Sevish – Horixens
After a series of impressive albums, the bar is high for UK microtonal electronic music artist Sevish. Horixens is set for release in July, independently. From the rhythmic experiments of Rhythm & Xen to the harmonic complexity of Harmony Hacker, what’s the next step? Well, Horixens seems to take a step down in terms of intensity, complexity, and experimentation in order to craft a more atmospheric experience. The beats and motifs therein are generally more gentle and make for a relaxed listening experience. The goal, I think, is to cater to a different crowd, one that wouldn’t usually care for microtonal theory, but that enjoys a chill beat or three. Still, the album uses many temperaments—including 22-EDO, 13-limit JI, and Island—and is crafted by the exquisite standards Sevish used us to. It’s an amazing album, so be ready when it hits!
Glacier – No Light Ever (No Happy Music)
Massachussetts’s Glacier conveys its name’s meaning in music. Its slow-paced crawl advances and scrapes entire landscapes under its massive weight and daunting breadth. Glacier is not only huge and heavy, though: it’s also very poetic. You need only read their previous album’s title to be convinced: Though Your Sins Be as Scarlet, They Shall Be White as Snow; Though They Be Red like Crimson, They Shall Be as Wool. Quite lengthy, m’yes, but how beautiful. This has carried on to No Light Ever, except with a much more succinct title. The track titles have that eloquence, and I believe that the musical compositions they represent also share this poetry. The songs are brilliantly written and carry immense satisfaction at the end of their ten-minute run time (on average). The album comes out officially on July 18.
Louis-Vincent Hamel – Self Enquiry
Montréal drummer and composer Louis-Vincent Hamel recently released Self Enquiry, his debut album. It falls under the modern jazz umbrella and includes some quality players from the city. It reminds me somewhat of Vincent Touchard‘s Classe moyenne, which was one of my favourite albums of 2017. Both carry the same weight of normalness, but they carry it into a land of beauty and mild fascination. The beauty of little things. As such, Self Enquiry is grandiose, in unspectacular lowercase letters. It doesn’t try to be impressive, likeable, or even that memorable, but it achieves a sort of coy loveliness.
Zeitgeber – Transforming the Random Crushing Forces of the Universe into Manageable Patterns (Art as Catharsis)
I have a deep love affair with the Australian handpan-and-clarinet duo, dating back since the release of their debut, Heteronomy. On their upcoming EP, the duo expands its sonic palette by adding layers of guitars, bass, didgeridoo, viola, and more to the core instrumentation. This leads to a more lush band sound, but affects the way the material can be played live. Well, such matters matter not for now, because the recordings are as trance-inducing and enjoyable as ever. Be ready to hop in for some slick polyrhythms and odd-time grooves, as well as a majestic atmospheric aura surrounding the whole deal.
John Zorn – Nove cantici per Francesco d’Assisi (Tzadik)
Inexhaustible musician and composer John Zorn recently released a collection of compositions for three guitars made during a museum artistic residency. The players chosen to record the material are three names well known of the New York jazz and classical scenes: Julian Lage, Gyan Riley, and Bill Frisell. The ten tracks cover a wide range of influences and sounds, but each with the obvious stamp of Zorn on it. It’s a very nice album of chamber music that borders on contemporary classical and baroque music alike.
Jack Quartet – Filigree: Music of Hannah Lash (New Focus)
New Focus Recordings is back with yet another incredible release for the contemporary classical-minded. Filigree is a collection of compositions for string quartet by American composer Hannah Lash played by Jack Quartet. The album splits four pieces into eleven tracks, which go from Baroque to Romantic to Renaissance with a definite contemporary edge to them. The recording is stellar, just as the original material is, so there’s no doubt about the quality of this album. Check this out and peer into the world of today’s classical music.