Switzerland’s Eclecta is an art pop/jazz duo comprising Marena Whitcher (of her famed Shady Midnight Orchestra) and Andrina Bollinger. A Symmetry was released earlier this year and unfortunately slipped under my attention, but it’s a very enjoyable album! Although not as out there as Marena’s avant-jazz ensemble, Eclecta brings to the table intellectual and thoroughly pleasing jazzy pop tunes that are minimalistic yet harmonically full and complex. These songs are sure to be stuck in your head, and you’ll love every bit of it.
Levels is an American progressive metalcore/deathcore band, and Exist, their debut EP, came out in May. It’s difficult to sound different when the whole genre is based upon writing breakdowns, but this band manages it by including frequent tempo modulations and a few more atmospheric passages. So, if you’re looking for a fresh new heavy metalcore jam that does things differently, but not too much, this might be for you.
Deutschland’s Caynug is a one-man project using mostly bass in lieu of guitar. Miasma just came out, along with its instrumental version, and it’s an improvement over most of the project’s earlier iterations. First off, the production is really there, now, and the songs seem better constructed, for the most part. However, some of the lyrics and vocals are quite tedious, and some of that is due to the Deutsch accent of the singer, unfortunately. It’s a decent album, but I don’t see myself going back to it.
Healthy dates back to 2014, but Trichotomy‘s upcoming album, Known-Unknown, is due in Febrary 2017. This album is a collaboration with Topology, a chamber music quintet, adding quite a lot of presence to Trichotomy’s barer piano-drum-and-bass trio. The compositions here are beautifully written and executed, and they always move from one place to another, keeping up the interest in the listener’s mind. This is sweet and enjoyable!
Miserist‘s self-titled debut EP is coming out in February. At just around thirty minutes, it fulfills the EP format to its fullest, and the riffs on there are instrumental dissonant blackened death metal supremacy. Just listen to the streamable eponymous track, and you’ll be sold. The EP is very solid, brutal, and unsane. I recommend it.
Jorge Arana Trio‘s Mammoth is an album that somehow avoided scrutiny, this year. However, it’s definitely one of the highlights of 2016. The jazzy avant-garde rock album is rather short, at thirty minutes long, but it sounds like a middle place between Québec’s Deux pouilles en cavale and ambient jazz. The pieces here are challenging and evocative, and they are a blast to listen to. Highly recommended!
Enko is a British instrumental progressive metal band, and their self-titled debut EP came out at the start of December. The tracks seem to draw inspirations from atmospheric djent and melodic progressive metal, and that gives something quite all right in the end, although the focus seems to be on the easy-listening side. This makes for an album that’s enjoyable in small doses, if only because it doesn’t move much, and is somewhat predictable. On top of that, there’s the struggle of listening to the programmed drums, which should almost always be a last resort. It’s an okay EP, if you’re into this sort of music, that points to many places where the band could – and should – improve.
Utopianisti is a Finn one-man experimental big band project – yes, such a thing exists, apparently -, that is releasing Brutopianisti on January first. Usually more in the progressive rock and metal genres, Markus Pajakkala’s experiment now delves in the worlds of avant-garde metal and grindcore, with this album. Immense props must be given to Markus for writing and playing a thirty-minute album with drums, bass clarinet, soprano sax, xylophone, flutes, and ‘additional vocals’, with only a few guests, mostly for singing. I won’t go into too much detail here, as Dillon, who showed me this album, expressed the desire of writing a full review on it. It’s definitely one of the most interesting albums I’ve heard recently!