Staff Picks - March 2020

Staff Picks - March 2020

April 7, 2020

Written by:

Dragoș Rusu & Victor Stutz

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March 2020 has been a hell of a month. Who would have thought that in such short times, the world can change so drastically. Somehow unsurprisingly, the music continues to flourish, not only because there's always a good time for new music, but also because music, as primordial tool of communication, is always honest and tells the truth.

Here's 31 albums comprising both new and old music released in March. As usual, anything from ambient to psychedelic, experimental, ethnic/traditional, electronics and much more.

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 Ben Bertrand to Chicago Underground Quartet

Astral Travel - If You Say You Are From This Planet, Why Do You Treat It Like You Do? (Hyperjazz Records)
Astral Travel - If You Say You Are From This Planet, Why Do You Treat It Like You Do? (Hyperjazz Records)
Astral Travel - If You Say You Are From This Planet, Why Do You Treat It Like You Do? (Hyperjazz Records)
Inspired by the poetry of Sun Ra inscribed within the pages of the book “This Planet Is Doomed”, the music and lyrics focus on the current consciousness of the planet, raising questions and issues of humanity’s collective spiritual direction. The body of work contained in this album is the result of numerous live-in-studio improvisations, deconstructed in a meticulous post-production process by avant-garde electronic producer Rabih Beaini. Vocalists Dwight Trible and Camilla Battaglia sing and declaim the poems, which are enveloped in a spontaneous musical magma. Each piece is collectively created by Tommaso Cappellato on drums along with pianist Fabrizio Puglisi, reeds player Piero Bittolo Bon, who also contributes to the electronic soundscape, and double bassist Marco Privato.

Ayahuasca Tasting Room - Ayahuasca Tasting Room (self-released)
American experimental musician Arrington de Dionyso unleashes new sonic perspectives in his recent Ayahuasca Tasting Room, an invitation to a deep listening session, best with eyes closed.



Ben Bertrand - Manes (Stroom)
”The excellence of Ben Bertrand's music lays in its involving and easily accessible nature, regardless of your personal or musical past experience. Ben Bertrand is all before you for you to dig, and nobody is asking you to file him away under any category.” Tommy for Stroom & les albums claus

Chicago Underground Quartet - Good Days (Astral Spirits)
Astral Spirits’ latest release is a new album from Chicago Underground Quartet, a free jazz tour de force comprising Josh Johnson (synth bass, organ, piano), Rob Mazurek (piccolo trumpet, electronics, bells), Jeff Parker (electric guitar) and Chad Taylor (drums and percussion).

VA - Clan Destine Click - 2020 Tiger V.I.0 (Clan Destine Records)
This is the first in a series of compilations presented by Glasgow based imprint Clan Destine. The volume includes various new talents from the electronic music world, from techno and experimental electronics to breakcore, speedcore and industrial techno. This one features Xian Quan, Filmmaker, The Friend, Autumns, Skrewface, Dj Warzone, DJ Beverly Hills and many more.



Electric Indigo - Ferrum (Editions Mego)
Susanne Kirchmayr's new album takes a close personal look at the spectral richness of iron and other metals, in various shapes and sizes, recorded, processed and arranged to a carefully curated selection of musical miniatures. The limitation in material opens up a seemingly unlimited world of colours and rhythms, oscillating, resonating and highly immersive.
Evritiki Zygia - Ormenion (Teranga Beat)
Evritiki Zygia - Ormenion (Teranga Beat)

From Joakim Nordwall to Karkhana

Evritiki Zygia - Ormenion (Teranga Beat)
Ormenion is a historical region that dates back to the Byzantine Empire. During the 1920's it was inhabited by refugees coming from the North and Eastern Thrace. Immigration is central to the history of the region of Thrace, while there are many songs that refer to refugees and moving populations. The name of the particular place was selected as the album title due to its delicate cultural and geographic status: Ormenion coincides with the borders of three different countries (Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey) and its history counts several waves of immigration that gave way to cultural and even linguistic exchange -elements that obviously left their mark on the group. The group Evritiki Zygia was founded in 2007 by five musicians who played mostly in local festivals, with the main concern being the preservation and evolution of the Thracian musical tradition.

German Army - Animals Remember Human (ArteTetra)
With a varied output on labels like Genot Center, Field Hymns, Discrepant and Opal Tapes, Animals Remember Human is German Army’s latest, produced thanks to an EU/US collaboration between Quinto Mondo ambassadors ArteTetra and the parallel world dwellers at Crash Symbols.



Idjah Hadidjah & Jugala Jaipongan - Jaipongan Music of West Java (Hive Mind Records)
Hive Mind Records team up with Kai Riedl of Javasounds to surface some recordings of Jaipongan, one of Java, Indonesia’s most famed music styles of the 70s and 80s. The album, recorded at the famed Jugala Studios in Bandung, Java in 2007, features the incredible vocals of Idjah Hadidjah, the country’s most iconic singer of the genre, backed by members of the Jugala Studios house band. The album comes with a second disc of reworks of the original tracks by boundary pushing electronic musicians (Bana Haffar, Bergsonist, Lightbath, Sarah Belle Reid, Signals Under Tests, Fahmi Mursyid, Kai Riedl & Suny Lyons, and Ultrabillions) from around the world. Also, check out this exploration into Jaipongan by Luigi Monteanni of ArteTetra.

Joakim Nordwall - Music For Inner Peace And Outer Disturbance (Ideal Recordings)
” In this time of total confusion and fear, I decided to try to catch my feelings for the current situation. The result are these two tracks that will also be released as a limited-edition CD. Thanks for your kind attention. Stay safe. / JN.”

Karkhana - Bitter Balls (Unrock/Annihaya)
Any new Karkhana record being released now should be an enough reason for excitement, if boredom haunts you. Since its inception five years ago, the group has put out a certain amount of highly substantial music positioned at the crossroad between old school and contemporary oriental free-jazz sounds and Western improv-prog. Bitter Balls is another tour de force, with four weighty (quite) long pieces showcasing the septet’s complex flow.



Lamusa II - Sulfureo (HVNX)
Along its eleven cuts, Giampaolo Scapigliati experiments with wet percussive sounds, drum machines, syndrums, echos and analog and digital synthesizers programmed with sequencers and midi devices that, in his own words, “created different paths when crossing on each other”. In contrast to all of this synchronization, he also experiments with guitars and bass, using a live “free approach” reminiscent of krautrock and new wave obscurities.
VA - Maghreb K7 Club: Synth Raï, Chaoui & Staifi 1985-1997 (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
VA - Maghreb K7 Club: Synth Raï, Chaoui & Staifi 1985-1997 (Les Disques Bongo Joe)

From M.Rux to Metal Preyers

Loup Uberto - Racconto Artigiano (three:four records)
Music of indecisive ways, silent writing, white pictures, noise and songs. Loup Uberto founds the Bégayer trio with Alexis Vinéïs and Lucas Ravinale, explores the traditional melodies of northern Italy, records intriguing sound documents - Cuban "raw" music, Eastern European travel diaries, Kurdish songs from Syria -, initiates gestures for French “chanson” with Le Saule record label, questions the gaze and its fiction, the rough edges of language, documents exile and wandering through sound testimonies, writings and photographs.

M.Rux - Vermonische Melodien (Pingipung)
Vermonische Melodien is a collection of compositions by DJ-producer M.Rux, made with old Vermona machines from Eastern Germany. The nine Electronica tracks can’t conceal their influences from Exotica records of the 1960s as well as their fondness for vintage music technology. The album travels through voices singing lullabies (“Magische Time”), mumbling chopped up syllables (“Seelnatrax”) or reciting a Shakespeare quote (“Bakelit”), all mostly generated by the world’s first speech synthesis hardware, the IBM 704 from 1954, and processed into off-key melodic beauty with vocoders. ”I’ve always been especially curious about musical visions from the 1970s", says M.RUX about his inspiration for Vermonische Melodien. "Those nifty Vermona machines can today be seen as future machines from the 1970s. They seem almost mystical to me. Like relics from an epoch long ago… and I wanted to find out, how music from that time could have sounded."

VA - Maghreb K7 Club: Synth Raï, Chaoui & Staifi 1985-1997 (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Most of Lyon’s musical scene is composed of men originating from eastern Algeria, but since the 1950s, the Croix-Rousse and Guillotière cafés have counted musicians from all over Maghreb. These cafés were social hubs, where these individuals met up weekly, playing together and sharing their everyday life experience —but they also had a major role in the development of popular music of French-based North Africans. The practice of music was cross-regional with different North African influences, but also with local traditions. These versatile musicians also absorbed new local influences: music within the context of immigration was a perfect school for musical cosmopolitanism.

MBRS - The Razor Wire: Answering Machine (1990 - 2000) - Behind the Wall of Incarceration (Natural Sciences)
MBRS is the project of Michael Bjella and Rob Skrzynski. Their debut album documents Mike's experience working for a charity for convicted non-violent offenders in the United States during the 1990's called The November Coalition. Looking largely at the war on drugs, the charity set up a phone line to collect calls and stories of these prisoners, while also running a publication titled "The Razor Wire" which was distributed in prisons throughout the United States. It was through this publication that they invited prisoners to call and share their stories. This is a unique, graphic and desolate look into the failings of the criminal justice system and the devastating effect it has on families and communities.

Metal Preyers - Metal Preyers (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
London producer Jesse Hackett and Chicago based artist Mariano Chavez team up with Nyege Nyege Tapes for NNT18 music and art collaboration Metal Preyers. Hackett and Chavez have been working together for two years on their audio-visual project Teeth Agency.



MinaeMinae - Gestrüpp (Marionette)
Minaeminae is the alias of German based music producer Bastian Epple, who just released the second album on the Toronto imprint Marionette, a label releasing ”hard to place electronic and electroacoustic music onto heavyweight vinyl with meticulously handcrafted cover-art.” Lying somewhere on the crossroads of psychedelic trance, exotica, ambient and melodic dance music, this album can be a great companion in isolation, challenging the listener to discover new ways and practices of escapism.
Ranil - Ranil y su Conjunto Tropical (Limited Dance Edition) (Analog Africa)
Ranil - Ranil y su Conjunto Tropical (Limited Dance Edition) (Analog Africa)

From Mute Duo to Razen

Mute Duo - Lapse In Passage (American Dreams)
Chicago’s Mute Duo is comprised of Sam Wagster on the pedal steel guitar (Cairo Gang, Anatomy of Habit) and Skyler Rowe on drums and percussion (Rash, Anatomy of Habit) who occasionally add other instruments as supportive layers, drawing from influences like late-era Talk Talk, The Dirty Three, and the instrumental soundtrack tradition, landing somewhere in between ambient country and free jazz. Their second album, Lapse in Passage shows the duo excavating new territories in instrumentation, layering, and production.

Nick Storring - My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell (Orange Milk Records)
My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell—a heartfelt, albeit oblique, homage to Roberta Flack—is Nick Storring’s first vinyl release and sees his overdub-rich music taking a lush and nocturnal turn. Many of the compositions focus on his primary instrument, the cello. While the record is haunted by thoughtful, introverted romanticism, its repeated hurtlings into psychedelic texture, bent pop-derived shapes, and gestures harvested from the musique concrète lineage, ensure that its trajectory remains a disorienting one.

Patrick Graham & John Sellekaers - Unnatural (Parenthèses Records)
Percussionist Patrick Graham and electronic musician John Sellekaers are back with a new duo album – Unnatural – a collection of puzzling pieces wavering between silence and chaos, a physical sound entanglement into an imaginary ritual. Recorded only using acoustic percussion sounds as raw materials, the music has great immediacy, is clear and enveloping, enabling the smallest details to find air.



Primitive World - The Revolt Of Aphrodite (Ecstatic)
Inspired once again by the forgotten sci-fi novels of Lawrence Durrell, Primitive World mines obscure and vibrant paths on his new LP for Ecstatic.

Ranil - Ranil y su Conjunto Tropical (Limited Dance Edition) (Analog Africa)
Ranil’s extraordinary output has remained one of the best kept secrets among collectors of cumbia and psychedelic Latin sounds. With the release of Ranil y su Conjunto Tropical it is a secret no longer. Assembled by Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb from original LPs sourced from Ranil himself, this fully-licensed compilation presents 14 tracks – many of which have never seen wide release outside the Amazonian region – by a singular artist at the very height of his considerable powers.

Razen - Robot Brujo (Hands In The Dark)
Recorded over two sessions, in what Razen themselves refer to as their detached playing style, Robot Brujo stands as an auditory magnifying glass of concentration, in all its uncanny and minimal glory. It is yet another new step up from the deep listening ensemble from Brussels, after nearly 10 years exploring music together.
VA - Uzelli Elektro Saz (1976 - 1984) (Uzelli)
VA - Uzelli Elektro Saz (1976 - 1984) (Uzelli)

From Sunn Trio to The Necks

Síria - Boa-Língua (Crónica)
Boa-Língua is the second album by Síria, a Portuguese artist named Diana Combo. In this project she also contributes with her voice to the usual practice of combining vinyl records, field recordings, and other sound sources. Boa-Língua was made from recordings of practice sessions that were not originally intended to be used or worked as songs. Boa-Língua means “good tongue”, used in opposition to “má-língua”, literally “bad tongue”, a Portuguese expression for “tittle-tattle”.

Sunn Trio - Electric Esoterica (Twenty One Eight Two Recording Company)
Sunn Trio is a punk trio from Phoenix, Arizona, influenced by Middle Eastern psych, free jazz, and improvisation. While not recorded in a traditional studio, these recordings represent the first studio-produced sounds from this group. The group is built around Joel Robinson and has had as many as eight-to-ten members in recordings and live performances, but more recently has been focused on a trio that composes music that challenges every notion of what rock, punk, or psych can be.

The Master Musicians of Jajouka feat. Bachir Attar - Apocalypse Across the Sky (Zehra)
The Master Musicians Of Jajouka became a counter-cultural icon when Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones confessed that even he had trouble standing up to “the constant strain of the festival” during the performances he recorded in their tiny village in the foothills of Morocco’s Rif Mountains. Their reputation was cemented when Rolling Stones Records released Brian Jones presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka in 1971, and that reputation continues today. In 1991, iconic producer Bill Laswell also embarked on a trip to the small village of just 800 inhabitants in the Rif mountains to record the group for his Axiom label – ”Apocalypse Across The Sky“ is, unlike other Laswell projects that bring together different cultures and genres, a pure document of the ensemble, raw and unpolished but exquisitely recorded, probably one of the most important albums of the Master Musicians of Jajouka, available on vinyl for the very first time.

The Necks - Three (Northern Spy Records)
The 21st album from renowned Australian instrumental trio The Necks, is a twisting, textural, and instinctive musical exploration through three individual, contrasting tracks that each delve into separate canons of their sound. Three’s variety of tones and structures offer a glimpse into the boundless, immersive sonic universe The Necks have been constructing, through recorded and live performance, for over 30 years: three musicians, three variable songs, highlighting three decades of groundbreaking experimental excellence.



VA - Uzelli Elektro Saz (1976 - 1984) (Uzelli)
This album is a selection of performances on the electric saz, an instrument that some hold in contempt. Simple, calm and dignified villagers, forced to leave their villages behind, carried the saz to new lands. As they called out to the crowd of fellow exiles and struggled to adapt to a new way of life, their traditional acoustic saz transformed into the electric saz and rang out with a new and different urban sound. Established by brothers Muammer and Yavuz Uzelli in 1971, Uzelli Records’ output spoke to the struggles and longing for home felt by Turkish immigrants in Germany. The compilation has been curated by Murat Ertel – the lead singer and saz player of psych band BaBa Zula – with his wife, Esma Ertel.

Vladislav Delay - Multila (2020 Remaster) (Keplar)
Multila is the third album of Finnish producer Sasu Ripatti under the moniker Vladislav Delay, comprising of two Eps released on Basic Channel's Chain Reaction label in 1999 and 2000. The album features six haunting dub ambient tracks and the stirring techno odyssey "Huone." 20 years after its original release as a full-length CD album (Chain Reaction), these timeless recordings of modern electronic music are now finally available for the first time as a double vinyl edition.



Zeropunkt - Future Perfect Continuous (Fort Evil Fruit)
Dublin improvisers Zeropunkt (formerly known as ¡NO!) consist of Fergus Cullen, Damien Lennon and Jamie Davis. Future Perfect Continuous explores icy, dub-inflected expanses of brooding near-stasis with eruptions of soprano sax and distorted organ.
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