Last updated on January 6, 2022
1. “Edwards Edward” – Arms of Tripoli. If you’re a fan of Pg.Lost and/or like your post-rock to have more rock than post-, Arms of Tripoli is here with some well-turned riff action for your enjoyment. The blistering opening salvo gives way to a tense mid-section before ratcheting up to full rager again and then introducing piano for a lovely coda over its seven-minute run-time. It’s a blast. Highly recommended.
2. “Vista” – Escaper. Throw keys-based jazz, dance-rock, spaced-out-rock, and funk into a blender, and you’ve got this deeply impressive jam. Best appreciated in a music-listening room, preferably with headphones, optimally way after dark. Highly recommended.
3. “Erickson” – Cri Du Couer. An insistent trance/deep house cut with metallic sounds, ominous synths and more layered in. Despite the eerie sonic surroundings, the beating heart of this track is the bass and percussion, keeping the rave vibe going.
4. “voyage au soleil” – numün. I’ve been somewhat aware of the term “deep listening” for a while as a tangentially related version of ambient from a different historical path, but I haven’t sought out deep listening before. numun’s track here is a pretty clear explanation of the concept: it’s an organically-built, slow-moving wall of sound that creates a dense, full atmosphere. (If I had headphones on, this would be all I was doing, in other words: I would be listening quite deeply.) It’s not a drone (too much motion), nor is it electronic; it’s not folk (although it does have acoustic elements), nor is it even weird americana or slowcoustic. It’s somber, but not melancholy. Instead, it is a dense, enveloping experience with some slight eastern overtones through an instrumental choice. It’s not surprising that the outfit is a combination of a country-ambient band (SUSS) and members of Gamelan Dharma Swara.
5. “Los Golpeadores de la cumbia” – Meridian Brothers. I am unqualified to determine whether this tune deserves its boast (or ironic claim) of being “The hard-hitters of cumbia,” but I can say that I enjoyed the squiggly, quirky, groovy little tune. It sounds like people trying stuff out for the heck of it, which is always fun.
6. “In Finite” – Jason Keisling. This grand, sweeping, royal-entry composition here, full of carefully-measured vibe that pays off the big moments when they arrive. It’s not quite a fanfare–I could see it being a royal wedding entry, with its romantic undertones.
7. “Drop Off (feat. Severin Bruhin and Loren Hignell)” – Vertaal. Funky, soulful jazz that’s heavy on textured keys, exploratory bass, and atmosphere. This would fit in a lot of different playlists from a lot of different genres.
8. “Code A” – All Atomic. Exactly the sort of techno I like: high-energy without going hardstyle, moody and atmospheric without being dour, mysterious without being obtuse, fun without being big EDM. It’s a subtle blitz of arpeggiator, swerving synths, and vibe. Fans of Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack will love it.
9. “Blood Pact” – Sea Wolf. The video clip accompanying “Blood Pact” from Sea Wolf’s upcoming album Through the Dark on Dangerous Records clearly sees the truth. Nobody will deny, these are unprecedented times. So, why not ask fans to contribute clips of their experience during the pandemic? Build a collective narrative of our experience as we navigate this pandemic? The result is a collection of vulnerable moments, a dance of lyricism capturing the essence of inner contemplation as we all consider the perils of this brave new world. Alex Brown Church leads the wander through the collage of snippets to the tune of this first single. There’s an essence of Radical Face’s Ben Cooper, both desperate and hopeful. Comforting in its musicality, there are no surprises, but that comfort helps as we keep walking through these strange days. Giving fans the opportunity to be part of this project is something special: an even more meaningful way of inclusion during disjointed times. —Lisa Whealy
10. “Callisto Submerges” – Project K-Paz. This outfit creates improvisational music, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell: “Callisto Submerges” is a groove-laden, laid-back post-rock piece that builds from delicate beginnings through natural progression to punchy, roaring heights and back down over eight minutes. Each of the players can be heard beautifully–this is excellently engineered work. I’m a big fan of the bass sound. If you’re a fan of dark, cinematic post-rock, this will definitely scratch your itch.
11. “Pan Am Sun Isles” – Lyonnais. Amid a collection of leftfield pop, unusual genre experiments, and generalized way-out-there creativity is this noisy, crunchy, gritty instrumental rock nugget. It clanks, screeches, wails, and crunches its way through 3:36, content to be a scuzzy, digitally-damaged, garage-rock-freak-out instrumental jam. May we all be so content and at home in our skin. The collection it comes from is Exitos Varios [Variety Hits] from the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers; proceeds from the comp will go to immigration activists at United We Dream.
12. “Sailor’s Cry” – A.M.R. I’ve been loving Silk Music’s brand of Deep House for years now, and A.M.R. fits in perfectly to their smooth, elegant, crisp output. This track has lovely feathery vocals over the top of the beats and lush layers of sound, giving the whole piece an air of floating.