Staff Picks - April 2024

Staff Picks - April 2024

May 14, 2024

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Welcome to our monthly Staff Picks column. April has been a terribly rich month for music, both new releases and reissues. Here's our selection of albums and compilations released last month. As usual, expect anything from free jazz to electronics, ambient, traditional, experimental, hip-hop and beyond.

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 Bagus Shidqi to Château Flight

V.A. - Bologna For Palestine (Maple Death Records)
V.A. - Bologna For Palestine (Maple Death Records)
1127 - ض (Nashazphone)
4 years after his groundbreaking debut, 1127 returns with a second LP which departs from the previous abstractions to a distinct variation of new morphs of early twentieth century Egyptian music-2-contemporary electronic music. All composed within their brand of (mostly) computer based, broad sonic productions.

9T Antiope - Horror Vacui (American Dreams)
Nima Aghiani and Sara Bigdeli Shamloo aka 9T Antiope drill into the fears of horror vacui while building a dynamic world that seems to exist outside of the bounds of time and place. “For people like us,” the band says, “living in the in-between of two worlds we’ve lived in, the ongoing search for a relation between the world one used to know and the new world—at times, neither the origin nor the destination exists as a whole. New and old sounds, colors, textures, and spaces overlap.

V.A. - Akashic Bassmatter
This 12 tracks music package is compiled by Bill Laswell. All tracks are from Bassmatter subscription.

Amy Aileen Wood - The Heartening (Colorfield Records)
"Amy Aileen Wood is unaccustomed to the spotlight, which is very much by design. A calming presence in any room and a force behind the drum kit, Wood meshes her astute listening skills with an undeniable ownership of the music at hand, as illustrated in her work on Fiona Apple’s 2020 record Fetch The Bolt Cutters, which Wood co-produced." Wayne Whittaker

Babak Ahteshamipour - Violent Violins Exposed (Jollies)
Violent Violins Exposed is the third album by Babak Ahteshamipour. It is a twisted turn towards abrasive, anarchistic, lunatic and coarse explosive compositions blended with hidden suave, malleable and tranquil spaces that wrestle to be heard.

Bagus Shidqi - Njondhil Njondhal (Digital Indigenous)
Bagus Shidqi is a composer in his twenties who is inspired by the traditional arts of his region (Java, Indonesia). He actively produces digital music from his home recording studio. In 2019, he created a YouTube channel called Kamar Studios which presents content about folk music arrangements (Jathilan) created digitally using Virtual Instrument/MIDI technology. Apart from presenting traditional music, he also creatively processes popular music into traditional arrangements digitally. Unexpectedly, what he did actually helped introduce traditional folk arts to national and even international scope.

V.A. - Bologna For Palestine (Maple Death Records)
Bologna for Palestine - Non-Stop Electroacoustic Improv documents a live music relay with 17 musicians based in Bologna in support of the Palestinian population. A three-hour performance condensed into 20 excerpts that showcase the vital experimental scene of the city, from elegiac ambient bliss to pummelling noise, technoid mutations, sinister jazz, spoken word transfigurations, low thump grooves, vocal manipulations, desert guitars, alien IDM and collective chants. Furious, enraged and on point.

Château Flight - La Folie Studio (Versatile Records)
"Playing electronic music, whether alone or not, must be joyous, fun, and make you feel good. The studio is not a sanctuary but a place of life. Technology must not be intimidating. Welcoming friends and new objects in the studio should be an infinite source of inspiration. If nothing happens in the studio, turn off the light and play a percussion record." Château Flight
Garth Erasmus - Threnody for the KhoiSan (TAL)
Garth Erasmus - Threnody for the KhoiSan (TAL)

From Ghost Trees to Hassan Tabar

Elif Yalvaç - Vection (Moving Furniture Records)
"Ever since my childhood, women artists have been particularly inspiring to me. It started with rock music and electronica, evolving into where I am today. When I first listened to L'Île re-sonante, it changed my world. That a woman created this and pioneered something timeless was mesmerising for me. (…) Then I further delved into the work of Eliane Radigue. She had been creating ambient electronic music long before the term ‘ambient’ was coined. That she is still around us is such a valuable thing and we should all make her feel that."

V.A. - Five Spanish Pioneers of Electronic and Experimental Music 1953-1969 (Sub Rosa)
This LP reveals the extraordinary diversity of research - almost all hidden - by Spanish musicians in the '50s and '60s. Those pieces were composed while the country was under the tyranny of Francisco Franco. Developed by musicologist Miguel Álvarez-Fernández, this release marks a major step in the approach and understanding of this music which had to fight to exist before the death of Franco in 1975. This LP aims to present 5 composers who most often work outside the rules and without the possibility of help from their own country: Jose Val del Omar (1904-1982), Eduardo Polonio (1941- ), Josep Maria Mestres Quadreny (1929-2011), Juan Hidalgo (1927-2018) and Cristóbal Halffter (1930-2021).

Garth Erasmus - Threnody for the KhoiSan (TAL)
Garth Erasmus is an artist and musician based in Cape Town, South Africa. 'Threnody for the KhoiSan' is his first album under his own name. His works in music are predominantly characterized by a restless quest for alternative forms of expression and materials including self-build instruments, field recordings or various electronic music devices.

Ghost Trees - Intercept Method
Ghost Trees is a North Carolina based duo comprising Seth Nanaa (drums) and Brent Bagwell (tenor saxophone). This album was recorded at the legendary Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Hassan Tabar - Musique Traditionnelle Iranienne - Santour (mlp-music)
Hassan Tabar is an Iranian musician and musicologist living in Paris. This album comprising traditional Iranian music played on santour was originally released in 1993 through Les Artistes Arabes Associés.

I,Eternal & Juanito))) - Dark Fashion Unity (Hamfuggi Records)
I,Eternal is the experimental/noise project of French producer Eric Jovet. Juanito))) is a Spanish noise project from Barcelona.

Ion Cadav & Robert Yochanan - Ne cheamă Plutark
New release from Romanian hip-hop artists Ion Cadav and Robert Yochanan.
Michael Morley & Joachim Nordwall - An Island Is An Island (Stoned To Death)
Michael Morley & Joachim Nordwall - An Island Is An Island (Stoned To Death)

From Jules Archive to Lachlan R. Dale

Jez riley French, Pheobe riley Law, Jenny Berger Myhre, Felicity Mangan, Bethan Kellough - mɜː.məˈreɪ.ʃən | pərˈfɔr.mɪŋ pleɪs (remixed)
each year a new community of listeners gathers to explore located listening / sound practices & to expand connections to place. The trips, curated by Jez & Pheobe, include guest artists & participants from all areas of creative practice. Everyone involved in this release participated in the 4th murmuration; performing place, Glenshee, Scotland. 

Jules Archive - Platonic Tales (Hidden Harmony Recordings)
Jules Archive is a project founded by Marco Marzuoli and Marco Mazzei in 2016. By employing various technologies, instruments, and approaches, the duo strives to craft a mysterious and fantastical persona named Jules. Through this persona, they aim to immerse listeners in a dreamlike atmosphere, transcending reality and dwelling in imaginary spatiotemporal dimensions.

Khôra - Gestures of Perception (Marionette)
Khôra is the medium Matthew Ramolo uses to delve deeply into initiatory world-building by way of sound, image, and lyrical prose. Figuring wholly realized art-myths which distill and rouse the numinous while provoking the visceral and cathartic, Khôra intricately collages studio documents of ritualized instrumental performances, introducing overdubs by transient, heteronymic personae which dismantle stable points of reference in the music and open uncommon planes of consciousness.

Lachlan R. Dale - Shrines (Art As Catharsis)
Lachlan R. Dale returns with his debut full-length Shrines, a suite of transportive ambient explorations out 26 April on Art As Catharsis. The album marks something of a change of pace for Lachlan. In contrast to his work with Hashshashin - whose emphasis on odd-time signatures, cinematic composition, and Central Eastern influences has marked them out in the world of post-rock - Shrines is a purely ambient affair inspired by artists like Loscil, Fennesz, and Rafael Anton Irisarri.

Michael Morley & Joachim Nordwall - An Island Is An Island (Stoned To Death)
An Island Is An Island is a correspondence musical project of two respectable islanders, Michael Morley (of The Dead C, based on Te Wai Pounamu / South Island, New Zealand) and Joachim Nordwall (Ideal Records, Island of Brännö, Sweden). Two tracks touching the 40 minutes mark are as unique as it can get, magical and just sort of hard to define folktale of hypnagogic dream landscapes full of haunting micro tones and fragments of cursed melodies.

Nadah El Shazly - The Damned Don't Cry [ost] (Asadun Alay Records)
"In the midst of the deep Montréal winter of 2022, I received an email from Fyzal Boulifa, asking me to compose the score for his beautiful film “The Damned Don't Cry”. Fyzal had heard my debut album Ahwar, and felt a deep connection with the music he was imagining for his film. His desire was that the music needed to be singular, like the film’s characters, and perhaps a little impolite, avoiding a banalizing effect which would diminish the characters’ depth. We experimented with many different musical avenues but eventually discovered that improvisation was the key to establish the precariousness and improvised quality of the characters’ existence." Nadah El Shazly
Rail Band - Rail Band (Mississippi Records)
Rail Band - Rail Band (Mississippi Records)

From Nicolas Cueille to Pollution Opera

New Mexican Stargazers - Casino 2223 (Not Not Fun Records)
New 90-minute brainbath by rogue cosmic bookie New Mexican Stargazers takes as its muse a surreal, smoke-soaked gambler’s paradise two centuries in the future: Casino 2223.

Nicolas Cueille - Curiositi (unjenesaisquoi)
Curiositi is the work of Nicolas Cueille, French composer and multi-instrumentalist. Over the last fifteen years, he has been very active dabbler in music notably as a musician: Pyjamarama, La Colonie De Vacances to name very few and as the co-founder of Presque Tout, an ongoing net archive of sonic landscapes from all around the world.

Nvo Svorai - Jerusalem Echo (Raash Records)
Experimental electronic mini-album presented by Nevo Savorai, released by Raash, comprising drum and bass, leftfield electronics and more.

Phill Niblock / Anna Clementi / Thomas Stern - Zound Delta 2 (Karlrecords)
Berlin based imprint Karlrecords presents this exciting release comprising a new piece by minimalist / experimental composer Phill Niblock (1933 - 2024), co-composed and performed by Anna Clementi and Thomas Stern. Intense, menacing layers of thick drones and alien sounds.

Pollution Opera (Nadah El Shazly & Elvin Brandhi) - Pollution Opera (Danse Noire)
Elvin Brandhi and Nadah El Shazly refuse to turn away from the horror. The intercontinental duo’s Pollution Opera album is an uncompromising futurist depiction of our disfigured, dystopian, and dying reality. Facing hell in full defiance, the experimental noise album catapults itself through a volatile compound of breathless shouts, screams, and screeches, in collision with vocal samples, environmental recordings, and acousmatic sounds. Ten tracks cover the spectrum of electroacoustic fragments and vocalizations, treacherously suspended between the roar of engines and synth distortion, of evocative intonations or guttural retching.

Rail Band - Rail Band (Mississippi Records)
Bamako, Mali, 1973: Rail Band, the official orchestra of the Malian state railway, drops their self-titled LP. It’s a relentlessly soulful and hypnotic blend of American funk, jazz horns, and Afro-Cuban music, reflected through centuries-old Mandé tradition and blasted at top volume by some of the continent’s greatest artists.
V.A. - Solid Treat: Mento in Jamaica ca. 1951-57 (Canary Records)
V.A. - Solid Treat: Mento in Jamaica ca. 1951-57 (Canary Records)

From The Handover to Torn Hawk

V.A. - Skateland Soundtapes, 1980-1986 (Death Is Not The End)
This anniversary material out at Death Is Not The End comprises a selection of clips from sessions held at Halfway Tree, Kingston's most storied roller skating rink during the dancehall era's golden period of the early to mid/late 1980s. Audio sourced with the indefatigable efforts of the Who Cork The Dance crew - big thanks going out to Jayman, Ruff House, Keimo, Omar, Gee Wizz and the one Jah Humble.

V.A. - Solid Treat: Mento in Jamaica ca. 1951-57 (Canary Records)
"Originating in the 19th century from the intersection of West African and European (notably the quadrille dance) performance styles, the first written evidence of the rural Jamaican folk music called mento occurred in the 1920s from pamphlets of printed lyrics and from discs made in New York City by Trinidadian and Jamaican jazz performers including Sam Manning and Lionel Belasco both of whom drew from mento sources. As Calypso became popular across the Caribbean, North America, Europe, and Africa during the 1930s-40s, mento performers cross-pollinated with or sometimes represented themselves as calypsonians to draw wider audiences. But their Jamaican rhythms just as often remained distinct, and their instrumentation - often including bamboo saxophone-like reed instruments, a rumba box (something like a large mbira, a plucked-tongue idiophone to give it its organological designation, which played the bass parts), fife, and banjo - belied its specifically rural Jamaican origins." Ian Nagoski

The Handover - The Handover (Sublime Frequencies)
In The Handover, Aly Eissa, Ayman Asfour and Jonas Cambien explore the common and uncommon senses of Egypt's ritual music. It is clear that Aly Eissa's original composition is deeply rooted in Egyptian and Arabic traditions. At the same time, this band is one of the most progressive coming out of Egypt today. This is in big part thanks to Eissa, who has proven time and again to be not only an extremely skillful composer, but also a real visionary, combining tradition with modern experimentation.

Torn Hawk - Through Force Of Will [Decade Anniversary Edition] (Not Not Fun Records)
New York musician Luke Wyatt describes his instrumental hypnagogic guitar guise Torn Hawk as “music of a noble fabric whose weave is flawed and frayed.” With a decade of hindsight, the looping beats, smeared synths, and grainy hooks of 2014’s Through Force Of Will have taken on a richer cast, like closing credits anthems to heroic 80’s films long since forgotten.
About the Author

Dragoș Rusu & Victor Stutz

Dragoș Rusu is co-founder and co-editor in chief of The Attic, sound researcher and allround music adventurer, with a keen interest in the anthropology of sound.

Victor Stutz is a sound adventurer and music selector from Bucharest – currently based in Barcelona - with a background in anthropology.

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