Staff Picks - April 2021

Staff Picks - April 2021

May 12, 2021

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Thinking of collapsing seasons, April 2021 has already passed through the eternity of matter, bringing an explosion of music, sound and cultures. In case you need a companion for your travelings, here's 32 albums comprising anything from nostalgic piano tools, to jazz and free jazz, improvised music, electronic music, 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 Akropolis Reed Quintet to Arsen Petrosyan

Adoct - Ouvre-Glace (Atypeek Diffusion / Circum-Disc)
Adoct - Ouvre-Glace (Atypeek Diffusion / Circum-Disc)
Acid Twilight - s/t (Not Not Fun Records)
The self-titled debut document by Argentinean underground entity Acid Twilight spans shifting dunes and darknesses of lunar modal psychedelia, in pursuit of “climatic music of a high order.” Their method mixes “ancestral sounds” with contemporary techniques, weaving synthesizers, organs, and electric guitar among Andean rattles, bells, tarkas (a war flute used in indigenous battles), and field recordings from Bolivia and Peru.

Adoct - Ouvre-Glace (Atypeek Diffusion / Circum-Disc)
Adoct is a new music project which was born under the pandemic regime in France, comprising Sakina Abdou (saxophone, recorder), Barbara Dang (piano), Peter Orins (drums), Ivann Cruz (acoustic guitar) and Jérémie Ternoy (piano). Therefore, taking advantage of the temporary presence of a second piano in the concert venue of La Malterie in Lille, two trios from the Muzzix collective came together in late 2020 to create a quintet. The acoustic version of Toc takes on the energy and electricity of the original trio, exploring soundscapes full of freedom.

Akropolis Reed Quintet - Ghost Light (New Focus Recordings)
Detroit based Akropolis Reed Quintet releases Ghost Light, a collection of works written for them that are in dialogue with various "ghosts" — histories that are manifest in personal, collective, and even organic contexts. Featuring music by Stacy Garrop, Michael Gilbertson, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Jeff Scott, and Theo Chandler, Akropolis' precise and dynamic performances are matched by their curatorial creativity and commitment.

Alastair Galbraith - Loss (self-released)
Alastair Galbraith is a musician from Taieri Mouth, New Zealand, who has been releasing records since 1984 on labels ranging from Xpressway and Flying Nun to Table Of The Elements. Loss is his recent independent release, with Dave Merritt playing an organ on the song "lost the cottage" and Michael Kohler playing electric guitar on "more space underwater".

Andy Cartwright - Unstill (Fluid Audio)
Cartwright uses the techniques of finger picking & bowing combined with various open tunings to form a mixture of approaches, often with layered accompaniments. Generally the songs lean towards to the experimental genre, whilst on the edge of the ambient and folk. "I had the urge to find a different creative process and break away from the guitar as my main instrument. After gathering old field recordings I’d captured on my Dictaphone/iPhone whilst travelling, I manipulated them with software and layered synths, various instruments and live radio samples, forming a kind of collage", says Cartwright.

Arsen Petrosyan - Hokin Janapar (ARC Music)
Hokin Janapar is the highly anticipated second solo album from Armenian duduk master Arsen Petrosyan. Recorded over two months but nearly five years in the making, the current album is a collection of eleven pieces drawn from many diverse eras of Armenia’s cultural timeline. In an eerie historical parallel, while wrapping the album, Arsen found his country at war with neighbouring Azerbaijan. Concerned but undeterred, he and his team slept at the studio to complete the post-production and emerged to find Armenia a vastly different place.
Gnawtwang - Urrawarru (self-released)
Gnawtwang - Urrawarru (self-released)

From Azu Tiwaline to Howie Lee

Azu Tiwaline - Draw Me a Silence (Extended) (I.O.T Records)
For those still unaware of Tunisian electronic music producer Azu Tiwaline, here’s one’s last chance. One year after the release of her first project Draw Me a Silence, Azu Tiwaline, who gained recognition from her peers in the electronic scene with her debut release, comes back now to close a final chapter: Eyes of the Wind. This bonus track is made as an outro to conclude Draw Me a Silence (Extended), which gathers Part. I and Part. II in one final album, as it was initially intended by the artist.

Bass Tone Trap - Trapping (1983) (Discus Music)
This is a reissue of the animated and complex 1983 jazz-punk record Trapping, which was the first outing on record for several artists who appear on subsequent Discus releases. The album captures Bass Tone Trap virtually live in the studio - from memory, only the vocals were overdubbed - and reveals a tight band which constantly rehearsed and modified its music always with the next gig in mind. The recording covers the whole range of the band's music from free improv to RnB influenced pop.

Dr. C - Album II (Ojodeapolo)
Second Album from Dr. C made between 2019 - 2020 by Jorge Cortes including a remix from Jordan GCZ.

Francisco Mora Catlett - Mora! I&II (Far Out Recordings)
Mexican-American percussionist and former member of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Francisco Mora Catlett originally recorded and released his debut solo LP as a private press in 1987, but the sequel he recorded over the course of the next few years with an expanded Detroit jazz brass section was shelved for decades to follow. A Pan-American melting pot of hypnotic afro-cuban rhythms, frenetic batucadas and fiery sambas, Mora I & II are holy grails of Latin jazz, masterminded by an unsung hero of the genre.

Gnawtwang - Urrawarru (self-released)
Surfing through an incandescent wave of various symbols, myths, beliefs, and juxtapositions, Urrawarru gathers altogether five particular pieces that create and unfold a hidden story of one’s unutterable amnesia when confronted with the never-ending layers of reality.

Howie Lee - Birdy Island (Mais Um)
Written, produced and recorded almost entirely by Howie Lee at the back end of 2018, Birdy Island’s almost exclusively acoustic yet broad sound palette threads continuities between ceremonial Taoist music, early Buchla synth experiments, and FWD>> nights at London’s Plastic People.
Kink Gong - Zomia Vol.1 (Discrepant)
Kink Gong - Zomia Vol.1 (Discrepant)

From Kink Gong to Mesías Maiguashca

José Carlos Schwarz & Le Cobiana Djazz - Lua Ki Di Nos (Hot Mule)
Our friends from Hot Mule Records came with a very special compilation for their 7th release, by José Carlos Schwarz, who was a key figure and activist during the 1970's war for independence in Guinea-Bissau. During the same period, he and Cobiana Djazz have revived the traditional music genre Gunbe and established their musical identity by singing in Guinea-Bissau's Creole, a language whose lexicon derives mostly from Portuguese. The uplifting rhythms based on it, melancholy melodies, and the enthusiastic energy of a close band ensemble will go directly into the listener's heart, offering a unique emotional depth. Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu/JB

Khalab & M'berra Ensemble - M'berra (Real Worlds Records)
M’berra is the sound and the story of a collective of Malian musicians from the M’berra Refugee Camp in southeast Mauritania and Italian producer and electro-shaman Khalab. In a sprawling tent city rising out of the desert, out of nothingness, at the border with Mali in West Africa, brought together by spirit and circumstance, the group’s Arab and Tuareg members find solace and beauty in music and song.

Kink Gong - Zomia Vol.1 (Discrepant)
Kink Gong is back with his unique take and re-interpretation of the music he’s been recording and documenting for years in the South East Asian highlands. Zomia Vol.1 takes the conceptual idea of ZOMIA, proposed by James C Scott in The Art of Not Being Governed, an Anarchist History of Upland South East Asia, to construct its very own mythological soundscape inspired by a semi-utopic region where state rules don’t apply. Zomia might be (almost) gone but Kink Gong is keen keep its spirit alive by releasing a series of albums celebrating the region’s quasi mythological features.

Marin - Hamuza (self-released)
Not much information is given on the Bucharest based electronic music producer Marin, but his self-released work (which dates to several years already) seems deeply embedded into a constant search and concern for new sounds for a new electronic music. Here’s his recent album Hamuza, meticulously fusing techno beats with synthwave in an experimental DIY fashion.

Mesías Maiguashca - Música para cinta magnética (+) instrumentos (1967-1989) (Buh Records)
Mesías Maiguashca is a relevant figure on the map of contemporary avant-garde composers. Born in Ecuador but currently based in Germany, he has been a composer who, since the 60s, would constantly expand his possibilities in fields such as electronic music (where he stands out as a pioneer), mixed works, expanded interdisciplinary pieces and the creation of unconventional instruments, where the encounter between his country of origin’s popular folkloric tradition and the new European music has produced a universe of tension, as fascinating as it is startling.

V.A. - Mien (Yao) - Cannon Singing in China, Vietnam, Laos (Sublime Frequencies)
Other-worldly Canon singing from MIEN (YAO) hill tribes in China, Vietnam, and Laos. Raw, ethereal, and cosmic – for fans of Bulgarian choir and Javanese Court Gamelan & Sundanese styles of vocal ascension.
Nyssa Musique - Comme Au Moulin (Ici Bientôt)
Nyssa Musique - Comme Au Moulin (Ici Bientôt)

From Neunau to Pierre Schaeffer

Natural Information Society with Evan Parker - Descension (Out of Our Constrictions) (Eremite Records / Aguirre Records)
Rich in musical associations yet utterly singular in its voice, joyous with an inner tranquility, the music of Natural Information Society is unlike any other being made today. Their sixth album in eleven years for Eremite records, Descension (Out of Our Constrictions) is the first to be recorded live, featuring a set from London’s Cafe OTO with veteran English free-improv great Evan Parker, & the first to feature just one extended composition. The 75-minute performance, inspired by the galvanizing presence of Parker, is a sustained bacchanalia of collective ecstasy, or as one could call it, their party album.

Neunau - Rimodulazione di flauti Paetzold durante una sessione di libera improvvisazione di Antonino Politano (Until Riots)
Sergio Maggioni known by the alias of Neunau returns to Until Riots with another mind bending collection of live recordings. Performed by Antonino Politano as a free improv session held at the San Lorenzo church in Val Camonica in 2019, this record sees the custom contrabass recorder as its sole protagonist.

Nikolaienko - Rings (Faitiche)
Ukrainean born / Estonian based musician Dmytro Nikolaienko has chosen a historical medium (that has been enjoying a renaissance for some years now) to record historical-sounding sequences. The way he manages his own back catalogue is similarly archival, documenting the chronology of his tape loops in such a way as to leave no doubt as to their advanced age.

Nyssa Musique - Comme Au Moulin (Ici Bientôt)
Handling one of the best record shops in Paris for many years now (Gemini Cricket), David Boulakia is also in charge of Ici Bientôt, a relatively new label focusing on new-age / minimalism / free-spiritual jazz music. Being a self-released LP by some incredible French musicians more than three decades ago, Comme Au Moulin was played in the form of a quintet, where traditional influences from Asia, Africa and Europe thrive on fluidity. Composed of marimba, vibraphone, flute, double bass, synthesizer and of course percussion, the result is a spiritual rise that couldn't be more inspiring, providing a unique setting. Fans of Midori Takada, Terry Riley, or Jon Hassell should check this out. Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu/JB

Noodle Shop - Moon Dog Girl (Zoar Records)
A series of serendipitous disasters led to this spontaneous meeting between John Kruth, Jonathan Segel, Attila Engin, & E# aka Noodle Shop at Sharp’s Studio zOaR. With the obituary of singular musical visionary Moondog fresh in their minds, the assembled quartet ran down a series of improvised songs drawing inspiration from the aforementioned Moondog as well as such diverse influences as Sun Ra, Jajouka, Harry Smith’s “old weird America”, and the Silk Road. Moon Dog Girl was originally released in 1999 by Sparkling Beatnik Records.

Pierre Schaeffer - L'expérience musicale - 1959 (Transversales Disques)
French imprint Transversales Disques releases this package comprising 6 radiophonic archives with Pierre Schaeffer, to explain the birth of "musique concrète" with a lot of sounds and musical examples.
Women of the Pore & Arrington - Hot Town - Rip Up the Streets (Jollies)
Women of the Pore & Arrington - Hot Town - Rip Up the Streets (Jollies)

From The Red Microphone to Wukir Suryadi

Rob Frye - Chihuahuan Desert / Birdscapes (Astral Spirits)
Rob Frye is a musician from Missouri and currently based in Chicago. In 2010 he graduated DePaul University’s school of music, and since then he has pursued the muse of sound along with the rest of the artistic community embedded in Chicago, and alternated his summers between working as a field biologist and counselor/resident artist for Chicago Park District’s culture arts and nature programs. This is his recent work Chihuahuan Desert / Birdscapes, out on Astral Spirits.

V.A. - Sound Storing Machines: The First 78rpm Records from Japan, 1903-1912 (Sublime Frequencies)
Compiled by sound artist Robert Millis from recordings made by Fred Gaisberg, a legendary producer and recording engineer who travelled the world working for the Gramophone Company (later His Masters Voice), these collected gems offer a return trip to the now-distant past. Swaddled in a dreamlike haze of surface noise that emphasises their alien allure and peculiarity, the set is all the more remarkable for the fact it was recorded only a decade after flat disc recording and playback technology was invented as a successor to Edison’s wax cylinder tekkers.

Stian Balducci & Kjetil Jerve - Tokyo Tapes: Piano Recycle (Dugnad Rec)
From the Norwegian transcendent artist Kjetil Jerve and producer Stian Balducci comes the record Tokyo Tapes: Piano Recycle, an epic archival collection fusing ambient, drone and experimentalist textures. Performed with a live emotion in mind, this aspect of the collection adds to the innovative spontaneity and the duo’s dynamic musicianship.

Tasos Stamou - Antiqua Graecia (IKUISUUS)
Antiqua Graecia is the third of the trilogy of electroacoustic compositions inspired by Greek music culture. It comes to complete a vinyl trilogy of Greek-based themes by capturing the essence of the rural mainland countryside.

The Red Microphone - And I Became of the Dark (ESP-Disk)
Following up on their well-received 2017 ESP-Disk’ album backing poet Amina Baraka, The Red Microphone added guitarist Dave Ross to its roster and went into the studio with Ivan Julian (guitarist of punk icons Richard Hell & the Voidoids). A few other veterans of the downtown NYC jazz scene joined in to help accompany the provocative, political poetry of John Pietaro, who doubles on voice and drums.

Tristan Kasten-Krause - Potential Landscapes (Whatever's Clever Records)
Tristan Kasten-Krause’s debut solo record Potential Landscapes finds the New York based composer and bassist immerse into a deep sonic excursion. Kasten-Krause has been tapped by iconic composers Steve Reich and Alvin Lucier and has played in Oklahoma! on Broadway in addition to actively participating in the local DIY and experimental scenes. On Potential Landscapes, he blurs reality and perception, making music that feels real but is, in actuality, impossible.

Unknown Me - Bishintai (Not Not Fun Records)
The inaugural album by Tokyo Metropolis electronica entity Unknown Me, Bishintai explores “the unknown beauty of your mind and body,” appropriately named for a kanji compound meaning “beauty, mind, body.” Crafted with software, synthesizer, steel drum, rhythm boxes, and robotic voice by the core quartet of Yakenohara, P-RUFF, H. Takahashi, and Osawa Yudai, the album unfolds like a holographic guided meditation, soothing but cybernetic, framed by subways and sky malls.

Women of the Pore & Arrington - Hot Town - Rip Up the Streets (Jollies)
American cassette imprint Jollies presents a new music project comprising the Women of the Pore and Saxophonist Arrington de Dionyso. If the identities of the Women of the Pore still remain a mysterious dilemma, the music itself splendidly blends hybrids of electronic music with bunker jazz, leftfield, free-jazz, drone and beyond. What does, Hot Town - Rip up the Streets sound like? Well, if you can imagine getting left behind and locked into to a fairground after closing, you might have an idea", suggests the album’s description.

Wukir Suryadi - Garu (agricultural tool) (self-released)
"One of my methods of making instruments is to present old objects / items and reuse them as sound instruments or musical instruments, by giving them some Sound material on those objects. In 2011 news from television about the condition of the food at that time inspired me to meet the Garu – looking for, finding and processing it until the Garu, which was originally used as an agricultural tool, became a musical instrument", says Indonesia musician and sound artist Wukir Suryadi (one half of Senyawa).
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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