This year is a constant reminder that even in dark times, there are musical messages to hear. Bandcamp has extended their Fridays giving back commissions to artists, so it’s another chance to stock up on downloads and assemble a collection you’ll listen to on repeat.
David Abravanel again joins with some picks. And as usual I second his choices and hope to revisit them in detail – absolutely FRKTL, Cosmin TRG, AYRTBH, Gooooose.
There are also some heavy-hitting compilations to benefit Beirut today; those are coming separately. I have to … rest my eyes one minute.
Kirk Degiorgio – Selected Rarities (self-released)
An embarrassment of riches here, consisting of two decades’ worth of rarities from Degiorgio, mainly under his celebrated As One name. At 41 tracks, it’s a ton to get through, but it’s incredibly consistent – this is far from a “catch all”, and more just proof of how much fire Degiorgio’s released during his career.
Siavash Amini – A Mimesis of Nothingness (Hallow Ground)
Amini remains a master of tension, making music that is perhaps a too perfect the global holding of breath in which we find ourselves. You won’t find comfort here, but you will find glorious explorations of noise, dissonance, and the occasional splash of a drone to the face.
Alvin Lucier – Works for the Ever Present Orchestra (Black Truffle)
Speaking of tension and minimalism, at 89 years old experimental legend Alvin Lucier continues to release flooring music. While many of the pieces in this ample new collection will keep you on the knife’s edge, the low tones and beat frequencies of “Double Helix” provide welcome warmth.
Bokeh – Lenses Dances (Mirae Arts)
Somewhere between the cavernous spaces of jungle, techno, and microsound, we have Bokeh. Percussion-as-atmosphere is an intriguing premise, and it’s pulled off brilliantly here. RIYL Ena.
FRKTL – Excision After Love Collapses (self-released)
I’ve followed Sarah Badr as a lightning rod for cutting-edge music and art for years, but her latest album as FRKTL completely blew me away. It’s where I wish Shackleton would go, it’s a global synthesis of so many sounds, it’s a powerful whole but it works in pieces. Truly something special and, alongside recent albums by Deadbeat + Paul St. Hilaire and Bokeh, definitely in my AOTY running.
Ed.: Yes. This one – way, way at the top of my listening list for this year, so a major shout out to the British-Egyptian London-born, Riga-based (for now) artist.
Cosmin TRG – Protoflora (Fizic)
Tell me that you can pin down Cosmin Nicolae to a single sound and I’ll call you a liar. Having spent much of 2019 in an ambient mode, this latest EP finds TRG going for an A-side of spacious field recordings and a percussion heavy B. I imagine there’s another album brewing in this somewhere and I cannot wait to hear what happens with it.
AYRTBH – All Services Are Suspended (Diffuse Reality)
It’s been quite a prolific year for our friend Wang Changcun, and with this album we have his most eclectic set of tracks yet. From glitch to minimalism that approaches modern-classical to numbers stations, there’s loads going on here worth checking out.
Gooooose & DJ Scotch Egg – Jac (SVBKVLT)
Moving on to AYRTBH’s partner in unique Max for Live devices, Gooooose (that’s five ‘o’s), with a new collaborative LP with breakcore pioneer DJ Scotch Egg. The product of a collaboration that started during last year’s Nyege Nyege festival in Uganda (and featuring Kampala’s Swordman Kitala on one track), this is hyped-up dance music recorded right before the pandemic, in January 2020. Oh, the things we miss and the sounds that connect us!
HRDVSION – 666 XXX (Balkan Vinyl)
Elisa Bee – Orbit (Balkan Vinyl)
Altern 8 – Origin 8 (Balkan Vinyl)
Global Goon – Give It 2 Ya (Balkan Vinyl)
Just look at those gorgeous covers! Now that’s how you go maximal with style (see also: Detroit Underground). Beyond the eye-catching art, Baklan Vinyl’s latest series brings out some capital-C chunes, with electro from HRDVSION, cyberpunk rave from Elisa Bee, and solid deliveries from veterans Altern 8 and Global Goon.
Chaotic. Cellular. Drum. Patterns. This might be one of the most significant releases of the summer – brain bending, but visceral. What is in the water over there, Copenhagen? NYZ:
The release of FLUF31 marks the oft-delayed but never-denied emergence of “CCD” by the renowned artist and researcher NYZ. At turns funky, baffling and downright inspired, these chaotic cellular drum patterns mark an organismic approach to rhythm that only Dave Burraston could make. Permeated with an undeniable wit and a broken invitingness, these are rhythm trax as you have never heard them before.
With his organic, bubbling rhythms like a dance of boiling molecules, and hazy timbres folding on top of one another, you deserve to dig deep through Virginian glia‘s full catalog. (It’s appropriate then that he’s also offering up subscriptions full of samples and music releases alike.) There’s enough detail to listen to again and again – perfect for this lineup of digital downloads in favor of low-quality, algorithmically-served streams. I’ve been delayed in composing some QA to him, so if you have any to add, readers, ask away.
Oh, plus I totally endorse his Bandcamp hype thread:
9T Antiope, aka the duo of Nima Aghiani and Sara Bigdeli Shamloo (born in Iran, based in Paris) have now completed their evocative triology. And “Dose II (Memento Mori)” reveals how worthwhile the wait has eben, with a simply divine conclusion:
From Ljubljana, Slovenia, beepblip constructs an endlessly inviting fabric of synthesis and field drecording – spaces you want to luxuriate in at length:
Let’s listen in on the voice of Beirut – not only in these benefit compilations, but in the haunting live voice-and-electronic jams of Mazen El Sayed & Jawad Nawfal, released on Beirut’s own VV-VA label:
From Bali, Dewa Alit is not only a spectacularly creative composer bending his music into new frontiers, but creates his own original instruments and tunings. when i OPEN MY DOOR is a perfect chance to let the universe of his musical home into the outside:
Slikback from Nairobi already blew my mind and singed the insides of my ears live. This release out this week is simply one of the most powerful energies in music this year, a blast of exquisitely constructed sonic force:
Just say the name “Tengal” across Europe and Asia, and in-the-know experimental electronic lovers and many other friends will immediately warm. Tengal’s far-reaching imagination and curatorial creations speak for this artist from Manila. As if his work on WSK and Nusasonic festivals weren’t enough, he shares another gift to us in the form of his fanciful film scores:
Famed Japanese electronic composer KAZUYA ISHIGAMI has a 2003 release that sounds futuristic and harsh in a way that surely means it’s from 2020. It makes its way to Bandcamp this week, so let’s give it a nod:
I’m sorry, did someone say new Kush Jones? Yes. I guess we now have to keep up with these kinds of always-excellent producers monthly, so Bandcamp is just making people release more. From the Bronx:
KMRU has a melancholy, arresting track – just as Joseph, the Nairobi-based artist, is getting well-deserved attention and an Editions Mego signing. That hasn’t gone to his head or slowed him down.
Based in Brussels, Rebel Up! has assembled an inventive and ambitious Black Lives Matter compilation tracing an “electronic diaspora” – not only the US-centered musical voice, but a deep network of artists in their homelands and across a diaspora. Or let me let them describe it:
The aim of this compilation is to raise funds for various (inter)national NGO’s, anti-rasicm advocacy groups and organisations of black initiative, with all proceedings to be donated to these causes. The artists donated their tracks as a collaboration between Rebel Up Records, the artists and the international labels Nyege Tapes, Syrphe, Bongo Joe Records, Sdban Records, Galletas Calientes, Blanc Manioc, Indigenous Underground, Strut, Earconditioning and 1000Hz Records. On this compilation we brought together mostly electronic African or Afro descendant artists from the worldwide diaspora and artists based in their homelands, from motherland Africa to Latin America to the Caribbean and back to Europe. It’s a vibrant combination of contemporary sounds that showcases the current talent of the artists and producers, combined with awareness for black lives & art and serving as a fundraiser. You can find a list of the supported organisations on the last page.
Raw, heavy, and wonderful, here’s a quick but delicious EP from Nicaragüense Producer/DJ dweebonthebeat, based in Chicago IL – “music is for those who feel dispossessed”:
And a lush, wild, dissonant and superb single by Miami’s Suzi Analogue, which she proudly says she made “in hours” on a synthesizer (sure sometimes works out that way):
I talked about the wonders of Portage Garage Sounds, the Detroit label. Well, they’re not about to disappoint now, with this Motor City marvel upcoming 2Lanes:
Peace is something we could all use right now, so the new Fhloston Paradigm (the project of our friend King Britt) comes at exactly the right moment:
Milad Bagheri‘s solo debut is essential, going deep into the sound of Georgia, and a release I most look forward to this month:
(‘ɡaːlobaː means ‘chant’ in Georgian)
As a sound artist far from his homeland in search of tranquility, I have constantly been looking for some healing sounds for the wounded souls like mine; Some sounds you get lost in to forget your agonies, a remedy for your exhausted soul, Sometime around Christmas 2019, I was in charge of the recording of Georgian Christmas songs and chants concert at Tbilisi State Conservatoire and I found it perfectly soothing and peaceful while I was listening to the record shortly after. It came to my mind to compose some electro-acoustic pieces out of those recordings.
When I shared my idea and some sketches with the concert’s supervisor, she kindly invited me to a magical event, which was happening in a thousand-year-old Georgian church called Samtavisi Cathedral. This album is composed out of the merely five phrases taken out from the near two hours of Tbilisi Conservatoire concert’s recordings and the historical church combined with some field recordings my partner and I did in the different parts of Georgia in 2 years.
releases September 30, 2020
Recorded, composed, produced, and mastered by Milad Bagheri. Tbilisi, late 2018-2020
Additional field recordings by Maryam Sirvan
Artwork by Pooyan Shadpoor
Recorded at Tbilisi State Conservatoire’s Recital Hall and Samtavisi Cathedral
While we’re in Georgia, let’s close with the astonishing release of a major Georgian electronic composition innovator, someone too-little-known outside of the country. Her work easily stands on the same level as some of the Soviet names you know from Tarkovsky films. We get to hop into a time machine to 1974 – without having to travel to Tbilisi and trying to apply for a library card so we can check out the tapes. Natela Svanidze:
Natela Svanidze (1926 – 2017) is an Honored Art Worker and one of the most distinguished Georgian composers, whose creations have not been explored and praised sufficiently to this day. Key period of the artist’s comprehensive work coincided with Soviet times, resulting in a variety of impediments—both in creative and personal realms of her life.
The following issue aims to showcase Natela Svanidze’s electronic music recorded in 1974 for her Georgian Lamentations oratorio, part 5. “Epitaphium”. The groundbreaking for the time being, as it is based on electronic music, developed into four dynamic waves, with rhythmic whispering of the choirs chanting “eternity”. Several aspects make this part exceptional: this is the first electronic music piece in Georgian music, composed by a female composer, and simultaneously recorded on Synthi-100, a popular synthesizer (invented by P. Zinoviev and imported to Moscow from England in the early 1970s) at the time. This very synthesizer was used by E. Artemiev, V. Martinov and I. Bogdanov, as well as famous movie soundtracks, including Stalker by A. Tarkovsky, Sibierade by A. Konchalovsky, A Few Days from the Life of I.I. Oblomov by N. Mikhalkov and many more.
Natela Svanidze is an artist with a somewhat tragic story, who never got the chance to fully realize her creative ideas into fruition due to objective impediments of her time. “I regret to say that I have come early… I was born for electronic music, but with virtually no technical capabilities to create such music in my time…”, said she once with regret.
“I have never violated my principles, agreed to compromise or give up on my inherent aspiration to manifest my intrinsic truth through art for the sake of success, fame or money. I have never sold a counterfeit to my audience. What I have created is something that simply had to be.”
This unique recording from 1974 has been treated with care and supported by 3 young and extremely talented Georgian music producers: HVL; Tamo Nasidze and Mess_Montage.
I’m sure she would be glad to know you can now follow her Bandcamp page, posthumously. Utterly spectacular sonic achievements from history – plus equally delightful modern reinterpretations.
Happy listening, everyone. Be safe and well.