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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – A Year With 13 Moons

Distorted ghosts of past love and futures lost haunt the spaces between these woozy, blown-out guitar loops and the fragmented rhythms of decaying drums machines. Occasional bursts of noise tear through the sedating static of bittersweet nostalgia.

Robert Wyatt – Old Rottenhat

Style: Experimental Singer-Songwriter, Art Pop, Canterbury Scene, Jazz-Rock

Vibe: Political (Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Imperialist), Satirical, Conscious, Melancholy, Hypnotic

Musical Attributes/Instrumentation: Sparse, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Layered Vocals, Digital Keyboards, Drum Machines, Percussion, Synthesizers, Piano

Gastr Del Sol – 20 Songs Less

Style: Avant-Folk, Experimental, Math-Rock

Vibe: Sporadic, Chaotic, Abstract, Agular, Cerebral

Musical Attributes: Noisy, Glitchy, Collage, Complex, Electro-acoustic, Instrumental, Studio-as-an-instrument

Cat Power – Moon Pix

Style: Slowcore-Country, Singer-Songwriter

Vibe: Brooding, Hypnotic, Conversational, Reflective, Intimate, Lethargic, Confident, Moody, Overcast

Musical Attributes: Slow, Repetitive, Focused

Funkadelic – Cosmic Slop

Style: Psychedelic Funk

Vibe: Groovy, Afro-Futurism, Hedonistic, Psychedelic, Fantasy, Bombastic, Sexual, Communal, Triumphant, Playful

Yes – Close to the Edge

Style: Progressive Rock

Vibe: Epic, Triumphant, Bombastic, Lush, Uplifting, Fantasy

Musical Attributes: Complex, Polyphonic, Progressive, Techncial, Symphonic

fightmaster – quiet for quiet

Style: Ambient

Vibe: Enveloping, Intricate, Reflective

Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Melodic, Sampling, Tape Hiss, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Looping

Yves Jarvis – The Same but by Different Means

Style: Psychedelic Gospel Folk, Bedroom Soul, Experimental Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Woozy, Imaginative, Cryptic, Warm, Ethereal, Stoned

Musical Attributes: Lo-fi, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Vocal Harmonies, Vocal Manipulation, Eclectic, Collage

Weather Report – Mr. Gone

Style: Jazz Fusion

Vibe: Futuristic, Groovy, Surreal, Complex, Energetic

Musical Attributes: Improvisation, Polished, Technical, Studio-as-an-Instrument

Henry Grimes Trio – The Call

Style: Free Jazz

Vibe: Mysterious, Moody, Complex

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

Personnel: Henry Grimes (Upright Bass), Perry Robinson (Clarinet), Tom Price (Drums)

Joshua Abrams – Natural Information

Style: Psychedelic Trance Music, Avant-Jazz, Creative Music, Post-Minimalism

Influences: Gnawa, Spiritual Jazz, Raga, Kosmische Musik

Vibe: Earthy, Hypnotic, Meditative, Cosmic, Psychedelic, Ritualistic, Spiritual, Tribal

Musical Attributes: Polyrhythmic, Acoustic, Minimalistic, Improvisation, Percussive, Instrumental

Slint – Spiderland

Style: Post-Rock, Math Rock, Post-Hardcore, Slowcore

Vibe: Angsty, Angular, Cold, Heavy, Impressionistic, Suspenseful

Lyrical Themes: Alienation, Existential, Poetic, Storytelling

Musical Attributes: Dynamic, Slow, Dissonant, Raw, Repetitive

The Awakening – Hear, Sense and Feel

Style: Soul Jazz, Spiritual Jazz

Vibe: Uplifting, Joyful, Anthemic, Communal, Groovy, Spiritual, Spring

Musical Attributes: Complex, Improvisation (Chordal), Rhythmic, Technical, Thematic

Instrumentation: Piano, Upright Bass, Trumpet, Saxophone (Tenor), Flute, Drums, Trombone

Yves Tumor – Safe in the Hands of Love

Style: Art Pop, Neo-Psychedelia, Trip-Hop, Experimental Electronic

Vibe: Nocturnal, Surreal, Introspective, Longing, Alienation, Abstract, Anxious, Dark, Depressive, Eclectic, Love, psychedelic

Josh Abrams & Natural Information Society

Style: Psychedelic Jazz, Creative Music, Post-Minimalism

Influences: Gnawa, Kosmische Music, Spiritual Jazz, Minimalism

Vibe: Earthy, Hypnotic, Exploratory, Mysterious, Ritualistic, Psychedelic

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Improvisation, Minimalistic, Percussive, Polyrhythmic

Lankum – Between the Earth and Sky

Style: Irish Folk Music, Celtic Folk

Vibe: Rootsy, Passionate, Communal, Depressive, Rebellious, Triumphant

Musical Attributes: Vocal Harmonies, Droney, Acoustic

Jim O’Rourke – Simple Songs

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Chamber Pop, Progressive Pop

Vibe: Playful, Bittersweet, Satirical, Catchy

Musical Attributes: Lush, Progressive, Melodic, Lyrical, Polished

The Cure – Pornography

Style: Psychedelic Goth, Post-Punk

Vibe: Cold, Dark, Moody, Psychedelic, Nihilistic, Nocturnal, Depressive

Michael White – Spirit Dance

Style: Spiritual Jazz
Vibe: Cosmic, Passionate, Spiritual, Uplifting
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Improvisation (Thematic & Collective), Loose, Percussive

Between – Dharana

Style: Spiritual Folk, Psychedelic Chamber Music, Kosmische, New Age
Vibe: Ritualistic, Religious (Hindu), Hypnotic, Spiritual, Tribal
Musical Attributes Acoustic, Percussive, Raga-Influenced, Chants

Tortoise – TNT

Style: Post-Rock, Experimental Rock
Influences: Dub, Kosmische Musik, Bossa Nova, Lounge, Minimalism, Jazz, Electronic
Vibe: Contemplative, Eclectic, Focused, Futuristic, Impressionistic, Lush, Meditative, Peaceful, Soothing
Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Complex, Digital Production, Percussive, Polyphonic, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Loops, Headphone Album, Rhythmic, Pulse, Instrumental, Progressive, Polished

Califone – All My Friends Are Funeral Singers

Style: New Weird America, Alt-Country, Psychedelic Americana, Chamber Folk

Vibe: Rustic, Rootsy, Bittersweet, Psychedelic

Musical Attributes: Chamber, Percussive, Studio-as-an-instrument, Rhythmic, Electro-Acoustic, Loops

Instrumentation: Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Vocals, Keyboards, Synthesizer, Fiddle, Mallet Percussion, Horns, Electronic Percussion, Upright Bass, Electric Bass, Piano

Sonny Sharrock – Guitar

Style: Free Blues, Free Jazz

Vibe: Bluesy, Triumphant, Anthemic, Cathartic, Passionate

Musical Attributes: Solo Improvisation, Loops (Overdubs), Improvisation, Thematic, Instrumental, Melodic, Distorted

Tame Impala – Lonerism

Style: Psych Pop, Dream Pop, Shoegaze, Neo-Psychedelia

Vibe: Dreamy, Catchy, Lush, Warm, Alienation, Psychedelic, Studio-as-an-instrument

Musical Attributes: Melodic, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Headphone Album

Natalie Rose Lebrecht – Mandarava Rose

Style: Ambient Pop, Free Folk, New Age

Vibe: Cosmic, Dreamy, Earthy, Ethereal, Lethargic, Meditative, Mystical, Passionate, Ritualistic, Soothing, Spiritual

Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Droney, Slow

Pharoah Sanders – Live at the East

Style: Spiritual Jazz, Free Jazz

Vibe: Ritualistic, Spiritual, Triumphant, Uplifting, Warm, Cathartic, Communal, Cosmic, Energetic, Intense, Passionate

Musical Attributes: Collective Improvisation, Acoustic, Live, Polyphonic, Percussive, Multiple Drummers

J Dilla – Donuts

Style: Instrumental Hip-Hop, Plunderphonics

Vibe: Bittersweet, Groovy, Heartfelt, Love, Warm, Lush

Musical Attributes: Sampling, Vignettes, Loops, Sound Collage, Rhythmic, Repetitive

Ahleuchatistas – Head Full of Poison

Genre: Experimental Rock, Brutal Prog, Math Rock

Vibe: Exploratory, Cathartic, Cold, Angular, Adventurous

Musical Attributes: Instrumental, Complex, Loops, Dissonant, Odd Time Signatures, Progressive, Percussive, Dynamic, Improvisation

Essential Spins of 2020

A retrospective curation of some of the amazing music that came out in 2020…including LPs, Cassettes, EPs, Live albums and Archival Releases. Dig In!

Gogoj – Oviparity

Style: Experimental, Electro-Acoustic, Noise, Drone
Vibe: Eerie, Noisy, Suspenseful
Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Electro-acoustic, Improvisation (Solo), Dynamic, Atonal, Loops
Instrumentation: Electric Cello with Effects

dumama + kechou- Buffering Juju

Style: Nomadic Future Folk, Organic Beat Music, South African Folk, Progressive Folk??

Vibe: Heartfelt, Imaginative, Futuristic, Ritualistic, Spiritual, Earthy, Psychedelic

??Musical Qualities: Electro-acoustic, Percussive, Polyrhythmic, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Progressive

Ezra Feinberg – Recumbent Speech

Style: Post-Rock, Post-Minimalism, Progressive Folk

Influences: Kosmische Musik, American Primitive Guitar, Minimalism

Vibe: Airy, Nocturnal, Pastoral, Peaceful, Focused, Imaginative, Impressionistic, Contemplative, Warm

Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Instrumental, Progressive, Pulse, Odd Time Signatures, Pulse, Dynamic, Headphone Album, Minimalistic

Deradoorian – Find the Sun

Style: Psych Rock, Kosmische-Influenced

Vibe: Introspective, Mystical, Spiritual, Confident, Conscious, Existential, Hypnotic, Motorik, Psychedelic, Uplifting

Spires that in the Sunset Rise – Psychic Oscillations [Review]

Psychedelic electro-acoustics and earthy minimalism from long-running avant-folk group Spires that in the Sunset Rise. The multi-instrumentalist duo of Ka Baird and Taralie Peterson ritualistically loop and layer a hypnotic tapestry of pre-verbal vocalizations, upright bass, flute, saxophone, synth, and autoharp, running each instrument through trippy stereo delays, visually represented by the two minute-apart clocks next to each other on the album cover. While not as witchy or jarring as the their early releases, Psychic Oscillations finds the band as entrancing as ever.

Klyfta – Cosmic Pilgrimage: The Klyfta Tapes (1972-1975)

This lost slab of mythical prog doesn’t shy away from indulging in the retro pleasures of instrumental psych-jammage and triumphant jazz-rock. The atmospheric guitar, spacey Moog, and Hammond organ playing are both epic and economical, nary a note wasted. Philip Grondahl’s violin playing on the opening track is especially heroic, recalling the flights of Jean-Luc Ponty or Mahavishnu’s Jerry Goodman. Despite their collective starward gaze, Klyfta remains firmly grounded by the tightness of the rhythm section. Aside from the explosive entropy of the first track (beginning with Anders Strand’s expansive upright bass solo), the grooves focus on repetitive momentum with unwavering determination.

Spencer Zahn – Sunday Painter

Composer and upright bassist Spencer Zahn crafts a peaceful album of impressionistic and pastoral jazz that recalls Talk Talk, ECM Records, In a Silent Way, and Bill Frisell. The atmospheres are open and washy thanks to sweeping piano gestures and Dave Harrington’s guitar loopery, while the slow, rolling rhythms of drummer Kenny Wollesen and percussionist Mauro Refosco keep the results grounded.

David Lord – Forest Standards, Vol. 2

Style: Jazz Fusion, Future Jazz, Post-Rock

Vibe: Forest, Knotty, Intricate, Nature, Impressionistic, Mysterious

Musical Attributes: Improvisation, Modal

[Click for album overview, listening links, and more information]

Golden Retriever & Chuck Johnson – Rain Shadow

Overview
Bass clarinet, pedal steel guitar, and synthesizer swirling together into a highly immersive and emotive combination of voices. Truly beautiful soundscapes that melt the worry away, with moments of quiet catharsis that I don’t experience very often in ambient music.

Natural Snow Buildings – The Snowbringer’s Cult

Amidst the icy winds of tribal drones and pagan folk rituals, there are moments of mystical serenity in the music of Natural Snow Buildings, like serendipitously finding warm shelter while lost in a punishing blizzard.

Rituals of the Moonlit Wood [Mix]

Rituals of the Moonlit Wood is a 100-minute vinyl mixtape for those unafraid to venture into the depths of the shadowy unknown….featuring nocturnal and ritualistic music of the acid-folk, drone, and experimental varieties.

Botany – End the Summertime F(or)ever

While the luminescent drones and angelic simulacra of Deepak Verbera expanded out into the cosmos, Botany’s newest LP feels more rooted in the soil of our material reality. The bass heavy beats and impassioned vocal samples inspire movement and action rather than contemplation alone, not to say the results aren’t heady. Rich tapestries of resonant acoustic instruments (harps, flutes, percussion, strings), woozy synths, and warm tape hiss are as intricate as ever and easy to lose (or find?) yourself in.?Recommended to fans of Flying Lotus’ Until the Quiet Comes, Boards of Canada, and Alice Coltrane.?

Chicago Underground Quartet – Good Days

Style: Creative Music, Electro-Jazz, Fusion
Vibe: Warm, Colorful, Eclectic, Uplifting
Musical Attributes: Improvisation (Thematic), Melodic, Instrumental, Technical, Percussive

Tricky – Maxinquaye

Style: Trip-Hop, U.K. Hip-Hop
Vibe: Dark, Nocturnal, Sexual, Surreal, Eclectic, Introspective, Love
Musical Attributes: Sampling, Beats, Rhythmic, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Lyrical

David Bowie – Black Star

Style: Art Rock, Jazz-Rock
Vibe: Introspective, Moody, Passionate, Sentimental, Sombre, Conceptual
Musical Attributes: Lyrical, Complex, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Rhythmic, Progressive
Lyrical Themes: Death, Existential, Personal, Reflective

Albert Ayler – Holy Ghost

Style: Free Jazz, Spiritual Jazz
Vibe: Abstract, Active Listening, Chaotic, Energetic, Raw, Spiritual
Musical Attributes: Improvisation (Collective, Thematic, Free), Live, Lo-Fi, Instrumental, Acoustic

Doug Carn – Spirit of the New Land

Style: Spiritual Jazz, Black Liberation Music, Vocal Jazz

Vibe: Triumphant, Uplifting, Conscious, Groovy, Passionate, Poetic, Cathartic, Spiritual

Musical Attributes: Improvisation, Dynamic, Acoustic, Progressive, Rhythmic, Technical, Melodic, Complex

Off World – 1

Style: Progressive Electronic, Experimental
Vibe/Mood: Ethereal, Spacey, Futuristic, Mysterious, Suspenseful, impressionistic
Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Instrumental, Studio-as-an-instrument (Loops, Editing, Dubs), Vignettes, Improvisation
Instrumentation: Synthesizer, Drum Machine