DEAF FOREVER PICK:
It’s rare that you find ambition in crust punk, but Sweden’s Martyrdöd have a vision far wider than their stench-rich contemporaries. List, their sixth record, further hones on the rich melodic surges that defines their main influences, His Hero Is Gone and Tragedy, but also draws upon classic metal tradition. “Oemotståndlig” ends with gorgeous soloing stripped straight from Iron Maiden’s hands, and the middle of “Wipeout” recalls George Lynch shredding on a volcano in Dokken’s “Just Got Lucky” video as it does Discharge. Martyrdöd also have a knack for filtering excess sentimentality out of post-hardcore while remaining poignant; “Handlöst fallen ängel” and “Över på ett stick” sound like grimed-up Envy. Even when looking back, the rhythms always charge forth, suggesting not the “smash the system” mentality common in crust, but fighting for life and its imperfect beauty. As 2016 closes, we need that mindset more than ever.
While arena-ready EDM has taken its lumps in recent years, a maximalist wave of club music persists in the much cooler periphery. Artists like Rustie, SOPHIE, and Wave Racer made names for themselves with resplendent productions that applied pop sensibilities and rave aesthetics to a high-minded albeit slightly skewed form of contemporary dance.
While undoubtedly a peer in this movement, Lorenzo Senni operates on different, seemingly more academic terms with Persona. Continuing with the furiously arpeggiated work done on prior releases including Quantum Jelly and Superimpositions, he takes a mesmeric approach to the once formidable genre known as trance. His gushing love for Euro euphoria shines through on these six robust tracks, including the pulse pounding “Emotiva1234” and the shapeshifting “Forever True.”
Unlike most dance acts, Senni strips back the traditional percussive elements typically found in this music to expose his songs’ inherent muscular beauty in the absence of rhythm. Without a persistent kick-snare pattern, the rest of the instrumental elements are left to their own mischievous devices, mashing into one another with the promise of a beat that doesn’t actually need to arrive.
With a cosign from Radiohead under his belt, it comes as no surprise that Ryan Hunn understands how to set a contemplative mood. Much like The King Of Limbs or Thom Yorke’s solo outing The Eraser, this Berlin-based DJ producer’s latest album under the Illum Sphere moniker intimately mines the emotional depths of electronic music, a genre that has thankfully shed its early reputation as inherently cold and unfeeling.
From the creeping synthwave of “Wounded” to the emotive techno of “Fall Into Water,” Glass clearly comes from a place of self-reflection, and maybe even spirituality. Far from clinical or academic, the album recalls the sort of sonic generosity of Aphex Twin’s ambient outings, though it never succumbs to a retro mode for so much as a second.
Thought Hunn deliberately shifts away from the more dancefloor-centric conventions of his DJ sets, he hasn’t exactly exited the club. “Thousand Yard Stare” effortlessly imbues his headphone electronica with a gratifying percussive thump, while “Red Glass” douses its driving rhythm with subtle white noise and luxe melodic adornments.