On their second LP, Henry Cow weaves together elements of eerie chamber music, free improvisation, and deconstructed prog to create something that seems like the missing link between the Canterbury jazz-rock of Soft Machine and Gong and the dissonant avant-rock of This Heat.
Released in 1983 on ECM Format: LP
Originally released in 1977 on Clocktower Records Later pressing
Originally released in 1969 on Liberty Records 2014 pressing on Purple Pyramid Format: LP, pink/blue swirl vinyl Includes Poster
Released in 2014 on Sargent House Format: LPx2, marbled grey vinyl
Released in 2013 on Warp Records Format: LPx2
Self-released in 2013 Format: LP, includes CD
Featuring some of Chicago’s finest musicians and founding members of the AACM, (Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Richard Davis, Wadada Leo Smith, and Steve McCall), this 36 minute spontaneous composition doesn’t focus on soloing or instrumental technicality or rambunctious improvisIng, but creating and progressing an initially suspenseful, mysterious mood through focused, cohesive movements, with new sounds, moods, and melodies around every corner. Most of the musicians here play multiple instruments to sustain a versatile color palette.
“Functionally, the duet situation gives the greatest possibilities for establishing an affinity relationship with another musician on a one to one basis. This is especially true if the more open-ended forms where an improvisation is directly affected by both musicians on an equal plane” – Anthony Braxton
Released in 1967 on Takoma Records Format: LP
Originally released under the title Brown Rice in 1975 1977 pressing on Horizon Records Format: LP
Originally released in 1967 on Elektra 2012 Rhino Pressing, cut from original analogue masters Format: LP
Originally released in 1971 on United Artists Records Unofficial pressing on purple and brown marbled vinyl Format: LPx2
Released in 1998 on Drag City Format: LP
Originally released in 1974 on Spoon 2014 Mute Pressing Format: LP
Exuma’s first album is a powerful and ritualistic masterpiece of spiritual folk from the Bahamas. Exuma, the Obeah Man, is a master storyteller and preacher, sharing visions, myths, and prayers. His expressive, soulful voice takes on many tones as he delivers his musical sermons, from smooth to raspy, soft to confident. A group of singers, percussionists, whistlers, and toads join him and his acoustic guitar, making me imagine them all circled around a large fire in communal worship and grateful that they let us listeners in on it.
Released in 2009 on Drag City Format: LP Recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, Chicago, March 2009
Released in 2013 by Drag City Format: LPx2 Front and back cover by Michal Mozolewski Inner gatefold drawing by Simon…
Released in 1961 on Impulse Records Format: LP
Released on Capitol Records in 1969 2000 Pressing Format: LP
Released in 2014 on Drag City Format: LPx2, 45rpm
Released in 1974 on Virgin Records Format: LP
Released in 1977 on ECM Records Format: LP, white label promo
Originally released in 1972 on Brain Records 2010 Grönland Pressing Format: LP, White Vinyl
Released in 2012 on Invada Records Format: LPx2, orange vinyl Limited to 500 copies
Released in 2007 on Temporary Residence Format: LPx2, etching on D-side
Released in 1967 on Columbia Records Format: LP
Released in 1970 on Harvest Records 2014 Pressing Format: LP
Released in 1973 on A&M Records Format: LP
Releases in 1983 on Takoma Records Format: LP
Released in 2006 on Warp Records 2012 Pressing Format: LPx2, 180g, 45rpm
On experimental musician/author/professor David Grubb’s first album as singer-songwriter, he synthesizes technical bluegrass banjo and fingerstyle acoustic guitar playing with imaginative arrangements, abrupt stylistic shifts, philosophical questioning lyrics, improvisation, drones, and an eclectic cast of musicians, including drummer John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake), bassist Josh Abrams (Natural Information Society), and drone violinist Tony Conrad.
Originally released in 1991 on Polydor 2011 pressing on Ba Da Bing Records Format: LP
Released in 1967 on Takoma Records Format: LP
Released in 1966 on Impulse Records Original Pressing
Originally released in 1999 on Temporary Residence 2016 expanded edition
Released in 2011 on Blackest Rainbow Format: LPx2, 180g Ltd. to 750 copies
Released in 2007 on Eclipse Records Format: LP Includes 12″x24″ insert
Originally released in 1993 on Duophonic Records This pressing was released in 2012 on 1972 Records Format: LPx2
Released in 2009 on Graveface Records Format: LPx2, Stoughton Foil Sleeve Includes 24″x24″ poster RSD 2010 Pressing
Released in 1971 on Reprise Records Format: LP White label promo copy
Doug McComb’s first album as Brokeback is imbued with pastoral Impressionism, experimentalism, and a sense of Zen contentment. The record is mostly centered around his Bass VI, a short-scale bass with six strings that is trebly enough to function in both guitar and bass roles. This versatile instrument is usually wet with chorus and reverb that sculpt a fluid, aquatic tone to complement the slow, tranquil melodies. Outside of some solo pieces Doug is joined by a variety of accompaniment including lap steel guitar, synth, upright bass, Rhodes, vocals from Mary Hansen, and light percussion provided by producer/Tortoise bandmate John McEntire. This is a record that can be appreciated from a passive impressionistic standpoint, as well as under the microscopic attention of an engaged ear. (Follow link for full review)
Recommended for fans of Tortoise or Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti Western soundtracks
Released in 1996 on Happy Go Lucky Format: 12″ EP
Originally released in 1979 on Piano Records 2016 Modern Classics pressing on Light I’m the Attic Records Format: LP, includes…
The third album from the Melbourne (Au) violin/guitar/drum trio consists of loose, drifting instrumentals that conjure images of vast, open plains. Though the music here is often melancholic and lethargic, it is occasionally swept up with bursts of passionate energy and possessed by cathartic longing (especially the pleading and utterly beautiful violin solo on “Warren’s Lament”). All three instrumentalists have very individual styles that complement and dialogue with each other in refreshingly unique ways.
Released in 2007 by Gold Standards Laboratories Recorded November 2005 in Amsterdam Format: LP
Released in 1970 on Transatlantic Format: LP Original UK pressing
Released in October, 2001 on Constellation Records. Recorded at the mighty Hotel2Tango Format: 10″x2
Released in 1968 on Warner Bros.
“Side one features a collection of songs performed by a pliant and almost pristine quartet playing songs by Ornette Coleman, Paul Motian, Chris Schlarb, and Shadduck himself, while side two finds Anthony leading a loose, rocking and roiling double quartet performing more obliquely structures pieces and employing a healthy dose of spontaneous improvisation. Both ensembles strike my ear as CLASSIC, spanning the areas of jazz impressionism and edgy-yet-controlled “free jazz” with dedication and distinction.”
[From the liner notes, written by Nels Cline]
Released in 2009 on Strut Format: LPx2
Originally Released in 2007 on Ipecac Vinyl released in 2008 on Black Diamond Format: LPx2
Released in 2015 on Sargent House
Released in 2002 on Holy Mountain Format: LP This lo-fi psych-folk classic has a near-perfect tracklist of songs, eerie ambient…
Originally released in 2008 on Southern Lord 2014 Pressing Format: LPx2, Red Vinyl
Released on Stones Throw in 2004 2006 repress Format: LPx2
A far cry from the sparse folk usually recorded by Will Oldham, “Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties” finds his intimate voice and warbly acoustic guitar enveloped by the cosmic drones, blooming synths, airy flutes, and hypnotic tape loops of Chicago new age trio, Bitchin Bajas. The lyrics are essentially fortune cookie mantras and, while there’s a chance they’re tongue-in-cheek, it’s difficult not to smile and feel a brightening of the spirit when hearing uplifting phrases like “Your hard work is about to pay off, keep on keepin’ on” or “you and your whole family are well” get repeated over and over. This collaboration is a soothing, heartwarming listen and a refreshing change-of-pace from Oldham’s tendency towards melancholy and solemn lyrical content.
Pulling away from the jazzy psych-pop of their first two albums, Soft Machine gears towards sprawling sidelong compositions of spacey prog infused with thematic jazz fusion improvisations, compositional edits, and heavy doses of experimental post-production (for the more psychedelically inclined). Motivic electric-bass grooves, multi-tracked saxophones, loose swinging drums and fuzzy organs reign supreme. The whimsical and diverse musical nature of founding member/drummer Robert Wyatt was relegated to the eclectic C-side, “Moon in June”, which was his last composition for the band due to the other members not being a fan of his vocals and preferring the seriousness of jazz fusion to Wyatt’s child-like playfulness and spontaneity.
Released in 2014 on Stones Throw Format: LPx2
Released in 1974 on Virgin Records
The German upright bassist and composer is joined by a jazz quartet, cello ensemble, and choir for a colorfully complex album of atmospheric improvisation, progressive structures, and sweeping orchestral arrangements, with occasional segments of groovy fusion or synthesizer spaciness, all draped in the warm, reverbed production ECM albums are known for.
Darkly cinematic rock instrumentals with some creeping, Dostoevskian vibes. This is probably the most meticulous and progressive album I’ve heard from these guys, who are always finding new ways of funneling their omnivorous library of influences into their dramatic and atmospheric psych rock stylings.
“Side A is cut at 45rpm and features “Moya”, a broiling cascade of upward scales that repeatedly explodes beyond its own threshold. “BBF3” on Side B clocks in at 18 minutes, and was the band’s most lyrical, multi-movement music to date — more elaborated melodic figures wind around an angry spoken-word field recording (infamously culminating in the recital of the speaker’s poem — verses lifted straight from Iron Maiden)”
“World Music” is often a cheap umbrella term for non-Eurocentric music, but when acoustic guitar shredders Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah, from Costa Rica and Iran respectively, bring together a Cuban rhythm section, South Indian violinist, and Kuwaiti guitarist, the music they create truly does have a sense of cultural unity deserving of the term.
For fans of flamenco, Arabic folk, and acoustic guitar virtuosity
Originally released in 1969 on MPS Records 1972 BASF Pressing Format: LP
Whilst in Istanbul for an artist residency, the adventurous Canadian chamber rock group (featuring past members of Silver Mt. Zion and GY!BE) recorded with an ensemble of Turkish musicians, augmenting their core sound of cello, marimba, drums, and tenor banjo with the saz and several other instruments used in Turkish and Arabic folk music.
“Recorded during the same session as last year’s sublime Angels of Darkness I, the followup sees Dylan Carlson’s Earth take their panoramic instrumentals, heavy on improvisation this time, into uncharted territories. As with so much of Carlson’s work, these five songs suggest a mournful last dance in the decrepit roadhouse of some faded midwest mining town. But its the little flourishes that make them truly majestic: the droning psyche-folk thrum of His Teeth Did Brightly Shine; the country twang and graceful melodies of A Multiplicity of Doors”…”
After 20+ years of using his introspective songwriting as a playground for psychedelic lo-fi experimentation, underdog hero Emil Amos hands the production reins to John Angello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) for his most polished album yet, capturing the best aspects of 70’s rock classics without ever feeling cliché. The hi-fi analogue production brings a newfound clarity and depth that allows Amos’ songwriting and instrumental performances to bloom; the choruses are anthemic, the atmospheres are darkly psychedelic, and his lyrics are just as philosophical and contemplative as ever.
This was released in 2017 on Black Truffle Records Recorded live on October 28, 2014 at SuperDeluxe Tokyo by Masahide…
Released in 2014 on Invada Records Format: LPx2 Tannum Brown vinyl, limited to 1000 copies
Released in 1969 on Elektra Records
No Other is a masterpiece of Cosmic Americana from Gene Clark (Ex-Byrds). Here his amazing songwriting is complemented by lush instrumentation, psychedelic production, and grandiose choir arrangements.
Released in 2015 on Drag City Composed using Ben Chasny’s Hexadic System
On Towards Language, Norweigan trumpeter Arve Henriksen creates a blend of meditative and suspenseful ambient-jazz, demonstrating a more soothing side to his playing than his noisier output with electro-acoustic improvisers Supersilent.
Am I the only album-list nerd that gets a bit of anxiety from music blogs racing to publish their year-end…
Originally released in 1974 2018 Earth Records Pressing Digitally Remastered Format: LP
Released in 1977 on RCA Recorded live on a European tour in 1963 Format: LPx2
Originally released in 1969 on Columbia Records 1977 Pressing
Released in 1973 on Blue Thumb Records Format: LP, Quadrophonic Pressing
The Whole Thing is Just There is another beautiful and life-affirming release from Young Jesus, the second with the current L.A. iteration of the band. Their inter-band chemistry seems stronger than ever, with telepathic improvisations, symbiotic catharses, and a mutual love for each other that is easily felt from a listener’s perspective. The lyrics deal with self-exploration and one’s relationship with the world around them, finding solace in spirituality, existentialism, literature, and the ethos of free jazz. Stylistically the music seems rooted in late-90’s indie rock and emo, with seamless but adventurous detours into post-rock, noisy post-hardcore, and free improvisation. Excited to see where these guys go next.
Released in 2018 on Domino Records Format: LPx2 Includes 12″x12″ glossy lyric and photo booklet
Released in 2018 on P.W. Elverum & Sun Records Format: LP
Released in 2018 on Thrill Jockey Records Format: LPx2, Metallic Silver Vinyl
Released in 1999 on These Records Originally recorded for BBC in 1977
Released in 1966 on World Pacific Records Recorded in 1956
Released in 2018 on Columbia Records Recorded September and December, 1974
Released in 2015 on Partisan Records Recorded 2003-2005
There is a fathomless void within each of us. And while many choose to run from it, clinging to anything to keep from falling in, Deradoorian dove right in on her meditative release, Eternal Reccurrence. Here she provides somewhat of a sonic roadmap for diving deep within yourself, guided by the blooming drones of harmonium, Juno synthesizers, and flutes. Arising from the ether, layers of otherworldly voices sing mantras of facing our Shadow (“Mirrorman”), finding the love that resides in the core of our being, and bringing it back with us into this material dimension.
Spacious, Raga-inflected improvisations from Collin Walcott, Don Cherry, and Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos. Walcott has studied sitar directly under Ravi Shankar, and tabla under Alla Rakha, while trumpeter and flutist Don Cherry, after playing regularly with Ornette Coleman, has proceeded to travel around the world to study various musical traditions. Their wide influences come together organically to create meditative and exploratory music. A melodic and atmospheric fusion of airy flutes, watery sitar, hypnotic hammered dulcimer arpeggiations, driving webs of percussion, and bassy throat singing.