Staff Picks - May 2022

Staff Picks - May 2022

June 18, 2022

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As we slowly approach a new summer, here's a recap of 25 albums and compilations released in May 2022, comprising ambient, experimental music, cumbia, 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.

From Ákos Rózmann to Andy Cartwright

Afrorack - The Afrorack (Hakuna Kulala)
Afrorack - The Afrorack (Hakuna Kulala)
Afrorack - The Afrorack (Hakuna Kulala)
Ugandan synth builder and producer Brian Bamanya aka Afrorack is responsible for building Africa’s first DIY modular synthesizer, a huge wall of home-made modules and FX units that he dubbed, fittingly, The Afrorack. His reason for embarking on this difficult project was simple: as he began to investigate the world of modular synthesizers, he realized it would be difficult to acquire the technology in Uganda. Not only were there relatively few retailers across the whole of Africa, but the modules were often prohibitively expensive. After quick search online, Bamanya realized he could easily download circuit diagrams and buy the required parts locally, so he taught himself electronics and constructed a CV-controlled system that’s been evolving ever since.

Ákos Rózmann - MASS / MÄSSA (Ideologic Organ)
Ákos Rózmann’s Mass consists of twelve electroacoustic compositions created between 1989 and 2004 in the composer’s studio and at EMS in Stockholm. Like most of Rózmann’s compositions, Mass is a long-form work with a duration of around seven hours.

Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto - Vrioon (Noton)
Twenty years after the original release, NOTON announces the reissue of Vrioon, the first installment of Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto’s V.I.R.U.S. series. The seven recordings alternate palettes of piano chords, electronic tones
and exquisitely quivering timbres.

Andy Cartwright - Form Less Ness (A Quiet Room Recording)
Some might know Andy Cartwright as guitar-experimentalist Seabuckthorn (IIKKI, Eilean Rec., LostTribe Sound etc). On Form Less Ness, Andy steps away from the guitar as the primary focus, but maintains his experimental and abstract approach, continuing the electroacoustic style presented on albums released on labels like Fluid Audio Label.

Baligh Hamdi & Magid Khan - Indo-Arabic Variations (Altercat)
Unique fusion of the Indian and Egyptian music cultures devised by Baligh Hamdi, the most prominent of all modern composers in the Arab-speaking world. Hamdi, who penned dozens of hit compositions for Umm Kulthum, Abdel Halim Hafez, Warda and Sabah amongst others, also shaped the future of Arabic music in a way that's difficult to overestimate. Directed by Hamdi, the renowned Indian sitar player Magid Khan joins the Egyptian musicians of Abdel Halim Hafez's orchestra in re-reading some of Hamdi's compositions from a new perspective – here sitar and tabla dance together with arghoul, ney and other Arabic instruments.

Bascha - Tale of Bilalayl (Annulled Music)
François Personnier aka Bascha presents his new album, Tale of Bilalayl, out on Annulled Music, comprising seven atmospheric techno and ambient/experimental tracks.
Idrissa Soumaoro, L’Eclipse De L’I.J.A. - Le Tioko-Tioko (Mr Bongo)
Idrissa Soumaoro, L’Eclipse De L’I.J.A. - Le Tioko-Tioko (Mr Bongo)

From Eric Copeland to Faust

Baumschule - ( ) (Three:four Records)
Baumschule was formed following the meeting in 2019 of three musicians with already expansive experimental practice: pianist Raphael Loher, drummer Julian Sartorius and guitarist Manuel Troller. Baumschule ("nursery") based their new album on a skillful balance between composition and improvisation, repeated patterns and blossoming micro-variations resulting from individual decisions, phase shifts and resynchronizations, linear progression and tabular strokes.

Charming Hostess - The Ginzburg Geography (Tzadik)
The Ginzburg Geography is an examination of the lives and work of Natalia and Leone Ginzburg during World War II. As with her other Charming Hostess endeavors, Jewlia Eisenberg plunged deeply into research and created songs inspired by their life, love and writings as well as including songs of protest and cultural significance from the time.

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru - Spielt Eigen Kompositionen (Mississippi Records)
Born to an aristocratic family in Addis Ababa in December of 1923, Emahoy spent much of her youth and young adulthood studying classical music in Europe. She returned to Ethiopia in the 40s, where the war interrupted her musical studies. In 1948 during a church service in Ethiopia, she found her faith and began years of religious training. Throughout her physical and spiritual journeys, Emahoy continued to compose for the piano. She first released this album in Germany 1963 as small private press record. The tracks reflect her own travels, seamlessly moving between Western classical and traditional Ethiopian modes, evoking Erik Satie, the orthodox liturgy, and meditative Christian music all at once. Emahoy is now 98 years old and still lives in Jerusalem. She continues to play, and the funds from her work go to the righteous causes to which she has dedicated her life.

Eric Copeland - Spiral Stairs (Les albums claus)
Eric Copeland is a NYC- based experimental musician, a core member of Black Dice and one half of the Terrestrial Tones duo. On the new album Spiral Stairs, Eric Copeland offers seven avant-pop tracks packed with playful sequences, chic bass lines, and appealing voiceovers.

Faust - Punkt (Bureau B)
After the overwhelming success of last years 1971-74 box set release, containing the first four studio albums and for the first time ever this lost ‘last’ album recording, Punkt gets a deserved and necessary standalone release to the relief of fans and collectors and the undoubted future gratification of those yet to experience the magic in these recordings.

Idrissa Soumaoro, L’Eclipse De L’I.J.A. - Le Tioko-Tioko (Mr Bongo)
Idrissa Soumaoro, L’Eclipse De L’I.J.A.’s sought-after album Le Tioko-Tioko was originally released in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1978. This is one of the rarest vinyl albums from the already scarce Malian vinyl discography, partly as the album was never released commercially, only independently distributed via the Malian Association for the Blind in Bamako. Though recorded at Radio Mali under the aegis of master engineer Boubacar Traoré, the album was originally released in East Germany. The tapes had been taken by some Malian students to East Berlin as part of a student exchange program. It was then manufactured and released on the East German state-owned label Eterna with only a few boxes of records being shipped back to Bamako.

Joyfultalk - Familiar Science (Constellation Records)
Joyfultalk is Jay Crocker (guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, electronics and vocals), Eric Hamelin (drums), Nicola Miller (alto saxophone, flute), Dan Meichel (tenor saxophone), Chris Dadge (drums) and Kyle Cunjak (upright bass). Jay Crocker draws inspiration from 1980s M-Base music and Ornette Coleman’s harmolodic funk period, while his own prior history as an improv guitarist also resurfaces for the first time in many years—an element in this polyvalent artist’s chemistry set that hasn’t appeared prominently in his own music for over a decade.
Rok Zalokar - Speak Your Body (Nature Scene Records)
Rok Zalokar - Speak Your Body (Nature Scene Records)

From Misha Sultan to Romperayo

Loren Connors - 9th Avenue (Carbon Records)
Loren Connors has been releasing his unique brand of guitar work since 1978, under monikers such as Guitar Roberts, Loren Mazzacane, Loren Mazzacane Connors, and now, simply, Loren Connors.

Misha Sultan - Roots (Hive Mind Records)
Misha Sultan is a multi-instrumentalist originally from Novosibirsk, in the heart of Siberia. His hometown's location, in the hinterlands between Europe and Asia provides a deep well of inspiration for his music.

Model home - Saturn In The Basement (Disciples)
This is the second compilation of tracks drawn from the Washington DC crew’s continuing series of self-released mixtapes, including an unreleased collaboration with Japanese post-punk icon Phew, plus guest appearances from Michael R Bernstein (Double Leopards/Religious Knives), and Mike Petillo (Geo Rip/Project U). The basis of the group’s sound continues to be the free form FX-warped flow of MC NAPPYNAPPA and the abstracted beats and synths of Pat Cain.

OCH - Pö om pö (Rocket Recordings)
Pö om pö (meaning ‘little by little’) is the second Rocket Recordings released full-length record from Sweden’s equally mysterious OCH.

Rok Zalokar - Speak Your Body (Nature Scene Records)
Rok Zalokar (pianist / composer / producer) is an integral part of the Ljubljana jazz scene. He led his jazz piano trio for a decade, experimenting with the Zhlehtet collective while continuing to develop a personalised solo piano expression, this recently culminated in the release of a solo pipe organ album called Spaces VIII. His debut electroacoustic album Speak your body is comprised of 20 tracks made between 2019 and 2021. The material comes from different sources: sound sculpting, beat making, spontaneous sessions with friends and moments of exploration with a given instrument, which he connects with a surrealist cut-up narrative.

Romperayo - Así No Se Puede Muchaches (Souk)
Romperayo is a musical journey through Colombian tropical folklore of the second half of the 20th century, a mischievous and modern interpretation of the up-tempo rhythms of “Descarga” and the psychedelic sounds of ’70s cumbia.
The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar - Dancing Under the Moon (Glitterbeat Records)
The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar - Dancing Under the Moon (Glitterbeat Records)

From Serpente to The Mutual Torture

Rosa Brunello - Sounds Like Freedom (Domanda Music)
Sounds Like Freedom is the second release from LA-based record label, Domanda Music. It was recorded in September 2021 in Verona, Italy and conceived by bass player Rosa Brunello with notable contributions from UK Jazz star Yazz Ahmed, Arabic experimental music pioneer Maurice Louca and Italian drumming sensation Marco Frattini. Each track is the result of spontaneous improvisations, which have been lovingly post-produced by Rosa Brunello herself and label founder Tommaso Cappellato.

Serpente - Dias da Aranha (Discrepant)
The Portuguese electronic artist Bruno Silva presents his latest release for Discrepant. With collaborations from Maxwell Sterling, Kelly Jayne Jones, Pedro Sousa, Vasco Alves and Gabriel Ferrandini, Dias da Aranha is a leap from previous releases like Parada and Fé/Vazio, both on Ecstatic.

Silt - The Loft Sessions (impakt Köln)
The free jazz quartet Silt comprises Franz Hautzinger (trumpet), Philip Zoubek (prepared piano, synthesizer), Ignaz Schick (turntables, sampler) and Tony Buck (drums). Their recent release, The Loft Sessions, came out on impact Köln, a collective based in Cologne, Germany, dedicated to free improvised music.

The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar - Dancing Under the Moon (Glitterbeat Records)
Based in Jajouka, Morocco, The Master Musicians are a collective of Jbala Sufi trance makers, committed to creating a contemporary representation of their centuries-old musical tradition. The album is produced by long time band leader Bachir Attar, and with all but one of the tracks exceeding 10-minutes in length, it is clear that these recordings authoritatively grasp the textured essence of this timeless ensemble.

The Mutual Torture - Don't (NSP)
The Mutual Torture project comprises Javiera González (vocals), André Schöne (bass) and Tobias Freund (drum computer / electronics). The trio’s modus operandi is deeply rooted in Post Punk paranoia, alien soundtracks, improvisation, and simulation. They formed a trio with a conceptual approach to transforming the energy and the boldness of a genre which is known for its pioneering spirit, overwhelming playfulness, and a strong desire to experiment.

The Mystic Revelation of Teppo Repo - Kosmoksen erakko (Sahko Recordings)
Comprising Otto Eskelinen, Eero Tikkanen and Arwi Lind, the music of TMROTR is channelling the spirit of the Finnish forests and nature, combining shepherd music with hypnotic and subtle elements of spiritual jazz and nyabinghi rhythms. Their instrumentation includes various self-built and custom-made instruments such as a log percussion setup and many kinds of flutes.
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 based in Bucharest, with a background in Anthropology.

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