Staff Picks - August 2021

Staff Picks - August 2021

September 11, 2021

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This month we present a selection of 26 albums released over the course of August 2021, comprising a wide variety of music, from Peruvian experimental music to contemporary oddities, chicha, cumbia and lots of free-improv, 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.

Meanwhile, listen back to our third episode of the Staff Picks radio show, broadcasted live on Black Rhino Radio.

From Amelia Cuni to Badieh

V.A. - ¡¡¡Éxitos Horóscopo!!! (Discos Horóscopo)
V.A. - ¡¡¡Éxitos Horóscopo!!! (Discos Horóscopo)
V.A. - ¡¡¡Éxitos Horóscopo!!! (Discos Horóscopo)
Spanish imprint Discos Horóscopo presents a new compilation of Peruvian chicha and cumbia, highlighting some of the genre’s best kept secrets, including Grupo Maravilla, Grupo Alegria, Los Superamigos, Cuarteto Universal and much more.

Alvin Curran - Fiori Chiari, Fiori Oscuri (Black Truffle)
Australian imprint Black Truffle presents the first-ever vinyl reissue of Alvin Curran’s classic Fiori Chiari, Fiori Oscuri, originally issued in 1978 on Ananda, the cooperative label run by Curran, Roberto Laneri, and Giacinto Scelsi. Fiori Chiari, Fiori Oscuri (Light Flowers Dark Flowers) – its title inspired by an intersection in Milan – is the second in the series of four solo recordings Alvin Curran issued in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Amelia Cuni - Parampara festival 13.3.1992 (Black Truffle)
Black Truffle presents Parampara Festival 13.3.1992, a stunning performance by Amelia Cuni captured live in Berlin almost thirty years ago. Milanese by birth and resident in Berlin for many years, Cuni lived in India for over a decade, studying the classical vocal style of dhrupad under masters of the form. Though perhaps known to many listeners primarily through her performances of the vocal music of John Cage and collaborations with Werner Durand and Terry Riley, she is recognised internationally as one of the great contemporary proponents of traditional dhrupad singing. These recordings document her performance at the 1992 Parampara Festival at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, a landmark event celebrating the global spread of Indian classical music, bringing together Indian teachers with their international students.

Apoc Krysis x Jupiluxe - The Set Up (Pt. 1 and Pt. 2)
Apoc Krysis and Jupiluxe's collab tape "The Set Up". Featuring production from Apoc Krysis, FLOCKA BOI and Tropikoren.

Aurita Y Su Conjunto - Chambacu (Mississippi Records)
Mississippi Records releases this LP compilation of the great Aurita Castillo, the young queen of Cumbia from the legendary Chambacu neighborhood. Little is known about Aurita other than her cutting some killer records for Discos Fuentes in Medellin in the 1960s. Her recordings with an uncredited backing back are some of the heaviest and most perfect cumbias of the era - ripping electric and acoustic guitars, snapping thundering drums, dark clarinet melodies and Aurita’s amazing voice commanding the show.

Badieh - Badieh (Worlds Within Worlds)
A collaboration between two masters of their craft, Badieh is the project of Michel Gasco and Mohammad Miraghazadeh. A step past Gasco’s previous Orontes project, these delicate reinterpretations of traditional Khorasani folk track takes his instrumentation to new heights. Each strum is crafted to perfection, perfectly complemented by Miraghazdeh’s expertise in Persian classical music. Those with a keen ear may hear similarities between Badieh’s music and the sounds of Mohammad Rahim Khushnawaz, Sima Bina and Ensemble Kaboul.

Body Image CEO - In these difficult times.... now more than ever... at the end of the day..... Pepsi (Discrepant)
Body Image CEO - In these difficult times.... now more than ever... at the end of the day..... Pepsi (Discrepant)

From Calamita to Deux Filles

Body Image CEO - In these difficult times.... now more than ever... at the end of the day..... Pepsi (Discrepant)
Body Image CEO (German Army, Peter Kris, Final Cop + multiple other aliases) conjures the 2020’s pandemic years with a series of motivational Instagram sampled loops collated from months and months of Instagram perusing hell. Ironically titled In these difficult times.... now more than ever... at the end of the day..... Pepsi, the album serves as a dark/light/hollow mirror to our recent times and the vanity exposed vanity we all witness online. Motivational speeches never were so… Pepsi…

Calamita [Sharif Sehnaoui, Tony Elieh & Davide Zolli] - Nemesis (Ruptured Records / Annihaya)
Electrifying trio Calamita, comprising Sharif Sehnaoui (electric guitar), Tony Elieh (electric bass) and Davide Zolli (on drums) returns with a new work for the Lebanese record label Ruptured.

Cole Pulice - Gloam (Pingipung)
Cole Pulice is a saxophone player from Minneapolis. An improviser of ambient jazz who earned his merits touring with Bon Iver, working with Godspeed You! Black Emperor and releasing wonderful electroacoustic gems with the groups Iceblink (Moon Glyph) and LCM (Orange Milk). With Gloam - his solo debut - Cole Pulice offers us six spacious audio holograms, one-take recordings of his saxophone entangled with live electronic hardware. We hear undulating pitch shifters, ring modulations and spectrally rich harmonizers. Cole applies all signal processing live, augmenting the calm, serene melodies he plays on his saxophone.

Dan Melchior - A Squirrel Could Never Be A Disappointment To Me (self-released)
English singer, songwriter and guitarist Dan Melchior, often labeled a 'garage rock' musician, returns with a new self-released album, A Squirrel Could Never Be A Disappointment To Me. Throughout years, he has formed the named groups of musicians Broke Revue and Dan Melchior und Das Menace.

Deux Filles ‎- Silence & Wisdom / Double Happiness (Dark Entries Records)
Back in 1982, many were happy to believe that Deux Filles really were tragic French orphans Claudine Coule and Gemini Forque. In reality, the ambient/instrumental duo comprised Simon Fisher Turner, former child star/teen idol and future soundtrack composer, and songwriter/technician Colin Lloyd Tucker. As Deux Filles the pair released two highly collectable albums: Silence & Wisdom (1982) and Double Happiness (1983), both of which are included in this new package released by the American imprind Dark Entries Records.

Leon Duncan - Fuck A Rosetta Stone for My Brain Waves (Hakuna Kulala)
Leon Duncan - Fuck A Rosetta Stone for My Brain Waves (Hakuna Kulala)

From Katharina Ernst to Moritz Von Oswald Trio

Francesco Cavaliere & Tomoko Sauvage - Viridescens (Marionette)
For their first release on Marionette, Francesco Cavaliere and Tomoko Sauvage embody a tactile audio visual display, radiating the color green into sounds and painting meditative music. By transforming collected objects into invented instruments and scenography, each motif becomes a dedication to a specific situation, an anecdote or a symbol, sometimes real and other times absurd, that the artists have encountered through their travels and conversations: the Chinese myth about a man wearing a green hat, naming convention of Japanese traffic lights, or even the imaginary chants of frolicking twin dolphins. This inspired the duo’s personal research on experimenting with raw and synthesized idiophones, stage landscape design, spontaneous field recording and organized improvisation.

Jake Blanchard - Bryophytes (Was Ist Das?)
Jake Blanchard is a freelance illustrator and musician living and working in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. His work is often inspired by the natural world as well as mythology and ancient cultures. Much of his work embraces the aesthetics of psychedelia. As well as working as an Illustrator Jake also runs record label and zine publishers, Tor Press.

Joelle Leandre / George Lewis / Pauline Oliveros - Play As You Go (Trost Records)
This piece was recorded live at the festival "VS. Interpretation" in Prague, on July 17, 2014, for Czech radio and comprises Joelle Leandre (on contrabass and voice), George Lewis (on laptop electronics and trombone) and Pauline Oliveros (Roland button v-accordion).

Katharina Ernst - Le temps - a solo for drums and metal objects in five states (Ventil Records)
In her recent work Le Temps, Austrian artist and drummer Katharina Ernst lays the focus on the playful possibilities of an acoustic setting and show that a drum kit is a subtle and versatile instrument. Without any amplification and through the direct effects of specific sounds, intimacy and closeness are to be created and the listener is directly touched by the clear tones. Classical styles of playing the drum set are complemented using mallets and instruments from traditional Korean music, the samul-nori, as well as by everyday used objects such as bicycle bells or bathtub plugs, thus creating a detailed and hybrid sound image of an extended drum kit.

Leon Duncan - Fuck A Rosetta Stone for My Brain Waves (Hakuna Kulala)
Growing up in Nairobi, Leon Duncan learned to produce music by experimenting with recording software in his high school’s computer lab. Before long he was selling beats, but his restless, anxious mind quickly drew him closer towards extreme music. Duncan had never played guitar, but answered a call for guitarists from local heavy metal band Lust of a Dying Breed. Together with vocalist Martin Kanja (now half of Nyege Nyege’s Duma), he developed an idiosyncratic form of Kenyan industrial music, patching a synth that sounded as serrated as distorted guitar and getting kicked out from his apartment in the process. When a track made its way to Nyege Nyege Tapes, Duncan was extended the creative freedom to develop his sonic experiments.

Moritz Von Oswald Trio - Dissent (Modern Recordings)
Moritz von Oswald Trio returns with Dissent, a striking new album that explores the scope of jazz and dance music within abstracted electronic music. It follows the Sounding Lines LP from 2015 with a further explorative and daring sound, which dives through broad ambiences, uptempo dance and jazz sensibilities. As ever with albums from the Moritz von Oswald Trio, this new album, recorded during November and December 2020 in Berlin, emerged from a series of long extended jams that were then edited down.
Rachika Nayar - Fragments (RVNG Intl.)
Rachika Nayar - Fragments (RVNG Intl.)

From Porest to Saint Abdullah

Nina Guo & Augustė Vickunaitė - A thing is a thing but you can't really understand how far away it is from you (Das Andere Selbst)
Nina Guo and Augustė Vickunaitė improvise together. Nina’s free monologues fragmentation isolates images and thoughts that shift daily life formulas into mischievous language epiphanies and fizzy onomatopoeias. Augustė’s here and now tape-loops and glitches push this metamorphosis further, recasting the narration in a playfully dangerous soundscape. The mastery of their medium allows both to easily lose and regain control of the happenings, shape and entropy are testing each other limits.

Porest - Cancer in the Soft Breeze (Discrepant)
Mark Gergis’ Porest returns with a new, intriguing work released by the Discrepant imprint. "Contemporary and historical Porest recordings channelled from behind the somnambulistic event horizon. The now sound... The bleak oblique. The minimal and the maximal. Filmic chamber drones, meditative radio massage and forged spiritual violence bury pop ephemera into the swirling murk of de facto instrumental nihilism and orchestral context-free drama."

Rachika Nayar - Fragments (RVNG Intl.)
The latest installment of THERE, Commend’s ongoing series of music recorded beyond but inspired by the communal efforts of RVNG Intl.’s Lower East Side space, arrives courtesy of New York sound artist Rachika Nayar. Fragments is a work of sonic miniatures Nayar constructed from guitar loops and in the familiar comforts of her own bedroom.

Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe - Candyman (Waxwork Records)
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (is an artist, curator and composer who works primarily with, but not limited to, voice and modular synthesizer for sound in the realm of spontaneous music. Along with analog video synthesis works, he has brought forth an A/V proposal that has been a focus of live performance and installation / exhibition. The marriage of synthesis and the voice has allowed for a heightened physicality in the way of ecstatic music, both in a live setting and recorded. The sensitivity of analogue modular synthesis echoes the organic nature of vocal expression, which in this case is meant to put forth a trancelike state. Lowe’s works on paper tend towards human relations to the natural/magical world and the repetition of motifs.

Saint Abdullah - To Live A La West (Imprec)
To Live A La West is a new work from Saint Abdullah, comprising a collection of profound and spiritual tracks miraculously existing at the impossible intersection of free jazz and electro where mystery and clarity exist together. Neither complicated nor complex but profound, St. Abdullah’s recent album is partially inspired by their love for Jon Hassell’s compositions.
Wilder Gonzales Agreda - Rojo (Superspace Records)
Wilder Gonzales Agreda - Rojo (Superspace Records)

From Tender Buttons to Van Stiefel

Tender Buttons - An established color and cunning (Rastascan Records)
Tender Buttons is a trio comprising Tania Chen (piano/percussion), Tom Djll (electronics/trumpet) and Gino Robair (electronics/percussion). Recorded on January 30, 2018 at Fantasy Studios in San Francisco, this is their most recent release, out on Rastascan Records.

V.A. - Territorio del eco: Experimentalismos y visiones de lo ancestral en el Perú (1975-1989) {Essential Sounds collection} (Buh Records)
Buh Records presents this new compilation comprising works from the Peruvian experimental scene from 1975 to 1989, a period was the most prolific for a generation of Peruvian artists who, based on musical conceptions derived from modern jazz and techniques inherited from avant-garde music, sought to integrate the sounds of Andean, Afro-Peruvian and Amazonian cultures in search of a new musical universe. Native instruments and folk melodies were used in compositions that demanded modern recording techniques and electronic sounds. This generation was articulated in Lima and was made up of musicians such as Omar Aramayo, Manongo Mujica, Arturo Ruiz del Pozo, Miguel Flores (Ave Acústica), Douglas Tarnawiecki (Espíritus), Luis David Aguilar, Chocolate Algendones and Corina Bartra.

Van Stiefel - Spirits (New Focus Recordings)
Composer and guitarist Van Stiefel's Spirits is his unique take on the studio-instrumental albums of layered guitar by legends like Les Paul, Chet Atkins, and Glen Campbell, filtered through his own introspective and personally spiritual approach to the instrument. Those albums were often a series of vignettes, each tune suggesting a particular location, mood, or flavor. This album turns that form into something akin to journal entries that hint at secrets, idiosyncrasies, and personal rituals.

Wilder Gonzales Agreda - Rojo (Superspace Records)
Rojo is Wil Volador's second album for this year. After merging with the sounds extracted from the tools enabled by government support, we see the non-musician now immerse himself in a 39-minute journey through ambient, IDM and visionary sounds armed with software and diverse synths.
About the Author

Dragoș Rusu & Victor Stutz

Dragoș Rusu is co-founder and co-editor in chief of The Attic and allround music adventurer.

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

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