Ellen Kirkwood and Sirens Big Band – [A]part
From Earshift Music, we get this monstrous work of art: Ellen Kirkwood‘s tetraptych “[A]part” suite, played by herself and Sirens Big Band, with additional soloists. The album is lyriclessly about many contemporary social issues, and uses similarly modern jazz to convey them. This is an album that not only needs to be listened carefully, but also read into. This is an absolute must!
Permanent Tension – Dedicated to the Guilt That Should Have Been but Never Was
Technical and emotive, Permanent Tension‘s newest release is chaotic yet relatable. Dedicated to the Guilt That Should Have Been but Never Was is a mixture of mathcore, math rock, metalcore, and post-hardcore in all the right amounts. It might be a bit crude, production-wise, but it’s part of the appeal. This is going to be an under-appreciated gem for years to come.
Philip Zoubek Trio – Outside
Philip Zoubek Trio‘s newest album, Outside, is a magnificent album of modern, at times avant-garde jazz. Each composition is interesting in its own right and played to near perfection by the three talented musicians on record. I have nothing but flattering words for the music, but the distribution scheme is archaic and consumer-hostile. Nowhere is the album in full stream, forbidding the listener and potential buyer to make a decision in full knowledge. WhyPlayJazz is far from being the only label to do so, but it seems to be almost entirely endemic to jazz. Please, labels, enter the modern age.
Big Lad – Pro Rock
I’ve been waiting for this album to come out for ages, it seems! I’m happy to announce that the wait has not been vain, for Big Lad‘s Pro Rock is an absolute banger. The London duo plays hard-hitting drum and bass with the uncommon quality of featuring live drums. The drummer’s work in here is brilliant and quite impressive. You don’t get the same inhuman chops as some breakcore artists, but there’s definitely a focus on musicianship on drums. On top of that, the different synths throughout the songs are often massive and totally face-melting! That’s a seriously amazing album!
Esperanza Spalding – 12 Little Spells
Esperanza Spalding‘s newest experiment consisted of releasing one song from 12 Little Spells every day for twelve days, along with a video for each, until the album’s release on October 19. Musically, it’s a varied bunch, sticking to the more electronic and modern side presented most prominently in Emily’s D+Evolution. Some of the lyrics are perhaps a bit too moralistic to my taste, but the music is great all around and the album is a fun one to listen to!
Voragine of Autumn – Aphelion
After a demo in 2013, Chilean band Voragine of Autumn comes straight out of nowhere with a massive album: Aphelion. Mixing flawlessly progressive death and black metals, as a sort of uncanny offspring of early Opeth and Ne Obliviscaris, the band churns through the fifty-five-minute album like it’s no big deal, all the while projecting our astral selves into musical journeys without bounds. South America’s game is strong, this year, with Brazil’s Piah Mater earlier this month, and now this! Don’t let this pass you by!
Bluelight – Home
From Akron, Ohio, comes the powerful jazz-meets-R&B Home, by Bluelight. At every opportune turn of events, the band surprises, not only by purveying consistent high-quality content, but by keeping itself fresh and novel, often by minute details that end up making a huge difference. Jazz-hop and soul are the driving forces behind this utterly fascinating and atmospheric album.
Julia Holter – Aviary: Sweet in the Melting World
The newest album from experimental pop artist Julia Holter is an impressive double-disc endeavour. Eccentric and idiosyncratic, Arrival: Sweet in the Melting World (with the subtitle being originally written out in the Wingdings font), this ninety-minute bomb doesn’t tire, and keeps providing twists and turns, thanks to the creative mind of Julia. It’s beautiful and beautifully weird, but can hardly be called “pop”. Nevertheless, hop in and embrace the melting world.
أميرة خير (Amira Kheir) – رقصة سحرية (Mystic Dance)
Sudanese-Italian singer أميرة خير (Amira Kheir) released رقصة سحرية (Mystic Dance) this month through Sterns Music. This album is a wonderful fusion of world music, jazz, and pop. The traditional singing style and rhythms join the jazzier harmonies and timbres of the modern day. All of this is embedded into an accessible pop music format (with a few outgrowths that would be quickly cut for radio play). This doesn’t bring the music down, however, and can only serve to deliver its majesty to more ears unaccustomed to more devious structures and devices. Mystic Dance is a groovy and poignant record that’s an essential for the month!