Monthly Recommendations: May 2020

Errata – Many People Are Unenthusiastic about Your Work (Gilded)

Errata is the experimental jazz trio of guitarist Ishmael Ali, bassist Eli Namay, and percussionist Bill Harris. Many People Are Unenthusiastic about Your Work is the group’s debut album, out on Gilded Records, and it shows the incredible proficiency of each musician, composer, and improviser of the band. Indeed, the songs range from composition to improvisation, and it’s not always easy to tell which is which, which is always a great sign of success in my opinion. The album is a bewildering and fascinating listen of noisy, heavy, chaotic jazz.

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Brendan Byrnes – Realism (Split-Notes)

Brendan Byrnes is back, everyone! Rejoice! Realism is Brendan’s fourth microtonal album, and it’s in a similar synth-pop vein as its predecessor, Neutral Paradise. Brendan’s and label Split-Notes’s aim to produce wide-appeal microtonal music is strong and clear on this record, where great care is put into making the uninitiated comfortable. Whether or not you have a history with microtonal music, this is an album all must listen.

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Dumb Waiter – Tsk

Virginia-based jazz-meets-math rock quartet Dumb Waiter provides us with the successor to the amazing Heck EP. What to ask, except for more? The band has long perfected their style, their personality, so Tsk is really just them sharpening their edge, giving us the best they can be. And for that alone, you should hop in to find odd themes in weird rhythms, and have a lot of fun on the way!

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Moses Sumney – Græ (Jagjaguwar)

Moses Sumney just released an album that’s almost impossible to pin down on a genre Venn diagram. Græ is soul, jazz, rock, progressive… A simple genre tag hardly suffices. The album plays in two parts, the first of which is quite rhythmic and has a bit of a funk vibe, whereas the latter is more relaxed, atmospheric, and acoustic, and plays more like a singer-songwriter set, although filled with the same level of creativity and genre hybridization. Utter beauty.

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Muga – Chants de femmes des Asturies (Pagans)

Muga is an experimental folk trio from Asturias, a region in the northwest of Spain, and they’ve just released an album on the amazing label Pagans. Their brand of creation seems to reside in droning, minimalist folk, which gives way to plenty of remarkable and memorable moments all throughout the forty-five-minute record. There is a lot of interplay between the violin and voice, under which the guitar provides a harmonic background and context, and simple percussion keeps the beat. Be sure to check out Chants de femmes des Asturies!

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Shadow in the Darkness – Erstwhile Befell

I rarely have the chance to stumble upon such a fantastic and impressive technical death metal band nowadays. It seems to me that the scene has much more followers than previously, and most of the times upcoming albums, even of small independent bands, are hyped up months in advance in the community. So let me introduce you to Greece’s Shadow in the Darkness. Erstwhile Befell is the band’s debut album, and it’s an absolute banger! Jump right in for insanely fast riffs, great vocals, and manic drums, all on the quality level you’d expect from any album published by an established label. It’s an incredible obscure gem!

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Fast-Fast – New Color Bomb

Fast-Fast—stylized as FAST-fast—is the project of microtonal composer James Mulvale. As such, New Color Bomb is an entirely microtonal album showing a healthy variety of styles and genres, from the industrial retro-synthwave found on “Plans”, to the breakcore of “Atomica”, but everything remains within the extended realm of pop and electronic music in some way. The album is absolutely brilliant and is a remarkable quality product. The songs are catchy and weird and, truly, amazing! So be sure to hop on it!

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ᚪᚱᛊᛏᛁᛞᛁᚱ᛬ᛚᛁᚠᛊᛁᚾᛊ (Árstíðir lífsins) – Saga á tveim tungum Ⅱ : Eigi fjǫll né firðir

The second chapter of Icelandic folk-laden atmospheric black metal entity ᚪᚱᛊᛏᛁᛞᛁᚱ᛬ᛚᛁᚠᛊᛁᚾᛊ (Árstíðir lífsins)‘s Saga á tveim tungum, entitled Eigi fjǫll né firðir, has finally arrived! The first chapter, Vápn ok viðr, was released only in April 2019, but it seems an eternity ago! The two albums depict the events of Norway in the years 995 to 1030 as king and saint Óláfr Haraldsson vies for power from the point of view of two siblings, each with a unique experience. The two chapters of Saga á tveim tungum hop between folkloric passages, to atmospheric acoustic parts, to evocative bouts of black metal. Each part is around seventy minutes long, adding up to a total of about two hours and a half of incredible Nordic black metal. An unavoidable journey for any black metal fan.

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चेपाङ्ग (Cēpāṅga) / Chepang – भुईचालो (Bhu’īcālō) / चट्ट (Caṭṭa) / Chatta! (Nerve Altar)

Nepalese experimental deathgrind unit Chepang—in their native script चेपाङ्ग (Cēpāṅga), which refers to the indigenous ethnic group of central Nepal—just released the follow-up to their widely acclaimed 2017 opus डढेलो (Ḍaḍhēlō) / Dadhelo: A Tale of Wildfire, and it is quite an achievement! भुईचालो (Bhu’īcālō) / चट्ट (Caṭṭa) / Chatta!—hereafter Chatta—is a masterclass in efficient modern grindcore. The twenty-eight minute assault includes impressive guests such as Colin Marston and Mette Rasmussen to name but these two. Chatta an incredible and relentlessly brutal album that you ought to listen to at full volume.

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Michael Hersch – I Hope We Get a Chance to Visit Soon (New Focus)

Michael Hersch is a seasoned composer, and not a new name to the outstanding New Focus Recordings label. Indeed, his 2019 album Carrion-Miles to Purgatory was an equally outstanding release. This year, I Hope We Get a Chance to Visit Soon, in sixteen parts, explores the loss of a close friend of Hersch’s to cancer. As you can imagine, this is not a light-hearted record, and consequently it’s rather difficult to listen to some parts of it. In large parts, this is due to the tense and oppressive musical texture, but the high points really are when the jarring spoken word passages are delivered unevenly, unequally, surprising and unpredictable. A fantastic and harrowing release.

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Monoglot – Make (Hout)

German noise-jazz quintet Monoglot are preparing the release of their third album, Make. With a forty-minute runtime and nine tracks, Make knows how to invent and reinvent itself, which is endlessly rewarding. The band has truly mastered the fine line between jazz and rock—in their own way, not just like any jazz fusion project—paying homage at the same time to many inspiring artists, like saxophonist Colin Stetson it seems to me. Be ready for Make, out on May 22.

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Taylor Batory Project – Space-Like

Taylor Batory is a multi-instrumentalist and composer from Michigan who has already released the amazing album The Salty Sardine under the moniker of The Majestic Sailors. Now under the more down-to-Earth name TB Project, Taylor just released a progressive rock concept EP detailing, in a sort of metaphorical manner, his time at Wayne State University. As such, the album goes through the colourful lens of prog and the result is a very palatable new prog release!

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Serpents of Pakhanhba – Serpents of Pakhangba

Serpents of Pakhangba is the latest project of multi-instrumentalist and composer Vishal J Singh, of Amogh Symphony fame. This new quartet errs into the sounds of avant-prog, noise rock, and free jazz, and the coalescing result of this bizarre amalgamation is truly more than the sum of its parts. The album comes out late May!

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Waveteller – Waveteller

There’s not much going around on the Internet for the Waveteller project, I could only find this short live excerpt, so let me give you some information. Waveteller is the project of Australian bassist Michael Mear, where he is joined by pianist Casey Golden—who is a known and respected name to me already—and drummer Ed Rodrigues. Their debut album, the self-titled Waveteller, focuses on musical interplay between the instruments of the trio and relies heavily on multiple rhythmic concepts such as the elasticity of time (sounds familiar?). So, hopefully there will be a Bandcamp page for this project once it’s released, on May 29th. For now, you can only trust my word that it’s a great album!

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On June 1 2020, this entry was posted.
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