Sonic Reducer

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Sagarmatha is the Nepalese name for Mount Everest, and the title couldn’t be better suited for this sky-scraping LP. The Appleseed Cast reaches the summit only after a lengthy climb through post-rock soundscapes that stretch for miles. Vocals show up sporadically, and when they do, they’re so echoing and distorted they might as well be another guitar. The temperament stays at an even keel—there are no depressions, no high-spirited peaks. It’s a kind of fog that engulfs the record and refuses to disperse, keeping a shroud of mystery over every step of the ascension. Squawking guitar sirens are your only guide as to what comes next. (SM)

Omar Rodriguez Lopez Old Money (Stones Throw Records)

The “mad scientist” of guitarists, Omar Rodriguez Lopez ( The Mars Volta) releases a sonic barrage of melodies and arrangements in Old Money . Like anything else from Rodriguez-Lopez, it takes a few thorough listenings before the beauty of this masterpiece creeps over you. Although Old Money falls into the cracks between The Mars Volta releases, every track on this album would fit snugly into a bigger project. It’s psychedelic, progressive and full of Latin- and funk-based roots. Hats off Omar for pushing the boundaries on what music is and what it can be. (JH)

Randy Klein Piano Improvisations (Jazzheads)

Despite the record label’s name, this release is closer to New Age than jazz. True, there’s plenty of improvisation—in fact, every note is supposedly improvised on the spot—but there’s plenty of improvisation in Baroque music, too. That said, this collection of 12 solo piano pieces does prove to be remarkably soothing, perfect for a massage therapist’s practice room or a quiet happy hour at home after a brutal day at work. What’s more, the structure of the compositions and the quality of the playing will stand up to more critical listening, as well—but it ain’t Hank Jones. (MM)

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