As a dubhead, 2020 is probably my favorite year for dub music. This indoor year meant more creation, with so few live music shows and too much streaming. The industry “suffered” from artists and producers focusing on releasing new music and experimenting and, we, the fans, had the luck to be caught in the pouring waterfall of sounds and Bandcamp Fridays.
When Codin asked me if I’d like to sketch a list of my favorite music albums of 2020, at first, I was afraid, I was petrified. I was thinking I would rather skip this since I haven’t been in a full listening mood lately and also believing that there weren’t enough releases to choose from, and so on.
As 2020 writes itself off and leaves trails of a brave new world behind, I believe its musical output is worth taking a look at from a contextual standpoint rather than the usual year-in-review write-up.
EVA808's 'Sultry Venom', released on the 18th of December on Innamind Recordings, comes after the hype the artist has raised in the last years with tracks like Prrr (2017), Pink Uzi Gang (2018), and Exchange (2020). Not a stranger to other tempos, Eva delivers not a concept record, but a collection of tracks and emotions.
'Ain't About Me' is one pure uncut spoken-word masterpiece, a 360 degrees cultural project that benefits from a physical release on cassette and on a book with typography and illustrations by Rrrumburak. On this record, the spoken words have liquid tactile properties.
Launched at the beginning of 2020, DNO Records announces its 4th vinyl release, signing five tracks from the Belgian duo, The Untouchables. Kate and Ajit don’t need much of an introduction as they are producers with strong releases to show their versatility. Part of the Samurai Music family, The Untouchables constructed their unique sound where elements of jungle and dub are forming a bridge under 170 BPM productions.
December digging in the crates of Bucharest based records shop Two Sides Records is bringing a selection of hip-hop, jazz, and ambient from artists such as Makaya McCraven, Esperanza Spalding, Fazer, Moscoman, The Mystery Kindaichi Band, Tenesha The Wordsmith, Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids, Inoyama Land, and Pale Cocoon.
Beyond, the latest release of Egopusher comes with an eerie approach to synth and drums. Beyond, the title track of the album invites the listener to a meditative state and, slowly, starts to unveil the different layers of electronic sensations.
'In Blue' is The Bug comeback after this year's ambient textural alien transmission LP Frequencies for Leaving Earth Volume 1 to 5. Through this comeback, he presents a brand new batch of riddims, carefully complemented by eerie vocals courtesy of miss Chen, sounding closer to ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) earworms than traditional chanteuse singing melodies.
Fast, on target, meaningful, the modern UK hip hop is a pledge to consistency. With the commercial focus on grime, hip hop artists were able to play and explore without the pressure of 1 mill copies. In the UK hip-hop, there is no fight for who’s the king. There is no king. There is only the oppression of Babylon and the fight against it.
Our monthly digging through the crates of Two Side Records store in Bucharest, brought our attention to some Japanese records. Seven out of ten records are based on this music. From city pop to jazz and electro, our findings brings out some amazing jams from the far island.
The fifth edition of DokStation takes place between September 17th and 20th, and the following lines are a review for Punk the Capital – A Sound Movement, one of the films featured in the festival.
The fifth edition of DokStation, the only music documentary film festival in Bucharest, takes place between September 17 and 20. The following review explores the documentary Gorillaz – Reject False Icons, one of the films featured in the festival.
Already sold out for the second press, the latest release of Gaudi, '100 Years of Theremin', is stuck in space and time, perfectly encapsulating the philosophy of dub.
For August, we have selected another ten records from the shelves of our friends at Two Side Records, this time with a focus on Soundway Records. Four records will introduce you to the Soundway's specific sound, while the rest of six will walk you through rhythms of jazz, hip hop, reggae, and soul.
We are happy to announce our partnership with the Bucharest record shop, Two Side Records. Every month, we will recommend ten releases from the record shelves. From jazz and funk to world music, and from reggae to electronic, each selection will be divided into two parts.
Launched as the first release of the new label Cinemaude, cinematic and experimental sounds oriented, Ghostophonia is a real gem of experimental electronic music. Heavily based on the modified samples of Bela Bartók's folklore music from the Banat area, recorded on phonograph cylinders about a century ago, the album is the result of a collaborative live show between Silent Strike and Makunouchi Bento.
Released by the Netherlander label Ongehoord, "Driftmachine plays Marien van Oers" album playfully circles around the notion of trance-inducing repetition, following Marien van Oers's (1955-2013) concept presented in 1983: "The basic idea of the performance is experiencing a constant repetition of sound (=rhythm), which can result in the spectator taking action through movement or getting into a form of trance".
Following the “Anthology of contemporary music from the African continent”, this new collection released by Unexplained Sounds Group focuses on experimental and alternative music from the Middle East. The compilation aims to draw a picture of the current experimental music in different territories which are not always mapped by mainstream culture operators.
The second album by Cop Funeral comes after five years of waiting. Due to be released this week, on the 13th of September, by Josh Tabbia on his Already Dead Tapes, a cassette and vinyl oriented label active since 2009, the album has a gloomy atmosphere where Josh is deconstructing every sample he touches.
The last days of summer have become more and more a trend in the festival world. There are some festivals that brag with entertaining you in this time frame. Electric Picnic in Ireland has become a good example of such a festival. But hey, the Romanian festival market is beginning a counterpart with the first edition of Fall in Love festival.
Once I have past the festival gates, 20 meters from the camp site, the bucolic grounds unfurl to reveal a playground for both grownups and children. Between people playing with frisbees, children running in all directions and dogs roaming free, the only gripe you could have is that you will not have the time to discover all that Smida has to offer.
Inspired by Pieter Bruegel's series of "Seasons" classic paintings, "The hunters in the snow" is a collaboration between Anemone Tube, Jarl & Monocube. The rich and diverse result invites the listener to build rich soundscapes and dream-like states of mind while listening.
Matmos music is always based on a concept that invites the listener to contemplate upon with the help of sounds. Plastic Anniversary marks the duo's 25 years anniversary and is all about plastic. Every sound used for the record was recorded using the something from the plastic that surrounds us - all over, yes.
A collection of various outdoor recordings and studio improvisations recorded on the island of Senja, in the Arctic Norway, between 2015 and 2018, ”The Senja Recordings” can easily be labeled as audio ecology. I truly believe this record should be used as a promoter for climate change campaigns.
The music composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir for the HBO's mini series tells a story in every track. Even if the layer beneath Chernobyl’s fictionalised reality is strongly political, as a critique of the former USSR misinformation and power games, the soundtrack does not contain any hidden or subliminal messages on the subject, it just creates an atmosphere.
After five years of absence, Steven Ellison, better known as Flying Lotus or FlyLo, returns with the 6th album, out on the well-respected Warp Records. Blending downtempo rhythms with hip-hop lyrics, the double LP evolves sonically on no less than 27 tracks.
"Process" is an anthology of generative psychedelic music. The artist plays a lot with glitches and audio bits that may seem out of order but that's just until he reaches the perfect tempo, without using kicks or other tempo-driven elements.
Conjecture describes his latest release as an anti-body statement. The individual's disengagement from the human body and from all kinds of physical hypostases is portrayed through unconventional industrial sound forms. He is very strong in his textual presence describing "V", which is a conceptual work and must be listened on good speakers.
Formerly known as a post-rock trio, Valerinne really evolved on their 2019 album, due to the heavy use of synths, from both Alexandru Das and Liviu Stoicescu. The only unprocessed things in "Desire", recorded live in February 2019 at Studio 148, by Marius Costache, are the drums.
Exclusively inspired by "The Shining", Stanley Kubrick's cult movie starring Jack Nicholson as the lead character, The Caretaker uses lots of dark atmospheres and drones that haunt you since 1999, when the series of "Everywhere at the end of time" started. This 6th part, released by the History always favours the winners label is the final one.
Current, the latest full-length album by Syntax, a Bucharest-based artist, is an ode dedicated to electricity. Inspired by the late experiments of bands such as Kraftwerk, Alva Noto or Byetone, the eight tracks are exclusively instrumental and can be seen as post-human interfering with trans-humanist music.