The largest instrumental music preview on the planet returns, boasting as many releases as there are days in the year! Most of these will be released in the next two months, and we’ve listened to at least a piece of every one. If you’ve been cooped up inside for too long and are growing eager for something to look forward to, this is the place to start. Over the next six days, we’ll share everything we’ve learned about the fall slate.
It’s been a crazy year for labels and bands, with many physical releases delayed due to lockdowns. Our preview includes only the instrumental EPs and albums appearing for the first time in any form. Remember that what we list is only the tip of the iceberg, rewarding those who announce new music early; by the end of the year, thousands more will be released! We’ll continue to cover what we can and list the rest on our Upcoming Releases page. Now let’s delve in!
Ranges ~ Confusion of Tongues
(A Thousand Arms Music / dunk! records, September 30)
Last year’s conceptual post-metal Babel was just the beginning of what would eventually become a 5-LP boxed set, along with a wild assortment of extras including unique coins, ceramics and a wooden slipcase. The deluxe edition was limited to only 33 copies, so few people ever got to hear the whole project. Now the elaborate screen-printed triple LP Confusion of Tongues affords fans the opportunity to hear the three “missing” tracks, to decipher each song’s relationship to the Zodiac, to trade coins in the marketplace and to participate in their Babel before it all comes crashing down (you read the ending, right?).
Rock and Post-Rock
Coastlands sounds mighty angry on their new album Death, so we wonder if the recent federally-sponsored clusterf**k in the band’s native Portland has had any influence. It’s always hard to lose loved ones, no matter what the cause. Dustin Coffmin (Glassing) screams at the end of one track, expressing what we’re all feeling right now (Dunk! Records / Translation Loss, October 9). It’s been seven years since I Hear Sirens last released an album, but Stella Mori makes up for it with a healthy amount of peaks and valleys. The album is available on turquoise vinyl with a gold-splattered center (Dunk! Records / A Thousand Arms, September 16). With three in a row from the same label collective, it’s fair to say a monopoly is developing, but we don’t have any complaints.
threestepstotheocean‘s Del Fuoco is offered in a variety of t-shirt and vinyl bundles. This muscular post-rock is tailor-made for festivals when they return (Antigony Records, September 4). Glasgow’s Beneath a Steel Sky recorded its self-titled debut album in lockdown and is finally ready to set it free. Lead single The Audient Void is packed with powerful riffs and possesses a strong sense of melody (September 4). The French post-rock trio Format is now a quartet. This October their new sound will be revealed on Coryphée ~ now 33% larger! What if Bach and Beethoven had composed post-rock? We Stood Like Kings attempt to answer the question on Classical Re:Works, a natural progression from their last few albums, which re-scored vintage films (Kapitaen Platte, October 2).
Today’s cover image comes from El Ten Eleven, who has been releasing their triple album Tautology one piece at a time. We’ve already been treated to the first two, and the third is due September 18, along with the full collection. A blend of ambient and post-rock, the set was born from pain yet sings of life. Early highlight: “Shimmer” (Joyful Noise). Tangents‘ Timeslips is heavy on percussion, always remaining in range of the beat. The Australian ensemble recorded the album in a day, as reflected in its spontaneous nature (Temporary Residence Ltd., September 4). uSSSy‘s Po Krugu draws upon Eastern influences to produce a raucous Russian sound. Persian tar and rebab feature strongly on the set, which we’re guessing will sound amazing live (Koolarrow, September 25).
John 3:16 returns with the immersive Tempus Edax Rerum, a single work divided into movements. The pounding drums and swirling guitars create a sense of sonic urgency (Alrealon Musique, November 30). Aidan Baker is involved in two early fall projects, beginning with his own There/Not There, a swirling drone-rock triptych featuring Insect Ark’s Dana Schechter on bass and Halma’s Fiona McKenzie on drums (ConSouling Sounds, October 2). Then on October 30, the 15-strong drummer’s collective Hypnodrone Ensemble Gets Polyamorous on Wolves & Vibrancy. Australia’s SENS DEP may call itself a shoegaze trio, but the oppression of Lush Desolation incorporates rock and drone. Decide for yourself by listening to the title track (November 30).
What to do when your TV series ends? Darks’ Jakob Diehl (face unscarred in real life) teams up with Sven Pollkötter as Taumel, and to no one’s surprise, preserves the dark mood. there is no time to run away from here is dark jazz cabaret at its best, like Bohren on codeine (Diggers Factory / NOISOLUTION, September 25). The supremely cinematic The Budos Band returns with Long in the Tooth, which sounds like a Morricone western that fell into a vat of hip-hop. Recommended for fans of the Red Dead Redemption score, the album is out October 9 on Daptone.
Epic45 is having a prolific year; this spring they released an album paired with a photobook, this summer they rerecorded Summer Broken Summer, and this fall they will release Cropping the Aftermath, where shoegaze vocals collide with post-rock textures (Wayside & Woodland, October 23). Sharing this ambient shoegaze vibe is the time-based Chronos, the debut album from Berlin trio Ausklang, due September 4 on Past Inside the Present.
Electric guitar quartet Brandon Randall-Myers & Dither loves to rock out, even when sitting down. Dynamics of Vanishing Bodies has been available on YouTube in raw form, but will see physical release on New Focus Recordings September 25. The solo psych artist Prana Crafter investigates Popol Vuh prog on the suitably titled MorphoMystic, a hallucinogenic excursion on Cardinal Fuzz (September 18). Psych / improv jams create a miasma of molten rock on Natural Selection, Dan Weiss‘ follow-up to the critically acclaimed Starebaby (Pi Recordings, September 18). Unconscious Death Wishes is a 38-minute all-out jam from Paisiel, offered on snazzy vinyl ~ the only problem being the need to flip it (Rocket Recordings, 23 October).
We’re always happy when a vocal band records an instrumental version of its own album. The Continuing Escapades of the Soft-Hearted Scientists is a 4 LP set of “sliced up, patched together” reworks, due September 30 on Fruits de Mer. Shape & Resolution arrived at the instrumental field from a different path: the artist was looking for a vocalist when the pandemic crashed his dreams down to earth. His loss is our benefit, as the instrumental Audio / Visual is one man’s pandemic diary (September 7).
Post-rockers Falconetti released three EPs in the early 00’s, which are finally being reissued as an album by This Is It Forever on October 9. A History of Skyscrapers is a fun way for fans to catch up on what they may have missed. Circum-Disc has three releases scheduled for September, some shared with other labels. Toc‘s Indoor is a rocking, electric set; Toc & Dave Rempis‘ Closed for Safety Reasons adds alto and tenor sax; and on the more experimental side, Kaze & Ikue Mori‘s Sand Storm showcases flugelhorn and trumpet.
Jazz and Blended Genres
Christopher Parker & Kelley Hurt‘s No Tears Suite can be found at the intersection of big band, jazz and modern composition. Composed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine (the first Black high school students to attend public school in Arkansas), the suite is both relevant and timely. We expect mainstream attention and awards, all well-deserved (Mahakala Music / Oxford American, September 25). Greece’s Op3 releases the Route EP on September 1. The EP begins in ambience, makes a gradual transition to jazz and eventually folds in some rock; it’s a gift to fans as they wait for a new album. “The future is cancelled,” a voice declares in the track of the same name. “Please exit now.” Jazz violinist Johanna Burnheart‘s debut album builds on the artist’s strong physical presence; the simply titled Burnheart is her coming out party on Ropeadope (October 30). Sax, piano, drums and tabla combine on Captured Spirits, a toe-tapping classical / jazz / post-rock crossbreed. The spirits run high on Mammal Hands‘ fourth album, and we can see it making an impact on multiple stages (Gondwana, September 11).
German trumpeter Nils Wülker returns on September 11 with GO, working with others to adopt an electronic hue. One of the album’s pieces,”Blow Up,” contains 29 overlaid horn tracks. Butcher Brown brings the brass (and a good deal of funk) to #KingButch. Make my funk the P-funk! (September 18.) More funk appears on Slipknots Through A Looking Glass, a percussive showcase for piano, sax and bass, courtesy of Eric Revis and friends (Pyroclastic, September 11). Soon after, Decononize Your Mind Society offers a wild explosion of ebullience on A Courteous Invitation To An Uninhabited Anabatic Prism: as psychedelic as it sounds, with copious horns (October 23).
Like so many other touring acts, Espen Eriksen Trio used their quarantine time to record an album. The natural symbiosis of performers yields an instinctive interplay, and the title ~ End of Summer ~ could not have been more perfectly chosen (Rune Grammofon, September 25). Three Norwegian musicians combine to make “Electric jazz poetry” on the lively set Fra Det Onde: Feat. the Legendary Emil Nikolaisen: improvised, yet surprisingly accessible (El Paraiso, October 2). Bright jazz fusion is injected with rhumba, samba, rock and more on Modasaurus‘ 4K; the quartet is led by pianist James McGowan (September 25). A fine overview of the Bristol jazz scene can be found on New Horizons – A Bristol ‘Jazz’ Sound, featuring multiple exemplars of the genre (Worm Discs, September 4).
Can we call Krononaut a supergroup? The ensemble, led by Leo Abrahams and Martin France, also includes Matana Roberts and Arve Henriksen. Their sound is expansive and appealing, and their self-titled debut is out September 4 on Glitterbeat. Spencer Zahn recruits a full ensemble for Sunday Painter, a lush and soothing set whose opening track, “Key Biscayne,” even has a bit of that relaxing late summer vibe. It’s hard to pin down the genre, but that’s to be expected from a person who plays so many instruments (Cascine, September 18). Prog rock meets jazz on Immersion, the new album from Automatism (not to be confused with Automatisme, whose album was released on August 7). Special guests round out the sound of the Swedish quartet (September 25). Oslo’s RYMDEN‘s capital letter sound veers from soft experimentalism to jazz-rock groove, a la Mouse on the Keys. Space Sailors is out September 18 on Jazzland Recordings.
We always enjoy hearing some of the rarer instruments in music, and numün satisfies our need with gender wayang, theremin, dholak, cümbüş and many more on the spacious voyage au soleil. The album soundtracks a trip to the moon and sun, and builds on the success of “Tranquility Base,” which first appeared on the compilation The Moon and Back – One Small Step for Global Pop (Musique Impossible, September 4).
Tortoise fans are directed to David Lord‘s Forest Standards Vol. 2, thanks to the presence of Jeff Parker and more; according to Lord, “not much happens in Wichita (Kansas), which makes this languid jazz-rock blend seem like the score to an introverted autumn (October 9). From here, it’s easy to connect the dots to Josh Johnson, who has toured with Parker. Freedom Exercise is the multi-instrumentalist’s first album in the leadership role, but he’s generous with his cast; having stepped into the spotlight, he’s humble enough to cede it (Northern Spy, October 9). Perky quartet Surprise Chef returns with a woodblock-happy set for the new weird semester. Daylight Savings includes tracks titled “College Welcome,” “Washing Day” and “College Welcomes Carl” and a lot of soft funk, so it’s perfect for unpacking (Mr. Bongo, October 16). Daylight savings (springing forward) in the band’s native Australia is October 4.