Rogue Parade – Stomping Off from Greenwood (Greenleaf Music)
Greg Ward’s Rogue Parade put out a new album, and it’s quite amazing. Stomping Off from Greenwood is a delicate fusion of modern, cinematic, and upbeat jazz. The quintet plays perfectly the compositions that are, in my opinion, no less amazing and rewarding to go through. There’s an energy flowing through the album that feels quite empowering.
New Thread Quartet – Plastic Facts (New Focus Recordings)
Contemporary classical music doesn’t get enough spotlight here (and I vow to change that). Let’s start with New York-based New Thread Quartet, a saxophone tetraphony playing pieces that are, at times, utterly terrifying and powerful; at other times contemplative, meandering, or intriguing. Each track is from a different composer, but they all shine equally on this record.
Defacement – Deviant
Talk about assault! Netherlands-based Defacement‘s debut EP is one that beats anything that hears it into a pulp. Deviant is made up of seven obscure and violent blackened death metal tracks; perhaps deathgrind is an adequate descriptor, too. What’s certain is that you’ll get your face skinned and that you’ll probably hear from this band again in the future.
Paal Nilssen-Love – New Brazilian Funk & New Japanese Noise (PNL Records)
Percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love is joined by numerous musicians on these two companion albums. Contrary to what the titles might convey, they are neither funk nor noise, but rather amazing bouts of free jazz. The two albums were recorded on two consecutive days of the same festival; I wish I’d been there, it looked like quite a time! As a consolation prize, however, we have these two amazing albums to listen to in the comfort of our homes.
Helium Horse Fly – Hollowed
This hasn’t yet hit the stream, but it ought to make waves. Hollowed is the most recent album of the Belgian formation Helium Horse Fly; over five years after their self-titled third album. It starts off quite ominously with “Happiness”: droning synths, ostinato riff, rapid percussions, and haunting vocal melodies are quickly followed by a saxophone solo. It only gets better from here, making it one of the best albums of January, that’s for certain. I’m still not quite sure what to classify it as, but it has traits of progressive metal and experimental rock, but draw your own conclusions.
Tracteur – Tracteur
I swear, the French are an endless source of amazing creative music. Tracteur is the latest in line, with their self-titled debut album. They seem to call themselves “world noise”, but, besides the world music instruments and noise rock elements, there’s a strong Zeuhl or avant-prog vibe to their compositions. It’s wild, it’s funny, it’s awesome, it’s free.
Hama – Houmeissa (Sahel Sounds)
I’ve been anticipating this one for quite some time, at least since its first appearance in a release dump in late December. This Nigerian synthwave album thoroughly incorporates the musical experiences of Mahamadou into a cohesive whole, reimagining traditional folkloric songs into a modern-day retrowave aesthetic. It’s a banger.
Ted Byrnes, Michael Foster, and Jacob Wick – Token Breeder (Hard Angle)
Ted Byrnes‘s Materialism was an album that grew a lot on me, last year, so I was pretty excited to see Token Breeder, which features him alongside saxophonist Michael Foster and trumpetist Jacob Wick. The album is rife with outstanding improvisations and wild performances from all involved parties. I’m a sucker for percussions, though, so I’m in awe before this instrument in particular, aided by the fact that it’s the one I’m most familiar with playing among the three presented here. Mad album!