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Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - November 2023


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, X-Ray Rod, doez
Published: 17.12.2023


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - November 2023
Metal Storm's outlet for nonmetal album reviews



The place where we'll talk about music without growls or blast beats
unless they still have those but still aren't metal


We here at Metal Storm pride ourselves on our thousands of metal reviews and interviews and article; metal is our collective soul and passion, which is why we bother with this junk. That being said, we'd be lying if we stuck to our trve-kvlt guns and claimed that metal is the only thing we ever listen to. Whether we want to admit it or not, we do check out some other stuff from time to time; some of us are more poptimistic than others, but there's a whole world out there aside from Satan-worshiping black metal and dragon-slaying power metal. We do already feature some nonmetal artists on our website and have a few reviews to back them up, but we prefer to limit that aspect of the site to those artists who have been a strong influence on the metal scene or who are in some way connected to it. This article series is the place for those artists who don't matter to metal in the slightest but still warrant some conversation - after all, good music, is good music, and we all know metal isn't the only thing on this planet for any of us.

Down below, you might find some obscure Bandcamp bedroom projects or some Billboard-topping superstar; as long as it ain't metal and the album itself isn't a best-of compilation, it fits. Obviously, we're certain that not everything will be for everybody (you guys can be viciously territorial even when metal is the only thing on the menu, and we're all supposed to like the same things), but we do hope you find at least one thing that you can enjoy, instead of just pointing and screaming in horror "Not metal!" as if that would be an insult.

Here are our previous features:

October 2023
September 2023
August 2023

And now to the music...






Flooding - Silhouette Machine
[Slowcore | Screamo]


Slowcore and Screamo? Sign me the fuck up! This is the sophomore album of Flooding, who hail from Kansas and this is one of the more unusual mixes of styles I’ve heard in a while. This is because Silhouette Machine manages to sound delightfully dreamy and hopelessly crushing all at the same time. The debut album was more of a “proper” slowcore album with lo-fi, minimalistic, and highly melancholic music. But now the band seems to have reached a point where quiet desperation doesn’t cut it anymore.

The album begins with a foreboding heavy riff and it doesn’t take long before singer Rose Brown ditches her delicate clean vocals and broken, whimpering whispers, and instead unleashes harrowing, anguished screams after another. I was taken aback at how heavy this album could get at times. It wouldn’t have taken much more for this album to be featured on our regular review queue simply because some of the transitions with corrosive riffs, crushing drums and intense screaming could have been found in many post-metal and sludge metal acts. That being said, the softness of the pensive guitars and slow drums is far more prominent. The tension is ever-present however and it will keep you on edge. A fascinating evolution in sound from this band and one hell of a trip for this seasonal depression.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by X-Ray Rod





San Leo - Aves Raras
[Psychedelic Rock | Experimental Rock]


Mantra-core: it’s quite the name that San Leo have come up with for their own take on experimental instrumental rock. Perhaps ‘mantra-core’ could serve to finally allow Wolvennest to be appropriately described, but Aves Raras has quite a different approach. The four-track album alternates between long (>10 minutes) and short (<5 minutes) songs, and the latter act as neat microcosms of their sound; “J!oy” is a tom-heavy percussive rampage with hazy psychedelic vocals and ambient distortion layered on top, while “Al.Ay” goes full psychedelic drone (Megaton Leviathan could perhaps learn a thing or two from this, considering how their own attempt went on Magick Helmet).

However, it’s those long songs that really show what San Leo are capable of. 20-minute opener “Aries” is a driven by frenetic, dizzying percussion, which serves to push one through the hypnotic layers of guitar feedback, riffs and electronic sound effects, with just a few occasional lulls breaking up the drumming rampage. “Futura 2000” goes in an even more tribal direction with the percussion, which brings so much life and energy what is otherwise a fairly ambient composition. It’s a really interesting take on psychedelic rock, and the drumming is hugely enjoyable as the scene-stealing element on Aves Raras.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Soars - Repeater
[Post-Rock]


It’s really intriguing to see how different artists weigh up what music does or doesn’t ‘fit’ for a particular band; King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard notoriously will try their hand at everything, while Rogga Johansson apparently needs to find a different conduit for every new musical idea he has. In the case of Soars, it’s curious to see Kristian Karlsson describe the songs on Repeater as featuring ideas that were discarded for not fitting Pg.lost; perhaps the diehard Pg.lost fans will be able to pick up on the distinctions between the projects, but as a casual enjoyer of Karlsson’s main band, the songs released by Soars seem to very much fit the same synth-heavy, evocative, instrumental post-rock mould as regular Pg.lost material.

Still, while one can debate how much Soars distinguishes itself from Karlsson’s other projects stylistically, it remains on a similar level in terms of quality. The title track effectively sets the stage for the record to follow, as mellow synths are gradually accompanied and overtaken by guitar distortion and lush post-rock layers. Arguably best known as a synth player through his work with Cult Of Luna, Karlsson incorporates extensive synthwork into Repeater, as can be clearly heard on “The Waiting”, but songs such as “Uprise” and “Unfollow” push the heaviness a bit further forward in the mix. Fundamentally, Repeater is a solid instru-post release, one that, like Pg.lost's work, manages to rise above its inherent generic writing to sound more enjoyable than many of the bands’ peers.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Yawning Balch - Volume Two
[Psychedelic Rock]


Yawning Man fans must be ecstatic in 2023: well, at least if they’re fond of the band’s more jammy inclinations. Not only was there a first new album in three years back in June, but there have also been two volumes from the Yawning Balch collaboration with Fu Manchu’s Bob Balch. All three records are very similar in style: there are 3 lengthy instrumental jams on each record, all of which offer a blissful calm. Volume Two arguably even less different to Volume One than the latter was to Long Walk Of The Navajo; however, if you’re fond of this kind of music, this album has just as much charm as its companion pieces.

The opening song is also the longest; “A Moment Expanded (A Form Constant)” runs for over 18 minutes, and in that time offers plenty of tranquil psychedelic guitar texturing and noodling atop of steady and consistent rhythm. The song swells just a tad as it reaches its closing stages, and the lush guitar melodies add a degree of pathos. This opener is the pick of the bunch on Volume Two, but 10-minute “Flesh Of The Gods” and 13-minute “Psychic Aloha” also make for fine companions on a long, lonely drive; the former is slightly more distorted while still remaining placid, while the latter incorporates synths effectively to add extra depth to the soundscapes. As a back-to-back trio, Long Walk Of The Navajo and the Yawning Balch releases will make for sumptuous stress-releasing listening; sit back and let your mind drift into the stillness of the red deserted expanse, as if one is Dr Manhattan on Mars.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Gong - Unending Ascending
[Progressive Rock]


As time goes on, there are doubtless going to be more and more cases of bands outliving the people that arguably defined them. Just in the past couple of years, we’ve had the second Tangerine Dream album since Edgar Froese died, while Yes released their second album since the final founding member died. Both Froese and Chris Squire died in 2015; so did Daevid Allen, who was followed the next year by fellow Gong co-founder Gilli Smyth, yet this month sees the release of the third post-Allen Gong album, Unending Ascending. However, Gong is perhaps one of the less controversial cases of this kind; not only did Allen give the current line-up (which is the most stable in the band’s history) his blessing to continue without him, but Gong already existed without Allen and Smyth when the band splintered in the 70s.

While the longest-serving version of Gong circa 2023 joined in 2007, the current quintet very much rekindle the 70s prog/psych rock fire on Unending Ascending. There’s tranquil multi-layered vocal harmonies, psychedelic keyboard constellations, jazzy saxophone flourishes, soundscape-illuminating woodwind, and, underpinning it all, solid rocking. At times, Unending Ascending does get surprisingly heavy (listen to “All Clocks Reset” and “Choose Your Goddess” for some crunching distortion), but mostly sticks to joyful retro charmers such as the rocking “My Guitar Is A Spaceship” (which gives me some major early Yes vibes) and trippy, ethereal “Lunar Invocation”. It’s not going to be a significant release in the extensive Gong legacy, but retro prog fans will likely get some joy out of it.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





PoiL Ueda - Yoshitsune
[Avant-Prog]


Poil and Junko Ueda’s first collaboration earlier this year was a very impressive and original adventure blending together two worlds that rarely meet, avant-prog and Japanese traditional music. And eight months later, they’re back at it.

It is hard to talk about Yoshitsune without comparing it to Poil / Ueda. While both records have the same approach, the same overall sound and the same direction, there are still some differences. The first one that really comes to mind is the drastic improvement when it comes to blending both styles into the music as opposed to alternating between them, which is what the first collaboration between Poil and Ueda was in guilty of. There is a true sense of unity and cohesion here that is pushed much further than on the debut, and the avant-prog especially has more emphasis put on it this time around, which aligns more with my personal preferences. Another important difference is the accentuated use of electronic sounds and elements compared to the debut to complement the overall music, which is pretty interesting but sounds at times out of place when put together with the traditional Japanese folk music part of their sound. This is the only negative point I really have about this release, and it’s a rather minor one.

Yoshitsune is overall an improvement over the already really successful Poil / Ueda, and if this collaboration keeps going, it only promises more exciting developments in the future. Their unique style remains unparalleled and I can’t wait to see them develop it even further.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by doez





Candelabro - Ahora O Nunca
[Indie Pop | Art Rock]


I’m glad that Radu keeps throwing music my way to review. And even more so when it’s from my home country, Chile. This is Candelabro’s debut album and it is a touching and very rich sounding release. Walking through genres like indie rock/pop, art rock, shoegaze and slowcore, the project does not shy away from showing off their vast influences but the way they intertwine makes this album a highly refreshing and cohesive experience. The way this album flows through different moods makes it filled with surprises. From slow, soothing ambient hums, strings and glitchy electronic passages to eruptions of melody, brass instruments and intricate musicianship. Probably the best example of this is the song “Piano A Piano”. It has a magnificent crescendo that would leave most debuting post-rock bands in the dust. The way the noisy elements creep in while the sound gets larger and larger also adds a precious layer to this already ambitious album.

Now, you don’t need to be Chilean or understand Spanish to enjoy Ahora O Nunca. But I have to say that it does enhance the overall experience by a large margin. Many of the samples are purely based on Chilean pop culture and quite a few of the lyrics use Chilean slang. But even if you didn’t understand a word of what the singer is saying, it certainly won’t matter too much. As the passion he puts in his voice, especially when things get explosive like on the aforementioned “Piano a Piano” or in the excellent closer “Madre”, as he lashes out and keeps screaming “Madre, hoy quiero saltar!” (Mother, today I want to jump!), should not leave anyone indifferent.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by X-Ray Rod





Slauson Malone 1 - Excelsior
[Neo-Psychedelia | Art Pop]


Yeah, I could be making jokes about why Slauson Malone decided to put a "1" in his artist name all of a sudden, ask why there's no 2 if 1 is so good, but at this point I'm more intrigued rather than anything else as to what this could mean for his future discography especially when there's still so little of it and it could go in a myriad of different directions. To pull back a bit, Slauson Malone is the project of Jasper Armstrong Marsalis, son and grandson of pretty respectable jazz musicians in the greater Marsalis family, though he does stick out a bit by branching out quite far away from the jazz world with his work that went into a more hip-hop mixed with ambient direction. Though some mixtapes and EPs were released prior to it, the A Quiet Farwell, 2016–2018 debut alum really showcased some of the most experimental and imaginative hip-hop soundscapes around.

Following that up with a slight name change does indicate a bit of a deviation, as Excelsior greatly tones down the hip-hop aspect of the music, but still keeping the abstract nature of the abstract hip-hop niche that he approached. The sound collages sound more psychedelic and slightly closer to what you'd hear on an art pop record but deconstructed and reconstructed as a mosaic of experimental hypnagogic sounds that still use soul and pop as means to an end. The flow feels alien and the way the pieces interact with one another feels like a sequence of songs and more like something that is waiting to be decoded cerebrally while still offering a very moody experience. There's a bit too much of a vignette feel that does add to the appeal but that also makes it feel like it has to constantly not ground itself anywhere.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





L'Rain - I Killed Your Dog
[Neo-Psychedelia]


Who in their right mind names their album "I Killed Your Dog"?!

Like I read the Bandcamp description and about how it's about the contradiction and absurdity of hurting the ones you love, and how it's intentionally attention grabbing and flashy, and me being put off by it probably part of the point. I do respect an artist making their Bandcamp description for their album go this in depth over the themes of each song, even if I'm more entranced by other aspects of their music, it's still nice to be able to dig even if weirdly the lyrics aren't there on Bandcamp.

And what I like most about L'Rain generally is how specifically psychedelic it sounds in a way that veers from genre to genre without having a very discernable line between the genres it tackles, from more guitar-heavy rock sounds, jazz, neo-soul, alternative R&B, art pop, each in different sizes. With the album's short size, there is a bit of a feeling that the album doesn't get to develop all the sounds it tackles, and that's something that didn't feel as pronounced on their previous albums, but it's something that does make for an interesting listening experience nonetheless even just for how odd the production and how ambitious the songwriting feel.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Maria BC - Spike Field
[Singer/Songwriter | Psychedelic Folk]


RaduP's pick


With how lyrics focused folk and singer/songwriter music in general is, and with how I'm often ambivalent to lyrics, it's nice whenever an album in this style comes along where it feels like the focus in on another aspect of the music. The lyricism itself is more repetitive and minimalistic, making it somewhat more mood-building than story-telling as well, but the biggest draw to Spike Field is just how weird the production feels. It feels like I should write an entire essay just about how specifically weird the production feels, along all the superlative descriptors like "ethereal" and "hypnotic" that I could use for it.

Maria's voice feels a bit buried when it would generally be in the forefront, and that's a choice that would feel weird for most albums, especially with how it sometimes makes the lyrics less discernable. But with a lot of the ambient feeling much louder to balance things out, with some clear use of ambient techniques and electroacoustic music, it gives it the feeling of otherworldliness and of being right in the middle of whatever is going on. I'm not sure if "ambient folk" is a genre tag that exists, but if there was, this would be it. Ambient has always been such a strong vessel for carrying powerful emotions, and hearing it used for folk in this way really makes the listening experience feel harrowing in the best way possible.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Exulansis - Hymns Of Collapse
[Folk]


musclassia's pick


2019’s Sequestered Sympathy was a bold debut from Exulansis, one that fused extreme metal, doom, folk and chamber music into a staggering fluid musical framework. In 2023, they’ve unfused some of those sounds; the extreme metal was sequestered into Overtures Of Uprising, while the folk was stripped back and unplugged on companion release Hymns Of Collapse. There are upsides and downsides to this approach; on the one hand, part of the debut’s appeal was how unique the combination of styles sounded, but on the flip side, Exulansis are entirely capable of cooking up compelling renditions of each genre in isolation.

Hymns Of Collapse starts in particularly compelling fashion with the stirring title; the baritone clean vocals depict a bleak narrative against a backdrop of melancholic acoustic guitar and moving violin. It is quite the sumptuous composition, one that swells in gravitas as it progresses; it sets a high tonal bar for the rest of the album, but rather than trying to sustain that level of pathos, Exulansis subsequently veer towards a slacker sound that conjures up imagery of the old frontier. The violin adds an occasional hoedown feel in moments, but it is the acoustic guitar that arguably grabs one’s attention most consistently, particularly with some elaborate strumming on the moving instrumental “Enemies Without And Within”. There are some more melancholic tracks after the opening song, with “Life In The Shadow Of Doom” reminding me of some of the gloomier parts of the Chelsea Wolfe-Converge Bloodmoon collaboration. Exulansis don’t do a lot of things at once on Hymns Of Collapse, but they do one thing remarkably well; this is a really enjoyable album, one that is capped off by an impressively atmospheric 9-minute closer in “Roses On My Table”.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Marina Herlop - Nekkuja
[Avant-Folk | Art Pop]


RaduP's pick


There are certain albums that make a mark on you but then you don't end up thinking about them as much, and there are albums that enter your constant rotation after you discover them. A lot of the albums I really like sadly fall in the former category, because time and attention are limited. But once in a while an album like Marina Herlop's Pripyat comes along, the unfamiliar album that you almost didn't listen to when you first came upon it, that really make you glad you gave them your time of the day. I may have returned more to certain songs from it than to the whole album itself, but the very specific oddity and charm that it had was something I really fell in love with. Simply put, it sounded like Marina Herlop and nothing else. Comparisons could be made but it had such a unique identity of quirky glitchy folk that sounded like an even more tender Björk.

Now the follow-up to that album retains a lot of its character and sound palette but aims for a slightly different tone and personality. It's still recognizably an album that only Marina Herlop could have made, whereas the experimental nature that permeated Pripyat is dialed back a bit to create something that goes into more of an art pop direction. It's sweet, but it's sweetness is more restrained and without a need to scream its sweetness into the world. Instead there's a fantastical vibe that's ethereal and relaxed, with its beats textured in a way to weave their quirkiness in a way that doesn't feel as excitedly playful but positive nonetheless. It's also a pretty short album at under 30 minutes of runtime, so it feels like a soul rester.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Lamp - 一夜のペーソス (Dusk to Dawn)
[Jazz Pop]


Japanese Pop always had a very specific appeal out of the "pop from non-anglophone countries". Some of it comes from Japan's soft power in cultural exports like movies and manga, some of it comes from hearing soundtracks to the anime I watched, but I guess a lot of it comes from Japan having some genuinely interesting music even within the more accessible spheres. City pop like that very famous Mariya Takeuchi, the very beloved psychedelic niche of Fishmans and Cornelius, the jazz of Casiopea, Ryo Fukui and Himiko Kikuchi. And somewhere in between all of these lie Lamp.

Lamp is a name I've seen before when browsing Japanese music, with a lot of their releases being held in quite regard and with a discography numbering nine albums since 2003, but I didn't get to give them a listen until now. Dusk To Dawn seems like as good an entry point as any, even if the 74 minute runtime might seem daunting, it is the kind of soft and mellow jazzy pop music that only this specific niche of those aforementioned pop nuances can make. This dreamlike warmth and the dual vocals work really well with how the instrumentals go into moments that lean either towards smooth jazz, city pop, bossa nova, or pop rock.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Betcover!! -馬 (Uma)
[Jazz Rock | Art Rock]


RaduP's pick


Alright, the "jazz rock" and "art rock" labels might be a bit misleading in getting you thinking that this is going to be more of the soft smooth jazzy pop in the vein of other Japanese bands like the edition-mates of Lamp, but while I talked about the specificity of Japanese pop in the Lamp writeup, I also have to mention the rowdiness of acts like GISM, Maximum The Hormone, Boris, Midori, and Mass Of Fermenting Dregs, which can range from actual punk to just having a dash of that noisy and wild approach towards something that isn't necessarily sharing punk DNA. You can put betcover!! in that category.

A lot of the jazz here does lean towards the smoother side, something almost city pop-ish and clearly inspired by that lineage down to how evocatively soulful the vocals, but another half of it is more prog rock inspired and feels more like it traces its lineage to something like King Crimson, with some even more muscular riffing. Probably the most instantly striking aspect of the music is how raw the production is, in a way that perfectly enhances that aforementioned rowdy aspect of the music, and with how the music gets into these noisy avant-prog territories, including some really heavy bass, can border on metal at times. Not touching it, but merely hovering around it.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Dorian Electra - Fanfare
[Hyperpop | Industrial Rock]


There's something very internet-y about Dorian Electra and about the whole hyperpop space in general, but there's something specific about Dorian Electra that feels like it only makes sense on the internet. From the way the gender identity themes are handled to the quirky irony of it to references to things that are only relevant on the internet, and most importantly the visual aspect of it that just begs the best tracks to have videos accompanying them. That was especially true for the My Agenda EP that felt like it was specifically aiming at internet culture with tracks like "M'lady" and "Edgelord", meanwhile that felt like a contrast to the more song-focused Flamboyant, which was the release that got me into Dorian Electra. With two releases that already feel pretty different, the approach of Fanfare is also pretty different.

There's a pretty big difference in sound that comes first and that permeates the entire record. On one hand, the entire sound leans more towards rock music, mostly towards industrial rock and alternative rock and that can create some pretty heavy moments in the backdrop that juxtapose pretty nicely with how the electronics used to be the main source of heaviness in Dorian's music. On the other hand the pop side feels closer to some early Lady Gaga era pop nostalgia, which is only testament to time's passing that it's now time that we start being nostalgic about that pop era. The album's concept is a bit more ambiguous. Whereas for songs on Flamboyant and My Agenda it was pretty obvious what each song was about, especially because of the videos, on Fanfare even with videos for some of the tracks, it feels like individual song themes take less space compared to the music itself.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Poppy - Zig
[Electro-Pop | Electro-Industrial]


Poppy's relatively short career has been an interesting one to watch, and one that was pretty prolific with at least one release every year since 2016. We've come to the point where mentioning the details of the early career becomes more and more irrelevant, but the most important thing is that every release musically had a very clear indication of what set it apart. I Disagree was the one where she went all in on the metal aspect and the last one that felt satirical. She had very specific ambient albums. EAT was the more hardcore album. Flux and Stagger went into a more alternative direction. Now Zig comes around and I'm not really sure what to make of it.

For one the album is pretty short at barely over 30 minutes, which isn't very unusual, but with its 11 tracks it feels like it passes by like a breeze, and that makes the variety inside feel a bit more odd than it does on any of her other records. A lot of the tracks revert back on Flux and Stagger by going back into a more metallic electro-industrial style while still keeping things grounded in pop, and generally those moments are the ones where I appreciate the beats and try to ignore the lyrics, but then they're supplemented by songs like the drum & bass "The Attic" and a lot of more mellow tracks that, while technically being my favorite moments on the album, they kinda water down any personality that this release could've had.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Sofia Kourtesis - Madres
[Deep House]


Here's an album where the story behind the album is almost as interesting as the album itself. As the title suggests, this is an album dedicated to Sofia Kouresis' mother, but also oddly enough to a specific neurosurgeon. After her father's passing (which also served as an inspiration to her music), Sofia's mother fell ill to cancer. To capture the attention of Peter Vajkoczy, the aforementioned neurosurgeon, Sofia posted a snippet of a song promising to dedicate it to him for his time. The surgery was a success, Sofia's mother is alive and well after months of both of them thinking that their time together was coming to an end. And that's what makes this album sound so joyful.

This is a house album, and that's a branch of electronica that I've always found to work particularly well with transmitting positive emotions. With it being a deep house record, that positivity is somewhat more moody and subdued, but it permeates the record nonetheless. I wasn't aware of any of the hype around Sofia's music (this is her full length debut) but I can see where that hype comes from in how the airy mix and the mellow melodies to create something both soothing and groovy. Not sure exactly how to stack it against other albums in the genre, but it's really the kind of album that oozes of gorgeousness and joy.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Jamila Woods - Water Made Us
[Neo-Soul | Contemporary R&B]


For being one of the most popular genres out there, R&B is a genre I don't really dive into as much, nor do I feel particularly interested in approaching from the music writer angle, even if I do enjoy most of it, especially when merged with either neo-soul or art pop. Even if I tried to cover some acts, I would like to at least cover acts that are more interesting instead of the biggest names in the genre. This is exactly how Jamila Woods' Legacy! Legacy! felt like back in 2019, a blend of R&B and neo-soul that blended a lot of interesting sounds like psychedelia, trip-hop, and art pop, and striking a pretty neat balance between being accessible the way such popular genres usually are while also not feeling lazily commercial. So when a new album from an interesting name in an unfamiliar field showed up, I was pretty intrigued.

With a more personal angle coupled with a more straight-forward approach, Water Made Us feels a bit less grandiose than Legacy! Legacy!, and in that way it does lose a bit of what made it interesting in the first place. It's still far from the usual R&B/soul album but it's closer than I'd expect it to. Still, the backdrop is very atmospheric and often filled with mellow art pop inspired melodies and very airy textures. Jamila's vocals remain the album's strongest quality, and a lot of it remains very easy and rewarding to listen to when compared to other albums of its kind, but not really when comparing it to Jamila Woods' previous two records.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Blockhead - The Aux
[Abstract Hip Hop | East Coast Hip Hop]


Based on who's the name on the actual album, you can separate hip-hop albums in multiple groups. There's albums by a rapper who may or may not have multiple producers on the record, albums by hip-hop groups, and albums that are a collaboration between a rapper and a producer. Then there's the albums where the producer is the main musician, and even then there's instrumental hip-hop albums and albums like The Aux, where one producer has a bunch of other guest rappers on it. Blockhead has been part of pretty much all of these types of albums, and I even got to cover the producer/rapper collab of Duology and the similarly producer/multiple rappers of Free Sweatpants.

Considering for how long Blockhead has been in the game, twenty-five years at this point, there's quite a veteran status to the beat-making skills here, and also a pretty eclectic mix of guest rappers, from long-running collaborators like Aesop Rock, Billy Woods, to some bigger names like Danny Brown and Open Mike Eagle, to relative newcomers like Navy Blue and RXKNephew. A lot of the appeal does come from that roster of guests, but what's impressive is managing to create a cohesive album with the beats alongside these myriad of guests, and while there are some duds, a lot of it works pretty well.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Aesop Rock - Integrated Tech Solutions
[Abstract Hip Hop | Conscious Hip Hop]


Here's another artist that I covered pretty extensively here and that I'm still at a bit of a loss as to figuring out what to say that hasn't already been said by me or anyone else. Aesop Rock might just be my favorite rapper of all time, not only because of his hugely extensive vocabulary, something that's evident and rewarding even if you don't necessarily dive into the lyrics, but also because his beats and his flow feel so uniquely his and strikes that neat balance between quirky and cool. So after covering his Malibu Ken collaboration with Tobacco back in the first edition of this feature, this is now my fourth time talking about his music.

And just like his previous solo record, 2020's Spirit World Field Guide, this one is also pretty conceptual, with the opener and the first proper song especially driving home the technological theme of the record. That's a theme that's not necessarily omnipresent throughout the record, with nature and social issues that don't feel directly tied to that theme still being among the lyrical focuses of the record, but whenever it does tie back to it, it's pretty rewarding. With Aesop Rock doing all of the production, a lot of it showcases all his quirks and habits as a producer and rapper that feel so uniquely his, sprinkled along with some guest spots from the likes of Billy Woods and Lealani.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Danny Brown - Quaranta
[Conscious Hip-Hop]


Danny Brown certainly feels like a younger and newer artist than he is. Becoming a major figure of hip-hop in the 2010s in something that still feels like recent memory gets recontextualized once you take into account that his breakout album XXX back in 2011 was in a way of commemoration of turning 30 and Danny's state of mind at that time. Even if that wasn't Danny's actual debut, with parts in at least one group, a bunch of mixtapes, and an actual full length all coming before XXX, that one still is a bit of a late bloom by hip-hop standards, in an age when a lot of the newest performers to blow up aren't even 20. So now we have a Danny Brown already in his 40s, and Quaranta is meant to explore that. That's more than a decade of life experiences, both as a rapper and as a person.

Anticipating this has been quite perplexing because the previous record, 2019's uknowhatimsayin¿ was a lot more straight-forward in terms of hip-hop, whereas the collab with JPEGmafia from this year, Scaring The Hoes was the complete opposite of straight-forward, and Quaranta doesn't really jump in the middle either. Even if there are moments that bring some of the yelps and manic sampling from the older material, a lot of the material here is very lowkey and introspective, showing a Danny Brown that's reflecting on how fame affected him since XXX. Some of that results in material that's even more straight-forward than the one on uknowhatimsayin¿, though the lyricism here along with some pretty interesting production and samples really shows the experience and a touch of darkness that's missing in a lot of hip-hop.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





André 3000 - New Blue Sun
[New Age | Ambient]


Well, at least now I can pretend I have a favorite flute album.

Out of nowhere came the news that André 3000 would be releasing a new album shortly after the announcement, and that's something as unexpected as heavily anticipated. Mostly known as one half of the hip-hop duo Outkast, arguably one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time and most likely the greatest southern hip-hop duo, André 3000 is often brought up in conversation as potentially the greatest out there. The biggest thing standing in between that being more obvious is the lack of material since Outkast, even if there have been quite a few really good guest spots, the prospect of an actual solo André 3000 album has been on the minds of many. Well, it's here, and it's not what most people were hoping for. Not only is it not a hip-hop album, it's an instrumental flute album with not even one lyric spoken throughout it.

Well, that's not surprising considering that the bits and pieces of solo material that André 3000 has released so far, from the Look Ma No Hands to the Class Of 3000 soundtrack, veered away from hip-hop into something jazzier, but having the actual bona fide full-length in this style feels like such a left turn either way. This thing is 90 minutes long, and a lot of the times the flute doesn't really come in the spotlight, instead creating a very long meditative album with touches of spiritual jazz and progressive electronica that does indeed feel as improvisational as it is. There is something neat about its soundscapes, especially in the moments where the flute makes its presence known, but especially with my lack of experience with the more new age-y side of ambient, it does feel a bit more like something you appreciate for its existence (and for its crazy track titles) than for the actual music within. Not sure what I'd feel compelled to write about this without Andre's name on it.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP




And that was it. You've made it through still alive. Congrats. See ya next month. Here's a Spotify playlist we compiled out of stuff featured here:








Written on 17.12.2023 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments

Comments: 3   Visited by: 116 users
17.12.2023 - 20:11
AndyMetalFreak
A Nice Guy
What a pleasant surprise to hear that Gong are still about, they've released some fantastic material, especially in the 70s with Flying Teapot, Angel's Egg, and You. I know this isn't the original lineup but I still need to give this new release a listen.
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18.12.2023 - 10:09
JoHn Doe

Written by AndyMetalFreak on 17.12.2023 at 20:11

What a pleasant surprise to hear that Gong are still about, they've released some fantastic material, especially in the 70s with Flying Teapot, Angel's Egg, and You. I know this isn't the original lineup but I still need to give this new release a listen.


Their discography is a bit patchy, that is why I did not pay attention to later day gong. Maybe I need to give those albums a chance.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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24.12.2023 - 07:38
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
L'Rain aretwork is cool, stands out take away watter and see real thing in picture. Nja, anyway Exulansis are best pic here.
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''
apos;'
[image]
I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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