Staff Picks - September 2023

Staff Picks - September 2023

October 9, 2023

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Autumn has arrived, and here's a summary of albums and compilations from September. From jazz to experimental music, field recordings, ambient, traditional and improvised music, both new and reissues, check out these 23 releases from the monthly Staff Picks column.

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 Bombino to Catherine Christer Hennix

Annea Lockwood - Glass World (Room40)
Annea Lockwood - Glass World (Room40)
Annea Lockwood - Glass World (Room40)
"This recording celebrates many things, amongst them Lockwood’s willingness to allow single sounds to resonate, fully. Across each of the twenty-three vignettes captured here, Annea Lockwood invites us to lean into the material nature of sound with her. Glass World shimmers with an almost fanatical incandescence. It radiates a vibrational intensity that holds as strongly today as it did upon its original release in 1970 on Tangent Records. I had the privilege to re-master these recordings, under the guidance of Annea, and sitting with them so intensely was nothing but a delight." Lawrence English

Armand Hammer - We Buy Diabetic Test Strips (Fat Possum Records)
Armand Hammer is an American hip hop duo from New York City, consisting of Billy Woods and Elucid.

Bombino - Sahel (Partisan Records)
Bombino is back with a brand new studio album - 'Sahel'. The new record is Bombino’s first full album in over five years, and follows 2018’s ‘Deran’, which garnered praise like "the Sultan of Shred" from The New York Times, and "the World's Best Guitarist" from Vice. This praise also turned the guitar luminary + Tuareg folk hero into the first-ever GRAMMY®-nominated artist from Niger. Sahel was produced by David Wrench (David Byrne, Frank Ocean, Caribou, The xx) and was recorded at Studio HIBA in Casablanca, Morocco.

Carlos Niño & Friends - (I'm just) Chillin', on Fire (International Anthem)
"There’s a communal essence to Niño’s self-described Energetic Space Music. As leader of Carlos Niño & Friends, he encourages his collaborators to improvise without preconceived ideas of what the sound is supposed to entail. His new album, (I’m just) Chillin’, on Fire, features more than a dozen musicians and includes a who’s who of sonic experimentation — everyone from guitarist Nate Mercereau and saxophonist Kamasi Washington, to New Age cornerstone Laraaji and hip-hop legend André 3000 playing his now trademark flute. On purpose, Niño lets the music drift and the unity ensue, making (I’m just) Chillin’, on Fire another highlight in a recent run of sublime work." Marcus J. Moore

Catherine Christer Hennix - Solo for Tamburium (Blank Forms Editions)
The fourth release in Blank Forms Editions’s initiative to chart the ever-expanding musical practice of Catherine Christer Hennix, Solo for Tamburium captures the composer’s most recent major work. Hennix plays an instrument of her own creation, a keyboard interface controlling a suite of eighty-eight recordings of precision-tuned tambura, creating a sweeping and continuous flow of rich harmonic interplay.

V.A. - Colombian Music Power Houses Vol 4 (Palenque Records)
Colombian Music Powerhouses vol. 4 is the new chapter of a compilation that includes the work of 12 Bogota-based labels that have earned their place as houses of exploration, production and promotion of the finest, modern Colombian music. All different, with different visions, approaches and musical proposals; united in the common goal of awakening an increasingly larger audience’s interest in a little piece of this immense universe that is Colombian music.
Grupo Celeste - ...El Fabuloso! (Discos Fantástico!)
Grupo Celeste - ...El Fabuloso! (Discos Fantástico!)

From Elephantine to Grupo Celeste

Comité Hypnotisé - Danza Del Piri-Piri (Cortizona)
Tim Vanhamel aka Comité Hypnotisé will let you flip-flop into his eleven chambers of the Danza Del Piri-Piri: expanding the feral and contagious universe he started to build a lifetime ago.

DJ ZNOBIA - Inventor Vol 1 (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
Nyege Nyege Tapes presents the first in a four-volume retrospective of one of Africa’s most influential musicians of the last 30 years - kuduro and tarraxinha pioneer and originator DJ Znobia. A genius of street music and the pivotal visionary of Angola’s digital musical modernism, Znobia is the inventor.

Elephantine - Moonshine (Northern Spy Records)
Maurice Louca's Moonshine shines brightly with a live, raw, collective sound. The Elephantine band comprises double drummers Tommaso Cappellato & Ozun Usta; Piero Bittolo Bon on alto, Daniel Gahrton on baritone and Isak Hedtjarn on clarinet; Rasmus Svale Kjærgård Lund on tuba; Rosa Brunell on bass; Els Vandeweyer on vibraphone; Louca on guitar/lap steel/synth.

GAF y la Estrella de la Muerte - Pyramids (Foehn Records / Keroxen)
The prolific project, helmed by local Canarian anchorman Mladen Kurajica, dwells deep into esoteric rock genres and this time, they waste no time in plunging the listener into their brave new type of cosmic rock with a deeply influenced krautrock voyage of 70’s jamming and psychonautic exploration.

Grupo Celeste - ...El Fabuloso! (Discos Fantástico!)
All the tracks were written and composed by Victor Casahuamán Bendezú. This record was originally released in 1974 by Discope, Lima - Peru.

Hearsay - Glossolalia (Amalgam)
Comprised of visionary experimental sound artist Allen Moore, versatile cellist / guitarist / composer Ishmael Ali, and dynamic drummer Bill Harris, Hearsay cultivates a distinct and captivating aesthetic that traverses ethereal dimensions, gradually morphing rhythmic tapestries, and electrifying improvised soundscapes that bounce off of free jazz and textural noise music to land on a kind of wild and bounding avant-groove music that is as pleasing as it is avant-garde.
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids - Afro Futuristic Dreams (Strut)
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids - Afro Futuristic Dreams (Strut)

From Kepla to Lotto

Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids - Afro Futuristic Dreams (Strut)
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids are back with their first major new studio album in over 3 years, an epic, sprawling new work exploring the future, the past and the urgent reality of the present, ‘Afro Futuristic Dreams’.

Ivan y Los Metalicumbieros - La Curandera Cumbiambera Official Soundtrack (Discos Resaca)
La Curandera Cumbiambera official soundtrack contains all 7 songs from the acclaimed independent animated film of the same name.

kāve - Machine Learning Poetry (Zabte Sote)
Kaveh Sattari (aka kāve) is a sound experimentalist based in Tehran, Iran, working in various fields of audio production and sound art.

Kepla - In Furnace (Chinabot)
Recorded during a heatwave in a deconsecrated chapel and composed over a slow and sporadic process, Kepla’s new album In Furnace captures the uncanny feeling of living at the end of the world. Through drawing us into a place of stifling heat against the coolness of stone, with a broken church organ among Jon Davies’ multi-instrumental approach, it reflects on places that have been lost and gathered new meaning.

Lotto - Summer / AXOLOTL (self-released)
Comprised of Mike Majkowski (bass), Łukasz Rychlicki (guitar, bass) and Paweł Szpura (drums), the Polish trio Lotto released two albums in the same day: one acoustic (Summer) and one electric (AXOLOTL).

MANAS with N.R. Safi - Alone We Are Alone As Far Down As the Sediment (Ramble Records)
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 N.R. Safi (Naujawanan Baidar and The Myrrors) 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, building and collapsing repeatedly like a collective howl from the depths of a necrotic capitalist empire in decay.
Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden... (Constellation Records)
Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden... (Constellation Records)

From Mats Gustafsson to Pharoah Sanders

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden... (Constellation Records)
Coin Coin Chapter Five: In the garden… is the latest instalment in composer, improviser, saxophonist, and visual artist Matana Roberts’ visionary project exploring African-American history through ancestry, archive and place. Weaving together elements of jazz, avant-garde composition, folk and spoken word, Roberts tells the story of a woman in their ancestral line, who died following complications from an illegal abortion.

Mats Gustafsson - Hidros 9 Mirrors (Trost Records)
Conducted by Mats Gustafsson for two 9 piece chamber ensembles, 4 soloists, tape machine, turntable

Mike Cooper - L'Inhumaine (self-released)
This release is the result of a commissioned work from the University of Venice for a live soundtrack for the 1924 French drama-science fiction film directed by Marcel L’Herbier, L’Inhumaine. "My soundtrack for the original live performance in Venice was based on the rhythms heard here but I have re-worked them and added what would have been improvised during that live screening adding treated lap steel guitar and small synthesisers hoping to ‘make the light sing’."

Nihiloxica - Source of Denial (Crammed Discs)
Source of Denial is the second LP from Nihiloxica, the Bugandan techno outfit hailing from Kampala, Uganda. It comes after more than three long years since Kaloli, their acclaimed debut on Crammed Discs. The album points a (middle) finger at the hostile immigration and freedom of movement policies implemented in the UK, as well as across the world. Fuelled by their frustrations with this intentionally convoluted system, the group have produced their most cataclysmic effort to date.

Pharoah Sanders - Pharoah (Luaka Bop)
This record’s origin story is as elusive as Pharoah himself. It was born out of a misunderstanding between Pharoah and the India Navigation producer Bob Cummins, and was recorded with a group of musicians so unlikely that they were never all in the same room again. There was the guitarist Tisziji Muñoz, who would go on to become a spiritual guru, the organist Clifton “Jiggs” Chase, who would leave jazz to take a job at Sugar Hill Records, where he would co-write and produce “The Message” for Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Bedria Sanders, Pharoah’s wife at the time and a classically trained pianist, who would play the harmonium on this record even though she had never seen a harmonium before.

Steven Stapleton / Tony Wakeford - Revenge of the Selfish Shellfish (Nihilist Records)
Steven Peter Stapleton is an English musician who is best known as the only constant member of experimental improv outfit Nurse with Wound. The music swerves between Stapleton’s crooked surrealism and Wakeford’s more song orientated approach but never settles on either of the duo’s respective styles.

Vumbi Dekula - Congo Guitar (Sing-A-Song Fighter / Hive Mind Records)
Hive Mind and Sing-A-Song Fighter present their first collaborative release, the solo guitar album from legendary Congolese guitarist Kahanga Dekula aka Vumbi. This record comes after more than 40 years of playing lead guitar in numerous great bands and orchestras. Vumbi, who now lives in Sweden, is one of Europe's greatest ambassadors for Congolese music, has got a special story to tell and he uses his magnificent, infectious guitar playing to do so.
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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