Staff Picks - May 2023

Staff Picks - May 2023

June 15, 2023

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Here's a summary of what happened music wise in May 2023. From free jazz to psychedelic, field recordings, footwork, hip-hop, ambient, experimental and improvised music, 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 Asher Gamedze to Damir Imamović

Claire Chase - Liza Lim: Sex Magic — Density 2036: Part VII (2020) (New Focus Recordings)
Claire Chase - Liza Lim: Sex Magic — Density 2036: Part VII (2020) (New Focus Recordings)
Andrey Guryanov - Anthems (Abstand)
"This album reflects my initial interest in history in general, and in particular in the history of the country in which I was born, as well as in the history of sound art and sound media itself. It is based on the official recordings of the Soviet Union’s anthem from various periods. The files I received from the state archive were digital copies of the original media made from 2000 to 2010. The structure of each track originates from the analysis of the data of these recordings." Andrey Guryanov

Archeus - Kusōzu : Nine Death Stages (An'archives)
Kusōzu : Death Nine Stages is the second album by the Tokyo trio Archeus, which consists of Keiko Higuchi (voice, percussion, trombone, shamisen), Shizuo Uchida (bass strings), and TOMO (hurdy gurdy, voice). It follows their debut, self-titled and self-released CD and cassette from 2021 and is further proof – if any were needed – that these musicians, who’ve known each other for some time, but only started playing together relatively recently, share a telepathic communication, improvising together, fully in the moment, and as one.

Asher Gamedze - Turbulence and Pulse (International Anthem)
Cape Town, South Africa-based drummer Asher Gamedze explores relationships of time between music and history on his new album Turbulence and Pulse.

Aya Metwalli & Calamita - Al Saher (Zehra Records)
Calamita (Tony Elieh, Sharif Sehnaoui and drummer Malek Rizkallah join forces with the Egyptian singer Aya Metwalli on the most recent release by the Berlin based record label Zehra. The result is the improbable meeting between free jazz / improv, punk rock & Oum Kalthoum.

Claire Chase - Liza Lim: Sex Magic — Density 2036: Part VII (2020) (New Focus Recordings)
Virtuoso flutist Claire Chase continues her laudable documentation of her multi-year commissioning project, Density 2036, with a digital release of Australian-Chinese composer Liza Lim's Sex Magic for contrabass flute, alto ocarina, Aztec "death whistle," electronics, and kinetic percussion. Through the piece, Lim explores elemental sources of feminine power and the realm of childbirth in a rich tapestry of sound and advanced instrumental technique.

Damir Imamović - The World and All That It Holds (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)
Bosnian singer, songwriter and sevdah tradition-bearer Damir Imamović is a firm believer in the power of song to connect and transport. On this new album The World and All That It Holds he performs original compositions and traditional songs in Bosnian and Sephardic Ladino with breathtaking emotion and conviction. Created as a musical companion to Bosnian-American author Aleksandar Hemon's epic novel of the same name, the songs tell stories of love and loss, hardship and perseverance. Imamović's music invokes the spirit of the cultural melting pot that is Sarajevo, his lifelong home, reflecting sevdah’s rich historical influences while invigorating its future.
Michalis Kouloumis, Tristan Driessens, Miriam Encinas - Music for Shepherds and Sultans (
Michalis Kouloumis, Tristan Driessens, Miriam Encinas - Music for Shepherds and Sultans (

From Echoes of Zoo to MD Pallavi & Andi Otto

EABS meets Jaubi - In Search of a Better Tomorrow (Astigmatic Records)
Wrocław and Lahore are almost 7,000 kilometers apart. And despite this immense distance that separates the EABS and Jaubi musicians, the two bands find a surprising amount of common ground that determines their musical explorations. These include both a strong attachment to locality and respect for tradition, a penchant for weaving in some hip-hop elements, and the basis of a love of improvisation and spiritual jazz.

Echoes of Zoo - Speech Of Species (W.E.R.F. Records)
Jazz rock for psych heads, global sounds for jazz minds, or the steaming soundtrack to a midnight desert rave? For sure, Echoes of Zoo fuse influences from all over the musical earth into countless electrifying grooves.

Gabriel Pereira Spurr-El Zombie Espacial-Lostdriver (a.k.a. Jordi Heras Fauque) - Worst of... (Hamfuggi Records)
"To launch a the worst of you do not need self-criticism, just a slightly acid sense of humor or a pronounced taste for fallacy, well, in a world marked by selfishness, what other factors but these could delimit the worst of the best?"

Jrpjej - Şefitse: Circassian Songs of XX Century (Ored Recordings)
Jrpjej returns to Ored Recordings with another album-manifesto, released on May 21st, the Day of Remembrance for the Adygs, the day of the end of the Russian-Caucasian war of 1763-1864, the day of memory and sorrow of the Circassians. Most often, these are songs from the period of the Russo-Caucasian War. "Songs about the executed Zalimgery Keref, the battle of Kars, of Tole Kodzoko bleeding in the trench, and others tell us that the methods of repression do not change. But no matter how much our voices are drowned out, these songs still resonate. One hundred years ago and right now. This album is about memory, action, and solidarity."

MD Pallavi & Andi Otto - Songs for Broken Ships (Pingipung)
MD Pallavi & Andi Otto first crossed paths on a theatre stage in India ten years ago. Their musical relationship flourished with artistic residencies in Bangalore and Hamburg, their respective hometowns, and a concert tour in Japan. The album presents an interwoven pop-aesthetic vision of the two artists with their contrasting musical backgrounds. It ranges from organically woven folktronica to cut-up disco tracks and acoustic ballads.

Michalis Kouloumis, Tristan Driessens, Miriam Encinas - Music for Shepherds and Sultans (
Cypriot violinist Michalis Kouloumis and Belgian oud player Tristan Driessens first played together in 2013. They have been working side by side ever since, increasingly exploring their common interest in modal music of the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond. With the recording of Music for Shepherds and Sultans, the duet embarks on what is just the beginning of a closer partnership, with Catalan multi-instrumentalist Miriam Encinas joining them on frame drums.
Nakibembe Embaire Group - Nakibembe Embaire Group (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
Nakibembe Embaire Group - Nakibembe Embaire Group (Nyege Nyege Tapes)

From MinaeMinae to Model home

Milford Graves, Arthur Doyle, Hugh Glover - Children of the Forest (Black Editions)
The double LP Children of the Forest, featuring previously unreleased 1976 sessions with Hugh Glover and Arthur Doyle, re-write the book on Milford Graves' ensemble music of the 1970s. Graves recorded these sessions himself in his legendary Queens basement laboratory and workshop in the weeks immediately leading up to the March 1976 session that, with the same unit, produced what many consider his most iconic album, Bäbi, recorded at WBAI-FM Free Music Store.

MinaeMinae - Räumlichkeit (Marionette)
Bastian Epple makes an eagerly anticipated return to Marionette under his elusive MinaeMinae guise that imagines rich sonic architectures for the journeying spirit to voyage to. Räumlichkeit is Epple’s debut album and third release to date following Gestrüpp from 2020, venturing further into melodic electronic nostalgia and percussive beat-oriented soundscapes.

mir.ON - InSSomnia (Soundsphere)
Romanian producer Miron Ghiu (half of Nava Spațială noise project) presents "sounds for sleepless nights" on the new release by the Bucharest based imprint Soundsphere.

Model home - Endless spool (self-released)
Model home is an electronic and vocal duo from the diamond district, experimenting in liberated sound and lifestyle.

Nakibembe Embaire Group - Nakibembe Embaire Group (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
In Nakibembe, a small village in Uganda's Busoga kingdom (one of the country's four remaining constitutional monarchies), locals have long reserved a communal area for musical performances and social events. In the middle of this space lies a deep pit that serves a single purpose: to amplify the embaire, an immense xylophone made up of between 15 and 25 wooden keys that stretches across the trench. Log xylophones are common throughout East Africa, but the way the music is played by the Basoga - an Eastern Bantu ethnic group - is specific and unique, with its own tuning, dances and supplemental instrumentation. Up to eight players can surround the embaire and play simultaneously, overlaying hypnotic polyrhythms while additional members of the ensemble add vocals or play shakers and drums. Nakibembe Xylophone Group are one of the last remaining groups that perform with the embaire, and as anyone who's caught their live performances will know, they create a complex and layered wall of sound that's completely transfixing wherever it's presented.

Naná Vasconcelos - Africadeus (Altercat)
Spiritual, intimate and revolutionary, yet firmly rooted in Brazil's folklore, Africadeus was the breakthrough album of the mighty Naná Vasconcelos, in which he discovered the berimbau to the world and took the instrument to a universal level. Having played in the shadows for other artists such as Milton Nascimento, Gato Barbieri or Som Imaginario, Naná is here finally in the spotlight. Recorded in 1973 in France for Pierre Barouh's Saravah label, this is the album that definitely imprinted Naná's name in the international scene, on his track to becoming one of the best percussionists of all times.

Shah - Jack in the Box - عفريت العلبة (B-62 Records)
Shah - Jack in the Box - عفريت العلبة (B-62 Records)

From Naujawanan Baidar to Skull Mask

Naujawanan Baidar - Khedmat Be Khalq (Ramble Records)
Iconoclastic Afghan-American street music project Naujawanan Baidar makes its long anticipated return with Khedmat Be Khalq, its third album and first new release in three years. Originally planned as a "studio debut" in the classic sense, a veritable avalanche of setbacks tangled and delayed the recording process over a span of several years as compounded tragedies - both international and personal - disrupted the project's intended transition from simply being a ramshackle demo/home-recording outlet for founder N.R. Safi (The Myrrors, et al) into a properly working band.

Riccardo Sinigaglia, Mario De Leo - Lettera Cosmica (Black Sweat Records)
Since the 1970s Mario De Leo works as a musician and visual artist. His mechanical paintings are hybrid works that reveal the cosmic spiritualism hidden in the meanders of electronics. With Riccardo Sinigaglia (Futuro Antico, Correnti Magnetiche, Doubling Riders) De Leo consolidates an artistic and human partnership with Lettera Cosmica, a work unpublished to date, produced and recorded in 1981.

RP Boo - Legacy Volume 2 (Planet Mu)
RP Boo's essential first album, 2013's ‘Legacy’ caused a storm of acclaim worldwide as people finally started to piece together his true place in Footwork and the powerful legacy of his work as an innovator. Now Legacy Vol.2 continues his story. Featuring tracks created between 2002 and 2007, this is a wonderous selection of material, some known, some unknown.

Shah - Jack in the Box - عفريت العلبة (B-62 Records)
Conceptually speaking, each of the 6 tracks symbolizes a unique period of Shah's lifetime, during which he rediscovered himself, life, and the people around him. From the roaring electro-shaabi beats and the deep grooves to the tracks' structure and nomenclature, all are speaking to us and for us, artistically and musically.

Symposium Musicum - Symposium Musicum (mappa)
The album Symposium Musicum is developed from field recordings, interviews, and observations collected in the villages of Podolínec, Lomnička, Levočské Vrchy, and Kolačkov - all areas of the eastern and north-eastern Slovakia with significant Romani enclaves. The pieces resulting from these interactions encourage the listener to tune in for a delicate negotiation of language, (audible) gesture, and storytelling.

Skull Mask - Iká (Raash Records)
The Skull Mask comes from a place only inhabited by dreams. Flows as a stream of consciousness from the guitar driven sounds in the mind of Miguel Pérez. After a trip for a series of shows in 2022 as part of Staraya Derevnya doing guitar duties in the UK, Miguel was joined by Gosha Hniu (Staraya Derevnya) on wheel lyre to open the shows as Skull Mask. Iká is the raramuri word for wind. The raramuri people are some of the last indigenous populations in the north of Mexico. As a sort of tribute to their connection to the nature in the Sierra de Chihuahua, this release is named to honour this primordial force that inspired the flow of the music created here.
Sourdurent - L'Herbe de Détourne (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Sourdurent - L'Herbe de Détourne (Les Disques Bongo Joe)

From TV dinner Education to Zmoalacazan

Sourdurent - L'Herbe de Détourne (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
French folk experimentalist Ernest Bergez has spent several years bringing his signature, singular sound to life in solo mode. At the same time, and despite this individualist streak, he’s a musician with a deep appreciation for communal exchange and collaboration. It’s with this in mind that L’herbe de détourne, Bergez’s latest album, sees him expand his most prominent project Sourdure from a one-man band into a four-person force, and modify the name.

V.A. - TCS-Various Artists-2 (Tehran Contemporary Sounds)
Tehran Contemporary Sounds is proud to present their second Various Artist album released as limited Cassette edition and on digital platforms. TCS is a collective of interdisciplinary musicians, sound artists and DJs of Iranian origin or background, promoting the sounds and arts of the ever-expanding music and art scenes of the Iranian diaspora as well as the scene inside of Iran. TCS_002 is an 11-tracker album with music by some the most prominent electronic, experimental and electro-acoustic musicians of the Iranian music scene, a glimpse of diversity in styles of music, from ambient to breakbeats, Hip-hop to noise and sound-art.

TV dinner Education - flip heli salto (KRUT)
Mystery art punk from Scandinavian outposts bangs and clangs that collide to an infinitely contagious effect, their vocal punctuations both lulling and cathartic. These two playful ghouls serve up a taste of relentless dadaism for unrepenting souls, pitching various forms of appetite for the ideal TV dinner experience.

Wave Temples - Panama Shift (Not Not Fun Records)
Over a decade since its inception, Wave Temples continues to refine and refract the project’s visionary mythopoetic exotica. Panama Shift presents a 20-track kaleidoscopic star map inspired by “the euphoric cults, both then and now, that come and go in the vast ritual of night.” Bleached keys, devotional synth, and driftwood percussion align in minimalist vignettes shaded by tape hiss and field recordings of streams, waves, wind, and birds.

Zmoalacazan - Live in Spațiu Tehnic (self-released)
Zmoalacazan is a Romanian underground hip-hop project; this self-released material comprises pieces from a recent concert which took place in Bucharest.
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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