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Surviving a shaky decade that produced a couple decent albums and few identity crises, Korn bring it back to basics on their 12th full-length, The Serenity of Suffering. It's both a reminder that Korn are the masters of this particular universe and also fiercely dedicated to its fans. Inasmuch as the Korn faithful are capable of fuzzy feelings, Serenity delivers goose bumps for those who have stuck with the band since the '90s. Diehards will notice that Jonathan Davis and the gang have brought things back to the Issues/Untouchables era – especially on "Take Me" and "Everything Falls Apart" – when Korn perfected the combination of nu-metal brutality, desperate vulnerability, and spook show creepiness (in fact, the Issues doll – now wrapped in stitched-up skin with exposed ribs – makes a prominent appearance on Serenity's album art). Without pandering to career-peak nostalgia, Korn deftly execute all the hallmarks that have come to define their sound.
COW has some of the Orb’s most gentle moments to date, eschewing ambient house for ambient music, pure and simple. Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann have described the release as their most ambient effort yet, which seemingly puts it in the company of mid-'90s recordings such as Pomme Fritz and Orbus Terrarum. While those two releases reached into the darker, stranger corners of the Orb's psyche, COW is much lighter and more relaxing, explicitly making its intentions clear with its title. The album is intended as a sort of peaceful protest, reacting to tragic news and political nonsense by encouraging everyone to calm down and enjoy life…
When Melanie De Biasio released No Deal in 2014, it was embraced by jazz critics, DJs, and club audiences simultaneously. Gilles Peterson was so taken with its monochromatic ambient textures, stark arrangements, and clever improvisational intimations that he commissioned an album of remixes. Blackened Cities is not a conventional follow-up, but an adventurous endeavor rife with risk. The release consists of a single 24-minute track that unfolds like a suite. The conservatory-trained Belgian vocalist and flutist and her longtime musical associates – Pascal Mohy on piano, Pascal Paulus on analog synths and clavinet, and Dré Pallemaerts on drums (with guest double bassist/cellist Sam Gerstmans) – deliver a full-scale sonic drama that crosses a wide musical expanse and evokes an encyclopedia of stylistic references, yet comes across as a totally original whole. Its title comes from impressions of postindustrial cities De Biasio visited on her international tour: Detroit, Manchester, her native Charleroi; each has a storied past and a devastated façade, yet reflects its own unique beauty and tenacity.