Eyvind Kang - Visible Breath: 3 long tracks of brooding, mysterious atmospheres from one of my favorite composers. Available on LP from Editions Mego.
Kayo Dot - Gamma Knife: It's early to be making album-of-the-year predictions, but the new Kayo Dot album is a damned strong candidate, and my favorite record of theirs since 2003's Choirs of the Eye. Available now as a download from their BandCamp site, Gamma Knife will be released in physical format(s) later this year. But spend the $5 on BandCamp now, seriously. And be sure to check KayoDot.net for updates on both the physical release and upcoming tours, as Toby Driver & company seem to spend half their lives on the road and the other half in recording studios. It looks like plans are coalescing around May...
Secret Chiefs 3 (Traditionalists) - La Chanson De Jacky/The Western Exile 7'': Notoriously slow to release his almost impossibly sophisticated albums, 2012 has already brought us 2 new SC3 recordings, and there is a special twist: Mike Patton sings this La Chanson De Jacky cover. This is the first recording of Patton and Spruance together since the days of Mr. Bungle. Could a new Bungle album actually be possible some day? I imagine that remains unlikely, but Bungle's albums are incredibly dear to me, and a fellow can dream.
Pepe Deluxe - Queen of the Wave: To be honest, this record hasn't fully grabbed me yet, but its concept is amazing, and I suspect that it's going to grow on me with time. And huge props are in order for the immense effort toward recording with exotic instruments in exotic locales, most notably the Great Stalacpipe organ in Virginia's Luray Caverns, the largest musical instrument in the world.
Bang on a Can All Stars - Big Beautiful Dark and Scary: this new doubledisc celebrates the 25th anniversary of Bang on a Can, and it was available for free download from the band in January. Among many interesting gems, I was intrigued by the three compositions written by Dave Longstreth, though ultimately surprised at both their brevity and reserve (how about releasing some recordings of the live Getty's Address performance from a few years ago, everyone?). My favorites, though, are the arrangements of a few of the bluesier player piano studies of Conlan Nancarrow--breathtaking. I hope this record gets a vinyl release with some anniversary memoirs in the liner notes. In any event, CD release is scheduled for late February. This has been a great productive period for BOAC founder Michael Gordon, whose percussion piece "Timber" has received well-deserved positive attention recently. Here's an excerpt from Timber if you haven't heard it yet:
Son Lux - Break Thru Radio Session: No new studio recordings since last year's experimental monthlong conception-to-finished album creation, We Are Rising, but anything Son Lux is worth a mention. You can find this one at the Son Lux BandCamp page. I'm always interested in how folks who create such complex, dense arrangements choose to recreate their music live. Son Lux leans on the piano, and it works.
Space Blaster - Blastoff: I missed this release last November, but for fans of the Sweet Snacks or Mega Mousse, this newest effort from the Japonize Elephants family will be essential. Of all those projects, this one feels closest to the Mega Mousse vibe, blending elements of surf and spaghetti westerns with that signature sound that always makes Sylvain Carton's projects delightful. This one is available in physical format from CDBaby, or check their BandCamp for the digital version (and a few sample tracks).
Kevin Kastning projects: I also missed the initial releases of these in late 2011, but the recent Kastning
Dominique Leone - Instrumentals: This one is a BandCamp-only release so far, and it's a fun way to explore Leone's architectural tendencies, combining shifting arpeggios in urgent, forward-leaning tracks that are good on their own but also sound like they'd be happy to accommodate "choir of Leone" vocal treatments. I'm still looking forward to the next "official" DL release, but some of the insanity here like the pointillistic "Uncertain Samba" or the stop/start buildups introducing "Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Year" will tide me over.
Next post: the dizzying array of albums already announced for 2012 release...