John Zorn, played by Brian Marsella, Jorge Roeder, and Ches Smith – Suite for Piano (Tzadik)
Official Tzadik website
You have to believe me when it comes to Zorn material, as there’s no official preview of most of his music to be found online. However, Suite for Piano, despite its rather boring title and appearance, is one of his best works recently. First off, this release was inspired by Schönberg and Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and is Zorn’s take on various musical forms for piano—the prelude, the allemande, the scherzo, the menuet, and the gigue to name a few—played by Brian Marsella, one of the most impressive contemporary pianists. Joining him are Jorge Roeder and Ches Smith, who previously played bass and drums together on Heaven and Earth Magick, one of the best Zorn album of 2021. This all culminates in a creative, inventive album of contemporary piano music bordering on jazzcore at times. Stellar!
Levi Nice – Utilitarian Art (Counter Clockwise)
Being the debut album of Levi Nice, I had no preconceived notions of what to expect, except what the promo release mentioned: “harsh post rock noise and thumping electronic drums.” So, yeah, if you’re thinking Cassels, Black Midi, or Black Country, New Road, you’re not far off. What surprised me, however, is the breadth of the album. You get your off-kilter noise rock, yes, but some tracks are more in the vein of Neutral Milk Hotel, and even Sufjan Stevens (with a different voice). Another thing also is the electronic drums part; yes, the album has no acoustic drums on it, which is a departure from the genre’s traditions, and confers to the music a more surreal aspect. Levi plays into this and even goes into semi-IDM territory in some places, which sounds fresh. If you can’t get enough new noise rock, you should definitely take a listen to this one.
Atte Aho – Atte Aho (Eclipse)
Wake up, nu prog nerds! A new God’s in town! Finnish guitarist Atte Aho, previously unknown to many out here I presume, just released his self-titled debut album. And it’s not a mere sampler! Instead, it’s fifty minutes of stellar guitar-focused jazz-rock fusion with incredible production values. If you remember Impact Fuze, there are moments that sound pretty much exactly like this in here. Atte’s energy is definitely more on the upbeat side of things though, with Anomalieesque beats found throughout the album. A brilliant newcomer to the genre, and I’d bet that’s not the last we hear from him!
417.3 – 40
Behind the name 417.3 hides a well-oiled machine. This Russian post-rock band has been at it for over ten years, and yet it’s only with their fourth album that I am acquainted. 40 is what I’d call very standard post-rock. It’s nothing out of the ordinary and there’s not much to defy the laws of tradition, but what’s on record is just very solid post-rock and shoegaze music.