It’s been awhile since we’ve sat down together and talked music. Now more than ever we need good music to fill our ears and our souls. Below are some non-metal releases from the first couple months of this bizarre year that are worthy of as much time as you are willing to dedicate to them.
Kristian Harting – The Fumes
I’ve espoused the beauty of Harting’s previous releases in this space and others. In my humble estimation he is one of the most underappreciated singer/songwriters in the entire world. Few musicians are able to convey as much emotion in their music, often by what is left unsaid as what is said, than Harting. His ability to use every space, every crevice of a song in emotive ways is beyond impressive. His newest album The Fumes both picks up from and expands upon his previous releases. This time around Harting steps outside of his own studio and invites an array of musicians to perform with him and the result is a sultry array of songs that crisscross all over the dark folk, darkwave, and indie rock pantheons. There are moments of tension, moments of raw emotion, and moments of pure aural bliss throughout this record – often times all within the same track. It’s a lush, gorgeous album that adds to what has become an amazingly impressive discography, and will stand as one of the best of this weird and wondrous year. Grab some headphones, back away from the world, and let Kristian Harting take you deep within yourself. It’s a journey you’ll be better off for taking in the end.
Raphael Weinroth-Browne – Worlds Within
Canadian cellist and composer Raphael Weinroth-Browne has spent time playing with some of music’s more interesting acts including chamber folk outfit Musk Ox and prog metal act Leprous, among others. On his debut solo album Worlds Within Weinroth-Browne culls together influences as varied as the acts he performs with to create a masterwork of neo-classical music. Worlds Within is actual one piece broken into ten tracks, so it is meant to be listened to from start to finish, which can be hard in this stream-a-song culture we are all so embedded in. However, Weinroth-Browne has made it easy to get lost for an hour or so along a winding path of esoteric, and often cinematic, soundscapes. The entire album drifts between contemplative and passionate, ebbing and flowing like dark waves lapping against a vast beach on a moonless night – it’s power and surge tangible through the darkness. Fans of varied acts such as Amber Asylum to the works of Debbie Wiseman will find a lot to love about this record.
Little Albert – Swamp King
Anyone who has listened to my Wrong Side of the Tracks radio show (shameless plug alert) knows how much I love the blues. It’s the grandfather of heavy metal and a genre, that despite several sonic left turns, has maintained a powerful grip on my own musical curiosity. Italy’s Little Albert take their blues on road trips through the dusty, desert sands of stoner rock and into heavier territories than virtually any other modern blues artist, yet the basis of these jams always remains firmly rooted in the swampy deltas of the blues. It’s an album where my only complaint is that I wish it was longer. I’ve found myself rolling through this album from start to finish, multiple times, without ever needing to hit the skip button. A truly awesome, modern take on the blues and one that even electric blues traditionalists should be fawning all over.