서수진 [Seo Sujin / Soojin Suh] Coloris Trio – Colorist
서수진—hereafter Soojin Suh—is a Korean jazz drummer and composer and her Coloris trio is the realization of modern jazz with a uniquely Korean approach. With the help of bassist 김영후 (Young Hoo Kim) and pianist 강재훈 (Jae Hun Kang), Soojin Suh crafts beautiful melodies and arrangements that leave room for improvisation and feeling. Colorist is a beautiful album with unique colours.
Quinsin Nachoff – Pivotal Arc (Whirlwind)
Pivotal Arc sees the release of three of composer and saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff‘s compositions: a violin concerto in three movements, a string quartet in four, and the title track. On this album, contemporary classical and avant-garde jazz meet and interbreed into a powerful combination of the best of both worlds.
Sam Weinberg, Nicola L Hein, and Jason Nazary – Nihilartikels
The improvisations of saxophonist Sam Weinberg don’t need to be proven. Here, accompanied by guitarist Nicola L Hein and drummer Jason Nazary, the trio accomplishes some of the most restless and hectic improvisations out there. Nihilartikels—or Nihilartikles, depending on where you look—consists of three improvisations, recorded last July, that add up to just under fifty minutes of material. It’s wild.
Temple Mist – Ye Invocatioun of Hys Kynge
Just like a haunting soundtrack, Ye Invocatioun of Hys Kynge leaves you battered and confused. For this record, the mysterious entity Temple Mist improvised eerie soundscapes outside the realms of conventional harmony, even throwing away core concepts such as tempo out the window. The result is a thirty-five minute album that makes you question everything, and made people who overheard it playing at my place very uncomfortable.
Jacob Collier – Djesse, Volume 3 (Decca (UMO))
ⅩⅪ century musical genius Jacob Collier is back with the third instalment of his Djesse suite. On Volume 3, Jacob explores contemporary, so-called urban, music—whereas 1 was a foray in jazz fusion, and 2 had stronger folk music vibes—with pop, R&B, rap, and funk heavily represented. In this new turn of events, there are a lot of influences crisscrossed all throughout each composition, which usually have unusual song structures, which often include very short passages of other genres, making them almost seem like a musical collage or mosaic (listen to “In My Bones” for a good example of what I’m talking about here). The result is an engrossing and utterly venomous record that will get stuck in your head for a while.
Titan to Tachyons – Cactides (Nefarious Industries)
It’s no debate, Titan to Tachyons is an underground supergroup. Consisting of guitarist Sally Gates (Orbweaver, Gigan), bassist Matt Hollenberg (Cleric, John Zorn, Infinien), and drummer Kenny Grohowski (Imperial Triumphant, John Zorn, Secret Chiefs 3, Thoren), Titan to Tachyons aims to position itself as a new player in the avant-garde metal scene. With Cactides, I must admit that that goal is easily attained. Thoroughly out of the ordinary, bewildering, and discombobulating, the band’s debut cements their worth and relevance amidst giants.
Hinterlandt – Seven Tales (Art as Catharsis)
Hinterlandt is nothing new to you, avid reader. I have indeed written about their amazing album Sollbruchstelle, and subsequently mentioned the group’s releases in my weekly release dumps. The Sydney “progressive indie chamber” quintet recently came out with Seven Tales, an amazing, beautifully diverse and vividly eloquent album. The seven compositions move you though diverse scenes—vast landscapes or crammed rooms—with brilliant compositions and flawless execution.
Horse Torso – Mikropianist
Don’t be fooled (like I was), you won’t find any microtonality, nor any pianist herein! Instead, you’ll perhaps be willing to enjoy some thoroughly funky, noisy math rock? Horse Torso is a band straight from Brooklyn, playing weird tunes from, well, at least 2016. You’ll find all sorts of rhythmical puzzles and quizzical harmonic progressions; just the sort of thing I adore in music! So, I wasn’t too disappointed for the loss of my idealized microtonal pianist (but I was!), and was very glad to have found a poorly photoshopped pianist playing in a spoon like it was a fancy restaurant or something, because this image is on the cover of an amazing experimental math rock album.
Orchestre national de jazz – Rituels (ONJ)
I jokingly referred to the album as “jazzeuhl” on our inside group, but there is definitely some truth to that. The Orchestre national de jazz from Paris, France—not the Texas one—regroups some of the country’s best jazz musicians and composers. They usually play the relatively standard repertoire of jazz, or pieces rather like it, but since 2018 the orchestra is under the direction of Frédéric Maurin, renowned for his eccentric and ambitious projects. Thus, in 2020, we find ourselves with a double release from the ONJ: the aforementioned Rituels, and the more standardly typical Dancing in Your Head(s) (which we won’t discuss). Rituels is a massive and quasi-hallucinogenic ninety-minute auditory experience reminding one of many of Zeuhl’s unique traits as a genre, as well as some exploratory classical composers like Чайко́вский (Tchaikovski) and Gershwin. It’s a rapturous ritual, best gone through in one sitting, basking in it, letting it flow through you and alter you completely. One of the year’s best albums.
Seven Chains – Thus She Speaks, the Spiraling Maranatha (Conclave of the Bloodless Dawn)
Avant-garde and atmospheric, Seven Chains‘s black metal wears many hats, and they suit perfectly! Thus She Speaks, the Spiraling Maranatha is, other than a mouthful, the band’s second album after a rest of four years and a growth of two members. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how it compares to the debut, since I just found out about the band via a delightful recommendation in our Facebook group (you know who you are, thank you!) I just know that I utterly love what I’m hearing now. Incongruent and dissonant one one hand, ethereal and enveloping on the other… It’s a unique blend of sounds that you should listen.
Տիգրան Համասյան [Tigran Hamasyan] – The Call Within (Nonesuch)
Ah, Tigran! The Armenian pianist seems to have nailed down the formula to get metalheads into jazz, or, at least, into his own jazz. Tigran Hamasyan—Տիգրան Համասյան in Armenian—is renowned for his rhythmical idiosyncrasies, which might be one of the reasons why metalheads—more precisely djentheads—are into his compositions. Indeed, djent has a strong backbone of complex rhythm, unlike most other musical genres, jazz at large included! Well, as usual, the name Tigran Hamasyan is a guarantee of quality. So, don’t overthink it, just listen and enjoy!
John Elmquist’s Hard Art Groop – I Own an Ion
As I’m writing this, the album just came out. I haven’t even fully listened to it yet, but I know I have to recommend it. First: history. I loved Expeditionary Twitch, the groop‘s 2017 release. Second: the preview. I played the second track from the album and it blew my socks off! Of course, by then, I’ve sampled more tracks, randomly jumping back and forth to get a sense of the breadth of the album, and yeah; it’s quite breadthful. Overall, it sounds like a jazz fusion album with a certain taste for progressive metal, but the influences only start piling from here! You’re on your own, go in and have fun!