Staff Picks - February 2022

Staff Picks - February 2022

March 11, 2022

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This month we present 25 albums and compilation comprising ambient, meditative and experimental music, cumbia, polyrhythmic beats, free-jazz and improvisation, electronic and post-rock, 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 recent episode of the Staff Picks radio show, broadcasted live on Black Rhino Radio.

From Ale Hop to Bios Contrast

V.A. - Classic Productions by Surin Phaksiri 2: Molam Gems from the 1960s-80s (EM Records)
V.A. - Classic Productions by Surin Phaksiri 2: Molam Gems from the 1960s-80s (EM Records)
Alai K - Kila Mara (On the Corner)
East African poly-rhythms meet Berlin underground through the fire of Alai K. Once again OtC teams up with the finest producers coming up through the Santuri East Africa workshops and artist development.

Ale Hop - Why Is It They Say A City Like Any City? (Karlrecords)
The new album by the Peruvian-born / Berlin-based experimental artist Ale Hop was conceived in a context of immobility and provides six sonic vignettes that wonder about location, circularity, rootedness and experience. During the lockdown months, she started a process of remote collaboration, by sending messages, posted from various cities along a South American trip, to thirteen musicians from around the world. She journaled her impressions upon these places to an intimate fictional character while reflecting on matters of time, sound, space, cosmology and colonial memory. The thirteen musicians dialogued with this voice by taking upon the challenge of responding to the messages with sound collaborations.

Bios Contrast - Dragon Rising (Bios Contrast)
Dragon Rising utilizes compositions and ostinatos created using a 45-year-old harmonium and combines electronic elements, vocal improvisations, and fully detuned custom violin, guitar and brass flute.

Bryce Hackford - Cloud Holding (Futura Resistenza)
Cloud Holding is NYC-based Bryce Hackford's fifth album, and first for Futura Resistenza, comprising seven sound sculptures coaxed out of recorded improvisations by a group of musicians – Ka Baird, Shelley Burgon, Alice Cohen, Michael Hurder, Dominika Mazurova, Camilla Padgitt-Coles – and worked into formless figures that express an always drifting present. Guided by the Suzuki Nobara – a kind of electric koto with many traditional instrument sounds and unique pitch adjustment controls – and the lyric-less utterances of the human voice, Cloud Holding traces delicate outlines in a collaborative sound world that shines with mysterious, searching affinity.

Cities A.D. - Ombre Claire (SDZ Records)
Cities A.D. is a Belgian band born from the collaboration between Sébastien Schmit (Neptunian Maximalism, K-branding, etc.) and Phil Maggi (Ultraphallus, Iva Bedlam, etc.). The music present on this first album "Ombre Claire" was entirely elaborated by correspondence between Brussels and Liege during the year 2020.

V.A. - Classic Productions by Surin Phaksiri 2: Molam Gems from the 1960s-80s (EM Records)
EM Records again shines the spotlight on legendary Thai producer Surin Phaksiri in this second edition of his classic productions from the 1960s-80s. Surin Phaksiri is a highly esteemed figure in Thai music, rooted deeply in his native region of Isan in northeast Thailand, a producer with a deep respect for the traditional artistry of his culture, yet always moving forward, looking outward, listening ahead. The molam style of Thai music showcases the voice; indeed, the genre’s name means “expert singer”, and Thailand is blessed with an abundance of experts, singers with amazing control, grace, vitality and finesse.
Joy Guidry - Radical Acceptance (Whited Sepulchre Records)
Joy Guidry - Radical Acceptance (Whited Sepulchre Records)

From Jacques Charlier to Los Muky's

Ephemeral Fragments - MIT GEFÜHL (Umland Records)
Ephemeral Fragments is a trio comprising Emily Wittbrodt (cello), Florian Walter (tubax) and Korhan Erel (electronics), and this is their new release out on Umland Records.

Jacques Charlier - Art In Another Way (Séance Centre)
This is Jacques Charlier’s “Art In Another Way”, a 45RPM double LP compilation of the Belgian multi-disciplinary artist’s inimitable chanson regressive recordings from the 1980s. Throughout a long career in the visual arts, Jacques Charlier has maintained a multi-disciplinary approach that includes forays in poetry, underground comics, acting, filmmaking and music.

Jason Wayne Sneed and Toshinori Kondo - Guardians Of The Most Cosmic Shrine (Chant Records)
"Guardians Of The Most Cosmic Shrine" is a collaboration between bassist/producer Jason Wayne Sneed and trumpeter/composer Toshinori Kondo. Friends for many years via correspondence between their respective home bases in the US and Japan, Sneed and Kondo worked remotely to record the album after meeting for a performance in Chicago in December 2019. Sneed produced the original tracks with Kondo’s specific sound and personality in mind, and Kondo recorded his parts at his studio in Japan. Several days after beginning work on the album, Sneed received news that Kondo had passed away on October 17, 2020. "It took me a minute to grasp how heavy of a responsibility this is. This album truly has his spirit in it. While working on it, I felt him with me in the room and felt his energy surrounding me", says Sneed.

Joy Guidry - Radical Acceptance (Whited Sepulchre Records)
"Radical Acceptance is a personal practice that has evolved in my life over the past year. This doesn't mean there aren't still tough times, but times of warmth and comfort are much more present these days. I will never be able to change my past, the things that hurt me, but I can live in a peaceful and beautiful life of my own creation. The most important thing I've had to teach myself is that there is nothing wrong with my body or my brain. My body is fat, and I struggle with my mental health daily, and neither of those things make me any less of a human being. I know that my Black, Fat, Queer and Nonbinary body is valid in every way. Learning to love my whole self unconditionally will be a lifelong journey, but I am just so happy to be where I am today. This is my radical acceptance." Joy Guidry

Läuten der Seele - Läuten der Seele (Hands in the Dark)
Behind the mysterious name 'Läuten der Seele' comes the eponymous solo debut-album from Christian Schoppik, half of the confidentially acclaimed experimental dark folk duo Brannten Schnüre from Wurzburg (DE). The record is composed of 12 abstract audio collages based on transformed sampled loops from German 50’s Heimatfilme features -a popular domestic genre involving rural settings, romantic tone and simplistic morality, centered on love, friendship and family- jazzed up with a vast selection of instruments such as accordion, guitar, keyboard, flute and everyday objects sporadically used as percussive elements.

Los Muky's - Con Sentimiento Y Cariño (Discos Fantástico!)
Originally released in 1985, Con Sentimiento Y Cariño was written and performed by Armando Tames Jara and is now reissued by Spanish imprint Discos Fantástico!, a record label focused on Peruvian and Latin American musical archeology with lots of pysch cumbia, fuzz killer chicha, rockbeat, boogaloo, nueva ola, boleros and more gems.
Peter Maybury - Landfall (Fort Evil Fruit)
Peter Maybury - Landfall (Fort Evil Fruit)

From Pailhead to Peter Maybury

MANAS (with N.R. Safi) - Alone We Are Alone As Far Down As the Sediment (Radio Khiyaban)
MANAS - otherwise known as the duo of iconoclastic guitarist Tashi Dorji and drummer extraordinaire Thom Nguyen - have made tsunami-sized waves in the free jazz and improv scene with their numerous tape and LP releases. Back in the summer of 2019 they invited Naujawanan Baidar's N.R. Safi to sit in with them at a show organized at Fleetwoods, a self-proclaimed "rock and roll wedding chapel" in Dorji and Nguyen's current home of Asheville, North Carolina. Captured on tape was roughly thirty minutes of raw and pummeling improvisation, guitar-become-drum-become-guitar.

Mazen Kerbaj - Sampler / Sampled (Morphine Records)
Sampler / Sampled is an album made of two interdependent parts rather than a double-album. It features a wide range of artists: Deena Abdelwahed, Rabih Beaini, Fari Bradley, Dieb 13, DJ Sniff, Gavsborg (Equiknoxx), Electric Indigo, Donzilla Lion (Nyege Nyege), Marina Rosenfeld, Microhm, Muqata’a, Bob Ostertag, Rrose

V.A. - Mensajes del agua: Nuevos sonidos desde Perú Vol 1 (Buh Records)
Released by Buh Records, this compilation presents a selection of young Peruvian artists who have in common a taste for electronic and electroacoustic sounds. It offers a panoramic view of the new directions in electronic and experimental music made in Peru.

Ordos Mk.0 - Sisyphean Audio Therapy 2 (Laputa Machineworks)
British electronic producer Ordos Mk.0 returns with the second part of his ambient and experimental sonic investigations, Sisyphean Audio Therapy. Meditative, deep and dreamy music.

Pailhead (Al Jourgensen & Ian MacKaye) - Trait (Cleopatra Records)
Here is the complete recordings from the short-lived side project of Ministry's Al Jourgensen and Fugazi's Ian MacKaye. Combining Jourgensen's industrial production with MacKaye's punk rock inspired guitar playing and songwriting, Pailhead burned bright in its short existence, recording and releasing just 6 tracks.

Peter Maybury - Landfall (Fort Evil Fruit)
Peter Maybury is a visual and sound artist and graphic designer based in Dublin. He has released recordings on Emigré Music, Sub Rosa and Fällt, and was a member of Thread Pulls and Rainfear. The source material for Landfall developed from a live drum performance to accompany his film installation of the same name. This album uses only acoustic and electronic drums as sound sources, woven into densely polyrhythmic, dub-inflected electronic pieces that alternate between odd and even time signatures.
The Darkening Scale - Hydrogen Kaleidoscope (Klanggalerie)
The Darkening Scale - Hydrogen Kaleidoscope (Klanggalerie)

From Somnoroase Păsărele to Vardae

Rhodri Davies - For Simon H. Fell (self-released)
Rhodri Davies plays harp, electric harp, live-electronics and builds wind, water, ice, dry ice and fire harp installations. He has released several solo albums and his regular groups include: HEN OGLEDD, a duo with John Butcher, Cranc, The Sealed Knot and Common Objects.

Robbie Lee & Lea Bertucci - Winds Bells Falls (Telegraph Harp)
Winds Bells Falls is the meeting between two of New York’s most unconventional musicians, sound artist Lea Bertucci and multi-everything instrumentalist Robbie Lee. The duo mixes colorful free improv with musique concrete, sculpting experimental instrumental noise into a fascinating and even joyful encounter. On the album Lee plays medieval and baroque woodwinds, celeste (bell keyboard), and tubular chimes, while Bertucci live-manipulates and mangles his playing, hands inside a reel-to-reel tape machine, transforming and transfiguring in real time.

Somnoroase Păsărele - DƎMO (Veinte 33 Records)
Released by the Montevideo based imprint Veinte 33 Records, this album of Gili Mocanu’s experimental project Somnoroase Păsărele comprises two long, hypnotic pieces composed and recorded in Bucharest in the winter of 2016.

Surfing Dog - VOVA (Fancy Music)
Surfing Dog is a side project started by Vladimir Kudryavtsev and Gregory Sandomirsky, founders of the critically acclaimed avant-garde sextet, Goat's Notes. Generally keeping the methods and principles of its mother band—live interaction in real time and spontaneous improvisation—Surfing Dog focuses on a more clubby, rhythmic sound, moving freely from jazz to surf rock, reggae and pop.

The Darkening Scale - Hydrogen Kaleidoscope (Klanggalerie)
David Janssen is best known for his work as ted The Loaf in Renaldo & The Loaf. When the band came to a halt in 2006, he concentrated on solo music, so The Darkening Scale project was born. It is a purely digital affair created by David in his home studio.

The Silent Treatment - I (My Little Cab Records)
The Silent Treatment is a French duo of electronic music producers (Douglas Patawi and JB Dchr), and their album released by the French imprint My Little Cab Records was born out of three days of improvisation in a cabin in the woods.

Vardae - Rhythms, sounds and things in between (Annulled Music)
The latest release of Annulled Music is Vardae’s new album, described by the artist himself as a piece of music combining all his musical influences, from reggae and dub to drum n bass by passing through techno and breaks. "The atmosphere starts with some deep dub then go to some darker and psychedelic terrain after passing by some dub techno and high speed breaks", says Vardae.
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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