This Week’s Best Albums: January 19, 2010

This Week's Best Albums

Sigh: Scenes from Hell (The End)

No strangers to fusing other revered genres to a doomy combination of black metal and thrash, Japan’s Sigh uses its eighth studio album to deliver symphonic, epic metal that calls upon classical instrumentation to top its rock foundation.

Brass, woodwind, and string instruments — as well as organ and piano — accent as well as lead sinister melodies that take surprising turns through fanciful themes. Raspy, menacing vocals coat each track, resulting in a dramatic presentation that isn’t much at odds with its complex backdrop.

Fans of Estradasphere, Diablo Swing Orchestra, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Emperor, and Gonin-Ish would do well to check this out. With grade-A melodies that would sound at home with orchestras and chamber ensembles, Scenes From Hell is one of the first great albums of 2010.

Sigh: “The Summer Funeral”

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Colorlist: A Square White Lie LP (482 Music)

A Square White Lie, released via heavyweight vinyl and MP3s, is the first album in two years from Colorlist, an ambient improvisational duo from Chicago that texturalizes sound by utilizing delayed, echoing loops, mounting tension, harmonic and dissonant layers, and germane percussion.

The four-tune album is a soothing, shifting sea of sound that finds Charles Gorczynski, with sax, harmonium, and electronics, building full melodies out of fragments, accompanied by the beats, brush strokes, and accents of drummer Charles Rumback.

Gorczynski and Rumback are staples in Chicago’s younger circle of improvisers. With groups such as Silences (Sumire), Leaves, the Charles Rumback Quartet, and L’Altra already in their portfolios, the duo uses A Square White Lie to further supplement its distinguished body of work.

Colorlist: “The Lows”

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RJD2: The Colossus (RJ’s Electrical Connections)

Following a divisive album that saw the introduction of poppy, soulful vocals, producer RJD2 returns with something of a split release — an album that leaves no shortage of accessible, vocal-driven tunes but that emphasizes some inventive instrumentals.

Notably, one of those instrumentals, “Let There Be Horns,” opens the disc. In addition to sporting a music video with a protagonist minotaur, “Let There Be Horns” is a grooving instrumental that, at times, sounds vaguely Indian while dousing the listener in synth horns, rock guitar, and squiggly keyboards.

“Games You Can Win,” featured below, is a vocal jam that follows and glistens with an apparent glockenspiel or chimes. “Giant Squid” then returns the funky instrumentals, leaning on fuzzy bass, harpsichord, and spacey effects.

Fellow electro-crooner Kenna makes an appearance on The Colossus, and RJ gets more vocal assistance from Phonte Coleman, Aaron Livingston, and others. But whether or not you dig the soulful RJ, there’s no doubt that the music on The Colossus is some of his best to date.

RJD2: “Games You Can Win”

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Honorable mentions

Good for Cows: Audumla (Mimicry)
Worm Ouroboros: s/t (Profound Lore)

LChoy says:

I want to put all of these on my iTunes!