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Album of the Month



The best thing I can say about Ilion is that it is the first album in a while, in my memory, that really sells the idea of it being a journey, or telling a story- the moments that eclipse the album’s experience as a whole come few and far between, but every moment serves to communicate this great journey. And what a journey it is, told through an enormous, ever-shifting wall of sound, and through the three members’ stellar musicianship including great riffs, looming bass, passionate vocals, and propulsive, furious drumming. These elements are able to successfully carry the momentum across the entire length- not only does Ilion cover 8 songs in 80 minutes, but these songs really ROCK too. Even the repetitive closer feels like music that might play while looking at the destruction created after a final boss is defeated, or ceremony music that symbolizes a great and terrifying change in the life of a protagonist. Even if better albums come along later in the year, this is a story that must be told, and an album you must hear.



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Peter Gabriel-i/o

The usual hesitations behind releasing a record in December seemed to matter fuck all to legend Peter Gabriel, who kicked off the month with his first studio album of original material since 2002, which he had been tracking since as far back as 1995.  i/o’s nearly 30 years in development did not go to waste either, as this may be his richest and most densely produced record since the ’80s.  The man even released three separate mixes of the record, each highlighting enough new subtleties in the production to make any of them a reasonable candidate for “the definitive version”.  Peter approaches the sonic palate here blending electronics and traditional instrumentation perhaps the furthest he’s ever gone, spanning a range from beautiful, lush, and sprawling orchestration (“Playing for Time”) to tightly constructed borderline sculptural beats that almost sound assembled in a musical junkyard out of any scrap he could find (“The Court”).  This is a notably more patient and subdued record than some of his bombastic and thunderous early work (understandably so at 73 years old), but even a few throwback bangers rear their head and show the man can still sell jubilant pop tunes overflowing with vibrancy, most notably the exhilarating “Olive Tree”.  It’s the title track however, a warm and moving piece on universal connectedness that only feels more earnest and resonant in Peter’s old age, that serves as the heart of the whole project.  Although i/o admittedly falls short of the unfairly high


Closet Witch – Chiaroscuro


DOC: Hey ChatGPT, are you familiar with Sputnikmusic.com?

GPT: Yes, I’m familiar with Sputnikmusic! It’s a platform that covers music reviews, news, and discussions across various genres.

DOC: And the band Closet Witch?

GPT: Closet Witch is a hardcore/grindcore band known for their intense and energetic music. They’ve gained attention for their raw and chaotic sound within the hardcore scene.

DOC: Awesome. Write a Seinfeld scene about the band Closet Witch. Also George has been banned from Sputnikmusic


[Jerry’s Apartment. Jerry is sitting on the couch reading a music magazine. George bursts in, looking agitated.]

Jerry: What’s got you all riled up now, George?

George: I’ve been banned, Jerry. Banned from the depths of the internet!

Jerry: What? Where? Not another forum, George. Last time it was that cooking blog.

George: No, not just any forum. Sputnikmusic!

Jerry: Sputnikmusic? What did you do, George?

George: I made an innocent comment about Closet Witch!

Jerry: Closet Witch? That hardcore band? What could you have possibly said about them?

George: I said they reminded me of a mashed-up cacophony of angry lawnmowers! I didn’t mean it in a bad way, just descriptive!

Jerry: And let me guess, the fans didn’t take kindly to your creative imagery?

George: They didn’t! They started a riot on the forum. ‘George The Mower Man’ they called me. I’ve been exiled, Jerry. Exiled!

Jerry: You and your way with words, George. Always stirring the pot.

[Elaine enters.]

Elaine: Hey, what’s going…



Sufjan Stevens-Javelin

Sufjan Stevens has long since passed the point in his career where anything he makes is inevitably going to be discussed in terms of how it relates to his previous works, and given Stevens’ status as one of the rare truly prolific artists to emerge in the last few decades, as well as one of the most lauded, that’s a hell of a lot of material for a new release to stack up to. Yet Javelin does so effortlessly, and already seems destined to reach a similar status as Stevens’ consensus classics. On first brush, both in terms of its sound and in the context of the multiple tragedies that Stevens experienced in the months leading up to its release, the album seems clearly to be a follow-up to his 2015 indie folk masterwork Carrie and Lowell. And this is true, in a way, but further analysis reveals Javelin to have its own identity, even if pretty much every idea it presents has been explored by Stevens at some point in his career. While this is, at heart, a folk album, with most songs featuring prominent acoustic lines as their primary grounding, alongside Stevens’ personal (and often heartbreaking) lyrics and vocals, the reality is more complicated. Most of these songs build gradually over the course of their runtimes, adorned by lush arrangements complemented by electronics which end up dominating significant portions of the tracks, as well as gorgeous, reflective ambient passages. Never as bombastic as much

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I was introduced to yeule through last year’s enigmatic Glitch Princess, an ethereally digitized outpouring of self-doubt and alienation consistently channeled through the prettiest of vocal melodies. I absolutely positively did not think it could be improved upon with… of all things… the addition of electric guitars to yeule’s warped palette. What makes softscars feel like such a jump is how yeule is able to push their sophisticated songwriting into a more approachable direction while maintaining their elusive aura. They can turn what is essentially an indie guitar ballad like “software update” into one of the most over-stimulating pieces of music you’ll hear this year with no sweat. The striking amount of detail hiding within these seemingly skeletal nostalgia-laden alt instrumentals almost acts as a mirage for the sharp stabs of nihilism and the longing for real connection in the digital age within yeule’s lyrics. Contrasted with Glitch Princess, where pitch-corrected existential dread threatened to swallow them whole, softscars sees yeule finding a little solace in the struggle of being human, expressed through rawer yet familiarly chameleonic vocal stylings and all the reverb an android can process. softscars is endlessly catchy and infinitely layered and potentially the best album of 2023.



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Hail the Sun-Divine Inner Tension

Swancore has become a rather hot topic over the years, either met with thunderous applause or with largely exasperated groans. The one group that has stayed strong and avoided fan burnout is Hail the Sun. Their 2021 effort was met with critical acclaim, and their latest endeavor might somehow be even better. Divine Inner Tension is a showcase of divine (haha, like the album title!) power and energy that only they seem to be able to achieve anymore. With every technically driven lead and riff, there comes a beautiful transition to a much-needed respite of calm textures and melodies straight from the mouth of their virtuoso Donovan Melero. This group has had a long time to craft and perfect their sound, which they may have just accomplished. Hail the Sun have not only become veterans of a scene they once adored, they’ve grabbed their rightful seat on the throne.




Chepang are a mostly Nepali grindcore band. On Swatta, Chepang get a little crazy. The way they do it, a slow-motion, frenzied collapse of their furious machine through the gradual opening of the insanity throttle over 50 minutes resonates pretty deeply, given the various cultural crossroads we find ourselves at. The gleefully frenzied envelope-push of Sides B, and especially C, are grandma’s cozy cableknit sweater knitted from miles of talent and that wonderfully punked-out grind desire to get completely batshit. The hay we could make of Side D’s absolute fuckstorm of an AI driven genre disintegration could feed the entire farm. But Chepang’s thrills ain’t cheap, and even when they’re immediate, they’re well earned. There’s a carefully thought-out progression to their program, to their gradual rattling loose of all but the barest ideas of structure and composition and the tropes that make up the genre. It’s a program that tries, patiently and gradually, to shake off all order, to leave just the boiling cerebral fluid of the genre formerly known as grind. By the end of this thing, the feeling arises that punk is dead, grind is dead, humanity is dead, the idea of grind as a category characterized as the sum total of its musical elements has been fed through a wood chipper and glued back together like a grotesque humanoid meat sculpture. Things get a little crazy sometimes. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, mere anarchy and all that. Sometimes our obsession with order, with


DreamWeaver – Blue Garden

Blue Garden is a cozy and serene little trip of a record, offering more than enough in the way of lush, textural composition and simple beauty to find its way into the heart of somebody who has no idea what “progressive breaks” is. The tender vocal songs punctuating the tracklist offer an inviting hand to me and it’s not hard to find myself enjoying the rest. It is my favorite record of June, and not just because ****** made me write this.


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Jeromes Dream-The Gray In Between

There’s a ferociousness again to Jeromes Dream, a hunger that, while scattered into tiny doses throughout 2019’s LP, is now unhinged and unleashed on The Gray In Between. The Gray In Between goes for the throat. Between Jeff Smith screaming again, Sean Leary’s pummeling riffs, and Erik Ratensperger’s phenomenal and frantic drumming. Jeromes Dream has written an album that very much serves as the spiritual successor to 2000’s landmark Seeing Means More Than Safety. Simply put, Jeromes Dream has roared back, and let’s hope there’s no slowing down anytime soon.



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Yune Pinku-Babylon IX

Wow. Another month has come and gone. Which means, of course, it’s time for a blog post. Dare I say 2023 is shaping up to be a very memorable year for music? Spring is in the air, the pandemic is finally over, and everyone is leaving their virtual discos in favor of good ol’ fashioned ragers. Who doesn’t love hearing loud trance music in dark tightly packed spaces? Maybe this year ACL can have a good lineup, who knows. Anyway, May 2023 is off to a weirdly boring start for music. I can think of several reasons why but the most obvious one is that April was just too damn exciting. Now that the Sheeran trial has run its course and musicians are safe again, we can all relax and play the new Zelda game or if you don’t have a Switch, Hyper Light Drifter is recommended on any platform. By the way, have you heard the new Yunè Pinku EP? The new Yunè Pinku EP is Sputnikmusic.com’s album of the month.

Yunè Pinku’s BABYLON IX doesn’t quite have the staying power of new Metallica, nor does it make me cry like the new National, but it kinda rules. Marvelously produced opener “Trinity” continues to amaze and uplift, even when it is boring and rainy outside or in the world of other music: quite a trick. It is not easy to make electronic music sound lush and inviting on first listen without sacrificing some element of…

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jonatan leandoer96-Sugar World

Sugar World, Yung Lean’s new album released under his jonatan leandoer96 moniker, might be the sweetest he’s sounded. Not vocally, mind you–his crooning is as tuneless as ever–but he’s as charming and earnest as he looks on the cover. Sugar World is primarily a collection of ballads adorned with lush pop-rock instrumentation, and it’s a new direction for Lean, even under this name. His versatility is impressive, and this new album demonstrates that he isn’t afraid in the slightest of experimenting or branching out into new territory.

The music backing Yung Lean is glossy and easy-going, providing a wonderful juxtaposition with Yung Lean’s aforementioned vocal performance. Critics have decried his vocals as unpalatable throughout his career, so there’s nothing really new here on that front; yet others, whether they be long-time fans or curious newcomers, will appreciate the romance and quirkiness in his voice. Lyrically, nearly every song touches on affection and intimacy in some form, and it’s hard not to find Lean delightful and alluring as he sings about blue feelings, amusement parks, and remote-controlled love. In fact, this may be his strongest set of lyrics to date. It may be nothing extraordinary, but the combination of melancholy, wistful instrumentals and lovesick rhymes is evergreen. With the added layer of Yung Lean’s monotone vocal delivery, there’s a number of competing and compelling dimensions here that make repeated listens rewarding.

Perhaps no song exemplifies this better than “Rivers of Another Town,” a piano-backed jaunt that wouldn’t…

12 ryuichi

Ryuichi Sakamoto – 12


Here we are having already closed the books on January, a month more tied to dearth than plenitude: dearth of sunlight, dearth of warmth, and somehow, usually, a dearth of halfway decent music, as the big consumption season of the holidays spends itself into a kind of productive dormancy. The year so far seems to be belying that notion, as an uncommon number of quality releases are being dug up from the frozen ground and passed around as sustenance through the hard months. The most conspicuous fruit of this early-year gleaning is also, paradoxically, among the most minimalist, and, to be frank, the most musically unremarkable, while still remaining one of its creator’s great artistic statements.

12 is easy to pigeonhole as a mere collection of etudes for piano and synthesizer, a soothing, lukewarm, ambient bath recalling the melancholic tranquility of Satie and Eno, always lovely, but sometimes minimalist to the point of being threadbare in execution. It takes a bit of a deeper reading of the thing for it to open up to the listener, a bit of reflection on what exactly this austere approach is revealing. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s 12 was recorded in the winter of last year, and its threadbare qualities often reflect that; the austerity of its titles, its art, and its music are, in a way, those of the bare clinging on and enduring that life can seem to be during this season. But of


Conan – Evidence of Immortality


With the release of their fifth full-length instalment, one thing about Conan is abundantly clear: It exists as a powerhouse of doom metal that embodies a distinct stubbornness. A stubbornness almost equalling the unstoppable forces of geology which created our very existence. Evidence of Immortality exhibits the staunch refusal of Conan to let the quality of their music slip below the commendable standard fans have come to expect. Containing monumental, crushing doom riffs, faster, more bellicose sludge passages and a desperate sense of mounting tension, this album can be considered somewhat a summary of the material comprising the preceding four albums all neatly packaged into an incredibly satisfying 50 minutes of apocalyptic doom metal bliss. Get comfortable and whack that volume up!

Immediately, the humongous opener “A Cleaved Head No Longer Plots” fast-forwards a simulation of the formation of Pangaea (a supercontinent which began to break up again roughly 200 million years ago at the start of the Jurassic period to form the arrangement of continents we know today). The robust sound dominating the album is impressive for a three-piece and atmospherically speaking, the sense of foreboding projected is nothing short of remarkable. The listener is transported to a medieval and geological war zone where all hope for survival rapidly evaporates. It’s just a question of whether you will succumb to a horrific wound from Jon Davis’ battle axe or if you’ll be swallowed whole by the…


Chat Pile – God’s Country


A mere three days before the end of July, Chat Pile’s debut release became available to the masses after having been the subject of much hype. After the initial listen, God’s Country leaves one feeling like a corkscrew has been inserted into each ear and violently twisted. What has one just experienced? The answer, a savagely exasperated assault on a broken western society, transported to the ear canals with unprecedented levels of rage. While lyrical content concerning the failings of society is a well-trodden path with each new endeavour having potential to project yet another rehashed and redundant message, God’s Country does anything but.
You might ask what prevented God’s Country from falling into the rehash trap. It all comes down to the earnestness with which the message is delivered – no generic “fuck the government” material can be found here. Vocalist Raygun Busch launches a wide-ranged and carefully calculated attack on several aspects of modern American society which is both unapologetically scathing and depressingly accurate with its content. Amongst the themes of homelessness, mass meat production and the disgraceful condition of the environment are pockets of truly harrowing material in relation to the ongoing mental health crisis but rather than giving off the impression of wallowing, the overall message is one of downright rage, giving the record authenticity and ultimately, lyrical relevance.
While there is nothing overly complex musically speaking, the genre-fusion on offer…


Artificial Brain – Artificial Brain


Of all the bands I love, Artificial Brain is the one that has taken me the longest to wrap my head around. As someone who prefers the more freewheeling skronkfests of avant-garde death metal, Artificial Brain’s steadier, more nuanced approach to the genre was lost on me. Yet it always felt like I was missing something obvious with the band, like a lost puzzle piece smothered between couch cushions. When premier single “Celestial Cyst” dropped, I had an epiphany: Artificial Brain are playing at a scale far beyond human comprehension. The band’s music feels like depicting galactic warfare, but there’s no glory found in the destruction. Its view is a top-down perspective, where fiery explosions appear as minor blips, and all that’s left to do is pray for the loss of life both corporeal and mechanical. 

Examining their album covers gives clues to how their world building manifests sonically. Labyrinth Constellation’s grimy robotic skirmish on floating rocks is a perfect representation of Artificial Brain’s hectic yet laser-focused songwriting; it’s as fully realized a debut as you can find. Infrared Horizon depicts the aftermath with a robot cradling the decapitated friend of the same model, foreshadowing the black metal influence creeping forward. For their newest record, depicted with a rusted spider mech covered in moss, the production has gotten a lot murkier and muddier than previous outings. While it might not have the same frayed electrical

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