1. “Liminal Dream: Phase 1 Instrumental” – Jeffrey Alexander. This song is part of Songs from the Bardo, Vol. III on Psychedelic Sangha. The label offers “spiritual-arts programming with a focus on integrating and exploring non-ordinary states of consciousness” and the release is intended to promote “deep exploration of inner moons, uncharted synaptic crevices and multilayered psychic realms.” I can say that it sounds like a psychedelic version of ambient country, and it is very meditative.
2. “ANCIENT CALENDARS” – Brad Barr. I didn’t expect that I would get heavily into acoustic instrumental Americana guitar music, but here we are. This one is from Barr’s (The Barr Brothers) The Winter Mission, and the song sounds appropriately wintry without feeling flinty. The wilds of winter, but perhaps from behind a window near a cozy fire.
3. “Pearly Gates” – Gentleman Speaker. The same sort of Death Cab meets late ’90s emo meets acoustic guitar vibes that Make Sure brings are here in Gentlemen Speaker’s work: lots of high-pitched but relaxed male vocals, lots of pastoral rolling, lots of emotions, and the ability to ramp up the energy.
4. “Desecrator” – LLNN. I love guitar playthroughs of metal songs, because it captures all the fury of a metal song that instrumental post-metal sometimes loses in the sludge. This is an enormously ferocious metal cut. Just everything about it is enormous, ferocious, and metal.
5. “A Disappearing Act” – Seafarers. Is this “Brick” for a new era? Some things never change. The delicate folk-pop is airy, clear, and compelling–like Turin Brakes or Parachutes-era Coldplay.
6. “Three” – Joshua Crumbly. A meandering, compelling bass rumination.
7. “Mit Hjerte” – Bremer / McCoy. Elegant, peaceful, mood-setting music that feels right. The two players connect on an incredibly deep level to create such an immersive experience with just two people.
9. “Mexican Road Trip” – Captain Rico and the Ghost Band. Instrumental surf rock that feels vital and immediate. It draws on tropes without feeling derivative.
10. “Cauterizing Asphalt” – Ghosts of Searchlight. Another surf-rock band with Ghosts in the title, but this one meshes surf-rock with post-rock admirably.
11. “Holding Pattern” – Sleep Diet. Take slacker rock and run it through a heavy Songs:Ohia filter and you’ll get this slow-motion, nearly-deconstructed indie-rock track. It’s a moving, earnest 8:43.
12. “Ornamentalities” – Drone San. Vaporwave, skittering beats, post-rock and more collide in a fascinating mix.
13. “Smile (from You)” – Lex (de Kalhex). Headbobbing, engrossing instrumental hip-hop.