New at Southwest Sound: Nov. 24

by Cooper Stapleton

Nov. 24Bjork, “Utopia”Bjork’s “Utopia” is a record that we need right now. Sometimes in a harrowing world, we need art and artists whose very existence stands in the face of the melancholy of the world. Bjork’s previous record was a somewhat dour affair dealing with the breakup of her and her longtime partner, artist Matthew Barney. But “Utopia” is not a breakup record. It is a celebration of the little things that build us up, and what can carry us through dark times. The record is massive, sitting at around 70 minutes, and none of it feels like filler in the slightest. What we have here is a triumphant celebration of avant-garde pop wonder. There is a good balance, too; the sugar sweet singing never becomes saccharine, and the lush production moves the listener through each piece fluidly. The wonderful field recordings of birdsong and a full battalion of flute rounds out a wonderfully interesting, uplifting, and important record.

Dawn Ray’d, “The Unlawful Assembly”I am absolutely in love with this resurgence of anti-fascist and anti-authoritarian black metal that has been spreading for the past few years. In a year rife with wonderful black metal releases, “The Unlawful Assembly” stands tall above the majority of the new work, injecting the vital spirit of rebellion into a genre that sometimes becomes stale with its own tropes. The record is loud and fast, but it is not afraid of melody, bringing in folksy strings to drive the songs forward, not slow them down as some of the atmospheric black metal bands tend to do. This combination gives it almost the vibe of a folk metal record, like something from early Ensiferum or Amon Amarth, but never feels watered down by camp like those records can. This is only the second release from Dawn Ray’d, and I cannot wait to hear more.

Alon Mor, “Long Awaited Journey”My coworker Kyl shared Alon Mor’s work with me a few years ago, and he was a closely guarded secret in the world of electronic music. It is hard to describe this album in few words. Its spine is a mixture of classical compositions and electronic music melded together through musical alchemy into a staggeringly beautiful, strange, and entrancing masterpiece of a record. The two opening tracks sound like something that would fit into Stokowski’s “Fantasia,” before melting away into “Presudeos,” the album’s third track, which is a wonderful exploration of tone and texture that would do the likes of Amon Tobin proud. There is melody there, but it is beyond my ability to describe. Other highlights include “The Midelar” and its cantina breakdown morphing into the most sludgey dub I think I have ever heard. If you appreciate avant-garde electronic music in the slightest, you owe it to yourself to experience this record.

This week is Black Friday Record Store Day. Come by when we open at 9 AM to get these and some awesome exclusive LP’s from the likes of Clutch, Ryan Adams, Death From Above 1979, Gorillaz, Willie Nelson, and dozens more! We will see you on Friday!Cooper Stapleton

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