Caleb Burhans – Past Lives (modern classical)
A gorgeous grouping of the composer’s pieces offering a great deal of variety in terms of approach and texture, Caleb Burhans certainly lives up to his “emo-classical” moniker with this effort. The ability of the composer to define and convey subtle emotion through his music is exceptional. Also notable is the fact that each of these pieces assembles a different set of performers, such as harp-marimba duo Harpverk on the optimistic “Once in a Blue Moon”, or the menacingly introspective string arrangement “Contritus” as performed by JACK Quartet. Each of these works stands on its own merits and warrants repeat listens. Overall, this is a beautifully diverse work of contemporary music that finds poignancy in balance with vitality. Highly recommended during periods of solemn reflection.
Gaspard – La forêt de Gaspard (post rock, prog metal, avant rock)
With their debut album, Gaspard (Montréal, Canada) makes a powerful introduction with a moody and dynamic full-length release. Early on, in what seems to be an attempt at marrying sprawling distorted guitar with progressive structural movements, I’d say the band has succeeded in meeting their objective. Then it quickly becomes obvious that the group is not satisfied with such an apparently humble goal. Solid musicianship paired with the control and restraint needed to act as a unit; these are compositions that pay mind to space and putting the collective ahead of the individual. The delicate rhythmic interplay is worthy of note on pieces like “Chapitre I : Les Mauves”. Also duly remarkable is the sensitivity to melodic development, all without becoming bogged down in prog cliché. There are amazing surprises unfolding here which I don’t wish to spoil for you (so maybe stop reading!), but who honestly saw that Gialloesque thriller film passage coming!?
Editrix – Talk to Me (noise rock, avant punk)
Self-proclaimed “avant butt-rock”, one cannot argue with this assessment. Strong Ninewood* vibes on the first and last tracks, both of which also happen to be the best reasons to listen. The first tune is particularly interesting (good choice putting it up front), introducing you to the trio with shrieking guitar and airy female sing-speak set against bass and drums. At its core, I guess it’s ’90s alt-rock and post-grunge filtered through a modern “ironic” lens, but it’s fun and I kinda like it anyway. I’m curious to hear where this band takes their sound.
*Ninewood was an experimental rock band featuring two bass players from Oakland, California in the late ’90s. They’re kinda tough to search on the internet, but I would strongly recommend trying.