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10 Records of 2021

Considering that this blog has started exactly 2 years ago with a list based on the best albums of the ending year, this kind of list is definitely impossible to miss here.

There is a lot of good music released this year that deserves some words, I tried to keep it more various possible and hope to inspire someone to discover some new tunes.

At the end there is also an “additional records” section like i did the previous year, if this was not enough. Enjoy!

release date: April 23, 2021

Arooj Aftab “Vulture Prince”

Third album of the Brooklyn based Pakistani songwriter and the one that gave her the biggest recognition around musical circles.

This record is one of the fresher things that came out this year with a unique atmosphere made of exotic vibes, emotional singing and beautiful songwriting; indeed this album is made with different ingredients such as minimal jazz sections, Sufi music, atmospheric pop and evocative eastern folk parts.

Arooj’s voice is also very expressive, tender and beautiful, evoking introspective poems sang in pakistani (with the exception of Last Night, with words by Persian poet Rumi, but translated in English).

Mohabbat is probably the most known track from the record, and for sure one of the most impressive moments of Vulture Prince, able to provide a real magic atmosphere drawed from a remote peaceful paradise located somewhere in Eastern Asia and far from everything chaotic.  The whole album is absolutely unmissable: from the beuatiful serenity of Baghon Main to the melancholic string sections of Diya Hai.

Music from another world.

LANTLOS - Wildhund

Lantlôs “Wildhund”

Longtime comeback from German multi instrumentalist Markus Siegenhort with his main project. 

For people not familiar with this monicker, Lantlôs have been developing a very original formula through the years, adding album to album some new elements to keep Inspiration alive and offering always big quality tunes. This new Wildhund follows the direction explored on the previous Melting Sun released 7 years before it; there’s a lot of heavy alternative rock clearly inspired by Deftones and Hum, but with such a unique vibe made of dream pop/sheogaze atmospheres, altern rock vocal solution and very delightful post-hardcore/math rock inspired moments.

Siegenhort is an excellent songwriter and this record is another proof, especially because it is the first with more “classic lenghty songs” instead of the somehow “progressive structures” used in the previous records. 

Perfect blend of heavy rock and beautiful dreamy soundscapes, absolutely recommended.

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises  (2021, Blue Marbled, Vinyl) - Discogs

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & London Symphonic Orchestra “Promises”

Putting more musician’s efforts and inspirations together has always been an interesting way to explore different directions and avoid to do something already done. Well, this is one of the cases when simply reading the names involved you can already be sure is gonna be epic.

This is with no doubt one of the higlights of 2021 and an album that is probably going to survive through the years as an incredible masterpiece.

Floating Points is a british electronic music producer with a great talent for soundscapes and evocative ambient music, while Pharoah Sanders is a giant of jazz; a saxophonist active since the 60’s, author of several masterpieces like Pharoah (1976) and Journey to the One (1980) and collaborations with legends such as John Coltrane, Sun Ra and John Zorn.

This record is like a neverending dream, perfect and intense, permeated by a fantastic nocturn atmosphere that is gonna blow the listener’s mind through ambient visions, blissful electric piano and harp moments enriched by the incredible expression of Pharoah Sander’s sax. 

Last but not least everything is accompanied by London Symphonic Orchestra, that gives the album and absolutely epic and cinematic vibe (listen to the explosion on the sixth movement and tell me if this is not the album of the year). Amazing.

Jaubi: Nafs at Peace Album Review | Pitchfork

Jaubi “Nafs at Peace”

Yes, Pakistan again, and this time with a more obscure record, but still a very impressive jewel.

Jaubi is an ensemble from Lahore and this is their first full-length album. The music is composed by a unique formula which is a mix of modal jazz, classic indian music, raga, eastern folk and some instrumental old school hip-hop reference.

Every music piece is based around a main theme with a strong dose on improvisation developing on it; which makes this record 100% jazz. There’s a massive use of flutes, sax and piano as lead instruments as well traditional indian sarangi. Backing sections includes amospheric layhers, spiritual chants, tabla as well as enthralling drum patterns and guitar/bass lines.

This is a fantastic journey to faraway lands made of sounds from different parts of the world using both typical eastern and western musical solutions. Excellent.

Stereogum's tweet - "Godspeed You! Black Emperor's new album 'G_d's Pee AT  STATE'S END!' is out today. It's the legendary post-rock collective's first  new music in four years, and it rules. Stream

Goodspeed You! Black Emperor “G_D’s Pee AT STATE’S END”

It’s been 4 years from the release of Luciferian Towers and tons of things in the world have happen since then, first of all Covid pandemic, that has completely changed everything around us and has put in heavy crisis every government.

So there’s probably no better historical period for GY!BE’s anarchist and anti-state poetry like this critic and uncertain situation, that really seems to be the state’s end the album is about.

No Godspeed trademark is missing here: there’s their typical military rock progressions on the first gigantic 20 minutes track, which is par se divided in sub-sections, and also some apocalyptic drone and minimalist moments made of interferences, disturbed signals and radio voices.

The typical magic melancholy of the canadian ensemble is also still incredibly evocative as always, crafting magnificent sections on the beautiful Fire at Static Valley and the ginormous anti-state hymn Government Came; cathartic, theatrical and moving pieces of amazing music.

It’s incredible how the band have never lost a gram of inspiration through the years, and how their poetic and strong message has always remained intact and present to current times. Here to finish, a sentence of the band regarding the album:

this record is about all of us waiting for the end.
all current forms of governance are failed.
this record is about all of us waiting for the beginning,
and is informed by the following demands=
empty the prisons
take power from the police and give it to the neighbourhoods that they terrorise.
end the forever wars and all other forms of imperialism.
tax the rich until they’re impoverished.

much love to all the other lost and lovely ones,
these are death-times and our side has to win.
we’ll see you on the road once the numbers fall.

Dijon: Absolutely Album Review | Pitchfork

Dijon “Absolutely”

Debut album of singer/producer from Los Angeles Dijon Duenas, better known as just Dijon. 

This is another definitive highlight of 2021, a record that came out with a strong aesthetical counterpart that gives a lot of strength and originality to the whole package. This choice is mostly marked out by the fact that there is a “film version” of the whole album, where Dijon plays a live version of the songs off the record with a numerous band of friends in a fictional house with instruments and beers everywhere that instill the same feeling of an inspiring and pleasant jamming night with friends.

On a musical side I personally even prefer the “film version” which is rawest, but in certain passages even more expressive, especially regarding the vocals that in some points (Many Times, Big Mike’s) are completely driven by inner emotions and guitar tones that have a very beautiful vintage sound on every song.

However also the studio version have a strong live feeling and it sounds incredibly good giving a real sense of musicianship; there are even talking murmurs hearable in the background and amp’s hiss. 

As already said guitars have a fantastic rock blues tone, with acid and mesmerizing drive distortions, drums are also massive and good to hear, giving a raw feeling that embraces the whole sound field; but instrumentally there are a lot of great developments with solo parts played by piano, overdrive guitar and slide guitar, with also some excellent quiet moments (God in Wilson, Rodeo Clown). Anyhow the album also offers some traditionally produced tracks such as The Dress, an excellent R&B ballad with 80’s recalls.

Regarding vocals and lyrics of course everything is sustained by them; Dijon has a great ability of singing and sharing emotions, with his voice that can be pretty rough, but also tender and introspective in other parts. Definitely Recommended. 

VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN | LIL UGLY MANE

Lil Ugly Mane “Volcanic Bird Enemy and the Voiced Concern”

In a pretty unexpected and appreciated way, Travis Miller is back with a new full-length album as Lil Ugly Mane, a record that sounds very different than his previous works under the main monicker, which is also a weird choice considering how many aliases and related projects Miller has started through the years.

Indeed there is no mark left from his aggressive southern rap style, and this new effort takes very different directions such as a strong hypnagogic pop vibe alongside children music with some little jazz and rock influences here and there. 

Also the singing is very captivating and simple in the same time with no rapping at all. Some parts are very catchy, like the weird acid pop of Benadryl Submarine with its enthralling guitar arpeggio or the jazz-y nursery rhyme of Cold in Here.

The use of spoken words, TV-like samples and jingles is massive and it works really well on building a sort of dreamlike dimension made of child memories opposed to adult awareness. 

The instrumental work is very various, it goes from electronic to jazz and rock as well; I would mention the weird alternative rock of songs like Discard or Porcelain Slightly or the abstract pop jazz of Beach Harness as some of the best moments.

This record has been released only digitally on Lil Ugly Mane’s Bandcamp, this is probably not his weirdest release, since Miller has always been great at creating very personal and original music works, but it definitely sounds like nothing else around, and it offers a really great and enjoyable music trip to the listener. 

Album Review: black midi, 'Cavalcade' - Our Culture

Black Midi “Cavalcade”

With no doubt one of the most acclaimed and well reviewed albums of the year; the latest Black Midi’s release is a great work of music, an impressive non-linear and eccentric musical journey. Compared to the previous Schlagenheim the album has a less jamming/improvised approach and the English band has stated this even before the first single John L has been released; Indeed it is even perceptible by listening just to this one, with all its weird tempo changes and structures that sound like a post-punk version of Magma or Comus and its super catchy and captivating main theme.

However the general approach is based on massive experimentation, a very cohesive sound and production and the use of many solo instruments such as electric piano, sax and strings. Cavalcade is able to be convincing when it comes to energic math rock moments (Chondromalacia Patella, Slow) and also when it’s about doing something more tender (Marlene Dietrich, Ascending Forth). I would mention this as a perfect meeting between refined progressive and explosive punk attitude.

BBNG (BadBadNotGood) - Talk Memory Black Vinyl Edition - Vinyl LP - 2021 -  UK - Original | HHV

Badbadnotgood “Talk Memory”

Another record impossible to forget when it comes to list the best of the year. The new album of BBNG is still cinematic and breathtaking maintaining the unique impressive approach on soundscapes of the canadian jazz trio. The first track entitled Signal from the Noise opens the album with a magnificent dark and cinematic atmosphere, with the contribution of Floating Points on production, it is a gigantic 10 minutes musical piece that works as a ticket to outer space. There are tons of incredible moments, that gives to the album a very strong personality and no repetition at all, offering a very fluid listen.

The film-like orchestrations of Love Proceeding and City of Mirrors are completely mind blowing, as well as the progressive explosions of Beside April that offers some of the best rock influenced moments of the album, but also the beautiful ambient/fusion hybrid of Unfolding (Momentum 73) (With Laraaji’s collaboration) and the impressive post-bop of Timid, Intimidating are magnificent pieces of music.

Nala Sinephro - Space 1.8. Bleep.

Nala Sinephro “Space 1.8”

With 8 different movements based on free jazz improvisation and ambient sensitivity, the debut album of this talented London based belgan-carribean artist is absolutely incredible.

The journey offered by the album is mesmerizing, switching between dark and calm meditative introspection to very experimental modular synth leaded electronic fields (Space 3, Space 5), including a lot of perfect jazz sections with expressive drum patterns, nocturnal piano parts and distinctive sax leads (such as Space 2, Space 4 and Space 6).

During the trip Nala Sinephiro is accompanied by a numerous ensemble of great musicians, while she mostly plays synthesizer and harp. The conclusive track (Space 8) is a monolithic 17 minutes work of art; calm, evocative, mysterious and beautiful, with ambient magic similiar to giants like Laraaji or Hiroshi Yoshimura and tender jazz shades here and there. 

Porter Robinson - Nurture - Amazon.com Music

Porter Robinson “Nurture”

Originally announced to be released on September 2020 and later pushed back due to Covid-19, this is the second effort by American electronic music producer Porter Robinson. 

While moving mostly across dance pop fields there is a strong research of emotional tunes, mostly expressed through soundtrack-like piano parts and addictive vocal lines. Robinson is no secret fan of j-pop music and some elements are clearly hearable on many songs, alongside some dream pop/hyperpop vibes that recalls Kero Kero Bonito (collaborators on the song Musician), Charli XCX or No Rome.

Nurture is a really nice example of emotional electro pop made of dancing beats, tender singing with frequent high-pitch and a lot of mind blowing choruses hard to get away of your head; the result is both chilling and moving, definitely recommended to be enjoyed during a summertime sunset.

Additional recommendations:

PinkPantheress “To Hell With It”

Deafheaven “Infinite Granite”

Space Afrika “Honest Labour”

Black Country, New Road “For the First Time”

Wolf Alice “Blue Weekend”

Musk Ox “Inheritance”

Kayo Dot “Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike”

Darkside “Spiral”

Low “Hey What”

Clark “Playground in a Lake”

LIghtning Bug “A Color of the Sky”

Marisa Anderson & William Tyler “Lost Future”

Portico Quartet “Monument”

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10 Records with Nathanaël Larochette (Musk Ox)

Potrebbe essere un'immagine in bianco e nero raffigurante 1 persona, giacche e albero

With some of the most interesting and talented artists and bands coming from there (Rush and Godspeed You! Black Emperor are just a few example), Canada has always been a very inspiring and important land for music.

Musk Ox from Ottawa is no exception, with their unique sensitivity for creating emotional and inspired music by their beautiful blend of chamber music, neofolk, post-rock and romantic melancholia.

A little over a month ago, they have finally released after 7 years the new album Inheritance; a moving and magnificent work that confirms the incredible talent of the trio able to paint beautiful soundscapes with a cinematic thrilling impact and surprising with even more classical music and progressive influences than the previous masterpiece Woodfall.

On this article is a big pleasure for me to have Nathanaël Larochette, classical guitarist of Musk Ox, but also guitar player of The Night Wound and solo artist.

Below follows a list made by him with 10 of the most influential records of his life, as a musician, artist and of course as a music lover.

You can listen and buy the new Musk Ox album via the following link: https://muskoxofficial.bandcamp.com/album/inheritance

NATHANAEL LAROCHETTE - Invocation - YouTube
Fugees: The Score Album Review | Pitchfork

Fugees “The Score” (1996)

When I first got this album on cassette as a kid back in 1996 I had no idea it would eventually be regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever, I just liked the songs I saw on TV.

I still remember listening to this non-stop on my Walkman while on a family camping trip, barely able to grasp the layers of meaning and multitude of references but still completely enthralled.

Even after 25 years I’m blown away by the level of lyrical, musical and conceptual depth this album has to offer. Without realizing it, The Score laid the foundation for my deep love of concept records and cinematic musical storytelling.

NOFX: The Decline - Punkadeka - Punk web Magazine

NOFX “The Decline” (1999)

Punk rock will forever have the reputation of de-throning prog rock in the late 70s with its energetic and direct approach to songwriting so far removed from the conceptual epics, celestial imagery and flowing capes that had taken the world by storm earlier in the decade.

While it seemed like punk and prog could never exist together, “The Decline” manages to offer some of the best music either genre has to offer.

Koji Kondo: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Album Review | Pitchfork

Koji Kondo “The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time OST(1998)

When Ocarina of Time was released in 1998 it was an event. Everything about it was epic beyond description and decades later it remains one of the greatest games of all time. Although this selection wasn’t a traditional album I listened to growing up, I probably absorbed this music more than any record I owned thanks to the hours of immersive gameplay I consistently lost myself in.

The grand sense of drama, adventure and hopeful innocence this music evokes has influenced every album I’ve released and will continue to inspire all of my future music.

Raymond Scott – The Music Of Raymond Scott - Reckless Nights And Turkish  Twilights (1998, CD) - Discogs

Raymond Scott “The Music of Raymond Scott – The Reckless and Turkish Twilights” (1998)

Although this album was a recent discovery, when I was first introduced to Raymond Scott’s quintet music I felt like I had been listening to it my whole life. It all made sense when I discovered that his themes had been featured heavily throughout the cartoons I had grown up watching.

Although I would loosely classify this as jazz, it’s more like rhythmically intricate classical music played by jazz musicians with a progressive metal sense of inhuman technicality and tightness. It’s also worth mentioning that the drummer on these recordings is none other than the father of famed film composer John Williams, so the next time you hear the Cantina Theme from Star Wars you’ll know who influenced it.

Rachel's - Music For Egon Schiele - Vinyl LP - 1996 - US - Reissue | HHV

Rachel’s “Music for Egon Schiele” (1996)

This album had such a massive impact on me that it single handedly inspired the foundation for the current Musk Ox trio lineup.

Composed for a theater and dance performance about the Austrian painter Egon Schiele, this instrumental album is both breathtakingly beautiful and heartbreakingly emotional. Composed by the group’s pianist Rachel Grimes, I highly recommend exploring her solo work as well as the rest of the Rachel’s discography.

My guitar teacher Dr. John Higney, who I studied with when I moved to Ottawa in 2005 to pursue music, introduced me to this record as well Raymond Scott’s music so I am eternally grateful to him.

ULVER Kveldssanger reviews

Ulver “Kveldssanger” (1996)

Although it feels like each album on this list is part of its own larger list of similar, influential albums, I have to give credit to Kveldssanger for planting and sowing the magical seeds of dark folk in the soil of my musical heart.

The atmosphere and simplicity of this record had a huge impact on me as a beginner guitarist and continues to inspire and challenge me as an experienced one. The early Musk Ox demos were pure Kveldssanger worship, just as all dark folk records are and forever will be.

Agalloch - The Mantle | Pubblicazioni, Recensioni, Riconoscimenti | Discogs

Agalloch “The Mantle” (2002)

When I first fell in love with metal in the early 2000s I was hugely influenced by the albums released by The End Records at the time. Virgin Black’s Elegant…and Dying, Green Carnation’s Light of Day, Day of Darkness and Winds’ The Imaginary Direction of Time could have all appeared on this list but I have to give the top honours to Agalloch’s The Mantle.

I firmly believe that metalheads can be categorized into two groups: those who swear by The Mantle and those whose friends won’t stop recommending them The Mantle. Easily their most expansive record, The Mantle is a grey sky, coastal rain and cold wind put to sound. The atmosphere this album exudes is truly timeless and although their entire discography is flawless, The Mantle is their most unique release.

Opeth - Still Life - Amazon.com Music

Opeth “Still Life” (1999)

When discussing my personal guitar heroes, it’s difficult to place anyone but Mikael Akerfeldt at the top of the list and this album is the reason why.

Akerfeldt’s heavy riffs alone make Still Life a classic but when you add his unique and evocative acoustic fingerstyle playing the results are absolutely singular. Learning Benighted note-for-note was one of my first acoustic achievements and playing it through now remains just as rewarding.

Snow Goose | Amazon.com.br

Camel “The Snow Goose” (1975)

When I first discovered Opeth I had yet to discover prog rock but kept hearing Mikael Akerfeldt mention the band Camel.

I was working at a record shop at the time so I picked up their first four albums and immediately fell in love with them. Camel is one of those bands that doesn’t immediately grab your attention but manage to consistently reappear in your playlist until you realize you’ve been listening to them for 15 years.

Like many prog bands, the early albums are widely regarded as their classics with The Snow Goose being the peak for myself and many a prog fan. The recent concept album An Embarrassment of Riches from my instrumental chamber metal project The Night Watch is directly influenced by The Snow Goose, even if I didn’t realize until afterwards.

Mr. Beast | Mogwai

Mogwai “Mr. Beast” (2006)

In 2006 I was at a friend’s house whose roommate played in an instrumental band. I recognized a Godspeed You! Black Emperor record on his shelf and mentioned that I had never heard their music before. He proceeded to play me their Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP and I was converted to post-rock on the spot. He then mentioned that he had some songs from the upcoming Mogwai album Mr Beast and after playing me Glasgow Mega Snake and I Chose Horses I became a lifelong fan.

While GY!BE and Mogwai were both foundational to my love of post-rock I have to pick Mr. Beast as my most influential record of the genre. Although every Mogwai album is fantastic in its own right, Mr. Beast, to my ears, represents every facet of Mogwai’s sound at its most captivating.

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10 Blackgaze albums released before Sunbather

The word blackgaze is used to describe one of the most improbable genre fusion we could ever imagine to happen; Anticipated by Alcest’s 2005 EP Le Secret and officially explosed in 2010, the genre is a mixture between black metal and shoegaze.


For all those who are not very familiar with such styles, black metal is the most extreme form of heavy metal named after a Venom album from 1982, transposed into a genre by a few very extreme thrash metal bands such as Bathory, Celtic Frost and Sodom, and then exploided with its second wave consisting in a scene composed by norwegian bands active during early 90’s (Mayhem, Immortal and Emperor are a few examples). The genre is frequently associated to a very stereotyped (often reaching ridicolousness) imaginery of musicians with black and white facepaint and long hair with conceptual themes about darkness, occultism and northern european landscapes.

On the other side we have shoegaze, a mostly UK phenomenon of mid 80’s and early 90’s, which is a very dreamy and fuzzy type of alternative rock born as a lighter counterpart of 80’s darkwave and post-punk (Some essential bands are Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Lush and Cocteau Twins).

It’s important to say that while shoegaze has been a thing for a short time with most of its leading bands breaking up, black metal has always been very prolific and since the beginning several bands experimented with weird fusions of the genre (Ulver, Fleuerty, Ved Buens Ende, Enslaved) and completely ignored its estetical and conceptual stereotypes.

But how it’s possible that such opposite worlds would collapse together into this new odd marriage? The non so obvious answer is “completely accidentally”.

In 2005 a very underground french act named Alcest, solo project of Stephan Paut (more known as Neige), a black metal musician with no idea of what shoegaze was, released an EP with both ethereal/dreamy atmospheres and harsh vocals/metal fast drumming called Les Secret. While this EP remained not much more than an innovative underground gem, it is with Neige’s other project Amesouers (same formula, but more post-punk oriented) and the following Alcest full-length Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde (2007, basically Le Secret with zero metal elements) that he gained a strong popularity and got its formula transoformed into the blackgaze genre with the following Alcest album Écailles de Lune (2010);  a record that influenced tons of bands all around the world.

As said some rows up, Neige had no idea of what shoegaze was at the time and that result came up simply following his artistic creativity. Later after reading reviews mentioning the shoegaze genre he would eventually fall in love with it and becomes a very good connoisseur of that style of music and its main and less known bands.

Like him almost every band that approached to this genre at the time came from a metal background, with a small knowledge and interest in shoegaze, even perceptible in the way of playing clean and dreamy guitar parts, sometimes way too dry and rough .

From 2010 to 2014 a lot of blackgaze bands have been formed, mostly Écailles de Lune influenced and coming from a black metal background, than San Francisco based band Deafheaven released their iconic album Sunbather and things completely changed.

This list is intended to gather some essential records from the early blackgaze period before the release of Sunbather, of course i can already confirm that there will be a second part entitled 10 Blackgaze records released after Sunbather.

Last but not least, blackgaze is just a term invented by music journalists, it is never been a real genre, but mostly a way of making music.

Alcest - Écailles de Lune Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

Alcest “Écailles de Lune” (2010)

Released in spring 2010 with a strong hype behind, this should be considered the real blackgaze manifesto and the album that gave Alcest the boost to arrive where they are now.

Everyone who was into atmospheric black metal at the time has been captured by the mellow tunes of this records and its unique mood made of melancholy and nostalgia.

Contrary to its predecessor Souvenir D’un Autre Monde, that had a very fuzzy sound, this album shows a very massive and modern production, with chrystalline sounds, explosive metal guitars and liquid/dreamy clean arpeggio driven sections. Also the vocals shows both harsh black metal screams and ethereal Cocteau Twins-ish singing, which is a unique trademark of the project.

The first three songs Écailles de Lune parts 1 and 2 and Percées de Lumière are already longtime classics and their emotional impact is really powerful and irresistible.

Écailles is elegant, sad and incredibly beautiful: An ocean of dreams that completely absorbs the listener into a magic and comfortable world, and this is not a random example. Indeed Alcest’s music and lyrics on the first three albums are completely based on some visions that Neige had when he was a child that seemed to be sparks of memories from an early life in another world; and this spiritual component of the music in particular makes this album a really unique and mysterious journey. Essential.

Amesoeurs - Amesoeurs - Amazon.com Music

Amesoeurs “Amesoeurs” (2009)

As mentioned on the introduction, this is another project formed by Neige.

This time it is a sort of more collaborative project, initially only with singer Audrey Sylvaine and later with Fursy Teyssier (mastermind of Les Discrets) and Jean Deflandre (Alcest drummer, also playing with Les Discrets at the time): This self titled album is their only full-length released and the last work before splitting up because of internal disagreements and according to rumors also because of Audrey’s open affiliation with neo-fascism and embarassing nationalist right wing ideas.

But even if their carreer was short lived, this album is already an iconic and really wonderful release, with uniqe way of portraying grey urban landscapes through the melancholy of post-punk with some black metal influences.

A strong tribute to Joy Division is certainly not hided here, clearly perceptible across the enthralling bass driven sections of songs like Gas in Veins and Les Ruches Malades, but there are also strong tributes here and there to bands like Asylum Party (Amesoeurs), The Cure (Video Girl), and even some very dark massive metal moments (I XIII V XIX XV V XXI XVIII XIX – IX XIX – IV V I IV and Au Crépuscole de Nos Rêves). Guitar work and songwriting here are incredible, showing very simple, but yet absolutely emotional moments, expressed with sad arpeggios and touching melodies. Also Audrey’s vocals are very well crafted and seems absolutely perfectly mixed with the music offering a unique and magic performance.

Amesoeurs is another worth to listen album you absolutely need to know, it is a fantastic journey across abandonment and sad human feelings, screamed at loud in a city where no one is paying attention to the others, and where the skyscrapers’ shadows are devouring you.

Une Matinée D'hiver | Les Discrets

Les Discrets “Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées” (2010) 

Fursy Teyssier is a very talented video maker, designer and painter, known for its unique style and creativity; the project Les Discrets is the demonstration that he is also an amazng songwriter and musician.

This is the first album of his solo project, released after Amesoeur’s split up, and with the help of Jean Deflandre on drums who is already behind the rhytmic sections of Neige’s main project Alcest; it is also interesting to mention that at the time both Neige and Fursy were playing live bass on the other’s respective project.

Needless to say that this is another fantastic jewel emerging from France 11 years ago, merging dark post-rock (L’échappée, Songs for Mountains) with french chanson (Une Matinée d’Hiver), acoustic guitar driven folk and even some Ulver’s Bergtatt recalls (Les Feuilles de L’Oliver). Frusy’s approach to music is very original and shows a strong personality emerging from his beautiful voice and his evocative lyrics.

This album contains one of the most impressive atmospheres that melancholic music has created during the last decade. Absolutely recommended.

Lantlôs – .Neon Review – Last Rites

Lantlôs “.Neon” (2010)

One of the most suggestive and beautiful metal albums released in the last years, .Neon is one of the most interesting and well realised things of the whole post-black metal/post-rock hybridation.

Dark jazz vibes, urban desolation, nocturnal music, Deftones inspired parts and black metal blast beat driven section are just only a few of the things you’ll find in this masterpiece, which is the perfect soundtrack for a lone walk at night through the urban lights, able to let you drown into the beautiful calm of dreams. Lantlôs is the solo project of Markus Siegenhort from Rheda, Germany, an artist and music producer that made some of the best music of the period and never disappointed an album with this project.

The very original vibes present here on .Neon make this album absolutely unique and beside the almost perfect songwriting and execution (Markus plays all instruments) should be mentioned the good suffering vocal work recorded by Neige (who also provides some french singing on Neige de Mars) and the beautiful cover art designed by Fursy Teyssier (who also made the artwork of all the records i have mentioned till now).

The way post-rock and black metal are balanced here is fantastic, Markus has actually a really good music knowledge and he’s not only a metal musician, but is really aware of what post-rock, shoegaze and noise rock are, and that is perfectly perceptible basing on the way this album sounds like; perfectly riverbered clean tremolos and amazing guitars with a distortion tone halfway between icy sound and modern production that makes every part to sound like something coming from a nocturnal dream. If you are familiar with insomniac nights, this is the perfect album to hear during them. Definitely one of the records of the decade.

mortuusinsomnis777: Cold Body Radiation - The Great White Emptiness

Cold Body Radiation “The Great White Emptiness” (2010)

Ok, seems like the bands from the scene around Neige are finished on this list.

Cold Body Radiation is one of the bands that circulated a lot when the first flowers from the blackgaze seeds where flourishing, alongside projects such as Sleeping Peonies, Dernier Martyr and Sun Devoured Earth. The things that associates this band and all these ones i mentioned is a very fuzzy and raw use of guitars, which is in a certain way typical of some not so famous space shoegaze bands such as Flying Saucer Attack and Alcian Blue.

This album has in fact a lot in common with the most noisey form of shoegaze, but it’s still very melancholic, melodic and black metal influenced with its icy screams and blast beats.

Despite its raw nature, this album is incredibly organic, and the wall of sound on the most melodic parts totally hits you with an immense power (Close your eyes and listen to White Light for a demonstration), also the use of dirty distortions makes the bass even more audible with its proggy verses (Loss, Radiance).

Dark, suggestive fascinating and mysterious.

Deafheaven "Roads to Judah" - Deathwish Inc

Deafheaven “Roads to Judah” (2011)

Alongside Bosse-de-Nage, Deafheaven is America’s first answer to the blackgaze euophoria, and before creating their own way  of approaching the genre with the following Sunbather, they were already answering in a less original, but absolutely impressive way to the genre.

After the release of a very good demo in 2010 that gave them the inclusion in Deathwish Inc.’s roster, they put out one of the most intense and interesting american black metal albums of the last decade.

Even if a strong Lantlôs influence is present here, Defheaven also shows strong roots on the US atmospheric black metal way of sound providing influences from bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Weakling and even Liturgy.

The album is divided in 4 very long movements, marked out by dark and desperate blast beat explosions, very melancholic atmospheres and some very convincing post-rock interludes, that shows how the band really knows how apporach to such style (at the time their line-up included members of shoegaze bands Whirr and Nothing). Deafheaven is indeed one of the first bands showing real post-rock and shoegaze roots compared to the other european colleagues who were mostly people coming from black metal who discovered post-rock and shoegaze very lately and only beacuse of this new trend.

As i already mentioned on the intro, Deafheaven will later become the most distinctive blackgaze band around with the release of their masterpiece Sunbather and completely changed the approach to the genre, influencing mostly musicians outside metal to embrace such vibes, while in the early it was the opposite.

Also the lyrics here should be mentioned, showing a completely original take, different than any other similiar band who have approached this music; narrating stories and reflections on everyday life with a very impressive poetical work and lexicon.

In conclusion Roads to Judah is another foundamental piece of this puzzle, providing some of the most beautiful melancholic tunes created at the time.

Heretoir | Heretoir

Heretoir “Heretoir” (2011)

When blackgaze started to become a thing, a label in particular answered immediately to this new trend; this label is Pest Productions from China and a foundamental blackgaze release from them is a compilation entitled The World Comes to an End in the End of a Journey, that immediately became a cult release for people interested in such atmospheres.

Heretoir was one of the almost unknown demo projects present there and it is the one that got the bigger recognition not much years later.

This is the debut album by the german one man band leaded by musician David Conrad, who answered with strong Lantlôs and melancholic black metal influences to the blackgaze genre. This album is very good, even if it shows some imperfections on the production, which is way too raw and dry on a post-rock perspective, and on a sometimes too repetitive songwriting; but beside these two things this is undoubtely beautiful and worth to listen.

The song Fatigue is still one of the stronger Heretoir tracks, with its decadent depressive vibe able to let you drown into wonderful sad melodies; this journey into pure sadness than continues through a few instrumental interludes and reaching other high points on the songs Graue Bauten and the conclusive long Heretoir. Also the vocals shows a very good clean singing, often enriched by beautiful harmonisations, accompanied on the other side by black metal screams that are not too impressive, but that certainly do their work.

With the following album The Circle (2017) the band will release a more mature album that also sees the addition of Thärnenkind/King Apathy members, showing a more various and complete repertory of influences and embracing anti-fascist sensitivity, which is always a good thing.

From The Swamps

Dopamine “Dying Away in the Deep Fall” (2010)

Technically this is an unofficial release that started to circulate in 2010 as a digital/streaming fan made album, based on unreleased material of a project recently disbanded; it will be officially released by the band with a different cover only in 2019.

Dopamine is another band part of the split The World Comes to an End in the End of a Journey released by Pest Productions: formed in China under the influence of Alcest, on this album they show a very strong influence from the french band providing sad melodies (Melting, Dying Away in the Deep Fall), but also more post-rock oriented vibes (Incised by Water). Production is generally fine, but sometimes too dry,  which is a common problem of albums released at the time.

However the overall feeling related to this album is definitely good, Dopamine certainly knows how to craft emotional music and even on the more depressive black metal influenced parts (i can hear also a strong Austere, Woods of Desolation tribute) they remain sticked to an original formula. At the time this record had already become a sort of cult album among blackgaze listeners, which is pretty much atypical for an unofficial release.

Harakiri for the Sky | Harakiri for the Sky | AOP Records

Harakiri for the Sky “Harakiri for the Sky” (2012)

Nowadays Harakiri for the Sky is one of the bigger names of the genre, even after the Sunbather revolution that dosen’t influenced much their formula.

This duo was formed in Austria in 2012 between Vienna and Salzburg, and it is composed by Michael Jimbo Jones (Vocals, lyrics) that provides the hardcore influences (a good trademark for the band in my opinion) and Mathias Sollak (all instruments and songwriting), which comes from a more black metal background.

When this self titled album came out the band was pretty unknown and their music has been received as a sort of mix between the newborn post-black metal/blackgaze (Lantlôs, Alcest), modern german post-black metal in the vein of Agrypnie and atmospheric black metal inspired by Austere and Woods of Desolation.

Harakiri’s musical approach is pretty distincitive and differently than very similiar bands like Heretoir and King Apathy they haven’t changed much their style through the years on their five albums, the production has always been very modern, a bit too digital sounding for my taste, but certainly coherent.

This is with the following Aokighara (2014) their best effort in my opinion, showing proudly their enthralling drums driven sections accompanied by melancholic metal guitar melodies and hardcore-ish vocals.

Il debutto Dreariness, tra depressive black e shoegaze

Dreariness “My Mind is too Weak to Forget” (2013)

Even if it is not the best by this band, this albums is important to be included since it chronologically closes the cycle of very well received albums before the release of Sunbather, and it is obviously more associable to the Écailles de Lune influenced formula.

Formed in Rome, Italy back in 2012 this band revolves around three members with some constant collaborators. After an unpleasant experience with an old vocalist that continued to use the band’s name and instrumental arrangements, the remaining members answered to this event by forming their own version of the band with a more convincing and solid imaginery and sound (the other band have released nothing more than demos) expressed thorugh this album.

Distincited by some very extreme vocals (which is probably the only metal thing alongside some double kick patterns), and long minimal songs with very catchy melodies, Dreariness’ formula have been very well received. Some moments here are very good like the incredibly melancholic chorus arpeggio of My Mind is too Weak to Forget, or the one from Lost, both beautiful and intense. Also the very addictives melodies of One Last Wish (which is one of the best songs on the album) are definitely impressive.

Beside that some other moments (Coming Home, Dysmorphophobia) are not convincing in the same way, and the very digital and compressed production haven’t aged really well, especially guitar distortions  that are probably the most penalised element.

In 2016 Dreariness released Fragments, a more mature album that shows more post-rock direction and some very good songwriting moments.

Categories
Album Lists

10 Amazing Italian Progressive Rock Albums

Back in late 60’s/early 70’s progressive rock has been a real cultural and artistic revolution and it worldwide influenced bands and artists to make very inspired music with the intention of expand what rock had created till then. Of course we all (i suppose) know the bigger british names like King Crimson, Genesis or Jethro Tull, bands that created solid basis for the genre; but there are also tons of less known bands and scenes all over the world, and in particular in Europe, that have given a strong contibution to the movement. There is Zehul in France (Magma, Zao, Weidorje), Krautrock in Germany (Amon Düül II, Tangerine Dream), the Canterbury Scene (Caravan, Gong, Camel), and the Italian scene: one of the most inspired, prolific and worlwide acclaimed of the entire period.

While USA and UK were experimenting new hallucinating and trippy experiences with psychedelic rock during mid 60’s (which is the direct precursor of progressive rock), Italy remained pretty indifferent to the trend since almost every band was still into beat, with the almost unique exeption of Le Stelle Di Mario Schifano and their sole album Dedicato a (1967), which is a real crazy psychedelic experience “made in Italy”. That’s why the italian prog scene evolved mostly from beat rather than psychedelic rock, sometimes showing some very tender and pop-esque moments, but without forgetting some incredibly weird and dark tunes typical of progressive rock with also many recalls of italian/mediterrean traditional music.

Italian prog season had its higher moments between 1970 and 1975, producing many impressive and incredibly inspired records that still preserves their magic today, after that short period punk had already changed the way of making rock music bringing back simplicity and killing the intricated structures of progressive rock.

This list is of course minimal, and there’s a lot of great stuff from the italian season that remained excluded, it is basically a gathering of some of my favourite ones (but absolutely not the only) according to my personal taste.

Franco Battiato – Pollution – Rock ed elettronica combinati alla perfezione.

Franco Battiato “Pollution” (1972)

Let’s start with a pretty experimental album with a strong dose of electronic music, but probably the most close to a canonic idea of progressive rock from Battiato’s discography. Franco Battiato is currently one of the most acclaimed songwriters in Italy, mostly known for his successful pop songs made during the 80’s, his love for exotic music and philosophy, and for his very eclectic personality that makes him one of the most genuine and creative artists of Italy.

His progressive period includes three records: Fetus (1972), Pollution (1972) (the more rock) and Sulle Corde di Aries (1973) (the more acclaimed and inspired according to critical reception), then there’s a more experimental period followed by a pop/new wave one during best part of the 80’s and then by tons of other records of different genres released from then till today.

This work is a concept album based on pollution, and it is a very particular journey made of unique sounds that evocates exotic and spacey vibes; there’s a very solid rhythmic section of bass and drums that gives a very enthralling touch to the music in particular on the songs Areknames (where there’s also a very distinctive harmonisation of distorted guitars) and Beta. The main ingredient is obviously still Battiato’s EMS VCS3 with its hypnotic sound, very distinctive for most of his experimental works, that here creates an incredibly entrancing atmosphere especially when mixed with the sinister guitars of Plancton. Among effects, samples, classical music references and Kafka inspired monologues, the album continues and ends, leaving the listener a bit confused, but certainly impressed.

Inferno: Metamorfosi: Amazon.it: Musica

Metamorfosi “Inferno” (1973)

Progressive rock is one of the very rare episodes in rock’s music universe where guitars are not predominant or in some cases even absent; this happens in UK with the giants Emerson, Lake and Palmer as the bigger example, but also in Italy with some cases that includes this album.

Metamorfosi is a band from Rome and this album is their second full-length. The concept is a modern re-interpretation of Dante’s Commedia first chapter based hell, indeed on the musical side the atmospheres does an excellent work of evocation, bringing some definitely “infernal” keyboards/synth sounds that may be perfect as soundtrack while crossing the Acheron. As said in the introduction that’s very surprising how a record with almost no guitars at all could bring such sinister atmosphere and how much could be solid, enthralling and intense.

There’s a lot of epicness in the vocal parts and a lot of melody on the lead key’s lines, elements that alongside a use of not extremely technical passages, contribute to give a very immediate and distinctive impact on the listener. Definitely one of the most memorable it-prog records.

√ Alan Sorrenti - ARIA - la recensione di Rockol.it

Alan Sorrenti “Aria” (1972)

Even if he’s most known in Italy as a disco pop singer for some very famous singles released at end of 70’s, the songwriter Alan Sorrenti started his carreer creating some of the most evocative, experimental and weird tunes of the italian prog rock season; His first record Aria is a real jewel absolutely worth to listen.

Permeated by a unique magical atmosphere the album should be intended as a meditative and dream-like journey; it is opened by a dark long suite (Aria) characterized by an impressive and crazy vocal performance developed on a very weird, but yet emotional, musical tapestry with melancholic violin and piano melodies, accompanied by dark folk acoustic guitars and enthralling bass lines enriched by experimental sounds here and there (you can hear synths, effects and even trumpets). With a length of 20 minutes this first side is absolutely unmissable and it is one of the most beautiful and intense things you could hear in 70’s rock in general. Withe the following Un Fiume Tranquillo, Sorrenti continues with dark melancholic folk tunes in a very intimate and meditative form, offering another amazing breathaking song, with melodies and sounds that seems coming from another dimension.

The last two tracks of the album brings some more lighter vibes, but still in a very weird and unique way, confirming this record as an incredible masterpiece absolutely recommended.

Il Balletto Di Bronzo – Ys (1992, CD) - Discogs

Balletto di Bronzo “YS” (1972)

Here we go with another uniqe masterpiece that sounds like nothing else: very dark, atmospheric, hypnotic and cosmic, YS is without any doubt one of the highest points of italian progressive rock.

Balletto di Bronzo was formed in Naples at the end of 60’s as a beat band, but it’s with the addition of the talented keyboardist/vocalist Gianni Leone that things completely changes in a revolutionary way; music becomes heavy, space rock oriented and mesmerizing, confirming YS (second album and only one with this style) as pure progressive perfection.

Gianni Leone’s approach to keyboards is absolutely unique and impressive, alternating different sounds and tones and intersecting them perfectly with powerful bass lines and some very acid guitar distortions, mixing sinister sections with pure heavy rock explosions and almost sci-fi effected sounds. YS is a peculiar trip that sounds like a nightmare where you are trapped through the deep darkness of space with no idea of how to come back. Absolutely amazing.

Arbeit Macht Frei" - Area - Artovercovers

Area “Arbeit Macht Frei” (1973)

One of the most interesting, original and acclaimed rock bands coming from Italy, known for their absolutely unique approach to music; Arbeit Macht Frei is their debut album, considered by best part of the critics not only their best one, but a foundamental block of the whole italian progressive rock season.

The album starts with a female spoken word in arabic recorded in Cairo, Egypt by the band’s drummer Giulio Capiozzo and used as intro of the song Luglio, Agosto, Settembre (Nero); a wonderful track that later evolves in a fantastic table composed of prog rock, jazz, fusion, Soft Machine-esque recalls and a huge variety of mediterrean musical reference from north african music to greek, balkan and obviously italian folk. The album indeed sounds like a magic voyage made of different places and cultures, which is a sort of trademark of Area’s music, also able to push with no limits jazz and avant-garde contaminations played with an incredible sensible approach to the instruments (listen to Arbeit Macht Frei if you want to drown in an ocean of fantastic sax and drums solo expolosions with wonderful organ and guitar melodies). The music is composed by keyboard player Patrizio Fariselli and it is definitely close to perfection especially because it’s performed and often improvised by extraordinary musicians.

Lastly it’s impossible to talk about Area without tributing the singer Demetrio Stratos (died at 34 in 1979), an artist that have become a strong influence all over the world among experimental musicians for his impressive vocal work reached with unique studies on human’s vocal range and singing tecnhiques.

Jumbo – DNA (2006, Gatefold, Vinyl) - Discogs

Jumbo “DNA” (1972)

Formed in Milan in 1969, Jumbo is one of the most interesting bands part of the italian progressive rock movement and this album with the following Vietato ai Minori di 18 Anni (1973) rappresent the peaks of inspiration of their career.

Opened by a long 20 minutes suite on the side A (the wonderful Suite per il Signor K.), this record is a perfect mix of pure hard rock with even blues/country references (especially on the scratchy vocal work and some guitar parts), very impressive flute driven progressive rock parts (needless to say a big Jethro Tull influence can be heard) and baroque sections with piano and acoustic guitar.

DNA is the perfect example of an album that results incredibly cohesive and well crafted mostly because of the band’s great ability of playing and composing music together, perceptible through the ability of assembling different lines and sections to build an incredibly convincing blend.

Here there’s basically the best of italian prog rock: from classical music inspired and acoustic instrumental sections to very heavy guitar driven parts and many emotional melodic moments leaded by piano and guitar; but there’s even a very strong dose of originality, i mean, how many other bands have mixed epic italian hard prog with blues and country out there?

Music Tips: Premiata Forneria Marconi – Storia di un Minuto | 1977

PFM “Storia di un Minuto” (1972)

Certainly the most famous italian progressive rock band and probably the most famous album of the period. PFM (short name version of the complete Premiata Forneria Marconi)  have reached an extraordinary success, way bigger compared to all the other bands, that brought them into international music festivals and music charts and let them survive to the punk period.

This is their debut album and it’s a great lesson of progressive made in the italian way; on first production is absolutely perfect for the years and sounds like a very well recorded and mixed album still today, on second it is an absolutely great record, but i guess this last part was quite obvious.

PFM is able to offer introspective italian 70’s pop inspired moments (Impressioni di Settembre, La Carrozza di Hans), enthralling folk-like tracks (È Festa), hard prog euphoria (La Carrozza di Hans) and even medieval/baroque compositions that reminds the masters of the Canterbury Scene (Dove… Quando). This album shows an almost perfect approach to songwriting and musical execution and La Carrozza di Hans is probably the highest moment, showing very technical but yet emotional classical and electric guitar compositions with magnificent violin and organ solo moments. This formula is also repeated in a very well crafted way on the following album Per Un Amico (1972) recommended as well.

Alphataurus – Alphataurus (1994, CD) - Discogs

Alphataurus “Alphataurus” (1973)

Alphataurus emerges apparently from nowhere back in early 70’s, just time to release this wonderful LP and then completely disappearing the same year (and come back around 20 years later). This is an epic journey and it can be imagined already from the fantastic cover art, very sci-fi-esque, there are synth driven parts that reminds a bit Emerson, Lake and Palmer (Dopo L’Uragano, La Mente Vola) and some more melodic rock tunes (Peccato d’Orgoglio).

There’s a lot of atmosphere here, and very singular soundscapes emerge from the melodies generated by the band’s keys and synths, the song La Mente Vola is probably one of the highest points of the entire record with its unique mysteriousness. Impressive.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso – Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso (Vinile Colorato) – Sky  Stone and Songs

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso “BMS” (1972)

One of the most iconic records from the period released by a legendary band as its first album ever. Everyone interested in italian prog knows and appreciates this, and it is one of the most original, emotionally intense and unmissable albums of that time.

Banco del Mutuo Soccorso is from Rome and beside the incredible and very original voice of Francesco Di Giacomo (1947-2014) the band is known for its very rich compositions made by founder and pianist Vittorio Noncenzi accompanied by his brother Gianni at the keyboards (who played in the band until mid 80’s, when whom role will be replaced by various second guitarist); so, “very extensive male vocals and piano and keyboards played simultaneously with a classical music touch” makes the Banco formula interesting without even listening their music, that omn this record offers an absolutely unique experience.

Opened by an epic spoken word evolving on a melancholic tapestry with flute and guitar the album already shows a strong personality on the first proper track RIP with a very catchy guitar riff accompanied by an enthralling piano section that marks the first part of the song that later evolves into a melancholic section that then becomes pure explosive epicness. Melancholy and epicness seems to be the more appropriated terms to describe the music on several sections of the album always marked by Vittorio Noncenzi’s piano and its unique musical sensibility. There’s also time for weird and dark moments (Il Giardino del Mago) and pure experimentation (Metamorfosi).

BTF.IT >> De De Lind Io non so da dove vengo... - Btf Shop

De De Lind “Io Non So da Dove Vengo e Non So Dove Mai Andrò. Uomo è il Nome che Mi Han Dato” (1972)

Another hidden gem from the italian prog period is the only album released by this obscure band named after a model. Formed in 1967 in the Varesotto area near Milan (where they have later relocated) as a beat band, they’ve then completely evolved their sound with progressive and hard rock contaminations and released this very particular record back in 1972.

The music is very close to the big compatriots bands of the genre such as Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso and PFM, and obviously english titans such as Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull (it’s impossible to not think of My God when listening to the flute solo part on Paura del Niente).  differently than most of the albums from the period, the band here has a lot of guitars, also played with a good distortion tone (not so obvious for the time), moreover the vocal work should be definitely mentioned, with its mellow and tender melodic pop (with even folk recalls) vibes. There are also many excellent parts of acoustic guitars and flute that makes this album a really interesting journey made of ancient memories from the early times of man, alternating contemplative parts, heavy explosions and suspensful sections.

Categories
Album Lists

10 Great Records of 2020

2020 has been a hard year with no doubt at all; alongside the millions of things related to Covid-19 that forced us to change our way of living, music has been hit as well.

Tons of tours and festival has been erased or postponed and we don’t see any band playing live since a very long time, but fortunately many albums has been released (actually more than expected due to a forced quarantine), and we can still enjoy listening to some great new music.

This list is intended to gather a few recommended records released in 2020 in no particular order with no limits of genre or way of distribution.

At the end of the article you’ll also find a list with some additional records i enjoyed as well.

Liturgy - Origin of the Alimonies

Liturgy “Origin of the Alimonies”

Last year the brooklyn based experimental metal band surprised us with a great comeback after 4 years with a new album called H.A.Q.Q., an excellent record made with Liturgy’s classic formula.

After just over a year Hunter-Hunt Hendrix’s band is already out with a new incredible masterpiece, bringing to another level its sound and enriching it with avant-garde and classical music elements with an operatic structure divided in movements played with a band composed by 12 members.

Needless to say this album is a really unique experience, providing undoubtely the most well crafted hybridation with classical music that black metal has ever seen; it seems like Liturgy has finally acheived the sound Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has been looking for years, which reminded me a sort of metal version of Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

This of course dosen’t mean the previous works were inferior, since we’re talking about a band that has always evolved its sound on every album in an unique way, but simply that they have been able to express exactly the real nature of the project in the best way possible; this achievement has also happened when Hunt-Hendrix came out as a transgender woman, opening herself in a really touching way through an Instagram post.

In conclusion i think we could surely affirm that Liturgy is one of the most interesting and original bands active nowadays and that Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is a true visionary genius:

if you want to start a really unusual philosophical opera journey made of modern classical music, avant-garde dissonances, black metal explosions with a few trap beats and electronic glitches don’t miss this record and the previous single Antigone in collaboration with Leya.

Recensione: Rina Sawayama - Sawayama | Uptempo Magazine

Rina Sawayama “Sawayama”

One of the best debuts this year comes by the british/japanese born singer Rina Sawayama, providing a very genuine and inspired pop record named after just her surname.

One of the things that surprises more is how much Rina Sawayama is inspired by 2000s music which may be pop, dance, rock or even nu metal. Just to take an example STFU! has some super punching nu metal inspired guitar explosion, but it later evolves into a perfect meodic pop chorus that reminds the most catchy  songs by Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey. Her voice is also super versatile and expressive, perfectly matchable to many different contexts; Indeed on this records you’ll find explosive songs (STFU!), dance pop well-crafted tunes (Comme Des Garcons), trap inspired modern pop (Akasaka Sad) or perfect songs to sing at loud (Paradisin’, Tokyo Love Hotel), without forgetting some more touching moments with very well written lyrics (Chosen Family).

Yung Lean - Starz LP - Smekkleysa SM // BadTaste SM

Yung Lean “Starz”

Oh yeah, the most eclectic and “mystical” swedish rapper has come back with a new record after the wonderful Strangerz of 2017, and it sounds exactly as you could expect its continuation.

Sad and dreamy tunes are still the main element that mark out Yung Lean’s cloud rap, perfect to be enjoyed during an insomniac night with lights out (or even with just a green soft neon light that reminds the album cover’s colour) and total calm around.

Productions is still very impressive, especially for the massive use of hypnagogic synths, dreamy melodies, ambient-like enrichments, effected guitars and weird sounds, offering for sure some excellent cloud rap songs like Outta my Head, but seeing also Yung Lean providing some more psychedelic oriented moments like the excellent Starz with the wonderful guest partecipation of Ariel Pink or the hypnotic Dancer in the Dark.

If you’re looking for a trip made of sad vibes and magic sound layers this is probably your thing.

HOW I'M FEELING NOW - MP3 | Charli XCX US

Charli XCX “How i’m Feeling Now”

A forced global quarantine in the digital era may have for sure a positive effect on artists or creative minds in general, having finally enough time to make order within their ideas.

Looks like Charli XCX’s last album How i’m Finally Now is one of the best products realized during quarantine and her best release so far.

The british futuristic popstar probably dosen’t need any particular presentation and on this record she has found an even more distinctive and solid identity for her sound, switching intelligently across future synth pop, very catchy autotuned vocal melodies, easy listening solutions, digital glitches and trap-like beats.

Now image yourself listening to Claws, Party 4 u or Visions a decade ago; doesn’t this music sounds exactly as your idea of “pop from the future”? How you’re feeling now?

SVALBARD, When I Die Will I Get Better? - The New Noise

Svalbard “When I Die, Will I Get Better?”

One of the most interesting hardcore/post-metal hybrid bands is finally back with its third album; i’m talking about Svalbard from Bristol, UK and their new record When I Die, Will I Get Better? (Looks like pessimistic titles are a trademark for every full-length), which is definitely a true gem among the heavy music releases of the year.

Compared to the previous works here the band pushes its art over a more lighter and dreamy sound, which reminds a bit of last Alcest album Spiritual Instinct, but of course in a more hardcore way.

That’s always incredible how much the band is able to create very emotional and intense soundscapes mixing heartbreaking melodies with political and melancholic lyrics; alongside the strong post-rock oriented guitar work (that sounds more chrystalline than ever) a special mention goes to Serena Cherry’s clean vocals that found a lot of space on this new album (check What Was She Wearing or Pearlescent) offering incredibly cathartic moments.

Recensione: Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou - May Our Chambers Be Full

Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou “May Our Chambers Be Full”

Putting togheter two of the most inspired and talented acts around today is for sure a certain way to get something qualititatively relevant, but due to the different nature of both Thou and Emma Ruth’s music i was super curious about what expecting from this album, even if i already knew it would have been great before even listening to it.

Moreover this collaboration is not a completely new thing since they already played a set together at the mighty Roadburn Festival in Holland back in 2019, but on the studio side this is the first work that sees the partecipation of both (and it’s not even the last, since there’s a bonus EP on the way).

Based on Thou standards this may be considered less aggressive and more melodic and not so different in comparison with Emma Ruth’s latest releases, even if it’s for sure super heavy with insanely low guitar tuning, which is strangely in perfect harmony with Emma’s delicate voice and softer moments.

In conclusion the overall result is porbably the perfect mixture of both styles, alternating more dreamy post-rock moments with devasting sludge metal shots with insane high pitched screams. A special mention goes to guitar compositions able to switch from more elegant arpeggios to low tune heavy chords and typically metal harmosied twists.

Dead Kids, R.I.P. City | Soft Kill

Soft Kill “Dead Kids R.I.P. City”

Undoubtely one of the most notable bands alongside Drab Majesty if we talk about post-punk revival. With several albums in their discography that explores various different aspects of gothic rock universe (which makes the band’s sound pretty variegated), this record offers some more lighter vibes and it’s definitely highly recommended.

A strong sense of nostalgia permeats the atmospheres in this album, it’s not desperate or necessarily dark, but it gives the same emotion that you feel when you remember of past moments and periods that will never come back.

Lyrics are indeed narrating facts happened in the past and memories related to them; every track is a different characters that tells a different story related to Portland, Oregon.

This is a romantic journey made of vitrious guitars melting into liquid melodies, some choruses and main riffs are impossible to forget (who’s still singing the melodies in Floodgate’s intro or the instrumental chorus of Crimey after a listen?) and the experience is pretty distinctive, confirming Soft Kill as one of the most interesting bands active nowadays.

ROPE SECT - The Great Flood

Rope Sect “The Great Flood”

After a pretty good record made in 2017 and entitled Personae Ingratae this obscure project has come back this year with a new album that pushes their sound in an even more convincing and mature direction.

The style of Rope Sect is a sort of post-punk/gothic rock with absolutely distinctive and catchy riffs and some very sinister moments that on this record sees a pretty strong metal contamination hearable on many guitar harmonisation, a few double kick/blast beats drums accelerations and even a little harsh scream cameo on the song Diluvian Darkness.

The haunting vocal work is very interesting and well made, also the always reverbered guitars are giving to the atmospheres a strong and captivating personality, which is absolutely irresistible for all those who likes enthralling rock with dark vibes.

Even if this is pretty original, if we should have to found some comparisons the more immediate would be probably Fields of the Nephilim or even bands like Christian Death or Sisters of Mercy with a strong Agalloch-like melancholic flavour.

Highly recommended.

clipping.: Visions of Bodies Being Burned Album Review | Pitchfork

clipping. “Visions of Bodies Being Burned”

Alongside Run The Jewels mastodontic fourth album (yeah it’s not on this list, but it’s absolutely worth to check), this is definitely one of the highest moments of the year related to hip-hop.

Certainly clipping. and their claustrophobic industrial rap are not new for all lovers of alternative music and this album provides essentially a confirm of their greatness.

This record is the conceptual continuation of the previous There Existed and Addiction to Blood and with its abrasive electronic obsessive beats, dark soundscapes, glitch-y noises and aggressive rapping punchlines provides a unique minimal and avantgardistic weird rap opera.

Another worth to mention point of this records are certainly some collaborations with many great artists able to let the album taking different shapes in a really cohesive way. For example Los Angeles female rap duo Cam & China brings a killer flow to the song ’96 Neve Campbell, as well as Ho99o9 do on Looking Like Meat with their punk rap aggression; But also the weird contributions of Joe Lester from Intronaut on bass (Check the Lock), guitarist Jeff Parker (Eaten Alive) and experimental artists Greg Stuart (on the short interlude Invocation) and Sickness (Body For The Pile) give a very original intention to the album.

It’s also impossible to forget the ending song Secret Piece which is the reinterpretation of a Yoko Ono avant-garde track featuring almost all the guests building a very solid instrumental wall made of loops, atmospheric layers and even saxophone, cello, guitar and double bass.

Plantgazer | Show Me a Dinosaur

Show Me a Dinosaur “Plantgazer”

In the abscence of a Deafheaven album this year (even if there’s a cool live album called 10 Years Gone) this has been for sure the best replacement, since this russian project is one of the closest things to them i’ve heard, but fortunately without sounding like a clone band.

Plantgazer is a fantastic album, full of heartbreaking moments and really emotional vibes putting what remains of the blackgaze micro genre into an ocean made of the best of modern post-rock with some strong This Will Destroy You and Explosions in the Sky references.

It’s impossible to resist to the wonderful sparkly melodies of Marsh that arrive directly to your heart or to the enthralling bass driven section of the opening Sunflower.

If you’re looking for touching music while contemplating a winter sunrise, this quartet from Saint Petersburg with such a likable name has provided you the perfect soundtrack; You can liquefy your soul and letting it drown across chrystalline arpeggios, furious blast beats, suffering screams, loud Mono-like guitar tremolo sections and Sunbather inspired crescendos.

Unmissable!

Other Honorable Mentions:

Touché Amoré “Lament”

Run The Jewels “RT4”

Jesu “Terminus”

Ichiko Aoba “Windswept Adan”

Kataayra “Toda História pela Frene ”

Anna Von Hausswolf “All Thoughts Fly”

Phoebe Bridgers “Punisher”

Shame “Uniform”

Adrianne Lenker “Songs”

Ulver “Flowers of Evil”

Tired Lion “Breakfast for Pathetics”

Shedfromthebody “A Dead and Aimless Hum”

Categories
Album Lists

10 early post-rock records

Even if right now the word post-rock is refered to a rock subgenre with some very specific characteristic, back during the 90’s it was just an umbrella term used to gather bands with a strong experimental and emotional vibes playing a style with rock roots, but almost impossible to label.

Among the early post-rock bands there are literally projects of every kind, sometimes also very different from each others, taking inspiration from a huge variety of genres including jazz, prog, pop, ambient or darkwave, but usually filtered by an evident hardcore punk attitude.

Here on this list there are 10 records from the early post-rock period you can take as essentials, but of course there are many other important exclusions that will be probably included on a second list.

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Labradford “Labradford” (1996)

Cult band coming from Richmond, Virginia and active between 1991 and 2001. Labradford is one of the most unique and talented projects ever existed, and this album in particular is a true hidden gem shining into the 90’s underground. Even if this is not the only masterpiece from their dioscgraphy is for sure the more indicated to consider if we’re talking about post-rock.

From the beginning to the end this is a beautiful journey across incredible soundscapes and emotional architectures made of whispering vocals, chrystalline guitars, strings and keyboards.  The whole atmosphere is quiet and evocative from the addictive psychedelic keyboards of Pico to the galloping tremolo guitars of Battered.

Labradfor is the Soundtrack of your more pleasant and hidden dreams.

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Bark Psychosis “Hex” (1994)

Leaded by Graham Sutton, Bark Psychosis from London is another cult band, less known compared to many bands who conied the post-rock genre, but important in the same way.

This album, Hex, sounds like anything else ever done, and it is recognized as an absolute masterpiece that every postrocker on earth should’ve listen at least one time.

The musical style is way hard to describe, it shares for sure a calm vibe for its full duration as most of the albums on this list, but offers a completely original experience, super experimental, but still accessible. Drifting across these melodies and drowning into their peaceful vibes is highly recommended, the beautiful semi-jazz drum patterns and the weird bass lines are always hearable and they weave a very distinctive rhythmic substratum upon which develops an introspective vocal work accompanied by always beautiful melodies played by piano, guitar, harmonica, synths and organ; It’s impossible to not melt your heart into the tunes of Absent Friend, Eyes & Smiles or Pendulum Man.

This is undoubtely a good example of an album that can be definitely labeled as post-rock (when it wasn’t already “a thing”), but it’s still completely free from the bonduaries of a single genre.

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Talk Talk “Spirit of Eden” (1988)

Spirit of Eden or Laughing Stock? This question blizzed in my head for several hours when i decided to write an article about early post-rock and include Talk Talk and i’m still not fully convinced by my decision. Well, for sure they’re both wonderful albums and seminal works for the post-rock genre, but i ended up chosing Spirit of Eden because it’s been a completely new and revolutionary musical manifesto regarding Talk Talk’s discography and rock music in general, in other words this is probably the first post-rock record ever released.

Formed in 1981 by Mark Hollis, Lee Harris and Paul Webb, Talk Talk is definitely more know for addictive synth pop hits like It’s my Life (also covered by No Doubt 19 years later) or Such a Shame (both 1984), but at the end of their carreer they suprisingly decided to take a completely opposite direction, very experimental, melancholic and introspective with two incredible records of which the first is Spirit of Eden.

Taking inspiration from an evident british progressive and baroque rock background passing though jazz and chamber music there’s still a distinctive singing oriented formula in several parts of this incredible journey; but the amazing vocal performance of Mark Hollis is not the only memorable thing of this album, you won’t be so able to forget the guitar explosions of Desire or the hypnotic fretless bass lines of Inheritance.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F♯ A♯ ∞ (1997)

“The car is on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel” with these words declaimed by a deep male voice starts one of the most incredible rock records of the 90’s.                                                  Godspeed You! Black Emperor (at the time known as Godspeed You Black Emperor!) have done a real musical and conceptual revolution with their art able to touch people in their deepest emotions; This is the first album of the Canadian ensamble released after a rare previous demo and it is available in two separate versions for vinyl and CD with different tracklist.

If you’ve never heard of this record before, it’s gonna be a journey that will change your life, the endless songs are separated in movements like operatic acts and they switch from classical music-inspired parts with violin and cello to cinematic western passages including drone, ambient and experimental sections with field recordings and loop samples. The first macro track The Dead Flag Blues is incredible in all its progressions showing a very sad and melancholic overall feeling that turns with the following East Hastings into all the anger and the discomfort regarding this society that our anarchist orchestra has to express with a strong anti-capitalist political content and an incredibly inspired artistic sensitivity rarely heard in rock music in general.

Every GY!BE record is very special and meaningful and their singular personality is also expressed in the intricated tables present in their layouts and behind the visuals screened during their concerts.

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Low “I Could Live in Hope” (1994)

Low is undoubtely one of the most solid acts coming from 90’s alternative rock, with a very intense live activity and 12 records published as of today.

I Could Live in Hope is the beginning of everything, the first album released by Low and the undisputed symbol of the slowcore subgenre, which is essentially early post-rock with a very sad and slow overall mood and some grunge-y recalls. Needless to say this record is a beautiful journey across grey landscapes made of intense guitar intersections, strong basslines and suggestive male and female vocal parts with introspective lyrics.

ICLIH is essentially the portrait of an american generation that shows all its fragilities and uncertainities through sad melodies and verses like “If you see my daughter don’t tell her I’m scared” (Fear) or “Hearing only yourself you wait for the truth, how can you get it When all you do Is slide?”  (Slide).

It is the perfect soundtrack for a melancholic moment and the best antitode to turn it into a reflective one: If you close your eyes while Lullaby or Lazy are playing in your headphones you might be able to fall into the deepness of your calm and forget all the rest.

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Tortoise “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” (1996)

Formed in Chicago at the end of the 80’s, Tortoise is one of the most eclectic, versatile and innovative names in the whole post-rock universe and this album is probably the best way to get into their weird world if you’ve never heard of them before.

This work is also know for the introduction of the guitrist David Pajo (already founding member of Slint) and for the story of its composition made during a 10 days retreat in Northern Vermont.

The way Tortoise explore different musical genres and cultures is highly impressive, mixing instrumental rock and almost jazz rhythmic sections, with electronic glitches, fusion, krautrock, baroque music and even world music recalls like the marimbas and the mallet percussions on the monumental Djent, which is an admirable example of experimentation.

But Tortoise’s music is not only unconventional and strange, the band is absolutely able to create beautiful melodic sections like the unforgettable guitar lines on Glass Museum, one of their most love tracks and a real jewel of contemporary rock.

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Mogwai “Mogwai Young Team” (1997)

I honestly doubt that this scottish band needs any kind of introduction since they are, alongside Sigur Ros, one of the biggest names of the whole post-rock movement, giving the genre a worlwide notoriety also across more mainstream channels.

Mogwai Young Team is the band’s debut album, and shares with the world an absolute genuine explosion of feelings across emotional instrumental passages a la GY!BE with spoken words (Tracy), post-hardcore dissonances (Like Herold), heavy sections (Summer) and positive alternative rock vibes with somehting similiar to Smashing Pumpkins (Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home).

The strong dynamic between soft sections and heay passages is very impressive and gives a rare to hear intense charge to this album, making the experience crushing and cinematic. The climax is probably concentrated in the final Mogwai Fear Satan which is a colossal 16 minutes tracks with an incredibly strong impact and charge, so intense that they still play it at the end of their sets after more than 20 years.

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Codeine “Frigid Stars” (1991)

With Low, Codeine is definitely another foundamental name regarding the slowcore subgenre.

Formed in 1989, they have been a short lived project with only two album realsed of which this is the first.

Even if the overall mood is certainly slow and melancholic, there is for sure a very explosive Swans inspired component, especially in guitar distortions and dissonances that definitely makes this record strong and solid. The album moves across different sections including heavy parts with open chords as well as more intimate folk-inspired interludes with guitar and vocals.

The post-rock is also particulary evident in a few melodic moments such as the whole song New Years, that contains all the elements that belongs to the post-rock genre also in its more modern variant.

Schoepenauer wrote that life swings like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom, i would say that Frigid Stars is kinda doing the same but moving between depression and euphoria.

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Slint “Spiderland” (1991)

One of the most iconic cult records of the whole history of rock, with an iconic cover as well.

Made of sad moments, dissonances, spoken words and heartbreaking lyrics this album is a hard to swallow pill and fully getting into it needs a small effort, but as soon as you’ve done it you’ll discover an incredible journey of sounds and emotions.

One of the things that makes this album so good is for sure the ability of switching from extremely slow and soft parts to heavy overtures mainting a dreary atmosphere. Washer is a very beautiful ballad with very intense guitar melodies that expresses fear, loss and abandonment, For Dinner… is another worth to mention episode with a very strong emotional impact. The conclusive Good Morning… Captain shows the best of the band’s heavy side with massive feedbacks and distortions.

At the guitar we find David Pajo, founding member of the band and already met on this list on Millions Now Living Will Never Die by Tortoise.

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Don Caballero “What Burns Never Returns” (1998)

If you’ve never heard this before i bet your first reaction will be totally upsetting and you’ll find many difficults to follow the music’s tempo and the instrumental interweaving.

Before it was a cool thing, Don Caballero have experimented considerably and explored new combinations outside the conventional limits imposed by rock’s rhthmyc structures giving fundamental tools to plasm the so called math rock genre.

This is the third album recorded by Don Caballero and it’s definitely one of their best ones, able to provide a wonderful melodic work clearly post-hardcore oriented despite the weird parts here and there. This should be listened from the beginning to the end as a whole experience, in a calm moment or even during a night driving.

Categories
Album Lists

10 Great records of 2019

2019 has been a year full of interesting albums and longtime comebacks from bands and artists of every kind.

This is my very first article written fot this new personal blog, said that, i think it’s important to point out that this list (and all the others that i’ll post in the future) is not intended to be a chart with a first and a last position, it’s just a selection of 10 really good 2019 albums accompanied by a short description i’d like to recommend to everyone who opens this page.

Alcest “Spiritual Instinct”

Follower of Kodama (2016), this new record is a really good comeback for the french duo leaded by Neige and it’s the first one released by the colossal metal label Nuclear Blast; But beside that it dosen’t show big changes in the band’s sound and the fewest new things are all well managed like the heavy distortions that recalls a really massive post-metal sound in the vein of Neurosis and Russian Circles balanced with super rock Emma Ruth Rundle-like moments (Sapphire is the best example and it shows an almost perfect and genuine songwriting).

It’s always good to see projects that started from the very underground like Alcest getting always bigger and mainting a very honest and coherent artistic identity.

American Football “LP3”

With a strong excitement from the band’s die hard fans, the new American Football’s wait has been undoubtely worth. Anticipated by the hypnotic Unconfortably Numb with the special contribution of Hayley Williams from Paramore, the album gives the same relaxed, sleepy and emotional atmosphere of this single track for its whole duration. Beautiful, thirlling, quite and very intense, perfect to enjoy during a train/car/whatever travel when it’s dark outside.

Blanck Mass “Animated Violence Mind”

With its weird aesthetic, the new Black Mass’ album is a disturbing travel across very catchy tunes and more aggressive outbursts. Love is Parasite’s videoclip is a true gem of weirdness and its scenes seems taken from David Lynch or David Cronenberg’s movies accompanied by perfectly crafted melodies.

Giving a listen to this albums means diving into a very eclectic electronic sound that switches from EBM moments with harsh screams to piano driven cinematic soundscapes with overwhelming singing (listen to House vs House if you want a proof of what i’m saying).

Blood Incantation “Hidden History of the Human Race”

If the previous Starspawn was one of the most well realized extreme metal albums of the last 5 years (and believe me it was), with this new one the four piece band from Denver has been able to reach a higher level with impeccable songwriting and hypnotic passages. The heavy parts still shows a massive and almost perfect approach to guitar driven outburst, but with a totally unique taste for experimentation. The whole album sounds like a cosmic trip across astral planes in a semiconscious state.

A special mention goes also to the cover art by 70’s painter Bruce Pennington that gives the album a sci-fi and Philip K.Dick-esque aesthetic (interesting fact – there are two other albums around using this cover: Agony’s Apocalyptic Dawing and Alec Empire’s Hypermodern Jazz 2000.5, both released in 1995).

Elizabeth Colour Wheel “Nocebo”

After a series of really interesting minor releases, the US based 5 piece band has finally released their debut album Nocebo, one of the most interesting rock albums of the outgoing year.

Elizabeth Colour Wheel is with no doubt one of that bands that sounds like nothing else already existing with a unique formula made of shoegaze sparks, noise rock outbursts, metal oriented parts with fast drumming, slow heavy passages and cinematic epicity. If you want to hear explosive guitar distortion accompanied by a unique and super flexible female vocal work you’re going to discover one of your next favourite bands and albums.

Liturgy “H.A.Q.Q.”

Here we go, it’s been 4 years from The Ark Work’s release and the quartet from Brooklyn leaded by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is finally back with another impressive record. Even if a first listen will suggest a comeback to the roots this is not entirely true, for sure black metal screams are back and many atmospheres from the Aesthetica/Renihlation period can be felt, but the fine use of electronica made of glitches and MIDI sounds started with the Ark Work is still present and it’s perfectly matched with the rest.

Also the massive use of classical instruments such as harp, strings and piano (there are even some exotic instruments like hichiriki and ryuteki) takes Liturgy’s music to another level of high quality composition exploring new musical horizons and strange a-rhythmic sections accompanied by the usual philosophical tables and concepts that makes the “Liturgy experience” so characteristic.

DIIV “Deceiver”

After two almost perfect albums was not so easy to make a new record on the same level, but the new Deceiver is without any doubt a strong confirmation of the band’s ability to write impeccable songs.

Following the usual direction halfway between shoegaze and post-punk this release is a pure concentration of 90’s alternative rock euphoria, from the harsh pop lines of Skin Game to the beautiful melodies sorrounded by fuzzy soundscapes of Lorelei. DIIV also confirms their impressive ability to switch from massive bass driven fast parts to slow and dreamy moments full of chrystalline guitars and ambient backgrounds.

If you don’t know this band and you’re into My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth or The Cure you should definitely take a listen to all their three albums.

Ştiu Nu Ştiu “Sick Sad Love”

Dark, sad, hypnotic and gloom are just a few ways to describe the incredible experience offered by this album entitled Sick Sad Love which is an overwhelming experience across the sound of madness and melancholy.

The band, Ştiu Nu Ştiu, is an obscure and underrated project from Sweden crafting a very original sound that takes inspiration from post-punk, darkwave, gothic rock and a few metal moments taken on a very high level. The album is a true hidden gem and it’s full of very various but always impressive songs, check the incredibly beautiful post-rock melodies of Sick Sad Love, the hypnotic heaviness of Sibirien or the massive experimentation of Slack Fyrarna to get an anticipation of the whole experience, you’ll find some of the most intense and well made songs recorded in 2019 you could listen to.

Of course also the rest of the discography is highly recommended to check, there are two other impressive album on the same level of this new one out there.

Sadistik “Haunted Gardens”

With his very unique experimental hip-hop, Sadistik (stage name of Cody Foster) has always been one of the most interesting and talented outputs offered by the genre.
This new Haunted Gardens is a beautiful mix of dreamy and depressing atmospheres with poetical lyrics, fast rapping and aggressive beats.

The instrumental work is nearly perfect, confirming this album as one of the most intense things released this year you could find out (try 8/12 or Pet Sematary if you wanna drown into synth layers), and if you listen to it with lights off and calm around it will swallow your heart.

Lyrics are also incredibly well made offering very emotional, reflective and mindblowing verses:

“A thousand people surround us inside of me’s only lonely
The fireflies used to visit to sit on my skin I miss it
When mystery dissipated you drifted into the distance” (taken from the song Eden)

Drab Majesty “Modern Mirror”

The previous The Demonstration has been my absolute favourite album released in 2017 and impressed me with its synthwave perfection; well, the new Modern Mirror is another masterpiece, confirming the direction of the previous record adding a distinctive dramatic emphasis to the slower moments (Oxtocyn, Noise of the Void) and addictive vocal lines impossible to forget in a very 80’s way (The Other Side, Elipsis).

The Los Angeles-based duo is showing album by album an unbelievable ability to create with its music a dreamy place where guitar and synth lines are perfectly merged as one, combining flanger arpeggios and spacey catchy melodies as a unique breathaking and chilling experience.