Hey! Listen To VIRTA!

Though I dislike making sweeping musical generalizations here, I'm going to start off this post with a couple of them. If it can be said that many of the breakout acts in American jazz in recent years can be described as being heavily-indebted to hip-hop, r&b, and adjacent genres (think BADBADNOTGOOD, Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, and more), then a lot of the more impactful jazz exports from Europe, particularly northern Europe, have seemingly been more indebted to influences from the electronic/IDM sphere, post-rock, and more. You have the likes of GoGo Penguin in England, who have certainly been pushing the definition of what jazz really is with their blend of acoustic jazz instrumentation and influences with more classical-style playing and heavy electronic influences. Norway's Jaga Jazzist is, of course, the current reigning champion of blending jazz with electronic music (from IDM to synthwave and more), post-rock, krautrock, and far more. And to that list of great European bands finding new and interesting ways to explore the world of jazz fusion you can now add Finland's VIRTA, whose sophomore album Hurmos is one of the more unexpected and brilliant albums I've heard this year.

What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To – 12/2/16

For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to. For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.

Heavy Buys – November/Black Friday Vinyl

Welcome back to Heavy Buys! We launched this feature a couple months ago to share some recent physical music purchases we’ve made, whether it’s a small-time purchase to round out one’s collection, or a debt-inducing splurge. Vinyl, CDs, and even cassettes are all possible topics here. As long as its physical media, it’s fair game. While Jimmy's inaugural installment covered his autographed copy of John Zorn's Hemophiliac, I'm starting a monthly column covering all of the vinyl I've purchased in the past 30 days (give or take). This stack of records comes from several hours spent in four separate stores, including trips during a weekend visit with friends in Maine, my go-to hometown shop in New Hampshire, and a Black Friday binge while down in Connecticut with my girlfriend for Thanksgiving with her family. After you've gone through all of my picks, be sure to comment with any of your own finds!

Half Life – Mogwai

Scottish post-rock denizens Mogwai are a band who thrive in chaos and unpredictability – much like the little furry creatures from Joe Dante’s Gremlins they’re named after. Boundary-pushers since their inception, their feats of trailblazing subsequently launched post-rock into the mainstream stratosphere without ever having to compromise their artistic vision. Mogwai’s success is well earned and proof that, sometimes, crafting consistently great and innovative music can get you far. To traverse their discography is to explore vast oceans and limitless skies of both welcome familiarity and unexpected delights. Whether unleashing earth-shattering audio assaults or elegiac passages of soothing soundscapes, their music is profoundly human and capable of eliciting an emotional response through instrumentals alone.

Love Of Cartography: A Taxonomy Of Post Rock

The goal of these taxonomy posts is not to provide an exhaustive and accurate list or definition of a certain genre or genres. Quite the opposite in fact: attempting to make such a complete list would only replace one stagnated image-object with another, creating an equally irrelevant definition, whether it can be considered currently accurate or not. Therefore, we want to keep some of that fuzz, to leave ends untied and room for further articles and discussion among our readers. We're not saying that this is going to be a series; these posts take far too much time and energy to commit to something like that. We are saying however that there's plenty more to discuss, within and without the progressive metal genre and we'll try and do that when we can. So, post rock. Post rock is a perfect candidate for such an examination. On the one hand, there's a very strong and often negative image of what post rock is. Seminal bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, God Is An Astronaut and Explosions In The Sky have enjoyed widespread, cultural popularity, solidifying the image of post rock in the eyes of the public. Pretentious, long-winded, dreamy, beautiful, cinematic, instrumental and rarified are all adjectives which were born from this image. Post rock was, and still is, perceived as a genre for the few, starry eyed and sentimental. Perhaps owing to just how good the afore-mentioned bands really are, their music also overpowered the conceptual space for the genre, leading people to expect certain things from the music that fell under the moniker.

Into the Wilderness: How Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky Continue To Explore New Paths In Post-Rock

Though technically forming several years apart and having very little in common in their overall sound, Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky are the two names that are more universally synonymous with the advent and subsequent popularization of post-rock than pretty much any other bands. And while countless other bands from that period have faded and even more bands inspired by them have come and gone in the meantime, Mogwai and EITS have survived and held strong, even as their roles as post-rock standard-bearers and pioneers have been ceded to newer groups. The past decade hasn't featured either band's strongest work for sure, but there's been an enduring quality to it as both groups have attempted in various ways to tinker with and distance themselves from the sounds that made them popular in the first place. It's only fitting then that the two bands released wildly different albums on the same day - Atomic from Mogwai and The Wilderness from EITS - and that both albums would feature some of the best and freshest work of either band in at least a decade.

Fuath – I

For a musician like Andy Marshall, whose experimentation ranges greatly on his Saor releases, this is a loving pause and meditation on a style of music that has considerably progressed in the past two decades. If you like standard black metal, or are even just starting out in the genre, this is an album to at least listen to. It offers none of the frills of Saor, and it is unapologetic of that fact. One must simply take it as it is: solid, traditional, black metal.