12 Albums I'm Enjoying Right Now
I’m sharing a full dozen of my favorite new albums below. I cover a lot of ground here—five continents, to be precise. But this is my preferred way to travel the world, in a musical reverie and with no jet lag.
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Various Artists: Music from Saharan WhatsApp
Compilation of Live Performances from Africa Recorded on Cellphones
I love this indie label and its grassroots music, but they still caused me endless agita back in 2020 by releasing a series of soul-shaking African recordings made on cellphones—and then deleting them from the web a few days later. I’m sure they thought this disappearing act was super cool, but I found myself in the awkward position of recommending albums nobody could find or hear. They have now removed that stone in my shoe by (finally!) making some of these riveting performances available again. I hope it’s permanent this time. But maybe you should listen now, just in case they decide to pull another vanishing trick.
Omodaka: ZENTSUU: Collected Works 2001-2019
Merging of Traditional Japanese Music, Vintage Chiptune Game Soundtracks, Stale Classics, Funk, and Varied Electronica
Some of my favorite albums nowadays cross genre boundaries, but Omodaka truly abuses the privilege. Are you ready for a chiptune-ish take on the Concierto de Aranjuez, which inspired Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain? And that’s just a start. This isn’t cross-genre raiding, but a total insurgency. Composer Soichi Terada (aka Omodaka) got his start in videogames, and for stretches here you might even think you’re listening to the soundtrack for some quasi-ancient Nintendo amusement. But when the traditional Japanese vocalizing enters, you start wondering whether this whole project isn’t some postmodern prank. But the light funk, house music, and other ingredients are handled so persuasively that you soon stop worrying about the categories and just immerse yourself in the aural experience. Official release isn’t until late October, but pre-orders and teaser tracks are available via Bandcamp. Also, some of the previously released tracks from this compilation can be found on YouTube.
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