Tim Daisy – New Works for Solo Percussion (Relay)
Percussionist Tim Daisy just released his New Works for Solo Percussion collection, on his own record label Relay. This collection of new performances includes three major pieces—”Space within Limbs”, “Troika”, and “Construction House”—and a bonus one, “Wood on Copper” (it is unknown if the latter is intended as an antipolice anthem or not, but it has become so). Considering my longtime love affair with percussion and rhythm in general, it’s not surprising that I immediately fell in love with this record. Tim’s vision of music and performing aptitudes make for an incredibly delightful time. Each of the four tracks found on New Works are played on a specific set of percussive instruments, from the most austere (sticks and hi-hat on “Wood and Copper”), to the loosest (drum set on “Construction House”), to the oddest (here, I am torn between marimba, toms, crotales, woodblocks, cymbals, and gongs on “Space within Limbs” and snare, woodblocks, metal objects, and radio on “Troika”). In the end, this is an astounding album exploring the twilight between composition and improvisation and the role of percussion in contemporary music.
Fabian Almazan Trio – This Land Abounds with Life (Biophilia)
I haven’t spoken my mind yet about how I love Fabian Almazan‘s musical works, despite adoring his previous work with Rhizome on Alcanza. Well, now’s as good a time as any to do just that. This Land Abounds with Life takes the torch and carries Fabian’s energetic, Latin-influenced piano performance and composition style to new heights, with the help of bassist Linda May Han Oh—whose own album we’ve recently featured—and drummer Henry Cole, as well as a full string trio for “Bola de nieve”. Conceptually, the album is about the world’s lifeforms, biological habitats, and places or memories, and, as such, provides a vastly diverse array of feelings, emotions, atmospheres, and energies throughout. It’s moreover a pretty sizable album, at over eighty minutes long. Fortunately, the physical edition comes with a downloadable code (and an incredible artwork) instead of a clunky two-CD case. So, I say, enjoy!
Alarmist – Sequesterer (Small Pond / Art as Catharsis)
It seems Ireland-based Alarmist grows better with each iteration. Last time, it was Popular Demain blowing our minds, but now it’s their upcoming album, Sequesterer. Again this time, their mix of math rock, jazz fusion, and prog turned into something amazing. On it, be ready for challenging grooves adjoined by jazzy harmonies and lyrical melodies; a proud successor of the band’s legacy and something you’ll want to return to for multiple listens.
Elephant9 – Psychedelic Backfire (Rune Grammofon)
Elephant9 is a Norwegian trio playing some of the best contemporary psychedelic jazz out there. Psychedelic Backfire is a double album of live recordings of some of their old material, and it’s perhaps where they’re the most energetic. During over two hours, the two sets have carefully picked some of their best compositions, and also includes some of their best performances, which move from psychedelic prog to jazz fusion. Of particular note is the organ-sounding keyboards on the first album, which has that dirty sound, and, most importantly, that impressive musicianship, that skill, that proficiency about what it’s playing… The two albums each deserve to be listened to repeatedly, and to receive much praise. Which I do, and which I give.
Enablers – Zones (Broken Clover)
An oddity, this one, but most interesting . . . Enablers is an intriguing American experimental band. It’s kind of like post-rock, but centred around spoken word for narration and direction. The band then seems to steer their compositions, their playing accordingly. The “post-rock” category is not quite fitting, but what is? Sometimes, it feels somewhat like certain post-hardcore bands, sometimes it’s more like a movie soundtrack, sometimes it’s more experimental, sometimes less, but at every moment, it’s great. Oddly enough, some parts remind me of the longer tracks on Metallica‘s infamous masterpiece Lulu, which are more poetic in their form, and closer to what we find here. Don’t mistake my compliment for something else, though, as I truly endorse Lulu, and I truly endorse Zones, although I’d favour the latter for being free from the career-long baggage that weighted Metallica down on their own effort. Enablers are thus able to move more easily from one place to another without fearing unfulfilled expectations. Give this one a shot, it’s a fantastic soundtrack-like experimental rock album!