The new year is already here, and I know we just wanna close that chapter as soon as possible. Nevertheless, there is something left we have to do to execute the mission. December unleashed a myriad of interesting records, and I subjectively gathered the very best for you to enjoy. One last breath, and 2020 is over. Stick with me.
Lespecial are first and foremost one thing: A ton of fun. While their music can be complex and compelling, it’s the joy every song transmits that makes Ancient Homies such a great album. Jazz, prog, and math rock are the main driving forces here, and it’s such a great experience from start to finish.
Not only has Godtet, a project by producer Godriguez, become one of the most interesting jazz projects in recent memory, it also manages to get better and better with every release. By recommending III here, I wholeheartedly suggest you to check out all their former releases and enjoy this fresh and modern take on jazz. You won’t regret it!
The Smothering Arms of Mercy hit me completely out of nowhere. Growth are an Australian trio, unleashing thrilling sludge and post-metal mixed with Gojira-esque riffs. With more and more spins, the album easily grew on me with its precisely executed grooves and hellish atmosphere. An overlooked gem in modern math/post-metal every fan of the genre should listen to,.
Ah, here we go again. Back in the August 2020 edition of The Noise Of, I praised Tomorrows I A LOT. Watching this level of great musicianship continue with Tomorrows II makes me positive that with the release of the last part of the Tomorrows trilogy in April, we will experiencing one of the best pieces of music in 2021. And that’s saying something. Son Lux are fucking back, better than ever.
Ichiko Aoba – Windswept Adan
December 4 // hermine
Ichiko Aoba‘s new album is so good that it easily made my Top 20 albums of 2020 despite its late release in the year. As an avid fan of Aoba’s catalog, her new album opened up even new heights for the Japanese artist, which got her some well-deserved recognition in a western world that ususally ignores a lot of greatness going on in Asia. Don’t hesitate to delve right into it, like the cover suggests.
An Alpha Male Tea Party album out of nowhere? I’ll take it! A lot of folks were pretty surprised when Infinity Stare hit us in early December, and what a delightful surprise it was. Forward-thinking prog rock was always the band’s strength, and they sound fresher and more joyful than ever on their new album. A must-listen for all fans of modern prog.
The Golden Age Of Steam – Tomato Brain
December 4 // limited NOISE
Space jazz! Tomato Brain is a wild record that grooves into the depth of time and space with the power of jazz. A classic sci-fi story, as old as humankind’s wish to fly! The Golden Age Of Steam provides half an hour of meditative, introspective jazz, like the real gem it is.
Well, technically I tend to skip re-releases for The Noise Of, but this is too good to not mention it. These songs by doom/whatever metal project Owl were released as part of a split with 0N0 back in September 2019, but it didn’t reach my ear back then. In Dezember, I’ve been totally absorbed into those powerful tunes, and so should you. Never too late for great music!
An extravangant prog ensemble album? From Dur et Doux? And it’s Le Grand Sbam? Yes, yes, and triple yes! Furvent can be over the top at some points, but that’s where the magic happens. In its best moments, the album feels like The Gabriel Construct, which is as high as my praise can get. A special album for special moods, but special nonetheless.
Rien Faire – Rien Faire
December 11 // Dur et Doux
And Dur et Doux the second! While you can call Rien Faire a bit calmer then Le Grand Sbam‘s release, it isn’t any less compelling. Leaning towards art pop with a sprinkle of chanson (or vice versa, depending on your angle), Rien Faire feels charmingly French. It grabs you attention and turns weirdness up to eleven in unexpected moments, making it an exciting and surprising ride.
What’s the most interesting thing about Chapters of Zdenka? On the surface, it’s some relaxed chillwave/nu jazz, partly on the lo-fi side of production, otherwise very delicately constructed. The thing that impressed me the most about this release is the great sense for harmonization. Especially the way vocals and keys work together is mesmerizing, which in turn creates an enchanting atmosphere.
December is awesome for those ‘out of nowhere’ releases. Artists just put out records, not caring for the typical release circle. Black Widow Nebula feels so honest and joyful, with a clear vision of sound and identity present in every second of its runtime. It actually manages to integrate a sense of theatrics I usually don’t like and make them loveable, which is a fascinating treat. And while the songwriting is complex, it seems to come with ease to the man behind Caelestra, Frank Harper. Impressive.
Navy Blue – Song of Sage: Post Panic!
December 22 // Freedom Sounds
萬能青年旅店 (Omnipotent Youth Society) – 冀西南林路行 (Inside the Cable Temple)
December 22 // 中国数字文化集团有限公司
Usually, there aren’t that many Chinese bands and records that make it outside of their home country, but the few I’ve heard were always at least interesting to some degree. Omnipotent Youth Society play beautiful music you could describe as progressive folk; it’s really warm and slightly psychy. The way the band uses rhythm and melody make it sound a bit world-ly, and it makes the whole listening experience so much richer.
Billy Woods released one of the best hip hop albums last year when he teamed up with Kenny Segal to create Hiding Places. Moor Mother is all over the place with solo releases and collaborations. What happens when those two team up? Something great. Brass is dark and disturbing, but also full of hope.
Let’s end this list with something truly wonderful. Deca Joins are an amazing band from Taipei, Taiwan, playing neo-psychy/dreamy lo-fi indie tunes. A slow goove lures you in like a venus flytrap, and embraces you with its sweet and cozy vibe. Don’t get lost. Or do get lost. Whatever.