Avant Music News Best of the First Half of 2021

As the pandemic lockdown begins to lift, musicians are starting to tentatively play live again. The second half of 2021 will hopefully look much different and more “normal” than the first. Nonetheless, musicians are creative in nature and many found creative ways to be productive, whether in the form of streaming live sessions, releasing archival material, or the so-called “pandemic album.” Thus, in terms of quality, 2021 looks to be in the same league as previous years.

In any event, 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. There are literally hundreds of albums sitting on my desk or computer that probably should be on this list, but I haven’t yet been able to get to put them on.

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 2021 year-end “best of” posts.

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

Album of the Year Candidates

Braxton, Anthony – 12 Comp (ZIM) 2017
Nagano, Sana – Smashing Humans
Webber, Anna – Idiom

Excellent Releases

(Ahmed) – Nights on Saturn (Communication)
Abdul-Rauf, Leila – Phantasiai
Allemano, Lina / Four – Vegetables
Anderson, Vijay / Stephen Gauci – Pandemic Duets
Barbier, Mattie – Three Spaces
Beckahesten – Tydor
Bisbâyé – Le Sens de la Fin
Bjärgö, Peter – The Translucency of Mind’s Decay
Body Meπa – The Work is Slow USA
Brice / Golding / Kaiser / Moore / Prevost – The Secret Handshake with Danger, Vol. One
BRUIT – The Machine Is Burning and Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again
Cambien, Jonas / Trio – Nature Hath Painted the Body
Carlstedt, Jeremy – Sound Escapes
Dinamitri – Open Combo Mappe per l’Eden
Dronny Darko / Ajna – Radioactive Immersion
Dunmall, Paul / Mark Sanders – Unity
Eisenberg, Wendy / Stephen Gauci – Pandemic Duets
Escudero, Juan J. G. – Shapes of Inner Timespaces
Flow Trio with Joe McPhee – Winter Garden
Frye, Rob – Exoplanet
Gasparotti / Ciullini / Stancati – Portraits
German Ocean, The – The German Ocean
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!
Goldberger, Jonathan / Jermyn / Maneri / Cleaver-  Live at Scholes
Hilyard – Division Cycle
Horvitz, Wayne – Live Forever Vol 1: The President: New York in the 80s
Jarguna / Lam Sadashiva – Puja in the Temple of Sound
Karris Vasseur Duo – A Step in the Dark Stirs the Fire
Karris, Reid – Obscure Sorrows
Kurek, Wojtek – Buoyancy
Locks, Damon / Black Monument Ensemble – NOW
Lustmord / Karin Park – ALTER
Malaby, Tony – Turnpike Diaries Volume 1
Mansur – Minotaurus
Maselli, Domiziano – Lazzaro
Moop – Ostara
Morris, Joe / Damon Smith – Gusts Against Particles
Natura Est – Real Seasons
Odd Circus – Arch Nova
Odd Circus – Mantha
Orca, Attack! – C.M.S.O. (Learning by Listening Vol. 1)
Parker, William – Migration of Silence Into and Out of the Tone World: Vol 4 – Cheops
Parkins, Zeena / Mette Rasmussen / Ryan Sawyer – Glass Triangle
Petrograd Drone Gathering – Puerhwave
Phicus – Liquid
Powers, Jen / Matthew Rolin Duo – Strange Fortune
Puech, Mattias – A Geography of Absence
Ranaldo, Lee / Jim Jarmusch / M.Urselli / B.Pándi – Churning of the Ocean
Real Loud – Real Loud
RNGMNN – False Dawn
Roberts, Mariel – Armament
Sarno, Devin – Evocation
Sonologyst – Dust of Human Race
Supervøid – The Giant Nothing
Thumbscrew (Halvorson / Formanek / Fujiwara) – Never Is Enough
Various Artists – Drone Islands – Stellar
Various Artists – The Black Stone – Music for Lovecraftian Summonings
Xerxes the Dark – Soundtrack to the Blind Owl
Zorn, John – Heaven and Earth Magick

Honorable Mentions

Ackerley, Jessica – Morning / Mourning
Adoct – Ouvre-Glace
Ahtoh – Snegopad
Alcorn, Susan / Leila Bordreuil / Ingrid Laubrock – Bird Meets Wire
All My Faith Lost – Untitled
Almeida, Gonçalo – Monologis a Dois
Alphaxone / ProtoU – Back to Beyond
Angeli, Paolo – Jar’a Ita
Barbiero, Daniel – Timekeepers Map the Already Gone
Barbiero, Daniel / Cristiano Bocci – Now / Here
Beard, Anthony – Les Contes de Nulle Part
Beckahesten – Midvinter (EP)
Belisle-Chi, Gregg – KOI – Performing the Music of Tim Berne
Beyond the Ghost – The Last Resort
Birdsey, Henry – Half-Dragged
Bisio, Michael / Kirk Knuffke / Fred Lonberg-Holm – The Art Spirit
BlackWeald – 666 Minutes in Hell
BLOOP (Allemano / Smith) – Proof
Bolton, Rose – The Lost Clock
Branch, Jaimie – Fly or Die Live
Brody, Benjamin Louis / Ian Chang – Floating Into Infinity
Butcher, John / D.Lash / J.Russell / M.Sanders – Discernment
Caldwell, James – Pocket Music
Cameron, Lisa / Sandy Ewen – See Creatures Too
Carson, Brett – The Killing Jar
Caustic Reverie – No Remedy
Cementation – Anxiety In Continual
Chants du Hasard, Les – Livre Troisième
Chaos Echoes – Ecstasy With the Nonexistents
Cisneros, Mark / Nick Francis / Luke Stewart – We Were Here Before
Cities Last Broadcast – The Umbra Report
Cranes (Muller / Risser / Marien) – Formation < Deviation
Cyclone Trio (Magee / Irving / Green) – The Clear Revolution
Davis, Jeff / Stephen Gauci – Pandemic Duets
Dead Melodies – Fabled Machines of Old
Deemer +1 – Aftermath
Desertion Trio – Numbers Maker
Diaz, Pablo – Breves Poemas Sonoros
Domene, Alvaro – Heptad Vol. 1
Dopolarians The – Bond
Draaier – The Town That Was Murdered
Duplant, Bruno – Paysages Sans Age III
Earthflesh – Revelations in Dust
East Axis – Cool With That
Edwards, John / A.Lisle / D.Serries / C.Webster – Peck and Fleet
Emmeluth, Signe – Hi Hello I’m Signe
Ensemble 1 – Guitar, Bass & Drums
Ensemble SuperMusique – Commutation
Fisher, Marsha – New Ruins
Fluke-Mogul, Gabby – Threshold
Foster, Michael & Ben Bennett – Contractions
Fraser / McCowen / Weinberg – Thip
Fujii, Satoko / Tokyo Trio – Moon on the Lake
Futari (Fujii / Saito) – Beyond
Ganga, Arvind & Riccardo Marogna – Ballads from the Wrecked Ship
gc / nc – Deprecated
Giannouli, Tania / Trio – In Fading Light
God Body Disconnect – The Wanderer’s Dream
Goldberg, Ben – Everything Happens to Be
Goldberger, Jonathan / Stephen Gauci – Pandemic Duets
Golding, Binker / John Edwards / Steve Noble – Moon Day
Graham, Forbes / Jim Hobbs / T.Nakatani / V.Shen – Scar’s the Limit
Gray, Devin / Ralph Alessi / Angelica Sanchez – Melt All the Guns
Grey Frequency – Paranormal
Gydja – Ár Var Alda
Harnik, Elisabeth / Christof Kurzmann – Prozession
Harris, Bill / Adam Shead – Orthostat
Hoffman, Christopher – Asp Nimbus
Infinexhuma – Frontier
Jack O’ The Clock – Leaving California
Jackson, Michael Gregory – Frequency Equilibrium Koan
Keeffe, Charlotte – Right Here, Right Now
Kidambi, Amirtha / Matteo Liberatore – Neutral Love
Klaxon Gueule – Entièrement Unanimes
Kosack, Liz / Cansu Tanrikulu / Devin Gray – Space Bubbles
Kryszk, Nathan / Noah Punkt / Maximilian Breu – BIZZL
Kutler, Jen – Sonified Physiological Indicators of Empathy
Kuzu (Rempis / Dorji / Damon) – The Glass Delusion
Largent, Joey – Below Diorite Waters
Lash, Dominic / Quartet – Limulus
Lee, Scott – Through the Mangrove Tunnels
Leibson, Santiago / Stephen Gauci – Pandemic Duets
Leonardi, Stefano / Antonio Bertoni – Viandes
Lewis, James Brandon / Red Lily Quintet – Jesup Wagon
Mayas’ Filamental, Magda – Confluence
McCoy, Yuri – Symphonic Roar
Mcris, John – Ark
Minasi, Dom – Eight Hands One Mind
Miracle of Love – Ostracism
Mitchell, Roscoe / Sandy Ewen / D.Smith / W.Walter – A Railroad Spike Forms the Voice
Mono – Beyond the Past – Live in London with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra
Montgomery & Turner – Sounds Passing Through Circumstances
Mosconi, Federico – Dreamers and Tides
Mueller, Jon – Family Secret
Musk Ox – Inheritance
Musson, Rachel – Dreamsing
Nerell, Loren – The Gong Prophet
Nereus – Five Arcs
Novik, Aaron – Grounded
Nyctalllz – Persian Trip
Nyquist, Ian – Endless, Shapeless
Oberland, Frédéric D. – Meme Soleil
Ormazabal, Iker – The Oscillation (Parts III & IV)
Parish, Shane – Disintegrated Satellites (EP)
Parker, William – Migration of Silence Into and Out of the Tone World: Vol 6 – Mexico
Pavone, Jessica / Wendy Eisenberg / Devin Gray – Universal Dwellings
Pavone, Mario / Dialect Trio + 1 – Blue Vertical
Perelman, Ivo / Matthew Shipp / Whit Dickey – Garden of Jewels
Perez, Alvaro / Alvaro Domene – Zodos
Phillips, Allison / Trio – Placement and Longing
Phurpa & Queen Elephantine – Ita Zor
Poena Sensus – Krubera
Preminger, Noah / Kim Cass – THUNDA
Roach, Steve – As It Is
Roach, Steve – Into the Majestic
Roach, Steve / Serena Gabriel – Temple of the Melting Dawn
Rosenbloom, Mara / Stephen Gauci – Pandemic Duets
Rousay, Claire – A Softer Focus
Rousay, Claire – Loose Ends
Ruptured World – Shore Rituals
Sabled Sun – 2149
Schlarb, Chris / Chad Taylor – Time No Changes
See Through 4 – Permanent Moving Parts
Semiotics Ghosts – Majestic Bastards
Shijin (Schwarz-Bart, David, Galland, Braff) – Theory of Everything
Shiroishi, Patrick – Resting in the Heart of Green Shade
Shocron, Paula / Pablo Díaz – Algo en un Espacio Vacio
SiJ & Textere Oris – Reflections at the Sea
SINthetik Messiah – Ambient Noize
Smith / Ewart / Reed – Sun Beams of Shimmering Light
Sorte Død, Den – Den Sorte Død
Sphäre Sechs – Beta Pictoris
TAK Ensemble – Star Maker Fragments
Taylor, Benedict / Dirk Serries – Live Offerings 2019
Thelen, Stephan – Fractal Guitar 2
Tholos Gateway T- holos Gateway
Thompson, Robert Scott – Escapology
Thompson, Scott – Pal o’Alto
Three-Layer Cake – Stove Top
Tocabajo, Don – Signs
Toren, Cat / Yuma Uesada / Colin Hinton – Ocelot
Trajedesaliva – Ultratumba
Two Much: Reut Regev and Igal Foni – Never Enough
Underflow, The – Instant Opaque Evening
Underwater Sleep Orchestra – The Night and Other Sunken Dreams
Vertical Squirrels – The Chasm
Wallace, Karoline – Stiklinger
Warren, Kenny – Edges
Warren, Kenny – Light Forms
Wavefield Ensemble – Concrete & Void
Webster, Colin – vs Amp
Williams, Chris / Patrick Shiroishi – San Soleil
Wøllo, Erik – North Star
Wøllo, Erik – Recurrence
Wooden Elephant – LANDSCAPES, KNIVES & GLUE – Radiohead’s Kid A Recycled
Wooley, Nate – Mutual Aid Music
Yellow6 – for the first and last
Yuki, Yama / Darisbo / Crise Vitória – Gibon

2 thoughts on “Avant Music News Best of the First Half of 2021

Comments are closed.