Avant Music News Best of the First Half of 2019

2019 is just about halfway over, and there have already been a great many outstanding releases from this year. This list is a representation of the recordings that have grabbed my attention through the last six months. It is not comprehensive or complete, and does not try to be. I’m sure that there a few albums sitting on my desk or computer that should be on this list, but I haven’t been able to get to put them on (more particularly, about 70 on my desk and about 230 recordings on my computer waiting to be heard).

Nonetheless, enjoy this list. Consider it to consist of pointers to music that is likely to be enjoyable to AMN readers. I’ll be back in January with the 2019 year-end “best of” posts.

Like this list? Feel free to peruse previous years’ lists.

Album of the Year Candidates

Magma – Zess
Philipp Gropper’s Philm – Consequences
Matt Mitchell – Phalanx Ambassadors
Anna Webber – Clockwise

Excellent Releases

Mariska Baars & Rutger Zuydervelt – Eau
Mike Barber – Duets for Saw and Deviated Septum
Martina Bertoni – The Green EP
Biota – Counterbalance
Joseph Branciforte / Theo Bleckmann- LP1
Tony Buck & Massimo Pupillo – Unseen
Cape Willoughby Road & Blear Moon – Split
Daniel Carter / S. Mihas / I. Nejando / F. Ughi – Radical Invisibility
Danketsu 9 – Towards a Walk in the Sun
Whit Dickey Tao Quartets – Box of Light
Whit Dickey Tao Quartets – Peace Planet
Green Dome (Z. Parkins / R. Sawyer / R. Smith) – Thinking in Stitches
Hezaliel – Inferno
Reid Karris / Alexander Adams Duo – Nothing Stays Buried (la la la la)
Thomas Kozumplik – Child of the Earth
Brian Krock – Liddle
James Brandon Lewis – An UnRuly Manifesto
Llyn Y Cwn – Twll Du
Byron Metcalf / Mark Seelig – Persistent Visions
Monocube – Substratum
Mount Meander – Live in Berlin
Ni – Pantophobie
NUM – False Awakening
Pat O’Reilly – Three Sheets to the Wind
Dan Phillips Quartet – Light at Depth
Pita – 20190316 Lampo @ The Graham Foundation, Chicago, IL
Pita – 20190319 Knockdown Center, Mespeth, NY
PoiL – Sus
Ranaldo / Jarmusch / Urselli / Pándi – Ranaldo / Jarmusch / Urselli / Pándi
Casper Nyvang Rask – Slow Evolution Ensemble
Eliana Rosales – Trazar Líneas Rectas, Curvas
Kelly Ruth – Forms
Silt Ensemble / Michael Zerang – Follow the Light
Sly & the Family Drone – Gentle Persuaders
Sly Horizon – The Anatomy of Light
Oli Steidle & The Killing Popes – Ego Pills
Sunn0))) – Life Metal
David Torn / Tim Berne / Ches Smith – Sun of Goldfinger
John Wesseltoft / Balasz Pandi – Terreng
Michael Zerang – The Shuddering Cherub

Honorable Mentions

A Half With Tinnitus – A Half With Tinnitus
Christine Abdelnour / Chris Corsano – Quand fond la neige, où va le blanc?
Alexander Adams / Bob Bucko, Jr. / A. Cunningham – Every Way But What Came to Mind
John Luther Adams – Become Desert
Alio Die / Lorenzo Montana – The Threshold of Beauty
Arch / Matheos – Winter Ethereal
Ashtoreth – Rites I & II
The Attic (Amado / Almeida / Govaert) – Summer Bummer
Daniel Barbiero / Cristiano Bocci – Wooden Mirrors
Brad Barrett / Joe Morris / Tyshawn Sorey – Cowboy Transfiguration
Lea Bertucci – Resonant Field
Michael Bisio / Kirk Knuffke / Fred Lonberg-Holm – Requiem for a New York Slice
Hafdís Bjarnadóttir & Passepartout Duo – A Northern Year
Tony Buck & Massimo Pupillo – Time Being
Cinchel – A Ghost’s Hand Leads You Through the Darkness
Common Eider, King Eider – Égrégore
Jeff Cosgrove / Matthew Shipp / William Parker – Near Disaster
Jon Crompton – Intuit
Erick D’Orion & Guillaume Cliche – PUNT
Tim Daisy – October Music (Vol. 3) 7 Compositions for Duet
Dieu – Fore
Massimo Discepoli – The Right Place on the Wrong Map
Mark Dresser Seven – Ain’t Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You
Peter Evans / Sam Pluta – Two Live Sets
Forrest Fang – The Fata Morgana Dream
Fistfights with Wolves – Bone Script
Ben Lamar Gay – Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks
Vinny Golia / Steph Richards / Bert Turetzky – Trio Music
Gordon Grdina Quartet – Cooper’s Park
Heart of the Ghost – Heart of the Ghost
Alex Inglizian / Tim Daisy – Looking Out
Henry Kaiser / Pirog / Sipe / Silverman / West – Five Times Surprise
Gleb Kanasevich – Asleep
Eli Keszler – Empire
KTL – 20190323 Big Ears@Mill and Mine, Knoxville, TN
Le Rex – Escape of the Fire Ants
Dave Liebman / Adam Rudolph / Hamid Drake – Chi
Jon Lundbom / Big Five Chord – Harder on the Outside
Wilhelm Matthies / Reid Karris – Roots and Ripples
Marilyn Mazur – Shamania
Joe McPhee / John Butcher = At the Hill of James Magee V
Metamatic Percussion Trio – 7 Situations
E. Millar – No Instrument Machine, Air
Roscoe Mitchell Orchestra – Littlefield Concert Hall Mills College
Musson, Rachel / Pat Thomas / Mark Sanders Shifa – Live at Cafe OTO
Mz.412 – Svartmyrkr
Quinsin Nachoff / Flux – Path of Totality
The Nent – Vulner 
Neraterræ – The Substance of Perception
Sam Newsome – Chaos Theory
OGJB Quartet – Bamako
Oort Smog – Smeared Pulse Transfers
Original Past Life – Inference / Interference
Otherworld Ensemble – Northern Fire
Jessica Pavone – In the Action
PCP Trio – Internal / External / Broad / Focused
Polyorchard – Black Mountain
Polyorchard – Sommiam
RAIC (Richmond Avant Improv Collective) – Lamentations
Tomeka Reid / Filippo Monico – The Mouser
Zach Rowden / Jarrett Gilgore / Ian McColm – First Lapse
Sataray – Nocturnum
John (Stereocilia) Scott – The Silence That Follows
Elliott Sharp / Alvaro Domene / Mike Caratti – Expressed by the Circumference
Matthew Shipp Trio – Signature 
Patrick Shiroishi / V. Golia / D. Fujioka,  A.Cline – Borasisi
Sileni – Long Forgotten Bowers
Sonologyst – Phantoms
Sutekh Hexen – Sutekh Hexen
Rajna Swaminathan – Of Agency and Abstraction
Tapage and Gareth Davis – States
Andrew Tasslemyer – Surface Textures
Daniel Tjernberg & Mikael Tjernberg – Selected Early Works
Various Artists – A Poisonous Black & White Expanded
Various Artists – Anthology of Contemporary Music from Africa Continent
Various Artists – Drone Islands – Land Rising
Franck Vigroux – Totem
Viviankrist – Morgenrøde
Within Temptation – Resist
Zwitschermaschine – System for Us