Number 48 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
Along with For by Kate NV, Communion is one of the more pleasant surprises of Wire Magazine’s Top 50.
Park Jiha is a Korean musician whose primary instruments are piri (double reed bamboo flute), saenghwang (mouth organ) & yanggeum (hammered dulcimer). She is joined on this entirely acoustic endeavor by woodwind player Kim Oki, vibraphonist John Bell, and percussionist Kang Tekhyun.
The pieces have a super intimate feel, influences for the compositions seem to come primarily from Western contemporary and classical music, despite the unusual instrumentation.
It is a sort of chamber music, though it often sounds like it might have been recorded outside or in nature.
Park Jiha is an incredibly expressive player and a gifted technician on all the instruments she plays. Her piri playing, particularly for me as a woodwind player, is truly inspirational and moving.
Ecce Homo by Ipek Gorgun; Bandcamp Link: Ecce Homo
Number 47 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
“Born and raised in Ankara, Turkey, Ipek Gorgun is an electronic music composer currently enrolled in the doctoral program of sonic arts at Istanbul technical university’s center for advanced studies in music.”
On the pleasant side of noisy, Ecce Homo often uses looped bell-like sounds to create environments in which to explore with synthesizer and samples.
I enjoyed most of the songs on Ecce Homo, however, for whatever Gorgun felt the need to sample from Alex Jones, of Info Wars infamy. She pulls extensive vocal samples from Jones’ largely incoherent anti-semitic rant about “infiltrating” the Bohemian Grove, The Bay Area’s legendarily exclusive retreat for the rich, famous, and influential.
As with Agnarkea’s Black Helicopters, I am unclear about the intention, and also embarrassed that assholes like Jones have become megaphones for the worst of America’s impulses.
3 extended pieces of Jazz adjacent music from this amazing Guitar, Sax, and Percussion trio.
It has, unfortunately, been 12 years since Berne and Torn recorded together on Torn’s Prezens.
However, time has not dulled their chemistry, if anything, it has sharpened it.
Sun of Goldfinger is at turns as beautiful as a sunset and as ugly as a car crash.
Often I’ll hear a sound and wonder if it is Berne shattering the altissimo register of his horn or Torn feeding back a screeching shard of tortured strings.
The trio is augmented slightly by strings, keyboard, and an additional guitar for “Spartan, Before It Hit”, (not that you’d particularly notice at first listen given the eclectic sonic alchemy Torn deploys with his guitar,) but the true white knuckle piece is the trio’s “Soften The Blow”, in which Smith’s drums builds tension on top of relentless tension as Berne and Torn squeal and shriek above, peals of thunder and slashes of lightning rolling into the aether.
For me, the first Must Listen album of the year.
Catch them touring this spring, including a date at the Freight and Salvage tomorrow night, 3/12.
Number 46 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
Jon Hassell probably first came to everyone’s attention through the Brian Eno and Jon Hassell album “Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics” on the E.G. Music Label.
At the time, Hassell defined “Fourth World Music” as, “a unified primitive/futuristic sound combining features of world ethnic styles with advanced electronic techniques.”
He had come up among the New York minimalists, (Terry Riley and LaMonte Young,) then studied Indian classical music techniques, trying to apply what he learned from that to his trumpet playing.
This album is largely an electronic/ambient work and actually charted at number 34 on the UK Dance Album Charts in 2018. He plays his characteristically gnomic trumpet over a variety of digital loops and samples, bending, spindling, and mutating with great abandon.
Number 45 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
Gaye Su Akyol is a Turkish vocalist.
Her music, primarily, mixes Psychedelic Music influences, Surf Music influences, and Turkish folk scales and motifs.
I’m just gonna put an extended quote from her album notes here and leave it at that.
“We are masses moving within a huge chaos. We are the disaster seeds of a cultural collapse which infiltrates the human mind and inhibits dreams. In an age when we are forced to forget dreaming, as societies we become weak signals of the barren mind. We are descendants of unqualified herds that follow grunts. We are the miserable, standardized, un-rebellious and unfounded robots of the new world.
“What could be the one thing that could separate us from this herd, these masses, these crises of ambition ground down by the things we memorize?
“This album is in search of the great crisis of existence, the assorted peculiarities that you are subjected to when you refuse to get used to and are alienated by things such as war, or death, a sudden separation forever from a loved one, dreams for instance, the nature of species, what we look for in this weird planet, what we are not able to find, what we call real and what we turn down as dreams.
“Dreams keep you awake and it is time to wake up!”
Number 44 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
I didn’t know anything about Gazelle Twin before putting this on.
Initially, it put me off a bit, there was some early music choral bits going on, which triggers my PetShopBoys-o-phobia.
However, upon listening a bit closer, I realized that in the Chorales, and spoken word segments, such that they were, the lyrics were the every day detritus of life in the twenty-first century. Things you might hear on the bus or when you’re reading the newspaper. “Just look at these kids now. No respect. It was much better in my day.” etc. Cut ups, a la W.S. Burroughs.
And, like Burroughs, it is often quite darkly funny.
The music is electronic, beat and loop based, with prominent vocals as mentioned. And occasional recorders.
A super interesting album, if I were ordering these, Pastoral would be in the top 10.
Nepali Green Pearl Tea from Rainbow Grocery in SF.
One of my coworkers has noticed that I am often making tea, and I sometimes share with him, so he brought in some he got at Rainbow Grocery, with the caveat, “I don’t know much about tea, but Nepali Tea seemed interesting.”
I found it interesting, as well. I didn’t know ANY green tea was made in Nepal or India. I thought it was all Black.
My initial impressions are that some care was taking with producing this tea. The dried tea is well formed and undamaged. After steeping I see that it is 1 bud, 1 leaf.
I brewed this with my usual Chinese Green tea gaiwan method.
6 grams of tea, water starting around 185 degrees F.
The first thing I notice is a smoky ham-like character. Not like a tea that has been smoked or contaminated with smoke as part of the kill green, but as character of the tea. A little greasy, with a thick soup in the first steeps, but quickly thinning.
The first steeps are super intense, but the flavor quickly fades as the brewing continues.
Unfortunately, the overall impression the tea leaves, after the initial flavor shock, is of an unpleasant lingering bitterness in the throat, which continues through the less intense later steeps.
Number 43 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
Bleep sums the album up with the following:
“In an endless ocean of critics and producers suffering the daily dose of terminally impressed dusty tape tekno and hauntology focused hardcore and jungle throwback 12″s, Nkisi’s The Dark Orchestra is a glass of ice-cold water smashed across a scene that is in much need of a very serious wake-up call.”
I really have not much idea what the Bleep Store writeup of this album means, other than to say I did enjoy Nkisi’s The Dark Orchestra.
It is an EP. It is faster techno-ish electronic music with serious sub-bass action. There is enough variation over the EPs 15 or so minutes that nothing ever gets stale, in fact the whole thing altogether sounds not much like anything I have heard before.
One thing I will note is that Nkisi is now on a label called Arcola, which is a sub-label of Warp. She had previously been on a label called NON-Worldwide which has a few compilations. I seriously recommend checking them out. Some of the tracks on those compilations are pretty mind blowing. Electronic music that stretches its boundaries to include the world.