The new season has arrived, along with new hopes, new ventures and new music! Over the course of the week, we’ll be listing over 400 new albums on these pages, including a far more even genre distribution than we’ve seen in years. Everybody’s getting in on the action! Musicians are connecting with fans in person, finally touring (and hopefully making some money doing so). Live venues are buzzing with pent-up energy, shared between artists and fans. Now here’s the first taste of what fall has to offer!
Note: our jazz releases are divided between two posts. Melodic and more accessible jazz releases are found here, while the more abstract and improvised albums will be listed in our Experimental post on Thursday.
Folk and Acoustic
The peacefulness of Marisa Anderson‘s Still, Here was hard-won; the folk guitarist remains centered even in the midst of upheaval. On one track, sirens blare outside her window as she records, yet steadfast she remains. By the end, she’s ready to waltz, inviting others to rise as well (Thrill Jockey, September 23). Also on Thrill Jockey, Tortoise’s Douglas Andrew McCombs introduces an album with a beautifully coifed dog and a Google and memory-resistant title. VMAK<KOMBZ<<<DUGLAS<<<6NDR7<<< is three tracks of languid expression from the bassist, who is joined by members of Calexico and The Sea and Cake. In addition, a new Sam Prekop album is coming this fall, which we’ll cover later this week in the Ambient category (September 23).
Six and twelve-string guitarist Matthew J. Rolin is used to working with others, but Passing is purely a solo endeavor. Cascades of strings create an acoustic trance that is occasionally backed by electric drones (American Dreams, October 14). The title primitiv refers not only to Julien Tassin‘s mode of guitar, but the history of primitive man. The guitarist imagines the origins and early downfall of the species, while honoring its playful side (Ramble Records, September 30). Building on last year’s No Such Thing As Free Will, nylon guitarist Deniz Cuylan offers expanded vistas on Rings of Juniper. Strings and woodwinds stretch his sound like tree rings, each addition enhancing the sonic palette (Hush Hush Records, October 14). Similarly engrained in nature is Webb Crawford‘s Joiners, which refers not to societies, but the craft of joinery, in which wooden pieces are connected without glue or screws. Each track is named for a historical reference to the craft, while one can almost hear the wood in the guitar – except when it turns electric (Tripticks Tapes, September 2).
The first time Lake Mary recorded a track titled “Slow Grass,” it was eight minutes long. Now working with Patrick Shirioshi, the artist has quintupled the length over the course of two sides. The sad title comes from the life of an immobile dog, able only to stare at the grass, unable to run. Love runs through these grooves (Whited Sepulchre, September 23). Sonic auteur The Phonometrician returns with the dark folk of Cóiste Bodhar, inspired by the Celtic legend of the Death Coach. The release date ~ ten days before Halloween ~ seems perfectly timed. Alder & Ash contributes cello to one of the tracks (Lost Tribe Sound). Wickerbird‘s The Sea Weaver will follow on November 11: vocal, yet sublime, with gorgeously restrained backdrops.
Wendolins Monocle tells the tale of a man who finds a magical monocle that can stop time (not included in purchase). The Owls trio (piano, bass, drums) uses the monocle as a musical lens to play with concepts of time. Inside the larger tale are stories within stories, a playful labyrinth (Intersections, September 18). Bassist Clark Sommers leads a quintet on Intertwine, recording as Clark Sommers Lens. The moods range from thoughtful to playful, confident throughout (Outside In Music, September 16). Trumpeter Takuya Kuroda leads a funky ensemble on the often-danceable Midnight Crisp, whose cover art may look lonely, but only because everybody else is already at the club (First Word, October 21).
We love when a concept is carried through to the presentation. Sam Gendel‘s blueblue is available on dark blue, light blue and marbled blue vinyl, or blue pouch-dyed cassette. The tracks ~ composed on guitar but played on saxophone ~ each refer to a pattern of sashiko (Japanese embroidery). And of course there’s no escaping the blueness of the music, accompanied by playful kit work (Leaving Records, October 14). Splitting the difference between jazz and modern composition, Windisch Quartet (alto sax, piano, upright bass, drums) offers a set of rainy day vibes on Meander. In the video for “Dichte,” one of the participants even starts to dance (fun in the church, September 9). Gentiane MG leads her trio on Walls Made of Glass, leaning toward modern composition with a confident approach and enveloping sound (TPRRecords, September 23).
The Danish duo Svaneborg Kardyb plays a calm brand of accessible, homespun jazz, with copious amounts of trumpet and even some electronics. Over Tape is released November 4 on Gondwana Records. On the same label, Gondwana Orchestra album Chip Wickham reunites with friends for Cloud 10, showcasing his penchant for sax-saturated jazz noir. The sextet sounds as light and airy as an extra upper level of stratosphere (September 9). As for darkjazz, one can’t much darker than the cover art for Deus é Cego! Joel Fausto & Illusion Orchestra‘s set is a bit calmer than Mac Eparwa’s image, but still inhabits the depths of night (Slowdriver, October 16).
Hindi jazz finds a new outlet on the self-titled Scaring the Mice for Revenge, the quartet’s sitar-and-sax combo a not-so secret weapon. We feel confident stating that no actual mice were harmed during the recording process (Prohibited, September 9). Jazz, dub and electronics meet on the self-titled debut album from Stellar Legions, comprised of all-star members from other bands. The cosmic journey apparent on the cover carries throughout the music (October 21). Whether one calls it space funk, cosmic jazz or freestyle groove; Ever-Changing Light is a fitting title for the work of Lucid Lucia. Those who enjoy the work of Herbie Hancock will be especially well-served (Sdban, October 7).
Trombonist Curha has constructed an especially perky album in III, calling on space pop, retro funk and a host of collaborators. Even the cover is fun (Chant, September 2). Sun Ra-style electric jazz fills the vinyl grooves of Solar Eclipse, from Clear Path Ensemble. The variety is appealing, and the band blazes its own path as well (Soundway, September 9). Pop, bop, jazz and low-slung funk make Education & Recreation a pleasantly retro experience. The album represents a further coalescence of Surprise Chef‘s sound (Big Crown Records, October 14).
With two saxophones, two synthesizers and two drum kits, Basher creates an atmosphere of freeform fun. Track titles such as “Primetime A Go-Go,” “Claptrack Clawback” and “Carnival 2019,” imply that Doubles will be a treat (Sinking City, September 30). Snarky Puppy (no relation to Skinny Puppy) has at times contained up to 25 members, most of whom are present on Empire Central, which combines rock and jazz with a smidgen of funk. Trinity is just the foretaste of a full meal (Groundup Music, September 30).
Rock, Post-Rock, Prog and World
Guitar duo Rivers of Glass wrote By the Light of Burning Bridges as a tribute to a Norwegian island known for setting its bridges on fire to repel invaders. The music is a slow smolder that occasionally bursts into flames (Somewherecold, September 9). We love the cover of Elkhorn‘s Distance (pictured left). The psychedelic folk band alternately jams, grooves and rocks (Feeding Tube, September 16). Hermanos Gutiérrez pays tribute to Ennio Morricone on El Bueno Y El Malo, whose title track sounds like a lost classic (Easy Eye Sound, October 28). Nine-piece ensemble Condor Gruppe also has a soft spot for spaghetti westerns, as well as for vampire films and Moondog. This makes Gulliver as intriguing as the hero’s travels, a new experience around every sonic corner (Sdban Ultra, September 23).
Bill Orcutt may have written Music for Four Guitars, but he plays them all. This electric album comes with an 84-page score for those interested in experimenting at home; for most, the pleasure of letting the music wash over them will be enough (September 2). Another entry in the vast solo electric guitar field comes from Sweden’s Jon Lipscomb, whose Conscious Without Function is released on Relative Pitch Records on September 16. Motorik rock is represented by Moving Statues on the Town and Country EP, with two musicians playing an astonishing amount of instruments (Rusted Rail, September 2).
Tabla, violin, guitar and banjo make a flavorful combination on only elephants know her name, exuding a jazz-inflected, world music vibe. So Long Seven also employs a guest Hindustani vocalist on one of the tracks (September 30). The Observatory and Koichi Shimizu combine forces on the heavily percussive Demon State, which includes gamelan, gong and jegogan. A concept EP with a literary-historical bent, the set also incorporates a speech given at the Bandung Conference in 1955 (Midnight Shift, September 23). Billed as “avant world,” Odd Person‘s Myths of the Crystal Plateau is a tribal excursion into the deep jungle, listening for drums while trying to avoid spears (Nonlocal Research, September 7).
New on the post-rock circuit is Salt Pig, though post-rock is all the way down at #12 on the tag list of The Chalk Circle. Jazz is also a strong influence, the two establishing their best symmetry on the 11-minute opener and 12-minute closer (Utility Tapes, September 16). Kiss My Emoji Ring also offers a blend of post-rock and jazz, highlighted by upcoming holiday favorite “Mission to Find a Christmas Tree on Mars.” I Work in Communications may be the only duo whose name is also a pick-up line! (tier.debut, September 30). Random Forest (which includes The Echelon Effect) has returned with a new EP of peaceful post-rock; the four-track Ascension is released September 9.
Jason Blake‘s The Compromise Rationale is an experiment in cinematic prog, played on the 12-string Warr guitar, the middle album of a trilogy (Wayfarer, September 23). Saloon Bizarre laces instrumental rock with a bit of prog on Apocalydia, a treat for head-bangers missing the classic sound (September 22). Spelterini offer a single thirty-three minute track on Paréidolie, building to a pounding krautrock center before tumbling into drone (Kythibong, October 4). Horse Lords is jamming up a storm on “Mess Mend,” the first single from Comradely Objects, due November 4 and showcased below (RVNG).
One of the more recognizable names on the post-rock release schedule is My Education, staying strong after all these years. EMKA is a concept album that addresses the period between World War II and the Cold War; with all that’s going on these days, might such an album be received as nostalgic? (Somewherecold, September 20). Star Guided Vessel (great name for a band!) offers a thoughtful collection of post-rock pieces on Tethered/Severed, drifting along beneath the canopy of constellations (Somewherecold, September 23).
Swiss post-rock quartet glaston has been unveiling their upcoming album I Am Whole single-by-single, which is pretty clever considering the album’s name! (A Thousand Arms/dunk! records, November 11). Powerful trio Girih frequenty expands, with guest appearances on the violin and cello. Ikigai hits the airwaves on October 14 (dunk! records/A Thousand Arms). The more melancholic indignu reflects on the pandemic over the course of adeus (farewell). The strings and chants add a deeper dimension to their mourning (dunk! records/A Thousand Arms, November 4). Exxasens has always injected a palpable amount of sci-fi into their compositions, and Le-Voyage is no exception. Like the Apple TV show For All Mankind, the album travels to the moon, then Mars, then beyond (September 3).
The name COLLISIONS may be new, but the players are not, including Tom Hodge (Floex) and Ciaran Morahan (Codes in the Clouds). Joined by drummer Ollie Howell, they offer a brand of post-rock that draws equally from the fields of modern composition and electronics. Their self-titled album is released September 9 on Naive/Believe. Under the Reefs Orchestra has been releasing singles all year while building to the full unveiling of Sakurajima on September 16. The sax is reminiscent of The Comet Is Coming, who also has a new album this fall (Capitane Records). The same holds true on Zenith, the first single and title track from Poly-Math‘s upcoming set; could saxophone be the instrument of the season? (Nice Weather for Airstrikes, November 18).
Gold Lamé is a duo that sounds like a band. GOING is an exuberant set of catchy instrumental alt-rock, betraying the friends’ pedigree in indie bands. Sometimes there are handclaps, other times banjo, with the mood upbeat throughout (October 7). The Gematria duo injects a bit more prog, as Gematria II: The Spindle of Necessity pays tribute to classic guitar legends while injecting a modern tint (Nefarious Industries, September 23).
Red Level Music
Part drone, part doom, Mathias Delplanque‘s Ô Seuil is balanced by a healthy injection of Middle Eastern and Asian influences, including gongs and cymbals: heavy in structure, but lighter in tone (Ici D’ailleurs/Mind Travels, September 23). Anchored by two bassists, Ghost:Whale offers a brand of stoner doom that wrenches the organs from their pockets and the bones from their sockets. The hard and rumbling EchoOne is out September 17 on Bitume. Phil Maggi bursts with transcendent emotion on The Encrimsoned, inspired by Henry Corbin and Sufism. There are vocals among the instrumentals, but it’s to be expected, as Maggi was once the lead singer of Ultraphallus (Sub Rosa, September 20). No digital release? Who would do such a thing? The answer is Titan to Tachyons, which includes members of Mr. Bungle and John Zorn’s band. But one can still hear one live track from Vonals being played here (Tzadik September 16). We’re quite fond of the string quartet on the anti will, the first single from Behind Closed Doors‘ debut album Caged in Helixes. When the sound leaps to post-metal, the listener is instantly enthralled (My Redemption, October 28).
Featuring titles such as “That “regularity” of yours, can you throw it further than me? And I don’t mean “discarding” it,” Into this juvenile apocalypse our golden blood to pour let us never will clearly be a challenging listen. We’d expect no less from Kaiji Haino & SUMAC, who make a crazy racket but offset the noise with a nice yellow t-shirt. We began this preview with Marisa Anderson, and traveled to the other end of the musical spectrum. The irony: both are on the same label (Thrill Jockey, October 7).