Snooze – Still
Not content having released perhaps the most memorable math rock album last year, Chicago’s Snooze are back with another banger, titled Still. With just over thirty minutes—about the same length as their dog-themed masterpiece—Still provides the same quality of colourful melodies, intricate song progression, and amazing musicianship. You can’t go wrong with Snooze!
Respire – Black Line (Church Road)
It’s not been long since Respire made it on Matt’s Album’s of the Decade list for their 2018 masterpiece Dénouement. Yet, I haven’t personally mentioned the band, so I wanted to take their new release as an opportunity to do just that. Black Line, in the vein of the band’s previous works, is an emotionally charged post-black metal album with a lush instrumentation that includes strings, vibraphone, and banjo from the members of the band, as well as an extended line-up including a brass section for this album. This results in a very full sound, which is exploited to the maximum by the band. It’s a fantastic album.
Schnellertollermeier – 5 (Cuneiform)
Schnellertollermeier are one of the leading polymetric bands out there—check out our review of their previous album and of Bisbâyé for more polyrhythmic madness—and 5 reaffirms their control of this subtle art. Indeed, few artists grasp what makes them such fascinating beasts as Schnellmann, Troller, and Meier. Take the preview track “209 Aphelion”, which starts off with an ambiguous bass line and minimalist drum beat, later joined by the guitar, all in different time signatures! But the subtlety of the art lies in the focus you give to different rhythms; you’ll notice it when that focus shifts from one instrument to another, insufflating a new breath of life into the composition! 5 is full of such moments!
Red Fiction – Visions of the Void (צ (Tzadik))
One of the latest releases on the mythical Tzadik records is the mysterious band Red Fiction‘s Visions of the Void. This album is an otherworldly blend of different folkloric musics and also many modern genres like progressive metal and jazz, and it’s a masterclass in seamlessly fusing all of that in an unbelievably tasty pot. Unfortunately, however, most of you will probably be unable to listen to this album because of Tzadik’s outdated protectionism. Nevertheless, if you come across this release, get your hands on it; you won’t regret it!
Cryptodira – The Angel of History (Good Fight)
Chances are it’s not the first time you hear of Cryptodira. Indeed, the band, although relatively young, has garnered quite a lot of attention to itself, thanks in great part to quality songwriting and musicianship, creativity and technicality. The Angel of History is the epitome of the band’s vision, with convoluted songs, tortuous riffs, and a particular attention to lyrics. It might not be the most accurate comparison, but I’ve received big vibes of White Arms of Athena‘s Astrodrama while listening to The Angel of History, which was mostly due to the singer’s clean voice timbre and the kind of undistorted prog going on under it. It’s a really good album and you should listen to it.
明日の叙景 (Asu no jokei) – すべてか弱い願い (Subete kayowai negai / Wishes)
Tokyo’s jazzy post-black purveyors have released Matt’s 44th best album of the decade (9th best of 2018)! So, you know they’re not messing around! Their new release takes the form of an EP; すべてか弱い願い (Subete kayowai negai)—translated to Wishes for the English community—takes after Awakening in more ways than one. After all, you shouldn’t drastically alter such a successful recipe. So, we can find the same kind of lyrical chord progression, thoughtful melodies, and that contemplative sentiment washing over us possibly due to the sheer relentlessness of the drums and tremolo picking. Wishes lacks the level of obvious jazz borrowings that could be found in Awakening—but, to be honest, it was only that obvious in one particular passage—but this heritage comes in other, more subtle ways. Overall, it’s a good follow-up to the masterpiece that is Awakening, albeit more low-key and subtle, and short.