Emme Phyzema – Shorts Are Comfy and Easy to Wear!
The creative mastermind known as Emme Phyzema just released a new wacky avant-garde progressive rock masterpiece—first with the addendum When You’re Listening to Fake Harpsichord Music and, would you know it, it was a MIDI harpsichord version of this album—Shorts Are Comfy and Easy to Wear. Was this whole album conceptualized from a single interaction with a Youngster in a Pokémon game? Who is to say? But, to be sure, this thirty-and-some-minute album extracts the best creative juice from the whole region with collaborators and guests such as Ben Spees (The Mercury Tree), Nick Prol (Nick Prol & the Proletarians), and Max Mobarry (Others by No One)! So, head on to the Emme Phyzema Bandcamp page and go through all the amazing albums there once you’re done with this one!
五人一首 – 死人賛歌 (Bang the Head)
Note: this video is a performance from the band’s debut album, released in 2000.
Japanese avant-garde death metal legend 五人一首—thereafter Gonin-ish—has released a new full-length album, some fifteen years after their magnum opus 内視鏡世界 (Naishikyō sekai), released in 2005. However, it’s not as clear-cut. Indeed, their new album, 死人賛歌 (Shibito sanka)—translated loosely as Dead Hymn—was released on December 9, but only in Japan. Moreover, nowhere is there any sort of stream to be found, not even a little teaser or trailer! So, you’ll have to trust my word and judge based on almost twenty-year-old videos. Thankfully, you can find their sophomore release on streaming services. But now, let’s talk about Shibito sanka. Gonin-ish is known for their wild and energetic performance, eclectic compositions, and special blend of harsh vocals and Japanese folk-influenced melodies. On top of that, one of the remarkable features of the band is their use of piano to supplement the dense aural world they create. Well, all of these elements are back, and, finally, with a production worthy of the music. Before Shibito sanka, Gonin-ish’s production seemed rough and often seemed to peak on record, which was to the detriment of the listening experience. However, on this new album, I haven’t heard any peak, although there is plenty of compression going on, and the mix and overall production is done with the greatest care and suits well the band, even though I’d personally favour a more organic and dynamic production. Finally, I’ll retroactively include Shibito sanka on my 2020 AOTY list; it’s that good! If you want it, however, you’ll need to import it from Japan and wait a few weeks for delivery, and that’s quite unfortunate. Give music to the people!
Alkerdeel – Slonk (Babylon Doom Cult)
With names like “slonk” and “zop”, you might think this is an episode of Batman from the sixties (thanks Matt for the roast), but I guess that’s Flemish for you, right? Belgian black metal band Alkerdeel, after Lede—featuring a fart demon or something—is back with yet another impressively heavy and cavernous release. While Lede didn’t really connect with me at the time, Slonk awed me on first listen. I guess I was in the right mindset for all the muddy riffs, the sound of drums in the void of empty space, and the general slow and ominous feeling of the apocalypse. If you feel like you’re in a similar mindset right now, check out this album!
Bisbâyé – Le Sens de la fin (Cuneiform)
Montréal-based, polyrhythm-crazed Bisbâyé have always evolved without a label of any sort, in their own world, making music that none other dared make. In a rather dramatic turn of events, they are releasing their new album, Le Sens de la fin, on the legendary label Cuneiform Records! At the same time, it feels to me that this new album has a certain sense of melody and progression that its predecessors lacked, and in lieu put all their energy and space into musical devices to confuse and entrap the listener. As such, Le Sens de la fin feels less chaotic and more expectable, and that is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, I absolutely adored the feeling of being hopelessly lost in the middle of a song—something that I didn’t feel as strongly on this new opus—while on the other hand perhaps this reflects the composer’s stronger than ever grasp on this particular style of composition. Out in late January, Bisbâyé’s latest is also one of their strongest.