As we are getting close to the end of 2021, it has been
quite a magical year for incredible artists, bands, and various genres to knock
it out of the ball park during these hefty times. Some concerts are coming
back, but done very carefully. Now there are some that are head-scratchers, un-expected
momentum, and surprised choices I’ve picked, you just have to live with that.
So, here we go, the top 25 albums of 2021.
1. Regal Worm – The Hideous
2. Isildurs Bane & Peter Hammill – In Disequilibrium [Atraxia Productions]
3. Dee Snider – Leave a Scar [Napalm Records]
4. The Anchoress – The Art of Losing [Kscope]
5. Mahogany Frog – In The Electric Universe [MoonJune Records]
6. Rachel Flowers – Bigger On The Inside [Rachel Flowers Music]
7. Diablo Swing Orchestra – Swagger & Stroll Down the Hole [Spinefarm / Candlelight]
8. Novelty Island – How Are You Coping With This Century [Think Like a Key
9. Penfriend – Exotic Monsters [My Big Sister Recordings]
10. Edge of Paradise – The Unknown [Frontiers Records]
11. Dennis Rea – Giant Steppes [MoonJune Records]
12. PAKT – PAKT [MoonJune Records]
13. The Grid / Fripp – Leviathan [DGM]
14. Jack O’ The Clock – Leaving California [Cuneiform Records]
15. Danny Elfman – Big Mess [Epitaph Records]
16. Laura Meade – The Most Dangerous Woman In America [Doone Records]
17. Jess and the Ancient Ones – Vertigo [Svart Records]
18. Field Music – Flat White Moon [Memphis Industries]
19. Jane Weaver – Flock [Fire Records]
20. Jane Getter Premonition – Anomalia [Esoteric Antenna]
21. Stephan Thelen – Fractal Guitar 2 [MoonJune Records]
22. Steve Hackett – Surrender of Silence [InsideOut Music]
23. Steven Wilson – The Future Bites [Caroline]
24. Emily Wolfe – Outlier [Crows Feet Records]
25. Trifecta – Fragments [Kscope]
Hunter S. Thompson once said that “Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of fuel.
Sentimental people call it inspiration, but what they really mean is fuel. I
have always needed fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I believe that
a care with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have
the right music very loud on the radio.”
Music will always be a part of your life, no matter how long
it will resonate with you. For Beledo, he always bounce back to the groove with
his latest release from the MoonJune label, Seriously
Deep. The genesis behind his follow-up to Dreamland Mechanism started out 11 years ago when he and Leonardo
Pavkovic first met and have appreciation of the music they shared with each
The title came from ECM label artist Eberhard Weber from his
1978 release with Colours entitled, Silent
Feet. Both of them had admiration of Weber’s music. But it had a huge
impact from Beledo when Jorge played him the album in its entirety from start
to finish 43 years ago. And that was where the gem resonated from.
With Tony Levin, Kenny Grohowski, and special guests that
include vocalists Boris Salvodelli and Kearoma Rantao and vibraphonist Jorge
Camiruaga who introduced Eberhard’s music to Beledo many years ago, it brings
their friendship full circle for their latest release as it becomes a flower
ready to bloom at any second.
From the moment the opening title-track begins, you feel as
if you’re inside a dream. Beledo’s acoustic piano sets up these oceanic
landscapes to fill the entire stratosphere between Levin and Grohowski’s puzzle
pieces to fill in the empty space. But it’s his guitar that becomes a
paintbrush at times.
Beledo paints in the styles of Bob Ross and Jackson Pollock.
He creates both the mysticism and visual imagery that he brings his portrait to
life. With each color he puts on the board, Levin and Grohowski are there to
help him out whenever they can to fill in more of the gigantic trees or a
sunset to fill in the final blank.
Kenny pounds his drums very structured. He creates the river
wild on his drum kit while Beledo cries out each note by bending the strings
exquisitely before going into this unexpected change on Weber’s composition.
Levin’s Bass follows the two in hot pursuit as if he’s
cooking scrambled eggs for breakfast by seasoning it with an enormous amount of
Tabasco sauce on his upright instrument to add that extra spicy flavor. Quite
an introduction to start things off with a bang.
Mama D is a trip
down to Crimson land with National Health thrown in as Rantao’s vocals lays
down some of that romantic textures with the rhythm section setting up these
time changes for Grohowski following her vocals in a hot melodic lead. Coasting Zone is a walk into a Broadway
skip lane the trio create in the styles of a pounding powder keg waiting to
Between Grohowski and Beledo lighting the fuse, it is an unbelievable
result by adding more intensive lines they create for Levin to calm the
scenario down as Maggie’s Sunrise gives
the three-piece a chance to cool down as they watch the sun go down as if they’re
drinking Daiquiri’s to toast each other for a job well done.
Knowing they’ve got something wonderful up their sleeves, it’s
quite an eye-opening experience to witness a warm-relaxing moment to witness
the ball of light heading down the west with Camiruaga’s vibraphone embellishing
the Gershwin-like textures to have a party at the very end. Knocking Waves is a futuristic composition
that Beledo has created.
He gives Tony a chance to come center stage in the
composition as he adds some double-tracking tempo on his upright bass to set up
the midsection for Beledo channeling Steve Howe’s arrangements in Yes’ Close to the Edge. He channels Steve’s
vision by witnessing the waterfalls pouring down rapidly into the volcanic
mountains that were envisioned by Yes illustrator, Roger Dean.
But it’s Levin that adds more watery landscapes by going up
and down a spiral staircase that awaits its listeners to see where the next
parallel door will come upon us. Beledo hammers it down with some brutal
wah-wah arrangement as he punches back and forth with Grohowski’s snare-like
grooves that becomes a snake sniveling to eat its next prey.
A Temple in the Valley
sees Boris scatting down into a gentle view of the world. Beledo creates
these melodic tempos for him as he goes from high to mid arrangements on his
vocals to climb the highest mountains and scat like no other! There is
something very Zappa like in this track.
In the midsection, Beldeo and Boris walk into the Hot Rats territory as they continue the
extension from Peaches En Regalia honoring
The Grand Wazoo up in the heavenly sky. Quite an achievement that Beledo
channels the mastermind’s playing by walking into this Blues-like mystery for
Kenny to go into a ramming speed on his drum set before Levin lays down the law
Who knows what the trio will think of next? A tidal-waving
effect? Volcanic eruptions? It’s up to you to decide what the trio comes up in
this cliffhanger finale. The funk-like ending Into the Spirals Levin channels Bootsy Collins by climbing aboard
the mothership as they channel the styles of Parliament’s Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker).
Man does Beledo tip his hat to not only Bootsy, but George
Clinton as well. Seriously Deep is a
spectacular release from the MoonJune label this year. For Beledo, he has given
a lot of strength and hope throughout the entire structure of the album. And I
hope to hear more from him in the years to come.
From the moment the female voice describes the opening
statement, “The waves and the patterns
are merging.” It would start things off with the album’s opener, The Waves. It becomes a disturbing
nightmare that Chris Cordwell and Nick Raybould would create. It has this ‘80s
video game-like structure from Super Mario Bros. 2 as you enter different
parallels of the pyramids with these film-noir like atmospheres as the clock
Then, the powder keg becomes a fuming heat to increase the
next track Rat Race. Nods to Roxy
Music’s The Bogus Man and Bowie’s Earthling-era, it’s a freak-out like no
other. Cordwell and Raybould would duke it out in a boxing ring punching each
other between their instruments. Hay-wiring chaos at its best, it is a batshit
composition that would keep you guessing until the end.
Fluctuate is a
journey into the unknown. A chilled-out futuristic string-section wasteland
that you’ve never seen before while Beatwave
channels Devo’s Oh No! It’s Devo-era
as they have their pumping iron muscles to get your blood flowing for Nick and
Chris tipping their hats to the Spud patrol with a Vivaldi-like crossover.
Mobius Trip becomes
a ladder-climbing composition for the duo. They climb each of the ladders that
transform into various patterns by reaching to the top of the mountain with a
challenging pace by going into a mid-fast tempo for the guitars to slide down
in one section to another.
the album by leaving the hot temperature levels inside the jungle. Hallucinated
nightmares come to life for Thought Bubble as if they teamed up with Ozric
Tentacles and the Irrlicht-era from
Klaus Schulze. It is a crazy re-arrangement as they take us into a lane filled
with gigantic mushrooms waiting to be eaten for the rest of the month!
Thought Bubble’s ‘Around’
is one of the most mind-boggling debuts that will keep you guessing until the
end. ‘Around’ will be talked about in
the years to come in the roaring ‘20s. And I hope to hear more from Thought
Bubble in the next adventure that awaits them.