[ Jeunesse Cosmique, 2017 ]
Another one from O Canada, this time by Montreal syntesist Charles Barabé, who goes more adventurous and experimental than his last year’s effort Les dernières confessions on two side-long pieces, throwing MIDI vocals, jagged rhythms and modern classical aesthetics into a blender, resulting in an ADHD-addled soundscapes that is at the same time pefectly musical and completely disorienting. Cut-up samples jump up all over the place while a piano plays a simple melody in the distance just to give way to some horns and xylophones. And the whole map changes every several seconds, while never losing the dynamic. How the hell does he do it!?
In case you considered this review tl;dr, here’s a shorter and more concise opinion from the RYM user _nkb:
“what if Phillip Glass contributed avantgarde psuedo-rave music to the Age of Empires 1 Soundtrack?”
Make of that what you will. Age of Empires were fucking cool, and so is this EP. Recommended!
[ MIE Music, 2016 ]
Recluse Disco: Michael Morley of The Dead C has been creating music under Gate moniker since the late 80’s, constalty exloring the outer bounds of the lo-fi aesthetic. On 2016’s Saturday Night Fever he flirts with disco and dance music, adding a beat to his rusted soundscapes, something that took listeners by surprise on 2010’s A Republic of Sadness. Here he takes his beat work to the next level, making his tunes almost danceable, on the verge of mutating into a full-on dancefloor banger. But then again, almost. The four tunes on SNF bear the signs of being a dancey records, but Morley makes sure this is his turf: his tuneless singing, washes of white noise, walls of distortions gradually overtake and drown out the funky brass sections or catchy basslines, turning the Saturday night party into something deeper and more primal. If the sound of the Dead C is like regular rock music abandoned on an empty parking lot and left to rot, then Gate’s Saturday Night Fever is a smashed mirror ball left to decay on the dance club’s backyard. Recommended!
[ Constellation Records, 2017 ]
Before I heard the eclectic Montreal kraut-funkers Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche I automatically associated Constellation Records with legendary post-rock ensemble Godspeed You! Black Emperor. They were/are great, but none of their stuff could be considered a summer listen. Music to watch the world burn, yes, but not getting sunburnt to. Now, on Pas pire pop, I Love You so Much these guys make some of the warmest, sunkissed post-rock ever, taking influences from all over the map and making amazing soundtracks for all the bike and kayak trips that await you this summer. One second it’s motorik, the next it’s like a shiny disco ball reflecting Fela Kuti and Klaus Dinger in a dizzying, kaleidoscopic array. Highly recommended!
[ Flightless Records, 2017 ]
Flying Microtonal Banana is the first installment in the Australian band’s King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard ambitious plan to release 5 full length albums in 2017. And if they keep it as fresh with the four remaining albums as they do with this one, the year of 2017 might be theirs. Their electrifying mixture of microtonal music, psychedelic rock and krautrock is like a bomb being dropped on the musical year 2017: an energetic take on psychedelic music with an ear for great melody and intriguing compositional ideas, especially the microtones, which provide a great, off-kilter quality to the already trippy rock amassed on the album. Flying Microtonal Banana is one hell of a trans-African trip that’s sure to take you to the Great Beyond and back. Highly recommended!
[ Self-released, 2016 ]
Last year’s album by the Polish noise rock unit Artykuły Rolne (which could be translated as “Agricultural Commodities”) is a shackled beast, which is struggling to free itself and sometimes spews scorching fire. The amount of energy and layers contained on this LP could be given to a few albums by a few bands, and the sheer, cosmic lysergic energy is conjured by heavily effect-laden walls of guitar noise and heavy, doomy drumming. When you name one of your tracks “Kosmos”, you gotta go huge. And goddamn, they do. This amount of heady, wide-eyed psychedelia is rarely to be seen. It’s almost like an anomaly. There should be more anomalies like this. Highly fucking recommended.
[ PAN, 2017 ]
The year 2016 might have seemed for some as some sort of end-of-the-world year with all the major changes going on in the US, Europe, or globally in general. The media were keen to fuel the panic with nearly apocalyptic images of protests, terrorist acts and riot, leading many to believe the next Big War is coming. Meanwhile, the team of the Berlin-based electronic label PAN asked themselves a simple question: What is ambient music in the 21st century? With the help of the musicians who released albums on PAN they answer this question: Well, ambient is still mostly about calmness and atmosphere, but in 2017 it’s stylistic influences are much wider than in the 1970’s when Brian Eno coined the term. The compilations title refers to the Japanese philosophical concept regarding being aware to the passing of all things. The ambience on Mono No Aware is “contaminated” by noise, musique concrete, grime, even ASMR aesthetics. It’s indeniably futuristic but also very traditional at the same time, keeping faithful to the original concept or answering to the question of what ambient music is. Featuring tracks by Helm, Yves Tumor, M.E.S.H., Jeff Witscher, SKY H1, ADR and many more, Mono No Aware is an ecletic, yet coherent collection of the 21st century ambient music. Highly recommended!
[ Rocket Recordings, 2017 ]
When it comes to clearly state your views, few (or even no) artists this year might come close to the UK psychonauts Gnod. It looks like the tumultous events of 2016 and early 2017 shook the members to their foundations, causing them to get radical and political. Just Say No is a rebellious album, eschewing their open-form drone-psych improvisations for a more coherent effort, fusing fuzzy noise rock with protest lyrics, which sometimes makes Gnod sound like Skullflower covering XTC (at least when the vocals aren’t extremely distorted). The dirty riffs fly like the riot police bullets while the heavy, pummeling drums set the rhythm for one last death march. Resistance music for the interesting times. Recommended!