long Story Short : 2021 End Of Year Gems

So there were a few releases that came out in the last month or so that I didn’t get to write a proper review up due to all the crazy year-end lists I spent so much time on. So in honor of these few amazing albums I wanted to give a shout out to them. A couple here would have made my year-end list for sure, so give these a good listen if you haven’t.

Okay? Here we go.

Jeff Parker : Forfolks

Jeff Parker has quickly become one of my favorite musicians as of late. From his work with Tortoise to the Chicago Odense Ensemble to more recent solo work with International Anthem, Parker has proven to be a forward-thinking jazz composer and a true guitarist’s guitarist. On his latest album with International Anthem called Forfolks, Parker takes the solo guitar album to new levels. Using loop-based riffs and then going into more of a Steve Reich direction, Jeff Parker builds songs as if layering oil-based paints on canvas. Textured melodies become musical art as soundscapes form and build into riveting compositions. Thelonious Monk’s Solo Monk is one of my favorite solo jazz albums, but Forfolks is not too far behind it. A must-have.

Wojciech Golczewski : Inert

Film score composer and electronic musician Wojciech Golczewski put out his most personal album to date with the ambient record Inert. Leaving his analog melodies and melancholy compositions behind for dark ambient, Inert feels like falling through space gazing at your fate a million light years in front of you. There’s a cinematic feel here, bringing to mind Cuaron’s Gravity and Tangerine Dream’s early score work, but it still feels very much a Wojiech Golczewski record. I’m always amazed at how Golczweski can pull so much emotion from his analog machines. Lilting melancholy and bright, buzzing melodies that rise from the circuits. He still does that on Inert, but with more of a slow motion effect. Pieces like “Complete Shutdown” and “How Long Had I Been Gone” radiate emotion and drama with the feeling of clouds rolling in right before a storm. Absolutely stunning.

Makaya McCraven : Deciphering The Message

Drummer, composer, producer, and audio mad scientist Makaya McCraven had access to the Blue Note library and did some of his famous chopping to give us a fantastic take on some Blue Note classics. Combining original audio with live instrumentation, which includes McCraven on drums, Joel Ross on vibraphone, Jeff Parker on guitar, and Marquis Hill on trumpet, McCraven brings tracks from Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, and Kenny Burrell to the 21st century without blemishing their vintage brilliance. Projects like these can be tricky. Not having the right producer taking the proper care of these classics can make for a mess. But much like what Madlib and S. Mos did before, McCraven has given these songs a proper update without sacrificing his or their artistic integrity.

Nicolas Gaunin : Hulahula Kāne

The latest(and last of 2021) from Moon Glyph Records is Nicholas Gaunin’s Hulahula Kāne. Gaunin is the pseudonym for Nicola Sanguin, a musician from Padua, Italy known for his fourth world electronics, rain-soaked tropical sounds and his woody, experimental polyrhythms. On his LP debut he leans heavy into the woody percussion and native beats, giving the album the feel of a rain forest expedition. This album may not be for everyone, but fans of hypnotic percussion, experimental compositions, and even Stewart Copeland’s The Rhythmatist will find something to get lost in.

Fir Cone Children : It Chooses You

Fir Cone Children, the dream pop project of Vlimmer’s Alexander Donat is a place of both sugary pop melodies and shaded ambiguity. Locking into the almost child-like giddiness of Robyn Hitchcock while still retaining an element of post-punk jaggedness, Donat’s Fir Cone Children is one of the most interesting musical projects putting music out currently. On the latest album titled It Chooses You Donat puts an overcast sky directly over top his typically dreamy project. Sounding more Preoccupations than Egyptians, It Chooses You feels like staring out into the abyss contemplating where life goes next. Dreamy but indifferent; songs that paint a future not quite focused or understandable, but with a hint of hope living in the back of your mind.

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