Welcome to The Roux! Every Friday, new music is released. Though the internet and streaming make it easier than ever to discover something new, the main channels usually rep the same established big names. This leaves equally great albums on the sidelines. Each of these artists is talented and accomplished in their own right. With this weekly feature, we do the searching, so you don’t have to, selecting ten releases that were discovered while exploring beyond the algorithm. There’s something here for everyone, no matter your taste, so read through, listen, and experience something new!
All releases are linked to the artists’ respective Bandcamp pages.
[Lost Tribe Sound]
Lost Tribe Sounds’ “Fearful Void” series was a highlight of 2020. A Series connected musically as well as aesthetically. The announcement of a second series, “Salt and Gravity,” definitely had my attention. The fact that the first in the new series was the closing chapter to a set of albums that now form a trilogy was all the more exciting. The resurface after the last album’s descent, Arrowounds continues to masterfully craft highly detailed recordings that are redolent of a natural environment. This time, there’s a little more light arising in these compositions, but to say the album is free from the anxious foreboding tone of the previous two would be a lie. This quality, no doubt an influence of the times, works well to build the narrative within the song structures. You’re not listening to something mimic the movement of the ocean; it’s an audible manifestation of the deep, the weight and pressure, the unknown, the isolation, the sense of danger; it’s all here and somewhat comforting.
Rooted in black metal but no doubt influenced by punk, Annihilus captures the spirit of both in their sophomore album. The songs on Follow a Song From the Sky are layered in thick and moody textures; however, the arrangements are never bogged down as each features a propulsive quality that drives the album forward. While cloaked in dense sludge, the melodies still move forward; the dichotomy of these two elements makes this release a transcendent showcase for Annihilus’ punk-inspired black metal brew.
Living near the coast myself, I find Pluhm’s vision to be true. Ambienti e Rovine sounds as immense as the oceans; the evocative nature of the tracks intimates the mystery of unknown depths as the melodies play out beautifully, beginning as gentle currents before growing into massive swells, the ruthless extremes of the sea unfold across the album. There is a seriousness to the inspiration here that works well as an analysis of our relationship with the sea as a source of beauty and comfort; unfortunately, we take it for granted. Pluhm reminds us of how quickly the sensitive spirit of the ocean can become a ruiner, a force so compelling that it’s time we take a little responsibility for our mistreatment of it.
by Lisa Bella Donna
[Behind the Sky Music]
An exploration of Moog synthesizers unfolds organically from dazzling celestial elegance displays to complex and tense patterns. Moogmentum covers a lot of ground, and Lisa Bella Donna shows off the breadth of the instrument exceptionally well. In addition to being an exceptional entry in Lisa Bella Donna’s deep catalog, the recording serves as an apt dedication to Moog synthesizer inventor Dr. Robert “Bob” Moog, itself a direct result of his legacy and contribution to electronic music.
[Reel Long Overdub]
A fusion of spiritual influences and our shared isolation, Intimacy explores the meaning of its title through tender ambient forms. As a result of sequestration, Intimacy evokes genuine connections between friends, lovers, and family. The relationships that we saw ourselves yearning to strengthen over the last year. SAH paints beautiful soundscapes that evoke the unspoken security felt in these warmer moments.
by City of the Lost
Wasteland Guide is a long-playing collection of energetic instrumental post-punk from the Russian band City of the Lost. The tracks never get bogged down by overly long running times that can sometimes make similar records a bit cumbersome to get through. Instead, the band hones in on the bombastic nature of the genre’s best while utilizing a groove that keeps the songs taking unexpected paths beyond the apparent build and release format. Free of samples or vocals, Wasteland Guide, while a dark title, opens itself well to personal interpretations.
Armed with only a guitar, WPH builds impressive compositions that twist textural tones with more traditional styles through four minimally titled pieces. It speaks volumes about the dexterity of the guitar as a tool, as II moves from more steadfast explorations of drone, “1” to the moodier, crestfallen flamenco tune of “2.” “4” opens with clearly played strings before fading into a wall of stoic noise before clarity returns approaching the end. Listening to II is a lot like observing the subtle transitions of light on an overcast day.
by Asymmetric Cut
Elegant is the first word that comes to mind when listening to Calma Stanca. Through the hauntingly delicate compositions, one can hear the faint voice of melodies rise and fall. “Un fiore labile” is a most delicate drone, carrying with its short runtime a warm radiance. The understated grandeur of “Fin che il cuore trema” due to what sounds like a choir, barely audible, chiming in here and there but never fully clear, gives the album a liturgical presence in its closing.
I’m confident the cover art will be divisive, but it’s memorable and worked well as I felt compelled to listen as soon as I laid eyes on it. The sounds within were definitely not what I was expecting, though. Recorded in a personally trying time, according to Gussyee, let me tell you a story while were still around is a collection of brief vignettes that explore space. The emotions conveyed throughout range from isolated and somber to boiling, a compilation of various snapshots of specific locales and how those spaces can comfort, reflect or even exacerbate the emotions we carry through their thresholds.
by Sky Flying By
[Robots with Rockets]
Sky Flying By is a richly accomplished extended play of post-rock. Sky Flying By provides four concise yet expansive compositions that stretch skyward. The opening string-laden “That One Day” is a confident swell that eventually bursts toward the end, like a slow-motion firework display; it’s pretty ceremonial. The reserved lullaby of “Winter Steps” follows and ensures this release isn’t just four variations on the same formula. “Wave Function” picks the energy back up and is the EP’s cheeriest moment before fading out on the dynamic and pensive “Taken Leave and Found the Escape,” which closes the record in an emotional unraveling.