Sound of Ceres – Arm of Golden Flame

Sound of Ceres, the cinematic dream-pop evolution of shoegazers Candy Claws, has announced an ambitious new album “inspired by Maurice Ravel’s ballet Daphnis et Chloé, Gustav Holst’s The Planets, and Les Baxter’s midcentury exotica.” The album follows a three-act narrative structure to explore the emergence of mind and meaning in an otherwise meaningless universe, which is quite a lot to tackle, but with narration by performance artist Marina Abramovic (who is set to restage her iconic piece The Artist is Present as a fundraiser for Ukraine) and dramatic orchestral accompaniment, the first single “Arm of Golden Flame” certainly sets the right tone. This will be one to watch out for.

Due out June 17, 2022 on Joyful Noise.

Congotronics International – Banza/Beyond

Ten years in the making, the debut from the supergroup Congotronics International is sounding fantastic so far. The two singles released so far really highlight the group’s range. “Banza Banza” is as raucous as heck, a high-energy mish-mash of skronked-out guitars, distorted thumb organs, and other unexpected sounds. “Beyond the 7th Bend” is more subtle, with acoustic guitars, meandering melodies, and atmosphere to spare. Between the two, it’s about as promising as it gets.

The full album is due out on April 29, with contributions from Konono Nº1, Deerhoof, Juana Molina, and more. I can’t wait.

Animal Collective – We Go Back (Video by Winston Hacking & Michael Enzbrunner)

Winston Hacking’s videos never fail to blow my mind. Whether it’s his work with musicians like Flying Lotus, BadBadNotGood, Washed Out, and Andy Shauf, or his own personal work, his endlessly inventive collages make for some of the most beautifully surreal media artworks out there.

His worlds are always in motion, and are never quite what you think they are. Scene transitions don’t follow any obvious logic. The ground falls out from under you. The camera rotates and reveals that what you thought was a flat surface is a 3D sculpture. Everything is collage and deconstruction, constantly reshaping and reorienting. As someone who’s never had much of a visual sense, I can’t wrap my head around what it takes to map out these kinds of nested illusions.

It’s basically a magic trick, and I’m more than happy to keep falling for it.

Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection – In a Mist (Full Time Hobby)

Cullum’s 2020 debut slipped under my radar on its initial release, but made it onto my 2021 year-end list thanks to a conveniently timed reissue. Its mastery of pastoral British folk and psychedelia made it an easy album to get lost in, and this tune from Aquarium Drunkard’s Lagniappe Sessions covers series is a welcome addition to his catalogue. Borrowed from British folk singer Duncan Browne, it’s a prettily finger-picked tune that hides devastating lines like “we are born alone, and we die alone, and we cannot possess anyone in between.” It’ll break your heart, in other words, in more ways than one.

Andrew Wasylyk – Dreamt In The Current Of Leafless Winter

A gorgeous piece from Scottish musician Andrew Wasylyk, billed as “an attempted hypnagogic fog of meditation & possibility.” The 16-minute track builds slowly, a cloud of gentle twinklings and meandering melodies eventually coalescing into an insistent drum pulse, rising piano arpeggios, and inquisitive saxophone. The accompanying video, directed by Tommy Perman (of last year’s wonderful Positive Interactions project) ties the music to a multilayered, ever-shifting view of nature, echoing the song’s warmth in a bramble of soft light, tangled branches, and gently distorted reflections. The song and video both are bathed in twilight, comfortable, captivating, and kaleidoscopic.