Staff Picks - September 2021

Staff Picks - September 2021

October 16, 2021

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Autumn is officially here, and, as one can presume from past experiences, September is always a thrilling month for releases. This month we present a selection of 33 albums released over the course of September 2021, comprising a wide variety of music, from Porto experimental music to contemporary oddities, free-improv, some djembe polirhythms and electronic and experimental 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.

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

From Amir ElSaffar to Ashtray Navigations

V.A. - Anthology Of Exploratory Music From India (Unexplained Sounds Group)
V.A. - Anthology Of Exploratory Music From India (Unexplained Sounds Group)
10 000 Russos - Superinertia (Fuzz Club Records)
Portuguese experimental trio 10 000 Russos are gearing up for the release of their fifth album Superinertia, which is due out September 10th on Fuzz Club Records. Following on from 2019’s Kompromat LP and tour dates around the UK, Europe and Mexico in support, the Porto-based band describe Superinertia as a record addressing the "state of inertia that humans live in the West nowadays. It isn’t a record about the past or future. It’s about now."

Amir ElSaffar - Rivers of Sound: The Other Shore (Outhere Music)
Amir ElSaffar – who leads five ensembles and has released seven albums over the past 16 years – has earned acclaim for being, in the words of All About Jazz, "a virtuoso on the horn, but also an imaginative bandleader, expanding the vocabulary of the trumpet and, at the same time, the modern jazz ensemble." Amir ElSaffar explains that he formed the Rivers of Sound orchestra in 2015 as a musical, cultural and social experiment. "The idea was to discover new ways of organizing sound without the hierarchical notions found in Western European art music (composer > conductor > players) and without the burden of precedence found in non-Western folk or traditional forms (relying on the past), but still maintaining a sense of structure and cohesion."

Annea Lockwood - Becoming Air / Into The Vanishing Point (Black Truffle)
Australian imprint Black Truffle presents two major new instrumental works from legendary sound artist and experimental composer Annea Lockwood. Demonstrating the ever evolving and radically open nature of Lockwood’s practice, these two recent works were developed in close collaboration with their performers.

V.A. - Anthology Of Exploratory Music From India (Unexplained Sounds Group)
The new Unexplained Sounds Group’s compilation of exploratory music and sound works from India intends to present a comprehensive collection of sonic practices that have emerged from the desire to break away from India’s traditional sounds, e.g. classical music and folk tunes, while simultaneously drawing on ideas and inspirations from these lineages and auditory heritages in the form of recurring motifs and sonorities as well as textures and open-ended compositions.

Aryo Adhianto - Sintaksis (DIVISI62)
Though abstract and speculative, this idea serves as the point of embarkation for the creation of Sintaksis by artist Aryo Adhianto. Grounded by a set of rudimentary rules and minimal orchestration, each composition stretches skeletal rhythmic clauses into free-flowing pulses and timbres.

Ashtray Navigations - x-ray six: Before You Play This LP (Blue Tapes)
"We were always too rock for the art crowd and too artsy for the rock & roll crowd,” Phil Todd - the musician behind Yorkshire kosmische institution Ashtray Navigations for the past 30 years – explained to The Quietus in a recent career-examining feature. “I've always been a big fan of playfulness. I take great pleasure in the unexpected and illogical aspects of recording music." The music of ‘Ash Nav’, as the project is known to its devoted admirers, has traversed the fields of drone, noise, krautrock, lo-fi, psychedelia and ambient across 180 or so releases since 1994. But as Phil indicates, one of the determining characteristics of this project is a sharply-honed sense of playfulness.
Carlos Casas - Kamana (Discrepant)
Carlos Casas - Kamana (Discrepant)

From Black Meteoric Star to Cucina Povera

V.A. - Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop 1980-1989 (Dark Entries Records)
On Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop, Dark Entries brings us ten divergent tracks of Mexican electronics from 1980-1989, full of skittering analog drum boxes and saucy synthesizer hooks.

Black Meteoric Star - NYC Beat Boxx (Voluminous Arts)
NYC Beat Boxx draws inspiration from vinyl "beat collections", which heavily circulated in New York during the 80’s, such as Apexton’s Rhythm Masters series. The beats on those records, conceived more as functional sonic tools rather than fully realized tracks, have an uncanny ability to crystallize the feeling of a moment within their repetitive minimalism.

V.A. - Bunkum Spotter Vol 3 - A History of Ruptured Ambitions (The Bus Station Loonies)
Out on the British imprint The Bus Station Loonies, the third volume of Bunkum Spotter presents a selection of acts who featured on tapes, vinyl, CDs, zine and at gigs from Ruptured Ambitions 1989-2019. A great selection of various outlets of punk, from anarcho to cabaret, old school and UK.

Carlos Casas - Kamana (Discrepant)
"Kamana is a multiformat release inspired by and channeling the culture and traditions of the Aeta, an indigenous group from the Zambales region in the Philippines. One of the oldest inhabitants of the region the Aetas are also some of the most fascinating and ancient nomadic and hunter gathering cultures. The release goes from the realms of the real to the imaginary, from transcription to syncretism, from concrete to abstract. An (un)real Sonic Exorcism filled with Ancestral Frequencies, Haunted Ghosts and other animistic spirits roaming the Pinatubo forests." Discrepant

Cucina Povera - Dalmarnock tapes (mappa)
The Dalmarnock Tapes is a collection of previously unreleased tracks by Cucina Povera. They were recorded in 2017 during snowstorm flurries in Dalmarnock, in the east end of Glasgow, Scotland. Cucina Povera is the alias of the Glasgow-based sound artist Maria Rossi, who is originally from Finnish Karelia, the European region that borders Finland and Russia. Cucina povera refers to a style of southern Italian traditional cooking evolved out of precarity and making do. Rossi’s music shares that same ethos of simplicity. Her experimentations with voice and field recordings create gossamer loops – heavenly repetitions and soporific undulations; an utterly sublime and ethereal language that is all her own.

Els Vandeweyer - Trash (Ediciones Capablanca)
Composed entirely on a trash guitar, covering Allen Ginsberg in a decidedly honest and heartfelt grunge fashion, yet displaying again her unique style and percussive techniques —this time extrapolated to strings, and channeled via a then-unknown-to-her minimal medium— Els Vandeweyer’s album Trash, out on Ediciones Capablanca, makes the best out of its self-imposed limitations and unfolds as a genuinely intimate, refreshing, daringly original, and for all this reasons, most precious album.

Ian Richter - Bloody Marys with an Angry Goddess (Confused Machines)
Ian Richter - Bloody Marys with an Angry Goddess (Confused Machines)

From Gordan to Kalahari Surfers

Gordan - Down In The Meadow (Morphine Records)
Comprising Svetlana Spajic (vocals), Andi Stecher (drums & percussion) and Guido Möbius (bass, feedback, electronics), the newly formed trio Gordan join traditional Serbian singing with abstraction, energy and minimalism. Their music is marked by radical reduction, seemingly endless ascension and a passion for experiments.

Hiro Kone - Silvercoat the throng (Dais Records)
New York electronic experimentalist Nicky Mao's 4th full-length, Silvercoat the throng, emerged against the backdrop of lockdown, compelled by an intuitive directive: “resist the urge to fill the space.” Compositionally this translated as a simmering, shadowy energy, veiled but variable, traced in a composite of strings, synthetics, rhythm, and voice. The title alludes to a poetic notion of “possibility, rescued from darkness,” which aptly evokes the shape-shifting, devotional feel of these ambitious and elegant sound designs, crafted in defiance of impermanence, driven by the pursuit of becoming “more and more articulated, differentiated.”

Ian Richter - Bloody Marys with an Angry Goddess (Confused Machines)
"A short visit to the Indochinese Peninsula at the wrong time of the global pandemic breakout, led Ian Richter to over a year and a half of living in Vietnam, and to a deep love affair with the Vietnamese folk religion. Ian was intrigued to find a place drenched in culture and mysticism existing hand in hand with hyper capitalism (yet officially committed to socialism). Over the course of the last 18-month Ian recorded, mentally and physically, the sounds of his encounters and experiences. From daily life, through industrial and natural landscapes, to ancient and modern dance, forging foreign with familiar, mysticism with science, and claustrophobia with liberation." Confused Machines

Jan Jelinek - The Raw and The Cooked (Faitiche)
Berlin based Faitiche imprint presents an album version of the radio piece Vom Rohen und Gekochten (The Raw and The Cooked) originally composed and produced by Jan Jelinek for the state broadcaster SWR2. The album The Raw and The Cooked brings together five sound collages that deal with the consistency of material and its mutability.

Juan Belda - Juan Belda LP (Abstrakce Records)
Spanish imprint Abstrakce Records presents a reissue of the first Juan Belda album released in 1986 by Grabaciones Accientales. The record is a complex world of sounds blending rhythmic experimental electronics, industrial sounds, samplers, ambient-downtempo passages, loops, jazz, musique concrete and everything from a punk-fluxus-existentialist approach.

Kalahari Surfers - Babylon Mission Report in Dub (self-released)
Warrick Sony is a South African composer, producer, musician and sound designer. He was born Warrick Swinney in Port Elizabeth, in 1958. He is the founder and sole permanent member of the Kalahari Surfers. They made politically radical satirical music in 1980s South Africa and released it through the London-based Recommended Records. During this time the Surfers toured Europe with English session musicians.
Luce Celestiale - Discepolato Nella Nuova Era (ArteTetra)
Luce Celestiale - Discepolato Nella Nuova Era (ArteTetra)

From Luton to mimsy

Luce Celestiale - Discepolato Nella Nuova Era (ArteTetra)
Discepolato Nella Nuova Era is the debut album by Luce Celestiale (celestial light): an Italo Spanish duo and free-form band formed by the Andalusian painter Lorena Serrano Rodriguez and the Tuscan electronic sorcerer Devid Ciampalini, also known for his works with New Jooklo Age, Metzengerstein and for being the founder of label/collective Ambient Noise Sessions.

Luton - Eden (Drrreamocrazy Rec)
Comprising Italian sound travellers Roberto P. Siguera and Attilio Novellino, Luton is a London-based duo of experimental and electro-acoustic music. Shortly after their 2018 debut album Black Box Animals, Luton "decided to go into a 7-day recording reclusion in the beautiful location of the London Rosslyn Hill Chapel in Hampstead without any sketches or pre-production and looking for a frightening departure from everyday life and a quest for the unknown. During those recording sessions, they imposed themselves no human interactions, the allowance of eating one-meal per day, eight hours recording a day (only by night, in complete darkness) and several sleep deprivation sessions. Eden was a 3-year engagement with some of the hardest questions to be asked by humans: Is the world made of language? What happens when we die? Is the imagination more real than our universe? What happens when we are stuck in the memory? Can we attest the presence of the heaven without the middle of hell?"

Mark Kirschenmann - Cybersonic Outreach (New Focus Recordings)
Composer, trumpeter, and improviser Mark Kirschenmann releases Cybersonic Outreach, a focused collection of improvisations for processed trumpet and electronics. Kirschenmann’s scholarship has focused on improvising practices, and he has cultivated his own unique approach that draws on wide ranging sources, from Messiaen to Stockhausen to Morton Subotnick, Miles Davis to Ornette Coleman, and including various idiomatic musical traditions.

Maurice Louca - Saet El Hazz (The Luck Hour) (Northern Spy Records / Sub Rosa)
Egyptian multi-instrumental sound wizard Maurice Louca returns with a new album drawing deep on Arabic music, psychedelic folk, and free improv. The title Saet el Hazz is a coded saying in Egypt to refer to a good time and usually implies a great deal of debauchery. “When you mention to someone that you’ve had a saet hazz, there are no questions asked. It is what it is.”

meta meat - infrasupra (ant-zen)
Meta meat is the collaborative project of two French electronic musicians and composers: Somekilos (electronic, hand-drum, toms, cymbals, daf, wooden rattles, voices) and Phil Von (electronic, daf, bendir, cajacuerda, voices). The name Meta Meat associates the source of flesh (meat) with its passage beyond (meta).

Mimsy - Ormeology (Karaoke Kalk)
Ormeology by Mimsy, previously known as Wechsel Garland and Wunder, is an album that whirrs and flickers, seeking to mediate between the tangible world and the intangible by blurring the boundaries between words and sounds and space. It is an archipelago that is in many ways connected to what surrounds it, while at the same time opening up a space of its own.
São Paulo Underground & Tupperwear - Saturno Mágico (Keroxen)
São Paulo Underground & Tupperwear - Saturno Mágico (Keroxen)

From Ustad Saami to Weedie Braimah

Ning Yu & David Bird - Iron Orchid (New Focus Recordings)
Iron Orchid is an album-length electro-acoustic work for piano and electronics by New York composer David Bird in collaboration with pianist Ning Yu, released on New Focus Recordings. Iron Orchid builds on materials generated for the interactive sound sculpture Echo Chamber, an 11-foot metallic structure that Bird and Yu collaborated on with site-specific public artist Mark Reigelman II in 2019. Employing a wide range of techniques in dialogue with a constantly shifting electronic environment, Iron Orchid explores the relationship between human and computer-generated sounds, blurring the distinction between them with a catalog of inventive strategies, and creating a sound world in which the two become logical complements.

Razen - Blue Rot (Hands In The Dark)
Razen are back with a second album on HITD, follow up to last year's release Robot Brujo. On Blue Rot, the band introduces a softer palette and a new quartet, as the core duo of multi-instrumentalists Brecht Ameel and Kim Delcour is augmented with new band member Berlinde Deman on Serpent and guest Thomas Bloch on Glassharmonica and crystal Baschet.

São Paulo Underground & Tupperwear - Saturno Mágico (Keroxen)
Brazilian-American power trio São Paulo Underground (Rob Mazurek, Mauricio Takara & Guilherme Granado) align their chakras with Tenerife electronic pranksters Tupperwear (Mladen Kurajica & Daniel Garcia) for Saturno Mágico, a venture session into tropical jazz, Chicago post rock and general head scratching psych chants. Recorded live in 2016 in a disused kerosene tank in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands after a week-long residency. Now recompiled by the Keroxen label and certified ready for human consumption.

Shuttle358 - Chessa (2021 Remaster) (Keplar)
Keplar re-issues the fourth album 'Chessa' by Dan Abrams' project Shuttle358 on vinyl for the first time. The double LP edition includes 3 previously unreleased tracks from the same recording sessions back in 2004, as well as an extended artwork with unseen photographs by Dan Abrams.

Steve Noble & Yoni Silver - Home (self-released)
"Released in 2017 by Aural Terrains, our first duo album is a culmination of three years of weekly playing in Steve's front room, where we developed our slow paced (mostly) texturally/spectrally oriented sound (mostly)." Steve Noble (drum and percussion) & Yoni Silver (bass clarinet, recording, editing, mixing).

V.A. - The Village Out West: The Lost Tapes of Alan Oakes (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)
The Village Out West celebrates the underappreciated bastion of the Folk Revival that emerged in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s, a counterpoint to the seminal New York City scene that has dominated the historical narrative. Compiled from a vast array of recordings by autodidact recording engineer Alan Oakes, the two-CD set features legendary names like Hank Bradley, Rev. Gary Davis, Larry Hanks, Mississippi Fred McDowell, New Lost City Ramblers, and Doc Watson, as well as unsung heroes of the local California communities that turned the region into fertile ground for American music. This music triumphantly transcends the passage of the decades with its luminous and passionate presence, making the case for California as a crucial hotbed for some of the most impressive and diverse folk music of the 20th century.

Ustad Saami - East Pakistan Sky (Glitterbeat Records)
“East Pakistan sky” is the third album from the now legendary surti master Ustad Saami. The album follows his previously acclaimed recordings – God is Not a Terrorist (2019) and Pakistan is for the Peaceful (2020) – and presents two unedited performances that fully confirm the sublime and immersive experience of Saami’s musical (and spiritual) expression. Ustad Saami is the last living surti master, a precursor of the ancient Islamic devotional music of qawwali. Despite being under constant threat from Islamic fundamentalists, the master has spent his life as a dedicated practitioner of a vanishing art — one that has been passed on from generation to generation since the 13th century.

Vedan Kolod - The Tale of Igor's Campaign (CPL-Music)
The Tale of Igor's Campaign (Old East Slavic: Слово о плъку Игореве, Slovo o polku Igoreve) is an anonymous epic poem written in the Old East Slavic language. The title is also occasionally translated as The Song of Igor's Campaign, The Lay of Igor's Campaign. The poem gives an account of a failed raid of Igor Svyatoslavich (d. 1202), although the authenticity of the poem is disputed. Comprising Tatiana Naryshkina (soloist vocal, big drum, buben, flute, buzuki, vargan, kaluka), Valerii Naryshkin (vocal, gusli, buben, vargan, flute, buzuki, gudok, kaluka, war horn) and Daryana Antipova (vocal, drum, buben, voice, sharkuncy), the band Vedan Kolod originally hails from Krasnojarsk, Siberia’s third largest city, but has spent many years in Moscow and was also involved in different international artistic projects. They started out fifteen years ago and in the early days mainly focussed on medieval sounds. In the years following, Vedan Kolod then put their focus mainly on experimental world music.

Weedie Braimah - The Hands of Time (Stretch Music)
Weedie Braimah is widely regarded as the premiere voice of the Djembe. Born in Ghana and raised in East St. Louis with deep roots in New Orleans, he emersed into his lifelong quest and professional career in the study of African folklore and cultural music of the African diaspora. Utilizing his startling speed and dexterity, breath-taking skill, and breadth of knowledge, Braimah ushers listeners through a rhythmic journey of Africa and the Diaspora.
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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