Philip Montoro, Reader music editor
Yob, Atma Right from its lead track, “Prepare the Ground,” the new Atma is first-class cosmic doom. The smoke of funeral ghats chokes the battlefields of heaven, its darkness cut by the flashes of scimitars. A fallen soldier cries out to an indifferent god until his howls become a soaring mantra. Prepare to be enlightened to within an inch of your life.
Abana Ba Nasery, Classic Acoustic Recordings From Western Kenya This trio was famous in Kenya in the 60s and early 70s for playing a Luhya style called omutibo, whose instrumentation usually consists of two acoustic guitars and a ribbed glass Fanta bottle scraped with a nail. The sweet, jaunty, intricately entangled guitars, the crickety rhythm of the bottle, and the sad-happy three-part harmony singing are just the thing for a summer night you know will end too soon.
Celtic Frost, “Ground,” from Monotheist A bitter, furious, dismal, pounding trudge. “Oh God,” roars Tom G. Warrior. “Why have you forsaken me?” This song has replaced Shellac’s “Prayer to God” as my favorite thing to have stuck in my head when I’m biking to work against the wind.
Absu, Tara Insanely technical yet nimble, 2001’s Tara reigns supreme in the black/thrash genus of metal—fast, aggressive, and complex, with creative and unrelenting drumming care of Proscriptor McGovern, who also performs all the vocals! The best American metal album of all time.
Alphonse Mouzon, Mind Transplant It’s got the usual duds inherent in jazz fusion, but this 1975 Blue Note release is uncharacteristically minimal, repetitive, and heavy for the genre, with the drums taking the lead. Mind Transplant is almost completely devoid of aimless solos, instead focusing on rhythmic complexity.
Razor, Shotgun Justice Totally pissed-off blue-collar thrash from Ontario, Canada. In “Violence Condoned,” front man Bob Reid describes a scene where their fans riot after the band packs up their gear upon learning they won’t be paid. And “The Pugilist” seethes with rage, as the narrator turns the tables on his tormentor: “I’ll haunt you at night, I’ll terrorize, I’ll phone but I won’t talk.” Yes!
Charles Snider, Author of The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock
Conrad Schnitzler,Gelb Conrad Schnitzler passed away August 4. Although an early member of Tangerine Dream and a cofounder of Kluster, Schnitzler was really an artist, using sound as his canvas. I browsed through my collection for a suitable tribute; housed in an unmarked cardboard jacket is this 1981 LP, playable at either 45 or 33 rpm. Musically, I’m sure it parallels Schnitzler’s journey into the vast cosmos of the hereafter.
Le Orme, Felona e Sorona If you haven’t taken the plunge into Italian prog, this recent reissue is the place to start. The story concerns two planets and their eventual destruction. Suitably, the album is dark and brooding; synthesizer and Mellotron blast away over a pummeling rhythm.
District 97, Hybrid Child Speaking of prog rock, did you know that Chicago is home to the genre’s brightest prospect? District 97 just wrapped up their second mini tour of the summer and are now at I.V. Lab recording the follow-up to last year’s Hybrid Child. It’s full-on prog, with enough metal to cast their own vault.