BEIRUT: Albums and artists often go unnoticed sometimes, making the week even harder to pass by with repeating the same songs and albums.
“For the Record” has that covered as Record Recommends will feature seven albums every month for every day of the week covering a wide range of records, genres, albums, international and local artists, making sure nothing goes unrecognized.
These are our top picks for this month:
“Encores 3” by Nils Frahm
German composer extraordinaire, Nils Frahm, released “Encores 3” as the last installment of his Encores series. “Encores 1, 2, and 3” will be released on October 18 as a full-length album, "All Encores".
Whilst “Encores 1” concentrated on the acoustic range of sounds with solo piano and harmonium as the main components, “Encores 2” dived into more ambient landscapes. “Encores 3” built up from the previous EPs and brought electronic and percussive elements into the mix.
Composed of three tracks, “Artificially Intelligent,” is the one minute and 40 second chaotic, percussion filled intro that hits out of nowhere.
Next is “All Armed”, the single is a twelve-minute track with an electronic inspired repeating rhythm with piano, percussion, and synthesizers layered on top.
The third and last track, “Amiradore”, is the longest track featured on the EP. It’s also the most ambient track out of the three with an almost meditative and cosmic feel ending with a sole decaying distortion sound that concluded the EP.
“Tokyo Metabolist Syndrome” by KŌZŌ
The Lebanese math-rock/ post-rock band has been rocking the Lebanese alternative scene since 2016. “Tokyo Metabolist Syndrome” is their debut album, produced by their mentor, Fadi Tabbal of Tunefork Studios, and in September at the SoundsGood Music Festival that was held in Rayfoun.
KŌZŌ, meaning structure in Japanese, is composed of Charbel Abi Chakra (bass, vocals), Camille Cabbabe (guitar), Georgy Flouty (guitar, vocals), Andrew Georges (guitar, vocals), and Elie El Khoury (drums). The band is heavily influenced by Japanese architecture, being that three out of the five members are architects.
The five-track album is inspired by the architectural Japanese Urban Metabolism design concept, which focused on rebuilding post-war afflicted cities in Japan in a way that allows the city to maintain living cells.
The album is mostly instrumental and is heavy on guitars (3/5 of the members being guitarists), drums, occasional vocal harmonies, and odd time signatures due to the nature of the music they play.
“The Bittereinders” by Daedelus
The latest release of musical pioneer Alfred Darlington (aka Daedelus) cements the end of the “End of Empire” trilogy that has been in the making for nearly a decade. The two previous albums, “The Righteous Fists of Harmony” is inspired by The Boxer Rebellion, and “The Light Brigade” is about the Crimean War of the 19th century.
The last of the three “The Bittereinders” focuses on the last three years of conflict in the Victorian era and is considered by many as the most brutal. The album features drone, pipe organs, saxophone, synth, horns, piano, guitar, with a wide range of jazz influences, and continuous electronic beats.
Daedelus, notorious for his dark and often unsettling releases, and this release was no different. The album is a rollercoaster of eerie, unsettling, angsty tracks, but also offers glimpses of hope, spirituality, and light transitions.
The album was recorded at Red Bull Studios in Cape Town, South Africa and at his label mate Jameszoo’s Willem Twee Studios in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. The latter is described as having an extraordinary electronic sound, and it shows in the album as it manages to replicate the end of that brutal era into the present time.
“Aghani Servicet- Al Hajj Transportation”
If local public transportation in Lebanon could have a soundtrack, it would be “Aghani Servicet - Al Hajj Transportation” by composer and songwriter Hisham Jaber who had multiple live performances of his newly-written musical productions in Metro al Madina.
After research that spanned five years of listening and researching on to conversations in Beirut’s public transportation, the album was a collection of songs that discussed various topics, including sexual harassment, domestic politics, issues of corruption, the Arab spring, and the Lebanese political movement.
The album features three female artists; Maryam Saleh from Egypt, Sandy Shamoun and Yasmina Fayed from Lebanon. These three were joined by fictional character Roberto Krobrosli, performed by Jaber himself.
With a feel of sarcasm and irony mixed with different genres and themes ranging from oriental to jazz. The album sounds anything but typical as it takes the listener to a journey in a service (Lebanese slang for public transport) bus driver who meets several characters from Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt, which he converses with.
“Ashes of a Diary” By Dreaming Madmen
Lebanese-American brothers Mathew and Christopher Aboujaoude, are mostly known for Brick Floyd, an immersive Pink Floyd tribute band that they started with their drummer father.
After four years of extensive work, the progressive rock duo finally released “Ashes of a Diary” earlier in September at The Palace Beirut.
The album, which is very personal for the duo, was recorded over the span of two months this past summer at Antimatter Studios in Austin, Texas, where the duo are now currently based.
The concept album, consisting of seven songs, and clocking in at 40 minutes, delves into the psyche and tells the story of an elderly man, who discovers an old journal of his, filled with writings detailing a life of pain, obsession, love, hatred, and regret.
From the very first minute of the album, “Page One”, the first song already sets the melancholic, gloomy, tone of what is about to come. That, coupled with the atmospheric nature of the album, shows the influence that Pink Floyd, Porcupine tree, and King Crimson had on the young duo, all of whom they cited as inspirations.
“Bandana” By Freddie Gibbs & Madlib
Gangster rapper, Freddie Gibbs, and legendary producer, Madlib, have released “Bandana”, a strong contender for album of the year by earlier this summer. This release marks their second collaboration after the 2014 release of “Piñata.”
The album is jazzy, dark, and in typical Madlib fashion, based on obscure samples. Bandana managed to what its predecessor couldn’t, as it managed to bridge the gap between the producer’s eclectic soulful world and Gibbs’ drug-fueled world.
The bulk of the album was written while Gibbs was incarcerated in an Austrian prison for sexual assault charges he was later acquitted from. “Bandana” is Gibbs’ most personal project to date, and it showcases him in a vulnerable way that was not present in any of his other previous works.
The growth of both artists is evident in the albums. Their lives are not what it used to be since “Piñata”, and the political and social commentary present in the majority of tracks is proof enough of the evolution of these artists.
Gibbs also talks about a range of topics, from the black struggle since colonialism to its modern-day evolution in America where racism is now systematic and institutionalized.
The chemistry of both artists is evident in the course of these 15 tracks, especially since the album shifts through a multitude of styles and moods.
“Anna Painting” By Four Tet
Kieren Hebden (aka Four Tet) has released a three-track EP marking his first release since 2017’s full-length “New Energy”.
The release was in collaboration with painter and lifelong friend Anna Liber Lewis. The project took a couple of months to make. Hebden would compose music, and send them to Lewis, who would in return send back her drawings and paintings. The only exception is the last track, “Breath” which Hebden composed after seeing her work.
Previously, these tracks could only be heard through audio players and headphones at London’s Elegan West Gallery earlier this year as part of the exhibition.
The EP features three tracks and is 18 minutes long. The first two tracks “Anna Painting”, and “Lahaina Moon” are hard-hitting club-oriented tracks, while the final track, is an ambient meditative piece full of soundscapes and overlaid instruments, with the music fading away completely in the very last part of the track.
Karim El Horr contributed to this article.
For the Record," is Annahar's new music section. It aims to cover in-depth the underground independent music scene in Beirut, which has become known around the world for the alchemical mix of local and international artists. This unique and innovative scene, defined by its superior audio-sound quality and the incredible amount of talent, has become the center of attention to many local and international audiences, initiatives, and artists.
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