by Evan Welsh
Firstly, I’d like to apologize. Due to school being out of session for the summer and busyness upon my return I have not written one of these posts in a long while. That said, holy hell! The amount of great music that has been released in just the past two months alone has been nearly overwhelming. To accommodate this particularly good stretch of releases and to evolve this monthly article a bit I’m trying out a new format. My hope is that it will allow for a larger list of recommendations with greater musical variety, supplying something for everyone.
Much love to you all.
If you only listen to one album from Sep./Oct.:
Lonnie Holley- MITH (Sep. 21)
Where to begin?
This is an album that stands out as a potent release from legendary outsider artist Lonnie Holley, but it is more than just that. The themes grappled with on MITH are both specific and vast. MITH is an undeniably American album, delving most deeply into American domestic anxieties, atrocities, and scars—more specifically than that, it is an album about the African-American experience in the U.S., dealing with current and historical traumas. It is through these specific explorations that Holley finds universal human feeling.
Sonically, MITH is mostly situated within the worlds of soul and jazz, but there are moments of sonic experimentation on this album that feel like a strike to the chest. Over these often haunting and beautiful instrumentals, Holley speaks and sings flowing, improvisational poetry that might be even more emotionally affecting than the music.
MITH is absolutely vital, and it can be heard in every note. This is an album about the crushing realities of America’s past and present, and the direct impact those things have on people’s lives. But, it is also about our broader impact as humans, the beauty and destruction we carry and the reality of our insignificant presence in the universe.
Holley has created an album that covers all the bases of human emotion: pain, fear, love, and hope. MITH should be looked to as one of the defining artistic pieces of our current moment.
Fav Tracks: “I’m A Suspect,” “I Snuck Off The Slave Ship”, “I Woke Up In A Fucked Up America”, “Sometimes I Wanna Dance”
Albums consuming the majority my listening time:
1. Dur Dur Band- Dur Dur of Somalia Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (Sep. 14)
The German-based label, Analog Africa has re-released the first two albums, and some unreleased tracks, of the 1980s Somali funk group, Dur-Dur Band. The entire collection’s energy is absolutely stunning and can’t be listened to without a smile. The sounds of funk, soul, reggae, and disco that made Dur-Dur Band so popular in the Mogadishu music scene in the mid-80s vibrantly swirl throughout every track.
Everything about this album is interesting as a music lover, from label founder Samy Ben Redjeb’s finding these recordings to the incredible opportunity to peek into the historical moment and musical scene of Mogadishu, Somalia in the 1980s. Even though the music on this release is old, it feels fresh and is easily one of the brightest albums released this year.
Fav Tracks: “Yabaal”, “Salkudhigey”, “Dab”, “Aduun Hawli Kama Dhamaato”
2. Dengue Dengue Dengue- Semillero (Sep. 21)
Peruvian duo Dengue Dengue Dengue has been a staple-piece of the booming electronic music scene in Peru. Their sound starts with its roots in cumbia, a style of dance and music originating from Colombia but permeates through most of Latin America. From this base, the duo infuses modern electronic-dance sounds—Semillero is a wonderful mix of these modern aesthetics and more traditional rhythms. Ultimately, Semillero explores the parallels and diversions of the folkloric and futuristic through Afro-Peruvian and tropical bass sounds.
Dengue Dengue Dengue has made The whole project is intriguingly layered and infectious and is nicely wrapped up in a very listenable 30-minute package—all of which invites listeners to constantly return for more.
Fav Tracks: “Pua”, “Eye Acucho”, “Semillero”, “Haarp”
3. Tim Hecker- Konoyo (Sep. 28)
The always fantastic Tim Hecker has unleashed upon the world yet another engulfing, experimental ambient album—on Konoyo, Hecker teams up with Japanese gagaku ensemble, Tokyo Gakuso. The collaboration between the two creates lively, gorgeous, disorienting tracks that deconstruct and re-engage the Tokyo Gakuso’s acoustic, courtly gagaku sounds into a fluctuating, modern electronic landscape.
With Konoyo, Hecker has respectably taken the influences of a classical Japanese genre and has woven together an album that feels entirely contemporary. Hecker is continuously manifesting entire worlds within his music, and this album is no different. not only can I not think of a Hecker album I don’t like, but I can’t really think of any that are any less than really good. Simply put: Tim Hecker is the king of this genre and he proves it with every release.
Fav Tracks: “This Life”, “Keyed Out”, “In Mother Earth Phase”, “Across to Anoyo”
4. Mary Jane Leach- (f)lute songs (Oct. 12)
Mary Jane Leach is a legendary composer who made her name in the avant-garde scene in New York in the late 1970s and early 80s as well as through her work with the DownTown Ensemble. All of these tracks were written between an over a 30 year period and were assembled for this release, only her 4th studio LP.
It’s remarkable how perfectly this album corresponds in feeling to the seasons of late fall and early winter. This is definitely one of my favorite ambient releases of the year—it remains accessible (I think) to pretty much anyone, while also being interesting enough compositionally to keep lovers of ambient music happy.
Fav Tracks: There are only 4 tracks, they’re all good.
5. Shida Shahabi- Homes (Oct. 19)
This is Swedish-Iranian pianist Shida Shahabi’s debut album and boy is she starting things off on the right foot. The instrumentation and production on this album is purposefully limited. The two main sounds on this album being the piano and the hissing atmosphere of the living room she recorded in.
If you’re a fan of Nils Frahm’s softer, analog releases (Felt, Wintermusik, Screws) and Satie-influenced minimalism, this album is entirely for you. The entire premise of all home recordings gives this album an undeniable intimacy. It feels as if you’re sitting in the room with Shahabi as she tools on the piano in a bare apartment. This is a soothing, absolutely beautiful album that will accompany lovely moments of solitude.
Fav Tracks: “Abisme“, “Pretty In Plums”, “Dawning and Wind”, “Vassen”
6. Daughters- You Won’t Get What You Want (Oct. 26)
You Won’t Get What You Want is Daughters’ 4th studio LP and first in 8 years. This album is a masterwork in anxiety-inducing, gritted-teeth noise rock. With every album in their discography, Daughters have morphed into something different. Their previous albums, rooted in grindcore and noise, have been brief, violent listening experiences—musically equivalent to someone quickly beating you up with no warning and then leaving before you are even sure what exactly happened.
This new album expands Daughters’ sound, adding instrumentation previously outside of their sonic realm and stretching their song-lengths and structures, giving the music a patience, tension, and enveloping scope that displays the group’s maturity and growth.
Fav Tracks: “Long Road, No Turns”, “Satan in the Wait”, “The Lords Song”, “Ocean Song”
Other great stuff that you should give a listen to if you’re willing to trust my taste:
Fred Thomas- Aftering (Sep. 14)
The Caretaker- Everywhere at the End of Time: Stage 5 (Sep. 20)
Bad Moves- Tell No One (Sep. 21)
Milo- budding ornithologists are weary of tired analogies (Sep. 21)
Ben Lamar Gay- 500 Chains (Sep. 28)
Moses Boyd- Displaced Diaspora (Sep. 28)
Jerusalem In My Heart- Daqa’iq Tudaiq (Oct. 5)
Yowler- Black Dog in My Path (Oct. 12)
Cloud Nothings- Last Building Burning (Oct. 19)
Damily- Valimbilo (Oct. 19)
Kiran Leonard- Western Culture (Oct. 19)
Kenny Segal- happy little trees (Oct. 19)
Open Mike Eagle- What Happens When I Try to Relax (Oct. 19)
Boygenius- Boygenius EP (Oct. 26)
Soap&Skin- From Gas to Solid / you are my friend (Oct. 26)