Enfant: experimental electronic music from Bolivia
Quite ambitious with the Bukowski intro, eh? His poem “Style” kicks off this wonderfully weird album by Bolivian experimental electronic group Enfant, that makes music as void and bleak as this woman’s faceless face. Stick around for the whole album.
El 3ou: traditional Algerian music with hints of trip-hop, jazz, and reggae
Omar Siakhene, aka El 3ou, puts a new electro-pop remix spin on classic Algerian music. The touches of trip-hop, jazz, and reggae work to wonderful effect on these songs via this Boumerdes artist that you should know about.
Aseul: South Korean artist returns with the glitchy “Wake Up”
According to Korean Indie, “Wake Up” is a preview of Aseul‘s new, somewhat different, sound and that you should check out her first record for a proper introduction. I agree, but there’s also a lot to like in the new song; the song is free of any tight constraints and the melody comes and goes as it pleases over glitchy beats. Very excited for the new record.
Sufyvn: old school Nubian Sudanese percussion and grooves
I get the same feeling from listening to Sufyvn that I do listening to Tame Impala – a sort of otherworldliness that I can best describe as an ancient psychedelic sound. The Sudanese Beatsmith has been consistently releasing excellent music for the past couple of years, including his latest release, the Ascension EP, out now.
“The second installment of a four-part series. Compositions inspired by Nubian Sudanese percussion salvaged from old cassette tapes in Sufyvn’s hometown of Khartoum…Concept, arrangement, and cover artwork by Sufyvn.”
Sir Croissant: for fans of Big Thief, Daughter, and Bon Iver
There is beauty in youth, beauty in talent, and when the two overlap the result is often grandiose, unexpectedly fulfilling. This is pretty much what must have been going through the heads of those who attended the first ever show of Sir Croissant in Žiža, an alternative cafe in Banja Luka, the capital of the Serbian entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A venue that is usually chatty and noisy in the evenings – even when there’s a show. That night, though, when the local songwriter took the stage, everyone went abruptly silent, captured by his vocals from the very first few seconds.
One impressive thing here is that Igor Božanić alias Sir Croissant, who chose the name after a live album by Sia, is only 16-years-old, and has already released two EPs. The first one, Let Me Sleep, was recorded in his room with a webcam microphone, giving a lo-fi vibe that however doesn’t hide the most recognizable stylistic traits of his work. There’s the placidity of Lisa Hannigan in his vocals, but also the emotional tension of indie bands like Daughter and Big Thief, as his guitar picking masterfully matches the feelings he wants to evoke.
These qualities emerge much more vividly on his new EP, if i was a fish i would cry, also thanks to the synths of Milica Pendić, supplying the music with resounding nuances of holy. But it’s his songwriting and his storytelling skills that improved the most in just one year: songs like “johnson and johnson” and “doglady” are beautiful examples of how variegated his music can get, other than displaying his overflowing and empathic narrative made of romanticizing simple gestures and childhood memories. What he can achieve in the future is not calculable: what’s sure is that there’s something truly precious and important here.
Dona Onete: “the grande dame of Amazonian song”
There’s plenty of life in Dona Onete‘s singing, as if the 77-year-old just discovered the joys of love and romance and can’t help but to sing. Her whole life story (read below) is quite remarkable and enhances the Amazonian rhythms.
“Dona Onete – ‘the grande dame of Amazonian song’ – returns with further tales from the river Amazon on her sophomore album Banzeiro.
Whether she’s championing gay rights, singing about the delights of indecent proposals or praising a former lover for his ‘crazy ways of making love’, Banzeiro is defined by Onete’s honest reflections on life, love and sex, as well as her delight in the everyday pleasures of life in the Amazon, whether that’s spicy seasoning, salty kisses or fishy-smelling water.
Formerly a history teacher, folklore researcher, union representative, culture secretary and children’s author – “I never thought I would be a singer” she claims – Onete recorded her debut album Feitiço Caboclo at 73. A cult figure in Brazil and an ambassador for Amazonian culture, the music she sings is a unique mix of rhythms from native Brazilians, African slaves and the Caribbean – epitomised in the joyous carimbós that are her trademark.”
Abdou El Omari & Naima Samih: Omari’s psychedelic organ plays with Arabic strings and rhythms to excellent results
Another winner from Berlin’s Habibi Funk label is its Abdou El Omari & Naima Samih release from February. Omari’s psychedelic organ plays with Arabic strings and rhythms to excellent results, made better by Samih’s beautiful vocals.
“First issue (LP+DL) of this previously unreleased Oriental psych monster from the organ king of Casablanca, combining traditional rhythms with spaced out modern sounds. Second part of Abdou El Omari’s Nuits-trilogy. This album contains heavenly compositions for the Moroccan diva Naima Samih and some moody instrumentals in a similar vein to the first album.”
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YOGOHOWSHIAO: the art of the somber soundtrack
I love the quiet space YOGOHOWSHIAO creates with just a keyboard – like I’m in a Taiwanese sequel to Lost in Translation and I’m looking out at the dark skyline or an endless countryside and thinking of my own reflection that I caught in the elevator mirror. The SoundCloud has more upbeat, frantic electronic music as well, but I’m all here for any music that makes me want to sit still and close my eyes and transport me to some unknown place in my mind.
Kalahari Surfers: dub rhythms meets South African punk commentary
Kalahari Surfers have been making political and satire music in South Africa since the ’80s, with composer and producer Warrick Sony leading the group for all this time. The grooves on all the tracks sneak up on you, using well-placed repetition and sound recordings. The mixture of dub rhythms and punk commentary makes this an excellent DIY South African group.
“This was commissioned by Microdot Records for their Africa in Trance series – After working on the documentary ” Ochre and Water ” director Craig Matthew gave me permission to use some of the sound recorded during that period. These were chants of the Himba people of Northern Namibia. For further information see the impressive DOXA website: www.doxa.co.za”
PAST: Warsaw post-punk meets ’80s goth
You don’t need to speak Polish to understand the attitude and aesthetics of PAST, a post-punk band from Warsaw that started playing in 2011. Sure, their lyrics are a fundamental part of their work, focusing mostly on the current state of the world with a certain disillusionment – but with an ever present glimpse of hope. But all of this information can already be grasped by carefully listening to the powerful voice of Gosia, the band’s lead singer.
There’s something in her beautiful vocals that manages to bear the band’s spirit and captures the listener. Her strong harmonies stand above the ravenous and dystopian sound of their new record, Czarno/Biela (Black/White), while fitting perfectly in it at the same time.
On their Bandcamp page, PAST assert they play music “so that they can run away from norms and mediocrity.” Mediocrity in particular, or rather refusing it and fighting it, is central to their work, and that is not something to be underrated. While clearly fond of cold post-punk, the band renovates the the dark ’80s sound and modernizes it in a sparkling way.
Cutting synths often fill the space, invigorating the album with an unusually wide range of colors, while an omnipresent bass and blossoming guitars add a precious depth to the band’s compositions, pushing the band towards a roaring punk urgency with the help of fast-paced and never monotonous drums.
All of these elements turn Czarno/Biela into an exciting and epic ride, one that creates an atmosphere that owes a lot to the German post-punk of thirty years ago. It’s post-apocalyptic, but with a sizable dose of emotions and curiosity for all the possibilities that this type of music can offer.