I Can’t Believe This Is Called Music! Top 2019 Albums of 2019, Part XVIII: 333-221

Starting with number 333 on our list, and until number 1, all albums have been reviewed! So, let’s start this second phase of our top 2019 of 2019, which will end with number 21, ushering in phase 3 and its ranked top 20! If you’ve somehow missed the previous parts, here are the links.

Part I: 2019-1920

Part II: 1919-1820

Part III: 1819-1720

Part IV: 1719-1620

Part V: 1619-1520

Part VI: 1519-1420

Part VII: 1419-1320

Part VIII: 1319-1220

Part IX: 1219-1120

Part X: 1119-1020

Part XI: 1019-920

Part XII: 919-820

Part XIII: 819-720

Part XIV: 719-620

Part XV: 619-520

Part XVI: 519-420

Part XVII: 419-334

Part XVIII: 333-221

Montecharge – Demons or Someone Else (Wooaaargh)

Switzerland, as I’ve said many times before, is a hotbed for really good blackened music, and Montecharge is only the latest example of this. Demons or Someone Else is an aggressive blackened hardcore album exploring creative ideas on the genre and its usual tropes. An album that deserves your attention!

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Monogamizer – Purgatory’s Hype Men

Monogamizer is a hard-to-define entity. It seems to me that “progressive death metal” carries too much of an Opethian vibe and longform propensity to correctly represent the band’s short and to-the-point compositions that are nonetheless rife with off-time signatures, modulations of all sorts, and unusual song structures on a death metal canvas. “Mathcore”, on the other hand, doesn’t qualify for the opposite reasons. So, imagine something between these two and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what they sound like. But, you know what’s better than that? Actually listening to them.

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The Canyon Observer – Urn (Kapa)

“Urn”, the seventeen-minute avant-garde doom metal track presented here, is described as being a bridge between the more traditional material the band previously put out—like their album Nøll—and their future material. If I draw two points, with Nøll and Urn, and extrapolate to a third, I’m expecting some downright bizarre music (which I can’t help but anticipate eagerly). “Urn” is an astonishing, dissonant, apocalyptic masterpiece of what doom metal can be. I seriously cannot wait for further experiments to be unveiled!

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Awes – Modern Love

Awes are awesome, Their 2018 demo already drew comparisons to Hella from me, and this one, their actual debut album, only goes further in all the things they were going for. Fans of aggressive math rock—not quite mathcore but close—this is a must!

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Shipley Hollow – Infinite Zest

Toronto-based math rock band Shipley Hollow just released an incredible EP of catchy odd-timed songs that follows up from their 2017 Eating the Entertainment and improves on its formula! The title itself is brilliant on its own, but the various tracks on the record, alternating between instrumental and vocal tracks, are great and a lot of fun so don’t miss out on it!

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Loplop – Loplop (Gotta Let It Out)

Loplop is a newly founded free improvisation trio from guitarist Jon Lipscomb, bassist Dan Peter Sundland, and drummer Ole Mofjell. Their self-titled debut is outright incredible! They perform hectic, spastic, pugnacious improvisations that never seem to take a break. This is something I crave! It’s an exhausting album to go through, challenging the listener and daring them to keep going, but the reward is intensely gratifying.

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Staghorn – Wormwood Ⅲ

Chicago band Staghorn has been a really nice late surprise to me! On Wormwood Ⅲ, the band brings their finest crafts and exposes us their quasi-apocalyptic anti-capitalist concept story in spoken word with accompanied post-metal soundtrack. This is an amazing release, it’s only too short!

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Kimura – Kimura

Argentine sludgy mathgrind? Sure! Whatever! Out of all the amazing things happening in their sound, Ismael Pérez’s drumming is the one that hit me the most. It’s intense and varied and creative and I’m just blown away by these snare rim shots, they’re just so nasty! Seriously one of the most bone-breaking releases of the year, and, at over twenty minutes, is quite a long album for the genre. That means you get a lot of chaotic stuff (the best stuff)!

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Sasha Berliner – Azalea

New York-based vibraphonist and composer Sasha Berliner just released Azalea. First off, the vibraphone and nonchalant swing might give you a “dark jazz” feel, but the album gleefully explores various genres and headspaces, from the aforementioned soft, moody jazz to the modern, alternative one, there’s plenty to like on Azalea!

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Gloss Coma – 002 (Black Mirror)

Jorge Elbrecht is an enigma. After releasing a brilliant progressive blackgaze record earlier this year as Coral Cross, here comes the second album under a different moniker: Gloss Coma. This project deals into astonishing darkwave, cold, industrial, and at times pure nostalgia (hear “Perish” for a prime example of this). Jorge is an incredible musician, eclectic and exploratory, and I’m really glad that his back catalogue gets such high-quality releases!

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Silent Fires – Forests (Ambitious Mindful Projects)

Pianist and composer Alessandro Sgobbio just released Forests, a collection of compositions for contemporary classical and electroacoustic quartet, under the name Silent Fires. The inclusion of electroacoustic elements into what is, for the most part, a modern classical record highlights the strength of this technique—which is now a genre by and of itself—and really helps to create different textures, unattainable by the acoustic ensemble. It’s a really surprising and enjoyable record.

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The Antistandard – All of Them! (Discordian)

The Antistandard is a Barcelona-based avant-garde jazz quintet conducted by saxophonist El Pricto and his graphic scores. Featuring established members of the contemporary music scene like guitarist Diego Caicedo, The Antistandard is a solid recording of new extreme music.

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Ernesto Aurignac Orchestra – Uno (Moskito)

Spain-based Ernesto Aurignac just released Uno, his first recording of compositions for jazz orchestra. I have to say the album as a whole is just brilliant! Each track has that cinematic feeling; not like a movie score, as that would lessen the music, but like a movie in itself. The music is not merely a support for images and emotions, but rather it is their vessel and cradle; it speaks of and for itself.

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Teeth – The Curse of Entropy (Translation Loss)

Teeth is a band merging together the unlikely worlds of doom metal, sludge, and grindcore, in a way similar to what Sloth Herder are doing, but in their own distinctive manner. The Curse of Entropy is the band’s sophomore album, the first one on a label, and it shows the band’s level in terms of understanding what makes their sound tick. Each track is purposeful and well-defined, and makes my neck hurt.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Monotrope – Immutable Future (New Atlantis)

I have written about Monotrope in the past; the instrumental progressive rock band has a truly distinct sound, thanks in great part to Edward Ricart’s guitar sound and use of open tunings. Their characteristic approach to composition is further explored on this album, and each track is thus unique and interesting in its own particular manner.

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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.

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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!

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You Big Ox – An Unkindness of Ravens

You Big Ox is a doomgaze band stemming from the progressive sludge weirdos in National Sunday Law. An Unkindness of Ravens is a brooding, melancholic album that’s beautifully melodic and atmospheric; a true sludgy shoegaze demonstration. The relatively long songs give ample time for the sustained chords to sink in and flood you with all of their weight.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Kucoshka – Women and Police Everywhere

I’ve been following the strange peregrinations of Atlanta band Kucoshka since their Rad Tantrum album, and their newest one is the epitomization of their endeavours. The almost fifty-minute effort gives plenty of banger riffs and trailblazing moments. Definitely a must for you mathcore addicts.

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Black Pantone – Ni d’Eve ni d’Adam

Yet another crazy good jazz fusion project from France, Black Pantone just released an hour-long collection of compositions, which range from classical-influenced to experimental jazz, by way of fusion. Ni d’Eve ni d’Adam is lush and varied, and each track has something to bring for itself. It’s a very nice, little-known album.

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Ensemble Improvisation libre électro-acoustique – Post. Variations (Cuchabata)

The Iléa ensemble—an acronym stemming from “improvisation libre électro-acoustique“, or “free electro-acoustic improvisation”—just released a new album, and it pushes the creation of sounds to new levels. I think that my favourite moment on the album is actually the introduction: it’s short, but it blends electronic and acoustic sounds so perfectly that it concisely gives away all that Iléa stands for. Of course, the rest of the album—thirty-something minutes—continues to explore, but in a more long-form format. Their blend of classical timbres with electronic effects is one of their defining features, and it’s an awesome thing to experience.

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Tachycardie – Probables (Un je-ne-sais-quoi)

Un je-ne-sais-quoi is a new label I’m now fond of. Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy’s Tachycardie project, with the Probables album, just created something absolutely mind-blowing. The record showcases four compositions of contemporary music, unclassifiable between classical, jazz, and world music. “Mille fois bonjour depuis le Vignemalle” is highly rhythmic and percussive, “Aunir, Forcer” is both more minimalist and maximalist, unifying lowercase elements with aural destruction, “Vesprir” is the quiet one of the bunch, focusing on amplified sounds, and “Tarir” is the noisy closer that merges all that has been attempted prior into a big beautiful mess. It’s one hell of a ride, this album, and I can’t recommend it enough!

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Oiseaux-tempête – From Somewhere Invisible (Sub rosa)

Experimental post-rock band Oiseaux-tempête just released their newest deranging output. From Somewhere Invisible sounds a bit like Enablers, a noisier Swans, a more atmospheric Psychic Graveyard, or a less electronic Wreck and Reference. The thing is that they create atmospheric compositions with a lot of instrument effects and spoken word narration. Their 2018 album طرب (Tarab) marked me enough to write it in my “Best Of” post, and From Somewhere Invisible certainly continues on this tangent.

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Eartheater – Trinity (Chemical X)

At this point, Eartheater is a staple of good, forward-thinking synth pop. Her new album is made of multiple compositions with each their own sound and vibe. I especially like the use of electronics and pitch-shifted percussion throughout. The generally melancholic songs are a real kick for when you want quality underground pop music.

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Clément Janinet – Danse ? (Gigantonium)

The latest collection of works by violinist and composer Clément Janinet is here, under the title Danse ? The thirteen tracks on record take inspiration from various dances and twist them apart until they metaphorically break. The album is a marvellous modern jazz album with a huge folk music aspect to it. Definitely recommended.

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Thou Sonic Friend – Cinemateria (Barefoot)

Thou Sonic Friend is an experimental trio making improvised and avant-garde music from Copenhagen. Their new album, Cinemateria, on Barefoot Records, is their latest collection of such works, clocking in at almost fifty minutes. The spontaneous compositions on the album are very colourful and diverse, and I’ve had a really good time listening to this one!

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The Balderin Sali – Variations (Leo)

Free improvisation can take so many many forms. Here’s a collection of improvised sessions at the Soundscapes Concerts Series in Berlin, involving saxophonist Harri Sjöström. It’s pretty much impossible to compress all that this album covers inside a mere few lines of text, but feel free to listen to a handful of excerpts on Bandcamp and enjoy the creativity, spontaneity, and synergy of it all!

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Yazz Ahmed – Polyhymnia (Ropeadope)

British-Bahraini trumpeter and composer Yazz Ahmed is back with a new album of psychedelic jazz heavily tinged with Arabic music. Polyhymnia was inspired by the Muse of the same name while writing for the Women of the World Festival. As usual for Yazz, it’s a great album with diverse compositions; some leaning more toward her Arabic background, others presenting a more straight-up jazz attitude, still others exploring that psychedelic, progressive aspect of hers. A thoroughly beautiful album that’s worth many listens.

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Valse fréquence – Ci-haut, Ci-bas

Montréal indie post-rock band Valse fréquence just released the Ci-haut, Ci-bas EP, a lyrical record filled with melancholic songs in lush atmospheres, all sung in the band’s native French. Valse fréquence crafted here five compositions in the vein of indie rock, but with all of the sadness and romanticism of post-rock. Ci-haut, Ci-bas is a beautiful EP with hauntingly memorable melodies.
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Perséide – Parmi les arbres

Perséide is a progressive rock band leaning heavily into the older iterations of the genre—classic prog, proto-prog—as can be heard on Parmi les arbres, the band’s most recent output. Through its seven tracks, Parmi les arbres brings you to some folkish tunes, some more indie pop-like, and others definitely prog. At times slow and elegiac, at times upbeat and naïve, Perséide shines.

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Jyocho – 綺麗な三角、朝日にんげん (Kireina sankaku, asahi nin gen) / A Perfect Triangle, Rising Sun Human (No Big Deal)

Japanese math-pop act Jyocho is one I always try to keep an eye out for; indeed, it’s not always an easy task keeping up to date with Japanese artists! Fortunately, the band has just put out 綺麗な三角、朝日にんげん (Kireina sankaku, asahi nin gen)—English title: A Perfect Triangle, Rising Sun Human—a relatively short EP bursting with creativity and awesomeness. The odd group features most prominently だいじろー (Daijirō) of 宇宙コンビニ (Uchū konbini) fame, but also a full-time flute player, which really adds to the band’s sound to create something rather unique. This new EP is really enjoyable, like all of Jyocho’s output, really, so don’t wait and get on it!

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Claire Rousay – T4T (No Rent)

Claire Rousay on Bandcamp
No Rent Records on Bandcamp

Claire Rousay has already been introduced on this website. Well, with T4T, the avant-garde percussionist goes further into the deconstruction of music and of the tools that make it. Is this music? Is this not music? This is the kind of questions you might be faced with, here, so be ready for that. As for me, I find it thoroughly delectable.

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Upperground Orchestra – Euganea (Morphine)

This Italian quartet just released a brilliant free electro-jazz full-length by the name of Euganea. Basically, it’s a free jazz trio with an additional electronics and keyboards player. This supernumerary musician really adds a whole new personality to the recording, which is at times now closer to dub music than jazz, although the latter still predominates throughout. Moreover, the bass player sometimes switches to an oud, which brings the whole thing much closer to Middle-Eastern music. All of this makes up for an interesting album that’s a lot of fun to listen to!

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Essi – Vital Creatures (Ramp Local)

Avant-garde jazz guitarist Jessica Ackerley does not limit herself to one genre. In Essi, with drummer Rick Daniel, she explores the worlds of noise and experimental rock with a healthy dose of punk energy. Vital Creatures is a necessary addition to everyone’s library. With all its experiments in sound, timbre, harmony, and structure, it is indeed a vital listen.

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Tower Jazz Composers Orchestra – Tower Jazz Composers Orchestra (Over Studio)

With just over a CD’s capacity of original music, Italian collective Tower‘s self-titled double album is a substantial collection of pieces by the various composers in its ranks. The fifteen tracks on the album didn’t even exhaust the supply of musicians they have; if they had all written one piece, we’d have a twenty-four-track album that would probably barely fit inside two dics. Moreover, due to the disparate nature of a composers orchestra, some compositions sound like big band jazz songs, some others like avant-garde experiments, while others still are more akin to classical music than jazz. That makes for an amazingly diverse record that nonetheless keeps a high standard of writing and performing.

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Those Darn Gnomes – All Tiny Breasts Crushed beneath the Shadow (Snail Cage)

The experimental blackened grindcore act Those Darn Gnomes has made quite an impression on me with their first release, The Zodiac. I was loving it, but was put off by just how low fidelity it was. Fortunately, since then, the band has kept its avant-garde mindset and experimental tendencies while levelling up the production value. All Tiny Breasts Crushed beneath the Shadow—a sentence that Christian found out spelled in magnets on his refrigerator—is a reaction to Calling Whitetails to a Tuned Bow, which featured longer, more thoroughly written compositions. Therefore, this new album has much shorter songs in general that are less composed and more improvised. As always, it’s a pure gem of chaos and noise.

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Håla duett – Rana (Collectif Coax)

Håla duett is the marriage of guitarist Sheik Anorak and drummer Yann Joussein. This union leads to a stellar polyrhythmic, psychedelic noise rock band with visible krautrock and African music influences. Being an EP, it’s cruelly short, but each one of the four tracks have plenty of time to breathe, most of them being over six minutes long and exploring at length only a handful of musical ideas. In this context, I think it’s better to fully explore a few themes rather than bring in a lot of them and having too little time to dig into them. The result is an album that strongly resonates with my rhythmic sensibilities, and is rather creative and cathartic in many ways. Definitely check it out!

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동양고주파 (Dong-yang-gozupa) – 곡면 (Gogmyeon) / Surface

Not unlike fellow Korean musicians in 잠비나이 (Jambinai), 4인놀이 (Sainnol-i), 호나 (Hona), 정가正歌 앙상블 (Jeongga Ensemble), and Tierpark, the purpose of 동양고주파 (Dong-yang-gozupa) is to merge traditional Korean music with modern Western styles. Here, the trio focuses on the 양금 (yanggeum, a hammered dulcimer), supported by bass guitar and drums (with the inclusion of traditional percussion as well). Their compositions take the form of post-rock and progressive rock and are a great vessel for the yanggeum to shine. Take a listen to their album for some sweet sounds!

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Threnody – A Paradigm of Suspicion (Trost)

A Paradigm of Suspicion is the newest album of the Threnody trio, made up of saxophonist Martin Küchen, bassist Johna Berthling, and drummer Steve Noble. This is almost an hour of freely improvised jazz split up into four tracks. All throughout A Paradigm of Suspicion, you can sense the chemistry and purpose of the three musicians together, making for a memorable and remarkable experience. Be certain to give it a shot!

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Lingua nada – Djinn

Noise rock band Lingua nada are back, this time donning the stylized name لينغوا ذدى. Comparing this new opus to their last one, Snuff, it seems a bit more on the accessible side of the spectrum, but it ultimately sounds like an alt-rock or pop group going straight into psychedelic and experimental sounds, which is mighty fine by me. Djinn is varied and surprising in a lot of ways, full of effects and cool compositional devices. Totally recommend that album for those looking into weird pop rock music.

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Kodian Trio – III (Trost)

Kodian Trio is here again with the third instalment of its utterly monstrous improvisation. I’ve already mouthed how disconcerning the trio sounded like, and it’s much the same thing here. The three musicians are at the top of their art and their synergy is totally out of this world.

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John Ghost – Airships Are Organisms (Sdban Ultra)

Upon first listening, Airships Are Organisms immediately made me reminisce Canadian prog act Glaswegians and the timeless Tubular Bells. This was perhaps only a temporary passage, but it was nonetheless present strongly in the opening piece, “Deconstructing Hymns”. In fact, the entirety of John Ghost‘s opus is highly diversified and masterfully crafted. As they put it, the album is “an exploratory symbiosis drawing on electronics, post-classical, cinematic atmospherics + jazz”, and I’ll have to agree with them. Airships Are Organisms draws as much from contemporary classical and jazz as it does, at times, post-rock and drone. It’s a truly stellar full-length that will be out in late September.

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Ḥashshāshīn – بدخشان (Badaxšān) / Badakhshan (Art as Catharsis)

Ḥashshāshīn is back! Their debut album, nīhsāhshsaḤ, was amazing and sublime, and, after a break of about three years, the band comes back with an upcoming sophomore. بدخشان (Badaxšān) / Badakhshan is named after a historical region comprising parts of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and China. It served as a powerful catalyst and inspiration for the music on record. Speaking of which, the compositions on the album are as excellent as ever, perhaps honing that mystical edge even sharper through the proficient use of timbre, repetition, progression, and rhythm. بدخشان (Badaxšān) / Badakhshan is truly mesmerizing and hypnotizing. It’s an album that will grab you from start to finish. It’s out on September 27.

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Car Bomb – Mordial

Car Bomb never cease to reassert their dominance on the mathcore-djent scene, ever since their debut Centralia. Mordial doesn’t aim to change a winning formula, but does tweak it a tiny bit. There’s definitely a fair amount of melodic singing on this record, more than I can recall on previous releases, but it adds a welcome breath of fresh air and diversity to the band’s sound, and something to contrast with the spastic chugs, programmed guitar sounds, and blast beats. Definitely one of their best, if you ask me!

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Prissy Whip – Swallow

Succinctly, Prissy Whip is a weird band. I love weird bands. On Swallow, the band offers us a delivery that is part avant-prog, part experimental pop, part noise rock, and all fun! Their sound mostly consists of altered vocals, dissonant guitars, and effects-laden bass VI, as well as some very unstable riffs and melodies. Awesome.

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Tides from Nebula – From Voodoo to Zen (Long Branch)

The Polish progressive post-rock trio’s newest album is a gem. From Voodoo to Zen sounds like an electro-rock album at times, at other times part of a math rock album, but is generally very post-rock sounding. Either feel you find yourself in, it’s a well-composed piece of music, and it’s quite fun to listen to, either fully absorbed in the songs or as a musical background to something else you’re doing.

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Pás de problème – The Shape of Party to Come

Pás de problème‘s latest feels like a party, hence its name. The Portuguese band blends in experimental rock with a hefty dose of klezmer music, as well as hints of many other musical traditions from all around the world as vignettes that are stitched to the main fabric here and there. The band often makes use of odd time signatures, which brings up the math rock element, but it’s so distinct that it cannot be described by that sole word. Overall a brilliant album!

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Pangaea – Vespr

Pangaea is back! I’ve already written about a single from their previous album, but things take a darker turn on their newest one, Vespr. The band keeps their progressive edge close by and cranks the heaviness up a few notches. It’s a rewarding album with plenty of riffs to bang your head to. Utterly recommended!

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Daniels – The Grass Planet Museum

Tulsa duo Daniels—stylized D A N I E L (((S)))—just released The Grass Planet Museum, an ambitious and adventurous experimental math rock enterprise. Their sound is very upbeat and hectic, slowing things down from time to time only to come back with a bigger bang. It’s a great band to discover so be sure to listen (and download) this album!

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Dr. Purgatory – Crab Parts

Toronto indie jazz sextet Dr. Purgatory just came out with Crab Parts, a debut album in three parts, the main of which, the “Red Pony” suite, divided further into three. The band’s vision offers us a beautiful and modern collection of nu jazz, vocal jazz, and fusion jazz. At just under thirty minutes, it’s a powerful proof of concept for the band, and a taste of things to come.

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Freese Trio – The Beast in the Blueprint

The Beast in the Blueprint is an astounding and creative album by Leeds trio Freese. Blending trip-hop and darkwave, among other things, Freese create a sombre but creatively gorgeous album. It’s full of haunting melodies and each song is very well crafted. A great album to be sure!

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Form Subtract – Autonomist

Autonomist is the strong debut EP of Philadelphia-based duo Form Subtract. They play a totally banger style of progressive metalcore with scents of nu metal and post-hardcore. Their EP is all it needs be: concise, to the point, and all killers no fillers. Oh, and it’s available for free, but consider dropping something to fund their eventual full-length!

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Cloud Rat – Pollinator (Artoffact)

Michigan melodic grindcore outfit Cloud Rat is to release Pollinator this week, along with a seemingly darkwavesque bonus EP. I can only write for the former, however. Pollinator sees Cloud Rat’s members at the top of their chops, with aggressive, razor-sharp riffs and beats with a distinct penchant for melodic progressions and motives. I wouldn’t put it close to the ilk of Beaten to Death but there’s some likeness indeed. Overall an amazing and brilliant album!

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Peach and Tomato – The Ultimate Pairing (Falcon Gumba)

Peach and Tomato is a violin and viola contemporary classical duo. On The Ultimate Pairing, musicians Sana and Leonor exchange and dialogue in various wonderful ways, sometimes like a face-off and other times a thorough interplay where each one builds on what the other brings. It’s a surprisingly fun and enjoyable record, sure to pique your brains for a while.

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Presence of Soul – Absence of Objective World (Abyss Gazer)

Presence of Soul is an amazing Japanese post-metal band. Absence of Objective World just came out on Abyss Gazer Records, and it’s a wonderful piece of art. The metal is on the more atmospheric side of things, but, just like the album cover, it’s dark and bleak, oppressive, and intriguing. It’s an album that perhaps does only one trick, but it does it expertly.

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Bonniesongs – Energetic Mind (Small Pond)

Bonniesongs already released some hot fire in the past, but her latest effort, Energetic Mind comes on top of it all. The Sydney-based singer and multi-instrumentalist showcases her newest compositions, and they are truly fabulous. The style she’s working in I would describe as “indie folk”, but it has more depth than a mere two words, and ties you into venomous pop melodies, complex layered instrumentation, and a whole lot of atmosphere. Just listen to the single “Barbara” for a prime example of what I’m trying to convey, here. The album comes out in August, so you’ve got quite a long while to wait, but be patient, it will come, and it is good!

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The Richmond Avant-Improv Collective – Chance Operations (Blight)

The RAIC is really something else. The Richmond, Virginia-based collective has been releasing some mind-altering releases—Evidence 1, Evidence 2—and Chance Operations is only the latest of them, perhaps even the most surprising. The 2-CD album offers over two hours and a half of odd, challenging, awe-inspiring material from twenty musicians and inspired by John Cage. Well, I feel I could write anything and not quite accurately describe what emanates from this album. So just go and have a listen, if you dare!

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Sloth Racket – Dismantle Yourself

[This is a stream of A Glorious Monster, the band’s previous album.]

Sloth Racket is a London-borne experimental jazz quintet. Dismantle Yourself is the band’s seventh release, following last year’s incredible A Glorious Monster album. The group really knows how to convey those feelings of anxiety, unease, and ambiguity, and they put that to great use on every one of their release. So, be ready for an odd, deranging, and out of the ordinary time when this album comes out, on September 2.

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Patricia Taxxon – The Best Day

The absurdly prolific musician and youtuber Patricia Taxxon recently released The Best Day, the as-of-yet latest album of hers. It’s the first time I stumble upon her work, but I’m sure to keep an ear out for upcoming ones. The Best Day is a superbly optimistic and upbeat synth pop album with an artsy touch. Nothing too flashy, but a few interesting modulations and creative choices here and there are just enough to keep my interet hooked, and complement the earworm melodies marvellously. A very nice and catchy pop album for all!

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The Side Eye – Broken Telephone (Arachnidiscs)

Broken Telephone is a recording of a free improvisation trio. The group—Michael Lynn on bass, Kayla Milmine on saxophone, and MJ Wright on drums—hops from jazz to noise in a chaotic session where the leading voice role rotates between the players, like many trains of thought racing, alternatively in front and behind one another. It’s quite an exhilarating recording that builds up quite slowly but reaches stupendous heights!

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The Fifth Alliance – The Depth of the Darkness (Burning World)

I’ve absolutely loved Death Poems, Dutch band The Fifth Alliance‘s previous release. You won’t be surprised to know, therefore, that I was pretty excited when The Depth of the Darkness was announced. You can throw away your fears and insecurities about its quality, for it is a grandiose album carrying the flame of Death Poems and gracing us with awe and fear. The band really honed their blackened doom formula, with hints of post-rock, giving us just enough melodic phrases to stick in our heads before diving into murky tremolo pickings and blast beats and screams. It comes out on August 30, be ready!

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Širom – Svet, ki speče konju cvet / A Universe that Roasts Blossoms for a Horse (Glitterbeat)

Širom is a Slovenian trio playing forward-thinking folk music; retro-futuristic, in a way. Svet, ki speče konju cvet, or A Universe that Roasts Blossoms for a Horse is their latest album, and it’s definitely one of their strongest! The trio plays too many instruments to name here—you can read the full list on their Bandcamp page—but, judging by their artist photo, their main ones are violin, banjo, and ikitelia, which I assume is the xylophone-looking thing in front of Samo. The tracks on the album mostly stem from improvisation sessions, which then coalesce into concrete entities with inspirations as wide as post-rock, classical, jazz, and folk. Each track is a journey in itself, and you need to experience it to know what it feels like.

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Shards – Find Source (Erased Tapes)

Beauty sometimes comes from the unlikeliest of marriages. Enter the debut album of London-based vocal ensemble Shards: Find Sound. Their vision takes the shape of choir music amorously intertwined with electronic music and synthwave. Choirwave, perhaps? The staple track off this record might be the second one. “Summer Sickness” has all the nostalgia and longing it can muster in its dissonant intervals, so poignantly used it’s truly heart-wrenching. The song starts with arpeggiated chords on synth, and a lush, vibrant polyphony of voices, later joined by some percussion and bass. All this song needs now is a darkwave remix with industrial drums and staccato bass for a dystopian twist on it! The rest of the album is much more abstract, though. It mostly stays instrumental—using the voice ensemble as an instrument, without lyrics, safe for the last song—and goes from contemplative to contrapuntal, but, all throughout, the use of electronics and voice is a match made in heaven, and it’s an album everyone must listen.

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Fire-Toolz – Field Whispers (into the Crystal Palace) (Orange Milk)

The famed vaporwave-meets-metal entity Fire-Toolz makes a strong comeback on Field Whispers. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the albums after Drip Mental—see my review of Interbeing—I’m glad to say that this one lives up to the good ol’ days, and even surpasses them! Field Whispers bursts with creative use of eighties-inspired and metal-adjacent musics, playing with tropes of both styles to great effect, and mixing them like one does different paint colours. The strongest point for me is “She Was Me, My Name Was Surrounded”, which is a bit less out-there in terms of musical extravagance, but it’s such a good pop(-ish) anthem I can’t help but go back to it. The rest of the album varies from reverential to exploratory, and both aspects are tastefully executed.

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Wrvth – No Rising Sun (Unique Leader)

California-based Wrvth used to play technical death metal and deathcore, but this seems to have changed on No Rising Sun. I’m not here to complain, though. Their move towards a more blackened sound with big post-hardcore influences, while still keeping a strong sense of progressive death metal, makes for an album that I greatly appreciate. They sound a bit like Rorcal and Comity, Der Weg einer Freiheit and other similar artists. It’s a beautiful, angry, contemplative, and atmospheric journey.

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The Big Yes! – The Big Yes! (Nakama)

The Big Yes! is a free jazz quartet that involves known bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen as well as Anna Högberg on saxophone, Maria Bertel on trombone, and Ole Mofjell on drums, all of whom prove to be outstanding musicians and improvisers. The sole track of the record is the thirty-minute “Kalmar Union”, which is a live session from 2018. It’s a delightful one at that.

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John Zorn – Encomia (Tzadik)

Label page

You know the drill, by now… Zorn releases a new album, I buy it, I urge you to do the same and listen to it. It’s just a mandatory step in the process. Encomia is a collection of piano pieces including three preludes inspired by Debussy, Ravel, Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, and Vaslav Nijinsky and five short pieces for piano, under the name “Encomia”, also inspired by many figures. The album ends with “Die Traumdeutung”, where the piano plays alongside the violin in a magnificent Sigmund Freud-inspired piece.

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Jessica Ackerley – A New Kind of Water

Canada-born, New York-based guitarist Jessica Ackerley has a harmonic language and playing style all her own. That much is evident on her new jazz album for quartet, A New Kind of Water—which sounds like the slogan for “energized” bottled water or something like that—and upcoming noise rock album with Essi. Building on her previous work, Coalesce, Ackerley offers a set of alternatively challenging and rewarding compositions, with a refined contemporary sound. Over the course of the album, Ackerley easily displays a broad range of inspirations, ideas, and proficiency, which makes for a brilliant album on repeated listens.

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Tjalling – A Self-Repressed Lie (Sky Lantern)

If you like long, multipartite suites, experimental rock, hardcore, and shoegaze, you’d have a hard time not finding something you like about Tjalling‘s latest record. Made up of a single title track over thirty minutes long, A Self-Repressed Lie is an incredible journey reaching highs and lows, repeating themes and building on them, and climaxing in a totally brutal manner. It’s an awesome track to listen to, and a de facto awesome album!

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Collector – Post Rock Lately (Scribbled Fang)

Collector is a trio formed of Jakob Heinemann, Devin Drobka, and Matt Blair; all known names and accomplished musicians. Contrary to what you might believe, Post Rock Lately is a jazz album: an experimental collection of two improvisations with influences ranging from electronic music to noise to drone and free jazz. The result is a baffling set, almost an hour long, with “Swing Tune 1” (not a swing tune, 44 minutes long) and the eponymous track (not post-rock, 12 minutes long). It’s really an amazing album to listen to and just follow the trio on their whimsical peregrinations.

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U Circle Breakers – Música para un pez descalzo (Puerto)

Ernesto Aurignac’s U Circle Breakers ensemble is a big deal. Seventeen members playing a fusion of classical, progressive rock, and jazz! Música para un pez descalzo sometimes sounds like it’s a soundtrack, but most of the times it’s a fun symphonic suite. It is anchored in classical music, but sometimes has a nice little touch of jazz or symphonic rock to it that just adds a little bit more flavour. If you want a fun new classical piece, this could be right up your alley!

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Ben Hedquist – The Mists of Uncertainty

Polyrhythmic and filled with odd times and a complex harmolodic language, Ben Hedquist‘s debut album shows great promise for the Phoenix, Arizona bassist and composer. The project takes shape in the form of a quintet with two guitars that complement each other marvellously, backed by Ben’s double bass and Andrew Flores on drums, and fronted by Chaz Martineau on saxophone. The album has quite a lot of diversity to it, so some compositions are quite aggressive and dizzying (“Hammerhead”), while others are more subtle and emotive (“The Mists of Uncertainty”). An amazing album for the contemporary jazz fan!

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On January 18 2020, this entry was posted.
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