This Week’s Best Albums: November 1, 2011

This Week's Best Albums: November 1, 2011

Each week, editor-in-chief Chris Force and music editor Scott Morrow choose ALARM’s favorite new releases for This Week’s Best Albums, an eclectic set of reviews presenting exceptional music.

Mike Patton: The Solitude of Prime NumbersMike Patton: Music from the Film and Inspired by the Book The Solitude of Prime Numbers (La Solitudine Dei Numeri Primi) (Ipecac)

Mike Patton: “Twin Primes”

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Still known first and foremost as a vocal aberration, Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantômas) has amassed more and more compositional credits in recent years. The musical Renaissance man already has scored a few films — the schizophrenic alt-metal soundtrack to Crank 2 and the genre-hopping theme-and-variation of A Perfect Place. For the Italian film The Solitude of Prime Numbers, however, Patton has drawn on a much more traditional film aesthetic.

Minimalism carries this material, whether melodic, moody, or dissonant. Accents and flourishes are found throughout, but often as strict atmosphere, building a feel of giallo-esque horror. A track such as “Radius of Convergence” — one of the few with drums — is a rarity, offering a pounding crescendo.

Notably, outside of the first track, vocals are almost completely absent. That’s not a surprise given their secondary roles on Patton’s other scores, but it further cements his transition to being a composer first and a singer second.

– Text by Scott Morrow.

Krisiun: The Great ExecutionKrisiun: The Great Execution (Century Media)

Krisiun: “The Will to Potency”

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Brazilian death-metal trio Krisiun comprises tattooed brethren Alex Carmargo (bass, vocals), Moyses Kolesne (guitar), and Max Kolesne (drums), and with a name that translates from ancient Latin to “the seers of abomination,” the band makes a case for being among the most brutal of its subgenre.

The Great Execution, Krisiun’s third album with prolific German producer Andy Classen and eighth overall, takes the band’s signature speed and tempers it with a string of mid-tempo intervals. These nuances signal sonic progression, as do a handful of interspersed classical-guitar flourishes — making appearances as the album intro and then layered over the full-metal assault in the final few minutes of “The Sword of Orion.” A bit of the classical influence spills over into the brutality, as evidenced by the rapid-fire arpeggios on the following track, “Violentia Gladiatore,” but by and large, Krisiun is giving listeners exactly what they should expect: searing brutality from those peering into the depths of humanity.

– Text by Kyle Gilkeson and Scott Morrow.

Phantogram: Nightlife

Phantogram: Nightlife EP (Barsuk)

Phantogram: “Don’t Move”

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In 2007, former junior-high friends Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter formed Phantogram in Sarasota Springs, New York; two years later, the duo signed with Barsuk Records to release an enchanting synth-hop debut, Eyelid Movies. Garnering acclaim from critics as well as multi-platinum recording artists, Eyelid Movies pushed Phantogram into the spotlight as the breakout electronic boy/girl duo of 2010.

Now the two are back with Nightlife, a “mini-LP” that’s an extension of their smash debut. The variation on Nightlife, however, seems to reflect a bit of restlessness. The duo’s bass, loops, and synth lines are no less infectious than those of Eyelid Movies, but Nightlife‘s six tracks alternate mood and intensity more so than their predecessors.

Synths and guitar remains on the forefront, with occasional reinforcement from horn samples, bare acoustic guitar, and mixed percussion. Barthel’s beautiful voice fits in seamlessly, gliding over guitar lines and fluctuating in response to changing beats. There is also a more collaborative feel on Nightlife because, though it only appears at a handful of moments, Carter’s vocals complement his partner’s and trade off within a few designated tracks, as opposed to going solo like at points on Eyelid Movies. Nightlife serves as a “mini” reminder of Phantogram’s potential and gives listeners a treat while waiting for its next full-length.

– Text by Lauren Zens.

3:33: Live from the Grove3:33: Live from the Grove (Parallel Thought Ltd.)

3:33: “LFTG-2”

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Surfacing in 2011 with a pair of shadowy EPs, 3:33 is a yet-unmasked project that deals in brooding, instrumental hip hop. Tactile yet amorphous — and at times ominous — the music is set apart by a rawness of texture.

For this proper full-length debut — the group’s third release in seven months — much of the source material is a collection of “field/wood” recordings taken from outside the Bohemian Grove. This adds another layer of mystery and foreboding to the 3:33 sound, given the history of the setting — a mysterious, cult-like campground for the Bohemian Club, which has hosted famous guests such as Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon for pagan-esque rituals. The plodding and pulsating results are a disturbing success, backed again by head-nodding boom-bap beats.

– Text by Kyle Gilkeson and Scott Morrow.

Honorable Mentions

Circle Takes the Square: Decompositions: Volume 1 (Gatepost)

Idle Warship: Habits of the Heart (Element 9)

Locrian: The Clearing (Fan Death)

King Midas Sound: Without You (Hyperdub)

Pianos Become the Teeth: The Lack Long After (Topshelf)

Rapper Big Pooh: Dirty Pretty Things (For Members Only)

Sick of it All: Nonstop (Century Media)

The Soft Moon: Total Decay EP (Captured Tracks)

[Chromatic, our 400-page exploration of musicians and color, is out now. Order here!]