Rhizone – Metropolis, or, In Search of the Black Water, Act Ⅰ: Timelines
To fully subjugate yourselves into the story Rhizone has created for their musical theatre Metropolis, or In Search of the Black Water, you’ll have to read the script, available with a purchase of the album on Bandcamp, or listen closely to the lyrics during your listening session. This will naturally happen as you hit play on Timelines, as the music often diverges into foreign territory so as to more strongly support the story being told. Timelines is one of the best progressive rock concept albums of recent history, and it would be unwise to miss it!
Ventifacts – Ventifacts
Ventifacts is the collaborative project of Ben Spees and Damon Waitkus, of The Mercury Tree and Jack o’ the Clock. Ventifacts uses almost exclusively microtonal tunings, which are played by various acoustic and electric instruments as well as keyboard and voice. The result is one of the most accomplished microtonal albums out there, playing mostly in the folk and rock genres. The album is endlessly replayable, its xenharmonic qualities constantly fascinating. Do not let this one slide!
Shamblemaths – 2 (Apollon)
How do you top one of the best prog rock albums of all times? Easy: you double down on what made it great. So, what did make Shamblemaths the First great? Its odd experimentalism within the realm of retro prog, its promiscuity with musical genres, and its expansive songwriting. And Shamblemaths the Second offers that in spades! Be it with the dark avant-prog opener “Knucklecog” or the vast enneaptych “Lat kvar jordisk skapning Teia”, the Norwegian group sure knows how to deal with expectations. As with its predecessor, 2 ends with a strangely soft piece, but as with everything else, it’s a solid showcase of songwriting. An essential 2021 prog album!
Wood River & Cantus domus – Sediments We Move (New Amsterdam)
You all know a good modern piece for choir can have a huge impact on me. Sediments We Move is just that. At its root, this is a six-part piece (seven, if you count the interlude) of multigenre progressive jazz fusion with a strong focus placed on the part of the choir. The mood is soothing and mellow for the most part, calming and contemplative, but that is conveyed through a vast variety of lenses that makes each song stand apart from one another. This is an immaculately beautiful album.