Solange – When I Get Home

Style: Modern Soul, Art Pop
Vibe: Reflective, Lush, Mellow, Confident, Groovy, Introspective, Summer, Warm
Musical Attributes: Melodic, Soft, Suite, Vignettes, Polished, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Beats

Sixteen Horsepower – Folklore

Style: Gothic Country, Americana, Chamber Folk
Vibe: Rustic, Sombre, Murky, Rootsy, Ominous, Loner, Western, Melancholy, Moody, Dark
Musical Attributes: Acoustic Instrumentation (Banjo, Upright Bass, Cello, Acoustic Guitar, Accordion, Piano), Atmospheric, Droney, Slow, Lyrical
Lyrical Themes: Alienation, Religious, Christian, Storytelling

New Balance – The Spirits will Shimmer while I stare at their Shadows

While escapism is an understandable instinct in times of turmoil, The Spirits Will Shimmer encourages reflection on our current realities rather than turning a blind eye. New Balance’s Jeremy Leasure thoughtfully constructs a sonic cocoon of backwoods ambience from warped banjo improvisations and Casio synth atmospheres, foregoing the vivid lyrical imagery and lush arrangments of past releases. By offering a temporary respite from overstimulation, these meditative mood pieces carve out the space necessary to process the endless stream of information weighing on our hearts and minds.

Horse Lords – The Common Task

The Common Task is an incessant barrage of jolting polyrhythms that simultaneously hypnotize and disorient.

Style: Experimental Rock, Math Rock, Post-Rock, Totalism
Vibe: Hypnotic, Surreal, Triumphant, Complex, Political
Musical Attributes: Microtonal, Polyrhythmic, Repetitive, Odd Time Signatures, Saharan Africa-Influenced, Technical, Instrumental

Lonnie Holley – Mith

Style: Experimental Singer-Songwriter, Soul Blues, Psychedelic Soul

Vibe: Imaginative, Bluesy, Cathartic, Conscious, Cosmic, Spiritual, Heartfelt, Passionate, Psychedelic, Rootsy, Bittersweet, Poetic

Lyrical Themes: Existential, Afro-Futurism, History, Racism, Reflective

Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Lyrical, Improvisation, Raw, Studio-as-an-Instrument

Instrumentation: Vocals, Piano, Synthesizers, Keyboards, Saxophone, Trombone, Percussion

Sunburned Hand of the Man – Fire Escape

The free-form psychedelia and tribal “group therapy” of Sunburned Hand of the Man are in great hands with producer Kieran Hebden (Four Tet)—his dubs and cuts transform their usually lo-fi, meandering jams into something much more immediate, without losing any of their exploratory and spontaneous energy. Recommended for fans of polyrhythmic Afro-inspired percussion, dubbed out production, communal sound rituals, and dense psychedelia.

Robbie Basho – Visions of the Country

Style: American Primitivism, Singer/Songwriter, Folk, Raga
Vibe: Mystical, Nature, Open, Passionate, Pastoral, Peaceful, Airy, Contemplative, Earthy, Impressionistic, Meditative, Morning, Spring, Spiritual,
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Indian-Influenced, Sparse, Technical

Albert Ayler – New Grass

One can only imagine how Ayler bringing more commercial styles like R&B, Rock, and Gospel into his avant-garde music messed with critics and fans alike when it came out—the way it looked like commercial pandering to the Free Jazz listeners but was probably still too weird for new listeners. It helps to remember that Ayler came from R&B and went straight to the Free Spiritual Jazz of the early 60s, making Jazz critics highly skeptical skeptical by not climbing the bebop ranks like Coltrane before plunging into freedom. On New Grass, Ayler really started to synthesize the spiritual elements of many forms of Great Black Music, making more accessible music not as a way of selling out, but a way of sharing his beautiful spiritual message and sound with a wider audience. Plus this thing has Bernard Purdie on drums so of course it slaps.
If you dig this LP, I think he succeeded in this sound direction even more on his following albums Love Cry and Music is the Healing Force of the Universe. Albert Ayler was a pure soul that left this world too soon, grateful for the gifts of music and wisdom he left behind.

Mogwai – Mr. Beast

Style: Post-Rock, Shoegaze, Slowcore

Vibe: Cinematic, Moody, Contemplative, Focused, Fuzzy, Melancholy, Sombre, Cathartic

Musical Attributes: Dynamic, Melodic, Noisy, Repetitive, Slow, Atmospheric, Polyphonic

Ilyas Ahmed – I Am All Your Own

Style: Loner Folk, Singer Songwriter, Psych Folk

Vibe: Lethargic, Loner, Peaceful, Soothing, Airy, Mellow, Contemplative, Dreamy, Droney, Hypnotic, Intimate, Introspective

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Droney, Slow, Sparse, Soft

The Microphones – The Glow Pt. 2

Style: Lo-Fi, Experimental Singer/Songwriter, Loner Folk
Vibe: Heartfelt, Imaginative, Introspective, Nature, Intimate, Loner, Bittersweet, Depressive, Psychedelic, Raw, Lonely
Lyrical Themes: Existential, Alienation, Breakup, Philosophical, Poetic, Personal, Death
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Noisy, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Analogue Recording, lo-fi, Distorted

Tarantel – We Move Through Weather

Style: Post-Rock, Experimental Rock
Vibe: Exploratory, Hypnotic, Meandering, Murky, Mysterious, Nature, Abstract, Aquatic, Driving, Droney, Psychedelic
Musical Attributes: Instrumental, Repetitive, Atmospheric, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Loops, Innovative, Dynamic

The Books – Lost and Safe

Style: Collage-Pop, Glitch-Folk, Plunderphonics

Vibe: Surreal, Psychedelic, Peaceful, Cerebral, Meditative,  Philosophical, Spiritual, Uplifting, Warm, Playful, Hallucinogenic

Musical Attributes: Sampling, Electro-Acoustic, Melodic, Sound Collage, Vocal Manipulation

Jamila Woods – Heavn

Style: Soul, Art Pop

Vibe: Confident, Heartfelt, Introspective, Colorful, Triumphant, Uplifting, Urban, Loner

Lyrical Themes: Conscious, Poetic, Political, Personal, Black Pride, Love, Feminist

Musical Attributes: Groovy, Lush, Headphone Album, Polished, Catchy, Technical

John Coltrane – Live at the Village Vanguard Again!

Style: Spiritual Jazz, Free Jazz
Vibe: Passionate, Spiritual, Exploratory, Triumphant, 
Musical Attributes: Complex, Modal, Thematic, Acoustic, Live, Improvisation, Dynamic, Instrumental

Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness

Style: Chamber Pop, Art Pop
Vibe: Lush, Ethereal, Imaginative, Sensual, Storytelling, Surreal, Intricate, Airy, Dreamy
Instrumentation: Vocals, Keyboards (Piano, Harpsichord, etc), Upright Bass, Strings, Drums, Saxophone

The Mars Volta – The Bedlam in Goliath

Style: Progressive Rock, Psych, Experimental Rock
Vibe: Bombastic, Mystical, Cerebral, Chaotic, Cryptic, Desert, Energetic, Epic, Hallucinogenic, intense, manic, Psychedelic, Complex
Musical Attributes: Dense, Odd Time Signatures, Progressive Structures, Polyrhythmic, Riffs, Technical

Sly & the Family Stone – There’s a Riot Goin’ On

Style: Psychedelic Funk

Vibe: Triumphant, Energetic, Anthemic, Communal, Rebellious, Groovy, Sunny, Psychedelic, Powerful, Confident, Eclectic, Complex

Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Bridges

Style: Soul, Jazz-Funk, Singer-Songwriter

Vibe: Conscious, Groovy, Lush, Lyrical, Passionate, Philosophical, Political, Sunny, Triumphant, Uplifting, Urban, Accessible, Bittersweet, Catchy, Confident

Spaza – Spaza

“There is a heightened and sustained sense of intuition running through this recording whose sonic palette is so wide it captures – through soundscaping, invocation, lament, impressionistic vocal weaving – not only the transient and hybridised nature of life in Johannesburg, but also the heaviness of the air at the time of its recording. More ambient, controlled swirl of rhythm and experimental mixing than incessant groove, the album is an outpouring of a range of expressions that exist between the supposed binaries of indigenous forms of music and the electronic experimentation Johannesburg is known globally for.” (from Bandcamp)

Mos Def – Black on Both Sides

Style: East Coast Hip-Hop, Boom Bap, Jazz Rap

Vibe: Conscious, Uplifting, Groovy, Confident, Urban

Lyrics/Themes: Philosophical, Political, Black Pride, Racism, Spiritual, Islam

Musical Attributes: Lyrical, Sampling, Beats, Turntables, Live Instrumentation (Rhodes, Electric Bass)

Steve Reich with Kronos Quartet & Pat Metheny – Different Trains; Electric Counterpoint

Style: Minimalism, Tape Music, Chamber Music

Vibe/Themes: Pulsing,  Hypnotic, History, Meditative

Musical Attributes: Repetitive, Sampling, Electro-Acoustic, Spoken Word

Stereolab – Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night

Style: Progressive Pop, Space Age Pop

Influences: Kosmische Musik, Bossa Nova, French Pop, Lounge

Vibe: Spacey, Lush, Retro-Futuristic, Catchy, Groovy, Motorik, Nocturnal, Uplifting

Musical Attributes: Melodic, Headphone Album, Odd Time Signatures, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Progressive, Lyrical

Lyrics: Philosophical, Political, Communist, Bi-Lingual (English and French)

Instrumentation: Synthesizers, Vibraphone, Drums, Electric Bass, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Brass, Strings, Keys (Organ, Clavinet, Harpsichord, Wurlitzer)

Eddie Henderson – Realization

Style: Abstract Funk, Jazz Fusion, Spiritual Jazz

Lineup: Eddie Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Bennie Maupin, Lenny White, Billy Hart, Buster Williams, Pat Gleeson

Vibe: Cosmic, Exploratory, Groovy, Atmospheric, Spacey, Spiritual

Musical Attributes: Collective Improvisation, Polyrhythmic, Odd Time Signatures, Studio-as-an-Instrument

Alex G – Beach Music

Listening to Alex G, one might imagine a young alien sitting alone in his martian bedroom baring his angsty, teenage confessions to his 4-track tape recorder. Yet, at the core of his music, underneath layers of psychedelic guitars, weird pitch-shifted vocals, and occasional lo-fi hiss, lies some genius pop songs that feel simultaneously adolescent and mature.

Recommended for fans of lo-fi experimentation and bedroom pop. Alex seems to pull influences from all over and channel them through his own unique personality and penchant for odd, psychedelic production. Recalls Elliot Smith’s loner acoustic songwriting and drum machines pulled from 80′s pop songs; there’s even a fucked up jazz piano ballad thrown into the mix.

Jim White and Marisa Anderson – The Quickening

This impressionistic and contemplative collaboration channels deep American folk roots through free flowing improvisations. The panoramic and sensitive drumming of Jim White (Dirty Three, Cat Power, etc) is a perfect match for Marisa Anderson’s primitivist guitar sensibilities, which feel both immediate and abstract.

The Mars Volta – Amputechture

Style: Progressive Rock, Experimental Rock

Vibe: Epic, Psychedelic, Chaotic, Bombastic, Cerebral, Complex, Cryptic, Energetic, Ominous, Intense

Musical Attributes: Dense, Polyphonic, Technical, Odd Time Signatures, Headphone Album, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Progressive

Anthony Braxton – Creative Orchestra Music 1976

Style: Avant-Garde Big Band, Free Jazz

Vibe: Cerebral, Bombastic, Energetic, Complex, Abstract

Musical Attributes: Dense, Poly-Free Improvisation, Polyphonic, Dynamic, Instrumental, Technical, Innovative

Pharoah Sanders – Village of the Pharoahs

Style: Spiritual Jazz, Free Jazz
Vibe: Communal, Earthy, Energetic, Hypnotic, Intense, Loose, Mystical, Passionate, Spiritual, Tribal, Uplifting, Warm, Dance
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Complex, Collective Improvisation, Percussive, Dense, Thematic, Suite

Gruppe Nuova Consonanza – Improvisationen

Style: Free Improvisation, Experimental, Tape Music

Vibe: Suspenseful, Active Listening

Musical Attributes: Collective Improvisation, Atonal, Sparse, Dynamic

Instrumentation: Trumpet, Upright Bass, Cello, Trombone, Percussion, Piano, Electro-Magnetic Tape

Ornette Coleman Double Quintet – Free Jazz

Style: Free Jazz

Vibe: Communal, Bombastic, Complex, Energetic, Passionate, Chaotic

Musical Attributes: Collective Improvisation, Dense, Instrumental, Acoustic, Dynamic, Polyphonic

Atoms for Peace – Amok

Style: Glitch-Pop, IDM, Electronic Rock

Vibe: Moody, Groovy, Glitchy, Mechanical, Dance, Futuristic

Musical Attributes: Loops, Percussive, Polyrhythmic, Polished, Live Instrumentation, Digital Post-Production

The Necks – Vertigo

Style: Free Improvisation, Post-Minimalism, Trance Jazz, Avant-Garde Jazz

Vibe: Suspenseful, Hypnotic, Epic, Anxious, Impressionistic

Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Repetitive, Droney, Dissonant, Electro-Acoustic, Collective Improvisation, Minimalistic

James Holden & the Animal Spirits – The Animal Spirits

These communal sound rituals express a digital-era longing to reconnect to the Earth. The grooves here are circular and ceremonial, not rooted to any specific musical traditions but borrowing from many, including cosmic jazz, kosmische musik and undoubtedly inspired by Holden’s collaboration with legendary Gnawa musician Maleem Mahmoud Ghania. Drums and percussion ground the proceedings while muscular sequencer and fiery saxophone arpeggiations hypnotically intertwine.  The sounds of fluttering recorder and modular synthesizer swirl through the air like offerings to the cosmos. 

Recommended for fans of The Comet is Coming, Tonto’s Exploding Head Band, Maleem Mahmoud Ghania & Pharoah Sander’s Trance of Seven Colors, Natural Information Society, Colin Stetson

Human Behavior – Kedumim

Religious allegory, profane thoughts, and lustful confessions intertwine on Human Behavior’s third LP; Kedimum is a brooding suite of psychological chamber folk that introspects into a conflicted mind, struggling to reconcile matters of indoctrinated faith, natural human desires, and internalized guilt. Primary songwriter Andres Parada is joined by a sympathetic cast of vocalists to create a vivid sonic drama complete with choral vocals and spoken word passages to complement his haunting narrations. The intricate and shadowy arrangements blend distorted electronic beats with a wide array of acoustic instrumentation, including banjo, clarinet, accordian, acoustic guitar, violin, ehru, and cello.

Tangents – Stateless

“The five-piece band synthesise contemporary classical forms – most often recalling Steve Reich or Philip Glass – and marry them to the looseness and improvisational nature of jazz and the dynamics of head-nodding electronic music. Stateless is at once both carefully composed and freely flowing. The compositions included here are more about rhythm, texture and contrast than definable melodies and harmonic structures.” – Scott Wallace [Sydney Scoop]

Mike and Lal Waterson – Bright Phoebus

Style: British Folk, Country-Influenced
Vibe: Contemplative, Earthy, Introspective, Melancholy, Rootsy, Rural, Storytelling
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Vocal Harmonies, Lyrical, Melodic, Simple, Sparse

Circuit Des Yeux – Reaching for Indigo [Full Review]

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Jazz-Folk, Experimental Rock

Vibe: Cathartic, Transcendent, Existential, Funereal, Introspective, Intense

Featuring: Ryley Walker, Ka Baird, Cooper Crain, Joshua Abrams

[Follow link for full review]

Third Ear Band – Alchemy

Released in 1969 on Harvest Records Format: LP Style: Free Folk, Chamber Music, Progressive Folk Vibe: Ritualistic, Hypnotic, Earthy, Tribal, Nature, Meditative,…

Irreversible Entanglements – Who Sent You?

Irreversible Entanglements follows up the scathing fire music of their debut with regenerative and ritualistic earth music. “Who Sent You?”, is a record that looks not only to the violent “rhythms of oppression”, past and present, that need to be burnt to the ground, but to a future built from the ashes of these unjust systems. Irreversible Entanglements are simply one of the most powerful bands in existence, building their symbiotic improvisations with fervent passion, hypnotic rhythm, and urgent truths.