Shards – Find Source (Erased Tapes)
Beauty sometimes comes from the unlikeliest of marriages. Enter the debut album of London-based vocal ensemble Shards: Find Sound. Their vision takes the shape of choir music amorously intertwined with electronic music and synthwave. Choirwave, perhaps? The staple track off this record might be the second one. “Summer Sickness” has all the nostalgia and longing it can muster in its dissonant intervals, so poignantly used it’s truly heart-wrenching. The song starts with arpeggiated chords on synth, and a lush, vibrant polyphony of voices, later joined by some percussion and bass. All this song needs now is a darkwave remix with industrial drums and staccato bass for a dystopian twist on it! The rest of the album is much more abstract, though. It mostly stays instrumental—using the voice ensemble as an instrument, without lyrics, safe for the last song—and goes from contemplative to contrapuntal, but, all throughout, the use of electronics and voice is a match made in heaven, and it’s an album everyone must listen.
Fire-Toolz – Field Whispers (into the Crystal Palace) (Orange Milk)
The famed vaporwave-meets-metal entity Fire-Toolz makes a strong comeback on Field Whispers. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the albums after Drip Mental—see my review of Interbeing—I’m glad to say that this one lives up to the good ol’ days, and even surpasses them! Field Whispers bursts with creative use of eighties-inspired and metal-adjacent musics, playing with tropes of both styles to great effect, and mixing them like one does different paint colours. The strongest point for me is “She Was Me, My Name Was Surrounded”, which is a bit less out-there in terms of musical extravagance, but it’s such a good pop(-ish) anthem I can’t help but go back to it. The rest of the album varies from reverential to exploratory, and both aspects are tastefully executed.
Širom – Svet, ki speče konju cvet / A Universe that Roasts Blossoms for a Horse (Glitterbeat)
Širom is a Slovenian trio playing forward-thinking folk music; retro-futuristic, in a way. Svet, ki speče konju cvet, or A Universe that Roasts Blossoms for a Horse is their latest album, and it’s definitely one of their strongest! The trio plays too many instruments to name here—you can read the full list on their Bandcamp page—but, judging by their artist photo, their main ones are violin, banjo, and ikitelia, which I assume is the xylophone-looking thing in front of Samo. The tracks on the album mostly stem from improvisation sessions, which then coalesce into concrete entities with inspirations as wide as post-rock, classical, jazz, and folk. Each track is a journey in itself, and you need to experience it to know what it feels like.
Nathalie Joachim – Fanm d’Ayiti (New Amsterdam)
Musician and composer Nathalie Joachim just released Fanm d’Ayiti on New Amsterdam Records, joined by Spektral Quartet for a full-on modern chamber music experience. The record ultimately sprouts from Nathalie’s Haitian heritage, celebrating the culture and artists of the country. All of it is in kreyòl, and merges the worlds of traditional music and contemporary classical in more than one surprising way. Some songs are also accompanied by interview excerpts for some background and real-life experience. All of the compositions on Fanm d’Ayiti are incredibly good, thoroughly modern in its arrangements, and fully embodying the term “world fusion”.
Tjalling – A Self-Repressed Lie (Sky Lantern)
If you like long, multipartite suites, experimental rock, hardcore, and shoegaze, you’d have a hard time not finding something you like about Tjalling‘s latest record. Made up of a single title track over thirty minutes long, A Self-Repressed Lie is an incredible journey reaching highs and lows, repeating themes and building on them, and climaxing in a totally brutal manner. It’s an awesome track to listen to, and a de facto awesome album!
Patricia Taxxon – The Best Day
The absurdly prolific musician and youtuber Patricia Taxxon recently released The Best Day, the as-of-yet latest album of hers. It’s the first time I stumble upon her work, but I’m sure to keep an ear out for upcoming ones. The Best Day is a superbly optimistic and upbeat synth pop album with an artsy touch. Nothing too flashy, but a few interesting modulations and creative choices here and there are just enough to keep my interet hooked, and complement the earworm melodies marvellously. A very nice and catchy pop album for all!