This is the largest preview we’ve ever run, listing over 300 instrumental and experimental albums scheduled from September-November. We challenge you to find a larger preview anywhere. Our iPods are filled and our reviewers’ eyes are lighting up. Now it’s time to share what we’ve been hearing!
Once again, we’ll be running one column a day, each representing a different genre. For the first time, dark ambient and drone receives its own post. Also for the first time, we’ll have ten picks instead of five. There’s just way too much music to be stingy about it! As you peruse and shop, we invite you to brew a pot of tea or coffee (or crack open an early pumpkin beer) and get ready to enjoy this early taste of autumn!
We begin with post-rock, As we reported earlier this year (and as Echoes & Dust later confirmed), 2019 has been a banner year for the genre. We credit the continued popularity of post-rock festivals such as ArcTangent, Dunk! and Post!, the hard efforts of labels such as A Thousand Arms, and the attractive vinyl options.
Rich’s Pick: We Lost the Sea ~ Triumph & Disaster (Bird’s Robe / Translation Loss / Dunk! / Holy Roar, October 1)
2015’s Departure Songs was an instant stunner, a literary masterpiece with more on its mind than music. Triumph & Disaster follows suit, imagining a mother and son on the last day of earth after an environmental apocalypse. The quarter-hour “Towers” provides all the introduction most fans will need. Instrumental concept albums are hard to pull off, but the band adds one short coda in the form of “Mother’s Hymn,” and breaks the listener’s heart with only a few words. We suspect we’ll still be talking about this Australian sextet at the end of the year ~ if we last that long.
We first received word of new autumn albums from Ranges and The Shaking Sensations via A Thousand Arms’ compilation Open Language. Now both are nearing release. Ranges’ Babel is an instrumental retelling of the Genesis story, containing collapse and calamity, with impossible-to-avoid connotations for the current political climate (Dunk! / A Thousand Arms / Bird’s Robe/ LeRock, September 30). Copenhagen’s The Shaking Sensations return after six years with a second drummer, renewed energy and a sense of purpose. How Are We to Fight the Blight? is out October 4 on Pelagic, preceded by two powerhouse singles. UK band Codes in the Clouds has been gone for even longer, but their self-titled comeback album should reengage their fans while serving as an introduction to those not old enough to remember them (Hobbledehoy, October 11). Reaching back even further, legendary band Fly Pan Am has been quiet since 2004, so long that many Google searches still list them in the past tense. C’est ça is their welcome return, packed with shoegaze timbres, rampant grooves and a sprinkling of vocals (Constellation, September 20).
One of the season’s gentlest post-rock releases comes from Alaskan Tapes, whose style borders on ambience. Brushed drums and French horn make Views From Sixteen Stories one of the primary highlights of the album that shares its name. Inspired by Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Survivor, the track ~ and the album surrounding it ~ reflect calm in the middle of chaos, a slow dance on a sinking ship (AT Recordings, September 19). Frode Haltli launches the sound of the accordion into the 21st century on Border Woods, offering an alluring marriage of folk and post-rock, pensive and percussive. The quartet also showcases Sweden’s national instrument, the nyckelharpa (Hubro, September 13). New York quartet Wide Waters is set to release its first EP; Among the Pines is out October 4, preceded by And Into the Forest I Go, To Lose My Mind and Find My Soul, a pure post-rock title!
Gizeh Records has been on a tear lately, and founder Richard Knox resurrects his A-Sun Amissa guise to offer a fusion of post-rock and drone, with special guest appearances on clarinet and lap steel. For Burdened and Bright Light fights through the darkness on September 13. Oiseaux-Tempête returns with the Eastern inflections of From Somewhere Invisible, aided by violin from Jessica Moss, with an expanded use of vocals from G.W. Sok (Sub Rosa, October 18). Traveling further into ethnic vibes we find Sam Shalabi’s Land of Kush, whose Sand Enigma contains Arabic vocals, psychedelica and a series of long, fevered excursions (Constellation, November 8).
Improvised post-rock may be a rare breed, but Sydney trio Holopeak makes it sound easy. Their debut album Summit Over is surprisingly accessible given its genesis (Earshift, September 20). Greek band Once Upon a Winter decorates its post-rock with piano, cello and violin; Pain and other pleasures looks dark, but the liner notes are light. Even if the vinyl is blood red, the tone is cathartic (Snow Wave, September 20). Tides from Nebula is now a trio, which they admit “made them work harder” to produce a tighter sound. The word “epic” is found twice in the press release, and the two lead tracks are powerful entries to the lean, mean sounds of From Voodoo To Zen (Long Branch Records, September 20). The sax is the secret weapon of Dead Neanderthals, put to good use on Ghosts, which is comprised of two side-long tracks. Its long builds lead to extensive payoffs (Utech, September 13). The same principle holds true for Pergélisol / Chorémanie from Spelterini; a rehearsal take can be heard here (Kythibong, September 20). Halma uses mining as a metaphor for the cavernous music of The Ground, while Action & Tension & Space presents a more pensive approach on the oxymoronic Explosive Meditations, both out October 4 on Kapitän Platte. Noorvik uses nature imagery in their video for Floating, from Omission; the extremes of crumbling glaciers and time-lapse clouds are perfectly suited to their sound (Tonzonen, October 4).
Prog/komische energizes the self-titled album from music veterans The Utopia Strong, who arrived at their synthesized sound via Teeth of the Sea. The vinyl edition looks like a baby blue fried egg, which is also a non-sensical way to describe the music. Look for it September 13 on Rocket Recordings. A 15-minute prog track is a great way to raise funds on Kickstarter, and The Kompressor Experiment‘s Monolith is a predecessor to the fall album 2001, inspired by the movie of the same name (November). Psych/prog rockers Nazca Space Fox resurface with Pi, which includes a heavy dose of improvisation (Tonzonen, September 27). Prog meets post-metal on The Greatest Burden, from Ghosts of Glaciers, yet another band to share the name of the melting resource. The cover looks a lot less sinister than its predecessor, but the music is just as dark (Translation Loss, September 27). Dysrhythmia‘s album Twin Stalkers is not for the lighthearted, though it may be for the nostalgic; their brand of metal prog hearkens back to the 90s (Translation Loss, October 4). More post-metal prog can be found on Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s Buried Memories, which includes an extensive guest appearance by JK Broadrick, as well as a host of remixes (October). Prog-rock improvisation can be heard on the jamming Anthropocosmic Nest, from happy trio The Messthetics (Dischord, September 6). Considering the players involved, we’re guessing The Discovered, Not the Discoverer is going to be pretty loud; the release unites Keiji Haino, Merzbow and Balazs Pandi and includes four tracks, each occupying a side of vinyl (RareNoise, September 27).
Hochzeitkapelle offers modern cumbia music on the danceworthy If I Think of Love, preceded by the catchy single Sonido Amazonico (gutfeeling, September 13). Adventures on the Floating Island is an expression of mutated lounge music, featuring plenty of brass, courtesy of Monster Rally (Gold Robot, September 20). Free jazz and psychedelic rock provide the backdrop for HausLive 1: Sunwatchers at Cafe Mustache. This is a non-stop jam session, and if you weren’t there in April you can experience it now at home ~ just BYOB (Hausu Mountain, September 6). Judging from lead single Signals in the Dust, Portico Quartet‘s Memory Streams is slightly more rock than jazz, but sounds exuberant either way (Gondwana, October 4). Is it rock, punk or a smorgasbord? The guests on the new Battles album include Tune-Yards, Jon Anderson (Yes, that Jon Anderson) and Prairie WWWW, and by the sound of the first single, Juice B Crypts is going to be wild (WARP, October 18).
Do you like Thurston Moore? We mean, really like Thurston Moore? The guitarist is preparing a 3-disc boxed set containing pieces inspired by Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra, involving a dozen electric guitarists. Spirit Counsel is out September 21, courtesy of The Daydream Library Series. Legendary guitarist Bill Orcutt returns to the blues on Odds Against Tomorrow, his harried image in the cover photograph intimating that he’s entered his late Johnny Cash period. He may look old, but he still has a lot of life left in him (Palillalia, October 11). Rolf Hansen records under his own name for the first time on Elektrisk Guitar, a more subdued affair that recalls the artist’s background in folk and jazz (Karaoke Kalk, September 27). Warm instrumental folk decorates the rooms of Little Common Twist, from the American primitive guitar and drums duo Charles Rumback & Ryley Walker ~ just in time for Thanksgiving (Thrill Jockey, November 8)! Fires Were Shot offers a brand of bucolic, sun-soaked rock that borders on the psilocybin. Fallen is released November 1, preceded by the trippy “Yemen” video (Holodeck). And rock cellist Jo Quail is releasing an expanded version of last year’s Exsolve, including an all-new Side D (AdderStone, October 4).
Talkin’ All That Jazz
A triple horn attack is at the heart of John Yao’s Triceratops, which adds bass and drums to create a loving link to Duke Ellington. Three Parts As One is out October 18 on See Tao. “Saxophonist of the moment” Binker Golding leads an energetic, foot-tapping quartet on Abstractions of Reality Past & Incredible Feathers, due September 27 on Gearbox. Jazz fusion and a keen sense of rhythm can be heard on the lively Kamaloka, the lead single from Ghost Rhythms‘ Live at Yoshiwara, out October 4 on Cuneiform. On the same day, the label will release Old New, from Tomeka Reid Quartet, led by female avant cellist Tomeka Reid and introduced by the title track’s catchy percussive timbres. Groovy jazz-rock can be heard on Q, a colorful set from Krokofant w/Storløkken & Håker Flaten (Rune Grammofon, September 27).
Aaron Novik’s Rotterdam is the second of five EPs that form an expanded version of summer album The Fellow Curves of the Planispheres. Expect surprises; the timbres of the second are completely different from those of the first. Collect ’em all, trade with your friends (September 20)! Shigeto and friends have a blast creating the “re-wired” tracks of Versions, a sax-led groover on Ghostly International (September 20). The Ghent label Sdban Ultra has three releases on the fall schedule: acoustic-electric piano trio De Beren Gieren offer exploratory jazz on the playfully fun Broensgebuzze EP (September 13); John Ghost showcases blended genres on Airships Are Organisms; and Compro Oro contributes a sense of community through Afrobeat and skittered jazz-pop on Suburban Exotica (Autumn). As soon as the needle drops on phosphenes, one wants to dance; the nine-member Wanubalé filters jazz through neo-soul and funk (Agogo, September 27). A 2011 concert is preserved on The East End, with saxophonist Bill Evans teaming with a pair of grooves artists to produce a (little) big band sound (Jazzline, September 27). And Worlds Collide on the new album from Michael Janisch, whose band of musicians team up to reflect the ways in which cultures – musical, and by extension, political – can blend instead of clash, a wonderful encouragement (Whirlwind, September 6).