Staff Picks - September 2019

Staff Picks - September 2019

October 8, 2019

Written by:

Dragoș Rusu & Victor Stutz

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The autumn is officially here, and our monthly Staff Picks washes away the summer nostalgia with a heavy selection of new music, as well as reissues. Check out these 41 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.

From A Trio to Animistic Beliefs

Ale Hop - Apophenia (Buh Records)
Ale Hop - Apophenia (Buh Records)
"A" Trio - Music To Our Ears (Al Maslakh)
Trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj, bassist Raed Yassin and guitarist Sharif Sehnaoui have developed a cohesive improvisational style founded upon a peculiar blend of isolation and connectedness. No one who comes from one of the centers of improvisational activity (Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Chicago, New York, Tokyo) is likely to give their record a name so defensive as "Music to our Ears"; they would have had the chance to play to audiences who long since got past the question of whether a guy generating digeridoo drones and metallic clatter with his partially disassembled trumpet and some tubes is playing music.

Aki Onda & Paul Clipson - Make Visible The Ghosts (audioMER)
This album is the follow-up of Aki Onda’s Cinemage project Lost City—with Loren Connors and Alan Licht—released on audioMER. in 2015. On Make Visible the Ghosts, New York-based musician Aki Onda composed the soundtrack for the images of the San Francisco experimental filmmaker Paul Clipson, who suddenly passed away on February 3, 2018.

Ale Hop - Apophenia (Buh Records)
Apophenia: the tendency to perceive connections and meaningfulness in random noise, e.g., clouds resembling animals or human faces. Ale Hop’s APOPHENIA suggests possible and reimagined South American geographies. Along with atomized field recordings and sound samples she recollected from video archives from her homeland, Peru, the composer interweaves unknown territories by mimicking mountains and oceans, but also grey skies and violent cities, with droning and shrieking textures of electric guitars mixed with spoken chatters and sizzles.

Alessandro Cortini ‎- Volume Massimo (Mute Records)
On his stellar debut LP for Mute, NIN keyboardist and formidable solo artist, Alessandro Cortini presents 'Volume Massimo,' a combination of his fondness for melody with the rigour of experimental practice that follows on from 2017's universally acclaimed album ‘Avanti. 8 tracks of deftly arranged synthesizers saturated with sonic artefacts and luscious pop sensibilities.

Animistic Beliefs - Mindset:Reset (SolarOneMusic)
Surfing on the crest of a whirlwind year, Animistic Beliefs are releasing their 8- track debut album Mindset:Reset on the inimitable SolarOneMusic. The duo has utilized their bespoke setup and expansive list of influences to create a contemporary electro record.

Various Artists - Anthology of Contemporary Music from Middle East (Unexplained Sounds Group)
Following the Anthology of contemporary music from the African continent, this new collection released by Unexplained Sounds Group, focuses on experimental and alternative music from the Middle East and includes artists from Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Israel, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Afghanistan, Cyprus. A kaleidoscope of sounds by artists rooted in their traditions, but at the same time projected towards the new frontiers of music.
Carl Gari & Abdullah Miniawy - The Act of Falling from the 8th Floor (Whities)
Carl Gari & Abdullah Miniawy - The Act of Falling from the 8th Floor (Whities)

From Cotito to Dominik Von Senger

Balfa - Perfecta Analogía De La Decadencia (BLF Lab)
The Spanish sound enthusiast Balfa self-releases his debut album, Perfecta Analogía De La Decadencia, within his new project BLF Lab. The album is an experimental, autobiographical work that rises from the artist’s experiences of living in Berlin for four years. Made with the artist’s handcrafted synthesizers and electronic machines, Perfecta Analogía De La Decadencia encompasses the sonic explorations from the moment of his arrival in Germany until the day he returned to his homeland. Fourteen tracks form a metaphor that leads to a sound reflection of the postmodern era. As the artist reveals, the album is born from the pressures that this movement carries, where consumerism reappears with a new status, legitimizing the individualism.

Carl Gari & Abdullah Miniawy - The Act of Falling from the 8th Floor (Whities)
Carl Gari are a trio of German musicians made up of Jonas Yamer, Till Funke and Jonas Friedlich. Abdullah Miniawy is an Egyptian musician and poet, currently based in France. A meditative and provoking listen focused around the poem in 'B'aj بعاج' that forms the lyrical centerpiece of the record. In this song Abdullah is the protagonist, jumping from the 8th floor of a building in Cairo. While falling he describes a unique scene happening on every balcony, painting a dark picture of Egyptian society.

VA - Colombian Music Powerhouses Vol 2 (Palenque Records)
This release states: The "Colombian Music PowerHouses" project is a humble attempt to show the immense diversity of our country's music and culture to a wider public. For this purpose, we’ve gathered together as independent music labels; a joint collaboration between seven key Colombian "Powerhouses" to bring you a non-exclusive selection of today's Colombian music. We know there are other labels and artists out there who deserve just as much attention and visibility as the ones who were brought together in this compilation, but we hope these picks will arouse your curiosity and inspire you to dig deeper into the fascinating world of Colombian music.

Cotito - Hechicero (Perspectives on Afro-Peruvian Music. The Collection Vol 2) (Buh Records)
Juan Medrano Cotito has developed a very prolific career as a singer-songwriter and performer of the Peruvian cajón. He is one of the emblematic figures in the world of Afro-Peruvian music today and his name appears in many of the main fusion ensembles that have lead way in the exploration of black rhythms in Peru (from Susana Baca to Novalima). Cotito has traveled around the world, sharing his music and knowledge of the cajón in schools and universities. "Hechicero", his new album, and the second volume of the collection “Perspectives on Afro-Peruvian Music”, is an entry into the sources of the Afro tradition. It is a celebratory album, which invokes Manuel Vásquez, Eusebio Sirio and Julio Algendones, the three great Peruvian cajoneros who are honored here in separate compositions based on the instrumental mixture of cajón, chekere, jawbone, cajita, bell, congas, bongo, guitar and bass, in powerful and exuberant rhythmic interaction which makes up the essence of Cotito's style, and at the same time presents the genuine Afro-Peruvian sound: Festejo, Son de los Diablos and Zamacueca.

Daniel Menche - Melting Gravity (SIGE Records)
The title of Melting Gravity refers to an allegory on the human pursuit of transcendence with all of its connotations to weightlessness, ascension, flight, out-of-body experiences, and just getting high. Gravity, on the other hand, becomes that which negates and nullifies those transcendent pursuits. In the context of this particular allegory, gravity is the devil. Music, long a vehicle aimed towards transcendent ideals, becomes the weapon to defeat gravity, to defeat the devil. Daniel Menche wields the weapon of music in composing the mercurial grandeur that is Melting Gravity.

Dominik Von Senger - Brüsseler Platz (Inversions Label)
Inversions returns with an assemblage of miscellanea from the magnetic tape archives of Dunkelziffer and Phantom Band guitarist Dominik Von Senger. Capturing impromptu moments of between the scene’s coaction amongst the likes of Reebop Kwaku Baah, Jaki Liebezeit and Dominik himself, to create an animated picture of his communal musical activities at Brüsseler Platz, during a fertile period for underground music and art in Cologne, and exhibit a mosaic of moods, from mirthful to meditative.
VA - Electro Acholi Kaboom from Northern Uganda (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
VA - Electro Acholi Kaboom from Northern Uganda (Nyege Nyege Tapes)

From Evigt Mörker to Fahmi Mursyid

VA - Electro Acholi Kaboom from Northern Uganda (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
Nyege Nyege Tapes continues its archeology of Luo sonic culture with this 15 track compilation exploring the birth of Electronic Acholi dance music in Northern Uganda. The electronic re-interpretation of traditional Acholi courtship songs began in Northern Uganda, primarily in the cities of Gulu and Lira around 2003, when Northern Uganda was still mired in a brutal civil war at huge human cost to the civilian population. This album compiles 15 tracks from the scene’s heyday between 2003- 2008 all recorded in various studios in those two cities. First performed at weddings, they replaced the much larger traditional Larakaraka bands that under war time conditions had become too costly for many newlyweds to afford (troupes could consist up to 25 members).

Evigt Mörker - Krona (Northern Electronics)
Following up his pair of cryptically luminous EPs for Northern Electronics in the past years, Evigt Mörker presents his debut album, Krona. With a shuffling atmosphere that's hard to pin down, the album chronically fixates on the degradation and construction of rhythmic drills with finely rendered parts and patterns. Spiralling the listener through a set of stormy soundscapes, Krona keeps placing the horizon just ahead, and just out of reach. The unease that Evigt Mörker invites us into is electrically charged and threatening to crack. For all its syncopation we are relentlessly swerving through the works, afraid of teasing an arcing static shock from the blistering commotion. The album's propulsive tracks are settled against a pair of stunning ambient compositions that capture some of the tension from a distance. Technical dexterity and perfectly pitched intensity stakes out Evigt Mörker's debut album as an impressive statement.

Fahmi Mursyid - One Instrument Sessions (One Instrument Records)
The next One Instrument Session release presents the Indonesian artist Fahmi Mursyid. The artist has always had a personal interest in traditional Indonesian instruments, specifically from Sundanese culture, the second largest Indonesian ethnic group, native to the western part of the Island of Java. Paying homage to this source of inspiration, he has chosen to use Indonesian instruments for almost all of the tracks on the 12’’. Considering the strict guidelines One Instrument gives the artists, Mursyid has succeeded in getting the most out of his chosen instruments. With each of the 6 different acoustic instruments he has eluded clichè and surpassed physical limitations to shape a bold, alternative musical language. All tracks are recorded with only one condenser microphone.

Francesco Devincenti - Brutal Reality (Pregnant Void)
Pregnant Void return with another of their deeply involving and thought-provoking albums, this time from Berlin based sound designer and live-performer Francesco Devincenti. Devincenti has been making music all of his life and quickly established himself back home in Northern Italy. To further his talents he head to Berlin to study at the S.A.E. Institute and soon went on to a job at Analogcut mastering studio. As such he is a sound design wizard with an exceptional ear for detail and someone who can get real meaning and soul of out the machines he often solders together himself. He is part of a couple of live hardware duos - MORK and TDV - and always fuses ambient, techno, distorted grooves, jungle beats and dub moods into his immersive recordings. This new album draws on ten years of life experiences and uses music as a way of telling his own autobiographical story.

Николай Чесноков / Насир аль-Катб ибн Маджид - Сплит (Noise Jihad)
Noise Jihad is a Self-release archive founded by Nasir al-Katb ibn-Majeed - noises, programming. Hard-harsh psychedelics right here.

Jason Lescalleet - 20th Century Music (No Rent Records)
This recording consists of archival recordings from the mid to late 90's documenting a watermark era in noise; a rare trek into pure, tough, honestly simple brutality from one of the American masters. This release contains the seeds of what would define his career in the following years: breathtaking fidelity, clarity of vision and earnest uncluttered sonic thinking, with a playful youthfulness that comes from not realizing he was living through a golden era while making it.
Klein -Lifetime (ijn inc.)
Klein -Lifetime (ijn inc.)

From Klein to Mais Bad

Jesse Osborne-Lanthier - RNG TRAX Vol.1 (Haunter Records)
This is the first instalment of bootleg mixes made from his collection of video game and anime OST’s. What it sounds like to be in JOLs living room.

Klein -Lifetime (ijn inc.)
Experimental producer Klein has a new LP, Lifetime, the first for her new label ijn inc. The follow-up to 2018’s cc EP i.

Konstrukt + Ken Vandermark - Kozmik Bazaar (Karlrecords)
Turkish free jazzers Konstrukt continue their series of exciting collaborations with Ken Vandermark, one of the key figures of Chicago’s vivid jazz scene.

VA - Local Time | Blue (Noise Bombing)
Local Time is a superb collection of international noise and experimental musicians (all women om this release) curated by the Indonesian label Noise Bombing & Corporal Tofulung, who plays in Unknown Tofu & Septithe, djs for Hollow Earth Radio (Seattle) & Threads Radio (London) and runs Dubbed Tapes from her kitchen. Also check out Local Time | Green, released on the same day.

Los Wembler's de Iquitos - Vision del Ayahuasca (Barbès Records)
Los Wembler’s, who formed in 1968 in the Amazonian city of Iquitos, were responsible for some of the first hits of the psychedelic cumbia genre – including the iconic “Sonido Amazonico” and “Danza del Petrolero”. Los Wembler’s became widely popular in the Peruvian Amazon and for a dozen years and criss-crossed the region, with forays into neighboring Brazil and Colombia. In the mid 1980’s, however, touring mostly came to a stop and the band remained in Iquitos, playing mostly parties and local functions. This anniversary album goes back to the origins of the band, oscillating between their love of tropical dance music and loud guitar rock rooted in late 60’s psychedelia.

Mais Bad - Satanique Samba Trio (Rebel Up! Records)
Brasília based instrumental-experimental-tropical quintet Satanique Samba Trio, known for its iconoclastic research on Brazilian traditional rhythms merged with punk and free jazz aesthetics, is pushing the envelope on the low fidelity field once again! This is a new collection of low fidelity bagatelles, forged into existence by Satanique Samba Trio's thirst for aesthetical deconstruction. All instrumentals on these 10-short tracks vinyl have been recorded with a cheap cell phone from the early 2000’s.
Michael Zerang - Assyrian Caesarean (Holiday Records)
Michael Zerang - Assyrian Caesarean (Holiday Records)

From Mazen Kerbaj to Paula Garcia Stone

Mazen Kerbaj - Solo Trumpet Vol. 2.2 Cuts, Overdubs, Use of Electronics (Discrepant)
Comic book artist, graphic designer and free jazz improviser are only some of the many talents from Beirut born Mazen Kerbaj. After appearing as part of various ensembles on the label, Ariha Brass Quartet (CREP46) and Johnny Kafta Anti-Vegetarian Orchestra (CREP22), Kerbaj finally lands a solo outfit of his own onto the Discrepant dancefloor of insubordination. 14 years after his first (and only) solo album "Brt Vrt Zrt Krt" (Al Maslakh, 2005) Mazen returns with a series of subtle compositions of his own with not one but two(!) solo albums of prepared trumpet that further cement his international position as a serial trumpet botherer.

Michael Zerang - Assyrian Caesarean (Holiday Records)
Chicago-based percussionist Michael Zerang presents his first solo recording for percussion after a long career as an exploratory musician and composer. The album features a range of approaches to percussion that Zerang has developed over the years, including the use of vibrating drumhead surfaces, expressive friction passages, multiple timbre percussion, and straight up trap-set drumming - all infused with a rich sense of melodic, rhythmic and textural innovation.

Mutant Joe - Home Invasion Anthems (Natural Sciences)
Across forty minutes of punishing street justice, Mutant Joe peels back societies accepted norms and values, kicking down the door of the family next door armed with razor wire, bondage tape, police transmitters and overt torture tactics. Opening up with confessions from inside a Miami mega jail, Home Invasion Anthems spills its guts over trap, Memphis rap, jungle and street electronics, with a horde of collaborators.

Paula Garcia Stone - Undercurrent (Linear Obsessional)
Paula Garcia Stone's first album is a collection of 9 sound works that combine her interest in place (field recordings) and the use of very physical sounds. Paula is visual artist (with a long relationship with drawing) and a sound artist. whose work often concentrates on amplifying the small and microscopic.

Rojin Sharafi - Urns Waiting To Be Fed (Zabte Sote)
Harsh and mellow or soft and hysteric. Folklore elements and microtonality of traditional instruments mingle with synthesizers and electronic defamiliarized sounds; electronic produced elements which sound acoustic and acoustic elements, which sound electronic. The origin of sounds varies but they form their own village and history together. We witness it. Rojin Sharafi (b. 1995, Tehran) is a sound artist and composer of acoustic, electro-acoustic and electronic music based in Vienna.

Rolf Hansen - Elektrisk Guitar (Karaoke Kalk)
Rolf Hansen, who as a guitarist is originally rooted in jazz, has been one of the most in-demand studio and session musician in the Danish rock, pop, and folk scene. With subsequent tours throughout Europe, he made a name for himself in the alternative folk scene. Elektrisk Guitar is an album that enters into a dialogue with its conscious and attentive listener. Pieces whose melancholy is carefully weighed meet complex musical structures that again and again provide new challenges. In just 43 minutes, Elektrisk Guitar offers a plethora of ideas, impressions, details, and inspiration. And even more so, it opens up a room for its listeners to explore, precisely because its minimalistic compositions create a lot of space in which to get accommodated in.
Ross Alexander - Memorias Vol.2: High Atlas to the Sahara Desert (Discrepant)
Ross Alexander - Memorias Vol.2: High Atlas to the Sahara Desert (Discrepant)

From Sufus Hufus to Telefon Tel Aviv

Ross Alexander - Memorias Vol.2: High Atlas to the Sahara Desert (Discrepant)
Memorias Vol.2 - High Atlas to The Sahara Desert is based on a series of field recordings Alexander made during a trip through the High Atlas Mountains and into the Sahara Desert in 2018. The aim of the trip was to visit a gathering of nomadic musicians at an oasis close to the Algerian border. Like Memorias Vol1. the recordings made on the trip were then later processed, layered and arranged with original compositions. Where Vol1. had clear nods to New Age music, this volume explores the more ambient side of 80’s Industrial sound.

Shari Vari - Now (Malka Tutti)
Shari Vari is a Hamburg based duo comprising of Sophia Kennedy and Helena Ratka. Shari Vari are everything you didn’t know you were missing in your life. Their lyrics are fresh, funny and “out-there”, their melodies are catchy and their rhythms are groovy as hell. Their debut LP on Malka Tuti titled NOW is a collection of 8 songs, groovy, gloomy, cheerful and contemplative, mixed all together in mish-mash of genres and influences.

VA - Strain Crack & Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Volume One (Finders Keepers Records)
After years of mythology, misinterpretation and procrastination Nurse With Wound’s Steven Stapleton finally chooses Finders Keepers Records as the ideal collaborators to release “the right tracks” from his uber-legendary psych/prog/punk peculiarity shopping list known as The Nurse With Wound List, commencing with a French specific Volume One of this authentically titled Strain Crack Break series. This deluxe double vinyl dossier demystifies some of the essential French free jazz and Parisian prog inclusions from the alphabetical “dedication” inventory as printed the anti-bands 1979 industrial milestone debut.

Sufus Hufus - Migration is not a Crime (Self Released)
Sufus Hufus is a guerilla artist, traveler, performer, musician, movie maker and poet. All the tracks names on the album couple world cities. They're "coupled that way coz of many reasons, about the trips i did from one point to another, or the people participating in the tracks from both countries, or other random reasons".

Susobrino - La Hoja De Eucalipto (Rebel Up! Records)
Field Recordings, carefully chosen percussion, electronic spice and acoustic ingredients. This is the foundation for every recipe that Bolivian Belgian artist Suso Perez aka Susobrino creates. His new album La Hoja de Eucalipto brings alive a more energetic and aggressive part of Susobrino and presents a work focused on the ethnic and world sounds, mixing his masterful percussion with electronic beats to create a unique and distinctive sound. Organic electronic latino sounds for fans of Chancha Via Circuito, Dengue Dengue Dengue and Lagartijeando.

Telefon Tel Aviv - Dreams Are Not Enough (Ghostly International)
The return of storied Southern Gothic electronic entity Telefon Tel Aviv is as unexpected as it is impressive. Their three influential albums of the 2000’s—Fahrenheit Fair Enough, Map Of What Is Effortless, and Immolate Yourself—charted an increasingly turbulent and textured vision of post-IDM synthetic songcraft, until the sudden passing of founding member Charlie Cooper in 2009 ceased the project, presumably forever. During the decade since, co-founder Josh Eustis has performed with, produced, mixed, and mastered countless artists, from high-profile institutions (Nine Inch Nails, Puscifer, Apparat) to underground fixtures (Belong, Vatican Shadow, Drab Majesty, Tropic Of Cancer), in addition to his own solo and collaborative work in Sons Of Magdalene and Second Woman. But years of reflection and processing gradually seeded in him a desire to revive TTA and venture a fourth full-length, in the spirit of what they started: Dreams Are Not Enough.
Walter Gavitt Ferguson - The Legendary Tape Recordings Vol.2 (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Walter Gavitt Ferguson - The Legendary Tape Recordings Vol.2 (Les Disques Bongo Joe)

From Tomaga to Topdown Dialectic

THRENODY (Küchen / Berthling / Noble) - A Paradigm Of Suspicion (Trost Records)
Threnody is the unmissable force from three prominent improvising musicians; Martin Küchen (saxophone), Johan Berthling (bass) and Steve Noble (drums). Previously established as a trio formation under their full names, the trio has released their first album Threnody, at the Gates on Trost records in 2017 and now call themselves Threnody.

Tomaga & Pierre Bastien - Bandiera Di Carta (Other People)
Bandiera Di Carta represents the ongoing collaboration between instrument builder and composer Pierre Bastien and the London based experimental duo Tomaga (Valentina Magaletti and Tom Relleen). The artistic collaboration between Pierre and Tomaga began with two commissions: from Fructose Festival in Dunkirk and the revered underground festival Supersonic in Birmingham UK. Recording initially at a studio in the industrial port of Dunkirk, the uneasy bond between borders and states seems to have been a theoretical motor to the collaborative sessions, as well as the bleak landscape of the sea port frontier. This inspiration found further manifestation in the cover image for ‘Bandiera Di Carta’.

Topdown Dialectic - Vol. 2 (Peak Oil)
Sophomore set of illusory software installations by undisclosed North American technologist Topdown Dialectic, sourced from the same vault as 2018’s celebrated self-titled LP. Like its predecessor, Vol. 2 is composed of eight identical-length tracks, each a system capture composite of fractured rhythm, granular texture, and elusive energy, blurring surface and depth into a fresh electronic dialect of hypermodern mirage.

Walter Gavitt Ferguson - The Legendary Tape Recordings Vol.2 (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
100-year-old Walter Gavitt Ferguson from Costa Rica is a living legend, a Calypsonian of mythical proportions. Rooted like an old tree on the caribbean shore, he has never left his home town to look for fame, instead fame came looking for him. Throughout eight decades his musical gifts have attracted people from near and far, contesting Calypsonians, travellers, musicologists, musicians, pilgrims and the president of the Republic. They once even moved a recording studio to his house, as he refused to go to the city.

Wukir Suryadi - Pertemuan / Meeting (Self Released)
This work is an attempt to connect several items that eventually become one. Between brass and obi/between arrows and chopsticks/between boxes and circles/between walls and instruments/between old and new/between objects with humans/between time and sound.
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