Ah, November. The time of the year where music releases slow down as the world prepares itself for the holidays and celebrations around the globe. November is generally a month leading up to all my favourite things - Oscar season (highly anticipating If Beale Street Could Talk), the festive atmosphere, my birthday (!!), and of course, end of the year lists (Listmas!). As we prepare for our end of the year lists, we can't forget about the month before that released some outstanding music. As always, this section highlights albums we didn't discuss on our show. Here's the albums I thought were noteworthy from November.
Eiko Ishibashi - The Dream My Bones Dream
Eiko Ishibashi is a new artist to me, but this album has many factors that drew me towards checking it out. First off, it's released on experimental/rock label, Drag City. Drag City is fairly well known within the indie community for putting out some of the strangest rock music. It also is produced by fellow label mate, Jim O'Rourke (which Ishibashi has collaborated on Jim's albums in the past). Now with all that in mind, the album still sounds like nothing I described if you are fairly familiar with both. Eiko Ishibashi brings ambient pop music to this album, harnessing noticeable influences of Scott Walker and Joni Mitchell. If you haven't figured out already, Ishibashi hails from Japan and so lyrically this entire album is in Japanese. Being a huge fan of Japanese music, this album is a welcome surprise.
Randall Dunn - Beloved
Many may not recognize Randall Dunn by name, but also may not realize he is a well renowned producer in the music industry. He has worked with the names of Sunn O))), Tim Hecker, Anna von Hausswolf, and many more. Seeing that list will give you a hint to what kind of music he made with his first ever album. Ambient focused with experimental touches, the album dives into themes of anxiety and paranoia. Dunn then dives deeper into those themes expanding of different shades of love, mortality of one's self, and deeper meditations of life.The album is largely ambient but features two tracks with vocals - Something About that Night with Frank Fisher (of Algiers) and A True Home with Zola Jesus. Dunn certainly is experienced with his craft and trying is own hand in creativity paid off amazingly. This album is a late favourite of mine for ambient albums this year.
Obliteration - Cenotaph Obscure
Norway is known for their excessive amount of metal, specifically specializing in the more harsh genres. Usually metalheads would expect a Norwegian band to be black metal, but Obliteration is straight up death metal (well, not exactly). On their newest release, Obliteration continue their use of psychedelic and progressive influences that take the old school death metal sound (OSDM) to give it a fresh take. Cenotaph Obscure doesn't sound too far off from other psych influenced death metal bands such as Horrendous or Morbus Chron. One thing that I'll always love about metal is the beautiful album artwork that accompanies a lot of the releases. It's dark yet spiritual, and can invoke some incredible emotion instead of trying to cause a shock factor (*cough*, Cannibal Corpse). Metal is a terribly misunderstood genre which I wish more people gave a chance, though I would not recommend starting with this incredibly dense album. Cenotaph Obscure is something for the books, and Obliteration continues to kill it as always.
Vessel - Queen of Golden Dogs
Vessel surprised me with this release as he is fairly well known for his dark, ambient techno production. This is what impressed me with this release is the unpredictability of what the album is. Spending 18 months writing this album in rural Wales (what up, Bon Iver?), Queen of Golden Dogs influence began from multiple writers, a painter (Remedios Varo), and a new love. Sounding like a love child of Oneohtrix Point Never and maybe Philip Glass, Vessel brings in the chamber music fused with his signature experimental craziness. Queen of Golden Dogs feels fully like Vessel expressing his true emotions through his music, making something that is inherently his own. An album to be sure to check out if you're into experimental, challenging music.
Anguish - Anguish
Anguish is a new group, or supergroup I should say - formed by members of Dalek, Fire!, and Faust. Wait what, you say? You read that right, and when I found out about this album I was also in disbelief and at the same time excited to hear how batshit insane this album sounds. What do you get when you mix experimental hip-hop, jazz, and krautrock? Apparently you get Anguish. This album is as good as it sounds, and fusing all the genres seamlessly without ever sounding like a gimmick. This album has everything from ambient loops, jazzy sax's, and bars for days from MC Dalek. If you ever had troubling pin pointing a sound of an album, well I can't help but to say just listen to this album and try to tell me what to call it. This release is something you just have to hear to form an opinion for yourself, though I'm easily solid on everything this album is about.
Nicholas Britell - If Beale Street Could Talk Original Motion Picture Score
For my honorable mention this month, I chose the soundtrack of the film If Beale Street Could Talk. Although I absolutely adore this score, the movie technically isn't out yet in my city and thought it would be cheating to put it in my list. The score is more on the traditional side of scores rather than the Hans Zimmer kind that's seemingly popular nowadays. Britell's use of woodwinds and strings makes the score atmospheric and emotionally pulling, as he did in the film Moonlight as well. I cannot wait to see the film in full and how the soundtrack plays a part (though from the trailer, I'm sure it will be as chilling throughout). What makes this score so lovely is you can listen to it without context of the film, that the music is part of both being an album and a score. That's the hardest part of being a film scorer I'm sure (though don't quote me, I'm not Nicholas Britell!) and what will always impress me with these composers.
Other notable releases this month: