This Week’s Best Albums: April 14, 2009

This Week's Best Albums

Karl Sanders: Saurian Exorcisms (The End)

The newest solo album of Nile linchpin Karl Sanders is another beautiful acoustic release of Arabic flavors mixed with Western structures.

Following Saurian Meditation from 2004, Saurian Exorcisms is full of gorgeous, dark motifs that run a wider gamut of styles than Sanders’ last solo effort.  On Exorcisms, Sanders handles all instrumentation — baglama saz, glissentar, acoustic guitars, guitar synth, keyboards, drums, and percussion.  He even contributes vocals, which complement the haunting vocals and chants of Mike Breazeale.

The music contains some of Sanders’ blistering fretwork, but it never strays from its overlying melody and accessibility.  Covering Turkish, Egyptian, Indian, and Arabic styles, Saurian Exorcisms is a must-own album.

Karl Sanders: “Rapture of the Empty Spaces”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Crippled Black Phoenix: 200 Tons of Bad Luck (Invada)

Penning epic “endtime ballads,” the United Kingdom’s Crippled Black Phoenix plays dark folk with dirty guitars, ominous effects, diversified vocals, and countless guest electro/acoustic contributions.

The group’s style is predicated on the multi-instrumental prowess of Justin Greaves (former drummer of Electric Wizard), whose lengthy tunes are augmented with a massive cast.  Nine of the songs on this disc clock in at or over five minutes, including the 18-minute musical triptych “Time of Ye Life / Born for Nothing / Paranoid Arm of Narcoleptic Empire.”

Crippled Black Phoenix: “Rise Up and Fight”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Mulatu Astatke / The Heliocentrics: Inspiration Information 3 (Strut)

Known as the father of Ethio-jazz, Ethiopian bandleader Mulatu Astatke is an internationally lauded musician whose works may be best known in America through the soundtrack to Broken Flowers or the Ethiopiques series.

Now, for Strut’s Inspiration Information studio pair-up series, Astatke creates an outstanding disc of worldly jazz-hop fusion with the help of UK hip-hop/funk/psychedelic all-stars The Heliocentrics.

The collaboration has already received vast amounts of praise, and it comes strongly recommended for anyone into the aforementioned genres.

Mulatu Astatke / The Heliocentrics: “Masenqo” (radio edit)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Prefuse 73: Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian (Warp)

Guillermo Scott Herren‘s newest album as his glitchy alter-ego is meant to be a linear work — one that Herren describes as both straight ahead and obscure.

That description is on point, but it could also apply to most other Prefuse releases.  Still, this effort finds Herren’s chopped sound collages about as accessible as they come, layered over hip-hop beats that don’t stutter like on previous efforts.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed: Agorapocalypse (Relapse)

Specializing in über-fast thrash/grind, ANB presents just its second full-length album in 10 years with Agorapocalypse.

The brutal quartet features three vocalists — two of the stand-alone variety — aiding the semi-diversity of sound on the new disc.  Everything is extra heavy, but breakdowns, breakneck solos, and sludge bass combine to make this the band’s most realized release to date.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed: “Agorapocalypse Now”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Two Fingers: s/t (Paper Bag)

DJs/producers Amon Tobin and Doubleclick comprise Two Fingers, an experimental mix of hip hop and drum & bass that features Ghanaian UK rapper Sway and a pair of additional guest rappers.

Nothing lacks in the production, which is a mix of factory-sound dance numbers that boast Tobin’s trademark pastiche/found-sound style.  Sway’s rapid-fire delivery fits, but it also gets a bit tiresome, particularly with the frequency of certain passages.

Dengue Fever: Sleepwalking Through the Mekong (M80)

Following Los Angeles Cambodian/American pop-rock group Dengue Fever through Cambodia, the film for which this soundtrack was created explores the homecoming of singer Chhom Nimol and the journey of the band that she fronts.

Full of the band’s psych-tinged tunes as well as great Cambodian rock tunes of the 1960s and ’70s, the soundtrack honors a musical culture that was put in peril during the Khmer Rouge’s atrocious reign.