This Week’s Best Albums: May 26, 2009

This Week's Best Albums

Sunn_O)))Sunn O))): Monoliths & Dimensions (Southern Lord)

Perhaps the poster group for its genre, Sunn has spent the past 10 years experimenting in epic, doomy sound and noise.

Now, with Monoliths & Dimensions, the core duo of Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson teams with guests galore to create, in the words of the group, “the most musical piece we’ve done.”  Guest musicians Eyvind Kang (John Zorn, Bill Frisell), Jessika Kenney (Eyvind Kang, Asva), Oren Ambarchi (Burial Chamber Trio), Dylan Carlson (Earth), Julian Priester (Sun Ra, John Coltrane) and others help make that so, while retaining the creeping, end-of-the-world vibe that persists thoughout Sunn’s work.

KhanateKhanate: Clean Hands Go Foul (Hydra Head)

As the belated swan song for the super-group collaboration between Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O)))), James Plotkin (Phantomsmasher), Alan Dubin (OLD), and Tim Wyskida (Blind Idiot God), Clean Hands Go Foul is a fitting endgame for Khanate’s aural presentation of desolation and despair.  Evil ambience crests and falls, working with ominous chords and soul-shredding screams; naturally, fans of O’Malley’s other work will love this.

Khanate: “Wings from Spine” (excerpt)

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Grizzly_BearGrizzly Bear: Veckatimest (Warp)

Unconventional indie darlings Grizzly Bear have pushed three years since their last full-length release, and the passage of time hasn’t diminished the band’s creative stroke.

On Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear’s trademark vocal harmonies and layered orchestrations are still present, but the album features a slightly heavier touch of electronics and chamber elements.  By and large, however, this is the same Grizzly Bear, and preexisting fans won’t feel alienated by this disc.

sir_richard_bishopSir Richard Bishop: The Freak of Araby (Drag City)

In his solo creations and many collaborative endeavors, ex-Sun City Girls guitarist Richard Bishop weaves through Arabic, Indian, flamenco, African, and Gypsy influences in both composed and improvised settings.

With his new album, he employs a clean, reverberated electric guitar in place of his usual acoustic sound, and he adds a bit of percussive assistance. For spring and summer tour dates, Bishop will perform with a full ensemble, which should make his ethnic creations even more compelling.

Master_Musicians_of_BukkakeMaster Musicians of Bukkake: Totem One (Conspiracy)

Milky and Don McGreevy of Earth, producer extraordinaire Randall Dunn (Secret Chiefs 3, Sunn O)))), Bill Horist of Ghidra, and other noted Northwest musicians comprise this collective that designs psychedelic, ethnically inspired folk freak-outs.

With Totem One, the group begins a musical trilogy while expanding and maturing its expansive sound.  The album’s guests include Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls and Timb Harris of Estradasphere and Secret Chiefs 3.

vieux_farka_toureVieux Farka Touré: Fondo (Six Degrees)

The son of musical Malian icon Ali Farka Touré, guitarist/singer Vieux Farka Touré has garnered international distinction since the release of his self-titled debut album, issued the year after his famous father’s death.

That disc, which was remixed later in the same year, featured kora virtuoso Toumani Diabate on a pair of tracks and combined Mande and Sonrai folk styles with pop and a touch of reggae.  Diabate is back to help with Fondo, which finds Vieux taking more of a distinctive direction while improving his songwriting chops.