May 2023 Favorites
I've selected fewer albums to highlight this month, but considered together, their collective quality is top-notch. Read about all five releases below, hear some choice tracks, and follow those Bandcamp purchase links if you feel so inclinded.
Thanks, as always, for reading and listening.
Angelica Olstad - American (Sonder House) - Olstad is a Brooklyn-based pianist/composer who wrote this autobiographical collection of songs, in part as a response to the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. American is not a straightforward piano album, though, but instead a collage of music and home recordings, giving it a scapbook feel. This unique format encourages the listener to consider how identity impacts each of our "American experiences" and reminds us that no two people walk in the same tread.
Symposium Musicum - Symposium Musicum (mappa) - Here's a straight-up field recording mash for all you audio adventurers out there. Symposium Musicum whisks us away to five different villiages spread across eastern and northeastern Slovakia, where we meet members of the Romani community. It's a wild jigsaw of cut-up conversations + ambient noise + radio play + industrial bursts. Catch a snippet below to see if you dig it.
Eluvium - (Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality (Temporary Residence Ltd.) - Perhaps the most anticipated release of the year so far, Matthew Cooper has delievered what some in the industry are calling his masterpiece. Epic in scope and sound, the Portland-based composer (woot woot!) employed musicans from around the world to realize this ambitious project - a beautiful blending of electronic algorithms with traditional songwriting. I've long adored Cooper's work, and while his recent offering may represent a shift in style, its core still hums Eluvium.
foresteppe - vyosny - I've written about foresteppe a bunch of times on this site, but vyosny might actually be my favorite release of his. Like, ever. It's an album of acoustic guitar (with some keys and flute and other light instrumentation) layered atop field recordings captured in the artist's home country over seven of the last ten springs. Woven together into one seamless mix, listening to it feels like a sigh and a smile.
Gia Margaret - Romantic Piano (Jagjaguwar) - And if you thought those last couple reviews were glowing, get a load of this one: Gia Margaret's Romantic Piano is my favorite album of 2023 so far, and prediction: it will also be my favorite album of 2023 when the year closes. What else should I write at this point? I feel like it might be a good idea for me to wait until my end-of-the-year roundup in December to gush about this piece of music, so just come back then. Well, come back before then, but you know what I mean. To tide you over, get a load of my favorite track below, and for the love of god, go buy this album.
That's it for May, and with summer break quickly approaching, we'll see if this next season will be a "write-a-whole-lot-more" period of time for DC, or instead, a "take-a-break-from-my-computer" summer. In any case, keep checking back periodically, and enjoy the music.