they hope to convey. Moreover, not only is it an incredibly enthralling experience, it doubles as a marvellous educational capsule on the history of Australia, for those unfamiliar with it.
Ekmeles – A Howl, that Was Also a Prayer (New Focus)
What a mind-blowing record this is! The Ekmeles vocal ensemble recorded commissioned works by microtonal aficionados and contemporary classical composers Taylor Brook and Christopher Trapani as well as Erin Gee, who explores the boundaries of vocal technique and corporeal rhythm. The visions of the three composers come into life on this album, and it’s as beautiful to music explorers as it’s repulsive to others. A truly fantastic phenomenon!
Sec – L’Aventure complète de George Gallamus
French and their avant-prog… I seriously would not be able to name all such projects hailing from this country! Sec is only the most recent one, and it’s awesome! L’Aventure complète de George Gallamus—which also goes by the name of Les Aventures apocryphes de George Gallamus—is a collection of nine songs making up seventy minutes of nonsensical and eclectic prog. Stating musical influences like Lightning Bolt, Chostakovitch, Stupeflip, Chromb!, and No Means No, Sec covers a wide palette of styles and executes them all exquisitely (from the point of view of avant-garde prog, obviously!)