Aesthesys: Russian instrumental post-rock
There’s a lot going on in the music of Aesthesys. Most of it on paper – Interpol-like driving guitars, pretty chimes and strings, your favorite prog drummer – shouldn’t work, yet everything blends so well here. The Moscow-based outfit knows exactly what it’s doing, for it’s had years to develop its chops from its earliest days as Nik Koniwzski’s one-man project to now being a fleshed-out band.
“[we’re] an instrumental outfit hailing from Moscow, Russia, performing a mixture of post-rock, ambient, neoclassical and progressive music.”
Biorn Borg: not the tennis player
It’s a shame that we haven’t had any new music from Biorn Borg since 2012 – this Ecuadorian band writes some killer riffs and has fantastic energy. Positive, weird alternative guitar rock, please come back!
“Biorn Borg takes its name from the six-time French Open champion tennis player. The band was born with the idea of rocking forward with a straight face. Their lyrics are direct, provocative and full of urban poetry. Their live act emphasizes a powerful and polished sound with an electrifying feel.”
Luna Abu Nassar: Dawame sounds like a dream both calming and sinister
Dawame, Luna Abu Nassar’s second album, sounds like a dream on the banks of a Tel Aviv river, with echoes of different voices and instruments coming in and out as sounds of nature set a calming scene. Her extra touches add a somewhat sinister, deep blue feel that’s very compelling. She could easily be one of the musical artists at the end of the new Twin Peaks episodes.
thruoutin: American-born, Chinese-based electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist
I’m all for the somber glitches and steady beats of thruoutin, an electronic musician with an eclectic discography all worth checking out. My personal favorite is his most recent release, April’s Contingent of Outlying Territory, followed by 2015’s Service.
“This release is about the exploration to new places, whether physical or within our minds. The tracks were written between January to October, 2016. At this time I was finding new ways to approach writing songs; from a technical aspect I was limiting myself to a single sound source for the material. After an idea had been established I would expand upon it with another sound source to build on the original foundation. In this same period, on a physical level, I had moved house twice as well as traveled to new cities in between. With each movement I felt better about my surroundings and more comfortable with these journeys to new places. The album’s sounds narrate an expedition into uncharted territory. Each song is a chapter that takes the listener along on this mission.”
ShellacHead: dedicated to exploring world music from the 78 rpm era
ShellacHead is an Oakland-based label that reissues world music via 45s and 78s from Albania, the Persian Gulf, Sardinia, and more. Learn more here. The label’s 2015 The Lost 45s of Sudan collection is especially good.
“[This] world music blog dedicated to 78 and 45 rpm records, is happy to present this compilation of incredibly rare tracks from Sudan’s “Golden Age” of recording, the 1960s-70s. A hypnotic blend of traditional Sudanese sounds with influences from abroad, these legendary artists thrived during this brief period until authoritarian Islamists brought the Golden Age to an abrupt end in the 1980s.”
Molly: for fans of Jawbreaker, Beach Slang, and Dinosaur Jr.
The music video teasing Stay Above, the new album by Molly, is simple and irritatingly hilarious. It shows a phone reproducing their new song “All About” inside of an empty Tuborg glass, the track sounding muffled and distant, interrupted halfway by an abrupt phone call. Towards the end, though, the sound gets rid of the natural distortion and acquires its true powerful nature. At the same time, we see the band standing in front of some burning brushwood, creepily staring into the void.
A video like this already says a lot about Molly, a furious rock band from Copenhagen. It shows that they don’t take themselves too seriously, that they can have fun with their own music, but more than anything it shows how good their songwriting is, even when the music can be barely heard. The Danish trio is clearly influenced by Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du and Jawbreaker, but rework these influences in a personal way, assisted by some effective Social Distortion sounding vocals.
Reworking, though, does not mean modernizing, and Stay Above is obstinately anchored to the 90s sound. It is Molly’s third record, but it seems like it’s the one that can allow them to be noticed by many more people than before, also thanks to the hype of bands like Beach Slang, which turned punk-informed 90s rock into something more recognizable and accessible even to younger kids today. This way, Stay Above has all the potential to become one of the most loved albums of the year.
La Danza del Agua: the very best, and very weird, of America
The latest release from Argentina’s Pakapi Records is La Danza del Agua, a massive collection highlight the very best, and very weird, of American music.
From the label:
“”La Danza del Agua” is an eclectic musical journey led by 38 artists throughout America. Exploring new territories for a label specialized in South American music, this compilation seeks new and exciting sounds in the vast continent from digital cumbias, sound experimentation, freak folk, noise, danceable beats and much more, mixed together to give life to this multiple edition that will be out in mid-July as its first online volume (of two that compose it) and a co-edited cassette version between Was it Das? and Pakapi Records.”
While we wait, check out the label’s latest release below.
Trenga Records: New noise from Morocco
I couldn’t find much information on the mysterious Casablanca-based independent label Trenga Records, but everything I’ve heard has been fantastic. I’m especially drawn to The Afro Ninja, which reminds me at times of DJ Shadow. It’s just one of the many sounds of this eclectic label that you should be following.
Frequency Asia: The podcast celebrates its first anniversary with an excellent greatest hits collection
I’m kicking myself for just finding Frequency Asia, a podcast and label that finds the best modern sounds of Asia. Learn more about them here. Its Vol. 1 compilation from two years ago is an excellent introduction to what the podcast covers, from thrilling guitar rock to dreamy ambient jams and everything in between.
“Frequency Asia has been around a year now, so I thought we should do a compilation to celebrate. Frequency Asia Vol. 1 takes 22 songs played on the podcast over the first 30 episodes and brings them to you on tape or via the magic of the internet.
This is some of the best underground music that Asia has to offer, from psychedelia from Thailand to instrumental hip-hop form the Siberian tundra, to Malaysian noise rock and Indian sludge, this compilation should hopefully have a little bit of something for everyone.”
Noura Mint Seymali: Mauritania’s great psych blues artist
I’ve only recently discovered the incredible music of Noura Mint Seymali, whom Vice Noisey rightfully called the Mauritanian psych blues artist you need to know about. All of Seymali’s albums are great, especially last year’s fast-paced Arbina, which features some of the best riffs you’ll ever hear on any instrument from any musician in the world.
“Arbina is Noura Mint Seymali’s second international release. Delving deeper into the wellspring of Moorish roots, as is after all the tried and true way of the griot, the album strengthens her core sound, applying a cohesive aesthetic approach to the reinterpretation of Moorish tradition in contemporary context.
…Supported by guitarist, husband and fellow griot, Jeiche Ould Chighaly, Seymali’s tempestuous voice is answered with electrified counterpoint, his quarter-tone rich guitar phraseology flashing out lightning bolt ideas. Heir to the same music culture as Noura, Jeiche intimates the tidinit’s (Moorish lute) leading role under the wedding khaima with the gusto of a rock guitar hero. Bassist Ousmane Touré, who has innovated a singular style of Moorish low-end groove over the course of many years, can be heard on this album with greater force and vigor than ever before. Drummer/producer Matthew Tinari drives the ensemble forward with the agility and precision need to make the beats cut.
Many of the songs on Arbina call out to the divine, asking for grace and protection. “Arbina” is a name for God. The album carries a message about reaching beyond oneself to an infinite spiritual source, while learning to take the finite human actions to necessary to affect reality on earth. The concept of sëbeu, or that which a human can do to take positive action on their destiny, is animated throughout. While final outcomes rest in the hands of the creator, the duty to use one’s capacities as a human to work towards our hopes and highest intentions roots us in life and relationship to God. The title track ‘Arbina’ applies this concept to specifically empower women in their decisions about preventative healthcare. It advocates for the concrete task of early screening to prevent breast and uterine cancer, sickness that claimed Noura’s own mother at a premature age, while offering an appeal to the ultimate benevolence of God. “Ghizlane” invokes the concept through metaphor, describing the elusive nature of our dreams and the innate obligation to follow. “Richa” reflects of the power of music as a vehicle.”