releases

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.

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 - s/t (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.

who wore it best

OK so we have a duo of duos.
Very different.
Listened to each about six times so far with the intention of choosing a preference,
but it just doesn't happen.

So they both make it.

Bobby Kapp & Matthew Shipp - Cactus (Northern Spy Records)

Another awesome duet for Shipp. Love the blues buried in the knots.

Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau - Nearness (Nonesuch)

A very different kind of sound, more accessible, more floral, and more obvious solo showcasing. In some ways not as full of interest and discoveries as the session above, but also opens itself to an easier emotional connection. Looks like they're playing here... tonight. oh, well

Then there's that Wollny and Peirani, but I've just started listening to the album.

3 (should be 4)

There's something I'd add but it's so far ahead of its release date that I feel weird about it. So moving on...

clipping. - Splendor & Misery (Sub Pop)

Excellent alternative production, some amazing rapping, strong narrative theme, and interesting lyrics. "what more could you ask for?"
There was another recent "rappers in space" album (Logic's Incredible Story album, which I enjoyed), but here things are more adventurous and interesting in almost all dimensions.

Pearson Sound Live at Rural Festival

It's rare that I include non-release DJ mixes here, but I've really enjoyed and repeated this recent mix.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani - Sunergy (RVNG Intl.)

The FRKWYS series continues to impress. There are of course so many of these modular kosmichey releases, but this one stands out as a soft-edged trip.

sound

Bethan Kellough - Aven (Touch)

This is a stunning performance of field recordings and strings, filled with drama and intrigue, grand gestures and detailed sounds. Diana and I were at the Touch showcase where this was recorded, and we both left agreeing that this performance (which was not headlining) was the best, so it's great to get to hear that confirmation in this touching release, which manages to be sonically intriguing and very human. This approach can sometimes sound like a space station 200 years in the future, whereas here it's more like humanity crawling from the caves, which accesses deeper.

August 2

Dan Cray - Outside In (Origin)

Really nice, mellow, mostly straight-ahead jazz. I have decided it will be present among snow and a fire. It will happen.

Convextion - 2845 (Mojuba)

There's that one label doing the electro thing and every release sounds the same. Not this! Great to hear from Convextion again.

one

Ka - Honor Killed the Samurai (Iron Works Records)

Not exactly bangers, but this has a distinct tone carried through in the instrumentals, the delivery, and the content, vivid imagery, poetic constructions.

3 musicccs

Ian William Craig - Centres (FatCat Records)

Beautiful album in the vein of Fennesz, Sakamoto, Sylvian, but ultimately its own.

1-800 DINOSAUR Presents Trim

Maybe the best grime-or-not full-length I've heard. Balanced toward letting the beats / unique instrumentals shine, but since they're not particularly dense or saturated this fits well with the vocals.

WWWINGS - PHOENIXXX (Planet Mu)

From noise to rhythms, it's a particularly well-executed collision of the old "splintered beats" IDM thing and the current "post-club" thing with some moments that are undeniably [non-post] club. Lots of concrete samples.

good ones

These are pretty different from each other.

Glauco Venier - Miniatures (ECM)

This is a beautiful album of small piano and barely-percussion pieces. At times sounding like Sakamoto, at times sounding like Jarrett, but ultimately sounding like its own thing.

Christian Fennesz & Jim O'Rourke - It's Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry (Editions Mego)

I'm glad this lived up to the sum of its parts and more. I've seen opposing views, but I feel like the best of both artists are brought together into something neither would make on his own. The sound is thick. 2 long pieces.

David Toop - Entities Inertias Faint Beings (Room 40)

Toop proves himself a master of sound minutiae or at least the music that provokes listening for it. Environmental sounds haunted by memories of performed instruments.

J Balvin - Energía (Capitol Latin)

This is very pop, but I can't deny the album. Have probably played this in my car every day for the past 3 or 4 weeks, I guess subtracting my trip, though I heard Ginza and Bobo out in Spain. This could probably be divided into songs that really go and songs that are whatever, but it's been on repeat.

3 for June

Jesse Osborne-Lanthier and Grischa Lichtenberger - CSLM (Cosmo Rhythmatic)

Intense, varied, sonically precise exploration of sound, rhythm, and texture that I'm surprised to read comes from performances on CRTs and VHS machines... the remixes fit in perfectly, iterating interestingly on the themes but maintaining the flow as something that can be listened to like an album.

Objekt - Kern vol. 3 (Tresor)

This mix reminds me of the Journeys by DJ series (and maybe I'm thinking specifically of Coldcut's well-known mix) in its variety, but is rooted in techno. It experiment but stays solid. Worthy as a catalog release.

Golfam Khayam & Mona Matbou Riahi - Narrante (ECM)

Amazing contemporary chamber performances of Persian-rooted music from the Naqsh Duo, clarinet and guitar. Would love to attend a performance.

these go here

these are going to make it.

Jungle - Live at Okuden (ESP-Disk)

Tyshawn Sorey - The Inner Spectrum of Variables

Next Time it Will Be Summer

Autechre - elseq 1-5 (Warp)

Sounds in line with what I heard on their recent/current tour. Some wild noise, some evolving drones, some heavy beats... good mix of approaches from their history, a wide range of content here. There have been some complaints (not looking at watmm) about length. While I suppose I could agree that finding the best 100 minutes or so of content here might make a more concise and rewarding listen (I just tried to do this and managed to take it down to 120), there's just so much that's good here for that to be a major downside. Autechre do it.

M.E.S.H. - Damaged Merc (Pan)

There's this "post-club" label that gets thrown around (I normally use the term "noisy stuff," though this is quite different from Merzbow), and it really applies here (post-club). This music is noisy, danceable, IDM from the future rather than the past. Feels a lot more rhythmically driven and precise than the excellent Piteous Gate album. Anyway, cool music.

Masabumi Kikuchi - Black Orpheus (ECM)

This is a beautiful recording, from the atonal clusters to the lyrical moments. Never feels over-played. Excellent closing statement. Had the pleasure of seeing him at the Motian memorial...

Klara Lewis - Too (Editions Mego)

The pieces on this album are arrestingly narrative, in that they progress in a way that is abstract enough to be unpredictable but paced to be follow-able. Despite the sounds and methods used here, the music does not leave you grasping or disappear into a background, but impressively guides you along. More interesting than I expected.

I need to hear her last album and see a show... this is cool:

SHXCXCHCXSH - SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs (AVIAN)

Excellent contemporary techno.. Not super dancefloor-oriented, but it could work and could easily be tooled. This reminds me heavily of a conversation once on this forum I used to be on (erave) where someone (won't name names) brought up some graphic related to waves of sunlight and was relating to to some ideal of techno. It was probably all pretty pretentious, but I feel like this would fit into that conversation. That person had a great handle... Listening to it a 4th time or so I also was struck by the dub buried in parts of it it, from the little echoey passages to the use of noise... like taking basic channel to a new place.

It's Almost June

Antwood - Virtuous.scr (Planet Mu)

I wonder how many more of these surgical, refined noise albums can sustain my interest. At the moment, despite the demands of the sound, there's no fatigue in sight, and this is another great one. (In the vein of Ash Koosha, Arca, etc.)

John Zorn - Flaga Book of Angels Volume 27 (Tzadik)

Christian McBride is on point, we already know Craig Taborn is the man, and percussionist Tyshawn Sorey is on fire. It's great to hear Book of Angels material in this traditional jazz trio setting with such excellent players. I thought this was just going to be another good album of Zorn competitions, but it stands out.

Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool (XL Recordings)

It's another excellent Radiohead album. Melodies, rhythm, lyrics, elements all on point. Everything to like.

Elon Katz - The Human Pet (Diagonal)

This one's pretty weird, but it definitely grew on me. For me it kind of picks up where Jamie Lidell left off before Multiply, with some more contemporary approaches, advancing the tight, Prince-inspired electronic funk of various Eurofolk I could list. Has some aesthetic ties with the last Holly Herndon album as well, but with an industrial edge. whatever this all means...

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