Monthly Recommendations: September 2020

Ghost Rhythms – Imaginary Mountains

The French jazz fusion collective Ghost Rhythms began to release their new album, Imaginary Mountains, back in April, drop by drop, and with each new song added to the release page a new adventure awaited. Now, the album was [nearly] completed on September the fourth with “Horizontal Ascension”, a ten-minute epic concept progressive jazz masterpiece. So, there are admittedly some transitions and interludes to work out before the final release date of the opus, but it’s finalized enough to consume and enjoy and marvel and fall into and discuss and become amazed.

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Corps fleur – Corps fleur

It took me a while to truly grasp UK’s Corps fleur. It was good at first, but kept getting better with each listen, so much so that I decided to include the album today. Post-black metal and blackgaze, intertwined genres that they are, exploded in the recent years—in no small part due to Deaf Heaven, despite what you might think of the band—and Corps fleur is a rather unimpressive iteration at first glance. It has no strikingly different or unique feature, it sounds more or less like any other blackgaze project, it even features my old nemesis: programmed drums… Yet, there is a lyricism, a vision, an aesthetic in this sound, a call like that of a siren’s song, beckoning me ever closer. Well, here it is, I just wish you a similar experience with the record. Enjoy!

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Grex – Everything You Said Was Wrong (Geomancy)

Grex is a project of guitarist and composer Karl Evangelista, who recently released another outstanding record on Astral Spirits. I want to talk about this one, though, out via Geomancy Records. Everything You Said Was Wrong walks the line between hip-hop and experimental rock in a truly unique fashion, often straying into jazz territory as well. Filled with noise and effect pedals, odd rhythms alongside more traditional ones, and with a general sense for unsettling themes and harmonies, the album overflows with creativity and its character is unlike anything else. A remarkable record out all the way down in September, so be patient, but the wait will be worth it!

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Leviathan Owl – Would You Kindly

The project of Andrew Scott Leviathan Owl previously garnered a lot of praise from my part, so I will be quick here because I’ll just repeat myself. Would You Kindly is the third album released under the moniker, and with each iteration comes its minor improvements. If you’re not sold already, prepare yourself for usually soft and always carefully written progressive metal that draws some inspiration from jazz harmony. The songs are full of atmosphere and hit just the right notes every time.

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R’luhh – Li

R’luhh—which sounds like a mashup of R’lyeh, R’hllor, and Cthulhu—is an avant-garde, technical black metal project from Caleb Simard, a promising young guitarist from Quebec. The succinct three-tracker goes from technical mathematical blackened death metal on “”’” to anxiety-inducing ambiance on “””, with a return to the grinding convulsions of the opener on “‘”. An insanely promising eight minutes right there! Let’s hope to hear more from that project in the future.

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Alpha du Centaure – Paralysis (Stellar Frequencies)

Alpha du Centaure is a French post-black metal band that asks the question “How post can we get away with?” I know post-black comes in a variety of forms, but this truly feels more right to call blackened post-rock, especially given the instrumental nature of the band. Over forty minutes of ethereal shoegazey post-rock sprinkled with tremolo picking and blast beats is, sometimes, just what I need. In a way, it reminds me of Australia’s Dumbsaint, with the lyricism of the melodies and the narrative character of the music. It’s a truly stellar record.

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Bathe – A Field Guide to Dead Birds

Bathe is a mathcore quartet from South Carolina, and they just released A Field Guide to Dead Birds. This is their third album and the years of the band honing their craft and perfecting their sound pays off. On the album, you’ll hear a distinct sludge metal influence to the compositions, when the band leaves math homeworks for a little while to take a swim in municipal wastewater. It’s a distinctly dirty and amazing album.

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Bave – Secret Peaks of Grief Mountain

I know I’ve never mentioned Bave before, but that’s not because of a lack of interest—oh no!—but rather a bit of laziness or forgetfulness on my part. That time is at an end, for I hereby write about the Detroit duo’s new album, Secret Peaks of Grief Mountain. The thirty-minute album is a single composition, albeit split into six tracks, about “death and dying”. The band’s self-description reads “DETROIT SUPER PROG SCARY JAZZ POWER DUO”, and they’re far from wrong! Actually, that’s pretty accurate and even though I’ll tag them more concisely as being a “math rock” band, their sound just can’t fit into that box, just like when you put too much jam in your sandwich: it all oozes out from the sides. So, with that being said, stop reading and start listening!

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Zerpents – Black Mold and Hot Springs (面向異日 [Mīnghiàng ǐ rı̍g / Future Proof])

Let’s end this extra-long edition with Taiwan-based free improvisation unit Zerpents—stylized (Z)erpents—and their incredible live recording in Taipei, Black Mold and Hot Springs. We here witness guitar, saxophone, percussion, electronics, bass, and voice being tortured for the entertainment of a little crowd. The treatment of those instruments is quite horrendous, but the more inhumane the ritual, the more pleasure is derived from it. So, feel free to enjoy the show!

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Clown Core – Van

I never gave Clown Core the full credit they deserve. When they released their hit single “Toilet”, I thought it was alright, but didn’t hear from them since. However, when they released a new single—”Van”—they also released two full EPs on Bandcamp. That’s when I realized that “Toilet” was more than a single, and how dumb I was. So, as a way to catch up for my mistake, I’m recommending Van to you all. Clown Core actually has an utterly entrancing rhythm section, backed up by “horrorcore” style synthesizers and a saxophone that’s always on point, although rarely showing off. The EP seldom hops between genres, but when it does it’s always a treat. So, treat yourselves with these two albums.

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Shrouded Serenity – The Somnambulist

“Heavy Experimental music by Bernardo Rebelo”. That what the Bandcamp description reads. And, as vague and nondescript as it may sound, it kind of gets it extremely right. I’d say it lies somewhere between the realms of black and death metal, but with a heavy dose of experimentalism and a variegated set of influences. For ease of reading, I’d probably say this belongs to “progressive death metal”, but I might also change my mind. No matter in what category this belongs, it’s a killer album that will surprise you at every corner.

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Layma Azur – Adéu

Layma Azur is the child of Spanish multi-instrumentalist Santiago Fradejas. Matt even put his album Zeii on his “Albums of the decade” list, so you know that this name is synonymous with great quality. I’ve heard many mentions of this band basically being the Spanish Kayo Dot as well, which I think does not paint an adequate picture. Yes, it’s a dark, atmospheric, progressive piece of rock, but there’s also plenty of jazz in there, and, where Kayo Dot strayed (and continues to stray) into different musical avenues, Layma Azur plows a straight path without trying to reinvent itself (too much), instead endeavouring to perfect their musical offering. Adéu is yet another step taken on the endless staircase to perfection.

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On September 30 2020, this entry was posted.
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