Peace Will Prosper In The Future
When it's cold out, everything looks flammable. Dry. Sometimes the hardest thing to remember is the absence of pain. It's just there or it isn't. Like being warm. Like being alive. Memory can be a path to a future, and a path can be difficult, overgrown, lost in its season. I thought I walked up a mountain but it was only a hill. Who defines the Z axis anyway? If we burned the seven belltowers, would the monsters stop coming? Could we pull down the sky?
Nadja – Labyrinthine
Aidan Baker is an artist notable for a steady output of collaborative work (more on this later), but Nadja is a project that revolves around Leah Buckareff's monolithic bass tone. When I put on a Nadja record, I expect to be obliterated by black hole of low-frequency fuzz. Seeing this one was a series of collaborations with four different vocalists, I approached it with skepticism. Where do you even fit four different human voices in the mix? It works though. And I think it's the duo's most interesting release since the adventurous Sonnborner in 2018 (that one had a string section).
Raja Kirik – Rampokan
This duo from Indonesia reappropriates Dutch hardstyle through traditional Javanese trance dance, weaving histories of colonial occupation and resistance into something that sounds like it's from the distant future. Heavy in a way that I find difficult to describe because I've never heard anything like it. Just an incredible record all the way through.
Karen Willems / Terre Sol Four – Grichte 2
I started following Karen Willems' work after I heard Nonland, her excellent collab with Aidan Baker. She puts out an eclectic mix of soundscapes, field recordings, minimalist percussion, sound collage in the tradition of musique concrète. Here she's singing and playing drums in some kind of jazz-rock group with three saxophonists. There's a banjo on one track. It's really fun.
Lady Aicha & Pisko Crane's Original Fulu Miziki of Kinshasa – N'Djila Wa Mudujimu
Another hit from Nyege Nyege Tapes. Intricate noise-dance on homemade & recycled instruments from the Democratic Republic of Congo. There's so much movement in this sound. It's easy to get lost in the layered grooves, but it never feels overwhelming. Check out the video. A few former members of this group released a really great album with French producer Débruit in 2019.
Munetoshi Nakayama – Periodic Function
One of my favorite ambient releases this year. Tokyo-based Umé Records has been quietly building a world, one cassette release at a time, since 2019. This is the one that finally hooked me in, both to what Umé Records is doing and to Munetoshi Nakayama's work. Soft surprise against repitition. The simulation of place at the place of simulation. Like waking up or falling asleep somewhere unfamiliar.