May - where the weather gets warmer (in the northern hemisphere), and music is flooded with freshly new releases. Though this time I don't have really much to comment about the month of May, as I've been too focused on school and work. That didn't stop me from keeping up with new music though, so lets just dive right into, and as always these albums are ones we did not get to mention on our podcast but I believe are essential to here from May.
Surprised I picked this one first? Probably not if you're familiar with my tastes. I've already highlighted Tim Hecker's Konoyo on our podcast, and Anoyo is the continuation of that album. Still are present the gagaku elements, though this one is more meditative, giving a sense of letting go to the environment around you. Anoyo translates to "the world over there", which I believe Hecker is trying to convey through the sounds of music on this album - almost otherworldly quality to the sounds produced between the juxtaposition of analogue and digital. What Anoyo does extremely well is the acknowledgement of gagaku ensemble instruments that you'd rarely hear outside of Japan, bringing a unique blend of Hecker's ambience.
Another album that blends digital and analogue. The album is jam packed with strings, field recordings, and of course droning synths. This is Helm presenting us with an album so chaotic that it depicts how daily urban life goes about. Just listening to the sound of the first song gives you an idea of someone going through the day in-day out process of mindlessly living, letting the existential dread kick in immediately. It is a masterful album filled with sound collages as well, going into the second track feels almost wrong but at the same time so right with its psych-rock structure. Chemical Flowers is Helm's way of guiding us to build the world we want, while embracing the twists and turns that life throws at us.
Sarah Davachi is someone whom I've discussed before as being one of the most forward thinking in the modern classical scene. With Pale Bloom it is no different, though she takes a more traditional route (which is no criticism). Pale Bloom is filled with lush piano pieces, filled deeply with emotion. Like most modern classical, its minimal in composition, and that is all Davachi needs to get her point across on this record. While the first half represents Bach, Davachi isn't afraid to show us her specialty in avant-garde with the closing track having massive drones. Pale Bloom is an example of an artist re-evaluating their whole career, Davachi beginning with the instrument she grew up with eventually showing us how she bloomed into the artist she is today.
Just like Eli Keszler, Laurence Pike is another experimental percussionist playing with ambient and electronic sounds. Holy Spring is jazz-y in a way of free improvising, over lush synth landscapes to chaotic drumming exercises. Pike's using his knowledge of drumming as well borrowing influence from the greats to expand on the sounds percussion instruments can make. Pike believes with how technology is moving today, that rules are meant to be broken and pushed, and with Holy Spring you get the idea of what his theory is all about. Holy Spring is almost a whole new expression on an instrument without much emotion attached to it.
This album was released on Orange Milk Records, which if anyone knows who they are you can get an idea of what this record sounds like. Orange Milk specializes in sound design music, which can even be described as post-music if you want to get pretentious. Koeosaeme is a Japanese producer, and on Obanikeshi the producer gets chaotic - and by that I mean really chaotic. Japan has always had a large noise scene, so this can dabble in some of that while also dabbling in sampling, ambient, and maybe even PC Music oriented bass music. Orange Milk releases can vary on either end of batshit insane (this) or somewhat otherworldly sounding (new CVN for example). Check this album out, and the rest of their catalog, for some absolute mind bending stuff.
Just like the earlier release this year Kankyo Ongaku, Light in the Attic releases another compilation of Japanese music - this time the genre known as "city pop". City Pop was a term coined for Japanese music in the late 70's-late 80's combining various genres with pop music. The genres were usually funk, jazz, bossa nova, new wave, and disco which even though a lot of those genres had their own influence on pop music, Japanese musicians took the Western sounds they heard to break free of the traditional pattern that a lot of young Japanese people were trying to do after post-war Japan. The compilation displays a wide variety of the genre, and the musicians who paved the way for future Japanese musicians (notably one in the 90's being Shibuya-kei). Check this release out for a basic primer on how Japanese music shifted towards a more optimistic outlook after WW2. P.S. - the album isn't on streaming services but I believe a playlist is of songs they could stream.
Deathspell Omega - The Furnaces of Palingenesia (Black Metal)
Big Brave - A Gaze Among Them (Post-Metal)
Dreadnought - Emergence (Prog Metal)
Eluvium - Pianoworks (Modern Classical)
Lungbutter - Honey (Noise Rock)
Drahla - Useless Coordinates (Post-Punk)
Truth Club - Not an Exit (Emo/Punk)
USA Nails - Life Cinema (Post-Punk/No Wave)
Nathan Micay - Blue Spring (Ambient House/Techno)
Amygdala - Our Voices Will Soar Forever (Screamo)