1. “Pixelated Skin” – JOYFULTALK. My quest to get weird with music started partly with “Canto Ostinato,” so I am very down for long, repetitious, trance-like vibes. If those long, repetitious, trance-like vibes are a combination of deep-cuts, punches-for-bass techno and perky arpeggiators, I am on the bandwagon. Throw in some marimba-esque sounds to keep things going (maybe even chop’em up for fun), and you’ve got yourself a hypeman. Highly recommended.
2. “Melt!” – Kelly Lee Owens. Did I mention that I was very into deep-cuts, deep-vibe, no-frills techno? Kelly Lee Owens has it on lock. Highly recommended.
3. “Kalim” – VISE. I also love really sharp, well-turned fusions of orchestral, choral, and electronic music. VISE has the churning beats of electronic fused to ethereal choral ahs with string/marimba/woodwind arrangements to tie the two together. It is a deeply compelling track. Highly recommended.
4. “Ehab Tawfik” – Sahrany (Tjade Edit). This, right here, is a real hip-shakin’ electro cut that mashes a faint whiff of neo-disco, a lot of straight-ahead techno blitz, and a surprising amount middle-eastern vibes into a frantic, impressive track. I’m a big fan. Highly recommended.
5. “Erzeben Strasse” – Antti Lötjönen. I knew I was getting interested in jazz, but what has surprised me is the speed with which my jazz ears have started to pick up on things. I’m still not into full-on free jazz (even though things start to get real free around 7:30, here). But this sort of jazz combo–kickin’ drummer, movin’ bassist, sax and horn solos, and an overall sense of open space and adventurous possibilities–makes me understand the appeal and attraction of jazz. I’ve appreciated ineffable highs of music in many genres, but now I see how jazz does it. I’ve never been able to appreciate it before. So if you’re in that boat with me, I can vouch that Lötjönen has a lot to offer. Someone had to be the key that turned the lock, and, maybe just maybe, Lötjönen was that for me here.
6. “Battery” – Guerraz. Guerraz calls this noise rock but it’s way, way, way more listenable than most noise rock; this is like a less-punky Fang Island: thick, melodic guitars with effects over kick-ass drums. (There’s also some post-rock melodies thrown in for good measure.) This is dense but also wiry; there’s a taut power to this that doesn’t let up, even though this never goes full-on noise or metal.
7. “Atomised” – GoGo Penguin. GGP keep up their goal of making jazz more like post-rock. They start with spicy, snare-heavy, nearly breakbeat-esque drumming to connect atmospheric rolling piano work with the jazzy bass work. The thing moves in all sorts of fascinating ways and has way more vibe than three instrumentalists can usually make.
8. “People’s Park” – Horse Lords. Horse Lords’ prog/krautrock mash-up is in full force here, grooving hard and solid with a haze of synths keeping it emotional. In keeping: 3/4ths of the way through, it goes fully and forcefully somewhere else that I was not expecting.
9. “The Drop live” – SEN3. I suppose you could call this jazz if you’d like (it was recorded at The Jazz Cafe), but really this is an adventurous post-rock trio (electric guitar, electric bass, drums) that grabs things from all over to create a fascinating, compelling sound. This is speedy, intricate, hyperconnected music–this trio is fully on-point to make all of this lock in the way it does.
10. “The Minotaur (Mesto in A Minor)” – The Holy Road. This is ominous, mysterious work–the piano-led piece grows from elegant beginnings to a pounding minimalist percussion meeting soaring, high-drama strings. A very evocative piece.
11. “Halle Berry” – Lord Buffalo. Lord Buffalo’s apocalyptic folk has been trending more and more toward an early-Modest Mouse-esque indie-rock fury, and this track continues the trend: instead of great clouds of reverb, there’s an urgent bass and drums lockstep pushing the track to its furious ends. The reverb comes in, don’t worry, and ominous proclamations appear as well (“Sing Hallelujah”, this time, which is the scariest hallelujah I’ve heard in a while), but there’s a lot more rumble to this one. Fits them well.