Staff Picks - July 2020

Staff Picks - July 2020

August 9, 2020

Written by:

Victor Stutz & Dragoș Rusu

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July 2020 was a hell of a month. Enjoy the summer with a selection of 31 albums presenting both new and old music released last month. Anything from ambient to traditional/ethnic, to psychedelic, experimental, free jazz and improvised music, classical contemporary; you name it, we have it.

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 Admas to Biomechanica

Aşıq Nargilə - Qərib Həyat (Mountains of Tongues)
Aşıq Nargilə - Qərib Həyat (Mountains of Tongues)
Admas - Sons of Ethiopia (Frederiksberg Records)
Sons of Ethiopia is a fascinating piece of the Ethiopian musical puzzle. Emerging from the community of Ethiopian exiles who had been scattered to the winds by the brutality of the Derg – the military dictatorship that had deposed Haile Selassie – the album was the sound of a new generation. The members of Admas were not musicians from the so-called ‘golden age’: they were children of the terror and propaganda of the Derg time – an era of state-sponsored neighbourhood bands and a propaganda-tinged traditional music scene. An instrumental album, rich with global influences, Sons of Ethiopia is one of the few Ethiopian recordings to have been produced outside Ethiopia in the early 1980s. As such, it is a key document of the Washington DC exile scene. The core members of Admas – Tewodros ‘Teddy’ Aklilu, Henock Temesgen, and Abegasu Shiota – had previously played in a group called Gasha, one of the few Ethiopian bands working regularly in DC during the early 1980s. Admas was born from Gasha, as an outlet for their more experimental instincts. Though they played as a backing group for singers (including Aster Aweke), the music on Sons of Ethiopia was never performed live.

Adult Fantasies - Towers of Silence (Stroom)
Adult Fantasies is a Belgium psychedelic folk/darkwave project comprising Dirk Seghers and Gerrit Valckenaers. The band formed around late ‘80s and released three long plays along with a 7’’ single. Towers of Silence is a compilation of their early works. ”Gerrit and I met in a 4-track cassette recording studio in a basement where our producer had accidentally mixed some of our tracks together…. His unstoppable flow of musical creativity was only matched by his generosity and patience to work with me. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship”, says Dirk Seghers.



Alhousseini Anivolla & Girum Mezmur - Afropentatonism (Piranha Records)
Desert blues man Alhousseini Anivolla meets Ethio-jazz guitarist Girum Mezmur for a beautifully crafted album of repetitive grooves, hypnotic jams and raw guitar sounds. Their new collaborative project “Afropentatonism” fuses some of the most intriguing art of their respective cultures, resulting in an outstanding pan-African collaboration. The album was recorded live during a concert in Nairobi and features extended versions of the original songs.

Arash Azadi - Eagerness to Learn (Structured Experience)
Eagerness to Learn is a compilation of works from 2014 to 2017 by Armenian composer and musician Arash Azadi released by the Yerevan based Structured Experience - Center for New Music and Digital Arts. From electroacoustic to improvised music, contemporary classical, music concrete and beyond.

Aşıq Nargilə - Qərib Həyat (Mountains of Tongues)
Based in Tbilisi with deep roots in the ‘Borçalı’ region of Southern Georgia, Nargile Mehtiyeva aka Ashiq Nargile has been playing saz (long-neck lute) and singing since the age of 15. Fluent in Azerbaijani and Georgian, Nargile represents the cosmopolitan heritage of old Tbilisi, a city once known as a meeting point for multilingual bards who would travel through the region serving as conduits for news, ideas, music and culture. A powerful solo performer, her vocal recital of epic folk poetry is by turns ecstatic and deeply expressive, and is interspersed with bursts of virtuosic, highly ornamented saz. Equally comfortable performing moving laments or upbeat folk dances, Nargile is currently the only female bard living and performing in Georgia and has been teaching the art to new generations.



Biomechanica - BM01 (Geometrik)
The “BioMechanica” project marks the first collaboration between Francisco López (rhythmic pattern evolution, environmental recording, mutations, composition, editing, mixing, mastering) and Arturo Lanz from Esplendor Geométrico (germ rhythmic patterns). Their debut album BM-01 is the outcome of years of intense work in multiple cities across the world, from Beijing to Reykjavik all the way to Johannesburg. Raw power and industrial-tribal rhythms, together with an overwhelming sound complexity, a multi-channel spatial virtuality and a spectacular production come together in BioMechanica, synthesizing the insight and experience of two internationally acclaimed industrial/experimental music makers.
Doctor Kanuska Group - Mutende Mizimu. Vimbuza from Mzimba North (Sacral Grooves 1000HZ)
Doctor Kanuska Group - Mutende Mizimu. Vimbuza from Mzimba North (Sacral Grooves 1000HZ)

From Current 93 to Elnath Project

Biting Tongues - Clear Your Screens (The Tapeworm)
Clear Your Screens is a series of battle re-enactments from Manchester’s least celebrated post-punk group Biting Tongues. Their tritone tribalism, mixed with intense language flow and layers of tape concrète, was perhaps a bit too much for the early 1980s when they released records with New Hormones, Factory and Beggars Banquet.

Current 93 - Sleep Has His House (Original Master Tape Edition) (House of Mythology)
Sleep Has His House was initially released in 2000 and now is being remastered from the original tapes by Michael Lawrence as The Bricoleur for this release on House of Mythology. This LP is released at the same time as an expanded edition of HORSEY. Current 93 is a group led by David Tibet with an ever-changing line up of musicians. Michael Cashmore and Steven Stapleton are more permanent members of group, appearing on several releases. The project went on to release several LPs of noisy soundscapes up through 1986. At that point, they turned to a more "apocalyptic folk" sound, with acoustic guitars and atonal vocals; yet they constantly evolve a new style with each record.



De Santis Shabara / Lorem - A Thousand Steps (Communion)
De Santis Shabara is the unexpectable encounter of Apulia-born percussionist, producer and instruments creator Daniele De Santis (GRÜN, Dromoscope) and Indonesian performer and vocalist Rully Shabara (Senyawa, ZOO), a duo combining different tactile timbres and vibrant harmonics of percussion instruments with the resonant tissues of human body excited by the movements of the breath. Adding a tridimensional layer to the intrinsic dual polarity of the record, Italian audio/visual artist Lorem takes the archaic sound of the original tracks and morphs it into something alien and ambiguous, providing two neural network reworks and a stunning AI-generated short-movie.

Doctor Kanuska Group - Mutende Mizimu. Vimbuza from Mzimba North (Sacral Grooves 1000HZ)
Vimbuza is a kind of rhythm, song, dance, illness, spirit, therapy and state of possession. The phenomenon is widespread in northern Malawi, particularly in the Mzimba and Rumphi districts. Although vimbuza figures on the official UNESCO World Heritage List (in the section of local medical practices), it continues to exist mainly as a night spiritual dance in home temples. This album, however, does not represent a cultural phenomenon, but rather the unique mastery of a group of performers.



Elnath Project - 46Y6 (Inside/Outpost)
Elnath Project is the solo project of Alessandro Ciccarelli, an Italian musician who has played over the years in several bands and ventured into several music genres. In the last few years he moved his field of research into electronic and experimental music, exploring the deepest essence of sound. “46Y6” is the live recording of a performance played on 2019 in a natural tuff mine in Rome.

VA - Ici Danse Le Peuple Oublie (Metaphor Industrie)
"Ici Danse Le Peuple Oublié" is a meta-tribute compilation dedicated to the Metaphore Collectif own venue from Marseille. The VA gathers the creative efforts of a large part of the artists who pass the blue metallic door and came to play in the warehouse over the past four years. Expect a massive package of 65 tracks split on around five hours of music, coming from the likes of Mika Oki, Nick Klein, Low Jack, December, Hajj, EMMA DJ, Mika Oki, Maoupa Mazzocchetti, Krikor and many more.
Kooshin - Layla (Little Axe Records)
Kooshin - Layla (Little Axe Records)

From KTL to No Base Trio

Kooshin - Layla (Little Axe Records)
Mohamed M. Kooshin was one of a rarified group in Somali music, a master of the kaban who followed in the footsteps of the legendary players of the kaban such as Qarshe, Hudeydi, and Omar Dhuule. Kooshin was the youngest member of Somalia's esteemed national music group Waaberi before leaving Somalia in the early 1990’s and moving to Toronto, Canada. Kooshin passed away on December 27th 2018 leaving behind a legacy of beautiful music and loving fans across the global Somali diaspora. He played the kaban, a foreign instrument that, upon its arrival to Somalia in the 1940’s, became the centre of the immensely popular style of music known as qaraami.

KTL - VII (Editions Mego)
KTL is the duo musical collaboration of Peter Rehberg and Stephen O'Malley, initially formed to score and perform in Gisèle Vienne's theatre piece "Kindertotenlieder" in 2006. KTL is a living piece of music, where long, flexible and free evolution is important to the character of the sound, and allowing all potential possibility to remain open in the performances.

Kutiman - Wachaga (Siyal Music)
In 2014, the producer, multi-instrumentalist and filmmaker Ophir "Kutiman" Kutiel travelled to the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, in a rural neighbourhood where many people from the Wachaga nation live, work and play. Kutiman carried microphones, video recording equipment and a request for creative collaboration to Tanzania – and he left Wachaga with a set of recordings. Some of these were of everyday sounds and some contained special sounds: school children from the city of Arusha playing drums or the dancers who wore bells to add a percussive element to the movement, like the metal plate in a tap dancer’s shoe. Kutiman’s fourth studio album is a combination of the material he collected on his 2014 trip set alongside his own playing and studio expertise.



Kyle Bruckmann & Tim Daisy - Loop Language (Relay Digital 012) (Catalytic-Sound)
Here is Kyle Bruckmann (oboe/English horn, electronics) and Tim Daisy (drums, marimba, glass bowls, percussion) in full swing, with a new collaborative album for Catalytic-Sound. Since the mid-1990s, Bruckmann has remained doggedly active in multiple overlapping sub-scenes of the New Music underground; his flagship projects have included punk-inflected free jazz (Wrack, Degradient), lowercase/electroacoustic improvisation (EKG, addleds, collaborations with Olivia Block), and the unlikely intersection of prog rock and neo-no wave (Lozenge, Pink Mountain). Tim Daisy is a Chicago-based percussionist and composer working in the fields of improvised and composed music.

Max Schreiber - Short Stays (Raash Records)
Short Stays marks the debut release on Raash Records by Max Schreiber, a founding father of Jerusalem’s electronic sound - better known for his acidic club work as Mule Driver and as the bass player for legendary industrial/post-punk outfit Mujahideen. Clocking at almost a full hour, this is also his first full-length release under the Max Schriber alias.

No Base Trio - No Base Trio (Setola di Maiale)
Here is the debut of No Base Trio, one of Puerto Rico’s most creative bands. The trio comprises the efforts of alto saxophonist Jonathan Suazo, guitarist Gabriel Vicéns, and drummer Leonardo Osuna. Their history dates back to a decade and now seems the perfect time to release their debut under the radical label Setola di Maiale created by Paolo De Piaggi and Stefano Giust. Recorded in January 2019 in Puerto Rico, the debut album features an entire set of highly creative, fully improvised music with influences of jazz, rock, electronic music, and ambient music.


Okuden Quartet - Every Dog Has Its Day But It Doesn't Matter Because Fat Cat Is Getting Fatter (ESP-Disk')
Okuden Quartet - Every Dog Has Its Day But It Doesn't Matter Because Fat Cat Is Getting Fatter (ESP-Disk')

From Rapoon to Sam Shalabi

Nocturnal Emissions - In Dub Volume 2 (Nocturnal Emissions)
Nocturnal Emissions' Nigel Ayers has continued to work with a strong underground of cult support, avoiding music industry fashions, and following his own creative path he concentrated on creating a strong sense of a wilderness identity through sound. Following the first installment of In Dub from 2010, here’s the second volume, decomposed and disarranged by Nigel Ayers.

Okuden Quartet - Every Dog Has Its Day But It Doesn't Matter Because Fat Cat Is Getting Fatter (ESP-Disk')
Okuden Quartet comprises Mat Walerian, Matthew Shipp, William Parker and Hamid Drake. Their new album released by the New York based ESP-Disk' imprint, a long running record label specialized in releasing free-jazz albums that became classics; as with this album and most of their entire catalogue, ESP guarantees that "you have never heard such sounds in your life."

Pedro Lima - Maguidala (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Pedro Lima was certainly the most iconic singer from Sao Tomé island. Born in 1944, his career began at teenage, with his faithful band Os Leonenses, who were mostly members of his family and shared most of his musical life; and lasted until his death last year on January 31st 2019. Until the very end, he kept performing big events all around the country, and was among the very few singers and bands from Sao Tomé & Principe that recorded in Luanda Angola for N'Gola and Merengue labels in the 70's, and in Lisbon for the essential IEFE imprint in the 80's.



Rapoon - Vernal Crossing (Abstrakce Records)
Vernal Croossing is Rapoon´s fourth album, originally released in 1993 by Staalplaat. One of the most interesting records released by Robin Storey (founding member of the pioneering industrial group :zoviet*france) on vinyl now for the first time.

Robert Merlak - Finomehanika (SWIMS)
Croatian electronic music producer Robert Merlak marks his first solo release in two decades, since “Albumski” on pioneering avant-garde techno label Phthalo. What makes Finomehanika all the more impressive is the fact that it was produced in the early 2000s pre-broadband-Internet, post-war Croatia with sparse equipment.



Sam Shalabi - 20/20 comma (self-released)
Egyptian-Canadian composer and improviser Sam Shalabi return with a self-released solo mini-album on his own Bandcamp, comprising three songs. Ghosts is a version of Ghosts by Albert Ayler. Tani is based on Ya Habibi Oudly Tani (which is based on a traditional Sudanese tune) by Egyptian singer Shadia.
Tsap - Flickering Lyghte In Campsite (Altered States Tapes)
Tsap - Flickering Lyghte In Campsite (Altered States Tapes)

From Seabuckthorn to Vonverhille

Shackleton/Zimpel - Primal Forms (Cosmo Rhythmatic)
Sam Shackleton, returning on Cosmo Rhythmatic after his previous outing on the label as Tunes of Negation, and Polish clarinetist/multi-instrumentalist Wacław Zimpel have joined forces. Their offering is a new album made of three long tracks of spiritual introspection and ascensional energy. A work of unison and solidarity.



Seabuckthorn - Other Other (Fluid Audio)
Andy Cartwright aka Seabuckthorn returns with a new album on the independent platform Fluid Audio, a dense ambient LP that flows in a good companion with the narratives from the current times we live in. Dive in a beautiful story of meditation, reflection upon the self and nature through bowed/plucked prepared guitars, effects and cymbals.

VA - This is Techno Jazz Vol 1 (Jazz-o-Tech)
Here’s a genre defining collection of music from artists coming from the jazz and techno scenes like Distant Echoes, TUN, Tensal, Mattia Prete, VSK, Fabrizio Rat, Gianluca Petrella, Flat Maze, Luigi Ranghino, Wrong Assessment, Irakli, Key Clef and more. Together, these contemporary innovators perfectly define the label's vision for jazz and techno fusions.

Tomotsugu Nakamura - Literature (Laaps)
Tomotsugu Nakamura is a Tokio based musician and graphic designer, composing music with some pieces of minimal acoustic and electronic tones and some field recordings. Previously released on Kaico and Audiobulb Records, "Literature" is his fifth complete album.

Tsap - Flickering Lyghte In Campsite (Altered States Tapes)
The Newcastle / Sydney duo Tsap – comprising Chris Colla (Orion, The No, early Low Life) and Cooper Bowman (Altered States Tapes) – return in excellent shape with a new album out on Bowman’s imprint. As with their previous output, there is no fencing keeping the two captive and beholden to fickle generic convention.



Vitor Joaquim, Carlos Zíngaro - At ZDB Lisboa 2006
Carlos Zíngaro (violin) and Vitor Joaquim (violin live sampling & processing, sounds, granular synth) recorded this album back in 2006 in Lisboa. The record encompasses four tracks resulting from one file recording of the concert. The split tracks where made only for navigation purposes. The continuous flow and chronological order of the concert is preserved and no silences or performative changes were added to the original.

Vonverhille - Sir Lewis Street (Matture)
James Verhille is French musician, DJ & visual artist, based in Berlin, founder of Maturre label, Erratum galerie, and co-founder of gr_und artist run space in Berlin. His most recent creative effort titled Sir Lewis Street navigates through electronic bizarre patterns and downtempo beats and pieces, developing nine particular stories that altogether complete like a puzzle another great, unmissable album.
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Victor Stutz & Dragoș Rusu

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