Staff Picks - October

Staff Picks - October

Written By:

Dragoș Rusu


November 4, 2018

This is what drew our attention musically during October 2018. What's new, what's good, what's hot or not, what's obscure or under the radar, music wise, if you think that we've missed something or want to send a tip, please get in touch.

2. From Acezantez to Channelers

Baba Commandant And The Mandingo Band - Siri Ba Kele (Sublime Frequencies)
Baba Commandant And The Mandingo Band - Siri Ba Kele (Sublime Frequencies)

Acezantez ‎- Acezantez (Sub Rosa)
Originally released in 1977, this self-titled re-issue is my personal introduction to Ansambl Centra za nove tendencije Zagreb, or Acezantez for short. Croatian composer and instrumentalist Dubravko Detoni (born in 1937) is again seeing the light of day forty-one years after its original issue. The record brings together an ensemble of five players wielding wind instruments (including voice), piano, strings and even the Glockenspiel. The arrangements are broken into two compositions that run at about twenty minutes each, one per side: Kič-Varijacije/Kitch Variations and Bajka/Fable.

Annelies Monseré - Happiness Is Within Sight (
Annelies Monseré has been playing music solo since 2000. Initially the music was piano-based and mostly instrumental. Once she ‘discovered’ her voice, vocals became a main focus. The early songs had very simple structures and melodies, and the words were sparse and introvert. Musically, the Belgium artist experimented with different instruments such as cello, guitar, xylophone and melodica. ‘Happiness Is Within Sight’ is Monsere’s latest album, a quixotic journey through ambient-folk, a record dedicated “dedicated to the one who has been left behind and the one who left”, as told by Ziggy Devriendt (a.k.a. DJ Nosedrip).

Baba Commandant And The Mandingo Band - Siri Ba Kele (Sublime Frequencies)
Baba Commandant And The Mandingo Band return with their second album, Siri Ba Kele. After the afro-beat fury of their first album Juguya (2015), the band has now distilled a potent mix of traditional and modern Burkinabe funk with a reverent take on the iconic Mandingue guitar music of the 1970's. Mamadou Sanou (Baba Commandant) leads the band with a confidence earned from years of toiling in the DIY underground of the West African music scene. The band has become an interlocking five-headed hydra of complex funk and cosmic guitar explosions. Recorded in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in February 2018 by Camille Louvel and mixed with Sublime Frequencies' Hisham Mayet, the Mandingo Band's sophomore LP is a modern statement of searing Sahelian compositions.

Channelers - Entrance to the Next (Inner Islands)
Channelers’ new album presents a wide spectrum of pieces embedded in the practice and process of improvisation. “After a certain point, all I do is show up to work.” This is the eighth Channelers album since the project debuted in 2015. Channelers is the work of Sean Conrad, who also runs the Inner Islands label.

Clawing - Labour (Grey Matter Productions)
"I never thought addiction would land at my doorstep. I've known a lot of junkies and I've had friends die of overdoses but it's never actually been in my family. 2 years ago, my mother's husband of 10 years decided he was going to do meth. It came out of the blue and his reasons were ridiculous. The two that he recited most often were that he needed to lose weight for his job and that it made him feel young. He came from a good home or at least that's what he always said. He loved to throw that in everyone's face. It puzzled me how he could turn out the way he did. He was a pothead in high school and he drank until his 40s. He had a heart attack around that time and he decided to straighten up and fly right. It didn't last long and he was hitting the bottle again. Nothing seemed to be enough and then he ended up here. Meth is a problem plaguing the South it seems. The area I live in is ravaged by it.” Clawing is particularly unique dark ambient project from Alabama of all places. Clawing takes the most entrancing elements from genres like industrial noise, drone and ambient and weaves them seamlessly into a sonic nightmare that feels all too real and down to earth - particularly on their latest effort. But what truly sets them apart is their use of spoken-word poetry, which floats atop the layers of melancholic atmosphere, adding a sense of cohesive progression to their music. Labour is a piece about drug addiction, the result of the efforts put together by musicians Austin Gaines, Jeff McLeod and Matt Finney (as Clawing), plus Tyson Platt, J. James and K. Miller who turned this album into something brilliant.

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3. From Emanuele Errante to Frédéric D. Oberland

VA - Girih: Iranian Sound Artists (Zabte Sote)
VA - Girih: Iranian Sound Artists (Zabte Sote)

Deben Bhattacharya - Paris to Calcutta: Men and Music on the Desert Road (Sublime Frequencies)
Deben Bhattacharya (1921-2001) was a field recordist, poet, filmmaker, musicologist, and amateur ethnomusicologist, based in Calcutta and Paris. Highly influential, he produced a vast number of LPs, CDs, videos, and radio shows of traditional music from India, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe from 1953 until his death in 2001. Never before published, Paris to Calcutta: Men and Music on the Desert Road features over four hours of music and is Deben's impressionistic account of a 1955 journey overland, in a converted milk delivery van, from France to India collecting and exploring music along the Desert Road from Europe into India. With four CDs of recordings, photographs, Deben's original recording notes, musical transcriptions, and more. An amazing glimpse into a time long gone and essential listening for anyone interested in folk and world music traditions. The compilation was produced and edited by Robert Millis (who made the film Indian Talking Machine in 2015) and Victrola Favorites (DTD 011CD, 2009). "

Emanuele Errante - The Evanescence Of A Thousand Colors (Karaoke Kalk Musikverlag)
Ever since his widely acclaimed debut LP ’Migrations’ was released in 2006, tone color has always been an important aspect of Emanuele Errante’s music. Drawing from both electronic and acoustic sources, his compositions paint impressionistic vignettes with sonic intensities. As a follow-up to Errante’s recent collaboration album with Dakota Suite and Dag Rosenqvist on Karaoke Kalk, the sonically rich soundscapes of »The Evanescence of a Thousand Colors« again highlight the importance of listening to one another - they are an almost wordless appeal for a more colorful world.

Fierbințeanu - The Great Scheme Of Things
The Great Scheme Of Things is a new concept for Fierbinteanu, an interdisciplinary project, consisting of an LP, a performance involving dance, visuals and theatrical elements, a concert and an experimental film made up of the videos of all the songs on the album. The Great Scheme Of Things can also take the shape of an art installation or an editorial project. Created, recorded and produced from 2016 to 2018, the music of The Great Scheme Of Things is at the core of the performance that has been featured in several national and international art festivals, so far. It’s a committed message to Humanity, in this day and age.

Frédéric D. Oberland - Labyrinth (NAHAL Recordings)
Multi-instrumentalist, musician, photographer and co-founder of groups such as Oiseaux-Tempête, Le Réveil des Tropiques, FOUDRE!, The Rustle Of The Stars and FareWell Poetry, Frédéric D. Oberland presents his sophomore solo album, Labyrinth, a condensed version of a sound and visual installation created in the basement of the contemporary art space Labanque in Béthune. Rich in instrumentation the album is sometimes rough (electric guitars, console feedbacks, bursts of transformed drums and saxophone screams crackling in their dissonance) and at other moments delicate (hushed and scattered chords of piano, mellotron and distant synths in whispering voices). Accompanied by the drumming and spatial mixing by Jules Wysocki, the six connected stages/chapters of this immersive journey embrace expanse. In a continuous game of call and response between the intimate and the vast, 'Labyrinth' plays with the dynamics, the silence and the musical genres (ambient, free-jazz, electronics, acousmatic), kneading and pulling the form and structure of the tracks in ever changing attempts towards transfiguring the chaos.

VA - Girih: Iranian Sound Artists (Zabte Sote)
Experimental electronic musicians from Iran have marked their prints on the face of the universal experimental music scene for some time now, though the manner in which their status went from "non-existent" to "present" and from "silent" to "noisy" might somehow seem "unpredictable" to the naked eye. The way these small individual girihs have become conjoint in order to make a larger design, might at some point seem arbitrary and even accidental. Nevertheless, by following the patterns in which the branches of a river are spreading and by trailing all its curves and bends, we find a sense of order in chaos. This compilation is trying to transform the chapter from "individual" to "crowd", at the same time, still maintaining "independence". This inevitable spread of fractures, better not be tamed but explored, as us, musicians, are all exploring and experimenting while trying to keep our unique identities originated from our homeland, our experiences, our struggles and our principles.

4. From J.H. Guraj to Kaczmarek

Jerusalem In My Heart - Daqa'iq Tudaiq (Constellation Records)
Jerusalem In My Heart - Daqa'iq Tudaiq (Constellation Records)

I-LP-ON - ÄÄNET (Editions Mego)
Ilpo Väisänen returns to Editions Mego under the guise of I-LP-ON with an immense tribute to the outfit he played in alongside his friend and former creative partner Mika Vainio. ÄÄNET takes inspiration from the life of PAN SONIC, the outfit they inhabited for over 2 decades. Recorded in Kuopio, Barcelona and Karttula, ÄÄNET is made up of a series of minatres that harness the many shadows this legendary act absorbed: Industrial, ambient, dub and club all figure into this edgy slow burning menace of a release.

J.H. Guraj - Steadfast On Our Sand (Boring Machines)
"Steadfast on our Sand" is a documentary by Zimmer Frei about landscape creation and nature control, a mesmeric film about the islander community and its contradictory habits and traditions. A cowboy movie with herds running in the meadow at sunset and white horses resting in the dark of the night, a documentary film about artificial nature and landscape design, a scary movie with zombies and ghosts, to which J.H. Guraj contributed some music to the documentary by Zimmer Frei. Stealing his stage name Guraj from an old sage picker he encountered on a summer journey through the Albanian rocky landscape, Dominique Vaccaro’s work over the last ten years as a visual artist and electro-acoustic musician working in the field of musique concrète with analog devices and tape recorders has certainly informed his approach.

Jerusalem In My Heart - Daqa'iq Tudaiq (Constellation Records)
Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) returns with Daqa'iq Tudaiq, the third full-length album from the Montréal-Beirut contemporary Arabic audio-visual duo, following the acclaimed 2015 release If He Dies, If If If If If If. Featuring voice, electronics, buzuk and other instrumentation from composer-producer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh and complemented by the 16mm analog film work of Charles-André Coderre in live performance, JIMH continues to expand the horizons of its profound conceptual and aesthetic engagement with Arabic/Middle-Eastern traditions. Daqa'iq Tudaiq translates as “minutes that bother/oppress/harass” – which presumably needs no further explanation – and features two distinct album sides of music.

John Dikeman & Aleksandar Škorić – Deekshya (Nachtstück Records)
John Dikeman is an American saxophonist currently residing in Amsterdam. Drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources, John’s playing runs the gamut of improvised music and technique. John has performed extensively in the Netherlands and USA as well as Canada, Brasil, Russia and throughout Europe and the Middle East. Aleksandar Škorić (1991) is a Serbian drummer, currently residing and studying in Groningen, The Netherlands. Through music, meditations, inspirations, sound uplifts and arrises the life full of meaning. Playing from your Heart, Love and Light. Škorić shared moment and creates/d music with: John Dikeman, 3 Times 7, Charles Gayle Trio, Nuclear Dream Weavers Compound (Linda Sharrock and Mario Rechtern), Shabaka Hutchings and more.

Kaczmarek - K.A.C.Z.M.A.R.E.K (KCZMRK)
Kaczmarek is back with an upcoming full-length album, “K.A.C.Z.M.A.R.E.K.” – the third release on the experimental label, KCZMRK. “K.A.C.Z.M.A.R.E.K”, from the title to the sounds, is intended to be a more personal project for Paul Ritch. Moody and foreboding, loaded with the scattered, staccato and broken beats, more ovular than linear in composition and ranging from vaporous-ambience to hyperventilating grooves, the nine tracks on this album defy categorization.

5. From Michael Klein to Mike Cooper

Katharina Ernst - Extrametric (Ventil Records)
Katharina Ernst - Extrametric (Ventil Records)

Karlheinz Essl - Where's the Rainbow? (Nachtstück Records)
Karlheinz Essl is an Austrian composer, performer, sound artist, improviser, and composition teacher. His work with computers (with emphasis on algorithmic composition and generative music) and a prolonged occupation with the poetics of serial music have been a formative influence on his compositional thinking. Besides writing instrumental music, Karlheinz Essl also works in the field of electronic music, interactive real-time compositions and sound installations. Since the early 1990s, he has developed various software environments for real-time composition which he uses himself for his own live performances and also in collaboration with artists from other fields (choreographers, dancers, visual artists and poets).

Katharina Ernst - Extrametric (Ventil Records)
Multidisciplinary drummer and artist Katharina Ernst unites abstract composition and polyrhythmic solo performance on her absorbing debut solo album, Extrametric. The basis of the recording initially comprised drum exercises requiring deep concentration to propel separated elements forward into richly patterned grooves. Extrametric is the result of a long-lasting process of personal focus - the oldest rhythm on the record dates back a full 7 years - Katharina having dedicatedly refined her practice to focus on unusual structures and polymetric beats. The resultant performances reveal hitherto unexplored rhythmic layers. Tellingly, the artist refers to these pieces as études - musical ‘studies’ - describing the album as based more around a concept than any musical genre.

Maria W Horn - Kontrapoetik (Portals Editions)
Kontrapoetik is a very personal and simultaneously historical investigation, tackling the deceivingly serene, yet turmoiled past of composer Maria W Horn’s home region Ångermanland in the North of Sweden, and her own counter-exorcism project thereof. Concurrent with Horn’s Ångermanland research, she was part of an artistic research project in the form of a satanic feminist sect. The goal of the work within the sect was to develop a practice consisting of ceremonies and rituals based on counter readings of the Christian genesis narratives, dismantling its misogynist traditions. In these counter-myths, Lucifer is re-conceptualized as a feminist liberator of womankind, and is seen as an ally in the struggle against a patriarchy supported by God the father and the male priesthood. The ingestion of the forbidden fruit by Eve becomes a heroic act of rebellion against the tyranny of God and Adam. Several of the pieces on Kontrapoetik were composed specifically for ceremonial practices, as in the case of Ave, which is a composition built from a text by Michelle Jangmyr, one of the sect members. The musical territories explored by Horn on Kontrapoetik are vast, but at the heart of each piece is a strong fundament of reductionist technique no matter how maximal the results may sound.

Michael Klein – Snapshot (Second State)
Besides being a man of many creative talents, Klein has been pushing his unique and undeniably infectious sound to the masses as a DJ and producer all while running his own BLK DRP imprint, his platform for releasing only his originals. With huge releases and remixes on Second State, Octopus and most recently Dense & Pika’s highly lauded Kneaded Pains label, Michael Klein is fully en route on his trajectory to solidifying himself among the industry's elite. So, to be the platform for him to present his debut album ’Snapshot’ is an honor for us here at Second State.

Mike Cooper - Tropical Gothic (Discrepant)
2018 sees the Discrepant imprint uncovering some new music from Mike Cooper’s limitless exploration in his collection of guitars. The title itself, “Tropical Gothic” references Cooper’s beloved areas of ‘the South’ with a Gothic, dark, remote interplay... ‘’Tropical Gothic includes, but is by no means limited to, a reflection on a region where European colonial powers fought intensively against indigenous populations and against each other for control of land and resources.’’ In each side Mike Cooper studies different approaches to his method of uniting guitar and field recordings into a constant stream of sound, where he delivers chaos and melody – not necessarily in that order. A mix of ambient exotica music, silent film soundtrack and distorted rhythms that dance around Mike’s guitar. It keeps reinventing and transforming itself throughout those eighteen minutes, summing up the dexterity and muscle of Mike Cooper’s music of the last two decades.

6. From Saloli to Sebastian Gandera

Senyawa - Sujud (Sublime Frequencies)
Senyawa - Sujud (Sublime Frequencies)

Puce Mary - The Drought (PAN)
Puce Mary breaks new ground with The Drought, evolving from the tropes of industrial and power electronics to forge a complex story of adapting to new realities. The album proves an intention to expand on the vocabulary of confrontational music and into a grander narrative defined by technical and emotional growth. Puce Mary’s compositions manifest an ongoing power struggle within the self towards preservation. The Drought presents both danger and opportunity; through rebuilding a creative practice centred on first person narrative and a deliberate collage of field recordings and sound sources Puce Mary injects an acute urgency across the album seeking resilience.

Saloli - The Deep End (kranky)
Portland, Oregon resident Mary Sutton aka Saloli's solo debut materialized in the wake of a performance she gave at a clothing-optional soaking-pool sauna: 'I had never composed for synth before but wanted to make something people sitting motionless and naked in hot bubbly water would want to hear.' The sound of Saloli is one of warm-blooded wiring, turned on and tapped into, emotive and electric, storied machines speaking through all too human hands. The nine intuitive instrumental songs comprising The Deep End are active rather than ambient yet their structure is more suggestive than scripted, full of lulls, asymmetries, and daydreams. Each track was written specifically to be played live on an analog synthesizer, with no overdubs or post-production wizardry.

Sebastian Gandera - Le Raccourci (Efficient Space)
Sebastian Gandera (real name Éric Morin) first began recording in the confines of his university dorm room, inspired by a C60 from friend and future collaborator Bernard Odot (A Gethsémani). Humbly existing without sparing a thought to music industry or career, Gandera’s personal effects surfaced via the European and US cassette networks from 1988 to 1994. These tapes were issued in limited quantities, rendering his pieces as private secrets shared and duplicated in small circles, and almost never shared in a live context. Selected by Sky Girl co-conspirer Julien Dechery, Le Raccourci culls 15 tracks from Gandera’s extensive cassette discography, discarded DAT recordings, and split CD with Lyon toy music project Klimperei. The identity is further detailed by archival images, Glen Goetze penned liner notes and original artwork from Perks and Mini’s Misha Hollenbach.

Senyawa - Sujud (Sublime Frequencies)
By weaving Indonesian folkloric moods with various shades of modern genre hybrids, Senyawa has been navigating unexplored musical terrain for more than a decade. Sujud, their premier release on the Sublime Frequencies label, is the latest chapter of this very special and singular sound of the past, present, and future. The basic theme of the record can be summed up with one extremely powerful Bahasa Indonesian word, "tanah", which translates to "soil-ground-land-earth". Shabara's vocals are an expressive force, conjuring spirits from the soil with a deep humility and respect for the land and their existence in the universe. Suryadi has built a new guitar for these tracks and pushes the Senyawa sound into new territory, utilizing delay, loops, and other effects creating grounded backdrops of folk metal, punk attitudinal, and droning earthscapes - providing Shabara the perfect context to explore his whispering poetry and jagged, sharp-as-a-kris animistic powers. Also check out our feature with Senyawa from two years ago, as well as a video recording.

VA - To Catch a Ghost: Field Recordings from Madagascar (Sublime Frequencies)
This is Sublime Frequencies' second volume of transcendent musical field recordings from central and southern Madagascar, produced by Charles Brooks. Charles Brooks has been traveling to Madagascar and living with these spectacular artists for many years and has managed to document countless examples of their work, and regardless of how formal or informal a recording is made, the results always turn out magical. "The musicians on this album are storytellers and much of their craft is improvised and has a strong foundation of expertise in their respective cultural traditions. These field recordings have been collaborative from beginning to end and here, I've attempted to represent the finest of these talented artists. Their music journeys across endless landscapes with some movements having the qualities of a start and finish and yet no apparent end... Seeking, recording, and sharing the intangible experience, the best of all of this, is to catch a ghost" says Charles G Brooks.

About the Author

Dragoș Rusu

Co-founder and editor in chief of The Attic and allround music adventurer.


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