Doom Shrugs – The Sciolist Pace of the Cycleless Trace (Not Music)
This album is an interpretation of the idea of cyclic time from a pessimistic, linear time perspective, as a metaphor for the locus of control and the use of introspection as a means of dealing with negative emotions. The concept of time being a cycle of several epochs appears in many ancient belief systems. The present epoch is supposed to be the most difficult and inherently negative, with much of the blame for the world’s problems being placed on materialism and the rich and powerful. Much like it can be difficult to discern whether every problem can be blamed on billionaires and corrupt politicians, it can also be difficult to figure out if a negative state of mind is caused by uncontrollable external forces or one’s own actions and prejudices towards the outside world. Also, much like the cycle is supposed to go on and the present negative epoch will come to an end, negative emotions too are inherently impermanent.
Mamiffer – The Brilliant Tabernacle (Sige)
The collaboration of ambient artist Faith Coloccia and post-metal guitarist Aaron Turner under the moniker Mamiffer was a recipe for success. The band joins together ambient music, folk, and post-rock into a delicate interwoven fabric, simply beautiful to behold. The Brilliant Tabernacle is one of those albums that are evocative and cathartic through their calmness and candour. It’s a marvellous record!
Shake Stew – Gris Gris (Traumton)
I recently became extremely excited when I read a bit about Austrian band Shake Stew‘s upcoming album. A mix of spiritual and intellectual jazz, a double album, a lineup that consists of two drummers, two bassists, two saxophonists, and a trumpetist (with more secondary instrumentation), influences that range from Gnawa music to modern jazz fusion… It’s just got everything I want! I highly recommend checking out this incredible album; if you just listen to a few moments of any of their songs, I’m sure you’ll find something to love about it.
Acre – Different Constellation (Aut)
Acre is an improvising electro-acoustic trio—here joined by Ludovica Manzo on vocals—from Italy. Different Constellation is an album that stems from 2017 performances that are just now put to disc. In typical electro-acoustic free improvisation fashion—just like the Ensemble Iléa I mentioned last time—the band merges acoustic timbers with electronic sounds and effects in order to create totally novel sounds, that hopefully have never before been created. Well, I believe this has been achieved here thanks to the outstanding musicianship and creativity of all involved. Hop in and enjoy the sounds!
Moana – In the Allure (Mysteria Maxima)
Perth-based Moana is a harsh, psychedelic art rock group with great riffs and an amazing singer to front it all. As you can hear all throughout the album, Moana uses a wide range of vocals to great effect, and they always exist in symbiosis with the rest of the music, so that it exacerbates the intent and emotions delivered. Truly a magnificent album.
Shades of Scorpius – Dungeon Master
Shades of Scorpius is one of the many facets of Lee Hutzulak, who plays here keyboards and electronics alongside J. P. Carter on trumpet, Giorgio Magnanensi on keyboards and electronics too, and Kenton Loewen on percussion. Dungeon Master is a live-recorded improvised experimental jazz session, and it’s one hell of a ride! The two tracks lay down almost an hour of material that dive in different directions. It’s a brilliant performance, so be sure to give it a shot!
Zeta – Mochima
Venezuelian mathy post-hardcore band Zeta just released Mochima. The band’s sound explores math and noise rock with a strong anchor in post-hardcore and a deep influence of Latin rhythms and music. This must draw comparisons to The Mars Volta regarding the riffs and rhythms, but they end right there. This is no TMV2.0, and it’s perfect this way. Zeta plays its own kind of punkish post-hardcore that must be appreciated on its own. Definitely check them out!
Colin Hinton – Simulacra (New Focus)
Colin Hinton has already proved himself to be a spectacular percussionist and composer, but why stop there? Simulacra is his upcoming avant-garde jazz album via New Focus Recordings, which is somewhat surprising considering they usually focus on contemporary and avant-garde classical artists. But far from complaining, I admire this addition to their roster. Simulacra is an awesome collection of works, deeply confusing and labyrinthine. Wholly recommended.
Nüshu – Sexe étranger
Montréal mathy noise rock band Nüshu has quickly become one of the most interesting acts going around in the genre. With their new full-length, they definitely solidified this assertion. Sexe étranger is overflowing with incredible multi-layered polyrhythmic riffs giving the whole an odd feeling of groove and funk that is only more alienated by the various effects on nearly all instruments and the stellar playing of both guitars that shroud any certainty under a veil of dissonant chords. You’re going to love it!
Rorcal – Muladona (Hummus)
A new Rorcal release is always cause for celebration. Muladona is its name. This time, the music is based off of the harrowing book of the same name by Eric Stener Carlson, in which the Muladona—”a doomed soul transformed into the Devil’s mule”—visits a fevered boy left to himself during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 each night to tell him horrific tales. Instead of the average fourteen-minute track of Κρέων (Créon), we here have no track over eight minutes. This shorter format does not by any means translate to weaker compositions. In true Rorcal fashion, the songs presented here are well thought-out, profoundly subversive, and intense from start to finish. It’s a truly awe-striking album.
Gorilla Mask – Brain Drain (Clean Feed)
Peter Van Huffel’s Gorilla Mask is out with the outstanding sequel to Iron Lung. The concept of the band is “a mishmash of punk, metal, jazz, free improvisation and written avant-garde music”, which sounds like a winning recipe by my standards. Moreover, the group’s focus on rhythm as a musical device really hits a soft spot. Check it out!
Liturgy – HAQQ
Who can really claim to know what Liturgy is about? Mastermind Hunter Hunt-Hendrix seems to have borrowed the art style of his own side-project Kel Valhaal for the newest release of his main band. Whatever it is, it seems to be a glimpse at a vast interconnected network of theosophical concepts brought together into HHH’s own vision of philosophy and spirituality. If that’s not your thing, perhaps the music alone will be. As per usual for Liturgy, we’re presented with what’s best called “experimental black metal”, but for a more precise stylistic description, please do yourself a favour: listen to it and come up with your own descriptors.
Unit Wail – Egarés (Soleil mutant)
French avant-prog band Unit Wail, formerly on label Soleil Zeuhl, is back with Egarés on Zeuhl-adjacent label Soleil mutant. This new album will probably make you think back to prog greats like King Crimson and Magma, but there’s a well-defined modern edge to the band’s sound that isn’t accurately portrayed by mere, vague comparisons. You know what you’ll have to do, right? Get a seat and listen to this for yourself!
Jon Bafus – Inflammation Superhighway
Jon Bafus, of super-awesome group Gentleman Surfer—which released our best progressive rock album of 2018!—just came out with a solo nineteen-minute piece called “Inflammation Superhighway”. Now, the inception of this track comes from pretty deep and heavy health issues experiences by Jon, which totally sucks, go read the description on Bandcamp to know more. If you can manage to throw in a few bucks in show of support, I urge you to do so, and in return you get an absolutely bombastic track!
Sissy Spacek – Crypto-Termination
Sissy Spacek is a noise-grind band with a rather extremely harsh output. Crypto-Termination is their latest release and, although it’s only about eight minutes long, it’s a powerful and cathartic experience. Get ready for abrasive textures, guttural vocals, noise, noise, and noise.
Daniel Lippel – Mirrored Spaces (New Focus)
Classical guitar player and composer Daniel Lippel just released Mirrored Spaces via New Focus Recordings, and it’s a massive one, at over two hours long! The album regroups many composers, but the centrepiece is definitely Lippel’s eponymous hexaptych. “Mirrored Spaces” uses a quarter-tone tuning—microtonality is a very present theme throughout the album—and many extended techniques suitable for an avant-garde album such as this one. It’s a highly admirable and respectable double-album.
Dave Malloy – Octet, a Chamber Choir Musical (Nonesuch)
Composer Dave Malloy wrote an a cappella musical, and it’s amazing. Once again, let me just quote: “inspired by internet comment boards, scientific debates, religious texts, and Sufi poetry, exploring addiction and nihilism within the messy context of 21st century technology.” Now, if that alone doesn’t compel you, let me just say that each song feels like a sketch, a little vignette, a short story; different yet bundled together into a coherent collection. Each one has its own soloist, providing the soliloquies supported by the rest of the choir, and sometimes even engaging a dialogue with it! It’s really fun, at times funny, at times philosophical, at times intimate, and at times just sensational!
Mula – Matasesos (Sello In-correcto)
Hot off their split with French avant-prog masters Poil, Colombian jazzpunkish post-rockers release Matasesos. The album is an amazing mix of genres, from mathcore to noise rock, to post-rock, and much more. On top of that, they really use the three saxophones at their disposition efficiently to create something rather unique in sound!
The Night Watch – An Embarrassment of Riches
The Night Watch is a Canadian band that I have lauded in the past. It’s, at its core, a progressive rock band with strong folk music influences, which transpire a lot through violinist Evan Runge, but not only. While their previous release was a monolithic thirty-six-minute track, An Embarrassment of Riches features eight comparatively short pieces, but at around ten minutes each, they’re not what we can call “short”. The whole album itself barely fits on a single disc, so there’s a lot to like in there! I’d say this is perhaps the band at its most creative and mature. It comes out in November, watch out for it!
Alex Fischer – Ones that Work
In the vein of Omni Optometrist and longtime favourite Cryptovolans comes Alex Fischer. It seems that the same strange, surreal artistic musings run through these three. On Ones that Work, Alex brings us some of his weirdest compositions in an all-out MIDI assault. The apparent randomness of the written notes clashes with the supposed order of the MIDI sounds into an antithetical catharsis!
Eeeeeel – Piano-Polished, the Tranced Machine
Piano-Polished, the Tranced Machine is a Gargantuan tour de force of avant-garde noise rock. Eeeeeel is a trio made up of voice and synths, percussion, and guitar, and the idiosyncrasies of each chosen member of the band converge and merge into an absurdist reconstruction of rock, or music in general. Did I mention that this album is one hour and a half long? Yeah, so grab a snack and a barf bag, sit down, and get thrown into space!
Jardim de flores – Defloraison (Nerve Altar)
Korean grindcore missive Jardim de flores just released their new powerfully violent album. In typical grindcore fashion, it’s only five minutes long, but it’s five minutes of pure abrasion and hatred. It’s short, it’s brutal, and it’s sick.
Trauma Triad – Visceral Defects
I’ve been waiting for this to come out for what seems like ages, now! Trauma Triad is the project of New Jersey multi-instrumentalist Timothy JS, and it’s a quarter-tonal math-infused progressive metal monument! The album comprises five main songs with four interstitial short pieces. While the latter are pretty nicely put together and add a bit of room to breathe between the heavier songs, the actual songs steal the show. I get vibes from all over the place, uSSSy, of course, but also non-microtonal bands like Family and even Down I Go. Timothy really succeeded in pulling different and engrossing scales from this quarter-tone guitar. It’s a stunning debut!
Essen Jazz Orchestra – Road Works (Umland)
Contemporary jazz orchestrae can do truly wonderful things. It’s not the first such thing I write about here, and it surely won’t be the last! This time, German-based Essen Jazz Orchestra just unveiled their massive double album with, as main theme… Road Works! When I say “massive”, the title-bearing composition alone spans three tracks and over thirty minutes! All throughout the record, you’ll enjoy odd time signatures, competing and recurring themes, conflicting rhythms, and a general mastery over the building of mood, intent, and atmosphere. It’s a stellar release!
Diploid – Glorify (Art as Catharsis)
Australian experimental grindcore act Diploid is back with yet another hard-hitting subversive manifest: Glorify. The twenty-four minutes of abrasive, noisy, brutal grind is truly something to experience. If you’ve liked the band’s earlier recordings, I don’t see why you wouldn’t this one; if you’re new to their game, check them out and enjoy being crushed into a paste.
A Formal Horse – Here Comes a Man from the Council with a Flamethrower
The new album from British progressive rock band A Formal Horse delivers. Here Comes a Man from the Council with a Flamethrower brings the band’s writing and execution to new heights and among the greats of modern pop-oriented prog. The album is filled with anthemic melodies and memorable lyrics, and is made up of many (16) absolute bangers. One of the best prog releases of the year!
The Sound that Ends Creation – Music Designed to Give You Ideas… In Case You Should Run Out of Ideas
Texas one-man band The Sound that Ends Creation is back with a new mathgrind opus. Music Designed to Give You Ideas… In Case You Should Run Out of Ideas is a twenty-minute record of atomized riffs thrown in a state of quantum juxtaposition. This doesn’t make physical sense; it’s just a fancy way of saying this is a riff salad, a good one! If you’re looking for something in the sonic vicinity of Second Grade Knife Fight and The Cheeseburger Picnic and such, this is straight up that alley!
The Silas Hedman Ensemble of Arts – Occam’s Razor
Percussionist Silas Hedman‘s work for eleven people ensemble is a project encompassing semi-improvised avant-garde jazz, noise, metal, and free improvisation. The range of genres and sounds that emanate from Occam’s Razor‘s recordings are vast and diversified, and often recontextualize the listener into a completely different setting. It’s an amazing album, brilliant and exploratory.
Catatonic Effigy – Putrid Tendency (Iluso)
Guitarist Álvaro Domene is always in the coolest projects, the latest of which takes the form of Catatonic Effigy, an avant-garde metal trio including Colin Marston on bass and Mike Caratti on drums. It’s unknown whether the tracks on this record are composed or improvised, but my money is on a certain mix of both. It seems that the three freely play against one another until one theme comes about and brings them all together for, generally, a short time, before they diverge again into unknown territories. It’s tough to put words on this, but I love it so much; it’s my favourite thing. It comes out in November!
Politess – The Sound of Crowdfunding (No Funeral)
Montréal’s noisy mathcore band Politess is back at it again, this time with The Sound of Crowdfunding, their most recent odd-timed destructive EP. Angry and hopeless, it’s a masterpiece of aggression. Be sure to check it out!