KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Lars Gotrich

Black Tambourine, Velocity Girl, Lilys, Lorelei, Stereolab — these are just a few of the artists who released 7-inch singles on Slumberland Records in the late '80s and early '90s. That's a helluva run for any label, but also remarkably prescient, considering the simultaneously softer and stranger indie pop that would follow.

Tokyo, Japan is Kikagaku Moyo's home, but the wandering band looks to the world to make its psychedelic music. Rumbling hard-edged rock and acid folk are dipped into motorik rhythms and sitar drone, developed through the band's five-year discography and extensive tours in America and Europe.

Its fourth album, Masana Temples, took the band to Lisbon to work with jazz musician and producer Bruno Pernadas, where Kikagaku Moyo truly encompasses a state of psychedelia rather than any one trip. You can hear that in the genre-skipping joy that is "Dripping Sun."

You have not one, but several shades of black lipstick to match the varying shades of your dark void existence. You always rock Siouxsie Sioux eyeliner, even if it's just imprinted on your soul while you're staring listlessly in class or slogging away at a 9-to-5. You've had a comic-book crush on Dream from Sandman or "Hopey" from Love and Rockets for, like, ever.

For the past seven years, the Yokohama, Japan-based producer Takahide Higuchi (who goes by the name 食品まつり aka Foodman) has dug into the quick-cut textures of footwork, making the Chicago-born style of electronic music his own. But then, Foodman began picking apart his digital feasts.

Kindness should be fundamental to our being. But it's increasingly a battlefield, as respect for who you are and who you want to be is riddled with political landmines, trolls both online and in the streets and people who judge your worth based on gender and race alone. The Chicago-based artist, poet and activist Tasha wants you to be kind to yourself and others, and makes music in kind that feels like a quietly stoic challenger to a beastly world.

Sarah Davachi's electro-acoustic compositions seek the corners of quiet with a studious and patient curiosity. Gave in Rest, her second album of 2018, takes its inspiration from early church music, in particular "the quietude, the air of reverence, the openness of the physical space, the stillness of the altars," she writes in a press release. From "Matins" (morning prayers) to "Evensong" (evening prayers), the L.A.-based composer fills the day with moments of peace.

High On Fire helped usher heavy metal into the 21st century. When the band began in 1998, the scene was adrift in all things "nu," which undeniably left its mark on young listeners, introducing them to more extreme sounds. But those who carried the torch for metal — the kind handed down from Black Sabbath and Motörhead — kept the sound alive and thriving, even if only the dedicated few listened.

Somewhere between dusk and nightfall, there's a point when the sky's deep reds and luminous notes of peach bleed into deep blues and silhouetted skylines. It's a somber, meditative medley of color, when the reflection of day turns dim; that's where the new record by Patrick McDermott, who records instrumental guitar music as North Americans, rests.

Nathan Bowles' clawhammer banjo music has always lived in three planes of existence: Rooted in the past, with a foothold in the present and an eye on the future. But as much as we think about folk music speaking across time — its seeking melodies and lyrics ever-resonant — Bowles wants to pluck sound from space itself.

There's a dancing bear slapped on the back of a station wagon cranking out a copy of Europe '72 — it's no deep dive from one of Dick's Picks, but it's a solid collection of live sets, with Grateful Dead at the top of its game. You exchange eyes with the driver, acknowledge the good-times jams, and counter with a '77 date. Soon enough, you're holding up traffic, but the songs keep on truckin'.

The Tree of Forgiveness, his first album of originals in 13 years, is not just classic John Prine. When so much of humanity seems closed off, Prine knows when to be a little goofy, too.

Roy Montgomery's music is like swimming through phantoms, each entity a haunting, illuminating new spectral phase. It was Montgomery's guitar work and deep, warbling vocals that have disoriented far-out New Zealand rock bands like The Pin Group, Dadamah and Dissolve, along with his solo material, since the 1980s. But Montgomery has always been self-effacing about his own voice: "It's lazy," he told Perfect Sound Forever in 2003.

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