Staff Picks - October 2023

Staff Picks - October 2023

November 15, 2023

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Here's a summary of albums and compilations released in October. From free-jazz to traditional and experimental, ambient and improvised music, both new and reissues, check out these 28 releases of 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 Acid Twilight to Azu Tiwaline

azmari - Maelström (Sdban Records)
azmari - Maelström (Sdban Records)
Abu Ama + BedouinDrone - Dawlat Lībiyyā (Mahorka)
This is a collaboration between two artist friends, Abu Ama and BedouinDrone, who are both renowned for their previous solo releases on Mahorka.

Acid Twilight - Shadow Wrangler (Not Not Fun Records)
Argentine modal master Acid Twilight’s third raga saga maps a dusty plain of tumbleweeds, circling vultures, and bleached bones, across which rides a nameless stranger: Shadow Wrangler. Inspired by visions of high noon dread and the textures of psychedelic twang, they turned westward, layering shakers, synths, spurs, and six-string navigations into 12 crooked canyon instrumentals.

Akira Sakata & Entasis - Live in Europe 2022 (Trost Records)
Akira Sakata impresses as a skilled saxophonist, a marine biologist and with his vocals from a faraway time and place. Since the late 60s, Sakata has been a constant figure in jazz and creative music scenes as an adventurous multi-instrumentalist, and member of Yamashita Yosuke Trio and many under his own lead. This new release from Trost comprises some of Sakata’s musical ventures from 2022 in Europe, in Thessaloniki, Padova and Brussels, in great company of an array of musicians, including Giovanni di Domenico, Giotis Damianidis, Petros Damianidis, Stephanos Chytiris, Aleksandar Škorić.

V.A. - Aux Sources Du Raï - De la tradition bédouine aux faubourgs d'Oran (MLP Productions)
This various-artists reissue compilation comprises some of the most known Raï stars, including Cheikh Hamada, Cheikha Remitti, Ahmed Wahbi, Blaoui Houari and more.

azmari - Maelström (Sdban Records)
Founded in the vibrant musical haven of Brussels in 2015, Azmari have been crafting a truly unique tapestry of musical exploration. Melding intricate jazz textures with intoxicating oriental influences, mesmerizing ethio grooves, enigmatic dark funk, and the pulsating beats of dub music, Azmari defies conventional labels to weave a narrative of sonic innovation and artistic liberation. Influences range from an eclectic array of artists, including Okay Temiz, Heliocentrics, Whitefield Brothers, Surprise chef, Antibalas and Sons of Kemet.
For 'Maelström,' Azmari joined forces with the illustrious sound engineer and producer, Frederik Segers.

Azu Tiwaline - The Fifth Dream (I.O.T Records)
Azu Tiwaline exists within the wonders of the interstitial worlds of time, set, and setting, diving deeper towards inner sanctums of mystic imagination, sublime intrigue, profound understanding on her second full length LP The Fifth Dream. Released again through her partnership with I.O.T Records, The Fifth Dream finds Azu painting an expansive vision towards unified multitudes, mercurial realities and abundant inner sanctums.
Chouk Bwa & The Ångstromers - Somanti (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Chouk Bwa & The Ångstromers - Somanti (Les Disques Bongo Joe)

From COH to Daniel Villarreal

Carrageenan - The Acceptable Circle of Confusion (KRUT)
"A post-dub dystopia exists in the Carrageenanverse, and here we have it manifest. Take the hardware and turn our minds inside-out, as this dark wasteland of sound is somewhere we'd like to be."

Cave Castle - Maruta (Clan Destine Records)
Cave Castle is a German producer of "obscure lo-fi dungeon instrumental medieval blackened", and this is his latest release for the Glasgow based imprint Clan Destine.

Chouk Bwa & The Ångstromers - Somanti (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
After the acclaimed Vodou Alé released in 2020 and two 12’’ in 2022, Chouk Bwa & The Ångströmers strike back with Somanti, a brand-new album that digs again into Haïtian vodou and electronic experimentations.

Ciccio & 2mo - Maremoto (The Trilogy Tapes)
Ciccio & 2mo are Francesco Pastaldi (Jean-Louis, Fantazio) & Olivier Demeaux (Heimat, Accident du travail). Maremoto is their latest release for the British record label The Trilogy Tapes.

COH - Radiant Faults (Dais Records)
Ivan Pavlov aka CoH characterizes his latest solo work, 'Radiant Faults', as "the recording of a dialogue" rather than a set of compositions. Crafted using a rare new synthesizer, the Silhouette Eins, Pavlov’s first encounter with the instrument across a long, late night session resulted in a continuous set of textures, patterns, and subliminal melodies. At some point during the process, he realized he was not alone: "It was as if something was speaking to me through the gear – the feeling was very intense. No matter how determined and specific I attempted to be, the results were something else. They felt like 'responses.’ This instantly reminded me of ELpH."

Daniel Villarreal - Lados B (International Anthem)
On October 15th and 16th, 2020, drummer Daniel Villarreal was joined by guitarist Jeff Parker and bassist Anna Butterss for two afternoons of recording in the backyard of Chicali Outpost in Los Angeles. For all three musicians, it was the first ensemble recording session they’d done in-person since the pandemic locked the world down just seven months prior. Some choice moments from these sessions made it onto Villarreal’s critically-acclaimed 2022 album Panamá 77, but most of the music remained unreleased. Lados B is a deep dive into the high-level spontaneous music made by Villarreal, Parker and Butterss across those two days in 2020.

Duot & Zarm Ensemble (Cirera/Prats/Zingaro/Alves/Mitzlaff/Rosso) - Duot with strings (Fundacja Słuchaj)
Saxophone player Albert Cirera, one of the most important Spanish improvisers, works with Ramon Prats, a fascinating drummer for many years. ZARM Ensemble is an award-winning string quartet started by legendary Portugal violin master Carlos "Zíngaro", David Magalhães Alves (violin), Ulrich Mitzlaff (cello) and Alvaro Rosso (double bass).
Mike Reed - The Separatist Party (Astral Spirits)
Mike Reed - The Separatist Party (Astral Spirits)

From Jessica Pavone to Judgitzu

Jenya Kukoverov - Walk: A Pedestrian Guide (ТОПОТ)
Jenya Kukoverov is a Russian multi-instrumentalist and artist currently based in Paris. The album Walk: A Pedestrian Guide is a three-part piece written especially for the project Ostrovsky and Flowers – an audio performance of the Mobile Art Theater and the podcast Zhut’ (Creepiness). However, only fragments of this music made it into the actual performance, so TOPOT is now releasing the full version of this extensive work.

Jessica Pavone - Clamor (Out Of Your Head Records)
Clamor rethinks the notion of 'women's work' as a space for both collaboration and singular voice. She utilizes a collective, improvisational vision that prioritizes an intentionally fluid style by employing indeterminacy, navigated by the performers via time-based scores. These principles are balanced with metered notation to shape the overall form of the pieces, reflecting circumventing obstructions to one's freedoms. The alternating music notation styles mirror these restraints and solutions. Through the open spaces, the musicians re-create the compositions together each time they perform, establishing a collaborative relationship between the individual musician and larger group performance.

Jerry Hunt - Cantegral Segment(s) (Blank Forms Editions)
The four pieces included on Cantegral Segment(s) (IR-0032, 1979) represent a culmination and transformation of Hunt’s investigations from across the decade. The "Cantegral Segments" are a body of scores (or strategies) derived from and developed alongside the evolving compositional procedure Hunt called Haramand Plane, first used in a large-scale performance of that name from 1972 that employed elaborate homemade audio and video synthesis devices developed in collaboration with David Dowe.

JP Inc. - Massage & Spa (Rope Worm)
The man behind JP Inc. is John-Peter Hasson. Whom, after a long retreat, has resumed his churn of works, Massage & Spa being the first of several releases of music and visual art.

Judgitzu - Sator Arepo (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
The Sator Arepo, or Sator Square, is an ancient word puzzle comprising five palindromes that's etched on various historical sites throughout the Western world. Its origins are unknown, but the square has long been thought to hold magical properties, used as a charm against illness and evil, to cure insanity or to determine whether someone was guilty of witchcraft. Self-styled "punk ethnomusicologist", acoustician and musician Julien Hairon uses this mystical symbol as the starting point for his debut Judgitzu album in an attempt to reconnect with his Celtic heritage, exploring how its hallowed messages might harmonize with contemporary Tanzanian dance music.

Mike Reed - The Separatist Party (Astral Spirits)
In January 2022, Reed gathered a group of some of the most creative figures in Chicago’s experimental and improvised music community to put sound to those thoughts of forced seclusion: cornetist Ben LaMar Gay, poet and spoken word artist Marvin Tate, and members of Bitchin Bajas (Rob Frye, Cooper Crain, and Dan Quinlivan). Together, they called the new group and its resulting album The Separatist Party, echoing the loner persona all six musicians transmit at times. It’s the first installment of a three-album cycle involving a varied cast of musicians, dealing with themes of inner and outer human isolation.

Pidgins - Refrains of the Day, Volume 1 (Lexical Records)
Pidgins is an experiment in percussive languages. The Mexico City duo transform the oral and rhythmic methods of traditional trance rituals by phasing metric, melodic, and rhetorical phrases. These pattern systems form the grammar Pidgins use to construct linguistic puzzles. Pidgins speak in these tongues in order to interrogate contemporary trance states—managerial class dogmas, self-help literature, and new age therapies.
V.A. - The NID Tapes: Electronic Music from India 1969-1972 (The state51 Conspiracy)
V.A. - The NID Tapes: Electronic Music from India 1969-1972 (The state51 Conspiracy)

From PLF to The Shadow Ring

PLF - ParziFoooooooooooL (Ventil Records)
For their second album, the non-conformist trio PLF delves deeper into broken song structures and harsh rhythms. Restless, the »scream-of-consciousness« vocalist Elvin Brandhi, sonic dissident & producer Peter Kutin, and multifarious drummer Lukas König spew a fresh batch of tracks resembling post-apocalyptic rituals.

soFa elsewhere - Fake Yourself (Glossy Mistakes)
This is the debut solo album from soFa elsewhere, a lysergic future-dream where Kosmische Musik, IDM, Dub, Avant-pop and Krautrork converge. Fake Yourself is an act of revolt as much as it is a celebration of life and an expression of human alienation. All tunes were improvised, recorded and arranged within 10 days in a wooden cabin, isolated in the middle of nature in Alentejo/Portugal in spring 2022.

V.A. - The NID Tapes: Electronic Music from India 1969-1972 (The state51 Conspiracy)
The NID Tapes’ presents a collection of early Indian electronic music uncovered at the archives of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. Recorded between 1969-1972 the compilation chronicles electronic works from the previously unknown Indian composers Gita Sarabhai, I.S. Mathur, Atul Desai, S.C. Sharma and Jinraj Joshipura who worked at the nation’s first electronic music studio founded at the NID during the utopian years following India’s independence - a radical period of visionary experimentation and artistic free-thought.

The Shadow Ring - Put the Music In Its Coffin (Blank Forms Editions)
Throughout their legendary, decade-long run, the Shadow Ring were an enigmatic force on the international musical sub-underground. Before their disbandment in 2002, this shambolic rock outfit, formed by a group of rowdy teenagers in southeast England, left behind a mighty run of eight LPs, a handful of 7"s, and a spate of raucous live shows and cryptic zine appearances on both sides of the Atlantic, all which have bolstered their enduring word-of-mouth mystique.

Tribilin Sound - Aquí Siempre Bailamos (self-released)
Alvaro Ernesto is a Peruvian electronic music DJ/producer. Under the alias Tribilin Sound he has been making fusion music since 2006, using elements of cumbia, chicha, afro, among other rhythms. On the network there are various bootlegs, remixes, and releases for labels such as Regional (CH), Folcore (ESP) and Hawaii Bonsaï.

Up High Collective - Koinonia (San-kofa Rhythms Records)
Belgian beat collective Up High Collective return with their new album 'Koinonia.' Their second full-length comes five years after their debut album in 2018. For 'Koinonia' they have invited Belgian iconic drummer Lander Gyselinck (STUFF.) and several other guest musicians.

V.A. - Watching The Void: A Smattering of Panic Records & Tapes (No Part Of It)
Panic Records & Tapes (1984-1990) was headed by Scott Marshall, who also founded Burden of Friendship, arguably Chicago's first noise ensemble. Many releases on the Panic label reflected the work of a collective largely anchored around their involvement with freeform radio station WZRD-Chicago. The WZRD control room was situated within the cavernous bowels of Northeastern Illinois University, and there were often longform sound collages from multiple staff members being bounced between studio A and studio B.

Yara Asmar - synth waltzes and accordion laments (Hive Mind Records)
Acclaimed Lebanese artist Yara Asmar is set to mesmerize listeners once again with her new album, synth waltzes & accordion laments. These pieces were once again recorded at her home in Beirut using lo-fi recording processes. The sound palette here is richer than on her debut, with more focus on synth work and the warm drone of her grandmother's Hohner Marchesa accordion.
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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