Happy 2020! This is Jon Madof from Chant Records and guitarist/bandleader with the bands Zion80, Blivet and Rashanim (and frequent collaborator with John Zorn and others). I’ve been running the label for two years with my partner in crime Shanir Blumenkranz (producer and multi-instrumentalist with Yo-Yo Ma, John Zorn, Yemen Blues and others). We’ve released over 40 albums since 2017, so it’s going to be hard to limit the number of songs on here so you’re not stuck listening to this for the next six days and miss all of your important appointments, naps and coffee breaks.
Chant Records is genre-agnostic, so we’ve released albums that in some ways fall all over the map. But they all have a similar spirit of experimentalism and uncompromising vision. Here’s a tasting menu of what we’ve released in no particular or logical order:
The Fugu Plan – ‘Pettanko‘ from the album MukashiBanashi
Shanir’s band with the phenomenal singer and composer Yuka spans some pretty varied territory, from psych rock and noise to Ennio Morricone to Japanese folk songs. They’re joined by percussion master Cyro Baptista for an amazing collection of music.
Eyal Talmudi – ‘Fela on My Mind’ from the album Even If
Eyal is one of the busiest musicians in Israel, playing with a ton of different bands. On this album he lays into a deep jazz groove with some seriously tasty players. But that doesn’t preclude him from having other things on mind, for example the Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.
Roberto De Brasov and Koby Israelite – ‘The Trap’ from the album Provokation
Koby Israelite has released two albums on Chant, one solo (The Rest of Now) and this one with the virtuoso Romanian accordionist Roberto de Brasov. There are lots of ingredients in their musical stew but everything comes together in a beautiful mix that is all its own.
John Lee – ‘Fish Out of Water’ from the album Chu Bubaloo
John is an amazing guitarist and composer from Washington, D.C. He mixes so many of my favorite elements of rock, jazz, West African music and more. I’m not going to play favorites with our releases, but let’s just say I really really love this one.
Jon Lundbom and Bryan Murray (Balto Exclamationpoint) – ‘Basic Bitches’ from the album Beats by Balto! Vol. 1
Abstract instrumental hip-hop of psychedelic proportions from some great musicians, starting with samples of their own music and twisting it into the groovy stratosphere. Dilla would be proud.
Randi Pontoppidan – ‘Dunh’ from the album ROOMS
Randi creates worlds with just her voice and processing and the final product is a thing of beauty beyond words.
Action Friend – ‘She Wasn’t, She Isn’t’ from the album bon•ho•mie
Action Friend are an awesome LA-based band who’ve teamed up with producer Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Tool, Mike Patton, Big Business) to create an album that hits all my favorite notes of avant rockdom.
Curha – ‘Sir Fish’ from the album I
Did you ever wake up in the morning hungry for trashy surf rock synth pop performed by a one-man band? Yeah, so did I. Then I found Curha and all my dreams came true.
Sandcatchers – ‘The Breathless Empty Morning’ from the album What We Found Along the Way
Who knew that the oud and the lap steel could go together just like peanut butter and chocolate in a delicious Americana-meets-Middle-Eastern mix? Plus the mighty Erik Friedlander on cello? Does it get better than that?
Darshan – ‘Let There Be Light’ from the album Raza
World-soul singer Basya Schechter (Pharaoh’s Daughter) meets esoteric indie rapper ePRHYME (Eden Pearlstein) in a kaleidoscopic fusion of Hip Hop, Rock, World, Soul, and Jewish music like you’ve never heard before.
Sam Eastmond – ‘Zombi Love’ from the album Gulgoleth
Seriously twisted music from the mind of Sam Eastmond (Spike Orchestra). A high-speed funhouse journey through free-jazz, surf, rock, cartoon, Radical Jewish Culture and Downtown film noir dreamscape.
Bret Higgins’ Atlas Revolt – ‘Hunter’ from the album Illusion Machine
Desert blues (yes that’s totally a thing), psychedelia, Balkan, and Central and South American music gel magically in a swampy mix of groove from Toronto-based Bret Higgins.
ŪROK – ‘Bruiser’ from the album ŪROK
Aptly named tune from London’s ŪROK, a power trio that combines improv, heaviness, insane drumming with an energy and spirit that’s truly infectious.
The Modulators – ‘TP Is Coming Back In Style (featuring Cyro Baptista)’ from the album Drivetime
Influenced by the surreal world of Twin Peaks and taking psych-jazz-surf-rock to new heights without a guitar in site is The Modulators, fearlessly led by keyboard wizard and composer Brian Marsella.
Zion80 – ‘Pardes’ from the album Warriors
Ok, so last (and maybe also least) is my band. In order to avoid too much self-promotion I’ll just tell you that there are 10 of us including four horns and two drummers. And we sweat a lot on stage.
If you like what you’ve heard you can sign up for our mailing list to get updates on everything we’re doing along with an epic, free compilation for hi-res download and streaming featuring Bill Laswell, Jamie Saft, Billy Martin and many more: https://chantrecords.com/signup/
Indie Label Roundtable #8 – Chant Records / Wormhole World / AnalogueTrash
WFMU / Transpacific Sound Paradise – June 30, 2018: Jon Madof of Chant Records
Jon Madof Talks About Starting Chant Records, Festivals, And Why Rejection Is Better Than Silence
In on the Corner
XOL – “XOL plays X.EN” (Chant Records, 2018) (via Avant Scena)
Best of 2017 #47: Sandcatchers – “What We Found Along the Way” (Chant Records) (via Bird is the Worm)