Staff Picks - October 2021

Staff Picks - October 2021

November 10, 2021

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October comes in full force with a diversified selection of releases. This month we present 26 albums comprising experimental music, hypnotic percussion rhythms, electronic Greek lost and found gems, contemporary oddities, 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 Ben Bertrand to EVOL

V.A. - Anastenaria: Thracian Firewalking Ritual Music (Canary Records)
V.A. - Anastenaria: Thracian Firewalking Ritual Music (Canary Records)
V.A. - Anastenaria: Thracian Firewalking Ritual Music (Canary Records)
The practices of the Anastenaria of north-eastern Greece have been a source of fascination due to their relationship to ideas of the survival of pre-Christian ritual and their cross-cultural connection to similar enactments of faith and courage performed in opposition of physical safety. The music connected with the rituals does not circulate widely, but a scarce album issued in Greece in 1974, reissued by Canary Records in its entirety, is a window into the festival.

Antietam - His Majesty's Request: A Wink O'Bannon Select (Motorific Sounds)
In the spring of 1978 in Louisville, Kentucky, several punk bands formed one of the earliest regional alternative scenes in the US. Wink O’Bannon was a prime architect of that scene. His smart, muscular, and kinetic guitar style, though drenched in the history of the rock, punk, and blues players he so avidly consumed, was uniquely his own. As a member of many Louisville-related acts, most notably roots rockers Bodeco and guitar-driven juggernauts Eleventh Dream Day, he continued to be a monumental force through more than 40 years of passionate devotion to rock. His Majesty's Request is an album comprised of some of Wink’s favorite songs performed by his friends, in most cases backed by the band Antietam (Tara Key, Tim Harris, and Josh Madell).

Ben Bertrand - Dokkaebi (Les albums claus)
Ben Bertrand weaves transverse waves into otherworldly compositions. He embodies the singular motion of these melodic and harmonic forms to draft new sonic possibilities freed from the laws of the physical plane. Pulsating at the kernel of Ben Bertrand’s musical universe are vivid dreams generating the fabric of these tapestries. Dokkaebi is deeply familiar yet refreshingly unknown, like a comforting whisper from your subconscious. It gently drifts into perception, glistening like the sun sparkling off a glacier gliding along the edge of your vision.

Bernard Parmegiani - Mémoire Magnétique, vol. 2 (1966-1993) (Transversales Disques)
Mémoire Magnétique, vol.2, spanning 1966-1993, is a revelatory collection of short and secret music by electronic music pioneer Bernard Parmegiani. The second volume of this compilation allows us to discover some of unreleased rarities from Bernard Parmegiani’s personal archives and unpublished recordings which were composed for the screen or the performing arts.

EVOL - Speed Snake (Cejero)
Roc Jiménez de Cisneros and Stephen Sharp present a new work, out on the Danish record label Cejero. Speed Snake is a limited edition cassette comprising two long and hypnotic pieces.

Fernand Schirren - Dimanche / Masques / Cartoon Circus (Futura Resistenza)
This compilation of works by musician and composer Fernand Schirren gathers never published before music that he specially composed for the short films 'Dimanche' by Edmond Bernhard in 1963, 'Masques' by Jean-Marie Buchet and Marc Lobet in 1959, and Cartoon Circus by Benoit Lamy and Picha in 1972.
Jerusalem In My Heart - Qalaq (Constellation Records)
Jerusalem In My Heart - Qalaq (Constellation Records)

From Kuzu to Lena Platonos

Jerusalem In My Heart - Qalaq (Constellation Records)
Jerusalem In My Heart presents a new album of vital and haunting electronics and electroacoustics, framed by founder and producer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh’s spoken and sung Arabic, buzuk-playing and sound design. Qalaq features a different guest/collaborator on every track, including Moor Mother, Tim Hecker, Lucrecia Dalt, Greg Fox, Beirut, Alanis Obomsawin, Rabih Beaini and many more.

Ka Baird & Pekka Airaksinen - FRKWYS Vol. 17: Hungry Shells (RVNG Intl.)
Hungry Shells, the seventeenth entry in RVNG Intl.’s intergenerational collaborations series FRKWYS, brings together vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ka Baird with avant-garde composer and radical performance art pioneer Pekka Airaksinen. Recorded six months before Pekka’s passing, Hungry Shells alchemizes separate but similar spiritualistic practices, canvassing Baird’s voice and synthesizer rituals and Airaksinen’s lysergic sound explorations into startling, surreal landscapes.

Kevin Shea - Psychotic Sound Man 1 for drums (self-released)
"Composed from a catalogue of geosonical phrases I've developed over the past few months, the sonic communication echoes at times simultaneously as one phrase using all the instruments of the drum set, or at times several phrases echo at once passed between and/or layered upon differing parts of the "drum set." This compositional approach was inspired by the complex process of programming emotive psychosomatic characters into the head of an artificial life form. This Psychotic Sound Man struggles to integrate the perfect amount of self-sabotage into its cryptic emulation of the human mind." Kevin Shea

King Champion Sounds - Between Two Worlds (Hive Mind Records)
Comprising Ajay Saggar (guitar, bass, synthesiser, piano, organ, electronica, melodica, tanpura, omnichord, mbira, percussion, programming), Oli Heffernan (bass, synthesiser), Mees Siderius (drums, percussion, vibraphone), G W Sok (vocals), Holly Habstritt Gaal (trumpet, vocals), Elsa van der Linden (saxophone) and Chris Moerland (trombone), King Champion Sounds release their double album Between Two Worlds with the same insatiable appetite to experience the endless possibilities that are open to making music as they had with their previous four albums.

Kuzu - All Your Ghosts in One Corner (Catalytic-Sound)
Kuzu is a trio comprising Dave Rempis (alto/tenor/bari saxophone), Tashi Dorji (guitar) and Tyler Damon (drums). Drawing on these musicians’ love for a range of weighty musical expression from doom metal to the deeply-rooted spirituality of saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, this record perfectly captures the depth of the abyss into which we faced.

Lena Platonos - Balancers (Dark Entries Records)
Greek electronic musician Lena Platonos returns to Dark Entries with Balancers, an album of previously unreleased material recorded between 1982-1985. Athens-based Platonos is renowned for her forays into cutting-edge electronic experimentation as well as her striking, impressionistic poetry and lyrics, always recited in Greek.
V.A. - Made Of Wood And Wire (Expanded Edition) (New Weird Australia)
V.A. - Made Of Wood And Wire (Expanded Edition) (New Weird Australia)

From Nimbudala to Oxana Grigoryeva

V.A. - Made Of Wood And Wire (Expanded Edition) (New Weird Australia)
From 2012-2015, New Weird Australia ran a parallel netlabel focused on individual artist releases. Over four years, Wood And Wire released 36 original EPs and one compilation. The Made Of Wood And Wire compilation was originally compiled for The Lifted Brow in 2013. For this reissue, it has been resequenced and expanded to feature tracks from all artists in the label catalogue.

New Mexican Stargazers - Highway Dreamscape (Not Not Fun Records)
The latest by liminal lo-fi trawler New Mexican Stargazers is an ode to hypnagogic horizons and interstate bliss, nodding off in the backseat while desert midnight radio whispers on the wind: Highway Dreamscape.

Nimbudala - Universal Compassion (Inner Islands)
Universal Compassion is Steve Targo’s first offering under the name of Nimbudala. A composite of “nimbu” — lemon in English — and “mandala,” Targo says lemons have cleansing properties and can be healthy. “A mandala can represent a spiritual journey. Why I chose to put those two words together I leave for you to decide.” Targo previously recorded as Inner Travels, establishing a discography of 16 releases under that banner since 2014.

No Favours - Brutal Century (Opal Tapes)
No Favours is the duo of Michael Donnelly and Ben Page (Rothko, Rocketnumbernine). After spending six days in Hamburg with a few synths and microphones back in 2019, what emerged is Brutal Century, a paen to Chingford, Essex, digested and refluxed into their dystopic vision.

Oxana Grigoryeva - Ever After (ТОПОТ)
Oxana Grigoryeva is one of the key Russian experimental drummers who is passionately dedicated to free improvisation, free jazz, contemporary theatre and performance art. Her debut solo album Ever After was recorded using a dozen percussions including some interesting ones (from saws and metallophone to djembe and kalmba), field tapes, and voice.

Raia | Fiorito - Thin Reactions (Non sempre nuoce)
Thin Reactions is a new album by Italian musicians Antonio Raia (baritone & tenor sax) and Renato Fiorito (electronics), consisting of sounds coming from invisible cities and intimate landscapes, out on Non sempre nuoce, a new record label focusing on Neapolitan underground scene: from post clubbing scene to Mediterranean retro sonorities.
V.A. - Zar: Songs for the spirits (JuJu Sounds)
V.A. - Zar: Songs for the spirits (JuJu Sounds)

From Spannocchi Siewert Schwarz Jardim to Viejas Raíces

Smote - Drommon (Rocket Recordings)
Summoned from the murkier reaches of the subconscious and summoning a powerful aura of twilight communion, Smote’s Drommon is here to intimidate and enchant. The first Rocket release for this enigmatic Newcastle-based entity is no less than a mystically-aligned voyage into abandon and epiphany.

Spannocchi Siewert Schwarz Jardim - Ease & Ooze (Chant Records)
Ease & ooze is the debut album from four of Europe’s most exciting contemporary improvisers: Guido Spannocchi (alto sax), Martin Siewert (guitar, effects), Gina Schwarz (electric bass, prepared electric bass) and Matheus Jardim (drums). Spanning genres, generations, genders, histories and continents, Spannocchi Siewert Schwarz Jardim had never been in the same room let alone played music together before the recording of this album.

Spiritczualic Enhancement Center - Carpet Album (Kryptox)
Inspired by the 1970s electrified universe of Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul and Frank Zappa, Spiritczualic Enhancement Center meditate on sonic spectrums hoping to achieve “chaotic relief”. Their new album titled Carpet Album out on the Kryptox imprint is their fourth record to date, compiling material recorded over the last years in the capitals of Romania and Czech Republic, inside a church in Hamburg and while staying with a commune in rural Denmark.

Theodore Wild Ride - Theodore Wild Ride (Icarus Records)
Comprising Christine Ott (on ondes martenot, piano, mellotron and effects), Mathieu Gabry (on piano, mellotron, keyboards and effects) and Ophir Levy (on oud), Theodore Wild Ride blends both Eastern and Western musical codes and references in a strong

Tonga Boys, Doctor Kanuska Group - Umoyo Wa Muthempire (Live In the Temple) (1000HZ Records)
The Malawian experimenters Tonga Boys (Albert, Guta, Solomon, Myrias and “MadMax” Peter) join Doctor Kanuska Group on Umoyo Wa Muthempire (Live In the Temple), a concert held in an unlikely destination: a temple in the Northern Mzimba region. For Tonga Boys’ fourth record, the musicians journeyed to the thempire temple, home to Doctor Kanuska Msowoya, a well-respected figure in Northern Mzimba who deals with spirits, women’s health, and music through the notorious Doctor Kanuska Group.

Various artists from Western Australia - Furchick throws a curve ball (Dog park)
This new compilation of various artists from Western Australia, released by Dog park, comprises several experimental music projects that worth one’s attention: Airlock, Deep Ecology, Times of the Sines, Checkout Chick and Jeremy von Kobra.

Viejas Raíces - De Las Colonias Del Río De La Plata (Altercat Records)
Essentially the brainchild of Argentinian jazz's leading figure Jorge López Ruiz, the project Viejas Raíces marked Lopez Ruiz's departure from the traditional forms of jazz. The trio that recorded this album, consisting of López Ruiz joined by his life-long friend drummer Pocho Lapouble and gifted Chilean pianist Matías Pizarro, created a thrilling blend of jazz and Uruguayan candombe, surrounded by an undeniable cinematic feel spurred by López Ruiz's long experience in the soundtrack field. When read as one element, the cleverly chosen combination of group name and album title (in English: 'Old Roots of the Colonies of the River Plate') readily hints at the kind of sounds the listener will be challenged with when diving into this LP.

V.A. - Zar: Songs for the spirits (JuJu Sounds)
Zār is a possession cult practised on the outskirts of the rapidly modernising societies of North Africa and the Middle East. It’s a phenomenon that crosses not only geographical boundaries but also those determined by the rational mind. JuJu Sounds travelled to Egypt to experience, record, and share this well-hidden culture. This album presents all three varieties of zār still practised today.
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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