Staff Picks - May 2019

Staff Picks - May 2019

June 6, 2019

Written by:

Dragoș Rusu

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The summer is officially here. May was another fantastic month for new music, as well as reissues. 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.

Take your time to surf through a comprehensive selection of 30 albums comprising everything from ambient to psychedelic, experimental, ethnic/world, electronics and beyond.

If you think that we've missed something or want to send a tip, please get in touch.

From Alessandro Adriani to Blackthread

Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek - Kar Yağar (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek - Kar Yağar (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Alessandro Adriani - Morphic Dreams (Stroboscopic Artefacts)
Alessandro Adriani drops the sophomore LP and first ever for Stroboscopic Artefacts, Morphic Dreams. Throughout 11 cuts, Adriani lays the foundations to a suspended sound imaginarium, governed by its own rules and principles of gravity. Revolving around the notions of sublimation and quest for inner balance, ‘Morphic Dreams’ is comprised of four distinct sequences, conceived and designed as reflections of four mental states, each of them linked to the four alchemical elements – i.e. Water, Earth, Air and Fire – here represented by the A, B, C and D-sides.

Aman!!! - Aman!!! #2 (Discrepant)
Picking it up from their previous cassette album at Sucata Tapes, “AMAN!!!” duo delivers another series of live tracks, this time recorded in Athens and London. The duo of Tasos Stamou and Thodoris Ziarkas bring back the improvisational element to the old Greek rebetiko style and expand it towards other avant-garde musical genres. Picked by Victor Stutz.

Anadol - Uzun Havalar (Pingipung Records)
Anadol is a psychedelic synth folk project by Gözen Atila, a Turkish sound artist and photographer based in Berlin. Her third album Uzun Havalar is based on collective improvisations of middle eastern folk songs called „uzun hava“. They turn out as rich, atmospheric synth ballads. A diverse roster of improvising musicians creates their fascinating complexity. Anadol recorded them during extensive sessions in Istanbul. You can hear drummers laughing and playing guitars, composers howling, announcements in French and screams in no language, record collectors playing oscillators, and trumpets through spacious echoes.

Bjarni Frímann Bjarnason - Chateau (Radio Bongo Edition)
Named and shaped in loving tribute to Tintin, the fabled Belgian journalist who defined what it meant to be an adventurer in the 20th Century. Les Adventures de President Bongo is a unique work that will reveal itself over the next seven years, give or take, in the form of 24 LP's.

Blackthread - The Way You Haunt My Dreams (NAHAL Recordings)
Under the Blackthread monicker, Pierre G. Desenfant pursues the multiple incantations of an immersive and inner quest, carved from the limbo of his own dreams, cinematographic miniatures where the intimacy of words and spoken word meets the chiseled luxury of analog machines. Written and constructed for three years, his third album The Way You Haunt My Dreams was recorded with urgency in only a few days, with the contribution of sounds from friends (Béatrice Morel, Frédéric D. Oberland and Stéphane Pigneul from Oiseaux-Tempête, Rémi Dulaurier) and the complicity of Johannes Buff (Zombie Zombie, Lee Ranaldo and The Dust, Enablers) in the mix. Contemporary photographer Gaël Bonnefon illustrates the album with his striking silver-toned clichés.

Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek - Kar Yağar (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Two years after the success of „Nem Kaldı“, outernational psych-pop sensation Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek deliver their debut album, „Kar Yağar“. Over the course of it’s 12 tracks, the powerful sound of the Bağlama [Turkish lute] and Derya Yıldırım’s stunning vocals, builds and unravels stories together with the guitars, organs, drums, flute and bass. Kar Yağar (which translates as „Snow Falls“) has the dynamics of an epic journey through the Anatolian highlands where deep-rooted folk effortlessly switches to sparkly improvisation or dancy pop tracks.
VA - Elsewhere LVI (Emotional Response)
VA - Elsewhere LVI (Emotional Response)

From Frederik Croene to Jason Letkiewicz

Dona Onete - Rebujo (Mais Um)
'Queen of the Amazon' Dona Onete returns with her third album Rebujo which brims with joyous carimbós and high energy bangues as well as a cumbia, brega and samba. Rebujo is a local slang for the currents in the Amazon river that carry silt and nutrients from the river bed into the water, feeding its inhabitants and giving the river it's muddy colour – however, as it gives, it also takes, and the rebujo can easily overpower even the most experienced swimmer.

VA - Elsewhere LVI (Emotional Response)
The fourth volume of DJ soFa's compilation series Elsewhere LVI is released by the London imprint Emotional Response, with another 12 artist / 12 track travelogue. Described as ”club music for the open minded”, this new compilation An album that travels through a wide spectrum of electronic music, from dreamy ambient territories to rhythmic patterns. With artists now known to welcoming new brethren, this is an audio trip to leave reality behind. Exotic, hypnotic, tactile, trance-inducing meditations, washed down with a spoonful of magic.

Frederik Croene - Cul de Sac (cortizona)
After ‘Mars II’ and ‘Fortune de Mer’, the album Frederik made together with Timo Van Luijk, Croene releases ‘Cul de Sac’: a record where he explores the boundaries and limits of the piano. A mind-blowing journey through his soul and his past.

Jason Letkiewicz - The Reflecting Pool (Into The Light Records)
The Reflecting Pool sees Jason Letkiewicz exploring the uncomplicated and uncluttered in the pursuit of pure aural beauty. While his recent album as Opposing Currents was dense, dark, urban and industrial, The Reflecting Pool is stripped back, quiet and melodious. The contrast between the two projects is marked, with The Reflecting Pool drawing more on Letkiewicz’s love of crystalline ambient, slow burn synthesizer soundscapes, early ’80s library music and the kind of obscure electronic new age music that has been a hallmark of Into The Light’s releases to date.

Jay U Xperience - Abuja (Left Ear Records)
Jay U Xperience's Abjua is an EP release extracted from a lost ’93 CD only album by famed Nigerian artist ‘Jay U Xperience’. Here, modern technology meshes with timeless African Rhythms and the heartfelt influences of New York City. Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu.

Josiah Steinbrick - Meeting of Waters (Hands In The Dark Records)
Back in 2017 the unassuming Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist and producer released his first collection of solo pieces and we’ve been listening to it compulsively since then. Its initial release was only in North America, both on cassette with Leaving records and in an extremely limited vinyl self-release via BANANA editions. Therefore, Hands In The Dark Records reissued this meticulously crafted, essential work of Josiah Steinbrick. The album is composed of what you could call nine sculptural environments, each a mixture of organic sketches and improvisations, recorded rapidly and more or less free of any processing. Each piece is based on up to five simple elements - electronic and/or (tonal) percussions - used to create subtle evolving patterns and harmonies. The sounds explore the wilderness of jazz in a concrete setting, devotional in nature, creating a timeless cartography.
Lee Ranaldo / Jim Jarmusch / Marc Urselli / Balázs Pándi - s/t (Trost Records)
Lee Ranaldo / Jim Jarmusch / Marc Urselli / Balázs Pándi - s/t (Trost Records)

From Juma to Marnie Weber

Juma - Selected Works 2xLP (Bitter Lake Recordings)
Selected Works is a 2xLP compilation highlighting the definitive material of the cassette releases of Juma, a project led by hyper-prolific Hiroshima artist K. Yoshimatsu that existed from 1981-1982. Yoshimatsu released six cassettes with his Juma project (as well as 20+ under his own name) on the legendary cult industrial/experimental label DD.

Lee Ranaldo / Jim Jarmusch / Marc Urselli / Balázs Pándi - s/t (Trost Records)
New York based producer Marc Urselli had the idea to bring people together who had never met before and let that meeting of minds create beautiful soundscapes. Film director and musician Jim Jarmusch, Sonic Youth co-founder and guitarist Lee Ranaldo shared space with versatile drummer Balázs Pándi for a night session at Urselli's EastSide Sound studio in downtown NY. These are the unfiltered results. Absorbing instrumental patterns of cinematic sounds and improvised rhythms. No overdubs, no editing.

L'éclair - Sauropoda (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Sauropoda is L'Eclair's third album and is built from jam-sessions that follow their last release, the wonderful Polymood LP. They say proto-groove was born, and it's simply a reflection of the music and production aesthetics that we love, highlighted by concise arrangements. In case psychedelic funk mingled with a dubby touch gives you a special feeling, make sure to give this one a listen; it's totally worth it. Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu.

Luke Sanger - Ancient Pathways (Serein)
UK musician Luke Sanger has been writing and performing electronic music for fifteen years and counting. He has released on labels like Tigerbeat6, Don't and Sneaker Social Club. On Ancient Pathways, Luke turns to his modular synthesizer as the sole source of sound and arrangement. Whilst modular synths are renowned for their incredibly broad sound palette and for inviting experimentation, they are notoriously difficult to navigate when it comes to arrangement. Testament to Luke's skill then, that he not only coaxes delicate and intriguing tones and textures from his setup, but also manages the non-trivial task of weaving a story and structure around them.

Marnie Weber - Songs Hurt Me (Discos Transgénero)
Discos Transgénero reissues Marnie Weber’s classic first solo LP, Songs Hurt Me originally from 1989. This seminal record was an important part of the Los Angeles post-punk performative art rock scene. Brooding synthesizers, heavy bass, strange melodies, and poetic lyrics lead you through an industrial journey. These songs were born from Weber’s earliest performance art characters: a deer, an old woman, a manic courtesan, and a butterfly.

Massimo Amato - Lost Sunsets (Pregnant Void)
Electroacoustic sound sculptor Massimo Amato releases his spellbinding new album, Lost Sunsets, on Pregnant Void. Amato hails from Rome and has put out a fantastically innovative and cultural selection of albums that fuse ethnic, spiritual funk and jazz musics made with analogue and acoustic gear. Lost Sunsets is his third album and it was composed between 2007 and 2010; it features collaborations with a series of excellent musicians including Gigi Masin. Tracks feature a mix of synthesizers, harmonium, harmonica, toys and percussions that convey a range of exotic moods and grooves throughout.
Sontag Shogun - It Billows Up (Youngbloods)
Sontag Shogun - It Billows Up (Youngbloods)

From Mike Majkowski to Soho Rezanejad

Mike Majkowski - Between Seasons (Endless Happiness)
Mike Majkowski drops his latest cassette release, composed and recorded by himself. Between Seasons comprises two long pieces, released by the Polish imprint Endless Happiness; from meditative and spooky drones to introspective and haunted sounds, this night album is a perfect companion for those in need of something really special, sonic wise.

Only Now - Ultimatum (Kush Arora Productions)
Throughout his discography and as a core member of soundsystem collective, acclaimed club night and long running radio show Surya Dub, Kush Arora has been a crucial figure in championing and exploring the convergence between bass, electronics and roots music in San Francisco and beyond. Acclaimed performances at Mutek 2018 and alongside the likes of DJ Lag, Equiknoxx and Kode9 have presented a striking and immersive live show while assorted projects with Gappy Ranks, Stereotyp, Jahdan Blackkkamoore, and Dreadsquad, as well as remixes for Elephant Man, Cutty Ranks and Spoeke Mathambo, have all been marked by a broad and visionary signature, one that extends to the distinctly infernal expanses of his recent work under the Only Now alias.

Riccardo Sinigaglia - Ambient Music (Soave)
Ambient Music is Riccardo Sinigaglia’s first solo work –originally out on cassette from ADN Tapes in 1985, with two performances – “Watertube” and “Ringspiel”. Sinigaglia is one of the key figures of that explosion of beauty and creativity that defines the peculiar iteration of radical minimalism, which characterized the experimental and avant-garde music scene in Italy, particularly the Milanese one, with its rich countercultural scenes crossing over into the long reverberating academic legacy of the Studio di Fonologia Musicale RAI di Milano during a hyperactive decade starting in the late 1970s.

Ronald Langestraat - Apollo (South Of North)
Dominik Rodemann's 'South of North' label from Amsterdam made us a pleasant surprise last year when Ronald Langestraat was first introduced to the world, a really unique artist searching for his own characteristic sound. Now for the second label's release we get to see Apollo, named after the hotel where Ronald had a residency from 1986 until 1992. The album is a compilation he recorded on cassette in 1991, throughout several sessions.
”Lounge sounds meet drum computer rhythms, punchy baselines, distorted space noises, reoccurring clarinet interludes and improvised piano solos.” Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu.

Soho Rezanejad - Torino (Silicone Records)
Torino is a new audiovisual narrative organised by Soho Rezanejad, with a digital release through the composer’s own Silicone Records label. This shifting, cyclic border a shoreline represents can be found in many forms in Torino – after all, angels are the commuters between heaven and earth, perhaps truly at home in neither realm because of it.

Sontag Shogun - It Billows Up (Youngbloods)
Brooklyn avant-garde ensemble Sontag Shogun present their new multimedia project and third full length album It Billows Up, available on limited edition 12" vinyl LP and digital formats, as well as a printed Art Book produced by Thad Hilga and featuring exclusive artwork & poetry. The new LP is a linear, continuous narrative featuring ambient meshes of layered field recordings, analog oscillators, foley, and improvised piano, slicing together sounds of our waking life by crafting thick barricades of meditative, interwoven sonic collages. The familiar notes of wet footsteps, gray clouds, perplexing rants of passersby, and purring motors of oncoming traffic confidently survey the outskirts of the album, each sound dripping with sparse piano melodies and drifting into its own grainy mist of synesthesia.
VA - The Sacred Entertainment: Réak, Ceremonial Horse Trance Music from Priangan (Discrepant)
VA - The Sacred Entertainment: Réak, Ceremonial Horse Trance Music from Priangan (Discrepant)

From Vin Sol to Yousef Lateef

Terrible At Small Talk - The Abandoned Express Doubts (Fertanish)
Terrible At Small Talk is the most recent moniker evolved from Fertanish. The new name reflects an evolution to free experimental music, absent of vocals and blessed with a disintegration of common musical structure. Terrible At Small Talk’s first release, The Abandoned Express Doubts, is initially a composition of chaos that accepts peaceful interludes. As it continues, contentment becomes the focus while chaos is welcomed as a supportive friend to maintain balance.

Territroy - Skulls & Plants (Dekmantel / UFO)
Panagiotis Melidis is a singer-songwriter also known as Larry Gus on DFA Records, and Stathis Kalatzis is a techno mainstay formerly known as Mr. Statik. Together they are Territroy, and this spring they release their debut album, Skulls & Plants, on Dekmantel’s UFO label.

The Dwarfs of East Agouza / Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt ‎- Electric Smog (Unrock)
Electric Smog, the next installment in Unrock's ongoing Saraswati series, is a dangerous, electric brew filled with exotic aroma from Cairo's sound guerilla, Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls), Maurice Louca (Karkhana), and Sam Shalabi (Land of Kush, Karkhana). The always-changing face of Dwarfs Of East Agouza shows them in a feverish mode with an adrenalin rush; massive eruptions fight a genuine flow. Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt manage to sound like a tonal cyclone consisting of 156 musicians, blowing heads and minds away. Out of the blue they suddenly manage to change mode and develop mild, calm, and elegant/fragile melodies.

VA - The Sacred Entertainment: Réak, Ceremonial Horse Trance Music from Priangan (Discrepant)
Kasenian réak is a genre of performative art from the Priangan area of west Java, organized during hajatans (life-cycle celebrations) and nowadays primarily held during weddings andcircumcisions. The style, known as a seni lungsuran, is part of the greater family of Javanese horse dances, originally known in their most famous forms of jathilan and kuda lumping. Javanese horse dances, which could be as old as animistic Java, may already have been practiced before the eight century, travelling through the island and reaching Priangan in the thirties, when réak is believed to have been originated and popularised by musical groups Juarta Putra and Maska Putra. While bearing more than some resemblances with its family, kasenian réak benefits of structures and aesthetic tracts of its own, being not only one of the newest developments of horse dance if not the newest, but also its rawest and most extreme outcome.

Vin Sol - Planet Trash (Dark Entries)
Vin Sol is a third-generation San Franciscan of Salvadorean descent who has released on Unknown to the Unknown, Clone, Delft, Honey Soundsystem, and Ultramajic. His debut album Planet Trash consists of 10 tracks spread across 2 slabs of vinyl and a bonus flexi disc. Vin's musical approach is honest, using the tools of the trade to both innovate upon and pay respect to classic forms.

Yusef Lateef - Hikima: Creativity (The Key System)
In the early 1980s, famed jazz saxophonist and musical luminary Yusef Lateef traveled to Nigeria as a Senior Research Fellow to study, write, and teach at the Centre For Nigerian Cultural Studies at Ahmadu Bello University. He cut this record with students and local musicians while there; it only got a small local press, and remained virtually unknown by jazz fans and collectors for over 30 years. These compositions fuse his deep blues and jazz roots with native Nigerian instruments, drums and chants. The sounds stretch from meditative and melancholic to urgent and unrelenting. A singular recording impossible to classify or box in.
About the Author

Dragoș Rusu

Co-founder and co-editor in chief of The Attic and allround music adventurer.

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