The tranquil and contemplative companion music that Mustapha Skandrani and Meitei provided me last month found cousins in March in recent releases by Shida Shahadi (Lake of Fire, 2020) and the monthly collaborative releases by the duo of Laura Cannell and Kate Ellis (January | February | March Sounds, 2021). A reissue / rediscovery of the beautiful 2013 release of The Box Tree by Skúli Sverrisson and Óskar Guðjónsson dug a well that I went back to often over the course of the month.
In terms of more voice-based releases, the new collaboration by Andrew Bird and Jimbo Mathus, These 13 (obscure nod to Faulkner with that title), is the best thing I’ve heard Bird do in years. Effortlessly listenable from beginning to end, parsimonious live recordings with largely violin, guitar, and mandolin – Appalachian folk and raw country, with judicious strings for a nudge of drama here and there. Nothing wrong with it.
Outside domestic turf, a rerelease of Luiz Bonfá’s Reverso do Verso hit right for the roll-out of spring weather, as did the reissue of the Buda Musique collection of Taraab classics Zanzibara Vol. 10. I just found the November release of Tehran TV actress Liraz Charhi‘s new LP – a winning clutch of Israeli-Persian (!) pop with reverent nods to golden-era Googoosh and Ramesh. And speaking of golden eras, MPB auteur José Mauro also seems to be having a new day, with Far Out spinning out new editions of his excellent albums Obnoxius and A Viagem das Horas (the latter earning a full release in late April).
Among leftfield and oddbird finds, recent drops on Bandcamp and Spotify of the 80s recordings of Swiss project Die Welttraumforscher (particularly Die Rückkehr der echten Menschheit (1981-1990)) had me frequently pricking up my ears. As did lumpy/unkempt but consistently inspired releases by Teeth Agency and Fievel is Glauque. Also worth earmarking two French discoveries: the Occitan-language singing field recordist Sourdure (recently with a profile on BC), and a double EP issue of miniatures from Gabriel Gauthier under the name Nevers, Minor Plot Twist and Clueless. Background is cloudy, but foreground is nice. Here we go.
Best Listens (new releases & reissues)
AMBIENT / LIBRARY
Lionmilk – I Hope You Are Well (2021)
Shida Shahadi – Lake on Fire (Oct 2020)
Anna Homler & Elizabeth Falconer / Hey String – blue thirty-seven (Nov 2020)
Holland Andrews – Wordless (2021)
Sourdure – De mòrt viva (2021)
Senyawa – Alkisah (2021)
Liraz – Zan (Nov 2020)
Kutiman – Wachaga (July 2020)
Luiz Bonfa – Reverso do Verso
Stella Chiweshe – Ambuya!
The Beaters – Harari
Skúli Sverrisson & Óskar Guðjónsson – The Box Tree (2021, 2013)
New Muse 4tet – Blue Lotus (2021)
The Modern Jazz Quartet – Continental Escapades (2021, ???)
Hamiet Bluiett – Bearer of the Holy Flame (2021, 1994)
Nathan Salsburg – Landwerk No 2 (Dec 2020)
Mason Lindahl – Kissing Rosy in the Rain (2021)
Pino Palladino & Blake Mills – Notes with Attachments (2021)
STRUMMERS / SONGBIRDS
Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird – These 13 (2021)
James Yorkston & the Second-Hand Orchestra – The Wide, Wide River (2021)
LEFTFIELD / ODD ENDS
Die Welttraumforscher – Die Rückkehr der echten Menschheit (1981-1990)
Fievel Is Glauque – God’s Trashmen Sent to Right the Mess (2021)
Teeth Agency – You Don’t Have to Live in Pain (2021)
Kitchen Cynics – Beads Upon an Abacus (Dec 2020)
V/a – Heisei No Oto: Japanese Left-field Pop from the CD Age (1989-1996)
Five from the Archive (frequent spins, rediscoveries)
Meilyr Jones – 2013 (2016, Wales)
Sourdure – L’Espròva (2018, France – Occitan)
DIEUF-DIEUL de Thiès – Aw Sa Yone Vol 2 (Senegal, 2015)