Staff Picks - November & December 2021

Staff Picks - November & December 2021

December 16, 2021

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We slowly close this extraordinary year with a final selection of albums released in November and December 2021. Here's 45 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.

Meanwhile, listen back to the fifth episode of the Staff Picks radio show, broadcasted live on Black Rhino Radio, with special guest Mohamad Zatari.

From Alva Noto to Catalina Matorral

V.A. - Buganda Royal Music Revival (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
V.A. - Buganda Royal Music Revival (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
Alva Noto - HYbr:ID Vol. 1 (Noton)
HYbr:ID Vol. 1 is the first installment of a new series of Alva Noto’s works bringing together heterogeneous composition methods. HYbr:ID Vol. 1 captures the music commissioned for the score of ‘Oval’, the choreographic piece directed by Richard Siegal and performed by the Staatsballett Berlin at the Berlin State Opera in 2019.

V.A. - Antologia de Música Atípica Portuguesa Vol.3: Canto Devocinário (Discrepant)
“Antologia De Música Atípica Portuguesa” is back with its third volume on the Discrepant imprint. Following two sold out volumes, the unplanned trilogy ends with chants and hymns whilst continuing to merge music genres and presenting them as a world building concept.

Babau - Breadest Hits (ArteTetra)
Breadest Hits is a collection of works from the Italian project Babau, celebrating minor productions from lesser catalogues and unreleased bits from the past. Through a continuously updated sampler, the duo gathers tracks and tunes featured on compilations and specials, live recordings, and not-yet-heard productions.

Bardo Todol y sus Aves sin Nido - Respiran (tsss tapes)
The Italian record label tsss tapes based in Perugia presents a new tape from Bardo Todol y sus Aves sin Nido, a kaleidoscope of sounds, promises and ideas. "En el otoño de Salsipuedes las aves respiran por primera vez como vientos mecánicos; Todos los sonidos se registran en cintas durante las mañanas, tardes y noches; hasta que los ríos, los molles y los cementos dicen basta."

V.A. - Buganda Royal Music Revival (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
The music on this compilation out on the Uganda based Nyege Nyege Tapes imprint is diverse and vibrant, presenting a variety of styles and highlighting instruments that illustrate the depth and sophistication that stemmed from the royal court experience of Buganda. From its founding in the late 14th century, the kingdom of Buganda has been celebrated through sound and nurtured a rich musical tradition in its royal court. Coming from across the kingdom, musicians would take turns in the palace to sound drums, xylophones, flutes, lyres, and more to praise and honour the existence of the kingship. In recent years however, the tradition has been more difficult to maintain, especially since 1966 where there was a violent attack on the palace that abruptly abolished the kingdom and during which royal musicians fled or were killed. And while the kingdom was re-established in 1993 as a cultural institution, many of the remaining musicians had since chosen to sideline their skills to deal with the issues of their day to day lives, the practice of the royal tradition waning in popularity, especially with younger listeners and players.

Catalina Matorral - Catalina Matorral (Via Parigi / Outre National Records)
Catalina Matorral is a music project comprising Marion Cousin and Borja Flames. This record was written and recorded by two people, tinkering feverishly for seven years. It was blessed with the furtive appearances of faithful friends: Gaspar Claus played the cello; Igor Estrabol the clarinet, trumpet and flugelhorn; Renaud Cousin the drums; Ernest Bergez played the violin and whimsically mixed the tracks like a bonesetter-scientist. At the crossroads of worlds, eras and moods, Catalina Matorral invents a curiously rural science fiction that confounds poetry with white magic and puts French music in a permanent tension between the cosmos and manure.

CCCVVV - Curriculum Vitae (Strangelove)
CCCVVV is the Brussels based duo of Clara Vellin and soFa elsewhere. The first Covid-lockdown drew these two old friends closer and both a love-story and burst of musical creativity followed. A wide-eyed electronic record wearing its heart on an innersleeve, Curriculum Vitae presents a collection of intimate avant-pop-oddities, collecting whispers of 60’s chanson and psyched out chords, holding a playful spirit throughout.
Deli Teli - Tsifteteli Club (Catapulte Records)
Deli Teli - Tsifteteli Club (Catapulte Records)

From December to Èlg

V.A. - Chicha Popular: Love & Social Political Songs from Discos Horoscopo 1977-1987 (Rebel Up! Records)
Founded in Lima by Juan Campos Muñoz, a businessman, dreamer, and also a lover of music, Discos Horóscopo was a company on the margins of the official Peruvian music industry. Between 1977 and 1987, the Discos Horóscopo label produced the largest wave of Andean tropical cumbia in the world; ‘chicha’, a reference to the indigenous Andean alcoholic drink. The label was filled with contemporary iconic figures such as Chacalón y La Nueva Crema, Los Shapis, Pintura Roja, Los Ovnis, Grupo Alegría and other groups which today have a cult status in Peru and beyond. This compilation brings together iconic songs from that era, from the theme of love songs (A + B side) as well as social political songs (C + D side), highlighting the emotions that this music brought to the popular working classes of Lima, nationwide and the diaspora.

Dali Muru & The Polyphonic Swarm - Dali Muru & The Polyphonic Swarm (Stroom)
"We drew a map of the road trip together. A green line from Bambi across the Danube to the Carpathians. A fairy tale animated in technicolour, unfolding in slow motion. All protagonists hovered slightly off the ground. The soundtrack of Transcarpathia and a whirling unresolved hum. A disembodied camera flies thru a bartak forest; it sinks down on a nest of wild mugwort..."

David Goren - Brooklyn Pirates: Neighbourhoods in the Sky, 2014-2021 (Death Is Not The End)
David Goren is a radio producer and audio archivist based in Brooklyn, NY. For several years he's researched New York City’s pirate radio community, producing “New York City’s Pirates of the Air” for the BBC World Service & "Outlaws of the Airwaves: The Rise of Pirate Radio Station WBAD” for KCRW’s Lost Notes podcast. Brooklyn Pirates: Neighbourhoods in the Sky, 2014-2021 pulls together a clutch of cut-up recordings captured by David on the BPRSM, traversing the dial across raucous soca jams & kompas, through to Grenadian election news, Haitian funeral announcements and ads for Jamaican patty shops & spiritual healers - plus broadcasts from Turkish, and Orthodox & Sephardic Jewish pirate stations to boot.

December - DÉBUT (Death & Leisure)
After ten years of producing and releasing electronic music, Tomas Lefebvre aka December finally releases his first album. It came out on Oliver Ho aka Broken English Club’s record label Death & Leisure.

Deli Teli - Tsifteteli Club (Catapulte Records / Rebel Up)
The explosive cocktail of rock'n'roll and traditional Tsifteteli hailing from 1960's Greece is still alive thanks to Deli Teli - the Marseille-based quartet performs a string of forgotten hits that once set Athens on fire, with a contagious energy and a subtle dose of Mediterranean drama. The band comprises Arthur Bacon (synthesizers, organ, vocals), Tassos Tsitsivakos (electric bouzouki, vocals), Christos Karypidis (bass) and François Rossi (drums).

DJ Kainga - Digital Indigenous 02 (1000hz Records)
DJ Kainga lives in Zomba, the historical place in Southern Malawi, shared by 3 ethnic groups: Lomwe, Chewa and Yao. The producer identifies with Lomwe and in his music he blends electro, dancehall and local Lomwe rhythms, melodies and, most importantly, sonic atmosphere. Kainga, real name Sandson Kainga, started his studio in 2013, and since then gathered recognition in Zomba area especially among Lomwe fans. He champions in rearranging the elements of the Lomwe music culture with new technologies.

Èlg - Dans Le Salon Du Nous (vlek)
Since 2004, Laurent Gérard alias Èlg (Opéra Mort, Orgue Agnès) has never ceased to draw the sonic equivalent of concentric spirals and labyrinths made of cedars, brambles and guts. By constantly renewing his instrumentarium over the years, he has built improbable bridges between musique concrète and songwriting (Vu du Dôme, Mauve Zone), diagonal spoken word and wormhole (Amiral Prose), electronic incantations in crypt and blob choirs (Mil Pluton, La Chimie). The language is sometimes francophone, sometimes reduced to an alien babble, invoking the old man, the madman, the child, the dusty revenant, the epileptic bard or the messenger of love.
Gabriel Akhmad Marin - Ruminate: Improvisations for Fretless Guitar and Dutar (Worlds Within Worlds)
Gabriel Akhmad Marin - Ruminate: Improvisations for Fretless Guitar and Dutar (Worlds Within Worlds)

From Futoshi Moriyama to Kristof Hahn

Exhausted Modern - Deform | Reform (Marguerite Records)
After first appearing on MRG010, Czech artist Exhausted Modern is back on Marguerite Records with a solo work called “Deform | Reform”.

Fusione - Fusione (Black Sweat Records)
"This album has been recorded by jooking faryds folks that came up in the middle of June 2015 at the space-time door Guscio Studio, Milan. At the very beginning there was no plan to release this jamming jam until a birthday present changed their minds."

Futoshi Moriyama - Yūtai-ridatsu ± (Plus-minus) (Em Records)
Futoshi Moriyama is an Osaka-based electronic music producer who began his musical career in the early 2000s improvised music hothouse of Osaka’s Shinsekai Bridge. Moriyama’s early improvisational work often saw him using cheap samplers to surprising ends, but since then his work has moved in a more composed direction, while still investigating electronic sound. This particular release, which appeared initially in 2015 as a cassette on the Birdfriend label, run by Koshiro Hino (aka YPY), was a year in the making.

Gabriel Akhmad Marin - Ruminate: Improvisations for Fretless Guitar and Dutar (Worlds Within Worlds)
As a co-founder of critically acclaimed jazz fusion act Consider The Source, renown multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Akhmad Marin deftly delivers a new album of instrumental improvisations on ‘Ruminate.’ Listeners will be struck by the seemingly endless layers of melodic nuance while simultaneously lost in musical thought from hypnotic Sufi-inspired rhythms.

Ghédalia Tazartès + Rhys Chatham - Two Men In A Boat (Sub Rosa)
Tazartes and Chatham had met once in 1977 at CBGC's and had not seen each other since then when they were asked by their mutual agent to play a private show in Paris. This happened in September 2018 in a house with a garden where sax player Steve Lacy had lived back in the 1990s. This album presents the recording of this show plus another show at La semaine du bizarre festival in Montreuil, France a year later, mixed with a couple of studio sessions.

Imed Alibi, Khalil EPI - Frigya (Shouka)
Frigya - "Africa" in ancient Tunisian dialect - is a collaboration between percussionnist Imed Alibi musician and producer Khalil Hentati, where they explore a contemporary and electronic approach to traditional North African percussions for which they share a common passion. This album is the result of several years of research and creation where the duo inventoried and archived the traditional Mezwed and Bedoui repertoires, to deliver a modern interpretation spiced up with dancefloor accents.

Kristof Hahn - Six Pieces (Room40)
Six Pieces is a record that is essentially born from the ashes of the final SWANS reformation line-up tour, using various found elements, stored loops, thematic notes and other acoustic debris as a means for launching off a series of interrogation into solo guitar composition. Hahn’s music is one of repetition and unfolding variation, it is unsettled, but never rushed or careless. He knows that music is an art form of time and is not afraid to allow his compositions to build, evolve and finally arrive with a casual sense of hushed determination.
Milton Man Gogh - The Great Reset (Art As Catharsis)
Milton Man Gogh - The Great Reset (Art As Catharsis)

From Lennert Jacobs to Model Home

L.F.T. - Salz LP (Mannequin Records)
Johannes Haas aka L.F.T. (Love, Fist, Tears) presents a brand new album, out on Mannequin Records. The Hamburg-based producer is obviously one of the resident artists at Golden Pudel Club, being blessed by a collaborative friendship with the mighty Helena Hauff.

Lennert Jacobs - Enthusiasm (W.E.R.F. Records / Les Albums Claus)
Lennert Jacobs' music is an echo of his imagination, inevitably reflecting and reinforcing a natural philosophy of enlightenment. Surveying his debut album Enthusiasm and its instinctive impulses delivers a sublime sonic experience. Specifics of musical styles fade obliquely in service of resonance on a deeper level—sound speaking on a universal language with innately humorous wonkiness whirling you into a state of pure delight. Kaleidoscopic keyboards shape a celebration of freedom and spontaneity.

Mario Verandi - Eight pieces for the Buchla 100 series (play loud! Productions)
Mario Verandi is an Argentinean-born composer, musician and producer living in Berlin. With an extensive artistic career, Mario Verandis works are wide-ranging and include electroacoustic and experimental music, music in modern classical and ambient style, live electronic performances as well as sound installations and music for dance, radio and theater. The historic Buchla 100 series modular synthesizer was buit by Don Buchla in California in early 1960´s. An instrument intended for electronic music performance that together with the Moog Modular is one of the most important synthesizers in the history of electronic music.

Malcolm Jiyane Tree-O - UMDALI (Mushroom Hour Half Hour)
Multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Jiyane stands at the vanguard of his prodigious generation of jazz musicians. Operating from the centre and the fringes of the South African jazz scene, the trombonist (and pianist) is an enigmatic yet charismatic galvaniser of his contemporaries, able to put them through their paces in his own compositions, while giving them enough room to interpret them anew.

Mike Majkowski - Four Pieces (Fragments Editions)
Mike Majkowski develops repetitive structures in constant mutation; addictive and layered. In this new album soberly entitled Four Pieces, Majkowski further probes spectral qualities of resonance, duration, auditory perceptions, and relationships between pulse and stillness. The slowly evolving motifs he unfolds create a progressive and long-lasting addiction.

Milton Man Gogh - The Great Reset (Art As Catharsis)
Milton Man Gogh is a trio comprising Andrew Saragossi (tenor saxophone/clarinet), Zac Sakrewski (upright bass/electric bass, effects) and Benjamin Shannon (drums). Intended as a loose sequel to their sophomore release XXXX Bitter Irony, The Great Reset continues the meta-narrative of their protagonist.

Model Home - Both feet en th infinite (Don Giovanni Records)
On its Don Giovanni Records debut, both feet en th infinite, Model home walk a balance between a polished studio effort and the energy of their live experiments in expression. The Washington, D.C. duo’s work employs a freewheelin’ and improvisational approach to communicate their ideas.
New Age Doom & Lee
New Age Doom & Lee "Scratch" Perry - Lee "Scratch" Perry's Guide to the Universe (We Are Busy Bodies)

From Ordnance Survey to Phương Tâm

Mohammad Mostafa Heydarian - Songs of Horaman (Radio Khiyaban)
Mohammad Mostafa Heydarian is a young Kurdish tanbur player from Kermanshah, a city in the mountainous western Iranian region of Horaman (هه‌ورامان). The son of a local instrument builder, he grew up surrounded by the local traditional music styles, studying with a number of well-known master musicians before recently entering university to study Persian classical music. "Songs of Horaman" is Heydarian's first record, as a testament to the artist's wonderful talents.

V.A. - Nahma: A Gulf Polyphony (Flee)
The pearls of the Gulf have stoked the imagination and desire of people around the world for centuries their magnificence matched only by the courage of the divers who found them. "Nahma : A Gulf Polyphony / نهمة: تعدد الغناء الخليجي" aims to honor the memory of these valiant free-divers, their culture and their music by the means of a transmedia object including: a 2xLP vinyl compilation containing original recordings of artists like Tomaga, YPY, Aya Metwalli, Joakim, Tarek Yamani or Hieroglyphic Being; a 240 pages art book (Arabic – English) featuring the contributions from artist, writers and experts in this tremendously rich theme such as Monira al Qadiri, Talin Hazbar, Toufik Kerbage or Talal Mattar.

New Age Doom & Lee "Scratch" Perry - Lee "Scratch" Perry's Guide to the Universe (We Are Busy Bodies)
New Age Doom follows up its critically acclaimed 2020 drone metal opus Himalayan Dream Techno with an unexpected album featuring the dub legend Lee "Scratch" Perry as lead vocalist. With its central themes of experimentation and dreaming, the album takes listeners on a sonic trip through a genre-defying blend of drone, jazz, stoner rock, noise and (of course) dub.

Ordnance survey - Field Work (Scintilla Recordings)
In the midst of the pandemic, Field Work was assembled, mostly at the home of Neil ‘O Connor in Drumcondra, Dublin. The album Field Work was born out of the use of field recordings made in and around Dublin. Further material included clips from the television archives, the dart, bicycles and vocal samples from 40 years ago in Co. Kerry.

Pharaoh Overlord - Circus (Ektro Records)
This is Pharaoh Overlord's live set as the support act for Sleep, recorded live on 11 April 2019 at Circus, Helsinki (FIN), with special guest Juho Viljanen on drums and Moog synth, electronic arrangements by Tomi Leppänen.

Phương Tâm - Magical Nights - Saigon Surf Twist & Soul (1964-1966) (Sublime Frequencies)
American record label Sublime Frequencies presents the first ever retrospective of Phương Tâm, the groundbreaking Saigon teenager who became one of the first singers to perform and record rock and roll in 1960s Vietnam.

V.A. - Possible moistures (Forms of minutiae)
For its third release, forms of minutiae presents ‘possible moistures’ a non-profit compilation of field recordings and soundscape compositions derived from various aqueous environments and their autochthons. This gathering is made of 16 sonic encounters collected by field recordists and sound artists across the world. Artists were invited to submit sounds from marine and aquatic-related events, phenomena, geologies, fauna, flora, geographies, and technologies. From the thawing acoustics of Icelandic and Antarctic glaciers to the non-human voices of Australian wetlands, while meeting sea and river dwellers, the listeners embark on a sonic journey across the globe’s possible moistures.
Tülay Nedret Baran - Zühtü (TurkofonGmbH)
Tülay Nedret Baran - Zühtü (TurkofonGmbH)

From Rojin Sharafi to Tasos Stamou

Prophän - The Age Of Decay عصر الاضمحلال (OSM tapes)
The Age Of Decay عصر الاضمحلال is a 6 track work mixing punk spirit represented by grimy soundscapes, dirty guitars and tortured vocals with religious and eschatonic references.

V.A. - REIF01 (REIF)
REIF is a new imprint crafting multicultural happenings in which different expressions of thought, identity, play, and experience could intersect within intimate safe spaces. For their first compilation - 01 , they invited artists that were involved with REIF in its early stages and next generation collaborators to contribute a piece of sonic art.

Rites of Passage - Precursor (ТОПОТ)
Rites of Passage is a solo project by Kirill Stepanov, who’s also a part of a dream-rave trio Elektricheskaya Sobaka and co-founder of Morpheus Radio. His debut album Precursor is a compilation of sonic mediums made of, musique concrète principiums, electroacoustic webs and unrhythmic streaming of ambient scapes.

Rojin Sharafi - KARIZ (Ventil Records)
Rojin Sharafi’s Kariz is a work about accepting your “Ideal-I” as a holobiont in your living environment -a mini nature-. The music was created in long improvisation sessions, while using live electronics (MAX MSP patches), analogue synthesizers, a self-programmed microtone sequencer with an irregular clock, two drum machines and acoustic instruments like santur and prepared piano. The instruments were processed partly live and partly in the composition phase.

Tasos Stamou - Monoliths (Moving Furniture Records)
"The occasion of this double album is to present the two different practices in my music, live performance and studio work. Although phenomenally coming from a different place, it is a result of years of experimentations to bring a simple yet complete electroacoustic set up both on stage and in studio. The original idea was to compose or perform with acoustic instruments generating sustained sounds in a way that, although electronically manipulated, would retain all the organic and sensual qualities of traditional organized sound making devices, often called ‘instruments’. " Tasos Stamou

Tchiss Lopes - Já Bô Corre D’Mim (Arabusta Records)
After his first LP Stranger Já Catem Traboi, Tchiss decided to further experiment with reggae and funaná, inspired by the local rhythms of the island of Santiago. Gathering some of the best Cape Verdean musicians of the time, in 1984, together with Zé António on guitar, Bebethe on bass and Alírio on drums, he recorded his second LP Já Bô Corre D’Mim. An album that sings of a young man far from home, his unrequited love and saudade, the struggles of street life in a foreign land and a world of inequality. Recorded in just 3 days at the Pomodoro Studio in Sutri, the album fully expresses the deep and layered sound of Tchiss’ music, where upbeat tempo, powerful vocals and electrifying guitar solos tangle together in a dynamic mix of traditional melodies and cosmic reggae.

Teddy Lasry - Funky Ghost 1975-1987 (Hot Mule)
French multi-instrumentalist Teddy Lasry's story is noteworthy not just in regards to the music he released, but in the ways that he approached the craft of composing and experimenting with sounds and sonics. Pulled together in close collaboration with Teddy and his family, this collection of songs looks to introduce new listeners to his work and we are proud to present this limited and carefully remastered compilation on vinyl, including extensive liner notes.

Tobias. - Hall ov Fame (Concentric Records)
Tobias presents a new album, Hall ov Fame, comprising eight tracks which represent a scene out of a fictitious short film, some of them with a claustrophobic and tense atmosphere while others appear light and hopeful on the screen of imagination. What they have in common is an adventurous spirit that is inherent in and played out by three main characters: repetitive electronic and acoustic patterns, voices from far away and field recordings of obscured origin.

Tülay Nedret Baran - Zühtü (TurkofonGmbH)
Originally this album was released as a cassette format only in Germany in 1976. Some tracks were arranged by Zafer Dilek and Arif Sağ. Middle eastern instrumentation combined with soft western grooves reveal something that is hard to resist.

Vangligt Folk – Black Friday Hele Uka (iDEAL Recordings)
Vanligt Folk, as of 2018, is Jonas Abrahamsson, Carl I Carlsson and David Sundquist. The trio formed in Gothenburg, Sweden and have since 2013 released one LP, four EP’s, various cassettes, vinyl singles and other forms of digital releases.
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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