May 2021 Roundup

We may be a few days out from May, but we still have a roundup post for you all with plenty of killer releases that we’ve been digging here at the RCU household. Check ’em out below:

Ragenap – Thankrupcy

Let’s kick things off with the latest Ragenap release, Thankrupcy.

Released both on tape and digitally on American Dreams, this album is a sprawling drone fest of the highest, gnarliest order. Comprised of a single, epically long suite, this album finds the experimental musician slowly grinding out a highly textural, growling soundscape.

The longer you listen to it, the 40+ minute track reveals layers of subtle sympathetic tones, eventually giving the piece a soothing vibe. Eventually the recording floods around you, sinking you deeper and deeper within its waves of sound. It’s like a benevolent Flying Saucer Attack dirge that you never want to escape from.

Grab your copy from the American Dreams Bandcamp page today and get droning.

Aura Gaze – Sky Mind

Released in early May on Aural Canyon Records, Aura Gaze’s blissfuly transcendent Sky Mind takes you into mystical realms and leaves you basking in spaced-out frames of mind.

Aural Gaze, AKA Brandon Blair, creates densely packed pools of synthesizers, hammered dulcimers and singing bowls with the occasional flute (provided by Ariel Kalma). Each track is a vibrant soundscape with manipulated nature sounds and layers of folk instruments blending seamlessly well with digital drones and effects.

Sounding like something between Laraaji, Terry Riley and Isao Tomita, this album bridges the spiritual with the psychedelic in a rather unique and warmly cosmic way. Click here to get your copy of this interstellar new album on cassette or digital today.

Sunny Jain – Phoenix Rise

Sunny Jain, a Brooklyn drummer, composer and dhol player who had previously recorded for the Smithsonian Folkways label, is overcoming cultural divides with his mammoth multimedia project, Phoenix Rise.

With the aid of over 50 guest musicians, Jain put together this album of world fusion music with an accompanying cookbook to promote the idea of a connected global community. Through the combination of many disparate genres, styles and flavors from all around the world, this project shows just how linked the citizens of the globe truly are, and what beauty could happen when they work together. Lastly, to hammer home the idea that everyone should join forces to support social justice movements, Jain is donating all proceeds of this album to the Center of Constitutional Rights.

With elements of everything from Indian music to jazz and hip-hop, and even synthwave music, this album is a bustling melting pot of sounds that gel into a beautifully original and cohesive whole. Jain’s quest to create an album that is as diverse and harmonious as his world vision is an absolute success.

Get your copy of this truly one of a kind records here today.

Eric Arn – Higher Order

Eric Arn, of Crystalized Movements and Primordial Undermind fame, has returned with one of the year’s most varied and diverse solo guitar albums.

Across nine tracks, Arn channels noise music, minimalism and psychedelic frames of thought through his fingerpicking alone. He improvises throughout the entire album, allowing his guitar to lead him through the outskirts of American guitar soli music, jazz and ambient soundscapes.

On some songs, like the reverberating “Paen,” Arn plucks hard at his instrument, providing a percussive element that punctuates a cagey and semi-dissonant melody. It’s these experimental flourishes that help make the album stand out from most of its peers, while also relating it to the recent works of the likes of Daniel Bachman and Wendy Eisenberg.

Haunting, plaintive and excitingly multifarious, Higher Order is a record all solo guitar fans need to sink their teeth into. Click here to get your copy today.

Enchanted Forest – Research

Set to be released by Dear Life Records on June 18th, Enchanted Forest’s Research album is musique concrete at its most entertaining.

This debut album by the Philadelphia duo is one long soundscape built up from countless distorted samples, like a disorienting sonic patchwork quilt.

Electronic beats and gargling synth melodies weave around and through heavily processed field recordings, radio chatter and even segments of other songs, like the wobbly cover of Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand,” which emerges towards the end of the record. Listening to this album is like hearing what a radio might possibly dream about. Little catches of tunes, voices and odd patterns of static and other electronic noises emerge and morph into one another, as if they’re half-remembered memories being slowly processed by a mechanical mind.

Stockhausen, Negativeland and Emergency Broadcast Network fans (like myself) will certainly get a kick out of this record. Click here to preorder your copy today.

T-Model Ford – “I Was Born in a Swamp”

On June 11th, Alive Naturalsound Records will be unleashing “I Was Born in a Swamp, a new compilation of grungy T-Model Ford sessions, on limited clear red vinyl.

Ford was an enigmatic and somewhat mysterious Mississippi blues guitarist who is oft compared to the likes of Junior Kimbrough. Many of his recordings are raw, fierce and coarse in sound, influencing the likes of The Black Keys. These qualities are certainly not watered down in the tracks featured here, where Ford is on absolute fire, while being accompanied by members of GravelRoad, Moreland & Arbuckle, Soledad Brothers and Outrageous Cherry.

Click above to give a listen to the wild title track right now.

If Howlin’ Wolf, RL Burnside or any release from the Fat Possum label hits you like lightning, then you need the music of T-Model Ford in your life. Click here to find a copy of this comp, once it’s released.


If you like what you’re reading, please help keep RCU thriving. You can show your support by becoming a patron at our Patreon account or you can make a donation to our PayPal account below.

As always, please also consider donating to any of these sites to help fight racial injustice.


Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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