releases

electronic

Claro Intelecto - Exhilarator (Delsin)


melodic drop on Through the Cosmos says it best, but in any case this is cool and dubby somewhere in between a lot of things

Obsequies - Organn (Knives)


super computer music
so knives has been been pretty awesome so far

home stretch

although there are sure to be a few more posts between now and then, I've started reviewing the year's favorites

in any case, a few recent releases I'm really liking:

Carlos Niño & Friends - Going Home (Leaving Records)


soft ritual, shimmering sunrise, lazy ascension, cloudmorph

Thomas Demenga - J.S. Bach: Suiten für Violoncello (ECM Records)


sublime woody bach recordings

Schumann Quartett - Landscapes (Berlin Classics)


great program of material

Rabit - Les Fleurs Du Mal (Halcyon Veil)


We start out with some sharp, saturated bowed strings and eventually crumble into beatless murk, from the discomforting samples of Dogsblood Redemption to the guided nightmare of Elevation.
what's with that cover

Les Graciés - Low Doses (Firecracker Recordings)


crazy samples, good balance of motion and stasis, crazy staging (how many times did I take off my headphones because I thought something was happening around me?), this album is great

Armanda Hammer - Rome (Backwoodz Studioz)


rhythms, rhymes, all good

some stuff

Claire M Singer - Fairge (Touch Records)

a kind of magical dawn, like a contemporary version of das rheingold's overture

Rødhåd - Anxious (Dystopian)

moods

Invisible Church & Marie Davidson - Whatever Makes You Feel Safe (Yerevan Tapes)

heavy and voice and beyond what came before

caught up

I'm glad we can finally agree on something.

Ben Frost - The Centre Cannot Hold (Mute Records)

And now we get the whole thing, inaugurated with a terrifying breath. Surely the second coming is at hand.

Booms and twinkles.

While I'm glad this is an album rather than another soundtrack of sorts, it does make me think we have a missed Blade Runner soundtrack opportunity here (among others, including the one that was dropped).


 

Anouar Brahem - Blue Maqams (ECM)

Look at the team. Mastered, beautiful cross-cultural ECM music. This group needs to come here. It will be awesome live.

Open Mike Eagle - Brick Body Kids Still Daydream (Mello Music Group)

keep pushing, style and content

Kamasi Washington - Harmony of Difference (Young Turks)

Emotional suite of memorable melodies and a unique sound informed from many directions.

STILL - I (PAN)

weirdo rhythms from everynowhere going hard just look a that coverman

AnD - Social Decay (EDLX)

coarse

Kelela - Take Me Apart (Warp)

90s r&b from the future makes a lot of sense warp records

six for a thursday

Kassel Jaeger - Aster (Editions Mego)

A thin fog approaches, slowly obscuring horizons, allowing hints, memories, flashes and threats of drama. A range of environments develop, from a near-static floating transparency punctuated by crumbling snowflakes to an organ elegy buried 100 feet down. Padded enough for decompression, active enough for attention, detailed stereo for the headphone bonus.

 

Sylvain Chauveau - Post-Everything (Brocoli)

I'm liking everything he puts out. In the vein of Fennesz, Sakamoto, and of course Sylvian (kind of weird given the name nearness). Emotive use of drones, saturated noise, melody and vocals for what are finally songs.


 

The National - Sleep Well Beast (4AD)

It's a mostly-mellow rock album. Not usually my thing, but I keep coming back to it. They're good, resonant songs.


 

astrïd & Rachel Grimes - Through the Sparkle (Gizeh Records)

careful magic

 

Antwood - Sponsored Content (Planet Mu)

Of the moment. Builds from last year's Virtuous.scr, this time with an excess of machine-gunned bass instead of constant breaking glass (IIRC). Also significant this time around is the heavier thematic conceit woven throughout, from the titles to the painful (for me anyway) samples, to the final “human” robotic ballad juxtaposing saccharine piano-chord-over-pad progression against frenetic happycore arpeggios. On the Planet Mu press info the artist describes it as "honest, flawed, with a little humour, and slightly up its own ass." I love I.T.

 

Lee Gamble - Mnestic Pressure (Hyperdub)

in a few days early, idmish junglish shamer really good. I think this will make it to the end.

why excluded

Lanark Artefax - Whities 011

I thought this made it here the first time around.

Well I ended up listening to it again recently and its absence is undeserved.

Great stuff.

beethoven

It's wild what he was able to do as a deaf composer (as Kissin's performance of Sonata 32 closes out the new DG release in my headphones).

why so many

looking as though I discern among nothing

Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman - Triple Fat Lice (Stones Throw)

rap and rap and rap; this is my favorite of the lice releases

on point all the time

 

Rafael Anton Irisarri - The Shameless Years (Umor Rex)

quiet becomes ocean becomes power

 

Nadia Sirota & Liam Byrne - Donnacha Dennehy: Tessellatum (Bedroom Community)

Spiraling strings. Also comes with a cool video.

 

Andrea Belfi - Ore (FLOAT)

At first this sounds like it's going to be an OK release with some moody drum beats, but then things break down with reversals and intricacies and it gets really good.

 

Vijay Iyer Sextet - Far From Over (ECM)

great band, great music, big group

 

Angelo de Augustine - Swim Inside the Moon (Asthmatic Kitty)

There's a big of magic in this mood. Saw him open for the Planetarium show at the cemetery and took note to look out for this one. Glad that I did.

 

Pessimist - Pessimist (Blackest Ever Black)

A friend asked me what genre this was so that he could find more music like it, and I was like "well this track is kind of a hip-hop beat, I guess this might be a trip-hop track, but that last track was more of a techno track and now this one starting up is basically jungle. So I think the label is the more informative thing here." BLACKEST EVER BLACK

Which leads us to...

 

Second Storey - Lucid Locations (Houndstooth)

Another release melting many "rave" genres into one aesthetic/approach. This one's wonkier/funkier/brighter than the Pessimist release. Both are great. Different moods.

pure moods III

 

that's a lot

more's on the way

milo - who told you to think??!!?!?!?! (Ruby Yacht)


While I slowly work through a larger-than-usual list of music, I've found myself cheating my system to come back and relisten to this album before its turn. The opening Baldwin quotation sets up a context of both poetic telling and knowing and critical engagement. The music proceeds to live up to its introduction, springing from traditions of rap, hip-hop, jazz, poetry proper and poetics more broadly to think through and connect the personal and social. And it sounds great. And there's fun. get

in it or zoned

X.Y.R. - Labyrinth (Not Not Fun Records)


d r i f t z o n e z o n e d r i f t z o n e c o s m i c z o n e d r i f t z o n e z o n e d r i f t l i f t

Tyshawn Sorey - Verisimilitude (Pi Recordings)


hmm...

electronic

Sote - Sacred Horror in Design (Opal Tapes)


Santour, setar, electronic revelations. This is so good.
I actually saw Sote live a long time ago, the first time I heard of him...
at this: https://www.kuci.org/show_feature.cgi?id=181
TBH a little overshadowed by some of the Warp all-stars that night... in any case this album is awesome. Would love to see the live version.

Ben Frost - Threshold of Faith (Mute))


Noisy landscapes with plenty of bell/metal/clay-type sounds.

Elusive - Moments (DOMEOFDOOM)


Elusive has been on a roll with strong releases, and this one stands out. Will stay in rotation awhile, particularly in the car. Harmonic elements near the Flying Lotus / Brainfeeder sphere... I can still do with less key jangling / coin jingling, but it's a great set of beats/music.

this thing


I don't really know why it's online already, but it is. It's interesting and not what I expected. Will say more about it later.
I feel everything at the same time.

get it over with

rarely does something make it through the gauntlet of appreciation, doubt and criticism so quickly, but I'm enjoying these two

Untold - HEK029 (Hemlock)


two tracks of that haunted futuresound

Serenus Zeitblom Oktett - Erster Teil - Zweiter Teil - Dritter Teil (Hyperdelia)


three pieces of thoughtful, processor-engaged ensemble performance
not sure what else to say

that ra courtesy mix is great
seeking stingray kern

Finally 7

I was finally able to settle on a few favorites.

Ambrose Akinmusire - A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note)

great music through a variety of moods, tempos, expression

Roscoe Mitchell - Bells for the South Side (ECM)

Another 2-hour recording, again covering a wide range of tones on a much freer spectrum. From zoning drones to zoning freakouts to zoning interplay. Zoning.

Cornelius - Mellow Waves (Warner Music Japan)

Let me put on some sunglasses and fill my ears with stereo tremolo (or panning on an LFO, whatever).

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - On the Echoing Green (Mexican Summer)

Take master droney noise and make it pop-shoegazey, not the other way around. He should perform on episode 19.

Mike Dehnert - Providing Home (Fachwerk Records)

Even with vocals, Mike Dehnert gets to that place. Some are down low. Some pump. It all works. Fachwerk.

Fred Frith & Hans Koch - You Are Here (Intakt Records)

improvised alchemy

2 more in may

Loke Rahbek - City of Women (Editions Mego)


It's hard to say what makes this better than the next noisy droney thing that's interesting to listen to it, but it's something.

Christopher Willits - Horizon (Ghostly International)


raft.
I'm just now learning that this album is part of this whole multichannel thing...

"lots of cool ones"

Kara-Lis Coverdale - Grafts (Boomkat Editions)


[Goem's "Stud Stim" plays from the living room.]
"I don't think this is very good night time music."
"OK, I have something perfect."

Natalia Lafourcade - Musas (Columbia)


what a joy this is
the following starts the great video album:

Jessica Moss - Pools of Light (Constellation Records)


Fantastic electroacoustic violin work in 2 main parts. You can hear the processes churning. At time sounds like a daf could show up.

Felicia Atkinson - Hand in Hand (Shelter Press)


badass weirdo neck-tickling soundbath. don't miss

Son Lux - Remedy (Meru)


Maximalist but razor-sharp production on interesting songs and sounds. Favorite is Stolen.

Perc - Bitter Music (Perc Trax)


The noisy, ambient, "experimental" tracks are great, and the pumping tracks are immense.
Here are two of those... don't cheat yourself:

April

Justin Walter - Unseen Forces (Kranky)

Wind controllers are awesome, like this music.

Roger Robinson - Dog Heart City (Jahtari)

Oh, that Jahtari sound, dubby delays and video game bleeps. Here it's met with a strong concept, observing and analyzing a dystopian world that's really not so different from our own.

Valgeir Sigurðsson - Dissonance (Bedroom Community)

Big droney string music. Think of 50 strings bowing at different speeds on the same lowish pitch. Then give it narrative drama. Then make it much better than I've just described. I'm not very good at this, so here's YouTube:

Second Woman - S/W (Spectrum Spools)

Eustis and Dietrich roll pads out in percussive glitches. Reminds me of some Mark Fell releases as well, which means this probably pummels live. A dense score of one of these tracks could make a great visual.

That Colin Stetson album was really good, but I could do without the moaning.

kk

"You've done it again."
Yes, it's another one.
It doesn't carry the in-the-moment political intensity of the previous, but it makes up for that with the personal.
where to go from here

it's been awhile

There has just been so much stuff to go through, so it's taken awhile to circle around and decide on nominations, but here are some recent favorites:

arkiv 4 (Raster-Noton)


“What are some of your favorite labels? What does their music sound like?” This is how one of my favorite labels sounds in 2016. I’m usually not crazy about compilations, but this one has been a pleasure. Raster-Noton delivers as usual with murky atmospheres, razor rhythms, machine funk, and floating ambiance, and the best packaging ever (really this CD is just an include on the new “source book 1.”) Looks like it has a weird little promo I can include.

Ryuichi Sakamoto - Async (Milan)


New Ryuichi Sakamoto albums are always welcome. There’s probably some surrounding material I am yet to read, but the album stands firmly on its own. Sakamoto has a diverse toolbox. A simple melody on a piano transforms into a cathedral-organ overture. Electronic tones sit alongside traditional instruments. Dream-pop arpeggios follow crunching footsteps. Is that an owl, a howl, or just an electronic drone? The warm and cool circulate. This album could easily be called Neo Geo or Esperanto, but he's already used those titles.

High Plains - Cinderland (Kranky)


There are a lot of droney electroacoustic could-be-soundtracks. Not all carry this much saturate-your-ear softbass. Not all combine sweet vignettes into an arching whole. Not all have this cello.

deepchord presents echospace - live in detroit [ghost in the sound] (echospace [detroit])


How different is one echochord release from the last? And shouldn’t we just call this subgenre Basic Channel? Different enough, and sure why not. There’s some music that gets me daydreaming about my ideal lineup for a summer desert weekend. It gets me thinking about the few vendors, the budget, the sound, and how I’m going to open the conversation with my friends to get things in motion. Echochord has the 9pm-11pm slot.

Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet - December Avenue (ECM)


Stanko manages to be deeply emotive without threatening cringes. He's not mixed lightyears above the ensemble. The melodies are beautiful. The breakdowns are intriguing. The interplay sum is greater than its constituents. It's good.

ode to February

Visible Cloaks - Reassemblage (Rvng Intl.)

Publications have lost it for this thing. I share their infatuation. Reassemblage is a lullaby delivered through 98-degree goo, a haze of indistinct and comforting memories, accomplished with sonic precision rather than grainy reverb.

Tarkovsky Quartet - Nuit Blanche (ECM)

Couturier's group with Lechner amazes me again with a beautiful, contemplative exploration of melody and strained emotion. I would love to hear this group live.

Kassel Jaeger & Jim O'Rourke - Wakes on Cerulean (Editions Mego)

Another one of these Emego sleepers, Wakes on Cerulean quietly unfolds and drifts from a lazy river out into the ocean.

Kangding Ray - Hyper Opal Mantis (Stroboscopic Artefacts)

Kangding Ray goes off the rave deep end. Epsilon has the psytrance bass. Somebody get this man to the desert.

Sigha - Metabolism (Token)

Kangding Ray + Sigha = no more of this crunchy underproduced house for 2017. Ceramics is the bomb.

Finally Some Music

I've been working through so much that it's taken awhile to have nothing in the "maybe" queue.

Some recent highlights:

Parabolas of Neon - Lord of the Isles (Firecracker Recordings)

It's a well-executed genre excursion with some nice variety (dance-ambient-chill-etc) that I've enjoyed on repeat. The final/title track is great.

Oto Hiax (Editions Mego)

Really cool, noisy album with some nice harmonic gestures. Perhaps painstakingly constructed, but it sounds more to me like jams from some good-listener performers with some interesting material and patches lined up. Not always the most subtle ("there goes the bitcrusher"), but holds attention with its sawtooth, clattering, and sub-bass. I've been working on music with some friends lately, and I'd love to operate in the vein of this sound (we're not). Good stuff.

Sampha - Process (Young Turks)

On-point / contemporary voice-led pop production. "Like the Piano" is the sweetest. "Reverse Faults" drops the best. "Blood on Me" is my favorite.

Garth Knox & The Saltarello Trio - John Zorn: Leonard (The Book of Angels Vol. 30) (Tzadik)

This is beautifully performed and recorded music, with clear, bold melodic lines and progressions, melodies that are recognized, memorized, and hummed before the songs finish. Apparently this is the penultimate Book of Angels release. So for the expensive "here's everything package," let's hope for a nice book w/history, images, score elements, etc. and a slot for a USB stick with everything. Not a box of CDs or 8 million gram vinyl.

favorite albums

These are my fourteen favorite albums of 2016. They're in chronological order by release date, and I've include some meaningless phrases to pretend to say something about them.

Roly Porter - Third Law (Triangle)

It's typically ambient pads or saturated drones that easily drift into space. "Third Law" does it with more dynamic, narrative drama, in a style most closely matched by Porter's 2013 "Life Cycle of a Massive Star." More than other "modern classical" composers whose work is making its way into film scores, Porter employs a mastery of foregrounded electronic manipulations, searing noise, massive sub-bass. The blender of Gantz Graf meets the strings and voices of sci-fi. The music manages to be intense, ethereal, intriguing, multifaceted.

On another note, it's funny how listening to something among others magnifies its qualities, even that of being totally boring. For example last night, with a couple of people:

"This is cool, what's this?"

"Roly Porter's album from earlier in the year."

...

"This sounds like some sci-fi soundtrack. That's cool."

...

"What are we listening to, the Superman soundtrack?"

"Yeah, it's dramatic."

"What?"

"We're listening to the Superman soundtrack, yes."

"Dude, this totally could be the Superman soundtrack."

"Yeah."

Is this what Reich finds disgusting (or whatever)? I'm sticking with it.


 

Skee Mask - Shred (Ilian Tape)

Solid album from all angles. Arced and paced, sonically, rhythmically detailed, heavy on breakbeats, and emotive. Built on legacy (I'm hearing Shackleton, Sandwell, Convextion, Autechre, Detroit all put through a particular lens) while moving forward.

 

Anenon - Petrol (Friends of Friends)

Strings, arpeggio synth sequences, grainy reeds(!), speedy drumkit breaks, field recordings, stereo delays, REVERB. It's moody music, good for the rain. Good for Michael Mann. Rainy LA into sunrise.


 

Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith - A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke (ECM)

It's a great pairing, mostly pensive and somber, lights low. The nature of the instruments places Smith's trumpet as more of the agent and Iyer's piano as the ground, but the strongest moments are in the interplay, sometimes including minimal electronic elements, everything working together. I was able to witness a moving performance of this at Occidental this year.


 

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Ears (Western Vinyl)

Here's what I said back then:

Wow. Gorgeous, sensitive atmospheres, calling to mind the organs and horns of Terry Riley, the minimalist spirals of kosmische, and the vocal treatments of Laurie Anderson or The Knife. This will make the list.

This year there were a couple of items I expected to make my final list that didn't and a few things that grew into place. In the case of "Ears" it was clear on the first listen. The "modular sound" has been so done these past five years or so, but here she managed to bring a special touch to it with the vocal element. It also has an enjoyable pastoral ease. There are definite rifts and rises, but they're all within a constrained range.


 

Ash Koosha - I AKA I (Ninja Tune)

There's been so much great chunky, decimated weirdo dance noise from Ling, M.E.S.H., the masters Autechre, and a host of others, but this one stands out. Maybe it's the string samples that win me over, but these are some of the best beats this year. Heavy on melody.


 

Aesop Rock - The Impossible Kid (Rhymesayers)

Aesop Rock is one of the best verse writers (I guess I should just say lyricists). With each listen, new lines stand out for appreciation. I hear this and basically marvel at the fact that he was able to write these verses. The album is more obviously personal than past work.


 

Jungle - Live at Okuden (ESP-Disk)

Mat Walerian, Matthew Shipp, Hamid Drake. Last year ESP released an outstanding duo between Walerian and Shipp as The Uppercut, also called "Live at Okuden," which made it onto my year-end list of favorites. This release adds Hamid Drake to the mix for a 100-minute live recording. The program has everything from somber melodies to frenetic wailing, blues passages, post-bop, and some free breakouts. Some outstanding soloing, both powerful and delicate, finds its place among knotty interplay. With music like this I'm always curious about the notation, how detailed the compositions are, what non-standard instructions they might employ, and what's left up to the player. There's really a lot of "content" here in this release. Drake and Shipp are always strong, and Walerian has emerged with some excellent recordings in the past couple of years. I think these groups/names (Uppercut, Jungle) are probably just for this recording/release, but it would be awesome for this group to tour. Blue Whale. Make it happen.

 

Tyshawn Sorey - The Inner Spectrum of Variables (Pi Recordings)

Somewhere in jazzland the listing of this moving release came along. Tyshawn Sorey is an amazing drummer (for another example from this year, listen to the all-star Zorn recording Flaga (Taborn, McBride, Sorey)), but here his primary role is composer to a wide range of traditions, techniques, and tones, bringing them into a fresh, arching work. It's a beautiful recording. Looking forward to June...

J Balvin - Energía (Capitol Latin / Universal)

It would be dishonest of me to exclude this. Easily had the most replays this year in the car. The delivery is easy and flowing. Clear studio production. What song is best? Veneno? Malvada? Perde los modales? Snapchat? Ginza? 35 pa las 12?? I can't decide. OK, 35/12 in the car. Weddings, holiday parties, and the like all let me down this year. They could have at least played 6AM. Thanks 96.3. Will pass on the videos at this moment.

 

Ka - Honor Killed the Samurai (Iron Works Records)

"I know words. I have the best words." Life is still hard.

s l o w f l o w

 

Bethan Kellough - Aven (Touch)

Bethan Kellough's recording represents the best of what Touch is about, from barely-audible passages to romantic strings, open field recordings to contact mic application. The natural and performed are composed (and in this case performed) to connect us with the world. This was another INSTANT WINNER.

 

Solange - A Seat at the Table (Saint / Columbia)

There's nothing for me to say that hasn't been said, as this one's making it to the top of many year-end lists. The music works on many levels, assertive but contemplative, focused on frustration, endurance, and successes that are personal, (most importantly) local(ized), and ultimately universal. It's critical, catchy, laid-back. It's another one that had heavy rotation. It's of this time.

Sendai - Ground and Figure (Editions Mego)

Just out last Friday, Peter Van Hoesen and Yves De Mey return as Sendai for this workout in crisp, icy, booming, torn techno-IDM that builds, collapses, and falls back into step. Elements change as soon as they seem to solidify. It's music that warps time and space if it's loud enough.

The text will change, I'm sure.

Wonderland

I went back and forth on some different things.
Demdike Stare survives.

Demdike Stare - Wonderland (Modern Love)

does everything it needs to
great review huh
maybe I'll add something to this

more releases soon

meanwhile I've started the year review

grimy

Logos & Mumdance Present Different Circles

minimal, maximal, bassy, goes hard

3 for now

Keith Jarrett - A Multitude of Angels (ECM)

How many archived Keith Jarret recordings do we need? I'm glad to have this one. There's a wide range of content here, much of it preceded by exploratory meandering that seems to discover a flow and destination, or stumble on some moment of magic, whether it's somber, pensive, minimal, or a blues extrapolation. Repeated listens --> new discoveries.

Meredith Monk - On Behalf of Nature (ECM)

Voices, pulses, and maybe a little safer than usual but also more enjoyable.

Okkyung Lee, Christian Marclay - Amalgam (Northern Spy)

Dynamic improv session.

almost time to evaluate

OK, here are two more. With words. Have been in strong rotation.

Metasota - #RUMDMT

favorite song: ain't no love. rapping.

Solange - A Seat at the Table (Saint Records)

it's all there

the missing 5th

Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch (Sacred Bones Records)

This was the one I didn't include earlier.

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