Book of Sand – Postmodern Witchcraft
Book of Sand is no different to strange, unsettling experiments  , and Postmodern Witchcraft continues to defy expectations. The album is blackened post-punk for satanic surfers, which opens a new branch in the vast tree of music, and that is always cause for celebration. It’s strange, and it’s probable that you will be offset by it, but it’s something much worth listening to.
Virgil – The Pacer
Prog fusion is hardly a rarity, these days, but good bands keep pouring out, warranting a listen! Today’s subject is Los Angeles’ Virgil, with their recent EP, The Pacer. Fans of Exivious should especially rejoice, because Virgil exploits that very fine brand of prog fusion, and fills the vacuum created by the departure of the genre’s spearhead. Don’t fear: the legacy seems to be in good hands!
The 8-Bit Big Band – Press Start!
Video game jazz is one of my péchés mignons for sure; it’s not the first time I write about a band of this ilk [see: Contraband]. However, I must mention The 8-Bit Big Band‘s take. Press Start! is a wonderfully orchestrated album of video game music rearrangements for a 24-piece jazz big band. The album features songs from Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Earthbound, among others, and it’s a true joy to listen to! Plus, the album is not behind a paywall!
Valia Calda – Methexis
London’s experimental, modern jazz quintet Valia Calda recently released Methexis, an album with inspirations from traditional Greek music and electronic music. The bleak album is emotional and genuine, and shows quite a diverse musical vocabulary for all of its monochrome presentation. It’s an interesting album, much deserving of your attention!
Similar Fashion – Portrait Of
Portrait Of dates back to February, but I can’t go without writing about it. Similar Fashion is what I guess could be called an avant-prog band, but it’s also very strong on avant-pop leanings, and there’s also some math rock in there. The LA quartet offers a non-intrusive, rather innocent-looking take on the genre, which is almost childish in appearance—reflected by the colourful album art—, but wildly imaginative and highly proficient behind the scenes. This album is filled with polyrhythms, odd timings, layered voicings, and other practical applications of music theory; but they are not used to obfuscate, rather to entertain on a higher level the melophile. Enjoy!
十一 (Juuichi) – 打音の光輪 (Daon no niurin) / Circle of Light
Straight out of Kyōto, Japan, 十一 (Juuichi) is a modern progressive music duo consisting of voice and 10- and 12-string Chapman sticks. The songs on 打音の光輪 (Daon no niurin) / Circle of Light are also accompanied by the Andean quena flute, and bass on select tracks. This contemporary take on Enka music is very refreshing, and just wonderful, especially for the foreigner’s ear! Reika Torii’s voice is emotive and has an impressive range, while Satoru Tsuji’s playing on the stick is complex and beautiful. Please listen to this!
Harmolodic String Band – The Shape of Grass to Come, Volume 1
I’m fairly certain you haven’t heard “free grass” before. Yup, Harmolodic String Band had the brilliant idea of playing free jazz as a bluegrass quartet. Mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and bass hardly makes up for saxophone, guitar, bass, and drums, but the prospect is unique and worth your time. The New York band plans to reimagine Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come in three EPs, the first of which is going to be released on July 2. The other two volumes are to be released throughout the year, so keep an eye on that!
Us, Today – Computant
Rock with vibes is amazing—see Travis Orbin, Ensemble, et al., Kraken Quartet—, and I hereby welcome Us, Today to the feast. The Cincinnati trio plays uplifting music somewhat influenced by post-rock, math rock, and nu-jazz, at various degrees. One thing I’d like to mention is that the vibraphone tends to sound pretty saturated; I don’t know if it’s the desired effect or a by-product of the recording process, but it’s a thing I personally dislike. Other than that, however, the album is good fun!
Karmic Juggernaut – The Dreams That Stuff Are Made Of
This New Jersey band is not a new player in the avant-garde progressive rock league, but it’s the first time it reaches my ears. The Dreams That Stuff Are Made Of was released at the start of the month, and I got word of them by Heavy Blog Is Heavy; I can’t say I regret taking some time to listen to it. The album is progressive in all the right ways: complex song structures and time signatures, non sequitur progressions, technical prowesses, and an eccentric vocal delivery make for a product that is unique and pure fun! Don’t sleep!
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