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

Ka Baird – Sapropelic Picnic

Style: Psychedelic Minimalism, Post-Minimalism, Ritual Folk

Vibe: Ritualistic, Hallucinogenic, Hypnotic, Earthy, Primal, Psychedelic, Spiritual

Musical Attributes: Electro-Acoustic, Loops, Minimalistic, Sampling

Instrumentation: Manipulated Vocals, Flute, Synthesizer (Moog), Drum Samples, Vibraphone

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

Nuke Watch – Countdown

Style: Organic Beat Music, Tribal Ambient, Ritual Psych-Folk, Progressive Electronic

Vibe: Hallucinogenic, Exploratory, Mysterious, Meditative, Hypnotic

Musical Attributes: Electro-Acoustic, Beats, Percussive, Polyphonic, Loops

Spires that in the Sunset Rise – Psychic Oscillations

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.

Nicolas Jaar – Cenizas

Released in 2020 on Other People Records

Artist: Nicolas Jaar

Format: LPx2


Style: Progressive Electronic, Ambient Pop, Sound Sculpture

Vibe: Introspective, Mysterious, Nocturnal, Shadowy, Abstract, Dark, Hypnotic, Meditative

Musical Attributes: Electro-Acoustic, Progressive, Digital, Studio-as-an-Instrument

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.

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

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

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

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]

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – Tracing Back the Radiance

Washes of piano, harp, and other ephemeral sonic artifacts float through Ledesma’s peaceful, almost static atmospheres like a night breeze through the quiet woods.

The Books – The Way Out

The Books’ music is simultaneously funny, innovative, catchy and enlightening. They use found sound and spoken word mixed with innovative recording techniques and acoustic instruments to create beautiful sound-collages that somehow create unity between all these disparate sources, as if they were all meant to be together. Everything these guys do, solo or together, is absolute genius.

Brokeback – Field Recordings from the Cook County Water Table

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