It’s the first Friday of the month, so that means it is BC day, of course. Last one of the year. Last one forever? Who knows. But I’ve got a new Charlatan album out called Earth Games, and it’s a course alteration for the project. It’s a record I’m incredibly proud of, and a little terrified of having it out in the world since it feels pretty different. I’d be stoked if you gave it a listen.
Additionally, everything at The Jewel Garden other than Earth Games is free/pay-what-you-want through the end of today, a small gesture of gratitude for a wild year of support and enthusiasm. With that, onto the capsules…
Surya Botofasina Everyone’s Children (Spiritmuse)
Everyone’s Children is one of 2022’s most memorable debuts. Growing up in Alice Coltrane’s Sai Anantam Ashram, Botofasina’s music carries the transcendent spirit of her work forward into its own ether. Expansive auras transmit otherworldly expressions through emotive keyboard passages and cosmic fluctuations. Botofasina constantly explores, pushing his songs into meditative states that glow with an inviting resonance. Shimmering arpeggiations levitate over clouds of synth glissandos, earthy field recordings, and enchanting vocal contributions from Radha Botofasina (Surya’s mother) and Mia Doi Todd. It’s impossible not to drift away across the astral plane with this music in my ears. What an absolutely stunning album. Highest recommendation.
Pefkin / Roxane Métayer split LP (Morc)
Great split album from two of my favorites. Pefkin’s side opens with emotive strings adrift against a backdrop of lapping waves. Once her voice emerges from the sea, points of light pierce through overcast aural skies, drops of illumination welcoming the growing night. Darkness is a cocoon throughout both of Pefkin’s beautiful tracks. Métayer carries this warm spirit to the dawn, where her violin motifs celebrate the sun’s return. Concrète pointillism shapes the edges of “Mage mésange” with pizzicato explorations, leaving the final pensive recollections for closer “Soma elpahros.” This is such a wonderful LP.
Andrew Oda Back To The Body (mappa)
From its opening moments, Back To The Body hooked me. Andrew Oda’s latest for mappa is a spellbinding, sprawling expression of a million ideas living and breathing within us. String arrangements blossom across sonic fields beneath dappled sunlight leading into the edges of harrowing alien wilds. Creatures are built from aqueous tones and liminal bones, singing sad songs in the wind. We stay with our memories collecting like puddles from ether, drawing shadows with searching guitars and synthetic drones. Back To The Body encapsulates a lifetime through inventive songwriting and an evolving, crystalline aural palette. It’s stunning.
Jeong Lim Yang Zodiac Suite: Reassured (Fresh Sound)
Bright tones spill out of the first moments of Zodiac Suite: Reassured, Jeong Lim Yang’s fantastic interpretation of Mary Lou Williams’ original from 1945. Yang’s bass is front and center across the 13 tracks, not only as the foundational base of these recordings but as the keystone that holds them together. Santiago Leibson’s deft piano accompaniment sings like early morning sunlight flooding through windows, dancing gracefully while still cutting an emotive valley through the mirth. There’s an openness to these versions that allows them to move skyward, pulled forward by Gerald Cleaver, once again showing why he’s the best in the business. Leibson glides through solo after solo, uplifted by the rhythmic architecture Yang and Cleaver provide, breathing new life into the melodies of these timeless pieces.
sorta opalka Gestos (Never Anything)
This project from Yama Yuki somehow manages to be simultaneously harsh and soft. Electronics creep through subterranean cracks in our psyches, leaving trace metal fragments and nanoparticles to alter our collective consciousness. High-frequency sonic shards tease out intricate patterns. There are sporadic rhythms cloaked in synthetic finery, looking for places to bed in, but the constant flow of tonal debris doesn’t allow anything to sit still. This music is in continuous motion. Drones undo the crackling stowaways, leaving them to dissolve into rapid-fire arpeggios and machine language reveries. Gestos is bizarre but endlessly enticing.
Hiram Immersion (Home & Garden)
This longform piece from Matthew Hiram’s new age adjacent solo project hits my sweet spot from every direction. Meditative synthesis underpins lilting woodwinds and electronic leads, their flutter a breath from the still world. Aqueous field recordings and insect songs add texture and ground the cosmic arrangements woven into each expressive passage. Organic resonance covers all the sonic surfaces of Immersion, bringing our attention to bear on the terrestrial plane and inward. Fantastic.
Šimanský Štěpán Z Druhé Strany (Stoned to Death)
Super interesting duo recordings from two Czech artists twisting acoustic bass and guitars into angular sonic fields. Various preparations alter the landscape. Guttural excursions plumb circulatory depths that spin off into countless atonal directions. Dark psychedelia hangs above the album like a sword on a thin wire. There’s an abrasive air to Z Druhé Strany that keeps listeners on edge through its nine tracks, but within those confines manages to keep open a quizzical space. It’s strange and not necessarily inviting, but these songs have a quality that keeps me asking questions and wanting more.
Hiroshi Ebina In science and the human heart (Kitchen Label)
Beautiful soundscapes of serene expressions filtered through faded prisms. Gravity fades into the background as each note levitates within the elegant terrain. Ebina’s compositions are restrained and potent, holding back the ocean until the last possible second when the emotional flood fills the zone. His music is wonderfully crafted and intricate. Every passage is pristine without ever feeling cold or sterile. These sounds create a warm environment to slow down and take a breath. Lovely.
Ned Milligan & John Atkinson Loom (cached.media)
The quiet comfort of everyday sounds winds through the spellbinding grassy corridors of Loom. Milligan’s one of my favorite field recordists these days, but hearing them transformed in new contexts by Atkinson (who has put out some truly great stuff this year) is enchanting. Glossy tones resonate in windswept plains welcoming the cold kiss of winter. Warmth is generated within ponderous chord arrangements that echo until the sun begins to set. Because of Milligan’s fantastic choice of recordings, Loom is tactile, full of living textures. We hear ourselves in the soft crunch of footsteps and find comfort in the melodic tone baths encompassing it all. Highly recommended.