Staff Picks - January 2021

Staff Picks - January 2021

February 11, 2021

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Apparently there are high hopes and expectations from 2021, so the first month of the new year started in full force. Here's 23 albums and compilations comprising anything from psychedelic rock to free jazz, improvised music, ethnic, ambient, electronic hybrids of all sorts, both new and 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.

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

From Bernard Szajner to Disquiet

V.A. - Ena Tefariki (Radio Martiko)
V.A. - Ena Tefariki (Radio Martiko)
A Strange Wedding - Black Magic Rituals (Worst Records)
Black Magic Rituals is a wizard’s book full of smart spells to open the space and time continuum. Whether it is made of shimmering stratospheric soundscapes or built in between constellations of the inner world, A Strange Wedding goes beyond his own forms to explore half-step industrial leftfield dub as well as mental-driven deep techno in the style of Italian masters.

Bernard Szajner - Some Deaths Take Forever (Cortizona)
Recording an album about the feelings of two prisoners waiting on death row, as a statement against capital punishment, was (and even still is nowadays) a delicate and ambitious plan. Bernard Szajner did it in 1980, after watching an Amnesty International documentary.

David Fenech & Klimperei - Rainbow de Nuit (Marionette)
The latest release of the Marionette imprint presents the efforts of French duo comprising melodist Christophe Petchanatz (aka Klimperei) and David Fenech. Their debut album called ‘Rainbow de Nuit’ evokes subtle pieces of experimental and improvised jazz, chansonesque songs, bluesy folk, and outsider music rolling harmoniously across the record. From music boxes and walkie-talkies down to plastic straws, plucking various stringed instruments such as the charrango and banjo, kazoos and snake-charmer ocarina and flutes, all the way through the sweet accordion and melodica, found and traditional tuned percussion.

Deux Control - Sex Miami (Höga Nord Rekords)
This album by Deux Control is a smooth genre crossover paradise of 808s, Yamaha keyboards and deep mesmerizing vocals side by side with more hardcore synth elements found in bands like DAF or Nitzer Ebb.

Disquiet - Disquiet (Trost Records)
Disquiet is a special quartet that came together on the stage of the Konfrontationen festival in 2018. Initially formed and lead by Austrian electronic musician Christof Kurzmann, the project is reflecting the difficult political situation of the refugee movements to Europe – and how politicians deal with it in a selfish and unhumanitarian way. Christof Kurzmann, Sofia Jernberg, Martin Brandlmayr (Radian) and Joe Williamson reinterpret and process in quiet waves of emotions and thoughtful lyrics - concentrated music between serenity and sheer beauty.

V.A. - Ena Tefariki (Radio Martiko)
These 20 carefully selected songs serve as an introduction to this mind-blowing music for the non-aficionado. The extended and illustrated liner notes take you back to the heyday of Greek pop music and put this cultural movement into an historical perspective.
V.A. - Exotic Ésotérique Vol.3 (ArteTetra)
V.A. - Exotic Ésotérique Vol.3 (ArteTetra)

From Foudre! to K.S. Eden

Emmanuelle Parrenin / Detlef Weinrich - Jours De Grève (Versatile Records)
German producer Detlef Weinrich aka Tolouse Low Trax and French singer, hurdy-gurdy, spinet and harp player Emmanuelle Parrenin created Jours de Grève during some days of intimate plays in Paris. With the offhanded help by friends and like-minded souls like Versatile aura mystic Gilbert Cohen, French avant-garde saxophone player Quentin Rollet and his fellow countryman, experimental voice artist Ghédalia Tazartès, they transformed in Cohen’s studio impulsive emotions into a kind of medieval cult sound that dances with tribal dub layers in search for a higher ground.

V.A. - Exotic Ésotérique Vol.3 (ArteTetra)
Italian imprint ArteTetra return with the third volume of their Exotic ésotérique series of compilations showcasing contemporary bits and pieces from (almost) all around the world. The compilation selects 30 vigorous, phantomatic and edgy songs, "from the grotesque to the hazy, to the hypnagogic and absurd til the utterly whimsical; often resulting in non-linear audio experiences with humoristic and paradoxical outcomes."

Foudre! - Future Sabbath (Nahal Recordings)
Formed around 2015, the group FOUDRE! comprises Frédéric D. Oberland (Oiseaux-Tempête, Le Réveil des Tropiques, FareWell Poetry), Romain Barbot (Saåad), Paul Régimbeau (Mondkopf, Extreme Precautions, Autrenoir) and Grégory Buffier (Autrenoir, Mätisse). Released by the solid imprint Nahal, their new sonic journey is titled Future Sabbath and dives deep into the abyss, "through a ceremony that brings together occult sciences, forgotten landscapes and the fever of the unconscious". This is their fifth album, with previous efforts out on BLWBCK and Gizeh Records.

Gerry Weil - The Message (Olindo Records)
‘The Message’ by Gerry Weil is an overlooked cornerstone of Venezuelan jazz, greatly influenced by ‘Bitches Brew’ era Miles, Hendrix, Tower of Power and fusion of jazz and rock. ‘The Message’ is packed with raw funk grooves, big band horns, and Gerry’s gravelly Tom (Waitsian) vocals.

I N S T I T U T R I C E - Cohortes (Unjenesaisquoi)
Cohortes is the debut album of the duo comprising Éric Bentz and Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy, I N S T I T U T R I C E, out through the French imprint unjenesaisquoi. Their aim is to reconcile current sound processing techniques with ancient ethnic music traditions. The album was created with an Asian-inspired, homemade drum kit, assembled from various sources like kitchenware (tin pans and copper dishes), genuine ethnic music instruments (singing bowl or gongs), and complete with dismembered parts of a regular drum kit (toms and cymbals).

K.S. Eden - Passed Beyond (Stroom)
Growing up in Stockport in the 1970s, Kevin Eden is one of those artists who did not receive the credit for their work during the years they were active. Eden (now Veerji Hasyananda, a name given to him by Laraaji after he has embraced the Vedantic Advaita tradition), looks back at the work featured on this compilation with a comfortable detachment because in his view these recordings were made by a different person to who he is today. Rather than harbouring feelings of regret or frustration that his output did not reach an audience, he feels blessed for it to have another opportunity today.
Nahawa Doumbia - Kanawa (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
Nahawa Doumbia - Kanawa (Awesome Tapes From Africa)

From Laure Boer to Nahawa Doumbia

Laima Adelaide - Modern Nature (Annulled Music)
The first release of the year from the Spanish imprint Annulled Music is signed by Laima Adelaide. Modern Nature encompass a mystical sonic journey through ambient, techno and electronics. On his debut, he says: "my main inspiration is exploration: Walking in the forest. Footsteps become rhythm. Leaves become noise. The movement of trees becomes ambience. Each of the tracks is a study of an unknown environment which forms itself in my imagination."

Laure Boer - Agate et la pierre de Sable (Kashual Plastik)
Memories like fires glow, time keeps cutting at your soul: when listening to “Agate et la pierre de Sable”, a tape with two deeply thrilling journey music poems, the mind of the deep listener takes off. Off into the vibrant, mystic, folk-not-folk world of Laure Boer and her free-spirited approach on ritualistic music beyond the ritual. It might get lost in her minimal chanting, her India-leaning melodies, echoing feedbacks and endless loops of revelation. Some Moondog spirits wave veiled and psychic illusions trigger the meditation. But no worries: every soul returns in good order, eased by a droning whiter shade of pale.

Nahawa Doumbia - Kanawa (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
"The meaning of “Kanawa” is so simple. We see our children trying to cross the ocean all the time. I said that many of our children die in the ocean and some of them while crossing the Sahara. Some climb over the wires across the borders and they have gotten shot. We have asked them not to leave and instead stay home. But I ask them why do they leave their country? Why do they decide to go? They said that they leave because of the family situation or problems, poverty, and unemployment. We told them if ever they are to leave, they should privilege legal ways. They should abide by laws vigorously when they are to emigrate. That’s better than hiding in boats or adopting other illegal means. I ask them to stay and work in their country. So that we can help each other find a solution to this problem. I call on the UN and African leaders so that we can coordinate our efforts to find a solution, to create jobs for them so that young people stop leaving. This song is about that message and I chose it as the title of my album because I like it. My choice is because it is very meaningful and it is something we see on a daily basis. I chose it in order to alert and sensitize everybody about this question of illegal immigration. To sensitize our brothers and sisters. It is a message. That’s why I chose it as the title of my album so that everybody can learn from it and also so that there is a reduction in the number of people emigrating. To sensitize them so that some can stay home and grow the land. Leaving is not the only solution. That’s my message" says Nahawa Doumbia.

Path of the Sun - Path of the Sun (Inner Islands)
Path of the Sun is a collaborative project between Daniel Guillén and Steve Targo, known for their solo endeavors as Lunaria and Inner Travels, respectively. The two musicians share on this album (composed of two long pieces) an interest for esoteric thought, and perhaps an underlying spiritual practice guiding their work in sound.

Randi Pontoppidan & Thomas Buckner - Voicescapes (Chant Records)
Randi Pontoppidan and Thomas Buckner started singing together almost immediately when they met in 2017. In 2018, they recorded at Karmacrew Studio with engineer John Fomsgaard, on the beautiful island of Møn, Denmark. With no preconceived musical material, no overdubs and no sound sources other than voices, “Voicescapes” documents the spontaneous music of two kindred souls.

Pneumaton - Concren (self-released)
Mitoș Micleușanu was born in Bakhchysarai (Crimea), lived and studied arts in Chișinău (Moldova) and Cluj-Napoca (Romania). He is a multidisciplinary artist, being involved in a wide range of artistic projects, from experimental music to poetry, photography and visual arts. This is his new self-released work under one of his aliases for experimental music, Pneumaton.

The Invisible Session - Echoes Of Africa (Space Echo Records/Dialogo Records)
The Invisible Session - Echoes Of Africa (Space Echo Records/Dialogo Records)

From Stella Chiweshe to Tiziano Popoli

V.A. - Sirens (Exiles)
Sirens is a compilation of 20 songs put together by the Hungarian imprint Exiles. Dominika Trapp writes: "Sirens appear mostly in groups and they rarely sing in unison. The voice they make does not come from the same place as orderly explanations, but grounded in the belly and below. The goblets they hold in their claw-fingered hands are filled with various dark liquids – luring for those who are willing to get dirty for knowledge, sickening to the ones who detest the complexity of truth." All the digital album purchases are donated to The Women For Women Together Against Violence Association (NANE).

Stella Chiweshe - Ambuya! (Piranha Records)
Stella Chiweshe is a musician from Zimbabwe, known globally for her singing and playing of the mbira dzavadzimu, a traditional instrument of the Shona people of Zimbabwe (a Bantu ethnic group native to Southern Africa). In her home country, she is called Ambuya Stella Chiweshe as a sign of utmost respect. Ambuya! has been the artist's international debut, originally published in 1987. The album has been remastered and is now available once again through the Piranha imprint, including as a bonus a few titles from the '88 recordings that took place at John Peel's BBC Radio show.

Tassos Chalkias - Τάσος Χαλκιάς - Divine Reeds (Radio Martiko)
Epirótika! Greek psych folk as a soul medicine. A shepherd's fever dream or spiritual jazz from an ancient world?

The Invisible Session - Echoes Of Africa (Space Echo Records/Dialogo Records)
The Invisible Session is back with Echoes Of Africa to be released on the newly-launched Space Echo label. Initiated in 2006 by Schema Records’ co-founder and musician Luciano Cantone, The Invisible Session’s influences are rooted in Black music. Written in collaboration with trombonist and multi-instrumentalist Gianluca Petrella, and with lyrics by poet, rapper, and MC Martin Thomas Paavilainen (aka Benjamin “Bentality” Paavilainen), Echoes of Africa is an homage to African music.

Tiziano Popoli - Burn the Night / Bruciare la Notte: Original Recordings, 1983–1989 (RVNG Intl.)
Burn the Night / Bruciare la Notte: Original Recordings, 1983–1989 is the first archival collection of music by the Italian minimalist composer Tiziano Popoli. In his music, Popoli framed the Italian avant-garde and New Wave of the 80s through an architectural aesthetic distinctly detailed by a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer, Roland TR909 drum machine, and early sampling technology. These fourteen pieces represent unreleased recordings for installations, theater, and radio broadcasts, and they each beam with unusual melody, radiant color, and generative life.

University Challenged - Oh Temple! (Hive Mind Records)
University Challenged is a trio comprising Ajay Saggar (“Bhajan Bhoy”), Oli Heffernan (“Ivan The Tolerable”) and Kohhei Matsuda (“Bo Ningen”). They began playing music in 2019 in Holland. Their double album "Oh Temple!" is an adventurous sonic venture throughout kosmische musik, electronic experimentation, deep spiritual jazz, modern classical, pastoral guitar soli, and more.
About the Author

Dragoș Rusu & Victor Stutz

Dragoș Rusu is co-founder and co-editor in chief of The Attic, sound researcher and allround music adventurer, with a keen interest in the anthropology of sound.

Victor Stutz is a sound adventurer and music selector from Bucharest – currently based in Barcelona - with a background in anthropology.

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