Essential Tracks This Week: Oranssi Pazuzu, Mabe Fratti, and more

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Oranssi Pazuzu - essential tracks

This was a shorter week, due to the Memorial Day holiday, but that doesn’t mean we had to cut Essential Tracks short this week. Nope, we’ve got another five must-hear tracks, including the return of one of the best and weirdest metal bands in Europe, a post-rock vet delivering an atmospheric instrumental, a trio of rappers trading verses inspired by obscure, forgotten department stores and more. Queue up this week’s Essential Tracks.

Oranssi Pazuzu – “Muuntautuja”

Finnish psych-metal group Oranssi Pazuzu delivered an epic set of mind-bending space metal with their 2020 album Mestarin Kynsi, and the group continues to get even weirder with time. “Muuntautuja,” the first single in four years and first single from an as-yet-unannounced and so-far-untitled new album, is wrapped in a dense layer of electronics and pulsing beats, less explicitly metal than anything from their previous five albums, but still as heavy as they come, particularly during its cacophonous second half. What a strange, wonderful alien broadcast this is.

Out now via Nuclear Blast

Mabe Fratti – “Enfrente”

The third single (and second Essential Track) from Mabe Fratti’s upcoming album continues the Mexico City cellist/songwriter’s evolution toward more immediate pop song structures. Yet it retains the curious abstraction of her prior electroacoustic recordings, with a stark arrangement interrupted by strange, glassy synth tones even as Fratti works her way toward a hypnotic and gorgeous chorus. Pop, in this case, is perhaps a relative term, but the chorus of “Enfrente,” deceptively simple and skeletal as it is, is simultaneously immediate and subtle. Yet it’s the overall composition that reveals Fratti’s undeniable talents, as the song gradually tumbles into a more frantic and otherworldly coda.

From Sentir que no sabes, out June 28 via Unheard of Hope

Previous Industries – “Zayre”

Open Mike Eagle has spent recent years conceptually surveying obsolete pop culture ephemera, like the recurring cassette-tape theme on 2022’s Component System with the Auto-Reverse. The concept of sorts behind his new group Previous Industries, with STILL RIFT and Video Dave, is one of closured retail stores: Service Merchandise, Montgomery Ward, Babbage’s, and so on. You may not have heard of “Zayre,” which closed up shop in 1990 (and is a place where people bought action figures and pants according to the group), but the track is fun, playful and off-kilter in all the right ways. The three emcees’ chemistry is fluid and surreal over Child Actors’ analog warble, a sense of uncanny not-quite-nostalgia you’d expect to hear from Boards of Canada or Tobacco, but in a loose, freely flowing rap song.

From Service Merchandise out June 28 via Merge

Danny Paul Grody Duo – “Hawk Hill”

Just a year after the release of his excellent Arc of Day, guitarist Danny Paul Grody (Tarentel, The Drift) prepares the release of his new duo recording with drummer Rich Douthit, as well as contributions from pedal steel player Chuck Johnson and bassist Trevor Montgomery, who provides low end for new single “Hawk Hill.” Meditative and graceful but with a more tangible connection to Grody’s post-rock recordings with his previous groups, “Hawk Hill” creates a rich atmosphere from relatively stark elements, gently building up layers with intention as well as maintaining a healthy buffer of negative space. It’s like watching the sun slowly rise and seeing the horizon come to life.

From Arc of Night, out June 28 via Three Lobed

HHY & the Macumbas – “Mão Esquerda”

Portugal’s HHY & the Macumbas create a unique fusion of sounds that can be difficult to put in context, merging polyrhythmic percussion with dub minimalism, jazz fusion experimentation and horror-synth atmosphere. While “Mão Esquerda” is by no means the most intense song on new album Bom Sangue Mau, there’s an eeriness about it that never relents. With frantic rhythms erupting around a central core of haunting synths, it feels at times like a dark ritual, nightmare fuel made for dancing or perhaps something a little less purely hedonistic. Either way, the effect is nothing short of visceral.

From Bom Sangue Mau, out now via Horror Vector

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