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

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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]

Ambarchi / O’Malley / Dunn – Shade Themes from Kairos

Style: Drone-Rock, Experimental Rock

Influences: Dark Ambient, Psych Rock, Kosmische, Noise, Drone-Metal

Vibe: Shadowy, Ominous, Brooding, Dark, Driving, Haunting, Hypnotic, Mysterious, Exploratory, Nocturnal, Hallucinogenic

Musical Attributes: Studio-as-an-instrument, Dissonant, Droney

Ulver – ATGCLVLSSCAP

This heavy drone rock feels like a journey through some haunted terrains and forests in ancient Europe. Monolithic fogs of synths and electronic soundscapes drone on for minutes at a time, occasionally being infiltrated by psychedelic guitars and pummeling marches of drums and bass. Given the cohesive ark, determined focus, and fluidity of the album (without as much as a pause between tracks until track 7), it was surprising to find that most of the songs are studio-enchanced improvisations pulled from 2014 tour recordings.

Recommended for fans of motorik drums, the thick drone of early Earth or Sunn O))), psychedelic guitar noises and fuzzy stoner rock riffs.

Anthony Davis – Epistēmē

Style: Poly-Free Improvisation, Modern Classical, Avant-Garde Big Band

Vibe: Complex, Hypnotic, Intense, Suspenseful, Cerebral

Musical Attributes: Polyrhythmic, Polyphonic, Odd Time Signatures, Acoustic, Poly-Free Improvisation, Repetitive

Instrumentation: Orchestral, Mallet Percussion (Marimba, Vibraphone, etc) Violin, Cello, Piano, Trombone, Drums, Flute, Bass Clarinet

This Heat – Deceit

Originally released in 1981 on Rough Trade Modern Classics Reissue (2016) Format: LP

Dave Harrington Group – Pure Imagination, No Country

Innovative guitarist and producer Dave Harrington (Darkside) uses his latest record to explore the outer reaches of improvisation and compositional post-production. Pure Imagination, No Country is jazz-rock fusion stripped of its retro connotations—fusing hard grooves, free flights of collective improvisation, and futuristic ambience to create something that is at turns atmospheric and in your face.

Recommended for fans of Bill Frisell, Terje Rypdal, or Jaga Jazzist

Herbie Hancock – Mwandishi

Released in 1971 on Warner Bros. Format: LP, white label promo

Herbie Hancock – Crossings

Releases in 1972 on Warner Bros. Records Format: LP

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.

King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King

Released in 1969 on Atlantic Format: LP Pressing quality: While this album is a masterpiece, these early pressings/masters sound a … More

Exuma – Exuma

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.