Staff Picks - March 2023

Staff Picks - March 2023

April 18, 2023

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The first month of Spring brings a selection of diverse albums, comprising jazz, adventurous psychedelics, rock, field recordings, sound design, improvised music, ambient, 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 Angel Bat Dawid to Del Jones

After Altamont - Elektriki Rembetologia (Inside Out Records)
After Altamont - Elektriki Rembetologia (Inside Out Records)
Actual Music - Actual Music Now (FPE Records)
Actual Music Now is the first recording in eighteen years by Dave Pavkovic and Tatsu Aoki. Their partnership is rooted in the myriad possibilities of a particular time and place, but there’s nothing rehashed about it. Between 1994 and 2004, they often worked together in Chicago’s jazz, post-rock, and theater scenes. The grave vibes, considered interplay, and elemental rhythms conjured here are spontaneous expressions of an encounter lived fully in the moment.

After Altamont - Elektriki Rembetologia (Inside Out Records)
After Altamont, the mysterious live band alias of Stavros Potamitis and Constantinos Parisinos, return to Inside Out Records with Elektriki Rembetologia. Rebetiko briefly can be described as the urban popular song of the Greeks, especially the poorest, from the late 19th century to the 1950s, outlawed and driven underground during the Ottoman Empire. Rebetiko grew out of urban circumstances. Often its lyrics reflect the harsher realities of a marginalized subculture's lifestyle.

Andrea Belfi - Eternally Frozen (Maple Death Records)
Eternally Frozen consists of a series of canon based compositions for brass ensemble, percussion and synthesizer by Andrea Belfi. The canon is an ancient compositional technique in which an initial melody is imitated at a specified time interval by one or more parts, creating illusionary never-ending musical journeys.

Angel Bat Dawid - Requiem for Jazz (International Anthem)
Composer, clarinetist, singer and educator Angel Bat Dawid announces the release of a new work, Requiem For Jazz. A 12-movement suite composed, arranged, and inspired in part by dialogue from Edward O. Bland’s 1959 film The Cry of Jazz, the album is a wide-ranging treatise on the African American story from one of its most astute narrators.

Asher.Zax - Cisterns (Raash Records)
Cisterns, which is now released along with a new box-set, is a musical setting of a poem written by poet Tal Nitzan. The poem, inspired by Massimo Berruti’s photograph, portrays two little children carrying a water tank in the ruins of a bombarded building in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, on their way to a water distribution point shortly after an Israeli air-force attack on Gaza in 2014.

Del Jones - Court Is Closed (Now-Again Records)
Underground Philadelphia’s response to Amiri Baraka’s and Gil Scott-Heron’s indictments of the Black American experience: poet, proto-rapper and catalyst Del Jones’ call to action not just for his city, but for the nation. Equal parts psychedelic rock and deep funk, the rarely heard 'Court Is Closed' saw only the scantest of issues before Jones overdubbed horns on the album, remixed and augmented it with additional music, and issued it as the better-known 'Positive Vibes'.
Islandman feat Okay Temiz and Muhlis Berberoğlu - Direct-to-Disc Sessions (Night Dreamer)
Islandman feat Okay Temiz and Muhlis Berberoğlu - Direct-to-Disc Sessions (Night Dreamer)

From Erik Levander to James Holden

Dilian - (Bmfr) Beam Former (Artetetra)
After several works uniting microsounds with cartoony timbres to hypertrophic rhythms offering a sardonic, off-kilter pace, the Brooklyn-based producer and International Winners label co-founder returns with twenty minutes of on-the-loose pieces of body-shattering beat chains and maximalist rhythmic sketches.

Erik Levander - Kvad (Supple 9)
This album began its life way back in 2001 when a young Erik Levander passed by the Lunds Domkyrka cathedral in Sweden and decided to step inside to enjoy the architecture and peacefulness. Under the dome a choir was rehearsing, and Erik captured a recording with his minidisc. Currently based in Berlin, Germany, this will be Erik’s 9th solo release.

Francesco Fabris & Ben Frost - Vakning (Room40)
"Nothing is fixed, nothing is permanent, nothing holds for anyone, any time or anything. As stable as we might choose to think it is, this planet is anything but that. A paper-thin crust, the zone in which we find ourselves, and mostly concern ourselves with, exists as a modest veil cloaking a dynamic seismic turbulence that is as powerful as it is unknowable. There are moments though where ruptures occur. The pressure from within carves its way to, and through, the surface of the planet simultaneously delivering destruction and virgin landscapes, as primordial as any we might care to imagine. It is here, in these places, where we can literally see the living planet, that geologic time is condensed and world building is made visible, and audible to us, in an unrestrained and provocative detail. These volcanic ruptures, such as those captured on Vakning by Francesco Fabris and Ben Frost, speak to the very living geology of Earth. These recordings, captured at close range, exist at a nexus where liquid rock becomes solid. They capture moments of transformation, of obliteration and of creation, often all at once." Lawrence English

Gregory Kramer - Veils Of Transformation 1972-1980 (imprec)
Veils Of Transformation 1972 – 1980 is a collection of the earliest works of Gregory Kramer, one of the 20th century masters of textural electronic music. Kramer developed a musical language focused on continuous transformation of timbre, yielding a continuity of attention. This musical language, formed of timbral change, is a compelling aesthetic and a source of meditative experience. The four works on this album share a deep sense of order derived not from organizing pitches or rhythms, but from the evolution of timbre itself.

Islandman feat Okay Temiz and Muhlis Berberoğlu - Direct-to-Disc Sessions (Night Dreamer)
Balearic folktronica meets percussion genius on a unique one-take recording that finds Turkish downtempo specialist Islandman in triple conference with legendary percussion innovator Okay Temiz, and contemporary saz virtuoso Muhlis Berberoğlu. Recorded in Amsterdam for Night Dreamer’s ground-breaking Direct-To-Disc series, the session captures the innovative brilliance of the great Okay Temiz in full flow over Islandman’s trademark balearic-tinged production, alongside the modern Anadolu folk sound of Berberoğlu’s saz.

James Holden - Imagine This Is A High Dimensional Space Of All Possibilities (Border Community Records)
Holden is an artist who has traditionally found it difficult to settle, no sooner finding himself momentarily aligned with one musical milieu before he is off onto the next thing. But Imagine This Is A High Dimensional Space Of All Possibilities also seems to represent a coming-to-terms with his own musical past, with subtle nods and call-backs to notable moments in Holden’s twenty yearlong sonic history.
Na Aldjia Matoub - Complainte Pour Mon Fils (MLP Music)
Na Aldjia Matoub - Complainte Pour Mon Fils (MLP Music)

From Lei Liang to Marijus Aleksa

Lagoss & Banha da Cobra - Aquapelagos Vol.1: Atlantico (Discrepant)
The first volume on the Aquapelagos series consists of a collection of split LPs where selected artists offer their own take into water surrounded cultures and communities. After the initial release of the Anthology compilation Aquapelago in 2022, this first volume opens up the series with a sound journey inspired by the majestic and sometime furious Atlantic Ocean.

Lei Liang - Hearing Landscapes/Hearing Icescapes (New Focus Recordings)
Acclaimed composer Lei Liang releases Hearing Landscapes/Hearing Icescapes, a multidisciplinary diptych that marries diverse areas of inquiry into Chinese landscape painting and folk song, oceanography, software development, earth science, and underwater acoustics. The result are two inspiring linked works that employ these varied methodologies to explore our relationship to and sonic experience with our planet.

Lia Kohl - The Ceiling Reposes (American Dreams)
Curiosity for its own sake: this is at the heart of Lia Kohl’s work, which finds meaning where others might find none. Whether collaborating with some of independent music’s biggest names (Steve Gunn, Whitney, Makaya McCraven), improvising music around the world, or exploring intimacy with multimedia performance art, Kohl builds webs of connections along paths less traveled. The Ceiling Reposes expands on her twin practices of layering improvisations to create music and incorporating these layers within found sounds. She took hours of live radio samples recorded primarily on Vashon Island in Washington State, choosing select moments – bits of weather reports, prayers, talk shows, ads, and music – to elaborate on with her own recordings.

Manja Ristić - Water memory – mnemosonic topographies of the Adriatic (ELL Studio)
Manja Ristić’s work Water memory is a musical journey through the subtle relations of sound and aquatic habitats on the island of Korčula and its surrounding archipelago.

Marijus Aleksa - As They Are (Miclithuania)
Throughout his remarkable international career, Lithuanian drummer & producer Marijus Aleksa has established himself as a bonafide shaman of rhythm. An ambitious drummer and percussionist, he relies on his technical prowess and visionary endeavours. Through his work as a heralded band leader, session musician and solo artist, his music is not unlike the works by the abstract expressionist painters: rich in colour, vivid, intuitive and hypnotising, traversing musical maps by blending the worlds of jazz, rock, world and electronic club music.

Na Aldjia Matoub - Complainte Pour Mon Fils (MLP Music)
This album by Na Aldjia Matoub was originally released by Créon Music in 2000 and was recently reissued by the French imprint MLP Music.
Oblomovka - Oblomovka (ТОПОТ)
Oblomovka - Oblomovka (ТОПОТ)

From Olimpia Splendid to Smote

Oblomovka - Oblomovka (ТОПОТ)
This album was supposed to be released in February 2022, however, the war between Russia and Ukraine prevented this. One of the participants in the Oblomovka project, Galya Abakarova, immediately after the outbreak of hostilities, was forced to move from her beloved Kyiv to Berlin. "TOPOT label strongly opposes the Russian invasion of Ukraine and wholeheartedly supports the Ukrainian people. We want to remind you that the war continues."

Olimpia Splendid - 2 (Kraak Records)
Olimpia Splendid was formed in Helsinki in 2010 by Heta Bilaletdin, Jonna Karanka and Katri Sipiläinen. Their music is made with weirdly tuned guitars, muddy drum machine loops, whispering vocals and trash can delays. The new album was 8-track tape recorded and mixed by Ari Salonen and mastered by Samuli Tanner, with album cover art by the band themselves. Sara Milazzo makes a guest appearance on “Pupuliini” playing prepared toy samplers.

V.A. - Place: Tunisia (Air Texture)
Place: - Air Texture’s regional nonprofit series focused on local environmental causes, features Tunisia for its next in the series curated by Azu Tiwaline and Shinigami San. As old veterans of electronic deep explorations they are driven by the aim to provide a general view and an état des lieux of the electronic microcosm of this scene supporting its different directions and creative aspects. This compilation is an invitation to have a deep dig into electronic Tunisia.

V.A. - Princess Nicotine - Folk and Pop Music from Myanmar vol.1 (Sublime Frequencies)
Burmese music has a very distinct sound and whatever instrument is assimilated into its core only seems to magnify its original intent without depending upon outside ideas as they relate to each component of it. This is the first TRUE compilation of this phenomenal scene from Yangon to Mandalay and beyond. Here are some of the greatest names from the past 50 years of Burmese musical history from the original recordings featuring Mar Mar Aye, Bo Sein, and the incomparable Tonte Theintan.

Smote - Genog (Rocket Recordings)
The brainchild of Daniel Foggin, Smote has evolved seemingly of its own volition. "I had the idea for years" he relates. "I love Pärson Sound, Träd, Gräs Och Stenar, Traditional Irish Folk and all sorts of different Drone and Folk music. It was simply finding the opportunity to sit down and get recording. A very heavy influence that affects Smote is fantasy as a genre, and the atmosphere that can be created via storytelling."

Spectacular Diagnostics - Raw Lessons (Rucksack Recordings)
There’s no room for chance in the beats of Spectacular Diagnostics. Every movie dialogue, every loop, and every tiniest of sample serves a clear purpose. Layers of sound unfold a new world to explore, carefully put together like an archaeologist excavating old records—a theme more literally hinted at with the title of his previous album, ‘Ancient Methods.’
番⻑ TASTE - Summer Nights (Carbon Records)
番⻑ TASTE - Summer Nights (Carbon Records)

From Tõnu Naissoo to Wukir Suryadi

番⻑ TASTE - Summer Nights (Carbon Records)
Summer Nights is the brand new release from the intriguing trio 番長 Taste, consisting of Mark Anderson (Greymouth/ Mysteries of Love, New Zealand), Anthony Guerra (Love Chants/Mysteries of Love, Australia) and mysterious rocker ‘Mariyo’ (Japan). The name 番長 is pronounced ‘Bansho’, so the band name is Bansho Aji/Taste.

The Astra Choir - Unsettled Choruses: A Terrain of Humming and Phonetics 1930–1974 (New World Records)
Unsettled in more senses than one, these fourteen choral works, reaching across the central third of the 20th century, represent some special moments in the story of music for voices, and within the creative musings of their composers. Generations later, they remain as outliers, but also as bearers of central truths about musical materials of their times, evading common categorizations—radical or moderate, experimental, or formalist, Stravinsky or Schoenberg.

Thermal - John Butcher, Andy Moor, Thomas Lehn - Ice In A Hot World (Unsounds Label)
THERMAL (John Butcher / Andy Moor / Thomas Lehn) formed in 2001, three musicians from different musical backgrounds, evolving along their personal routes to meet in free improvisations. For twenty years they’ve been taking their subtle and explosive music throughout Europe. In 2023 the trio of quiet giants comes back with Ice in a Hot World, a new album recorded live in Avignon.

Tõnu Naissoo – Shapes And Colours (Jazzaggression Records)
Experience the soulful and electrifying sounds of Estonian composer and keyboard veteran, Tõnu Naissoo, as he brings his unique brand of funky jazz. Backed by a team of exceptional Finnish musicians, including Aleksi Heinola on drums, Temu Åkerblom on bass, and Markus Holkko on reeds and flute, this album is sure to captivate your mood and emotions.

Wire - s/t (Jungle Gym Records)
Jungle Gym Records presents the official self-titled debut of LA's project Wire. Armed with a single drum machine, the mysterious duo forges an incredible range of atmospheres, from panicked prison-break techno to cavernous tunnel-rat noise... landing like a ton of bricks.

Wukir Suryadi - Gema - Future Deception (self-released)
Here’s a new release by Wukir Suryadi (one half of the Indonesian duo Senyawa), comprising spontaneous improvisations with Gema, a delay effect pedal and/or synthesizer with noise/glitch function.
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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