Anomalia – Anomalia (Multikulti)
Anomalia is a septet from Poland playing their very own, dark, atmospheric fusion jazz. Each composition is quite fascinating in its own right, thanks to the chemistry between everyone involved and the sense of purpose of the composers and improvisers. Anomalia is a great collection of pensive pieces!
Lent – Croix-bâtons (Tricollectif)
Spawn of another amazing French collective—Tricollectif—Lent is an incredibly strange band melting post-rock, experimental jazz, and spoken word into an unlikely alloy. It’s heavy, contemplative, jarring, and melancholic; it’s unique and disturbing. Be sure to take the time to appreciate its off-beat beauty.
Listo listo listo – Listo listo listo (TVL)
Listo listo listo is a quartet of outstanding improvising musicians with no other than Chris Pitsiokos on saxophone (whom we previously mentioned)! This self-titled, spontaneous debut on TVL records is a glorious collection of free forms. Definitely worth the look!
Wonderbach – Lumière, Eau et Minéraux (Collectif Coax)
Wonderbach, it’s a new classico-jazz improvisation quartet from the amazing Coax collective. On Lumière, Eau et Minéraux, the four musicians take adventurous paths to music creation. And the adventurous path is the path I like. The album is wildly varied and never fails to grab your attention. It’s a marvellous piece of art!
Sec – L’Aventure complète de George Gallamus
French and their avant-prog… I seriously would not be able to name all such projects hailing from this country! Sec is only the most recent one, and it’s awesome! L’Aventure complète de George Gallamus—which also goes by the name of Les Aventures apocryphes de George Gallamus—is a collection of nine songs making up seventy minutes of nonsensical and eclectic prog. Stating musical influences like Lightning Bolt, Chostakovitch, Stupeflip, Chromb!, and No Means No, Sec covers a wide palette of styles and executes them all exquisitely (from the point of view of avant-garde prog, obviously!)
Doctor Nerve – Loud
Doctor Nerve is a nonet. You probably first imagine a nonet playing lush jazz ensemble music, but Doctor Nerve instead channels that energy into making harsh experimental jazz-metal (which is all for the better!) The six tracks on Loud are, indeed, loud, but also intensely rhythmic and creative with their orchestration, harmonization, and the way they’re generally written out. It’s unfortunately pretty short, at under twenty minutes, but it’s definitely a good time while it lasts!
武士 (Bushi) – The Flawless Avenger (Infinity Entertainment)
Italian progressive rock quartet 武士 (Bushi) just released a new album. The Japan culture-fascinated band follows the book of the samurai, the 葉隱 (Hagakure), as inspiration for its music. On The Flawless Avenger, Bushi used a few uncommon techniques that add a layer of depth and mysticism to their music. First, all the lyrics on the album are haiku based on chapters of the aforementioned Hagakure. Since haiku are very short poems, they are repeated many times over the course of a song, which makes for a nice motif-like theme. Second, the guitar is played in an all-G tuning; yup! all strings are G strings. This undoubtedly creates an interesting limitation when it comes to playing, and indeed it ends up rather interestingly, when you pay some attention to the riffs, chords, and voicings that are possible. Finally, it’s a really good album, filled with ear hooks and banger riffs.
Masaa – Irade (Traumton)
Masaa is a German quartet fusing Eastern and Western music traditions into a beautiful, esoteric, transcendental unity. Irade at times borrows the sounds of Iberia, the Maghreb, the Caucasus, and many more, but nevertheless, as a whole, it sounds coherent and uniquely magnificent. That’s an album to make you voyage!
Phonon – Alloy (Zoar Music)
What a lineup this is: Weasel Walter on drums, Colin Marston on bass, and Elliott Sharp and Álvaro Domene on guitars! It could hardly be a better match! With the Phonon project, the four madlads play hectic, dissonant metal improvisations. Alloy is the result: nine tracks for over an hour of maddening material. It’s such a ridiculously good and terrifying album it’s hard to believe it even exists!
Floral – Floral
Everybody’s favourite math rock band is back with yet another eponymous release! Floral, the long play, features just over thirty minutes of new material from California’s tap rock sensation. Fans of the band will rejoice to see that the formula has gone unchanged. Enter for emotions and tappy licks!
Çub – Ouais (Vox Project)
Electro-math rock has seldom been as successful a blend as when French band Çub is behind the wheel. After their debut, Musique actuelle, the Ça side-project is back with a new dub rock EP: Ouais. Once again, the experimental quartet embraces the odd metres of math rock and recontextualizes them into polyrhythmic EDM. It’s truly a fantastic thing to behold.
Psalm Zero – Sparta (Last Things)
Charlie Looker’s Psalm Zero project is releasing Sparta on February 24. I’ve had the chance to listen to it, and I have only good things to write about it! The album revolves around some pretty interesting concepts, both musical and lyrical, and the accompanying riffs are solid and often quite striking, especially with the occasional keyboard layers. Here, “The Last Faith” is one of the slowest and more straightforward pieces on the album, but expect others to be quite different!
ႢႨႭႰႢႨ ႫႨႵႠႻႤ (Giorgi Mikadze) – ႵႠႰႧႳႪႨ ႫႨႩႰႳႿႤႫႨ (Kartuli mik’rujemi) / Georgian Microjamz (Rare Noise)
You read that right: Georgian Microjamz is exactly what you think it is! Giorgi Mikadze, the keyboard player in 2017’s album of the century, Mikrojazz!, is back with boundaries-breaking new music. ႵႠႰႧႳႪႨ ႫႨႩႰႳႿႤႫႨ (Kartuli mik’rujemi) / Georgian Microjamz is a fusion of avant-garde jazz and traditional Georgian music. The fact that all of this album is designed and performed using xenharmonic theory is just mind-boggling. The various temperaments exploited on there are not just a gimmick, but truly serve the compositions. Thanks to guitarist David Fiucziyski and bassist Παναγιώτης Ανδρέου (Panagiṓtēs Andréou), who break no sweat burning through these unconventional tunings, the band is complete with masters of the craft. The album comes out on February 28, be sure to grab it, and be ready to see it on the year’s end list!
Kilter – Axiom (Alter-Nativ)
Jazz and metal have been fused together more than once, and in many forms, but such a fusion is always something to highlight. With Axiom, the Kilter trio releases its debut album and, with it, their vision to the world. Their approach stems more from the slower, heavier brands of metal, such as sludge and post-metal, but add typically jazz stereotypes, including a full-time saxophonist, spicy chords, and some free-form play. It’s a really fun album!