Staff Picks - August 2019

Staff Picks - August 2019

Written by:

Dragoș Rusu & Victor Stutz

Published:

September 4, 2019

The last month of summer is gone, but our monthly Staff Picks column takes nostalgia away with a fruitful selection of new music, as well as reissues. Check out these 27 albums comprising everything from ambient to psychedelic, experimental, ethnic/world, electronics and beyond.

What's new, what's good, what's hot or not, what's obscure or under the radar, music wise, here's the monthly Staff Picks.

If you think that we've missed something or want to send a tip, please get in touch.

2. From Awkward Geisha to Ben Babbitt

Alcorn / McPhee / Vandermark - Invitation To A Dream (Astral Spirits)
Alcorn / McPhee / Vandermark - Invitation To A Dream (Astral Spirits)

1/1 - 1/1FRÈRES (Editions1OF1)
Editions1OF1 is proud to present to a large audience its new major work: 1/1FRÈRES, the rework of the globally-acclaimed rapfr album Deux Frères. Recorded in one 6+ hours take by night, 1/1FRÈRES springs from a huge energy shared between two close friends with machines, triggered by now classic album Deux Frères’ ambient atmosphere. The end result is a take on slow-dance, experimental & drone-heavy ambient cut for cassette release to a 3-hour trip of 16 tracks.

Alcorn / McPhee / Vandermark - Invitation To A Dream (Astral Spirits)
Astral Spirits’ 100th release in their fifth year is a special collaborative album comprising Susan Alcorn, Joe McPhee & Ken Vandermark. The album is made of six songs, all recorded in September 2017 in Austin, TX.
Tomorrow yes
Tomorrow no
Do we stay
Or
Do we go

(Joe McPhee)

Awkward Geisha - 100 Soft Rock Anthems (Harsh Noise Movement)
Awkward Geisha is a free improvisation ensemble with legs firmly lodged in the avant garde and dada movements. Members of the ensemble vary from song to song. The ensemble was put together by Ade Rowe in 2016 as a reaction to the mundane and tedious sounds that insult the eardrums on a daily basis.

Awkward Geisha / Grossdeath - Los Sonidos de la Muerte (Harsh Noise Movement)
Awkward Geisha songs are cover versions of Syphilitic Retard songs. Grossdeath: corrosive power electronics grinding from Mexico using source code.

Ben Babbitt - Paris Window Original Score (Not Not Fun Records)
Director Amanda Kramer’s prompts for composer Ben Babbitt’s soundtrack to her enigmatic film Paris Window read like magnetic fridge poetry – “warped ambient bumper muzak tension” – but the results skew closer to some hypnagogic contemporary noir: lulling, low-lit, and laced with lingering dread. Electronics, strings, and percussion swoon and seethe in heady mirages of dreams and delirium, romance and menace. The narrative it accompanies is equally opaque and out of time: two eccentric siblings psychologically unravel through divergent fixations, one obsessed with the hypnotic infomercials of a mysterious self-help institute while the other falls in love with an ambiguous doppelgänger.

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3. From DJ Bando to Erkki Veltheim

VA - Classic Productions by Surin Phaksiri: Luk Thung Gems from the 1960s-80s (Compiled by Soi48) (EM Records)
VA - Classic Productions by Surin Phaksiri: Luk Thung Gems from the 1960s-80s (Compiled by Soi48) (EM Records)

VA - Classic Productions by Surin Phaksiri: Luk Thung Gems from the 1960s-80s (Compiled by Soi48) (EM Records)
This collection of 12 luk thung (1) songs from the 1960s-80s, all produced by Surin Phaksiri, is a superb showcase of cross-genre/multi-national fertilization, with Latin, jazz, western pop, Indian and Japanese music seamlessly melding with the musical world of Isan (northeast Thailand), which is strongly rooted in Laotian culture.

DJ BANDO - Xanbient Works Volume 1 (Opal Tapes)
Chris Durham (Traag, Church Shuttle) unveils a new card in the deck of fucked, bent and folded in the form of DJ BANDO. This debut release spawns sick, pulsing, ultra-lofi punk-techno that is recorded and mixed in some stain-filled steel box. Reminiscent of the dark trips of Nostilevo, John Olson’s Henry & Hazel Slaughter or even distant Legowelt transmissions through a busted boombox.

E-Saggila - My World My Way (Northern Electronics)
Following on from last year's album for BANK Records NYC, E-Saggila has put together something that addresses the club and the headphones in equal measure. Taking the approach of a documentarian of our virtual landscape, there's a deep motive that underpins the heavy digital signal processing. With plenty of storming mechanical rhythms that embark from gabber's chaotic neighborhood, the samples of voices, conversations, and phone calls, all wind the listener around the desperation that's embedded in the digital world's seamless mediation of our lives.

Erkki Veltheim - Ganzfeld Experiment (Room40)
Veltheim’s Ganzfeld experiment is an audiovisual work for electric violin, video and signal processing. In a Ganzfeld experiment, a test subject is exposed to such a continuous uniform stimulus field, while another person attempts to send them telepathic messages. Using this premise as a starting point, this edition replicates elements of this experiment in order to explore synesthetic hallucinations. The electric violin’s signal acts as a tool for gradually manipulating and transforming static noise in both the audio and visual domains.

Various Artists - Five Years of Annulled (Annulled Music)
The Spanish imprint for atmospheric deep techno, Annulled Music, celebrates five years of activity. This compilation comprising 17 tracks released throughout the years on the label is to celebrate the diverse sounds Annulled has released so far. The compilation brings together likeminded artists such as BLNDR, Von Grall, Elle, Monochrome, Hydrangea, Refracted, Mod21, Modern Eleven, Milena Kriegs, Qeel, Underjack and Iajov (AmLight), among others.

4. From Gabber Modus Operandi to Gökçen Kaynatan

I Jahbar & Friends - Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash (Duppy Gun)
I Jahbar & Friends - Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash (Duppy Gun)

Gabber Modus Operandi - HOXXXYA (SVBKVLT)
SVBKVLT welcomes on their 29th release the new album from Indonesia’s Gabber Modus Operandi, ‘HOXXXYA’. Artwork by Asian Dope Boys’ Chen Tianzhuo. ”For this album, we owe a lot to the metal/noise scene and to the small rapidly growing rave crew in Denpasar, while at the same time a ton of influence strongly came from all the sounds blasting out from our banjar (neighborhood) community, the loudest spirits of Dangdut Koplo and Indonesian happy hardcore, to gamelan sounds and everything in between,” says Gabber Modus Operandi.

Gökçen Kaynatan - Cehennem (Finders Keepers Records)
A key figure during the birth of Turkish rock and roll, a founding father of Anatolian Rock and the studio brains behind the first Turkish electronic pop records, Gökçen Kaynatan's influence runs like the lifeblood through Turkish pop and rock. Having shunned the recording industry early in his career he remained a driving force behind the scenes and on TV screens, spearheading the explosion of synth technology in Turkish music with his pioneering use of the EMS Synthi AKS, the fruits of which would only be shared on stage, never to be repeated television broadcasts, and in archival recordings that haven't seen the light of day, until now.

Gonzo - Ruído(s) (Discrepant)
In Ruído(s), Gonzo recounts pop/electronic history through field recordings and weird-soft beats. More than compiling his seven-year history, Gonzo is more worried to understand where he’s leaving his ideas, Caretaker style. As the album progresses and the need to revisit it grows, it becomes clearer(?) that “Ruído(s)” is more than an artist self-indulging on his work – in a very good manner. It’s also a condensed catalog of Portuguese music and its sounds, a circular trip down the memory lane of a forgotten country and its landscape. “Ruído(s)” is a goodbye to a country and its traditions. It does it without sulking but with the most respectful loud laugh - the Gonzo way.

I Jahbar & Friends - Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash (Duppy Gun)
A nephew of Congo Ashanti Roy, his plentiful swagger & energy was the spark that lit the Duppy chalice & his acrobatic performance on the twisted Spy Riddim was the verse that launched a thousand bullets & convinced Bigflite & Velkro to start the label.

Inner Travels - Nature Spirit (Inner Islands)
Nature sounds have always been important among Steve Targo’s Inner Travels releases. Targo often uses synthesizers to replicate wildlife songs in his music, framed with his own field recordings. On Nature Spirit, the tenth Inner Travels full-length, he pays more attention to the world outside his window and less to the electronics. The sounds of the environment are as much “songs” as the three-musical works on the album. They unfold in the style of most Inner Travels music -- no beginning, no end, each layer of texture revealing more and more with each listen. Those layers were engineered into the environmental passages of Nature Spirit. Targo mixed different tracks from his own library of field recordings. The intent behind Nature Spirit is the same as it was for the other Inner Travels albums -- to create music that brings peace to its listeners. In a world that rushes people along, Nature Spirit slows life down so that everything can be appreciated and enjoyed.

5. From Kepler Gods to Muta

VA - MEZZO MORRA - The sounds of Sardinia (Collection Petites Planètes)
VA - MEZZO MORRA - The sounds of Sardinia (Collection Petites Planètes)

Jenne Sutela - nimiia vibié (PAN)
Aspiring to connect with a world beyond our consciousness and our planet, nimiia vibié sounds the interactions between a neural network, audio recordings of early Martian language, and microscopic footage of extremophilic space bacteria.

八仙过海,各显神通 (Kepler 452b)
Kepler Gods are interdisciplinary artists trained to become Spiritual Techno Queer icons, produced by a community based in Berlin called Kepler 452b, initiated by artist Ma Li in 2017 in Berlin. The album curates an interesting mix of artists, from Berlin Queer Icon MIKEY, to Chinese Empress of Techno MIIIA. From hidden talent Google nerd National Park System, to energetic Middle Eastern flavor Tropikal Camel. The philosophy of the community is explained by the title, 八仙过海,各显神通 (8 gods crossing the sea, each demonstrating their unique superpower). Borrowing from a Chinese idiom of a folklore, the story is a metaphor for a community of talented, powerful individuals that genuinely support each other in their highest pursuit—a community of collective-individualism.

Madre Larva - Danza De Cuchillos / Sin Remission (Clan Destine Records)
Ritual ambient from Spain's Madre Larva.

VA - MEZZO MORRA - The sounds of Sardinia (Collection Petites Planètes)
This album is composed of recordings made during the creation of MEZZO MORRA - a film created by Vincent Moon for the Milano Film Festival, in 2011. A week-long research and improvised recording around Sardinia, meeting musicians, processions, traditions of the island.

Muta [Alessandra Rombolà, Rhodri Davies & Ingar Zach] - Bricolage (Al Maslakh)
There’s nothing rococo or impressionistic about Bricolage’s improvisations, which take full sonic advantage of the electronics developed since Cardew’s time as an avant gardist. Almost without exception the undercurrent includes variants of processed harp timbres, organ-like layered drones from the sruti box and expanding puffs and verbalism from the flute that grows ever wider as the tunes develop.

6. From Rob Mazurek to YZEID

Spill (Magda Mayas & Tony Buck) - Stockholm Syndrome (Al Maslakh)
Spill (Magda Mayas & Tony Buck) - Stockholm Syndrome (Al Maslakh)

Naujawanan Baidar - Volume 2 (Radio Khiyaban)
This is the second volume of cassette four-track recordings by Afghan-American folk-noise outfit Naujawanan Baidar. Like on the band's first tape, Volume II mines the treasure trove of 1960s-1980s cassette music from founder N.R. Safi's paternal homeland of Afghanistan, warping both traditional and popular forms into a tangled mass of tape-saturated noise inspired by the very medium that once carried them. Although the end results may sound far removed from the original artists that helped inspired them (legendary performers like Ahmad Zahir, Beltoon and Hamidullah, or Salma Jahani) there is something to be said for this "new" or "imagined" form of contemporary Afghan experimental music. Naujawanan Baidar both reaffirms its ties to a relatively hidden (to outside eyes at least) cultural history while at the same time pushing outwards into new and unexplored territories.

Rob Mazurek - Psychotropic Electric Eel Dreams IV (Astral Spirits)
The sounds in this composition were generated by electric eels at the National Institute of Research and Technology in Manaus, Brazil. Mazurek recorded them between 2000 and 2008, and has since used them in several music compositions, recordings, and installations. In this iteration of the work, he combines them with analog/digital synthesis to create an undulating and radiant sonic texture.

Siavash Amini - Serus (Room40)
”I came across the idea of ‘other night’ described by Maurice Blanchot, during my research. It started me recognising night as something we experience as ‘the night of sleep’; it is night that we resist in sleep, by way of dreaming. Things became more interesting for me during many nights of not sleeping and intoxication, and an eventual nervous breakdown. This experience, culminating in me spending three days in ICU, gave me pause to think about Blanchot’s words”. (Siavash Amini)

Spill (Magda Mayas & Tony Buck) - Stockholm Syndrome (Al Maslakh)
Beirut based imprint Al Maslakh welcomes Spill, the Berlin-based duo of Magda Mayas on piano and clavinet and Tony Buck on drums/percussion, formed in 2003. They have, to date released 3 albums as the duo, and have collaborated with John Butcher, as well as with American bassist Damon Smith. Their new ”Stockholm Syndrome” release comprises two long and hypnotic pieces, an impressive and rich excursion into improvised music.

UBURGRUND - Invazia Mult Asteptata (Muteant Sounds)
UBURGRUND is a Romanian project driven by surrealism, random electronic techniques only on analogue devices. Depersonalization has been a grail for oriental-fetish western spirituality. UBURGRUND chooses to invade individuality in an act of forced-alienation. An invasion (of maniacal electronics) to occupy the right vacant place of the illusory self. Invazia mult asteptata (The Long-awaited invasion) depicts seven degrees of abduction.

Wukir Suryadi - Nginguk (self-released)
This is a recording resulted from one of Wukir Suryadi’s concerts from July at "Nginguk Githok". Wukir is one half of the Indonesian metal duo band Senyawa, alongside Rully Shabara.

YZEID - Ayam Soda (ТОПОТ)
”Ayam Soda” is a sincere personal experience by Cairo based musician Youssef Abouzeid — a 9 track album that explores the tensions of love/hate through deviant songwriting and alienated production. Words are sung through loose electronics and bad recordings of folk guitars that are buried deep within melodic feedbacks. A heavily-processed story, fueled by dark melancholia and a weird sense of self. Youssef Abouzeid is an Egyptian multi-instrumentalist, producer and co-founder of the Cairo label HIZZ.

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Dragoș Rusu & Victor Stutz

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