G. Calvin Weston & the Phoenix Orchestra – Dust and Ash (577)
Dust and Ash is a surprising album. First of all, it goes straight into a Zeuhlish upbeat tempo filled with odd harmonies and distinctive string whims. Then, it settles, still upbeat, into passages providing colourful modulations and a wide palette of emotions. The Phoenix Orchestra lends Weston its range of timbre and expression, while he, in return, provides a steady, groovy, vicious drum beat. The whole album is stellar, a trip you won’t forget!
Ben Hedquist – The Mists of Uncertainty
Polyrhythmic and filled with odd times and a complex harmolodic language, Ben Hedquist‘s debut album shows great promise for the Phoenix, Arizona bassist and composer. The project takes shape in the form of a quintet with two guitars that complement each other marvellously, backed by Ben’s double bass and Andrew Flores on drums, and fronted by Chaz Martineau on saxophone. The album has quite a lot of diversity to it, so some compositions are quite aggressive and dizzying (“Hammerhead”), while others are more subtle and emotive (“The Mists of Uncertainty”). An amazing album for the contemporary jazz fan!
The Fifth Alliance – The Depth of the Darkness (Burning World)
I’ve absolutely loved Death Poems, Dutch band The Fifth Alliance‘s previous release. You won’t be surprised to know, therefore, that I was pretty excited when The Depth of the Darkness was announced. You can throw away your fears and insecurities about its quality, for it is a grandiose album carrying the flame of Death Poems and gracing us with awe and fear. The band really honed their blackened doom formula, with hints of post-rock, giving us just enough melodic phrases to stick in our heads before diving into murky tremolo pickings and blast beats and screams. It comes out on August 30, be ready!
Ig Henneman, Jaimie Branch, and Anne La Berge – Dropping Stuff and Other Folk Songs (Relative Pitch)
Dropping Stuff and Other Folk Songs stars violinist Ig Henneman, trumpeter Jaimie Branch, and flutist Anne La Berge in a free improvisation session recorded in December 2018 in the Netherlands. This setting shows the ease and comfort with which the three are able to play and interact instantaneously. It takes a truly special kind of chemistry to be able to play such improvised music with as much assurance and sense of purpose as this.
Forgotten Bottom – Hostile Architecture
Forgotten Bottom is a Philadelphia noise folk duo comprised mainly of bouzouki and viola, but with added guitar, drums, percussion, bells, and effects. The band creates a thoroughly modern sound, somewhat akin to Australian bands Ḥashshāshīn and Zeitgeber, and also sharing similarities with violinist Joey Molinaro. The result of their musical peregrinations is somewhere between noise rock and post-rock, but all played on folk instruments. Don’t miss out on it!
New Age Doom – New Age Doom
New Age Doom is a Vancouver-based project by Eric J. Breitenbach and Greg Valou, who are joined in by Kurt Schindelka on saxophone, Zeb Pigott-Duggan on violin, Nori Akagi on taiko, and Vi An Diep on guzheng for various tracks. The project lies somewhere between drone and free jazz. “The Way of Primordial Sound”, the introduction to the record, provides a perfect example of this, as guitars wallow in atmospheric walls of sound until the drums barge in and play frantically until the song ends. The album thus draws parallels to Omniataxia and another project from British Columbia, i.o. On top of that, the album makes full use of a compact disc’s run time, clocking in mere seconds before the eighty minutes threshold. So you’re sure to have a lot out of this one!