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Um, didn't I want to write about BORIS, CLARA ENGEL, JASNOVIDEC, LEAGUS, PAM RISOURIÉ and THE OCEAN at some point?

Even though I can only check out a small percentage of the promo invitations I received with this one life I have, some stuff unfortunately still gets left behind on my to-do-list.

And since we're doing collective reviews right now anyway, here are a couple of promos and other digital releases I bought or snatched somewhere else, which definitely deserve their justice:

LEAGUS - Flora Eallin (2023)

And there's no album I have criminally neglected more than this Norwegian Contemporary Jazz masterpiece! Normally just a guitar / piano duo Leagus was recruited to write a piece for the ten-member North Norwegian Jazz Ensemble in 2021, and the result - besides several live appearances - was this amazing album, whose twelve tracks always sound fresh and modern, but somehow also take you through a historical journey, touching on all different kinds of experimental Free Jazz and Fusion.

Even the specific achievement of putting one of the most annoying parts of any music album of the year into one of the best songs surrounded by an hour-long cornucopia of beautiful stylistically boundless magic, is somehow respectable and ultimately works. Well, just listen to "Pripyat", have a little patience and I'm sure you'll know, what I'm talking about, haha!

All other various vocal and instrumental performances and arrangements really are flawless though. And between Ambient, Pop, intimate Smooth and large Big Band Jazz, Heavy Fusion and all kinds of delicate and wild experimentalism connecting and dividing those elements, "Flora Eallin" is a truly exciting journey you just don't want to miss!

Is It Jazz? the record label asks. The answer is yes, but also so much more!

BORIS - "Akuma No Uta" Anniversary single "Ibitsu" (2023)

Now let's obliterate our hearing for a small moment and enjoy Boris' re-recording of a little song from an album originally released twenty years ago. BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT. Fuck yeah, Rock'nRoll! That was good. I'll continue writing once the veil of feedback tinnitus has lifted a little.

THE OCEAN - Holocene (Instrumental) (2023)

From Japan back to Europe, where Post Metal superpower The Ocean has released a new album. As always I didn't care much, because this band is undoubtly good on stage, but seldom has that it, which makes me want to listen to their studio work. Or maybe they have the other it, which holds me back from engaging, being the redundant sheer existence of vocals.

Luckily they kind of know of this themselves and always make their releases available as alternate purely instrumental versions. And suddenly this heavy atmospheric stuff is so damn extra-good! This music just works way better this way. Hell, I even enjoy the track with freaking Karin Park as guest singer much more... um... without her. Not her fault, obviously. Sometimes even the greatest vocalists are best if they just shut up. The song needs what it needs - and doesn't need what it doesn't.

Still not saying that regular "Holocene" is a bad record by any means, but "Holecene (Instrumental)" just feels like the real thing, the Director's Cut, the legit Post Rock album of the year contender.

PAM RISOURIÉ - Days Of Distortion (2023)

Definitely pro-vocals is my stance on the full-length debut of the French Shoegaze group Pam Risourié. Not that the falsetto voices here would be something super special or outstanding on their own. But they are just the right choice to accompany the breathy dreaminess of this rhythmically often quite upbeat Post Punk affair, which towards the end gradually grows into a more and more spacious and cosmic experience.

Distorted guitar music in an ethereal haze. Eruptive and beautiful.

JASNOVIDEC - Vzpom​í​nka Na Sv​ě​tlo / Fyziognomie Hyeny (2023)

The most abstract release of this bunch by far comes from Stoned To Death Records in the shape of this two-track EP (also available as limited 7") from Jasnovidec. Just like on the 2020 self-titled debut album you should expect buzzing, crackling, droning and random analogue synth and electronics with zero hooklines, yet a lot of atmosphere and a big experimental tag on it!

With that inner preparation you'll find this is quite listenable and enjoyable.

CLARA ENGEL - Sanguinaria (2023)
AVI C. ENGEL - Sanguinaria (2023)

Look, I waited so long that I missed the name change! But does it even retroactively apply to a release once it is already out there in the world? If you obtain just the digital version it could, right? I don't know, I better leave that question for someone else to contemplate about.

Avi doesn't sound radically different than on their last album "Their Invisible Hands", the delicate minimal DIY instrumentation of these ten Alternative Folk songs is just as interesting and compelling. But even tough we're basically staying on the same high level and Engel keeps the total running time at least a little briefer this time, there are just a couple of tracks I somehow cannot fully warm up to. Hard to say why, maybe some of the sparse melodies simply don't fully meet my taste.

That also the excellent tracks require the right mood to work, shouldn't come as a surprise, because this music is not only slow-paced and quiet, but also very close and personal in away that doesn't work twenty-four hours a day. And that's totally fine.

If you're new to this artist, I'd recommend to listen to earlier releases first, but fuck me, you won't do what I tell you, so feel free to start diving into Clara/Avi's "one long continuous song" wherever it suits you best!

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