King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana

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[ Flightless Records, 2017 ]

Flying Microtonal Banana is the first installment in the Australian band’s King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard ambitious plan to release 5 full length albums in 2017. And if they keep it as fresh with the four remaining albums as they do with this one, the year of 2017 might be theirs. Their electrifying mixture of microtonal music, psychedelic rock and krautrock is like a bomb being dropped on the musical year 2017: an energetic take on psychedelic music with an ear for great melody and intriguing compositional ideas, especially the microtones, which provide a great, off-kilter quality to the already trippy rock amassed on the album. Flying Microtonal Banana is one hell of a trans-African trip that’s sure to take you to the Great Beyond and back. Highly recommended!


Artykuły Rolne – Dobrze to już było

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[ Self-released, 2016 ]

Last year’s album by the Polish noise rock unit Artykuły Rolne (which could be translated as “Agricultural Commodities”) is a shackled beast, which is struggling to free itself and sometimes spews scorching fire. The amount of energy and layers contained on this LP could be given to a few albums by a few bands, and the sheer, cosmic lysergic energy is conjured by heavily effect-laden walls of guitar noise and heavy, doomy drumming. When you name one of your tracks “Kosmos”, you gotta go huge. And goddamn, they do. This amount of heady, wide-eyed psychedelia is rarely to be seen. It’s almost like an anomaly. There should be more anomalies like this. Highly fucking recommended.


Various Artists – Mono No Aware

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[ PAN, 2017 ]

The year 2016 might have seemed for some as some sort of end-of-the-world year with all the major changes going on in the US, Europe, or globally in general. The media were keen to fuel the panic with nearly apocalyptic images of protests, terrorist acts and riot, leading many to believe the next Big War is coming. Meanwhile, the team of the Berlin-based electronic label PAN asked themselves a simple question: What is ambient music in the 21st century? With the help of the musicians who released albums on PAN they answer this question: Well, ambient is still mostly about calmness and atmosphere, but in 2017 it’s stylistic influences are much wider than in the 1970’s when Brian Eno coined the term. The compilations title refers to the Japanese philosophical concept regarding being aware to the passing of all things. The ambience on Mono No Aware is “contaminated” by noise, musique concrete, grime, even ASMR aesthetics. It’s indeniably futuristic but also very traditional at the same time, keeping faithful to the original concept or answering to the question of what ambient music is. Featuring tracks by Helm, Yves Tumor, M.E.S.H., Jeff Witscher, SKY H1, ADR and many more, Mono No Aware is an ecletic, yet coherent collection of the 21st century ambient music. Highly recommended!


Gnod – Just Say No to the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine

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[ Rocket Recordings, 2017 ]

When it comes to clearly state your views, few (or even no) artists this year might come close to the UK psychonauts Gnod. It looks like the tumultous events of 2016 and early 2017 shook the members to their foundations, causing them to get radical and political. Just Say No is a rebellious album, eschewing their open-form drone-psych improvisations for a more coherent effort, fusing fuzzy noise rock with protest lyrics, which sometimes makes Gnod sound like Skullflower covering XTC (at least when the vocals aren’t extremely distorted). The dirty riffs fly like the riot police bullets while the heavy, pummeling drums set the rhythm for one last death march. Resistance music for the interesting times. Recommended!

 


Hills – Hills

 

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[ Sky Lantern, 2017, originally released in 2009 ]

Here’s an album I totally love coming back to: the self-titled debut LP by the Swedish based psych experts Hills, reissued on vinyl by the American label Sky Lantern (unfortunately not available anymore, sorry for being a slowpoke). Taking cues from their country’s rich tradition of head music and a lot of krautrock rhythms Hills have created a fully captivating and organic album that fits perfectly both for those beginning their adventure in psychedelic rock and the seasoned trippers who went on countless trips into the Great Beyond. Now sit back, light one up and let the Scandinavian psychedelic sensation take over your brain and body. Highly recommended!


KURO – KURO

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[ Rocket Recordings, 2016 ]

A primordial fog rises above this genre-bending dark masterpiece by the Bristol based duo KURO. With its minimalistic artwork (and name) referring to the masterpieces of Japanese psychedelia and avant-garde, the thickly layered drones bring to mind the music of Tetragrammaton or Yoshi Wada (although not that minimalistic) with an occult twist. Referring to ancient cults and religions, KURO creates a dense, thick atmosphere that sounds like a preparation for a conjuring of a forgotten deity about to emerge from a trans-dimensional portal. This is a work of psychedelic beauty to get lost in. Recommended!


Black Bananas – Spydr Brain

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[ OSR, 2016 ]

The Brooklyn based label OSR might be one of my favorite new finds with its colorful gallery of musical avant-weirdos with their crazy approach to music making and the creative process. One of the newest releases by this label is Spydr Brain EP by the neo-psych unit Black Bananas featuring Jennifer Herrema or the Royal Trux fame. Now if you think this sounds anything like, say, Twin Infinitives or Accelerator, you should chuck such thinking out of the window. Spydr Brain is a hyperkinetic, incredibly busy trippy electric jazz funk fusion, but with a sleazy, punky twist – like a drug addicted medium channeling Miles Davis. It’s wonderfully warped and meaty and the same time, the kind of freak funk Sunburned Hand of the Man would be proud of if they did amphetamines instead of shrooms and acid. Highly recommended!