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01.07.22 Dungeon Synth 2021 12.16.21 arf's mixed bag 2020/21 edition
12.06.21 Wait a sec - same album art ?!?

arf's mixed bag 2020/21 edition

yeah the year is almost over and I guess I could share some goodies (old and new) I came across during the pandemic years & think came a bit overlooked (or forgotten), in no particular order; mostly youtubecore, some bandcampcore, and a couple private suggestions and local artists; recommendations in comments are of course always welcome but please don't flood me with them lol
1The Mysterious Flying Orchestra
The Mysterious Flying Orchestra

Yes that album cover is exactly what you can expect to hear on this record. Just solid funked up fusion noodling all around. The album is a Bob Thiele project (if you're jazz-naive, he was the head producer at Impulse! during the 60s which got him to work with most of the jazz legends, including co-writing the famous song What a Wonderful World). Not a groundbreaking album or anything, but a very enjoyable listen nonetheless.
Year: 1977 | Country: US (New York?) | Genre: Jazz-Funk | GOOD shit

Okay I admit I know this album from before 2021. Occasionally put it on during weird private parties when people were mostly passing out already. The album is a heavily Balkan-infused psychedelic chillout, perfect to go with local homegrown herb. But I'll include it here since I kind of re-discovered it recently.
Year: 2018 | Country: Hungary | Genre: Balkan / Psychill | GOOD shit
Nowhere Land

You sometimes get tired of all those stoner rock bands that seem to have the same sound. They liked Sleep and Electric Wizard and now they make similar music too. Because, let's admit it, it's dope. Some have danker sound, or more memorable songs than others, but in the end, they're a dime a dozen here in Europe. But there's also other sides of heavy psych going on, and Karkara is more on the KGATLWesque side of it - there's fuzzed up surf guitar on here, and oriental riffs. Hypnotic.
Year: 2020 | Country: France | Genre: Oriental / Psych Rock | GOOD shit
Auskan Gabiltz Olatun Gainian

Another one which I already knew before but only got to really appreciate recently. EXTREMELY catchy tunes (as there should be on all folk-metal records), unique sound, progressive songwriting, but most importantly, this album just sounds authentic af. Folk parts are a bit lengthy for trve metvlheads but they really capture the atmosphere here. Oh, did I mention the accordion?
Year: 2010 | Country: Spain (Basque Country) | Genre: Basque / Black Metal | GOOD shit
Ognja Prerok

And here we have another black metal record featuring the accordion. (On the 5th track. Hey, maybe I should make a list specifically for that some time in the future.) This one rolls very hard.
Year: 2020 | Country: Slovenia | Genre: Black'n'roll | GOOD shit
6Collage (EST)

Collage were a vocal jazz group from 70s Estonia. The first two albums are more modal-jazz infused, including also localised covers of jazz and pop-rock of the west (and not so interesting, imho), but on the third one they hit the jackpot. Adding just the right dose of funk into the groove, and focusing completely interpretations of local tradition of runic songs, the result is a hypnotic call-and-response record. Top-par even when compared to psych-folk of England of the time.
Year: 1978 | Country: USSR (Estonia) | Genre: Psych Folk | GOOD shit
7Zodiac (LV)
Disco Alliance

Let's stay in Soviet-era Baltic for a little longer for this absolute gem of early progressive electronic music. What was pioneered in the German "kraut-rock" scene couldn't be contained by the Iron Curtain, apparently. By late 70s, musicians in USSR were also playing with the new synths and competing who can make the grooviest beat. The only thing I wish for now is a Soviet-style synthwave coming from the East of today, to counterpart the French-led wave in the West.
Year: 1980 | Country: USSR (Latvia) | Genre: Space Disco | GOOD shit

Another spacey electronic album, but with modern production. An introspective deep space journey with Berlin-school droning synths, and soundscapes engaging enough to keep you going. Perfect for late night chilling.
Year: 2020 | Country: US (California) | Genre: Kosmische Musik / Psybient | GOOD shit

An album in the vein of 70s Berlin-school Kosmische Musik, with lots of Mellotron goodiness and structured like two 20-minute progressive tracks each constituting one side. Very Tangerine Dream sounding.
Year: 2021 | Country: Sweden | Genre: Kosmische Musik | GOOD shit
10Creative Rock

As brash as the album cover, this is an old German blues-rock band WITH ADDITION OF BLARING HORNS! and with a fitting deep vocal performance. Starts with an ode to an LSD trip. Yep, that's the 70s. You know what that means, baby? It means to be free. *erupts into a solo*.
Year: 1972 | Country: Germany | Genre: Brass Rock | GOOD shit
11Sunburst (TZ)
Ave Africa

A band that existed at the edge of Zambia's zamrock scene (which you may have heard about before), putting out several singles until culminating in this single LP before disappearing. Sunny warm feels and 70s psychedelia. And, don't forget.. "if yo booze, fren, don' drive. Save yo life!"
Year: 1976 | Country: Tanzania | Genre: Afro-Rock | GOOD shit
Én Gang Rådden, Altid Rådden

This is one filthy sounding record. Seamlessly varies from horror to crust punk infused black metal. Surprisingly complex sounding for how simplistic it actually is when you think about it. Perhaps it's just the novelty factor of their sound combination, and the sheer raw energy, I guess.
Year: 2021 | Country: Denmark | Genre: Black Metal | GOOD shit
The Higher Power

This one is probably my year's favourite. It's an extremely amateurish album, but that's kind of its charm. It's just kids from Flint, Michigan being crazy enough to pull off a shittily recorded album of most inspired and constantly engaging black metal with influences from all over the place - psychedelia, celtic tunes, and tributes to pretty much everyone who developed the genre in the 90s, all while still sounding coherent. (And I just know it they're going to ruin it and record one shitterrible album next, in the wave of euphoria generated by this album's hitting the jackpot. Bummer.)
Year: 2021 | Country: US (Michigan) | Genre: Black Metal | GOOD shit

The gayest shit ever. Everything everyone hates about blackgaze. Prancing ponies and fairytale bullshit. How can anyone listen to this tripe? Now we have Këkht Aräkh who blends romanticism with black metal better, with none of that blackgaze bullshit, right? Nonetheless, I liked it for the sheer unashamed cheesiness and heartfelt melodies. You can hear the pain. Rumours are that whoever recorded this album is dead, which honestly wouldn't surprise me. But other rumours are that he's currently working on a new album.
Year: 2014 | Country: UK | Genre: Blackgaze / Neoromantic | GOOD shit
15The Devil Makes Three
Do Wrong Right

Old-time country with TREMENDOUS songwriting. This is a bit outside my general scope of music, but not so much because I wouldn't like the genre, more that it's a bit too inaccessible to me, living on the wrong side of the pond. Certainly a genre I'd like to explore more.
Year: 2009 | Country: US (California) | Genre: Old-time country | GOOD shit

I'll admit it: I only checked out this album because of the cover. And I wasn't disappointed. It wasn't what I expected, but better. Just as with Springtime (which got attention on sputnik), heavy Nick Cave vibes - though in a bit different way. Occult sounding and dark.
Year: 2019 | Country: US (Oregon) | Genre: Post-Punk | GOOD shit
17Soporific Sorcery
Sarcophagus Symphony II

Dungeon Synth is quite popular on sputnik, so I was a bit surprised when I noticed this act hasn't been added before I set off to rate this absolutely immense composition. Which, I believe, is an actual symphony. With all the theme and reprise and classical form. At least, I'd swear that there were some key melodies that kept coming back. Highly recommend to all the dungeon synth enthusiasts.
Year: 2010 | Country: ??? | Genre: Dungeon Synth | GOOD shit
18Dai Kaht
Dai Kaht II

This one is a bit of an outlier among the rest of the zeuhl scene. Completely forgoing the jazz-fusion elements, Dai Kaht instead bets on transposing the alien chanting and hypnotic riffs into a more typical (space) rock band format. It might not be as daringly experimental as most zeuhl, but it makes up for it with extremely upbeat tunes in (perhaps a little bit too?) pristine vanderian idiom. (I feel like I should properly review this one in the near future.) The first one is also good, but it doesn't shine as brightly as the second one.
Year: 2020 | Country: Finland | Genre: Zeuhl | GOOD shit
19G'aol-e Dana
G'aol-e Dana

Somewhat in the vein of recent development of BMSS and adjacent "magick/occult metal" bands, this mysterious cassette tape in fact mostly predates them (some of it was, according to liner notes, recorded not long after BMSS's first EP). If you're a pussy and want to listen to this sound without feeling worried about accidentally heiling the hitler, this is your chance. (And it's also, imho, better than most of today's scene.)
Year: 2015 | Country: Bulgaria(?) | Genre: Psychedelic Doom Metal | GOOD shit
Black Hop

Finishing this list on a bit less serious note. Uratsakidogi is apparently a quite old act now already, having experimented with infusing rock music with absurdity only Russians can come up with for over 20 years. Their attempt to fuse hip hop (or is it gip gop?) with black metal, however, was simply too good to be ignored. This is the kind of TRVE KVLT recording you'd expect from that meme album cover with Varg as a rapper with "Dat's Sum N Gang Tharr" as the title. You probably seen that image before. And if the premise is a joke, the album is actually quite good. (There's been a second album since in the same vein, no less well done.) I guess that's what happens when you build ghettoes in the frozen wastelands of northern Europe.
Year: 2018 | Country: Russia | Genre: Black Hop | GOOD shit
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