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A VIBERATTO—A(King of Beasts Records)

Instrumental albums often have a difficult time staking claim in a world so enamored of vocals. Thankfully, A Viberatto’s A is here to set the record straight.

A is a thoroughly pleasing journey through the life of Pet Sounds as recorded by French down-tempo electronic duo Air. But while such a comparison draws worry over unfinished vocals, A is a complete work, one led by Jimmy Goodman’s vibraphone, synthesizers and piano. Over 11 tracks with single word titles, Goodman’s vision is as clear as a walk across a frozen lake on a winter morning, or perhaps the fireside respite which immediately follows. There’s warmth here, but also a majestic distance that transcends.

Goodman rolls out the superstars on the first two tracks—“Polar” and “Riiver”—whose contributions include those from Tony Levin and Garth Hudson (the latter also appears later, playing melodica on “Rooster”). But while those songs feature the greatest number of musicians in total, they blend in well with the rest of the album, a collection refreshingly free of anything jarring or brash. It’s a soundtrack to the most relaxing day of your life. If you like your mellow with an awful lot of depth, A Viberatto’s A is where it’s at. —Crispin Kott


Tonight opens with its title track, a slo-fi crawl as perfectly sparse as anything from the first few albums by Low. But unlike that celebrated trio, Perrotta quickly takes the music in a different direction on the second song, “Someone Like You,” which is also a slower number, but one which sounds a bit like Smashing Pumpkins used to before Billy Corgan disappeared up his own ego.

And so goes Tonight, a 12-track release which condenses everything you used to love about college radio into one splendidly emotional package. It all starts with Sarah Perrotta, who plays a variety of keyboard-based instruments, including Moog and Wurlitzer. But even more essential to the Perrotta sound is her voice, a thrillingly versatile instrument in its own right, equally comfortable delicately lilting and soaring through the skies. It does both on “Conquer Me.”

Also absolutely integral is the work of Johnnie Wang, who strafes the landscape with incendiary guitar, and Will Olsen, whose complex rhythms aren’t just comfortable with legendary guest bassist Tony Levin, but also know when to say when, filling in space and driving the machine without ever taking it off the rails.

“Falling to Pieces” is the love song you forgot you needed and “Want You Here” is the dirge for a love you didn’t know you lost. Song by captivating song, Tonight strikes the right chord from beginning to end. —Crispin Kott


Describing the sound of Anna Cheek’s voice is nearly impossible, so perhaps it makes more sense to talk about how it feels to listen to it. It’s unsettling, but so are a lot of things you actually love. It’s unique, not necessarily in what it sounds like, but what it does. She’s an artist in every sense of the concept, especially with her voice.

Witness “Fountainhead,” on which Cheek directs the musical core with a vocal at once unwieldy and terrific. This is followed by the absolutely stellar “Midnight Blue Sky,” with a chorus that amps up the notion of arms aloft singalongs in splendid fashion.

“Pretender” opens with the shimmering sound of something in reverse before one of the most intriguing drum tracks in recent memory joins Cheek’s piano and forlorn vocal. It’s perhaps the album’s standout track, though it’s difficult to pick just one with such a wealth of wonder at one’s disposal.

Who this album is for is a mystery, because it’s really for anyone who longs for sophisticated music that resonates in the heart, which takes on contemporary notions like the backing vocals-as-strings on “In Another Minute” that recalls last year’s celebrated Dirty Projectors album, Bitte Orca. But there are also classic sounds here alongside the entirely original, which is perhaps the best way to describe Water Over the Bridge: A singular work of an original artist in a unique yet diverse musical world. —Crispin Kott

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