The music of Araqsana is not for the faint of heart. The influences of Jazz Fusion, Hardcore Punk, Jam Bands, and Experimental Electronic music all create a sonic experience that is really for the initiated in the experimental instrumental world. In this EP, should you choose to experience it, you will find exceptional musicianship and expression. Sometimes the record sounds like a collision between Ornette Coleman and Frank Zappa, atonal and passionately frantic. The harmonic and melodic complexity is a constant theme throughout the EP, and it is what drew me in.
Get the EP at https://araqsana.bandcamp.com/releases
Free jazz is still, decades after its inception, a massive point of contention for some jazz fans. The freedom to create on the fly in any key with total melodic and harmonic freedom with often frantic rhythms can be hard to digest for the uninitiated. But for a musician and composer like me who is well acquainted with the avant-garde and the atonal; I live for the freedom that an anarchistic approach to melody and harmony creates.
It is in this that we find the music of The Paul Swest, who I have reviewed once before. Everything that this group does well is present once again, and I can without hesitation recommend this record to fans of the previous or free jazz fans looking for a new obsession.
Get Sports Car Illusions at https://thepaulswest.bandcamp.com/album/sports-car-illusions
The music created by the Toronto experimental artist CARES is best described as jarring. From the very onset of Coping Strategies you are presented with a blast of distortion and dissonance. From that point you are brought to a beautiful ambient track that is distinctively opposite to the rage-fueled dream of the opening track. This theme continues through the EP.
It is these sharp contrasts that makes CARES’ upcoming release so brilliant. It is not for the faint of heart, but if you allow the music to challenge your senses, you are left with an incredibly unique experience. I highly recommend you step into the world of Coping Strategies for yourself.
The way the French electronic artist NHOVA describes their music gives great insight into your eventual listening experience. “Halfway between electro-mystical and delicate atmospheres” with trip-hop, industrial and ambient music shown as prominent influences gives a clear representation of their self-titled record.
The synths are dark, brooding, and also soaring with melody. Each track is meticulously constructed with peaks and valleys that bring you a multi-faceted listening experience. Overall NHOVA isn’t just good music, it is an invitation to explore your own mind as you listen. The range of emotions you feel can be existential dread to wonder, and all are valid responses during the time this record plays. You will never experience the same feeling or though twice when listening to this album, and that is a great achievement.
All in all, any fan of complex electronic music should give this a try.
NHOVA can be found at https://nhovaworld.bandcamp.com/album/nhova
COC aka City of Colors is a Polish experimental music project based out of Warsaw. Their newest release, Circumgyration, showed up in my email as a submission and I’m really glad that it did. The record explores various spheres of sonic expression. There are synths, samples reminiscent of early Steve Reich, glitch style beats, noise samples that give it a John Cage feel and melodies that interlock to create really beautiful parts. It is a very experimental record, but I think that even the more mainstream listener can enjoy aspects of Circumgyration.
If you like glich or ambient music, click on the Soundcloud link above to experience Circumgyration for yourself.
Ambient music comes in many flavors, but it is often most associated with a pleasurable dream-like state. I love this type of ambient as much as anyone, but I also love when people explore the darker potential that this music has.
Enter Iranian composer Mehdi Mahmoudabadi and his EP Time is Addictive. In this record, we see the looping minimalism that ambient music is well-known for, but there is a massive twist. The tones, samples, instruments, vocals, melodies, rhythms, and harmonies all give off an experimental and dark vibe.
Try to imagine Trent Reznor in his Downward Spiral period making a record with Brian Eno and you get an idea what this record sounds like. The fact that Mehdi is so young (20 years old) and able to make music that has this much unique character is a real testament to his talent.
Time is Addictive can be found at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/time-is-addictive-ep/id1174937966
One of the greatest sources for inspiration among ambient composers is space. The vast, ever-expanding nature of our Universe is a brilliant jumping-off point for countless pieces that explore our own “galaxy” of imagination.
This is evident in Robert Scott Thompson’s record Pale Blue Dot. With each track evoking space travel in name (like “Perigee,” “Apogee,” and the more obvious “Slow Rotation of Stars”) and sound, it is only natural to imagine oneself in orbit while listening.
The music is haunting, beautiful, and meticulously put together in such a way that you feel a complex set of emotions continuously. Some ambient music is meant to lull you into a trance, but Pale Blue Dot is constantly changing the tonal script, never allowing you to put the music into the background.
As a trained music academic and celebrated modern composer of the experimental; this record only further adds to Robert Scott Thompson’s innovative reputation. The self-described “musical alchemist” does not disappoint.
Pale Blue Dot can be found at https://robert-scott-thompson.bandcamp.com/album/pale-blue-dot