Fairhorns – Doki Doki Run

Style: Progressive Electronic

Influences: Kosmische Musik, Industrial, Drone, Shoegaze

Vibe: Angsty, Dystopian, Cathartic, Mechanical, Depressive, Futuristic, Hypnotic, Intimate, Loner, Spacey, Raw, Murky

Musical Attributes: Drone, Loops, Noisy Analogue Synthesizers, Drum Machine, Atmospheric, Motorik, Lo-fi, Vocal Manipulation

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

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.

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

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)

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

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

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

Fontanelle – Vitamin F

Fontanelle’s Vitamin F feels heavily indebted to the dense, psychedelic grooves of Bitches Brew and the Mwandishi albums, and while it doesn’t quite reach the majestic heights of those legendary records, it’s definitely a worthwhile slab of wax for fans of polyrhythmic funk, winding improvisations, and spacey keyboard atmospheres.

Gong – Angel’s Egg (Radio Gnome Invisible Part 2)

The second Radio Gnome transmission finds Zero the Hero astral projecting to PlanetGong where he meets with Selene the Moon Goddess and the Octave Doctors to learn the infinite powers of their lovewisdom vibrations. This psychedelic journey brings together fantastical imagery of pothead pixies and flying teapots (and a dose of hippy hedonism) with heady spiritual concepts delivered in a quite fun and silly way, but even before digging into the concept I was immediately grabbed by their unique style spacey jazz-rock with its propulsive bass lines, immersive synthesizer atmospheres and serpentine soprano sax soloing.

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

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Bitchin Bajas – Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties

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.

Tangerine Dream – Phaedra

While the music on Zeit feels motionlessly suspended in the empty vastness of space, the music on Phaedra seem to discover a swampy alien planet, Pulsing sequencers, dramatic mellotrons, airy flutes, and sweeping synthesizers are drenched in strange echoes and reverbs to create suspenseful alien soundscapes.

Deradoorian – Eternal Recurrence

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.

Natural Information Society & Bitchin Bajas – Automaginary

On Automaginary, the Gnawa-inspired cosmic jazz of Natural Information Society is augmented by the flowing textures of Chicago new age trio Bitchin Bajas to create an album of enveloping drones and trance-inducing rhythms. (Follow link for full Review)

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

On this mournful offering, Cave’s poetic reflections on loss, longing, and loneliness slowly float down a river of gloomy synth drones, somber strings, and sparse piano. While not exactly uplifting, the album has a sense of peace and beauty that continues up through the repeating final refrain, “and it’s alright now”.

Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto – Love, Love

I highly recommend this album to fans of the innovative and exploratory period of jazz fusion of the early 70’s, where electric instrumentation, funk rhythms, experimental production techniques, and spacey synthesizers met the improvisation, freedom, and uplifting soul of the spiritual jazz of the 60’s. Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi trilogy, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Weather Report’s first LP are good touchstones, but this album truly offers something unique.

Tonto’s Exploding Head Band – Zero Time

A psychedelic synth odyssey created with only an expanded Series III Moog by Robert Margouleff and synth-guru Malcolm Cecil (who programmer synths on legendary albums by Stevie Wonder and Gil-Scott Heron in addition to his ambient solo work). The intricately layered results here feel like a synthetic wilderness, with a wide variety of colors and textures that sound warm, organic, and natural despite their electronic origins.

Poliça – United Crushers

The brooding, atmospheric synth-pop of Poliça’s third LP finds Channy Leaneagh’s passionate vocals once again supported by prominent bass grooves, driving dual drummers, and occasional string and horn arrangements, all mapped into intricate, quantized webs of programmed beats and synthesizers by co-leader/producer Ryan Olsen. Lyrically, the album centers around themes of isolation, fading love, and as well as more political topics such as police violence.

For fans of Portishead, The Knife

Tangerine Dream – Zeit

This is what I imagine a black hole might sound like. “Zeit” translates to “Time”, yet time feels completely suspended here, filled instead with vast negative space in which burbling VCS 3 synthesizers, suspenseful organs, and a droning quartet of cellos float in and out. These four sidelong pieces erase all traces of rock or any kind of beat from Tangerine Dream’s sound, leaving ominous space-ambient music in its purest form.

Eno, Roedelius, Moebius – After the Heat

Brian Eno and German kosmiche duo Cluster collaborate on a spacey synthesizer album with diverse moods, including peaceful ambient swells, sinister sequencers, industrial drum machine grooves, and suspenseful piano motifs. The release is mostly instrumental but Eno songs sparingly on a couple tracks. The last track features Can’s Holger Czukay playing some pulsing, harmonic bass grooves