December 2021 Roundup

Happy New Year, folks! I took some much needed time off during the holidays and we’ve had a pretty busy time catching up over here at RCU Towers. So this Roundup is a bit late, but we really couldn’t roll into 2022 without calling out some of the other great releases we heard over the last month. Check ’em out bellow:

Mephisto Halabi – The Arabic Room

On the excellent The Arabic Room, Mephisto Halabi, AKA Julius Masri, artfully grafted together pulsing moog abstractions with fuzzed-up traditional Arabic instrumentation.

The record is a hazy and heavily textured sound collage of various vibes and flavors of the orient, perfectly mirroring the clashing Arabic decor and furnishings of the sitting room that Masri grew up with in his native Lebanon (as mentioned in the liner notes).

One moment, your ears are treated to fierce shredding and radio and TV chatter, the next they’re experiencing rolling waves of kosmische analog synthesizers. The sheer variety of esoteric sounds that are packed within this single album is simply staggering. Perhaps one of the most outstanding moments of unexpected instrumentation is the brilliantly named “The New Sandy Bull Shit,” which pairs a hammered dulcimer with a cataclysmic drum set.

If records by Mdou Moctar and Gerycz/Powers/Rolin were some of your favorites last year, then you need to give this album a spin.

Click here to order your copy now.

Padang Food Tigers – God’s Plenty

Whenever you see a new Padang Food Tigers album, you must give it a listen. It’s always going to be a transportive and beautiful experience, and their latest record, God’s Plenty, is certainly no different.

Available now on CD and digital, God’s Plenty is a cinematically expansive ambient/Americana soundscape with moody banjo, dobro and organ mixed into various field recordings.

Songs like “Slide & Tension” ache with a somber loneliness, which may be why they conjure up images of vast barren landscapes to this reviewer’s mind. In that way, the music here is very reminiscent of melancholic and earthy soundtracks like Bruce Langhorne’s score for The Hired Hand or Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Ethereal and transportive from start to finish, this is a record you’ll want to hear the next time you’re driving alone through a mountainous or empty landscape. Get your copy right here.

Joseph Allred – Regeneration Of Time

Joseph Allred’s music just keeps getting better and bette. Right before the end of the year, they squeezed out one last release (well, two releases, if you count the digital version of their upcoming lathe cut 7″ on Reverb Worship), and what an enigmatic release it is, too.

Across four instrumental pieces, Allred clashes together things like guitars, clattering piano and field recordings with various string instruments like mandolins and zithers into a thriving pool of squirming sound. It’s a dizzying and disorienting listen, but the journey pays off when you experience the cataclysmic “Regeneration of Time,” which rumbles like a waterfall of loose piano keys.

If John Cage, Terry Riley and Daniel Bachman are your thing, you’ll want to click here to preorder this album on cassette from Atki Records today.

Picastro – I’ve Never Met a Stranger

Experimental art rockers Picastro twist all concepts of genre apart on their dreamy and off-kilter covers EP, I’ve Never Met a Stranger.

The Canadian group, which consists of Liz Hysen on vocals and guitar, Nick Storring on cello, Matthew Ramolo on synth and Germaine Liu on percussion, take songs like The Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes” and “Tell Me White Horses” by The Silts, and completely make them their own. The band reimagines each song in such a loving and personal way, you feel as though Picastro could have actually composed and lived these tunes.

“Pale Blue Eyes,” for instance, has been transformed into a sweepingly lush baroque-pop experimental ballad complete with rolling pianos and somber saxophones. It sounds like how the original song makes you feel. This is an often covered tune, but this isn’t a statement that I can say about most other versions. It’s incredibly tense, honest and beautifully heart-wrenching at the same time.

Fans of Cate Le Bon, Julia Holter and Jessica Pratt would adore this album. Click here to get your copy right now.

Rişar & Kupa Dörtlüsü – s/t

We’ll leave you now with something you can really dance to: the slinky grooves of Rişar & Kupa Dörtlüsü.

Kupa 4 (Kupa Dörtlüsü) was comprised of Turkish and Greek musicians who found themselves in İstanbul in the 1970’s. The group seamlessly blended together western rock and pop sounds with rebetiko and laiko music, which lead to them making a name for themselves as a backing group for singers, a session band and a popular tavern act.

Each track on this collection is a mini-dance party and bops with sauntering dance rhythms, Rick Wright-esque organ trills and trance-inducing electric guitar that’s often played like a bouzouki.

A major highlight is the instrumental “Tatlı Dile Güler Yüze,” which features snake-like wah-wah guitars slithering around flutes and funky organ licks. This track could loop for an hour, and it would never get old.

This album has a limited pressing of 500 LPs, so click here to secure your copy today.


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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