AMN Picks of the Week: Steve Roach / Fielder, Gjerstad, & Smith / Birchall, Cheetham, Webster, & Willberg / Orthodox

English: Portrait image of Steve Roach at Soun...

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Steve Roach – Fade to Gray (2017)
Fielder / Gjerstad / Smith – A Shape Finds It’s Own Place (2017)
Birchall / Cheetham / Webster / Willberg – Plastic Knuckle (2016)
Orthodox – Supreme (2017)

Avant Music News Best of 2016: Part II – Albums of the Year

To the extent that these lists mean much of anything, here are our favorite recordings of 2016. Many of these albums have been reviewed here at AMN, and such reviews have been linked in the list below.

This year, our list is so lengthy that we broke it into two separate postings. The “best of” is today, and the honorable mentions were yesterday. As usual, let me add the usual disclaimer that this list is incomplete, I have not heard all 2016 releases, and probably missed a few really good ones. Enjoy.

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

Albums of the Year
Dan Weiss – Sixteen: Drummers Suite
Bent Knee – Say So
Anthony – Braxton – 3 Compositions (EEMHM)) 2011
Bobby PreviteMass

Best of 2016

John Butcher / Thomas Lehn / Matthew ShippTangle
Happy Place – Northfield
Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio – Desire and Freedom
Christopher Hoffman – Silver Cord Quintet
Perhaps Contraption – Mud Belief
Dave Ball / Jon Savage – Photosynthesis
René Aquarius – Blight
Aram Bajakian – Dolphy Formations
Anthony Braxton –  10+1tet (Knoxville) 2016
Anthony Braxton – Trio (Knoxville) 2016
Brownout – Brownout Presents Black Sabbath, Vol. II
Burning Ghosts – Burning Ghosts
DC Improvisers Collective – Ministry of Spontaneous Composition
Massimo Discepoli / Daniel Barbiero – An Eclipse of Images
dMu – Synaptic Self
Mark Dresser / N.Mitchell / M.Melford / M.Dessen – Virtual Tour: A Reduced Carbon Footprint Concert Series
Cassio Figueiredo – Presença
Fond of Tigers – Uninhabit
Free Nelson Mandoomjazz – The Organ Grinder
Devin Gray – Devin Gray’s Fashionable Pop Music
Mats Gustafsson – This is from the Mouth (EP)
Ross Hammond / Vinny Golia – Ross Hammond and Vinny Golia
Horselover Fats – Liberty Ashes
Nathan Hubbard / Skeleton Key Orchestra – Furiously Dreaming
In Slaughter Natives – Ventre
Jack O’ The Clock – Repetitions of the Old City – I
Reid Karris – Oscines et Ensifera
Jockel Leiss – Fluid Variations
Merzbow / Keiji Haino / Balazs Pandi – An Untroublesome Defencelessness
Mondo Flockard – Spirals (EP)
Naima – Bye
Luca Nasciuti – Morpheus
Alexander Noice – Music Made With Voices
The Out Louds (Halvorson, Goldberg, Fujiwara) – The Out Louds
Richard Pinhas / B.Cleveland, M.Manring, Alberti – Mu
Richard Pinhas / Tatsuya Yoshida / Merzbow – Process and Reality
Xavi Reija – Live at RZZ Barcelona
Daniel Rosenboom – Book of Storms
São Paulo Underground – Cantos Invisíveis
Shrine – Ordeal 26.04.86
Sirius Quartet – Paths Become Lines
Space Sweeper – Alien Oceans
Henry Threadgill Ensemble Double Up – Old Locks and Irregular Verbs
Thumbscrew (Halvorson / Formanek / Fujiwara) – Convallaria
Tri-Centric Orchestra – Music of Blake, Bynum & Laubrock: Agora, Questions of Transfiguration, Vogelfrei
Luong Hue Trinh – Illusions
Troum – Acouasme
Harvey Valdes Trio – Point Counterpoint
Vaults of Zin – Kadath
Vortex – Moloch
Anna Webber Simple Trio – Binary
Nate Wooley – Argonautica

AMN Picks of the Week: Knuckleball / CARL / Kshatriya / Anna Högberg Attack

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Knuckleball (Levine / Hannaford / Gray) – Knuckleball (2016)
CARL – Moon Pools and Petroleum Play (2016)
Kshatriya – Samantabhadra (2016)
Anna Högberg Attack – Anna Högberg Attack (2016)

Avant Music News Best of 2016: Part I – Honorable Mentions

Here we go again – our annual list of our favorite recordings for 2016. Or “lists” I should say. This year we received a record number of recordings to review. Given the volume of great music that came out this year, we’ve broken the “best of 2016” listing into two parts. We couldn’t review every one, and we still haven’t listened to many. (Sorry!)

Today is for the honorable mentions. This is a very long list, but the releases herein are all very good and highly recommended. We reviewed a few of these, and linked the reviews where they are available.

Tomorrow will cover our picks for albums of the year.

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

Honorable Mentions

156 – Memento Mori
Rez Abbasi Junction – Behind the Vibration
Alchymie & Gregg Skloff – The Kuiper Belt
Amendola v. Blades – Greatest Hits
The Apophonics (Butcher / Edwards / Robair) – In Situ
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society – Real Enemies
Jon Armstrong – Burnt Hibiscus
Bafus / Brewer – Tangled Tones(@ Loppen, Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark) A...
Aidan Baker – Dualism
Aidan Baker/ N / Dirk Serries – Enomeni
Daniel Barbiero / Ken Moore – Frequency Drift
Battle Trance – Blade of Love
BC Grimm – Orbis Obscura
Eraldo Bernocchi and Prakash Sontakke – Invisible Strings
Andrew Bernstein – The Great Outdoors
Beyond Sensory Experience – The End of it All
Birken – Monstera
Black Spring / Miles Cooper Seaton – West of Will & Cvrst Patience / Adige (for Luigi Lineri)
Borbetomagus – The Eastcote Studios Session
Tim Brady – Instruments of Happiness
Braeyden Jae – Fog Mirror
Anthony Braxton – Quintet (Tristano) 2014
Lucas Brode & Grant Calvin Weston – Spiritual Branches, Sleepless Burial
Burial Hex – ThroneEnglish: Taylor Ho Bynum, Moers Festival 2007
Taylor Ho Bynum – Enter the Plustet
CARL – Moon Pools and Petroleum Play
Gaetano Cappella – Maiella
Carrier / Beresford / Lambert / Edwards – OUTgoing
Chat Noir – Nine Thoughts for One Word
Rhys Chatham – Pythagorean Dream
The Claudia Quintet – Super Petite
Rodger Coleman / Sam Byrd – Perihelion
Joseph M. & Colombo The Living Earth Show – I Watch the Fire as the Days Echo Away
Colossloth – Outstretch Your Hand
Common Eider, King Eider – Extinction
Santi Costanzo – Deeprint
François Couture – Spam Me
Cyanotype – Two Silent Schnauzers
Tim Daisy – Relucent
Tim Daisy / Celebration Sextet – The Halfway There Suite
Dal Niente & Deerhoof – Balter / Saunier
DarkMatterHalo – Cataclysmic Beauty
Gareth Davis / Merzbow – Atsusaku
Kris Davis – Duopoly
Deus Ex Machina – Devoto
Mark Dresser Seven – Sedimental You
Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel – 10
Timothy Dunne – Metaphrase
Eighth Blackbird – Hand Eye
Electric Bird Noise – Nighttime Tides
Moppa Elliott – Still Up in the Air
Empirical – Connection
Ergo – As Subtle as Tomorrow
Forrest Fang – The Sleepwalker’s Ocean
Alvin Fielder / Damon Smith – Song for Chico
Cassio Figueiredo – Expurgo
Jonathan Finlayson / Sicilian Defense – Moving Still
Lesley Flanigan – Hedera
Tucker Flythe Quartet – The New Gilded Age
John Eckhardt / Forresta – Bass, Space & Time
Fresh Cut Orchestra – Mind Behind Closed EyesEnglish: Japanese avant-garde jazz pianist and...
Satoko Fujii / Joe Fonda – Duet
Full Blast (Brotzmann, Pliakas, Wertmüller) – Risc
Gaudi – EP
Ghost Flute & Dice – Melody is God
Josh Green & The Cyborg Orchestra – Telepathy & Bop
Stephen Grew / Trevor Watts – Con Fluent
Rich Halley 5 – The Outlier
Ross Hammond / Sameer Gupta – Upward
Matty Harris – Double Septet
Haunted Me – The Pale Ones
Havre de Grace – The Black Sea Part II
Anna Högberg Attack – Anna Högberg Attack
Honey Ear Trio – Swivel
George Hurd – Navigation Without Numbers
Hyper + Amir ElSaffar – Saadif
I.P.A. – I Just Did Say Something
Kamran Ince – Passion and Dreams
International Contemporary Ensemble – On the Nature of Thingness English: The Vijay Iyer Quartet performed an i...
Vijay Iyer / Wadada Leo Smith – A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke
Jambinai – A Hermitage
Kaada / Patton – Bacteria Cult
Bobby Kapp / Matthew Shipp – Cactus
Reid Karris – Lacrimis de ex Arborum
Khompa – The Shape of Drums to Come
Amirtha Kidambi / Elder Ones – Holy Science
Franklin Kiermyer – Closer to the Sun
Julie Kjær 3 – Dobbeltgænger
Knuckleball (Levine / Hannaford / Gray) – Knuckleball
Kuhn / Sewelson / Cleaver / Roland – Our Earth / Our World
Peter Kuhn Trio – The Other Shore
Okkyung Lee / Christian Marclay – Amalgam
Sebastian Lexer / Steve Noble Muddy Ditch
Jockel Liess – Bordun Chorus
Jockel Liess – Fluid Variations
Limited Liability Sounds – Surrounding Countryside
Lone Echo (Devin Sarno) – Noize
Jon Lundbom / Big Five Chord – Bring Their ‘A’ Game (EP)
Jon Lundbom / Big Five Chord – Make the Changes (EP)
Jon Lundbom / Big Five Chord – Make the Magic Happen (EP)
Jon Lundbom / Big Five Chord – Play All the Notes (EP)
Svetlana Maras / Bodies Under the Waterfall – Angry Ambient Artists Vol. 2
Maroney / Ilgenfritz / Niescier / Drury – Mind Games
Miya Masaoka – Triangle of Resistance
Rafal Mazur / Keir Neuringer – Diachronic Paths
Rob Mazurek / Emmett Kelly – Alien Flower Sutra
Beth McDonald – Cold Weather Birding
Meridian Arts Ensemble – Seven Kings
Hedvig Mollestad Trio – Black Stabat Mater
Mondo Flockard – Mondo Flockard
Jemeel Moondoc / Hilliard Greene – Cosmic Nickelodeon
Morgen Wurde – Brach Auf
Mossenek – Paranoia Plague Shrine 1
Naked Truth – Avian Thug Var
Nhung Ngyuen / Cinchel – The Movement of an Old Soul
Michael Nicolas – Transitions
Tomonari Nozaki – Concession (EP)
Tomonari Nozaki – Credence
Offthesky – Silent Went to the Sea
Eleonore Oppenheim – Home
Kresten Osgood Trio – Live in Gothenburg
Ed Palermo Big Band – One Child Left Behind
Pappenheim – Bekkenjordet
Park / Lash / Sanders / Pugh – Sirene 1009British saxophonist Evan Parker
Evan Parker / Seymour Wright – Tie the Stone to the Wheel
The Paul Swest – Wizard Talk
The Pololaniks – The Suspicious Slumber Party
Peter Ponzol / Abbey Rader – It’s Time
Poppy Nogood – Music for Mourning
Post Haste Reed – Duo Under a Canopy of Angels… a River of Stars
Noah Preminger – Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground
Reconnaissance Fly – Off by One
The Research Institute – Music for Prepared Guitars
Rhyton – Navigating by Starlight
Rivener – Svengali Gaze (EP)
Steve Roach – Shadow of Time (Expanded)
Jason Roebke Octet – Cinema Spiral
Romus / Rankin-Parker / Pearce – Live at Vamp Vintage Art Music
Rova – Channeling Coltrane Electric Ascension + Cleaning the Mirror
Roswell Rudd / Jamie Saft / Trevor Dunn / B.Pandi – Strength & Power
Sabbagh / Miller / Jermyn – Lean
Scheerling / Thaumaturgist – Vertoeven LVI / Mysteries van de Droom Var
John Scott (Stereocilia) – The Road to the Unconscious Past
Seven Impale – Contrapasso
Sevenism – Saline Celestial / Fluid Pulse, Echo Rise and / Release. Now I Float
Sloth Racket – Triptych
Wadada Leo Smith – America’s National Parks
David Smooke – Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
Some Some Unicorn – Unicornucopia
Sophia – Unclean
Sound Etiquette – Sound Etiquette
Spires That In The Sunset Rise – With Michael Zerang Kata Physin
Squier Squier – OverSleep
Amory Stephenson – First Autumn
Subterraneanact & Machinefabriek – Persistent Objects English: Sun Ra at New England Conservatory, F...
Sun Ra / Merzbow – Strange City
Tanya Tagaq – Retribution
Ten – Yukon Youth
Toc (Ternoy / Cruz / Orins) & The Compulsive Brass – Air Bump
Toxydoll – Bullsheep
TriAngular Bent – TriAngular Bent
Tunnels of Ah – Surgical Fires
Twinesuns – The Empire Never Ended
Various Artists – A Night in the Country: The Quietened Bunker
Various Artists – A Year in the Country: Audiological Transmissions Artifact #1
Michael Vlatkovich – Mortality
Mat Walerian / Matthew Shipp / Hamid Drake – Live at Okuden
Mike Weis – Sound Practice
Daniel Wohl – Holographic
Erik Wøllo – Star’s End 2015 – Silent Currents 4
WorldService Project – For King and Country
Z’ev – Eleven Mirrors to the Light
David Zakarian – 11
Nick Zoulek – Rushing Past Willow
Christopher Zuar Orchestra – Musings

Notable Trends of 2016

Let’s step away for a moment from all of the bad that was 2016 – the violence, deaths, and disturbing socio-political movements. In the creative music space, we’ve seen some trends as well. But these tendencies are neither good nor bad per se instead, they may be considered to be imperfect observations on the state of the avant-garde.

None of these trends are necessarily new to 2016 – many have been in various states of incubation for quite some time. Nonetheless, 2016 may have been the year when they have taken hold. Or at least become obvious to this casual observer.

English: Darcy James Argue, moers festival 2009

Big Bands are Back

If you follow the styles of music that we feature on this site, chances are pretty good that you’ve at least heard of, if not heard, a few of the new “big bands.” Sixty-plus years ago, Duke Ellington established that the big band can be a conduit of unclassifiable, genre-busting music. This year, large groups led by Darcy James Argue, Anthony Braxton, Taylor Ho Bynum, Nathan Hubbard, Dan Weiss, Ben Stapp, as well as the late Fred Ho‘s Eco-Music Big Band produced and/or performed remarkable music.

Merzbow, prominent Japanoise musician, in 2007

It’s a Game of Drones

Drones are nothing new, but what is new is their ubiquity in 2016.  From ambient to metal to classical and jazz, the drone is a style being widely explored. Sure, drones have been around for a while, introduced to various musical communities by Klaus Schulze, John Cale, Sunn O))), and numerous electroacoustic composers and performers (arguably, the use of drones goes back hundreds of years to Southern Asia and Australia). This year’s purveyors include Aram Bajakian, Mats Gustafsson, Merzbow, and a number of dark ambient releases on labels such as Cold Spring Records and Cyclic Law.  And this list just scratches the surface. Also, 2016 saw National Drone Day in Saskatoon, and several other drone-based events.

Anthony Braxton

Anthony Braxton’s Students are Everywhere and Doing Everything

A music professor for almost 30 years, Braxton has had his share of students, both formal and informal. The list of names is stunning: Mary Halvorson, Matt Bauder, James Fei, Taylor Ho Bynum, André Vida, Tyshawn Sorey, Steve Lehman, and many others. These individuals are now composers, performers, and bandleaders in their own right. This year, Halvorson, Bynum, Sorey, and Lehman have released critically-acclaimed albums. Still young, the Braxton student cadre have many years to practice their skills and are already influencing a third generation of creative musicians.

downloadSouthern California Roars

Sure, Los Angeles, San Diego and surrounding areas have had their share of interesting musicians – John Cage, Nels and Alex Cline, Vinny Golia, amongst many others. The UC San Diego music department is particularly strong, currently the home of Mark Dresser, Anthony Davis, Roger Reynolds, Steven Schick, and Rand Steiger. UC Irvine faculty includes Michael Dessen, Nicole Mitchell, and Lukas Ligeti. But one label is putting out a consistently strong series of experimental and creative releases: Orenda Records. Run by Daniel Rosenboom, recent releases of note include those from Sound Etiquette, Alexander Noice, Nathan Hubbard, Burning Ghosts, as well as Rosenboom himself.

AMN Picks of the Week: Reflections in Cosmo / Josh Green & The Cyborg Orchestra / Anthony Braxton / 156 / Timothy Dunne

Anthony Braxton playing a contrabass saxophone

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Reflections in Cosmo – Reflections in Cosmo (2017)
Josh Green & The Cyborg Orchestra – Telepathy & Bop (2016)
Anthony Braxton – Trio (Knoxville) 2016 (2016)
156 – Memento Mori (2016)
Timothy Dunne – Metaphrase (2016)