Monthly Recommendations: October 2019

Håla duett – Rana (Collectif Coax)

Håla duett is the marriage of guitarist Sheik Anorak and drummer Yann Joussein. This union leads to a stellar polyrhythmic, psychedelic noise rock band with visible krautrock and African music influences. Being an EP, it’s cruelly short, but each one of the four tracks have plenty of time to breathe, most of them being over six minutes long and exploring at length only a handful of musical ideas. In this context, I think it’s better to fully explore a few themes rather than bring in a lot of them and having too little time to dig into them. The result is an album that strongly resonates with my rhythmic sensibilities, and is rather creative and cathartic in many ways. Definitely check it out!

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Those Darn Gnomes – All Tiny Breasts Crushed beneath the Shadow (Snail Cage)

The experimental blackened grindcore act Those Darn Gnomes has made quite an impression on me with their first release, The Zodiac. I was loving it, but was put off by just how low fidelity it was. Fortunately, since then, the band has kept its avant-garde mindset and experimental tendencies while levelling up the production value. All Tiny Breasts Crushed beneath the Shadow—a sentence that Christian found out spelled in magnets on his refrigerator—is a reaction to Calling Whitetails to a Tuned Bow, which featured longer, more thoroughly written compositions. Therefore, this new album has much shorter songs in general that are less composed and more improvised. As always, it’s a pure gem of chaos and noise.

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Tower Jazz Composers Orchestra – Tower Jazz Composers Orchestra (Over Studio)

With just over a CD’s capacity of original music, Italian collective Tower‘s self-titled double album is a substantial collection of pieces by the various composers in its ranks. The fifteen tracks on the album didn’t even exhaust the supply of musicians they have; if they had all written one piece, we’d have a twenty-four-track album that would probably barely fit inside two dics. Moreover, due to the disparate nature of a composers orchestra, some compositions sound like big band jazz songs, some others like avant-garde experiments, while others still are more akin to classical music than jazz. That makes for an amazingly diverse record that nonetheless keeps a high standard of writing and performing.

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Essi – Vital Creatures (Ramp Local)

Avant-garde jazz guitarist Jessica Ackerley does not limit herself to one genre. In Essi, with drummer Rick Daniel, she explores the worlds of noise and experimental rock with a healthy dose of punk energy. Vital Creatures is a necessary addition to everyone’s library. With all its experiments in sound, timbre, harmony, and structure, it is indeed a vital listen.

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Ghost Rhythms – Live at Yoshiwara (Cuneiform)

French progressive ensemble Ghost Rhythms‘s long-awaited live album! I’ve got to say, their studio albums were highly impressive in their own rights, but this live rendition of their compositions is even more so… The project aims at playing around with rhythmic concepts, hence the name, and so it’s something that immediately appeals to me, an outed rhythmophile. This CD is filled to the brim with stellar performances and genius compositions. I mean, it’s on Cuneiform Records, so you know it’s quality, right? Moreover, I’m talking about it, so, go and do yourself a favour!

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Upperground Orchestra – Euganea (Morphine)

This Italian quartet just released a brilliant free electro-jazz full-length by the name of Euganea. Basically, it’s a free jazz trio with an additional electronics and keyboards player. This supernumerary musician really adds a whole new personality to the recording, which is at times now closer to dub music than jazz, although the latter still predominates throughout. Moreover, the bass player sometimes switches to an oud, which brings the whole thing much closer to Middle-Eastern music. All of this makes up for an interesting album that’s a lot of fun to listen to!

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Claire Rousay – T4T (No Rent)

Claire Rousay on Bandcamp
No Rent Records on Bandcamp

Claire Rousay has already been introduced on this website. Well, with T4T, the avant-garde percussionist goes further into the deconstruction of music and of the tools that make it. Is this music? Is this not music? This is the kind of questions you might be faced with, here, so be ready for that. As for me, I find it thoroughly delectable.

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Jyocho – 綺麗な三角、朝日にんげん (Kireina sankaku, asahi nin gen) / A Perfect Triangle, Rising Sun Human (No Big Deal)

Japanese math-pop act Jyocho is one I always try to keep an eye out for; indeed, it’s not always an easy task keeping up to date with Japanese artists! Fortunately, the band has just put out 綺麗な三角、朝日にんげん (Kireina sankaku, asahi nin gen)—English title: A Perfect Triangle, Rising Sun Human—a relatively short EP bursting with creativity and awesomeness. The odd group features most prominently だいじろー (Daijirō) of 宇宙コンビニ (Uchū konbini) fame, but also a full-time flute player, which really adds to the band’s sound to create something rather unique. This new EP is really enjoyable, like all of Jyocho’s output, really, so don’t wait and get on it!

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Fleshworld – The Essence Has Changed, but the Details Remain (This Charming Man)

I’ve already praised this album for its striking album art, as soon as it was announced. Now, I can also praise it for its music. Fleshworld is a Polish blackened post-hardcore group with noise and sludge elements, and the band is at the top of the art on The Essence Has Changed, but the Details Remain. The album is very methodical and purposeful; the compositions use that post-rock swelling and crescendo to great effect, and, with the addition of the band’s blackened and sludge influences, coalesce into an even more appealing whole. All of this makes for a stellar album.

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Perséide – Parmi les arbres

Perséide is a progressive rock band leaning heavily into the older iterations of the genre—classic prog, proto-prog—as can be heard on Parmi les arbres, the band’s most recent output. Through its seven tracks, Parmi les arbres brings you to some folkish tunes, some more indie pop-like, and others definitely prog. At times slow and elegiac, at times upbeat and naïve, Perséide shines.

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Valse fréquence – Ci-haut, Ci-bas

Montréal indie post-rock band Valse fréquence just released the Ci-haut, Ci-bas EP, a lyrical record filled with melancholic songs in lush atmospheres, all sung in the band’s native French. Valse fréquence crafted here five compositions in the vein of indie rock, but with all of the sadness and romanticism of post-rock. Ci-haut, Ci-bas is a beautiful EP with hauntingly memorable melodies.
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Yazz Ahmed – Polyhymnia (Ropeadope)

British-Bahraini trumpeter and composer Yazz Ahmed is back with a new album of psychedelic jazz heavily tinged with Arabic music. Polyhymnia was inspired by the Muse of the same name while writing for the Women of the World Festival. As usual for Yazz, it’s a great album with diverse compositions; some leaning more toward her Arabic background, others presenting a more straight-up jazz attitude, still others exploring that psychedelic, progressive aspect of hers. A thoroughly beautiful album that’s worth many listens.

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Club Sieste – Club Sieste (Collectif Coax)

France again… Club Sieste is an experimental noise jazz group of improvisers. If you’re not intellectually salivating from this brief description, this might not be for you. The thirty-minute recording features the musicians at their peak on their respective instruments: saxophone, bass, vibraphone, guitars, drums, and electronics. Yes, it’s noisy; yes, it’s abrasive, and it’s all that I love! Give yourself the pleasure of listening to this beast!

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Harri Sjöström – The Balderin Sali Variations (Leo)

Free improvisation can take so many many forms. Here’s a collection of improvised sessions at the Soundscapes Concerts Series in Berlin, involving saxophonist Harri Sjöström. It’s pretty much impossible to compress all that this album covers inside a mere few lines of text, but feel free to listen to a handful of excerpts on Bandcamp and enjoy the creativity, spontaneity, and synergy of it all!

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Thou Sonic Friend – Cinemateria (Barefoot)

Thou Sonic Friend is an experimental trio making improvised and avant-garde music from Copenhagen. Their new album, Cinemateria, on Barefoot Records, is their latest collection of such works, clocking in at almost fifty minutes. The spontaneous compositions on the album are very colourful and diverse, and I’ve had a really good time listening to this one!

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Clément Janinet – Danse ? (Gigantonium)

The latest collection of works by violinist and composer Clément Janinet is here, under the title Danse ? The thirteen tracks on record take inspiration from various dances and twist them apart until they metaphorically break. The album is a marvellous modern jazz album with a huge folk music aspect to it. Definitely recommended.

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Eartheater – Trinity (Chemical X)

At this point, Eartheater is a staple of good, forward-thinking synth pop. Her new album is made of multiple compositions with each their own sound and vibe. I especially like the use of electronics and pitch-shifted percussion throughout. The generally melancholic songs are a real kick for when you want quality underground pop music.

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Oiseaux-tempête – From Somewhere Invisible (Sub rosa)

Experimental post-rock band Oiseaux-tempête just released their newest deranging output. From Somewhere Invisible sounds a bit like Enablers, a noisier Swans, a more atmospheric Psychic Graveyard, or a less electronic Wreck and Reference. The thing is that they create atmospheric compositions with a lot of instrument effects and spoken word narration. Their 2018 album طرب (Tarab) marked me enough to write it in my “Best Of” post, and From Somewhere Invisible certainly continues on this tangent.

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Tachycardie – Probables (Un je-ne-sais-quoi)

Un je-ne-sais-quoi is a new label I’m now fond of. Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy’s Tachycardie project, with the Probables album, just created something absolutely mind-blowing. The record showcases four compositions of contemporary music, unclassifiable between classical, jazz, and world music. “Mille fois bonjour depuis le Vignemalle” is highly rhythmic and percussive, “Aunir, Forcer” is both more minimalist and maximalist, unifying lowercase elements with aural destruction, “Vesprir” is the quiet one of the bunch, focusing on amplified sounds, and “Tarir” is the noisy closer that merges all that has been attempted prior into a big beautiful mess. It’s one hell of a ride, this album, and I can’t recommend it enough!

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Ensemble Iléa – Post. Variations (Cuchabata)

The Iléa ensemble—an anagram stemming from “improvisation libre électro-acoustique“, or “free electro-acoustic improvisation”—just released a new album, and it pushes the creation of sounds to new levels. I think that my favourite moment on the album is actually the introduction: it’s short, but it blends electronic and acoustic sounds so perfectly that it concisely gives away all that Iléa stands for. Of course, the rest of the album—thirty-something minutes—continues to explore, but in a more long-form format. Their blend of classical timbres with electronic effects is one of their defining features, and it’s an awesome thing to experience.

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Black Pantone – Ni d’Eve ni d’Adam

Yet another crazy good jazz fusion project from France, Black Pantone just released an hour-long collection of compositions, which range from classical-influenced to experimental jazz, by way of fusion. Ni d’Eve ni d’Adam is lush and varied, and each track has something to bring for itself. It’s a very nice, little-known album.

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On October 31 2019, this entry was posted.
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