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Recent Releases: November 5th

So I fell behind on posting my updates again. But maybe I did it on purpose, and deliberately timed this to come out while everyone's talking about the best music of the year, because I knew that the great stuff from November and onwards would not get as much attention as they should. Or maybe I just had writer's block, who can say! It could even be some unknown third possibility, so lets just stop pondering and take a look at all the music that caught my eye in the beginning of November.

November 5th, 2021

Aastiage - 1996 - 2000 (Zabte Sote)

Ilai Ashdot - MAXIMAL LIFE (Orange Milk)

Mira Calix - absent origin (Warp)

Chrisman - Ku Mwezi (Hakuna Kulala)

Sarah Davachi & Sean McCann - Mother of Pearl (Recital)

Eat Avery's Bones - Instrument Petting Zoo (Decoherence Records)

JJJJJerome Ellis - The Clearing (NNA Tapes)

France Jobin - | Ψ〉= 3/5 i |↑〉+ 4/5|↓〉 (Self Released)

Darius Jones - Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation) (Northern Spy)

Jason Kahn / Jon Mueller / Greg Davis - Green Door (Self Released)

Alison Knowles - Sounds from the Book of Bean (Recital)

Low Life - From Squats To Lots: The Agony And XTC Of Low Life (A L T E R)

model home - both feet en th infinite (Don Giovanni)

RAY - Another Sand (wagtail)

Marina Rosenfeld - Index (Room40)

Max Syedtollan / Plus-Minus Ensemble - Four Assignments (& Other Pieces) (GLARC)

Alex Twomey - Days Off (Recital)

Two Nice Catholic Boys with Kalliope Lino - Gummy Pairs (Self Released)

ZAÄAR - Magická Džungl’a (I, Voidhanger Records)

I made a quick mention of that Model Home album in a previous post, but just to reiterate, they really are not to be missed. The duo has a lot of releases under their belt, many that I haven't heard, but everything I've come in contact with has left a strong impression. The components seem straightforward enough; you have NappyNappa on voice and vocal effects, and p cain fills out the rest of the sound with some electronics, and some occassional saxophone. That was how the credits went on the collaboration with Saint Abdullah on PTP from earlier this year, which by the way was one of the strangest and most cherished musical experiences of my 2021. This one isn't quite so abstractly heady, the duo are joined by Andrew Field-Pickering (aka Dolo Percussion/Max D, from Lifted) on all tracks, and guests like Luke Stewart pop up a few times with additional contributions to the central groove, giving an easy way into the music via listening with your body. But that hasn't reduced any of the potency of their psychedelic transformations. In fact, I'd say it's even stronger here, like the chemistry between the members is more visibly reactive when placed within these rhythms. When Ultra Dogme asked me to send over some thoughts on 3 songs from the year, it was a no-brainer for me to say something about 3d Printed Quinoa. That song is just the best. There's so much more that I still need to figure out how to say about this album, but you shouldn't wait for me to figure that out! Just go listen now!

You've also got this new one from Mira Calix, who has put out some strange albums on Warp, going all the way back to the year 2000. I've always been struck by the way the bass in her music sits against the more immediately visible parts of the spectrum, when that gets combined with her uneasy rhythms, it's like being seasick but then also having an out of body experience so that you can simply be an audience to the ballet in your stomach and not feel all the bad parts. Very cool, and now she's doing stuff with collage, getting rigorous and thoughtful about incorporating the practice from the sounds of this interview. I think I'll need to really live with this one before I can go deep with it, but I know enough to recommend it, at the very least. There's also RAY, the trio of Ashley Paul, Yoni Silver, and Otto Willberg. The band name is taken from the title of Paul's 2020 album (sort of like what happened with Good Sad Happy Bad), and this recording (taken from a live performance at Cafe OTO) mostly is just expanding on a few of the songs that were on there, it's not wholly new. But I thought that album was one of 2020's finest, somehow simultaneously embodying the crumbly nature of a dried leaf and also a warm summer breeze, it's a really peculiar sound, and I am very glad that it's continuing.

There's plenty of artists that are brand new to me here as well. This JJJJJerome Ellis album is quite the singular experience, I'll need to really get into it at a later date but you should check out this interview with Kadish Morris for The Guardian. There's a lot of music that does great things with allowing you to truly see who the artist is, but hearing the way Ellis puts his experience with stuttering into this, like it doesn't strike me as fitting into a lot of the aural semiotics of intimacy, but I feel like I've seen him through what he's done on this album.

As far as other new faces go, there's this Ilai Ashdot album on Orange Milk. This appears to be a similar situation as with the NTsKi album, where an artist has just been out there for a few years, building up a collection of superbly produced electronic pop music, and then OM comes in and helps the album get out into the world. So I gotta tip my hat to their talent scouting abilities, they're frequently bringing some great introductions. I've seen this one get called hyperpop, but that always makes me think of a speedy sugar rush, but the pace here always feels reasonable. I guess it's more like the hyper in hypersaturated, the sense of extremes. It kind of reminds me of the scale and drama of Tim Exile's Listening Tree. There's quite a few differences, most notably how this one is a bit sunnier than Exile's night/goth vibe, but I feel like there's some kind of overlapping vibe. The important takeaway here is that it's good stuff! Elsewhere, there's this new one from Eat Avery's Bones, I've never heard them but they've got a bunch of members from Gay Cum Daddies, and I really like the noise rock I've heard from that band. It reminds me of all the times that I'll be enjoying a new song, but then I realize I accidentally opened two different songs or two instances of the same song at almost the exact same time. Except they did it on purpose. I have no idea what this new band sounds like but I'm sure it'll be cool. There's also this ZAÄAR album, I didn't have any particular existing reason to be interested in this one, but I liked the cover. It's a detailed painting of weird animals that have tiny heads. I guess the label is well regarded, and the band Neptunian Maximalism has some kind of affiliation with them, I remember seeing them gain some acclaim online (but I still haven't heard any of it). I'm still not sure how to talk about this music from ZAÄAR, but I like it!

There was also this Max Syedtollan / Plus-Minus Ensemble album that happened to catch my eye, because it featured some kind of essay from Neil Luck, but I guess it's only on the physical copy, so I haven't read it or anything like that. And then there's also the fact that the Plus-Minus Ensemble should have already been on my radar, since they did great work on Cassandra Miller's Songs About Singing, and feature many of the Another Timbre all-stars. And I guess this GLARC label has some kind of connection to Still House Plants? I don't know, but I need to do more investigating, because this is absolutely the kind of musical surprise that I love to hear. The title track starts out with an unusual approach to sing-speech vocals, but it felt intuitively understandable, like the boundaries of what it was doing were readily apparent. But it goes on quite a journey, with the accompaniment from the ensemble pushing the severity of all the twists and turns. The boundaries get stomped, my expectations are left in tatters, it's a great outcome. I think I will need to hear everything that Syedtollan does now.

This new batch of music on Recital also seems really cool. They've got this archival reissue of an impossibly rare tape from Alison Knowles, with music sourced from recordings of the creation of an 8 foot tall book, and then also some other stuff involving beans. This label is a fitting home, as she was a founding member of the fluxus art movement, and their spirit continues to ripple outward through the beautifuly humorous home-cooked oddities from many of the label's contemporary releases. There's also something from Alex Twomey, he was a part of that great Saturday Night album with Sean McCann and Matthew Sullivan. Though his 2019 album The Entertainer is probably more relevant here, with that whole directly melodic showing up again on this new one. And then there's also the collaboration between McCann and Sarah Davachi, I'm planning on buying the album when I make my next round of purchases, so I haven't really heard any of it yet, but those two have delivered a lot of fantastic music so I think they've earned the blind buy. But that does mean I can't really tell you about it. If you want to know why I'm convinced, just go listen to Puck and Let Night Come On Bells End The Day.

And then there's all that stuff I didn't talk about! That's all worth a look as well, and I'd like to come back and give all of this some dedicated attention. But also, it turns out that there was a whole bunch of music that I only found out about after it came out!

Wendy Eisenberg - Bent Ring (Dear Life Records)

Fuubutsushi - Shiki (cachedmedia)

Hikaru Yamada - Live at Ftarri, October 4, 2021 (Ftarri Live)

Kassel Jaeger - Fragments IV: Collected Waves from Surrogate Memories (Self Released)

Loraine James - Wrong Name EP (Self Released)

knd - Live at Ftarri, April 24 and August 22, 2021 (Ftarri Live)

Mary Lattimore & Growing - Gainer (Self Released)

Masatake Abe / Yoshiki Ichihara - Live at Ftarri, October 3, 2021 (Ftarri Live)

Jim O'Rourke - Steamroom 56 (Self Released)

Rojin Sharafi - Kariz (Ventil Records)

Yoshiki Ichihara - Live at Ftarri, June 13 and August 22, 2021 (Ftarri Live)

I can't believe a new one from Rojin Sharafi came out without me noticing! Her album from 2019, Urns Waiting To Be Fed, was one of the most striking debuts of recent memory, there's this uncanny mixture of physical instruments with complex synthesis that's integral to achieving this sort of cramped uncertainty in the compositions, like all of the aspects are enhancing each other. And then last year's Zangaar brought vocals into the mix, and while I can't understand the language, they're used to push into more rhythmic certainty, broadening the dynamic range between urgency and calm. And now we have this album, which goes back to the purely instrumental realm, but features some really peculiar drum machine work that continues developing the role of rhythm in all of this. I plan on living with this music for a bit before trying to really get into it, but for now I'll just say that I continue to be amazed by what Sharafi is doing, and consider her work to be some of the most vital electronic music happening right now, and that people need to be paying attention. If you've been a fan of the Exai/Elseq/NTS Session era of Autechre, I think this new album is a particularly good starting point!

There's some stuff here that I should be on top of, like this Fuubutsushi compilation. I don't know what took me so long, but the music that Chris Jusell, Chaz Prymek, Matthew Sage, and Patrick Shiroishi have produced here makes me want to read more about how to talk about beauty. I'll have more to say when I do that! Then there's this new one from Wendy Eisenberg, I'm still getting caught up with all of her varied musical pursuits, but I still want to be keeping track of anything new as well. This sounds a lot different from the harmolodic shredding she was doing on the Strictly Missionary album in October. This one is banjo-led songwriting, I've only heard a couple of songs off of it but these sound like some top shelf compositions! Very excited to hear the rest. And then there was this Loraine James EP that was only up for a week and is now no longer available through official channels. Each track is a different misspelling of her name, which means that now when people commit the mistake on Youtube or Soulseek, they can learn from the error! They'll get some good tunes too, like it's not meant to have that polished 'major statement' kind of vibe of the album material, but even when she's going low key, James still brings the intricacy, like with the bass on that last track. So good! Another one that felt like it came out of nowhere was this Mary Lattimore & Growing collaboration. It's an intriguing pairing, having Lattimore's harp alongside whatever machine Growing uses to turn guitars into physical colors, I need to give it a close listen but I like what I'm hearing. And in further surprises, there was Kassel Jaeger with another entry in his Fragments series. I got the first one back when it came out and wasn't really sure what to make of it, but I guess subsequent volumes have included a description explaining that the tracks have been recorded with the intent of using them as a part of something bigger, before letting them go off and be their own thing here.

And then this one isn't really a surprise, not exactly, because it's the 56th volume, but Jim O'Rourke is back with another Steamroom. I love O'Rourke but I do not catch anywhere near as many of these as I should. I really do want to fix that. This time next year, I'm going to have way more Steamroom experience, just you wait. Also, a bunch of live recordings from Ftarri came out, some of it seems like it might be too extreme for me right now, like that knd one. I'm very intrigued, but I don't think I can pull off that kind of listening until things settle down a bit. I'm hopeful that the right time will come soon.

I'll have more to say about the rest of November in the near future, but in the meantime, you can just go check the anticipation list and get a preview of what I'll be talking about, go ahead and listen to some stuff before I even say anything about it.

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