February 2020

Album releases

Sunda Arc — Tides Highly recommended!

Would you say this is a techno record? Certainly Daemon is the highest temperature burner I've heard so far this year. But this album also includes the Boards of Canada-esque Hymn, the more cinematic Everything at Once, a textural exploration á la Tim Hecker (Thessaloniki), and even some full-on minimal/chamber pieces (Another Life, Secret Window). Overall this is one of my favorite records in recent memory and I'll be paying very close attention to the Smart brothers from here on out.

Moses Boyd — Dark Matter Highly recommended!

The London jazz scene is a hotbed of unique and interesting music right now and Moses Boyd is at the forefront. His Displaced Diaspora in 2018 got me paying attention and Dark Matter is a worthy followup. Singles like BTB and Y.O.Y.O. bring a danceable urgency into traditional jazz structures, while tunes like Stranger Than Fiction and 2 Far Gone (with Joe Armon Jones) move further into a realm of urban fusion music.

You'll never stray too far from home, though. Even when a genuine 2-step beat is banging through the speakers the melodies are still thoughtful, jazzy improvisations.

Alabaster DePlume — To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol. 1 Highly recommended!

Our most intimate relationships can be delicate, but are also the most rewarding. That's what pops into my mind as I listen to the saxophone on this record. Its tone is mesmerizing, dancing back and forth across the line between fragility and confidence.

Overall the compositions occupy a space somewhere between jazz and minimalism but I think the more important point is how it communicates. It's not just a session jam or an academic experiment; emotion pours out of the sound here and thickens the air around you.

For more context around the artist and this record, check out his interview with Quietus.

Intronaut — Fluid Existential Inversions

An exciting metal album that veers between punishing density and soaring, catchy hooks. The cymbal work almost sounds jazzy at times, but don't go in expecting jazz. I picked Speaking of Orbs to add to my Work Metal playlist.

Sierra Hull — 25 Trips

Sierra Hull is one of the world's best mandolin players but her music isn't confined to the bluegrass or folk idiom. 25 Trips is full of good songs that avoid definition, while showing off great musicianship, catchy arrangements and lovely vocals.

Six Organs of Admittance — Companion Rises

Companion Rises still has Six Organs' trademark moody, technical guitar folk sound, but adds an uptempo dimension of fuzzy riffs and feedback. Tunes like The 101 feel to me like they're almost getting into a post-punk territory.

Elaquent — Forever is a Pretty Long Time

This is just a solid hip-hop release. Elaquent's production is catchy and the beats feel very specific and comfortable for the MCs who collaborate on it. Guidelines with Oddisee and Chase the Light with Cavalier are the standout tracks for me.

Filthy Gears — Pure Filth, Vol. 1

Nothing too complicated here, just an album full of scorching instrumentals from one of my favorite grime producers. Play it when you want a little edge; it makes a great workout album.

HashFinger, Butta & MC Synergy — Hash Butta Synergy

Australian MCs Butta and Synergy link up with HashFinger on this collaboration. They both have super smooth and unique flows and the lyricism leans intellectual, sighting in squarely on modern culture and current events. If you could only spin one track here, make sure it's Gospel Comfort.

Kelpe — Run With the Floating, Weightless Slowness

A calm and thoughtful record. I don't think "minimal" is the right word, because there's quite a bit going on sonically here, but there's certainly a lot of space between all the carefully crafted sounds.

Bambara — Stray

A dive bar, pulp detective sort of post-punk record. Not my usual fare, but I dug the gritty, impressionistic storytelling and the glowing embers of twang and surf that sizzled in the riffs. Serafina is one of my favorites here: a careening, pyrotechnic tale that feels like an anthem for 2020.


Fazer / Popp — Gahu Dub / Baixo Highly recommended!

I like Fazer's Gahu Dub just fine and it's surely worth a listen, but Baixo is the standout on this split EP. Popp makes music that is so dense and engaging that you barely realize it's all percussion instruments! If you like this, be sure to check out Laya (2019) next.

Alex Banks — Beneath the Surface Remixed, Pt. 1

I thought this EP had some obvious standouts: Thomas Ragdale's shimmering remix of Spiralling, Ásgeir & Thomas Gandey's sexy and sinuous techno version of Chasms, and the algebraic shuffle of Jinjé's Revolution remix.

Sofia Kourtesis — Sarita Colonia

Hot, hot, hot. I love how these tracks so effectively blend filtered disco funk and tech-house stomp. On top of that are glitchy samples that add just a bit of mystery and intrigue.

New to Me

Polynation — Igneous (2019)

Freewheeling electronic/acoustic tunes that swoop and soar. I think it's kind of like... maybe if Bonobo and Skalpel had a love child?