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Taking stock, a year half over

Mark Corroto By

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This month, at the halfway point in the year of music, we are taking stock, and there have been so many great discs released. Here is my list (in no particular order) of the best albums so far. I predict many of these will make final top ten 2013 lists. Sorry, I couldn't keep my list to ten.

The Ex & Brass Unbound—Enormous Door (Ex Records) Federico Ughi—Federico Ughi Quartet (FMR) Rachel Musson/Mark Sanders/Steve Noble—Tatterdemalion (Babel) Matt Parker—Worlds Put Together (BYNK) Petr Cancura—Down Home (Roots To Boot) Hashem Assadullahi Quintet—Pieces (OA2) Frank Rosaly—Cicada Music (Delmark) Fire! Orchestra—Exit! (Rune Grammofon) Ken Vandermark/Made To Break—Lacerba (Clean Feed) Steve Coleman—Functional Arrythmias (Pi) Ivo Perelman—Serendipity (Leo) Gilad Hekselman—This Just In (Jazz Village) Peter Evans—Zebulon (More Is More) Rudresh Mahanthappa—Gamak (ACT) John McNeil—Hush Point (Sunnyside) Mats Gustafsson/Merzbow/Balazs Pandi—Cuts (Rare Noise)

But wait, there's more to consider for this year's best of lists. The Spaceways' galaxy is ever expanding...

São Paulo Underground Beija Flors Velho E Sujo Cuneiform 2013

Beija Flors Velho E Sujo is the fourth release from the Brazil/Chicago trio São Paulo Underground. It's the band's second disc for Cuneiform Records, following Três Cabeças Loucuras (2011). The band's first two efforts can be heard on Aesthetics Records label. Like the city of São Paulo itself, the music is crowded, joyous, messy, and both modern and primitive. Recorded in Chicago after an acclaimed North American tour in 2012, the disc opens with a tsunami of sound. Guilherme Granado's bass synth motor blares distorted waves on "Ol' Dirty Hummingbird" like a punch to the solar plexus, as the percussion induces movement. Their sound draws from the new tropicalia electronic movement and the work of cornetist Rob Mazurek's Chicago Underground bands. Like a futurist rendering of technology incorporated into the jungles of the Amazon basin, the altered DNA of this South-meets-North American collaboration could be a soundtrack for a Philip K. Dick sci-fi novel ghost written by Roberto Bolãno. Granado and Mauricio Takara, are both members of Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra and have dabbled in rock and hardcore musics. This trio has now established itself as the heir to bands like Tortoise, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Collections of Colonies of Bees. They can take a classic piece like Harold Arlen's "Over The Rainbow" as Sun Ra could, configure it to have a rough exterior while remaining sincere. The band's clash of fuzzy electronics, percussion and melody is definitely urban, but the jungle's entropy has subverted the sounds of the metropolis. "Taking Back the Sea Is No Easy Task" applies noise to rhythm and hints at Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" as it unwinds itself into a wilderness of sound.

Chris Kelsey & What I Say The Electric Miles Project Self Produced 2013

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