Y/N – Larry and the Eternal Light
Somewhere between avant-prog and pop music lies the intricate and eccentric Y/N entity. Larry and the Eternal Light is a fascinating achievement: it’s funky, groovy, experimental, addictive, challenging, and weird, all at the same time. It’s an amazing album that brings the weird factor to the forefront.
Oratnitza – Alter ethno
Oratnitza is a Bulgarian folk music band which emphasizes the dance aspect of their deeply-rooted traditional music, as well as influences from other ethnic musics; hence the title. For example, their usual lineup consists of a kaval (a Balkan flute), didgeridoo (Australian), cajón (Peruvian), and tupan (Middle-East), and it’s still enlarged by many guests. As such, Alter ethno is quite entrancing and genuine in more than one way.
Resurrecting Id – Ephemera
Who remembers the insane debut self-titled album of Arizona-based jazz-metal band Resurrecting Id? I certainly do, and—Good news!—their new album comes out tomorrow! Ephemera follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, and convincingly blends jazz composition and performance—thanks to sax improvisations especially—and modern progressive metal’s idiosyncrasies: big fat guitar staccati, heavy-pounding and complex drums deriving from the Meshuggah school of hypermeasures, and all that’s missing is a screaming fronthuman. To be fair, Chris Herald’s saxophone often can be heard “screaming” its guts out. Be excited, because this album is great!
Laktating Yak – Origin of the Yak
Houston’s Laktating Yak offered me a pleasant surprise when I clicked them using Bandcamp’s discovery tool. It’s not every day that a new avant-prog entity arises from nothingness with such brightness! Origin of the Yak is the band’s debut album, and it clearly states what they are going for: atmospheric, deranging, experimental, and using a lot of cycling passages reminiscent of post-metal or drone. With a violin and two saxophones, the core rock trio is expanded into a more timbre-heavy sextet that uses counterpoint, improvisation, and ostinato to their best. That makes Laktating Yak yet another entity to keep under scrutiny!
Jacob Collier – Djesse, Volume 1
Jacob Collier has big plans for Djesse. And, with this first out of four parts, brings us into world fusion territory. Aided by the incredible Métropole Orkest—which also played on that amazing Bokanté album—and many other world-class musicians, Jacob crafted a set of nine enjoyable songs that cover a wide range of genres and styles, branching out of the world fusion hub. Funk, soul, dance, folk, electro, and classical are only a short list of the styles you might encounter on this record. If you’re into it, you should definitely hop in this wonderful album!
Dewa Budjana – Mahandini
Dewa Budjana is a relatively well-known guitarist in the progressive rock and neo-prog worlds. Coming from Indonesia, he is now responsible for many massive instrumental opera. The last in line is Mahandini, and the line-up for it is staggering: aside from himself, you can hear Jordan Rudess, Marco Minnemann, and Mohini Dey on all the album, as well as many other guest musicians. The album is very heavily jazz-influenced, and also doesn’t hide its Indian music aspirations as well, thanks to Mohini’s konnakkol passages, which are always a blast to witness. In the end, the album is quite entertaining. It does sometimes feel too safe, harmonically, but I guess that’s the neo-prog roots speaking. Other than this very minor and subjective detail, the album is marvellous!
Ukandanz – ይቀጥላል (Jəqetelale) / Yeketelale
The newest opus from French-Ethiopian jazz-rock band Ukandanz is now out! I was, and still am, an avid listener of አዎ (Äwo), so I was more than excited to see that ይቀጥላል (Jəqetelale) / Yeketelale was coming out soon. And now that it’s out, I am not disappointed! However, the album is quite different this time around. The quintet traded some of its harshness for a perhaps more danceable electronic aspect, particularly noticeable in the replacement of the bass player by a synth-bass player. I find this an odd choice, to say the least, but the result is not as bad as I feared it would be. In that way, ይቀጥላል (Jəqetelale) / Yeketelale is much more funky, in the electro-pop sense of the word, and still very rhythmically engaging. Another fine album!
Turbohaler – Metal Vessel Music
Turbohaler is a nice and strange discovery. The Norwegian duo plays what they call “omnimetal”. What that means, apparently, is black metal played with the mindset of free jazz, and with some noise music aesthetics thrown in for good measure. The result is a challenging but quite interesting EP of improvised harshness. The duo succeeds in making something rather unique, and it’s quite a ride to listen to in its entirety!
Politess – Il ne fait pas froid dans l’alphabet
Montréal-based Politess‘s mix of mathcore, black metal, skramz, grindcore, and noise rock is back on Il ne fait pas froid dans l’alphabet. This new EP showcases what in my opinion is their best tracks so far. Dissonant, complex, and harsh-sounding, it’s quite delectable and only demands to derange someone new’s ears. Be sure to grab the album!