Staff Picks - November and December 2023

Staff Picks - November and December 2023

December 13, 2023

Share article:
When in need of a music companion to accommodate the winter, here's a summary of albums and compilations released in November and December. From free-jazz to ambient, electronics, traditional, experimental and beyond, both new releases and reissues, check out these titles 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 Badieh to Ben Lumsdaine

V.A. - By the People, For the People (House of Afandi Records)
V.A. - By the People, For the People (House of Afandi Records)
Andreas Gerth and Carl Oesterhelt - Music for Unknown Rituals (Umor Rex)
Andreas Gerth and Carl Oesterhelt present their second album, and once again, it opens a wide associative space, using an uncommon instrumentation: a church organ, harpsichord, glass tubes, and more.

Badieh - Badieh II (Worlds Within Worlds)
Badieh’s new release continues their exploration of the music of Greater Khorasan. Through their arrangements of traditional folk songs from both sides of the Afghan-Iranian border, the group are able to showcase the beauty and power of the region, conjuring the vast landscapes of the steppe, the refined beauty of ancient Herat, and the enduring cultural legacy of Torbat-e-Jam.

Ben Lumsdaine - Murmuration Without End (International Anthem)
Murmuration Without End is a collection of rhythmic studies by producer, composer, percussionist & multi-instrumentalist Ben Lumsdaine. Whereas the tracks began as meditative synth drones recorded by Lumsdaine when quarantined in the basement studio of his friend’s home, over time they became multi-textural, poly-rhythmic sound worlds as he disrupted the meters and pulses implied by the synths’ inherent modulations with each instrumental layer added. He also enlisted guest musicians to help him achieve this, including saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi (Bon Iver, Bill Callahan), trumpeter John Raymond (S. Carey, Sara Bareilles), and guitarist Drake Ritter (Durand Jones, Diane Coffee).

Bounaly - Dimanche à Bamako (Sahel Sounds)
First heard by global audiences on Sahel Sounds’ Music from Saharan WhatsApp series, Malian guitar hero Bounaly (the stage name of Ali "Bounaly" Traore) makes his full-length debut with “Dimanche à Bamako” (“Sunday in Bamako”). Recorded live on location, the music on "Dimanche à Bamako" is a mix of regional favorites, traditional standards, and originals.

V.A. - By the People, For the People (House of Afandi Records)
100% proceeds and sales of this album and its tracks go directly to The PCRF (Palestine Children's Relief Fund) as a beneficiary through Bandcamp. If you'd like to donate additional funds directly to the PCRF, go here.

V.A. - CEASEFIRE (Part 2) (L_Klangkunst Werk)
This compilation - run entirely by volunteers, with artist submissions from 23 countries all over the world - is an offer and rehearsal for a world we want to see free from violence and terror - an alchemy for the grief, suffering, and atrocity of war, which right now, is particularly acute in the bombardment of Palestine.
Chloé Despax & Félix Blume - Agua Larga: Traditional & Imaginary Cimarron Music (Akuphone)
Chloé Despax & Félix Blume - Agua Larga: Traditional & Imaginary Cimarron Music (Akuphone)

From Charlemagne Palestine to C.P.I.

Cheval De Frise - Fresques Sur Les Parois Secrètes Du Crâne (Computer Students)
Cheval De Frise was created in 1998 in Bordeaux, France and was active until early 00’s. This nylon-string guitar and drums duo was comprised of Vincent Beysselance (drums) and Thomas Bonvalet (electro-acoustic guitar) playing instrumental quirky, avant/math-rock with guitar and drums.

Charlemagne Palestine - DINGGGDONGGGDINGGGzzzzzzz ferrrr SSSOFTTT DIVINI TIESSSSS!!!!!!!!! (Blank Forms Editions)
The newest record by the iconoclastic Brooklyn-born composer Charlemagne Palestine (b. 1947) comprises two mesmerizing works for carillon, the keyboard-controlled bell tower derived in the 16th century.

Chloé Despax & Félix Blume - Agua Larga: Traditional & Imaginary Cimarron Music (Akuphone)
Agua Larga offers an immersion into the Afro-Ecuadorian culture of the province of Esmeraldas. The authors have captured how music is part of the daily life of the inhabitants, and how it interacts with the other sound elements that surround it. The musical material is thus accompanied by stories, poems and scenes of everyday life captured on the spot, far from aseptic studios, in public spaces, on river banks or by the sea.

C.P.I. - Ambient Blackout (Ediciones Capablanca)
Marc Piñol and Hugo Capablanca return with a new release under their C.P.I. collaboration project. This new release was recorded in Barcelona in 2021 and comprises two long ambient works.

Driftmachine / Komodo Kolektif - The Encyclopedia of Civilizations Vol. 5: Babylon (Abstrakce Records)
This is the fifth volume of "The Encyclopedia of Civilizations", Abstrakce's collection of split LPs where selected artists offer their own insight into fascinating ancient cultures. This time the focus is on the enigmatic Babylon, visited by two of the label's favourite electronic bands currently active.

Dunums & MANAS - Dunums & MANAS (Radio Khiyaban)
Sijal Nasralla of the Palestinian American band Dunums and the duo of Tashi Dorji and Thom Nugyen (aka MANAS) have donated this blown-out collaborative live recording to try and help raise funds for medical aid to the people of Gaza in the face of ongoing zionist violence.
V.A. - Mardi Rollow - Field Recordings of Dance Music in Morocco and Tunisia, 1974-76 (Canary Records)
V.A. - Mardi Rollow - Field Recordings of Dance Music in Morocco and Tunisia, 1974-76 (Canary Records)

From Igor Yalivec to Matmos

François J. Bonnet & Stephen O'Malley - Cylene II (Drag City Records)
François J. Bonnet and Stephen O’Malley, long-term collaborators around editorial project, initiated their duo in the summer of 2018 as a commission from the ATONAL festival at Kraftwerk in Berlin. The music of this duo suggests a world at the same time serene and anxious, evoking the calm before or after the storm without excluding, from time to time, the storm itself.

Gabriel Birnbaum - Nightwater | All the Dead Do is Dream (Western Vinyl)
Gabriel Birnbaum is frontman in Wilder Maker, songwriter, ambient Tascam explorer, print-maker, saxophonist, arranger. "The purpose of creating the music itself had been to soothe my jangled nerves during that year's democratic primary and keep me off the internet, and it was naturally a godsend during the early stages of the pandemic", Birnbaum writes.

Igor Yalivec - Etudes (Whited Sepulchre Records)
Igor Yalivec is a Dnipro, Ukraine based artist who at the time of this writing is currently living there, recording music, taking field recordings and generally existing as his country is under a pall of unease punctuated with moments of terror. It is under these circumstances where Etudes seems as vital a document as anything coming out of war-torn Ukraine, but also an argument for the utility and importance of ambient music existing as a genre and processing tool.

Manongo Mujica - Ritual sonoro para ruinas circulares (Buh Records)
Based on the rereading of the famous tale by Jorge Luis Borges The Circular Ruins, the Peruvian composer, percussionist and painter Manongo Mujica takes a new look at some of his great obsessions: the desert on the coast of Peru and the pre-Hispanic ceremonials found there. For years the impressions of these places have mobilized a very personal aesthetic, arising from understanding the desert as a space for inner listening, and the ceremonial centers or huacas, as the representation of a mystery.

V.A. - Mardi Rollow - Field Recordings of Dance Music in Morocco and Tunisia, 1974-76 (Canary Records)
After having been a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia from 1966-68, Mardi Rollow was accepted into the California-based Aman Folk Ensemble, an international music and dance company founded by Leona Wood (d. 2008) and Anthony Shay in 1970. Rollow was awarded a grant from Aman and returned to Morocco and Tunisia in 1974 to film and record folk dance and music, resulting in a 7" disc release produced by Wood and Rollow for Aman’s annual dance institute. Rollow made a second filming/recording trip in 1976, after which she produced an LP of the recordings. She continued to dance with the Aman company through the early 1980s, acting as Associate Artistic Director.

Matmos - Return to Archive (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)
On their latest release, electronic music duo Matmos have diced, looped, stretched, and recontextualized recordings from the Smithsonian Folkways archives on their new album Return to Archive, which was assembled entirely from the so-called non-musical sounds released on Folkways. On just the album’s first track, dolphins, beetles, telephones, humans stretching the limits of their vocal cords, a shortwave radio, and metal balers co-mingle in a fantasia of sound both everyday and extraordinary. Each track on Return to Archive morphs its source material into something completely unexpected, honoring and expanding on Folkways’ legacy of sonic exploration. Featuring Evicshen and Aaron Dilloway.
V.A. - My Greatest Revenge: Flamenco Recordings, 1904-1938 (Death Is Not The End)
V.A. - My Greatest Revenge: Flamenco Recordings, 1904-1938 (Death Is Not The End)

From Moritz von Oswald to Ndox Electrique

V.A. - My Greatest Revenge: Flamenco Recordings, 1904-1938 (Death Is Not The End)
Death Is Not The End presents a collection of haunted, brooding flamenco recordings taken from the early 1900s through to the late 1930s.

Moritz von Oswald - Silencio (Tresor Records)
What are the differences and similarities between human and artificial sound, between oscillations generated by vocal cords and synthesizer voices, voltage amplified by speakers? On Silencio, his latest album for Tresor Records, Moritz von Oswald works with a 16-voice choir to explore this concept. Drawing from the ensemble works of long-standing inspirations Edgard Varèse, György Ligeti and Iannis Xenakis, von Oswald and Vocalconsort Berlin delve into the space between sounds, creating a deeply textured collection that shifts between light & ethereal and dark & dissonant.

muslimgauze vs species of fishes - muslimgauze vs species of fishes (trip recordings)
The story of this unexpected collaboration dates back to the summer and autumn of 1998 when Bryn Jones AKA Muslimgauze, the politically conscious music genius from Manchester, discovered Species Of Fishes' albums through the Dutch label Staalplaat. Jones embarked on a journey of reinventing the Muscovites’ tracks, infusing them with hypnotizing noise pulsations that were both harsh and sharp, yet profoundly humane, while evoking ethereal Arab echoes.

Naomie Klaus - Youth looks so good on you (moli del tro records)
"When forty, I was still wearing miniskirts, extravagant patterns, pink, fluorescent colours, star shaped earrings. I walked around with my leopardskin hat, my fluffy bag, my floral outfit, until the gaze of others made me feel like it was not age appropriate anymore. Although I am still the same person I was at 16. It's the others I see changing." Naomie Klaus

Ndox Electrique - Tëdd ak Mame Coumba Lamba ak Mame Coumba Mbang (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Ndox Electrique results from the collaboration between François R. Cambuzat, Gianna Greco (also known for their work with Ifriqiyya Electrique), and the n'doëp community in Senegal. The project originated from the duo's quest to trace the origins of North African rituals, which led them to the Lebu community in Cap-Vert, an isolated region at Africa's westernmost point.

Pointe du Lac - Les siphonophores des eaux froides et profondes de l'Arctique (Hands In The Dark)
Named after a metro station located in East Paris, Pointe du Lac originated in 2014 as the brainchild of analogue gear enthusiast Julien Lheuillier, joined shortly after by multi-instrumentalist Richard Francés, followed by Quentin Rollet on saxophone a few years down the line. Les siphonophores des eaux froides et profondes de l'Arctique (“Siphonophores of the cold, deep Arctic waters”) is the project’s third studio album, the first one written as a three-piece as well as their first release on Hands in the Dark.

V.A. - Political Field Recordings Vol 01 (The Battleground Sounds)
"We live in an era of field recordings. Whether it's your iPhone's sounds or the crazy background noises in your favourite video game, they're the soundtrack of our era. But you wouldn't know that. Nor would the electronic musicians and environmental recordists for whom field recordings mean, quite literally, the sounds of the field, AKA nature. From ex-Cabaret Voltaire member Chris Watson's below-the-surface recordings of the Pacific to the pastoral sounds added to half the experimental records reviewed in The Wire, that's the story. Political Field Recordings Vol 01 refers to something opposite. It means the sonic signatures of politics and society, cities and wars, and angry people. Hence, political."
Zen - Bakırköy Akıl Hastanesi'nde (Zel Zele)
Zen - Bakırköy Akıl Hastanesi'nde (Zel Zele)

From Sam Dunscombe to Shackleton

Polwechsel with Magda Mayas and John Butcher - Embrace 1: Jupiter Storm/Partial Intersect (NI VU NI CONNU)
Polwechsel is a musical group founded in Vienna, Austria in 1993. Their music has mostly straddled a line between contemporary music and free improvisation, and is characterized by quiet volume, sustained drones, and slowly developing structures. "I composed the piece using a computer, as I usually do these days, then arranged pre-recorded material (gongs, piano, complex modular oscillators) which was then spatialized and used for playback. The players then familiarised themselves with the material in individual rehearsals and, working with stopwatches, entered their material-solutions into the prefabricated, time-structured score. The cello and double bass parts are purely improvised." Werner Dafeldecker

V.A. - Radar Keroxen Vol.4 (KEROXEN/Discrepant)
With its first volume released in 2020 aiming to promote and divulge adventurous Island based music, the Keroxen imprint now presents Vol.4 with another showcase of the various insular musical scenes made in the outermost regions – in this case, a very rare incursion outside the Canary Archipelago by way of handpicking friends and colleagues working in the further most regions we can think of. A very special showcase then, featuring the Azores Islands, Reunion Island, Canary Islands and French Guiana.

Sam Dunscombe - Two Forests (Black Truffle)
Dunscombe has been active in recent years on multiple fronts, including as a key member of the Berlin community of Just Intonation researchers and practitioners; working with composers like Taku Sugimoto, Mary Jane Leach, and Anthony Pateras; and the release of Horatiu Radulescu - Plasmatic Music vol. 1 (the result of many years performance research into the thought and music of this seminal Romanian spectralist). In parallel with these activities, Dunscombe has been deeply involved in research on the role of music in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, prompting these two side long pieces, composed using field recordings and digital synthesis.

Sam Shalabi Trio - Trio (self-released)
This new release features Morgan Moore (on acoustic bass), Liam O Neil on drums and Sam Shalabi on electric guitars and electronics.

Shackleton - The Scandal of Time (Woe To The Septic Heart!)
The Scandal of Time' bookends a prolific period of experimentation for Sam Shackleton and follows a raft of collaborations (with Wacław Zimpel, Heather Leigh and Scotch Rolex this year alone) with what amounts to his first new solo album since 2021’s ‘Departing Like Rivers’. It might also be his most advanced, forward-facing work in years.

Sombat Simla - Master Of Bamboo Mouth Organ - Isan, Thailand (Black Truffle)
This is the first LP documenting master khene player Sombat Simla, the label’s first collaboration with Japanese sound artist, field recordist, and researcher Yasuhiro Morinaga. Simla is known in Thailand as one of the greatest living players of the khene, the ancient bamboo mouth organ particularly associated with Laos but found throughout East and Southeast Asia.

V.A. - The Egyptian Females Experimental Music Session (100COPIES)
Experimental noise and techno from a talented group of female musicians from Egypt. Their work draws inspiration from the sound artist Ahmed Basiony who tragically lost his life while protesting in Cairo during the January 2011 revolution.

Zen - Bakırköy Akıl Hastanesi'nde (Zel Zele)
Offering an entrancing blend of krautrock, psychedelic and free anatolian sounds, and being considered perhaps one of the most unusual albums of Turkey’s underground music history, Bakırköy Akıl Hastanesi’nde is a testament to improvisation in its purest form. Originally released in 1999 on cassette and CD.

ZÖJ - FIL O FENJOON (Parenthèses Records)
"FIL O FENJOON has been in production since 2021. It represents a snapshot of work spanning a decade. It is not a conclusion. It is not a doctrine. It does not seek to define, distort, or determine in any way. Rather, it is a reflection - a shared communication where the listener's influence is as valued as that of the storyteller. " With Gelareh Pour on kamancheh, qheychak alto, voice and Brian O’Dwyer on drumkit.
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.

Share this Article