The low fidelity nature of Ad Christi gloriam‘s self-titled effort is the only thing detracting me from wholeheartedly recommending it. In an experiment to push new boundaries for the blackgaze genre, the band adopts a very religious, optimistic, and wholesome point of view, which is further supported by their choice of chords and lyrics. While the production at large is rough and uneven, what’s worse is the drum kit. It’s obviously from an electronic drum kit with a rather basic sound library attached to it. This is the detail that bothers me most, but if you can get behind that, Ad Christi gloriam is fascinating and promising, if they address these issues in the future.
Mortal is a hypnotic electroacoustic jazz experiment by one-man project Quicksails. The album features many layers of synthesizers or programmed electronic samples with live percussions and saxophone – among many others – in a free jazz environment. Each composition is set to reflect different moods and, as such, the whole of Mortal is as entrancing as it is emotionally involving. It’s often quite calm and soothing, but is built upon a multitude of superimposed sound layers, which results in an almost meditative experience.
Cult Play first deceives you into thinking In Search of Blood is a dungeon synth or dark ambient electronic album with its opener, ‘The Woods’, and its eerie soundscapes over ominous synth bass and all-encompassing pads, but things quickly transmutate, afterwards. The second track is where the EP truly begins, with its pumping bass and dance rhythm. Despite what you may think, this electronic dance album is very interesting musically, and keeps its aesthetics dark and occult. Each piece brings something new, whether it be frequent modulations or polyrhythmic themes, all to a square kick to which to bob, bang, or jump.
Ukandanz‘s አዎ (Awo) is something very special that you should pay close attention to. It’s not every day that we get the chance to hear from the Ethiopian music scene, and it’s even rarer to have something blow us away like this. The band fusions jazz and rock and still throws in some traditional music and a lot of distortion fuzz. The album goes from the very aggressive ‘እንዴ፡ኢየሩሳሌም።’ (Endé Iyérusalem) to the more gentle ‘ገላ፡ገላ።’ (Gela Gela), but always display that incredible amount of personality and creativity, thanks in part to their very idiosyncratic singer Asnaqé Guèbrèyès. This is a unique and memorable album from early 2016 that none of you should overlook!
Russian experimental jazz trio Бром (Brom) invites us to a hard-bop meets jazzcore session, on Рафинад (Rafinad), complete with amplified double bass, saxophone, and drums. The band’s experiments shine, from ‘Камень’ (Kamyen) to ‘Анютины Глазки’ (Anyutiny Glazki), over the course of a little more than three quarters of an hour divided into seven distinct pieces torn between compositions and improvisations. It’s certainly one of the highlights of January for experimental jazz.
What if technical death metal merged with grindcore, you ask? Seminary is here to answer that very question. Through a thick veil of experimentalism, Automnymous shines as an utterly foreign and dislikable entity. And that’s exactly why I like it so much. The songs are pretty long – for grindcore standards – and display a messy and schizophrenic personality that makes the whole sixteen minutes worth an hour. While I can hardly say the themes and ideas brought up in the songs are thoroughly developed and built upon, their relentless succession renders the classical techniques useless and antiquated. Let’s dive into this riff soup and enjoy every sip.
Joey Molinaro‘s folkcore is something that should bluntly appeal to no one: youngsters tend to move away from folkloric music while older people tend to steer clear of harsh music. Yet – and perhaps because of it -, Awash is a thundering success! The indescribable heavy influences – is it black metal? Is it mathcore? – are forced upon a minimalist folk band consisting of only violin, a screaming man, what sounds like feet stomping the ground, and occasional piano. The result is a truly horrendous but thoroughly adorable experiment that goes on for a little less than thirty minutes. It’s a standout album among the current mathcore scene, and one that will certainly make heads turn (and drop).
New York City’s Ajoyo is a big band dealing jazz in world music attire – or is it the other way around? The goal, here – in comparison to most of what is featured today -, isn’t to befuddle or repel people, but instead to celebrate, compel, and charm. And that goal is most definitely attained with Ajoyo‘s joyous, energetic, and captivating. The nonet (which becomes a dectet for ‘Sokejo’) lacks no imagination or talent for creating one of the most heartwarming jazz albums I’ve heard.